recentpopularlog in

jerryking : climate_change   110

« earlier  
Venture capital investors should harpoon more whales
February 3, 2020 | Financial Times | by John Thornhill.

*VC: An American History by Tom Nicholas.
* The worry for Silicon Valley is that the impulse for creative destruction is now fading
* It is easy to be rude about the venture capital industry. So here goes. The criticism runs that the VC sector is full of too many over-funded, ill-disciplined chancers who pass off hype for reality, groupthink for insight and luck for good judgment.....What’s more, a staggering 95 per cent of VC firms fail to make a decent enough return to justify the risks their investors run......the current mindset of the VC industry is responsible for the slowdown in new business formation and lack of economic dynamism in the US. All too often, addicted to capital-light, metric-heavy software businesses, VCs are failing to bet big enough on the breakthrough technologies that tackle our biggest challenges, such as climate change or cancer.........Katie Rae, chief executive and managing partner of The Engine, a Boston-based “tough tech” venture fund, says that many VCs have lost sight of their original purpose......VCs were all about funding tech breakthroughs but that has got lost,” ...... “A lot of VCs look more like private equity companies that do not want to lose any money so they end up backing dog-walking apps rather than quantum computing.”......Historically, the best venture capitalists have performed a vital capitalistic function: turning seemingly outlandish ideas and transformative technologies into everyday realities. Semiconductors, recombinant insulin and internet search engines have all come to market largely thanks to VC backing........“The VC industry is cut-throat. .....It provides the capital and expertise for start-ups to succeed.”.......In VC: An American History, Tom Nicholas traces VC’s high-risk, high-reward mentality back to the 19th-century whaling industry, which developed a novel form of venture financing. The idea was to back an expert captain who could fit out a robust ship, hire the best crew and endure an average of 3.6 years at sea. On landing a whale, the captain would return investors’ money several times over. But many ships returned empty-handed or sunk.........the pattern of financial returns made by Gideon Allen & Sons, the smartest backers of whaling ventures, were almost identical to those achieved by Sequoia Capital, one of the best VC firms operating today..........one of the striking features of the subsequent evolution of the VC industry.......was how contingent it was on time, circumstance and people. The west coast model of VC investing, owed an enormous amount to massive government investments in technology during the cold war, the expansion of world-beating universities in California and the emergence of some remarkable entrepreneurs and visionary investors, such as Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Don Valentine.......The worry for Silicon Valley is that some of that Schumpeterian impulse for creative destruction is now fading. One argument has it that Silicon Valley is becoming increasingly “corporatised” with Big Tech firms, such as Google, Facebook and Apple, championing the mantra that “big is beautiful” in the face of emerging competition from China.

The benign view is that Big Tech may be internalising much of the innovation once carried out by start-ups; the malign interpretation is that Cupertino, California [JCK: that is, "Big Tech"] is snuffing out smaller rivals.......

“Silicon Valley is overdue a disruption. It is not a hotbed of start-ups any more,” ..........Metaphorically, at least, the VC industry needs to get back in the business of funding wildly ambitious entrepreneurs intent on harpooning some more whales.
19th_century  Arthur_Rock  big_bets  Big_Tech  books  breakthroughs  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  cancers  climate_change  creative_destruction  disruption  Don_Valentine  entrepreneur  finance  financing  fundamental_discoveries  funding  HBS  high-risk  high-reward  innovation  investors  Joseph_Schumpeter  moonshots  public_investments  semiconductors  Sequoia  Silicon_Valley  thinking_big  Tom_Perkins  tough_tech  whaling  vc  venture_capital  visionaries 
21 days ago by jerryking
The Trees and the Forest of New Towers - The New York Times
By Stephen Wallis
Nov. 20, 2019

Mass timber refers to prefabricated structural wood components that can be used to construct buildings — even large-scale buildings — faster, with less waste and eventually with less money........Mass timber refers to a variety of different types of engineered wood components, the most common being cross-laminated timber (known as CLT) and nail-laminated timber (or NLT), in which multiple layers of wood planks, stacked at 90 degrees, are glued or nailed together under pressure to form structural panels. So-called glulams, which are made in a similar fashion and have been around for more than a century, are typically used for long elements like beams and columns.........building with mass timber can ameliorate climate change because it produces less in greenhouse gas emissions than construction with concrete and steel. And wood has the benefit of storing the carbon dioxide trees absorb during their growth, keeping it out of the atmosphere indefinitely.....While cutting down trees to make buildings may not sound environmentally sensitive, mass timber supporters argue that wood could be harvested from sustainably managed forests...At the end of last year, the International Building Code was changed to allow wood buildings of up to 270 feet tall, or the equivalent of about 18 stories, from 85 feet....People want to live and work in these kinds of buildings — they have a sense of connection to the material,”......what we’ve seen from fabricators and builders is that there’s a 35 percent drop in construction time for mass-timber buildings, which means the carrying costs are less.”....
architecture  building_codes  climate_change  construction  design  emotional_connections  lumber  materials  skyscrapers  sustainability  Swatch  timber  wood_products  
november 2019 by jerryking
Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows - The New York Times
By Denise Lu and Christopher FlavelleOct. 29, 2019

John Wyndham's "Out of the Deeps" (UK version, "The Kraken Wakes") has alarming scenes of London and much of the UK inundated. In that novel, it's aliens, melting the Greenland glaciers.
books  cities  climate_change  coastal  dislocations  extreme_weather_events  floods  flood-risk  flood-risk_maps  floodplains  geopolitical-risk  infrastructure  internal_migration  mass_migrations  population_movements  refugees  sea-level_rise  societal_collapse  weather 
october 2019 by jerryking
The myth of green growth
October 24, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Simon Kuper.

voters tend to place their personal interests ahead of their political ideals.
aviation  carbon_emissions  climate_catastrophe  climate_change  de-growth  electric_cars  energy  environment  fuel-efficiency  green  growth  myths  One_Belt_One_Road  reality_checks  renewable  shipping  Simon_Kuper  society  tradeoffs  William_Jevons 
october 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | Dealing With China Isn’t Worth the Moral Cost
Oct. 9, 2019 | The New York Times | By Farhad Manjoo.

We thought economic growth and technology would liberate China. Instead, it corrupted us.

The People’s Republic of China is the largest, most powerful and arguably most brutal totalitarian state in the world. It denies basic human rights to all of its nearly 1.4 billion citizens. There is no freedom of speech, thought, assembly, religion, movement or any semblance of political liberty in China. Under Xi Jinping, “president for life,” the CCP has built the most technologically sophisticated repression machine the world has ever seen. In Xinjiang, in Western China, the government is using technology to mount a cultural genocide against the Muslim Uighur minority that is even more total than the one it carried out in Tibet. Human rights experts say that more than a million people are being held in detention camps in Xinjiang, two million more are in forced “re-education,” and everyone else is invasively surveilled via ubiquitous cameras, artificial intelligence and other high-tech means.

