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Urban innovation doesn't have to leave rural areas behind — Quartz
"A nice house in the country is an aspirational lifestyle for many: a little place in Norfolk or Maine, a few acres of land, an old farmhouse that’s been nicely retrofitted, maybe a few solar panels on the roof. You could grow some of your own vegetables in the garden and use the internet to video-conference into the office. You’d be back to the land, with all the creature comforts of the city.

But it’s very expensive to pull yourself out of Western industrial capitalism and give yourself the simpler life. If you try and do that in Britain, it’ll cost at least £300,000 (USD$380,000) to buy the place and get it set up. Then you’ve got to spend £20,000 to £50,000 a year to maintain your lifestyle on top of that. You’re basically going back to what the original builders of that farmhouse had, but the difference is that now you have an internet connection, clean water, and solar panels—and it cost you nearly half a million pounds to get there.

For so many of us, the urban phase of existence is seen as an on-ramp that will hopefully one day take us back into the rural phase; the city is where you come to make the money to buy yourself back out into the country. A simple rural life is the golden apple at the end of the capitalist trip, the brass ring that 30 or 40 years of successful work buys you. But it’s also a paradox: We want to pay to live in the near-poverty that the original builders of our dreamy farmhouse were working to escape.

That was 1600s England. Modern-day South America, India, parts of China, and most of Africa essentially have the same lifestyle niche that most of Britain had in the Elizabethan era. Their standard of living is very low. Their water is dirty. The open fires on which they cook on emit a lot of smoke, so everybody is smoking the equivalent of 20 cigarettes a day. There are all kinds of terrible diseases that lower life expectancy, and somewhere between one in five to one in 20 children will die before the age of five.

But rural life doesn’t have to look like this. It is my prediction that in the 21st century, the villagers of Africa, India, and South America will leapfrog over the city—and the rest of Western industrialized society. Instead of aspiring to migrate to the cities to make a bunch of money, the rural farmers of the developing world will be soon able to stay where they are with low-cost, local, distributed versions of all the critical amenities they need.

Start with a building, like a mud or thatched hut. Put a cheap, water-resistant coating on the outside and some solar panels on the roof, just enough to charge your cell phone. Thanks to cheap water filters—you can buy them for about 30 quid now—you’ll also have clean drinking water. There are some great designs from an English outfit called Safe Water Trust that are even cheaper, and they’ll last more-or-less forever in a typical village context.

With your phone charged, you’ll be able to access the internet; rural areas are increasingly equipped with 3G, 4G, or soon-to-be 5G connections. Your kids will therefore be able to get an education off your tablet computer—which now can cost as little as $35—and those solar panels on the roof can keep it running. You can make some money, too, like doing a bit of translation work for your cousin who lives in New York, or some web development for your ex-colleague’s start-up. You’re still growing your vegetables out the back, but now you can look up crop diseases, and there’s this thing called permaculture that you’re also taking an online course in.

Humans need to explore this mode of living if we are to continue catapulting down this materialistic path. When we wind up with a global population of 9 billion, where everybody has two cars and a four-bedroom house, there’s no other way of arranging the pieces. There isn’t enough metal in the earth, never mind enough money.

We’re therefore at a dead end. Inequality is here to stay. But inequality doesn’t have to mean abject poverty. These rural communities will have access to self-sufficient peasant agriculture, education by internet, and a standard of living that is roughly what we aspire to have when we get rich and retire—but they’ll be able to achieve it without going through the urban hyper-capitalist phase first.

This notion of rural life will be centered around the bicycle, the solar panel, and the tablet computer instead of the Land Rover, the diesel generator, and the combine harvester. A life of stable self-sufficiency, rather than precarious plenty. If leapfrogging rural communities can manifest an existence that would satisfy the lawyer-turned-faux-farmer, the notion of rural-urban-and-then-back-to-rural migration would reach the end of the cul-de-sac."
cities  rural  leapfrogging  vinaygupta  2018  capitalism  solar  internet  web  connectivity  simplicity  decentralization  mobile  phones  smartphones  technology  tablets 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Otherlab!
[previously bookmarked: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:2482ea1338ff ]

"We are mischievous scientists, practical dreamers, working on making the world the way it needs to be. Asking: "Wouldn't it be cool if..." is an excellent place to start:

If you'd like the more in depth version check out the video from our Show and Tell event. We're always on the look out for interesting folks so if this excites you then head over to Jobs to see what's going.