None of this is a secret. Under Xi, China has grown markedly more Orwellian;......Why do we give China a pass? In a word: capitalism. Because for 40 years, the West’s relationship with China has been governed by a strategic error the dimensions of which are only now coming into horrific view.......A parade of American presidents on the left and the right argued that by cultivating China as a market — hastening its economic growth and technological sophistication while bringing our own companies a billion new workers and customers — we would inevitably loosen the regime’s hold on its people....the West’s entire political theory about China has been spectacularly wrong. China has engineered ferocious economic growth in the past half century, lifting hundreds of millions of its citizens out of miserable poverty. But China’s growth did not come at any cost to the regime’s political chokehold....It is also now routinely corrupting the rest of us outside of China......the N.B.A.’s hasty and embarrassing apology this week after Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, tweeted — and quickly deleted — a message in support of Hong Kong’s protesters......The N.B.A. is far from the first American institution to accede to China’s limits on liberty. Hollywood, large tech companies and a variety of consumer brands — from Delta to Zara — have been more than willing to play ball. The submission is spreading: .....This sort of corporate capitulation is hardly surprising. For Western companies, China is simply too big and too rich a market to ignore, let alone to pressure or to police. .....it will only get worse from here, and we are fools to play this game. There is a school of thought that says America should not think of China as an enemy. With its far larger population, China’s economy will inevitably come to eclipse ours, but that is hardly a mortal threat. In climate change, the world faces a huge collective-action problem that will require global cooperation. According to this view, treating China like an adversary will only frustrate our own long-term goals......this perspective leaves out the threat that greater economic and technological integration with China poses to everyone outside of China. It ignores the ever-steeper capitulation that China requires of its partners. And it overlooks the most important new factor in the Chinese regime’s longevity: the seductive efficiency that technology offers to effect a breathtaking new level of control over its population......Through online surveillance, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and the propagandistic gold mine of social media, China has mobilized a set of tools that allow it to invisibly, routinely repress its citizens and shape political opinion by manipulating their feelings and grievances on just about any controversy.....Chinese-style tech-abetted surveillance authoritarianism could become a template for how much of the world works.
adversaries  artificial_intelligence  authoritarianism  brands  capitalism  capitulation  China  China_rising  Chinese_Communist_Party  climate_change  collective_action  cultural_genocide  decoupling  despots  errors  facial_recognition  Farhad_Manjoo  freedom  Hollywood  Hong_Kong  human_rights  influence  NBA  op-ed  Orwell  propaganda  repression  self-corruption  surveillance  surveillance_state  technology  threats  Tibet  totalitarianism  tyranny  Uyghurs  unintended_consequences  values  Xi_Jinping 
october 2019 by jerryking
The last days of the middle-class world citizen
October 3, 2019 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
what I think Janan Ganesh is talking about; the divide between the globally mobile elite and the locally restricted peasantry is getting increasingly stark, and the middle class is being hollowed out.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
'10s  Big_Tech  climate_change  decline  deglobalization  disposable_income  downward_mobility  dystopian_futures  frictions  future  globalization  Janan_Ganesh  lifestyles  middle_class  millennials  pessimism  societal_choices  subtractive  The_One_Percent  thought-provoking  travel 
october 2019 by jerryking
Andrea Illy: adapting a family business to a multinational world
JULY 20, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Rachel Sanderson.

*The coffee group chairman argues his style of capitalism is good for business, workers and the consumer*

Andrea Illy, third generation heir of the Illycaffè dynasty, last year struck an alliance with investment group JAB Holdings to produce and distribute Illy coffee capsules...he makes it clear that he does not intend to sell the closely held family company..... “It is a very simple principle about preserving our freedom,” he says of his and his family’s decision, one....Freedom is a word that comes up frequently in conversation with Mr Illy.....who espouses a sort of pick-and-mix version of capitalism, resolutely refusing to focus only on sales and profits. Illy argues his style of capitalism is not charity but good business.......Illy has paid its growers on average 30% more over market value for decades in order to maintain its supply of top Arabica beans. “....The company is rooted in the border city of Trieste....which is also ingrained in the nature of the family......globalisation and increasing competition in the coffee sector has forced Illy to adapt. Staying closely held does not work any more. Co-opetition is his new mantra."“It is like the way to adapt in the savannah. If you do not want to be prey to the big lion, you live in a tree.”"

Part of that adaptation has been the deal with JAB, which allowed Illy coffee capsules to be produced and distributed in supermarkets globally, something that Illy could not do alone......The global coffee industry has become increasingly like the beer tie-ups of the 1990s, with big groups such as JAB and Nestlé snapping up smaller companies. Illy has risked being squeezed between these behemoths and the microroasters emerging as the hip caffeine hit for millennials and Gen Z.....Bigger groups have circled Illy for years. Mr Illy says the family chose JAB because it had the technology he wanted and accepted a licensing agreement rather than an equity one.....To build its global presence, Mr Illy is now looking for a retail partner in the US to help launch Illy coffee bars in the world’s largest coffee market. He says he could even sell a slice of equity. But he is very specific who it would be to: a private financial investor, not an industrial group.....there have been other adaptations. Three years ago, Illy hired an outside chief executive — Massimiliano Pogliani, a former executive at Nestlé’s Nespresso — for the first time since the company was founded in 1933 by Mr Illy’s grandfather, Francesco. Mr Illy has also built a board including executives from clothing group Moncler and Italian cosmetics group Kiko...... studies show that family businesses often fail in the third generation. The move to hire outside management and governance comes as studies also show that family-owned, professionally-run companies are among the best performing in the long term. ......Mr Illy sees these alliances as the only way for a family business model to thrive and to not have to cede control to a multinational when “complexity is becoming too big for a single person to manage”.
.....good stewardship is good business......The Illy family is a supporter of arts and culture, including Trieste’s annual sailing regatta, the Barcolana, where hundreds of boats race across the bay. Mr Illy says this creates a virtuous circle: the more attractive Trieste becomes, the more talented people Illy can attract to work for it and the more visitors come to the city and raise its brand profile........A portrait of his father Ernesto hangs opposite his desk. “I put the painting there to ask him to control what I do,” Mr Illy says.

What, then, has he learnt from his family? “Society is made by the private sector, mostly. And if you want to improve society then we need to be able to pursue long-term goals which are beyond profitability, and then you have to be free and accountable only to yourself,” he says.

Three questions for Andrea Illy
Who is your leadership hero? I have three: Muhtar Kent, former chairman of Coca-Cola; my father; Sebastião Salgado [the photojournalist].

If you were not a CEO/leader, what would you be? A neurosurgeon.

What was the first leadership lesson you learnt? My father asked me when I turned 14 years old where I wanted to go to school. Do you want to start a journey to be a leader or do you want to have fun? I chose the first option and as a result chose boarding school in Switzerland over a local school at home. There I learnt about discipline and hard work but also about the power of a charismatic leader from my headmaster.
alliances  boards_&_directors_&_governance  climate_change  coffee  coopetition  dynasties  family  family_business  family-owned_businesses  financial_buyers  heirs  high-quality  Illycaffè  investors  JAB  licensing  Nestlé  premium  private_equity  privately_held_companies  stewardship  sustainability  the_counsel_of_the_dead  virtuous_cycles 
july 2019 by jerryking
Donald Trump has ushered in a new global order. Here’s how Canada can protect itself -
JANUARY 21, 2019 |The Globe and Mail | COLIN ROBERTSON.
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED 21 HOURS AGO
UPDATED
Colin Robertson is vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
building_codes  bullying  Canada  climate_change  maritime  multilateralism  new_normal  post-WWII  rogue_actors  rules-based  Thucydides  Donald_Trump  international_system  self-protection 
january 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | Why the World Needs America and China to Get Along - The New York Times
By Robert E. Rubin
Mr. Rubin was secretary of the Treasury from 1995 to 1999 and is co-chairman emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Jan. 2, 2019

Leaders in both countries should recognize our imperative self-interest in working together on hugely consequential transnational issues, especially two threats to life on earth as we know it: nuclear weapons and climate change.

No single country can tackle these threats alone, and existing international institutions have proved inadequate. The best chance for successfully dealing with these overarching issues — as well as other transnational issues like pandemics, terrorism and cybersecurity — is for the world’s two largest national economies to catalyze global action.
CFR  China  climate_change  Donald_Trump  nuclear  Robert_Rubin  U.S.  U.S.-China_relations 
january 2019 by jerryking
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change - The New York Times
Almost nothing stood in our way — except ourselves.