How we work

We have a strong track record of attracting research funding for early and risky ideas in areas such as ‘programmable matter’, robotics, solar energy, wind energy, energy storage, computational and advanced manufacturing, medical devices and more. These non-dilutive investments allows us de-risk the very early exploratory phase of our projects.

We develop enabling new technologies through an emphasis on prototyping coupled to rigorous physics simulation and mathematical models. Our design tools are often made in-house because it's lonely at the frontier and to create new things and ideas, you often have to create the tools to design them.

Core to our model are collaborations with external entities including commercial entities, universities and other research firms. In the past 5 years Otherlab has collaborated with Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, NASA, Autodesk, GE, FORD, Google, Motorola, IDEO and a host of others.

What we work on

Our principal domains of expertise are: Renewable and clean energy, Computational Geometry, Computational design tools, Digital Fabrication, Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and automation & Engineered textiles.

Want a more practical idea? We like you! Head over to Projects for a better sense.

How to reach us

We are @otherlab on twitter and that is a great place to start a conversation. Visual learners may find our YouTube Channel and Instagram feed interesting.

You can email us at info@otherlab.com. We live in the old Schoenstein Organ Factory building in the heart of San Francisco's Mission district:

3101 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110"
sanfrancisco  engineering  robots  robotics  solar  wind  energy  manufacturing  otherlab  fabrication  computationalgeometry  saulgriffith  design  make  diy  innovation  tools 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Refugee camps are the "cities of tomorrow", says aid expert
"Governments should stop thinking about refugee camps as temporary places, says Kilian Kleinschmidt, one of the world's leading authorities on humanitarian aid (+ interview).

"These are the cities of tomorrow," said Kleinschmidt of Europe's rapidly expanding refugee camps. "The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation."

"In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city," he told Dezeen.

Kleinschmidt said a lack of willingness to recognise that camps had become a permanent fixture around the world and a failure to provide proper infrastructure was leading to unnecessarily poor conditions and leaving residents vulnerable to "crooks".

"I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis," he said. "We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed."

Kleinschmidt, 53, worked for 25 years for the United Nations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in various camps and operations worldwide. He was most recently stationed in Zaatari in Jordan, the world's second largest refugee camp – before leaving to start his own aid consultancy, Switxboard.

He believes that migrants coming into Europe could help repopulate parts of Spain and Italy that have been abandoned as people gravitate increasingly towards major cities.

"Many places in Europe are totally deserted because the people have moved to other places," he said. "You could put in a new population, set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished neglected area."

Refugees could also stimulate the economy in Germany, which has 600,000 job vacancies and requires tens of thousands of new apartments to house workers, he said.

"Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost," he explained. "Building 300,000 affordable apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this!"

"It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis."

Kleinschmidt told Dezeen that aid organisations and governments needed to accept that new technologies like 3D printing could enable refugees and migrants to become more self-sufficient.

"With a Fab Lab people could produce anything they need – a house, a car, a bicycle, generating their own energy, whatever," he said.

His own attempts to set up a Zaatari Fab Lab – a workshop providing access to digital fabrication tools – have been met with opposition.

"That whole concept that you can connect a poor person with something that belongs to the 21st century is very alien to even most aid agencies," he said. "Intelligence services and so on from government think 'my god, these are just refugees, so why should they be able to do 3D-printing? Why should they be working on robotics?' The idea is that if you're poor, it's all only about survival."

"We have to get away from the concept that, because you have that status – migrant, refugee, martian, alien, whatever – you're not allowed to be like everybody else."

Read the edited transcript from our interview with Kilian Kleinschmidt:

Talia Radford: Why did you leave the UN?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I left the the UN to be as disruptive as possible, as provocative as possible, because within the UN of course there is certain discipline. I mean I was always the rebel.

Talia Radford: What is there to rebel about?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis. We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed.

In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city.

These are the cities of tomorrow. The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation. Let's look at these places as cities.

Talia Radford: Why aren't refugee camps flourishing into existing cities?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: It's down to the stupidity of the aid organisations, who prefer to waste money and work in a non-sustainable way rather than investing in making them sustainable.

Talia Radford: Why are people coming to Europe?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Everybody who is coming here right now is an economic migrant. They are not refugees. They were refugees in Jordan, but they are coming to Europe to study, to work, to have a perspective for their families. In the pure definition, it's a migration issue.

Right now everybody is going to Germany because in Germany they have 600,000 job vacancies. So of course there is an attraction, and there is space. Once the space is filled, nobody will go there anymore. They will go somewhere else.

Talia Radford: How do refugees – or economic migrants – know where to go? Via the media?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: No, it's all done through Whatsapp!

Talia Radford: What is the relationship between migration and technology?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Every Syrian refugee in the Zaatari camp has been watching Google self-driving cars moving around, so [they] don't believe the information only belongs to the rich people anymore.

We did studies in the Zaatari camp on communication. Everybody had a cellphone and 60 per cent had a smartphone. The first thing people were doing when they came across the border was calling back home to Syria and saying "hey we made it". So the big, big thing was to distribute Jordanian sim cards.

Once we had gotten over the riots over water and lots of other things that politicised the camp, the next big issue was internet connectivity.

Talia Radford: What are the infrastructure requirements of a mass influx of refugees?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The first is the logistics of accommodation: that's the survival bit. Everyone is struggling with this now, in reception centres, camps – every country in the world is dealing with this. Eighty-five to 90 per cent of any people on the move will be melting into the population so the real issue is how you deal with a sudden higher demand for accommodation.

Germany says that they suddenly need 300 to 400,000 affordable housing units more per year. It's about dealing with the structural issues, dealing with the increased population, and absorbing them into existing infrastructure.

Talia Radford: How do you see the refugee situation in Europe now?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The discussion in Germany is quite interesting, because they currently have 600,000 jobs to fill, but they are all in places where there is no housing. It's all in urban centres where they have forgotten to build apartments.

Half of east Germany is empty. Half of southern Italy is empty. Spain is empty. Many places in Europe are totally deserted.

You could redevelop some of these empty cities into free-trade zones where you would put in a new population and actually set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones, which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished, neglected area.

Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost. Building 300,000 apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this! It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis.

In Pakistan, in Jordan, they say "Oh no! These people are all going back in five minutes so we're not building any apartments for them! Put them in tents, put them in short-lived solutions." What they are losing is actually a real opportunity for progress, for change. They are losing an opportunity for additional resources, capacities, know-how.

Talia Radford: What other technologies have you dealt with in relation to refugees and migration?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Energy is the big one. Things are finally moving because of the energy storage, which we suddenly have with the Tesla batteries for instance. Decentralised production of energy is the way forward. Thirty per cent of the world's population does not have regular access to energy. We could see a mega, mega revolution. With little investment we can set up a solar-power plant that not only provides power to the entire camp, but can also be sold to the surrounding settlements.

And water. In the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Danish groundwater pump supplier Grundfos partnered with a water company and you now have a smart-water terminal in the slum, where with smart cards you can buy clean drinking water.

You buy your water from a safe location for a fraction of what the crooks of the water business in Nairobi would sell the water for. So suddenly it becomes affordable, it becomes safe, and you can manage the quantities yourself.

A lot of change is facilitated by mobile phones. No poor person has a bank account any more in Kenya. Everybody has an M-Pesa account on their mobile phone. All transactions are done with their mobile phone. They don't need banks. They pay their staff now with your mobile phone. You charge their M-Pesa account.

Talia Radford: Are any of these services being set up at refugee camps?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: At Zaatari, the UNHCR never planned to provide electricity for the households. So people took it themselves from the power lines running through the camp. Electricity means safety, it means social life, it means business. Big business! People were charging €30 per connection and more.