Losing Earth: The Decade We
Almost Stopped Climate Change
By Nathaniel Rich
Photographs and Videos by George Steinmetz
AUG. 1, 2018

Editor’s Note
This narrative by Nathaniel Rich is a work of history, addressing the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989: the decisive decade when humankind first came to a broad understanding of the causes and dangers of climate change. Complementing the text is a series of aerial photographs and videos, all shot over the past year by George Steinmetz. With support from the Pulitzer Center, this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it. Jake Silverstein

Prologue
The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement — the nonbinding, unenforceable and already unheeded treaty signed on Earth Day in 2016 �
climate_change 
august 2018 by jerryking
Al Gore: sustainability is history’s biggest investment opportunity
Owen Walker YESTERDAY

Fourteen years ago Mr Gore co-founded a sustainability-focused fund management company with David Blood, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Rather than the colourful “Blood & Gore Partners”, they named the business Generation Investment Management. The London-based group has since attracted $19bn in assets, managing money for institutional investors and affluent individuals, mainly in North America and Europe....Mr Gore has just given a presentation to UBS wealth advisers at the bank’s annual investment get-together. Unlike most of the PowerPoint-packed presentations, Mr Gore’s delivery is a glitzy affair, with dramatic theme music and video clips of crashing glaciers. His talk receives a standing ovation and he is mobbed for more selfies at the end....Generation lists large public sector investors among its clients, such as Calstrs, the $223bn Californian teachers’ pension plan, the $192bn New York State pension plan and the UK’s Environment Agency retirement fund. It also manages money for wealthy individuals but has stopped short of opening to retail investors. Almost all its assets are run in equity mandates, yet $1bn is invested in private equity
Albert_Gore  sustainability  asset_management  institutional_investors  investors  green  climate_change 
april 2018 by jerryking
What Land Will Be Underwater in 20 Years? Figuring It Out Could Be Lucrative
Feb. 23, 2018 | The New York Times | By Brad Plumer

In Charleston, S.C., where the ports have been expanding to accommodate larger ships sailing through the newly widened Panama Canal, a real-estate developer named Xebec Realty recently went looking for land to build new warehouses and logistics centers.

But first, Xebec had a question: What were the odds that the sites it was considering might be underwater in 10 or 20 years?......Yet detailed information about the city’s climate risks proved surprisingly hard to find. Federal flood maps are based on historical data, and won’t tell you how sea-level rise could exacerbate flooding in the years ahead.....So Xebec turned to a Silicon Valley start-up called Jupiter, which offered to analyze local weather and hydrological data and combine it with climate model projections to assess the potential climate risks Xebec might face in Charleston over the next few decades from things like heavier rainfall, sea level rise or increased storm surge....the reliability of Jupiter's predictive analytics is uncertain....that said, “In economics, information has value if you would make a different decision based on that information,”...... Congress has generally underfunded initiatives such as those at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to incorporate climate change into its federal flood maps.......to get a full picture of flooding risk, you need expertise in weather, but also climate and hydrology and engineering and running complex models on the latest computer hardware,” ... “All of those specialized disciplines are usually heavily siloed within the public sector or the scientific community.”....Jupiter, which acknowledges the uncertainties in climate forecasting, will have to prove that a market exists....flooding and other disasters have led to record losses by insurers.....[Those] losses raised the stakes in terms of trying to get the best possible science on your side when you’re pricing risk,” said John Drzik, president of global risk at Marsh,
climate_change  weather  start_ups  data_driven  forecasting  hard_to_find  predictive_analytics  tools  Charleston  South_Carolina  uncertainty  sea-level_rise  floods  commercial_real_estate  adaptability  specificity  catastrophes  catastrophic_risk  unpredictability  coastal  extreme_weather_events  insurance  FEMA  cartography  floodplains  flood-risk  flood-risk_maps  mapping  historical_data 
february 2018 by jerryking
Not if the Seas Rise, but When and How High - The New York Times
By JENNIFER SENIOR NOV. 22, 2017

The Water Will Come
Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World
By Jeff Goodell
340 pages. Little, Brown. $28

Political time now lags behind geological time: If we don’t take dramatic steps to prepare for the rising seas, hundreds of millions could be displaced from their homes by the end of the century, and the infrastructure fringing the coast, valued in the trillions of dollars, could be lost.....Unfortunately, human beings are uniquely ill-suited to prepare for disasters they cannot sense or see. “We have evolved to defend ourselves from a guy with a knife or an animal with big teeth,” Goodell writes, “but we are not wired to make decisions about barely perceptible threats that gradually accelerate over time.”....he visits cities in peril around the globe: New York; Lagos, Nigeria; Norfolk, Va.; Miami; Venice; Rotterdam..... every coastal city faces its own obstacles to adaptation, and the problems each one faces are different......It is, perhaps, the world’s poor who will suffer most. Goodell devotes a good deal of this book to contemplating their fate. Salty soil has already destroyed the rice crops of the Mekong Delta and Bangladesh. If the sea rises high enough, whole island nations could be washed away. The slum-dwellers of Lagos, Jakarta and other coastal cities in the developing world could be chased from their homes, many of which are already on stilts. The International Organization for Migration estimates there will be 200 million climate refugees by 2050.
climate_change  books  book_reviews  Miami  slowly_moving  sea-level_rise  coastal  imperceptible_threats  developing_countries 
november 2017 by jerryking
China Could Sell Trump the Brooklyn Bridge - The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman NOV. 14, 2017

The saying — “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” — and it perfectly sums up the contrast between China’s President Xi Jinping and President Trump.....All along, Xi keeps his eye on the long-term prize of making China great again. Trump, meanwhile, touts every minor victory as historic and proceeds down any road that will give him a quick sugar high.

Trump literally has no idea what he’s doing and has no integrated strategy — because, unlike Xi, Trump’s given no thought to the big questions every effective leader starts his day with: “What world am I living in? What are the biggest trends in this world? And how do I align my country so more of my citizens get the most out of these trends and cushion the worst?”

What world are we in? One in which we’re going through three “climate changes” at once.
(1) Destructive weather events and the degradation of ecosystems are steadily accelerating.
(2) globalization: from an interconnected world to an interdependent one; from a world of walls, where you build your wealth by hoarding resources, to a world of webs, where you thrive by connecting your citizens to the most flows of ideas, trade, innovation and education.
(3) technology and work: Machines are acquiring all five senses, and with big data and artificial intelligence, every company can now analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize, digitize and automatize more and more jobs, products and services. And those companies that don’t will wither.
artificial_intelligence  Tom_Friedman  China  U.S.  Donald_Trump  globalization  technology  climate_change  TPP  international_trade  questions  think_threes  wealth_creation  grand_strategy  foundational  existential  extreme_weather_events  Xi_Jinping 
november 2017 by jerryking
From climate change to robots: what politicians aren’t telling us
OCTOBER 26, 2017 | FT| by Simon Kuper.

Most politicians bang on about identity while ignoring automation, climate change and the imminent revolution in medicine. They talk more about the 1950s than the 2020s. This is partly because they want to distract voters from real problems, and partly because today’s politicians tend to be lawyers, entertainers and ex-journalists who know less about tech than the average 14-year-old....Ironically, given the volume of American climate denial, the US looks like becoming the first western country to be hit by climate change. Each new natural disaster will prompt political squabbles over whether Washington should bail out the stricken region. At-risk cities such as Miami and New Orleans will gradually lose appeal as the risks become uninsurable......American climate denial may fade too, as tech companies displace Big Oil as the country’s chief lobbyists. Already in the first half of this year, Amazon outspent Exxon and Walmart on lobbying. Facebook, now taking a kicking over fake news, will lobby its way back. Meanwhile, northern Europe, for some years at least, will benefit from its historical unique selling point: its mild and rainy climate. Its problem will be that millions of Africans will try to move there.

On the upside, many Africans will soon, for the first time ever, have access to energy (thanks to solar panels) and medical care (as apps monitor everything from blood pressure to sugar levels, and instantly prescribe treatment). But as Africa gets hotter, drier and overpopulated, people will struggle to feed themselves, says the United Nations University. So they will head north, in much greater numbers than Syrians have, becoming the new bogeymen for European populists....The most coveted good of all — years of life — will become even more unfairly distributed. The lifespans of poor westerners will continue to stagnate or shorten, following the worldwide surge in obesity since the 1980s. Many poorer people will work into their seventies, then die, skipping the now standard phase of retirement. Meanwhile, from the 2020s the rich will live ever longer as they start buying precision medicine. They will fix their faulty DNA and edit their embryos, predicts Vivek Wadhwa, thinker on technology. ...Troubled regimes will also ratchet up surveillance. Now they merely know what you say. In 10 years, thanks to your devices, they will know your next move even before you do.
2020s  Africa  automation  Big_Tech  climate_change  climate_denial  imperceptible_threats  life_expectancy  mass_migrations  migrants  politicians  precision_medicine  refugees  Simon_Kuper  slowly_moving  surveillance_state  unevenly_distributed  uninsurable  Vivek_Wadhwa 
november 2017 by jerryking
Trump, Niger and Connecting the Dots
OCT. 31, 2017 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

It is easy to ignore the recent story of four U.S. servicemen killed in Niger, the giant state in central Africa, because the place is so remote and the circumstances still so murky. That would be a mistake. Niger highlights a much larger problem — just how foolish, how flat-out dumb President Trump is behaving.

Trump is a person who doesn’t connect dots — even when they’re big, fat polka dots that are hard to miss. ..... To understand why groups affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda are popping up in that region of central Africa, you have to connect a lot of dots, and recognize the linkages between a number of different problems....As defense systems expert Lin Wells once put it: To ameliorate problems in places like Niger, you must never think in the box. You must never think out of the box. “You must always think without a box.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linton_Wells_II]

Why? Because what is destabilizing all of these countries in the Sahel region of Africa and spawning terrorist groups is a cocktail of climate change, desertification — as the Sahara steadily creeps south — population explosions and misgovernance.....Desertification is the trigger, and climate change and population explosions are the amplifiers. The result is a widening collapse of small-scale farming, the foundation of societies all over Africa. And that collapse is leading to a rising tide of “economic migrants, interethnic conflicts and extremism,”......Trump’s response to this reality? It’s to focus solely on using the U.S. military to kill terrorists in Africa while offering a budget that eliminates U.S. support for global contraception programs; appointing climate-change deniers to all key environmental posts; pushing coal over clean energy; and curbing U.S. government climate research.

In short, he’s sending soldiers to fight a problem that is clearly being exacerbated by climate and population trends, while eliminating all our tools to mitigate these trends.
That’s just stupid, reckless and irresponsible — and it evinces no ability to connect the dots or think without a box......Nothing Trump ever says has a second paragraph. His whole shtick is just a first paragraph: Build a wall, tear up the Iran deal, tear up TPP, defeat ISIS, send troops to Niger and Afghanistan to kill terrorists, kill climate policy, kill family planning, cut taxes, raise military spending. Every box just marks an applause line he needed somewhere to get elected. Nothing connects — and we will pay for that.
Donald_Trump  Niger  ISIS  climate_change  Tom_Friedman  Africa  connecting_the_dots  the_Sahara  terrorism  the_Sahel  misgovernance  desertification  sub-Saharan_Africa  weak_states  failed_states  farming  population_growth  U.S._military  mismanagement  destabilization 
november 2017 by jerryking
Folks, We’re Home Alone
SEPT. 27, 2017 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

we’re going through three climate changes at once:

We’re going through a change in the actual climate — disruptive, destructive weather events are steadily on the rise.

We’re going through a change in the “climate” of globalization — going from an interconnected world to an interdependent one, from a world of walls where you build your wealth by hoarding the most resources to a world of webs where you build your wealth by having the most connections to the flow of ideas, networks, innovators and entrepreneurs. In this interdependent world, connectivity leads to prosperity and isolation leads to poverty. We got rich by being “America Connected” not “America First.”

Finally, we’re going through a change in the “climate” of technology and work. We’re moving into a world where computers and algorithms can analyze (reveal previously hidden patterns); optimize (tell a plane which altitude to fly each mile to get the best fuel efficiency); prophesize (tell you when your elevator will break or what your customer is likely to buy); customize (tailor any product or service for you alone); and digitize and automatize more and more products and services. Any company that doesn’t deploy all six elements will struggle, and this is changing every job and industry.

What do you need when the climate changes? Adaptation — so your citizens can get the most out of these climate changes and cushion the worst. Adaptation has to happen at the individual, community and national levels.

At the individual level, the single most important adaptation is to become a lifelong learner, so you can constantly add value beyond what machines and algorithms can do.

“When work was predictable and the change rate was relatively constant, preparation for work merely required the codification and transfer of existing knowledge and predetermined skills to create a stable and deployable work force,” explains education consultant Heather McGowan. “Now that the velocity of change has accelerated, due to a combination of exponential growth in technology and globalization, learning can no longer be a set dose of education consumed in the first third of one’s life.” In this age of accelerations, “the new killer skill set is an agile mind-set that values learning over knowing.”
GOP  Democrats  Donald_Trump  Tom_Friedman  climate_change  adaptability  extreme_weather_events  Dean_Acheson  weather  interconnections  interdependence  data_driven  wealth_creation  life_long_learning  the_single_most_important 
september 2017 by jerryking
Water, water, everywhere
Saturday , September /Sunday 3 September 2017 | Financial Times | Sophie Knight.

The Netherlands has been the champion of water management for centuries, battling to keep its low-lying landmass dry. But as extreme weather events and high temperatures outstrip even the most pessimistic predictions, some argue that even the most sophisticated dikes won’t be enough.....
Rotterdam-based architectural studio ZUS, which has developed “Delta 3000”, a plan to transform the lowlands into a hilly sandy landscape. Covering the country in sand would prevent flooding, produce fresh water and create a naturally sustaining ecological system — which ZUS argues is better than the current cost and energy-intensive defence plan against the rising sea. The Netherlands uses a maintenance- intensive system of seawalls, dams, dikes, sluices, pumps and locks to protect the 55 per cent of the country prone to flooding. The government plans to update this system to combat the increased risk of flooding and reduced freshwater availability that they expect to come with climate change.

“[The current system is] artificial and is completely dependent on human intervention and technical adjustments,” says Kristian Koreman, one of the co-founders of ZUS along with Elma van Boxel. “Whereas with the dunes, finally you’re safe: you’re building higher ground.”.....The climate change debate has provoked a paradigm shift in landscape design due to the uncertainties it brings with it. Forced to abandon the notion that nature can be dominated, architects are now seeking to work with nature rather than against it,resurrecting ailing ecosystems or creating new ones to adapt to the future climate. ...
“The only thing that you can know about climate change is that we can’t predict it,” says Koreman. “But what we do know is that the basic codes of the system are not capable of dealing with the new complexity we are dealing with now: more rain, flooding rivers, salinisation, subsidence and migration were not considered when they made the original Delta plan [in the 1950s].”

ZUS’s counter-proposal is to cover the lowlands in sand, with enormous dunes ringing major cities and creating inland beaches next to lakes and canals. The first plan covered the conurbation that includes Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, but was extended to run up the entire Dutch coast after requests from vulnerable northern provinces.
water  floods  Netherlands  Dutch  water_management  extreme_weather_events  climate_change  resilience  unpredictability  sea-level_rise  human_intervention 
september 2017 by jerryking
A Texas Farmer on Harvey, Bad Planning and Runaway Growth -
AUG. 30, 2017 | The New York Times | By SEAMUS McGRAW.

Seamus McGraw is the author, most recently, of “Betting the Farm on a Drought: Stories From the Front Lines of Climate Change.” He is at work on a new book about water issues in Texas......Haskell Simon...is a man who has, in nine decades in Texas, developed a deep appreciation for the complex interplay between nature and the world we create......The cycles of storms and droughts are...an inevitable fact of life in Texas..... those storms and droughts are still more destructive than they ever were before, simply because there is more to destroy......in the 16 years since Tropical Storm Allison deluged Houston, that city, which famously balks at any kind of zoning regulation, and the surrounding region, which encompasses all or parts of 15 counties, have undergone a period of explosive growth, from 4.8 million people in 2000 to more than 7 million today. Harris County alone, which includes the city of Houston, has grown to 4.6 million, up from 3.4 million.....That’s millions of people guzzling water when times are dry.....A century’s worth of unchecked growth has brought prosperity to many. But it also has altered the landscape in ways that have made both the droughts and the floods more destructive and made that prosperity fleeting. Much of the region sits atop the overtaxed Gulf Coast Aquifer, and though efforts have made over the last 40 years to limit withdrawals from it, enough water has been sucked out of it that the ground still subsides in some places, altering runoff patterns and allowing flood waters to gather.