With a $3 million investment in pre-paid meters, you could have ensured every household would get a certain subsidised quantity of energy. The UNHCR didn't think it would have $3 million to invest in the equipment, and so it is spending a million dollars a month of taxpayers' money on an unmanaged electricity bill.

Talia Radford: You helped set up a Fab Lab… [more]
immigration  cities  humanitarianaid  urban  urbanism  kiliankleinschmidt  unhcr  zaatari  jordan  refugees  refugeecamps  switxboard  europe  germany  economics  españa  spain  italy  italia  fabricationtaliaradford  interviews  migration  employment  jobs  work  fablabs  safety  infrastructure  kenya  nairobi  kibera  grundfos  energy  decentralization  solarpower  solar  batteries  technology  pakistan  housing  homes  politics  policy  syria 
november 2015 by robertogreco
On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk — Medium
[via: http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/131978924858/dont-ask-permission-from-a-state-beholden-to]

"Don’t ask permission from a state beholden to oligarchs, and definitely don’t expect those oligarchs to do any of this for you. Guerilla gardening is the model, but look further. Guerilla solar panel installation. Guerilla water treatment facility restoration. Guerilla magnificent temple to the human spirit construction. Guerilla carbon sequestration megastructure creation.

Figure out what a community needs to be prosperous, peaceful and sustainable in as long a term as you can wrap your head around, and start building whatever piece is most in reach before the absent state notices. Doing so just might create pockets of more effective, horizontal politics. As the state wanes, these pockets can grow in size and influence, creating a better world even if some government claims the authority of law and holds a monopoly on violence.

Now, political choices got us into this mess, and political choices could get us out. I for one argue for a comprehensive set of reforms that were inspired by the discussions held around the world during Occupy: a global debt jubilee to free both countries and individuals from debts that impoverish and enslave them; a tax on extreme wealth to control inequality and rein in the power of oligarchs; a guaranteed basic income to provide for the poor, the infirm and those more useful as caregivers, artists and thinkers than employees of businesses; a dramatic reduction in the workweek to slow down unsustainable levels of economic expansion and to eliminate the countless “bullshit jobs” that serve no function but to bore those who hold them; the regulation or even abolition of usury (once considered as great a sin as slavery), so that investments in sustainable infrastructure that will pay off in cathedral time are not hampered by interest payments that will eventually exceed principal."



"As I argued in my discussion of cities, solarpunk should be careful not to idealize either the gothic high tech or the favela chic. No matter how many High Line-style parks or vertical farms they build, Manhattan will be useless if it is only filled with the luxury condos of absentee financiers. And favelas may be full of jugaad-innovation and dense with diverse entrepreneurialism, but they feature a fatal flaw: no fire codes. Slums are fascinating from a design perspective right up until they burn down or wash away. In a world of more extreme weather, disasters will strike down favelas before their recycling-centric, low-carbon lifestyles can save the climate.

Instead, I like the idea of focusing on large-scale infrastructure projects that will provide value for communities into the long term. A seed bank; a hyper-dense vertical permaculture farm engineered for carbon fixing; a massive, low-maintenance desalination system; a space elevator. These projects could themselves be the organizing principle around which unique solarpunk communities are organized."



"I’ve seen many people describe solarpunk as optimistic. My last suggestion is this: don’t be optimistic, be hopeful. As Vaclav Havel explained: “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Havel, an artist turned activist turned statesman who led his nation out of a time of crisis, in many ways embodies the transformational power of ideas and aesthetics — and thus the potential of a movement like solarpunk to do real good in the world.

This essay has been long, and it has discussed many troubling situations and possibilities. I wrote these things because I think it is important for any cohesive body of political thought to contrast what it wants with what it opposes: for transparency and privacy, against surveillance and deception; for conservation and abundance, against hoarding and exploitation; for neighborhoods and collaboratives, against gangs and police.