What’s more, those more than 2 million newcomers to the region are living in houses and driving on roads and shopping in stores built atop what once was prairie that could have absorbed at least some of the fury of this flood and the next. What once was land that might have softened the storm’s blow is now, in many cases, collateral damage in what could turn out to be a $40 billion disaster.....take a moment to consider how best to rebuild, to pause and rethink how and where we build, to reflect not just on whether we’re altering the weather, but whether there is a way to make ourselves less vulnerable to it. Perhaps we could build differently, or set aside land that would both help recharge the dwindling water supplies in times of drought and slow the floods when they come.
adaptability  climate_change  extreme_weather_events  floods  water  resilience  sustainability  Texas  Houston  natural_calamities  disasters  Hurricane_Harvey  land_uses  droughts  books  collateral_damage  buffering  zoning 
september 2017 by jerryking
The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas. The World Is Watching. - The New York Times
By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN, Photographs by JOSH HANER
JUNE 15, 2017

Mr. Ovink is the country’s globe-trotting salesman in chief for Dutch expertise on rising water and climate change. Like cheese in France or cars in Germany, climate change is a business in the Netherlands. Month in, month out, delegations from as far away as Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, New York and New Orleans make the rounds in the port city of Rotterdam. They often end up hiring Dutch firms, which dominate the global market in high-tech engineering and water management.....From a Dutch mind-set, climate change is not a hypothetical or a drag on the economy, but an opportunity.....the Dutch strategy is It is, in essence, to let water in, where possible, not hope to subdue Mother Nature: to live with the water, rather than struggle to defeat it. The Dutch devise lakes, garages, parks and plazas that are a boon to daily life but also double as enormous reservoirs for when the seas and rivers spill over. You may wish to pretend that rising seas are a hoax perpetrated by scientists and a gullible news media. Or you can build barriers galore. But in the end, neither will provide adequate defense, the Dutch say.

“A smart city has to have a comprehensive, holistic vision beyond levees and gates,” as Arnoud Molenaar, the city’s climate chief, put it. “The challenge of climate adaptation is to include safety, sewers, housing, roads, emergency services. You need public awareness. You also need cyber-resilience, because the next challenge in climate safety is cybersafety. You can’t have vulnerable systems that control your sea gates and bridges and sewers. And you need good policies, big and small.

And what holds true for managing climate change applies to the social fabric, too. Environmental and social resilience should go hand in hand, officials here believe, improving neighborhoods, spreading equity and taming water during catastrophes. Climate adaptation, if addressed head-on and properly, ought to yield a stronger, richer state......the Dutch view: “We have been able to put climate change adaptation high on the public agenda without suffering a disaster in many years because we have shown the benefits of improving public space — the added economic value of investing in resilience.

“It’s in our genes,” he said. “Water managers were the first rulers of the land. Designing the city to deal with water was the first task of survival here and it remains our defining job. It’s a process, a movement.

“It is not just a bunch of dikes and dams, but a way of life.”
adaptability  climate_change  Dutch  floods  industry_expertise  Netherlands  opportunities  resilience  Rotterdam  sea-level_rise  sustainability  smart_cities  social_fabric 
june 2017 by jerryking
Donald Trump Poisons the World
Luomaike New Jersey 9 hours ago
As much as I deplore Trump and his supporters, there is a fascinating duality to his presidency. He is a hypocritical, narcissistic, self-delusional man who holds a Do...
letters_to_the_editor  Donald_Trump  climate_change 
june 2017 by jerryking
Donald Trump Poisons the World
JUNE 2, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”

That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath.

The essay explains why the Trump people are suspicious of any cooperative global arrangement, like NATO and the various trade agreements. It helps explain why Trump pulled out of the Paris global-warming accord. This essay explains why Trump gravitates toward leaders like Vladimir Putin, the Saudi princes and various global strongmen: They share his core worldview that life is nakedly a selfish struggle for money and dominance.

It explains why people in the Trump White House are so savage to one another. Far from being a band of brothers, their world is a vicious arena where staffers compete for advantage......In the essay, McMaster and Cohn make explicit the great act of moral decoupling woven through this presidency. In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest. David Brooks contends that this philosophy is based on an error about human beings and it leads to self-destructive behavior in all cases.

The error is that it misunderstands what drives human action. Yes, people are self-interested but they are also wired to cooperate....Good leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Reagan understand the selfish elements that drive human behavior, but they have another foot in the realm of the moral motivations. They seek to inspire faithfulness by showing good character. They try to motivate action by pointing toward great ideals.

Realist leaders like Trump, McMaster and Cohn seek to dismiss this whole moral realm. By behaving with naked selfishness toward others, they poison the common realm and they force others to behave with naked selfishness toward them........By treating the world simply as an arena for competitive advantage, Trump, McMaster and Cohn sever relationships, destroy reciprocity, erode trust and eviscerate the sense of sympathy, friendship and loyalty that all nations need when times get tough.....George Marshall was no idealistic patsy. He understood that America extends its power when it offers a cooperative hand and volunteers for common service toward a great ideal. Realists reverse that formula. They assume strife and so arouse a volley of strife against themselves.
commonwealth  op-ed  climate_change  Donald_Trump  Gary_Cohn  decoupling  worldviews  WSJ  H.R._McMaster  selfishness  U.S.foreign_policy  Greek  morals  realism  George_Marshall  Marshall_Plan  self-interest  autocrats  Thucydides  David_Brooks  transactional_relationships  national_interests  institutions  international_system  values  human_behavior 
june 2017 by jerryking
Nick Bostrom: ‘We are like small children playing with a bomb’
Sunday 12 June 2016 | Technology | The Guardian | by Tim Adams.

Sentient machines are a greater threat to human existence than climate change, according to the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom.

Bostrom, a 43-year-old Swedish-born philosopher, has lately acquired something of the status of prophet of doom among those currently doing most to shape our civilisation: the tech billionaires of Silicon Valley. His reputation rests primarily on his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, which was a surprise New York Times bestseller last year and now arrives in paperback, trailing must-read recommendations from Bill Gates and Tesla’s Elon Musk. (In the best kind of literary review, Musk also gave Bostrom’s institute £1m to continue to pursue its inquiries.)
artificial_intelligence  books  catastrophic_risk  climate_change  dangers  deep_learning  existential  machine_learning  Oxford  prophets  risks 
march 2017 by jerryking
IS THE CITY REALLY SINKING? – Kaieteur News
Jan 19, 2017

Many believe that the kind of flooding the country has experienced in recent years is related to issues connected to global warming. It is also known that the current drainage structure in Georgetown and the coastal plain cannot cope with the intensity and volume of rainfall.
The government owes it to the people to develop both short-term and long-term strategies to solve the problem. It should contract specialists in the field to increase the capacity of the current drainage structure in Georgetown and the coastal plain in order to absorb the volume of water from heavy rainfall. The specialists should also provide advice as to the viability of existence of Georgetown, which according to experts is sinking. The pertinent questions would be: What kind of drainage system is needed to ensure the survival of the people in the most fertile part of Guyana? And, more importantly, is the city really sinking?
Georgetown  Guyana  floods  climate_change  Dutch  French  British  history 
january 2017 by jerryking
Thomas Friedman’s Guide to Hanging On in the ‘Age of Accelerations’ - Bloomberg
by Paul Barrett
November 11, 2016,