I also wrote this because I believe the enormity of our problems doesn’t have to paralyze us. Quite the opposite: seeing the world as it is is vital if you are going to figure out how it could be. Now is the moment to be galvanized, to know that we are on to something, and to make acting on these ideas a real part of our lives."
solarpunk  2015  andrewdanahudson  politics  favelachic  gothichightech  recycling  diy  optimism  hopefulness  scale  activism  jugaad  infrastructure  organization  horizontality  sustainability  solar  water  climatechange  gardening  hope  refugees  longnow  longnowfoundation  williamgibson  madmax  paolobacigalupi  bladerunner  overconsumption  overpopulation  thecomingrevolution  cities  urban  urbanism  brucesterling  drought  blackswans 
october 2015 by robertogreco
No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism - Dangerous to those who profit from the way things areDangerous to those who profit from the way things are
"This review [http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tomorrowland-is-like-watching-a-jetpack-eat-itself-1706822006 ] of Disney’s Tomorrowland (and others like it that I have read) got me thinking about something I was asked at the Design In Action summit last week in Edinburgh. I was there participating in the “Once Upon a Future” event, where I read a story called “The Dreams in the Bitch House.” It’s about a tech sorority at a small New England university. And programmable matter.

After I did my keynote and read my story, I did a Q&A. After a few questions, someone in the audience asked: “Why so negative?”

I get this question a lot. I’ve been involved in a couple of “optimistic” science fiction anthologies, namely Shine (edited by Jetse de Vries) and Hieroglyph (edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn). But people don’t invite me to these because I’m an optimistic person. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Evidence:

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InDOzrtS42M ]

When I was trained as a futurist (I have a Master’s in the subject), I was taught to see the whole scope of a problem. That’s at the root of design thinking. The old joke about designers is that when someone asks how many designers you need to change a lightbulb, the designer asks “Does it need to be a lightbulb?” Because really, what the room needs is a window. When people talk about innovation, that’s what they mean. A re-framing of the issue that helps you see the whole problem and approach it from another angle.

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation. Jetpacks are a fetish object for retrofuturist otaku who jerked off to Judy Jetson, or maybe Jennifer Connelly’s character in The Rocketeer. “We were promised jetpacks!” they whine. Yeah, dude, but what you got was Agent Orange. Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is.

Jetpacks solve exactly one problem: rapid transit. And you know what would help with that? Better transit. Better telepresence. Better work-life balance. Are jetpacks an innovative solution to the problem of transit? Nope. But they sure look great with your midlife crisis.

But railing against jetpacks isn’t an answer to the question. Why so negative? Three reasons:

1) We have more data than we used to, and we’re obtaining more all the time.

Why don’t we fantasize about life in space like we used to? Because we know it’s really fucking difficult and dangerous. Why don’t we research things like food pills any more? Because we know eating fibre helps prevent colon cancer. We know those things because we’ve done the science. The data is there, and for every piece of technology we use, we accumulate more. It’s hard to argue with that vast wealth of data. At least, it’s hard to do so without looking like some whackjob climate change denier.

2) Less optimistic futures have the power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

When people ask me, “Why can’t you be more positive?” what I hear is, “Why can’t you tell me a story that conforms to my narrative and comforts me?” Because discomfiting futures have real power. As Alf Rehn notes:
What we need, then, is more uncommon futurism. A futurism that cares not a whit about what’s hot right now, who remain stoically unimpressed by drones and wearable IT, and who instead take it as their job to shock and awe CEOs with visions as radical as those of the futurists of yore. We need futurism that is less interested in agreeing with contemporary futurists and their ongoing circle-jerk, and who takes pride in offending and disgusting those futurists who would like to protect the status quo.


The truth is that the horrible dystopia you’re reading about is already happening to someone else, somewhere else. What makes people nervous is the idea that it could happen to them. That’s why I have to keep sharing it.

3) The most harmful idea in this world is that change is impossible.

Octavia E. Butler said it best: “The only lasting truth / is Change.” And yet, we act like change is impossible. Whether we’re frustrated by policy gridlock, or rolling our eyes at Hollywood reboots, or taking our spouses on the same goddamn date we have for for twenty years, we act as though everything will remain the same, forever and ever, amen. But look around you. Twenty years ago, thinks were very different. Even five years ago, they were different. Look at social progress like gay marriage. Look at the rise of solar power. Look at the shrinking of the ice caps. Things do change, they are changing, and they will change. And not all of those changes will be positive. Not all of them will be negative, either. But change does occur. Rather than thinking of change as a positive or a negative, as utopian or dystopian, just recognize that it’s going to happen and prepare yourself. Futurists don’t predict the future. We see multiple outcomes and help you prepare for them.