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28)....the wisdom of pausing.... take time “to just sit and think”— a good reminder for the overcommitted.....Friedman's “core argument,” is his description of our disruptive times. By “accelerations,” he means the increases in computing power, which are enabling breakthroughs from 3D printing to self-driving cars. Meanwhile, globalization is creating vast wealth for those who capitalize on innovation and impoverishment for populations who don’t. All of this sped-up economic activity contributes to rising carbon levels, feeding the climate change that threatens civilization.....Friedman relishes catchphrases like “the Big Shift,” borrowed in this case from the HBR. He deploys B-school jargon to explain it, but the definition boils down to companies making the move from relying exclusively on in-house brainpower, patents, and data to exploiting “flows” of knowledge from anywhere in the world.... Friedman makes the case for changed policies to respond to the accelerations he chronicles.
accelerated_lifecycles  sustained_inquiry  Tom_Friedman  books  slack_time  reflections  3-D  globalization  impoverishment  climate_change  in-house  talent_flows  information_flows  GE  prizes  bounties  innovation  contests  contemplation  patents  data  brainpower  jargon  thinking  timeouts  power_of_the_pause 
january 2017 by jerryking
Goodbye to Barack Obama’s world
November 27, 2016 | Financial Times | by: Edward Luce

But Mr Trump will not reverse America’s relative decline. The chances are he will drastically accelerate it. The global role that Mr Obama inherited — and tried, to some degree, to uphold — is now in tatters. It would be hard to overstate the epochal significance of Mr Trump’s election. The US-led international order as we knew it for 70 years is over. The era of great power politics is back. An ebullient Russia, led by the strongman Putin, and an increasingly confident China, led by the strongman Xi Jinping, will deal with a wounded America led by strongman Trump. The long-term trajectory is towards China. But the short-term drama will focus on Mr Trump’s dealings with Mr Putin. How they play out is anybody’s guess. But it will not be pretty. Europe will be the loser. So too will American prestige.
politics  farewells  Obama  Donald_Trump  America_in_Decline?  legacies  Obamacare  climate_change  international_system  Edward_Luce  strongman  China_rising 
november 2016 by jerryking
Ideas worth floating: architects adapt to rising sea levels - FT.com
March 4, 2016 |FT| Nicola Davison.

.....As authorities around the world scramble to build so-called “resiliency” to the rising sea, Dutch architects are providing guidance. “In the Netherlands we are living in a completely artificial world,” says Koen Olthuis, founder of Waterstudio.nl, a practice that specialises in “amphibious” architecture. “If you just drive round Holland, you don’t see it, but if you know where to look, it’s all levees. It’s like a machine and if you stopped pumping 24/7, the water would rise within weeks.”....Since 1900, however, the oceans have risen; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that the average global sea level could rise more than a metre by 2100.

Higher seas mean Hurricane Sandy-like storm “surges” will hit coastal cities more frequently, while oceans will inundate low-lying areas from the Maldives to Miami. The OECD estimates that by 2070 $35tn worth of property in some of the world’s largest port cities will be at risk of flooding — though insurers will stop selling policies and banks will stop writing mortgages for seafront homes long before then.
The Netherlands began investing in water-resistant infrastructure...Dutch cities have also waterproofed. ...Rather than “fighting” the water with barriers and pumps, planners and architects are beginning to think cities should embrace the water....Climate scientists have different ideas about how quickly the sea around New York will rise, but rocks can be added to the breakwater to raise its height. Scape tries to build “flexible systems that can adapt”, says Elachi. “A lot of this is because we are designing for uncertainty.”
architecture  floods  sustainability  climate_change  Netherlands  resilience  adaptability  uncertainty  sea-level_rise 
april 2016 by jerryking
Carney, Bloomberg press for climate-change risk disclosure guidelines - The Globe and Mail
SHAWN MCCARTHY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Dec. 04, 2015

Mr. Bloomberg will lead a task force that will develop voluntary financial risk disclosure guidelines that will ensure consistent information for investors, lenders, insurers and other stakeholders....In a speech this fall at Lloyd’s of London insurance firm, Mr. Carney highlighted three types of threats: physical, or impacts from weather-related events such as floods, droughts and storms; liability issues arising from investors suing companies for failing to disclose risks or parties who suffer loss claiming compensation from those they hold responsible, and transition issues in which assets – especially fossil fuel reserves – are revalued due to the transition to a low-carbon economy.
climate_change  risks  Mark_Carney  Michael_Bloomberg  liabilities  threats  financial_risk  disclosure  valuations 
december 2015 by jerryking
Insurers look for new ways to cope with climate change - The Globe and Mail
SHAWN MCCARTHY - GLOBAL ENERGY REPORTER
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015

Institute for Catastrophe Loss Reduction. Speeding up for extreme weather events......World leaders in Paris aren't the only ones trying to come up with a plan for dealing with climate change. Matt Galloway spoke with Gordon McBean. He is a research chair with the Institute for Catastrophe Loss Reduction.
insurance  climate_change  catastrophes  natural_calamities  threats  weather  Intact_Financial  uWaterloo  extremes 
november 2015 by jerryking
A crisis for many years, and many reasons, to come - The Globe and Mail
JEFFREY SIMPSON
The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Sep. 05, 2015

The reasons are easy to identify, the consequences extremely difficult to assess, the solutions complicated and uncertain.

Europe is politically stable and prosperous; Africa and the Middle East are not. Europe’s population is steady or declining; Africa and the Middle East have exploding numbers. Europe’s geography is not seriously affected by climate change; parts of Africa and the Middle East, already dry, are getting drier and therefore less fertile.

War is all but unimaginable in Europe; military conflict is a fact of life in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya. Human rights are respected throughout Europe (with a few exceptions); human rights are systematically abused by authoritarian and theocratic regimes in some African and many Middle Eastern countries. Women have made startling advances in almost every walk of European life; women are still discriminated against in too many parts of Africa and the Middle East.

These pressures pushing or enticing large numbers of people toward Europe will not disappear. If anything, they will intensify as the years go on, because climate change, demographic pressures, fierce intrareligious rivalries, the lack of respect for pluralism and a host of other entrenched realities will not bend to moral entreaties or military interventions from Western countries.
mass_migrations  refugees  crisis  Europe  failed_states  Jeffrey_Simpson  root_cause  Non-Integrating_Gap  Functioning_Core  emerging_countries  developed_countries  demographic_changes  decline  climate_change  religious_intolerance  migrants  human_trafficking 
september 2015 by jerryking
Shelters from the storm: Preparing cities for a changing climate – before it’s too late - The Globe and Mail
ALEX BOZIKOVIC
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jul. 17, 2015

Rising sea levels, epic droughts, massive flooding: the effects of climate change are already here. How do we adapt? From the Netherlands to Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Alex Bozikovic explores the cutting-edge engineering – and cultural shifts – that could help
New_York_City  climate_change  cities  Hurricane_Sandy  floods  future-proofing  insurance  public_policy  disasters  Dutch  relief_recovery_reconstruction  FEMA  sustainability  natural_calamities  sea-level_rise 
july 2015 by jerryking
Go Ahead, Vladimir, Make My Day - NYTimes.com
APRIL 12, 2014

Continue reading the main story
[Thomas L. Friedman]

check out Opower, which just went public. Opower works with utilities and consumers to lower electricity usage and bills using behavioral economics, explained Alex Laskey, the company’s co-founder, at their Arlington, Va., office. They do it by giving people personalized communications that display in simple, clear terms how their own energy usage compares with that of their neighbors. Once people understand where they are wasting energy — and how they compare with their neighbors — many start consuming less. And, as their consumption falls, utilities can meet their customers’ demand without having to build new power plants to handle peak loads a few days of the year. Everybody wins. Opower just signed up the Tokyo Electric Power Company and its 20 million homes.

Putting all its customers together since it was founded in 2007, said Laskey, Opower has already saved about “4 terawatt hours of energy” and expects to be soon saving that annually. The Hoover Dam produces about 4 terawatts hours of energy a year. So we just got a new Hoover Dam — for free — in Arlington, Va.

Thomas L. Friedman
Vladimir_Putin  natural_gas  climate_change  Ukraine  pipelines  Tom_Friedman  embargoes  behavioural_economics 
april 2014 by jerryking
When data meets agriculture: Monsanto to buy Climate Corp. for $930M — Tech News and Analysis
Oct. 2, 2013 | GigaOM | By Stacey Higginbotham.