In the end, the lacklustre performance of Tomorrowland at the box office has nothing to do with whether optimism is alive or dead. It has to do with changing demographics among moviegoers who know how to spot an Ayn Rand bedtime story when they see one. There are whole generations of moviegoers for whom jetpacks don’t mean shit, whose first memories of NASA are the Challenger disaster. And you know what? Those same generations believe in driverless cars, solar energy, smart cities, AR contacts, and vat-grown meat. They saw the election of America’s first black president, and they witnessed a wave of violence against young black men. They don’t want the depiction of an “optimistic” future. They want a future where their concerns are taken seriously and humanely, with compassion and intelligence and validation. And that’s way harder than optimism."
culture  future  futurism  discourse  madelineashby  2015  tomorrowland  alfrehn  dystopia  octaviabutler  optimism  pessimism  realism  demographics  aynrand  race  establishment  privilege  drones  wearables  power  innovation  jetpacks  telepresence  transit  transportation  work  labor  scifi  sciencefiction  systemsthinking  data  retrofuturism  climatechange  space  food  science  technology  change  truth  socialprogress  progress  solar  solarpower  validation  compassion  canon  work-lifebalance 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis Esquire Essay - Warren Ellis Technology Column
"Regardless of what you think of Uber and its corporate behavior, the lesson should not go unlearned: If you build your business on top of someone else's system, eventually they're going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

In the midst of all this? Rich, crazy Elon Musk, who intends to put large and efficient electric batteries into people's homes. Which may not be one of his weird side projects, like Hyperloop, especially since Apple is hiring his car-makers away, and their car sales and shipments are under the projected numbers. And because it fits right in with the "disruption" thing. You know Musk has a solar panel company, right? This seems quite clever: SolarCity will let you lease their panels, or you can take out a 30-year loan with them. SolarCity doesn't charge you for installing or maintaining the system, and you pay SolarCity for the power the system generates, thereby paying off the loan. Electricity as a mortgage. Now, combine that with a rechargeable fuel cell in your home that could probably power your house for at least a week all on its own. Welcome to Basic Utilities Disruption.

Have you been reading this and thinking, Hmm, I'm not very interested in technology and disruption and ghosts and whatever else the hell you're talking about? Well, I bet you're interested in a future where it remains cost-effective for your local electricity substations to be maintained even after a critical number of homes in your area have gone off the grid, or, in the extreme open-market scenario, if it remains cost-effective to even supply electricity to your town at all. And what unforeseeable haunting might happen in the chilly aftermath...

We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don't want our businesses. Yet.

Facebook and Google fighting with balloons and drones to bring internet to Africa. Apple making Big Phones. Android NFC wallets versus Apple Pay. iCloud and Amazon Storage. You know what'll happen once these self-driving consumer-facing services go online? They'll be doing same-day purchase deliveries, going head-to-head with Amazon in cities, a fuller and faster version of Google's piloted Shopping Express. Jeff Bezos owns a rocket development firm, by the way, so maybe go carefully with that. Oh, and Apple apparently want into enterprise support business, which will put them against Amazon, where all the enterprise data is stored, and, of course, sleepy, old Microsoft.

Keep breathing. Stay warm. Things are going to get weirder yet."
warrenellis  2015  elonmusk  tesla  energy  publicutilities  utilities  solar  apple  google  microsoft  amazon  facebook  uber  technology  capitalism  competition  electricity  batteries  cars  self-drivingcars  solarcity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Want to get conservatives to save energy? Stop the environmentalist preaching - The Washington Post
"In the end, then, perhaps the best way to think about ideology and energy use is this: Nobody is against efficiency or lower bills. Nobody is for waste. Nobody hates the environment.

But environmental and energy issues are nevertheless wrapped up in politics, which makes conservation, overall, less of a “safe” space for conservatives, according to Renee Lertzman, who works with Brand Cool as Director of Insight and is a consultant on climate change communications. Conservatives often feel “ambivalent” about the topic, she says, pulled in different directions — and liberal assumptions don’t help.

“A lot of people I interviewed felt very offended that they were often assumed to be not caring, they felt very insulted and patronized, because of their choices, and I really felt for that,” Lertzman says. “I felt, it would be so important to convey to people, we know you really do care. And that itself, as a starting off point, would be very powerful.”"

[See also:

“The next energy revolution won’t be in wind or solar. It will be in our brains.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/01/22/the-next-energy-revolution-wont-be-in-wind-or-solar-it-will-be-in-our-brains/

“Why 50 million smart meters still haven’t fixed America’s energy habits”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/01/29/americans-are-this-close-to-finally-understanding-their-electricity-bills/ ]
energy  environment  sustainability  environmentalism  waste  2015  garbage  trash  solar  wind  psychology  politics  preaching  meters  measurement  behavior  us  society 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mongolian nomads: Ambitious program uses solar panels to connect region’s 800,000 nomads to the grid.
"An ambitious program is bringing modern tech to Mongolia’s 800,000-strong nomadic population."



"Before the program, about 90 percent of nomads relied on candles, coal, and yak dung to light and heat their homes, shelling out more than the cost of a solar panel in the space of a few years for smoky and inefficient power. Just over half managed to power a phone or radio with a diesel generator or motorcycle battery, draining more of their meager budgets. In cutting down on energy costs and increasing availability, the solar panel program freed up cash, creating a brand new industry of small appliance providers in the countryside. The industry is so robust that now 70 percent of nomads have a color TV and satellite dish and 90 percent are hooked into a mobile phone network.

Those mobile phones and televisions, in turn, have hooked nomads for the first time into the information superhighway. Gaaj now has access to weather reports and makes phone calls to markets to manage his livestock, keeping more animals alive and fetching a higher price for their wool, milk, and meat. His phone allows him to stay connected with young family members attending boarding school in the towns and to seek out medical advice from distant clinics."



"Many nomads believe that the power of mines, 90 percent of the national economy today, allows mineral extractors and developers to flout laws protecting the forests, water reservoirs, and grazing grounds vital to nomads from degradation.

The sense of encroachment made national heroes out of four nomads who, in 2010, opened fire with their old hunting rifles on an empty mining camp and, the next year, organized a 100-man horseback demonstration in Ulaanbaatar, firing arrows at the Government House. In 2013 President Tsakhia Elbegdorj won his second term on a platform of tighter foreign mining controls. And even with these boosts to the rural economy, more than 800,000 Mongols, many of them nomads, still live below the national poverty line.

Their way of life is under threat, and they have not achieved parity with their urban kin. Some contend that these forces are breeding a nascent anti-mining, pro-traditionalist eco-terror movement. Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, one of those who fired on the mines, and his Gal Undesten movement now stand accused of planting bombs outside government buildings in 2013. “We are a small group of simple herders fighting powerful people,” Munkhbayar told a New Zealand journalist in 2011. “It’s not an easy fight but we cannot stand by idly and watch our land and way of life come to an end.”

But Gaaj is a savvy and entrepreneurial man. He has the tools to utilize his wits and to sustain his family without just scraping by now. The flimsy tinfoil-looking contraption outside his ger is enough of a lifeline to stand on and fight from, and that’s worth something out in the brutal emptiness of the steppe."
mongolia  nomads  2015  technology  solar  markhay  electricity  energy  television  mobile  phones 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Land of Masks and Jewels, Here’s a thing I’ve had around in my head for a...
"Here’s a thing I’ve had around in my head for a while!

Okay, so I’m pretty sure that by now everyone at least is aware of Steampunk, with it’s completely awesome Victorian sci-fi aesthetic. But what I want to see is Solarpunk – a plausible near-future sci-fi genre, which I like to imagine as based on updated Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Edwardian aesthetics, combined with a green and renewable energy movement to create a world in which children grow up being taught about building electronic tech as well as food gardening and other skills, and people have come back around to appreciating artisans and craftspeople, from stonemasons and smithies, to dress makers and jewelers, and everyone in between. A balance of sustainable energy-powered tech, environmental cities, and wicked cool aesthetics.