Monsanto, the giant agricultural company, says it will acquire data analytics firm the Climate Corp. in a cash deal valued at $930 million. This deal is an obvious extension of data analytics into the world of big agriculture, but it’s also a perfect example of how the combo of data and the internet of things is going to disrupt established industries in a way that traditional computing never could.

Climate Corp offered targeted insurance policies to farmers that incorporated all sorts of data about historical and current agriculture and weather....as climate change disrupts historical weather patterns, this boosts the risks to farmers that weather events might destroy crops, but it also changes the types of crops they should plant. Thus the data analysis that Climate Corp. offers is not only valuable to farmers today, but also to Monsanto as it tries to create crops that will thrive as the climate changes.
data  Monsanto  Climate_Corporation  agriculture  farming  weather  insurance  climate_change  risks  risk-management 
january 2014 by jerryking
The Heat Is On for Farmers - WSJ.com
Nov. 20, 2013 | WSJ | By Neena Rai.

Ongoing extreme weather shocks are threatening global food security: Agricultural harvests are now more prone to drastic variations in size, making food prices increasingly volatile...The sharp increase in 2013 cereal production is due to a rebound in the U.S. corn crop and record wheat harvests in countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. World rice production in 2013 is also expected to grow.

Global cereal stocks are thus anticipated to increase 13% this year to 564 million metric tons. Wheat and rice stocks are projected to rise, by 7% and 3% respectively, said the FAO...."In the last decade, food prices have been highly erratic and we have never seen such instability before," says Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. "There are a number of causes, but an important one relates to the weather, where drought or heat hits a major food-producing region of the world. "I think the extremes we have seen in the last few years are here to stay," he warns.... Raju Agarwal, executive director of OneProsper International, an Ottawa-based charity, which distributes drip-irrigation kits to Indian farmers.....While boosting crop production and improving access to food are key to ensuring global food security, in developed nations a more efficient use of available food could also help to feed the hungry. Even small, easy acts by consumers and retailers could dramatically cut the 1.3 billion metric tons of food wasted each year world-wide, the U.N. has said. It claims approximately one-third of all food produced, worth around $1 trillion, is wasted or lost in the food production process.
farming  agriculture  climate_change  grains  cereals  weather  volatility  instability  pricing 
november 2013 by jerryking
The biggest threat to the global economy? The weather -
Sep. 06 | The Globe and Mail |ERIC REGULY

In an interview in Munich, Peter Hoppe, the meteorologist who is head of the reinsurance giant’s georisk unit, said: “Climate change will create security problems because of the migrations it will create.”

Drought is emerging as one of the biggest natural hazards. It has the potential to reshape human landscapes and entire economies, mostly for the worse but sometimes for the better. Canada is less prone to drought than the United States; it could emerge as the world’s emergency breadbasket if the warming trend extends the growing season and the amount of productive agricultural land....Droughts are especially ugly because they sometimes develop gradually, meaning that their potential to cause harm is often ignored, and can last many years. ...The former boss of the World Food Program, Josette Sheeran, was fond of saying that the desperately hungry do one of three things: They riot, they migrate or they die. The Syrian civil war is giving the world an uncomfortable taste of the effects of mass migration. An enormous drought could make that migration look small and its security and economic consequences would be hard to fathom. It appears that no country, rich or poor, has a plan to deal with mass drought and mass migration.
extreme_weather_events  weather  climate_change  insurance  Munich_Re  Eric_Reguly  natural_calamities  droughts  farmland  food  hunger  mass_migrations  agriculture  threats  security_&_intelligence  slowly_moving  geopolitical-risk  global_economy  imperceptible_threats 
september 2013 by jerryking
Bloomberg Outlines $20 Billion Storm Protection Plan - NYTimes.com
By MARC SANTORA and KIA GREGORY
Published: June 11, 2013
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg outlined a far-reaching plan on Tuesday to protect New York from the threat of rising sea levels and powerful storm surges by building an extensive network of flood walls, levees and bulkheads to guard much of the city’s 520 miles of coastline.
The cost of fortifying critical infrastructure like the power grid, retrofitting older buildings to withstand powerful storms, and defending the coastline was estimated to be $20 billion, according to a 430-page report outlining the proposals.
New_York_City  Michael_Bloomberg  floods  climate_change  power_grid  infrastructure  vulnerabilities  business-continuity  sea-level_rise 
june 2013 by jerryking
No to Keystone. Yes to Crazy. - NYTimes.com
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: March 9, 2013

If Keystone gets approved, environmentalists should have a long shopping list ready, starting with a price signal that discourages the use of carbon-intensive fuels in favor of low-carbon energy. Nothing would do more to clean our air, drive clean-tech innovation, weaken petro-dictators and reduce the deficit than a carbon tax.... Finally, the president could make up for Keystone by introducing into the public discourse the concept of “natural infrastructure,” argues Mark Tercek, the president and chief executive of The Nature Conservancy, and the co-author of “Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.”

“Forests, wetlands and other ecosystems are nature’s infrastructure for controlling floods, supplying water, and doing other things we need to adapt to climate change.
Tom_Friedman  climate_change  books  nature  hydraulic_fracturing  petro-dictators  petro-politics  natural_gas  Keystone_XL  pricing  carbon_tax  public_discourse  natural_infrastructure 
march 2013 by jerryking
The Scary Hidden Stressor - NYTimes.com
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: March 2, 2013

Consider this: The world’s top nine wheat-importers are in the Middle East: “Seven had political protests resulting in civilian deaths in 2011,” said Sternberg. “Households in the countries that experience political unrest spend, on average, more than 35 percent of their income on food supplies,” compared with less than 10 percent in developed countries.
"The stressor is never the only explanation for the crime, but it is inevitably an important factor in a complex set of variables that lead to a disaster. “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” doesn’t claim that climate change caused the recent wave of Arab revolutions, but, taken together, the essays make a strong case that the interplay between climate change, food prices (particularly wheat) and politics is a hidden stressor that helped to fuel the revolutions and will continue to make consolidating them into stable democracies much more difficult. "...
Everything is linked: Chinese drought and Russian bushfires produced wheat shortages leading to higher bread prices fueling protests in Tahrir Square. Sternberg calls it the globalization of “hazard.”
Tom_Friedman  Arab-Muslim_world  climate_change  food  fault_lines  hidden  multiple_stressors  political_instability  political_unrest 
march 2013 by jerryking
Dramatic temperature increases could threaten Canadian health, infrastructure - The Globe and Mail
Jan. 21 2013 | The Globe and Mail | ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country. Rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic. What were once considered exceptional weather patterns – the kind researchers reject to avoid skewing their data – are becoming common....Canada’s infrastructure wasn’t built for this kind of climate. And much of the burden falls on municipal governments, with road, sewer and transit systems that can barely cope with existing weather conditions, let alone future vagaries.

“There’s a very large gap in terms of the current health of municipal infrastructure in Canada and where we should be right now,” said Paul Kovacs, University of Western Ontario economist and executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, a group established by Canada’s insurance industry to research the costs of natural disasters and how to mitigate them....The effects of erratic weather patterns became very real for Ontario’s apple farmers last year: An early thaw followed by an unexpected frost wiped out 82 per cent of the province’s crop. Now, the industry – worth about $100-million in Ontario alone – is trying to figure out how to weatherproof itself. Potential fixes are wind breaks, hail nets, frost fans and sunscreen for apples to prevent damage from sunlight and heat. It’s expensive and uncertain, especially when the weather becomes tougher to predict. Leslie Huffman, Ontario’s apple production specialist, is working with the province on evaluating new techniques.
apples  anomalies  Canada  catastrophes  climate_change  extreme_weather_events  infrastructure  insurance  municipalities  natural_calamities  risk-mitigation  weather 
january 2013 by jerryking
Global Warming May Chill the North - WSJ.com
March 7, 2003 | WSJ | By SHARON BEGLEY | Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.

It helps to think of the Gulf Stream as a checkout counter. When this warm, salty current reaches its Northern terminus, the arctic air cools it, causing it to sink (cold water is denser than warm). Much like a grocery-store conveyor belt that dives underneath the counter pulls up the other end, the Gulf Stream's plunge pulls warm tropical water up to the Northeastern U.S. and Canada and Western Europe. That makes these regions at least 9.5° F. warmer than they'd be without the Gulf Stream...."We're seeing huge freshening in the North Atlantic," says Mr. Gagosian. "The sinking of the cold, salty water has slowed 20% in the last 30 years." No one knows how much of a freshwater influx would shut down the Gulf Stream (this winter's big chill in the Northeast is not a sign that the current is weakening so much as a sneak preview of what climate would be like without it). But if the tipping point were reached, the nations of the North Atlantic could face a so-called little ice age in under a decade. Icebergs would lurk off Portugal....The surprising discovery, based on airborne surveys and satellite images, is forcing scientists to re-examine the possibility that ice shelves act like corks in a bottle: Remove them, and the glaciers behind accelerate toward the sea. Glaciers are moving as much as 200% faster where an ice shelf has disappeared, says glaciologist Robert H. Thomas of NASA: "Individually, the extra water a glacier adds to the world's seas doesn't amount to much, but if more and more glaciers start surging as we lose ice shelves it's a much bigger problem."
climate_change  Arctic  Gulf_Stream  tipping_points  Sharon_Begley  counterintuitive  the_Atlantic 
january 2013 by jerryking
Weather insurance: Agriculture and algorithms
Nov 19th 2012 | | The Economist |by T.R. | BERLIN

Mass suicides are a shocking reminder of a global problem caused by global warming. Farming has always been a gamble, but the growing number of “unusual weather events”, as experts call them, make seeding and harvesting an even riskier business...The Climate Corporation, a start-up based in Silicon Valley, wants to reverse the trend and reduce farmers’ financial risks—by crossing agriculture with the IT industry’s latest trend: big data. The firm is collecting all kinds of information—including on weather patterns, climate trends and soil characteristics—and analyses the data down to an individual field. These insights are then used to offer farmers tailored insurance policies against the damage from extreme weather events....marketing is an equally big challenge for the six-year-old company. Farmers are least likely to be early adopters, especially when it comes to a new product that lives in a computing cloud, admits Mr Friedberg. The Climate Corporation has a website where customers can buy policies online. But it had to learn that selling its insurance to farmers in remote areas is best done through a network of agents.
weather  insurance  algorithms  agriculture  farming  climate_change  financial_risk  Climate_Corporation  Weatherbill 
december 2012 by jerryking
A Change in the Weather on Wall Street - NYTimes.com
November 7, 2012, 7:00 am52 Comments
A Change in the Weather on Wall Street
By TINA ROSENBERG
climate_change  Wall_Street  weather 
november 2012 by jerryking
How big data will help manage a world of 7 billion people — Cleantech News and Analysis
3. The Climate Corporation. Formerly called WeatherBill, the now renamed Climate Corporation uses big data tools to offer analytics and reports to the agriculture industry, and also sells a weather insurance product to farmers, to help protect them from losses from extreme weather events. The world has seen a rise in extreme weather events, partly do to a change in climate, and farmers can expect more of this unpredictability going forward. Combined with more unpredictable weather, food prices will likely rise as the population grows and usable land becomes constrained, particularly in developing countries.
Weatherbill  Climate_Corporation  massive_data_sets  weather  agriculture  farming  insurance  crop_insurance  climate_change 
may 2012 by jerryking
Insuring against climate : Nature News
22 July 2009 | Nature 460, 442-443 (2009) | doi:10.1038/460442a

News
Insuring against climate

Negotiators push for policies to help weather natural disasters.

Jeff Tollefson
climate_change  farming  insurance  crop_insurance  Ethiopia  natural_calamities 
april 2012 by jerryking
Climate Feedback: A new adaptation tool: climate insurance : Climate Feedback
22 Jul 2009 | 15:54 BST | Posted by Jeff Tollefson.

climate insurance is by no means a magic bullet. But clearly the tools of modern finance could certainly help make poor nations prepare for and respond to all manner of natural disasters big and small.

We explore some of these ideas in this week’s issue of Nature, taking a quick look at how the insurance debate is playing out in the ongoing United Nations climate talks. The upshot is that some kind of insurance mechanism is likely to make it into whatever climate deal is struck in Copenhagen and beyond.

One commonly cited option is index insurance, which is tied to things like rainfall that can be measured objectively. This cuts down on costs by eliminating the need for audits and investigations. In the case of something like crop insurance, moreover, it could put money in the hands of farmers immediately after the rains fail – and before the hunger sets in....Today these programs are being paid for largely by the farmers and nations buying the insurance, but industrialized nations would likely subsidize any insurance program deployed as part of an international climate agreement. The logic is that extreme weather variations – including droughts and heavy storms – are likely to increase in a warmer world, which means that both costs and premiums will rise as well.

A key challenge moving forward is how to scale up programs that benefit the world’s poorest farmers and communities. Dan Osgood, a researcher at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, points out the pilot programs that are under way today have generally been deployed in areas where information – regarding weather, crops and the like – is available. This means it will only get more difficult moving forward....Osgood says the insurance question could also increase pressure on scientists and insurance companies to tease out the long-term impacts of global warming at very local scales.
insurance  crop_insurance  climate_change  natural_calamities  data  farming  poverty  hyperlocal  indices  microtargeting  audits  pilot_programs 
april 2012 by jerryking
How to feed 9 billion people: the future of food and farming
By Jonathan M. Gitlin | Published about a year ago.

Professor Beddington began by giving a brief overview of the report, also entitled The Future of Food and Farming, stating that the case for urgent action in the global food system is now compelling, and denying the "foul slander that I've been buying wheat futures to drive the price up." Although he was able to inject some levity, it is a deeply serious and somewhat worrying issue.....we need to stop romanticizing small farmers. The solutions to future food production can't and shouldn't be an either-or between them and large agrifarms. She claimed that big food companies' objectives do align with sustainability needs, but they're villainized unreasonably. Nestlé benefits from adopting small farm techniques that decrease contamination, and farmers benefit from stable access to customers.
agribusiness  agriculture  Big_Food  climate_change  cost_of_inaction  demonization  farming  food  Nestlé  smallholders  sustainability  villains  volatility 
april 2012 by jerryking
Take the Subway - NYTimes.com
March 3, 2012 | NYT | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.

Two recent, smart books. The first is called “The Sixth Wave: How to Succeed in a Resource Limited World,” by James Bradfield Moody and Bianca Nogrady. Moody, who works at Australia’s national research agency, and Nogrady, a science journalist, argue that, since the industrial revolution, we’ve seen five long waves of innovation — from water power to steam to electrification to mass production and right up to information and communications technologies. They argue the sixth wave will be resource efficiency — because rising populations, with growing appetites, will lead to both increasing scarcity of resources and dangerously high pollution, waste and climate change.

This will force us to decouple consumption from economic growth.

Amory Lovins, the physicist who is chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute, begins in his new book, “Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era,” which is summarized in the current Foreign Affairs. The Rocky Mountain Institute and its business collaborators show how private enterprise — motivated by profit, supported by smart policy — can lead America off both oil and coal by 2050, saving $5 trillion, through innovation emphasizing design and strategy.

“You don’t have to believe in climate change to solve it,” says Lovins. “Everything we do to raise energy efficiency will make money, improve security and health, and stabilize climate.”
Amory_Lovins  books  climate_change  constraints  economic_growth  electric_power  energy  energy_efficiency  Moscow  physicists  pollution  resource_efficiency  scarcity  steam_engine  sustainability  Tom_Friedman  waste  water_power 
march 2012 by jerryking
PREVIEW-Arctic nations eye future of world's last frontier
May 10, 2011 | Reuters | By Andrew Quinn.

* Evidence mounts of accelerating climate change

* Oil, shipping, fisheries eye new opportunities

* Nations boost cooperation to face shared risks
Arctic  climate_change  Greenland  oil_industry  natural_resources  shipping  fisheries 
october 2011 by jerryking
« earlier      
per page:    204080120160

Copy this bookmark:





to read