A lot of people seem to share a vision of futuristic tech and architecture that looks a lot like an ipod – smooth and geometrical and white. Which imo is a little boring and sterile, which is why I picked out an Art Nouveau aesthetic for this.

With energy costs at a low, I like to imagine people being more inclined to focus their expendable income on the arts!

Aesthetically my vision of solarpunk is very similar to steampunk, but with electronic technology, and an Art Nouveau veneer.

So here are some buzz words~

Natural colors!
Art Nouveau!
Handcrafted wares!
Tailors and dressmakers!
Streetcars!
Airships!
Stained glass window solar panels!!!
Education in tech and food growing!
Less corporate capitalism, and more small businesses!
Solar rooftops and roadways!
Communal greenhouses on top of apartments!
Electric cars with old-fashioned looks!
No-cars-allowed walkways lined with independent shops!
Renewable energy-powered Art Nouveau-styled tech life!

Can you imagine how pretty it would be to have stained glass windows everywhere that are actually solar panels? The tech is already headed in that direction! Or how about wide-brim hats, or parasols that are topped with discreet solar panel tech incorporated into the design, with ports you can stick your phone charger in to?

(((Character art by me; click the cityscape pieces to see artist names)))"

[See also: http://missolivialouise.tumblr.com/tagged/solarpunk-tag ]
solarpunk  solar  futures  art  future  artnoveau  craft  make  makers  making  steampunk  victorian  nearfuture  sciencefiction  scifi  energy  edwardian  sustainability  2014 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto | Project Hieroglyph
"It’s hard out here for futurists under 30.

As we percolated through our respective nations’ education systems, we were exposed to WorldChanging and TED talks, to artfully-designed green consumerism and sustainable development NGOs. Yet we also grew up with doomsday predictions slated to hit before our expected retirement ages, with the slow but inexorable militarization of metropolitan police departments, with the failure of the existing political order to deal with the existential-but-not-yet-urgent threat of climate change. Many of us feel it’s unethical to bring children into a world like ours. We have grown up under a shadow, and if we sometimes resemble fungus it should be taken as a credit to our adaptability.

We’re solarpunks because the only other options are denial or despair.

The promises offered by most Singulatarians and Transhumanists are individualist and unsustainable: How many of them are scoped for a world where energy is not cheap and plentiful, to say nothing of rare earth elements?

Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).

Solarpunk punkSolarpunk draws on the ideal of Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, Ghandi’s ideal of swadeshi and subsequent Salt March, and countless other traditions of innovative dissent. (FWIW, both Ghandi and Jefferson were inventors.)

The visual aesthetics of Solarpunk are open and evolving. As it stands, it’s a mash-up of the following:

• 1800s age-of-sail/frontier living (but with more bicycles)
• Creative reuse of existing infrastructure (sometimes post-apocalyptic, sometimes present-weird)
• Jugaad-style innovation from the developing world
• High-tech backends with simple, elegant outputs

Obviously, the further you get into the future, the more ambitious you can get. In the long-term, solarpunk takes the images we’ve been fed by bright-green blogs and draws them out further, longer, and deeper. Imagine permaculturists thinking in cathedral time. Consider terraced irrigation systems that also act as fluidic computers. Contemplate the life of a Department of Reclamation officer managing a sparsely populated American southwest given over to solar collection and pump storage. Imagine “smart cities” being junked in favor of smart citizenry.

Tumblr lit up within the last week from this post envisioning a form of solar punk with an art nouveau Edwardian-garden aesthetic, which is gorgeous and reminds me of Miyazaki. There’s something lovely in the way it reacts against the mainstream visions of overly smooth, clean, white modernist iPod futures. Solarpunk is a future with a human face and dirt behind its ears."

[via: https://twitter.com/jqtrde/status/519152576797745153 ]
solarpunk  future  futures  jugaad  green  frontier  bikes  biking  technology  imagination  nearfuture  detroit  worldchanging  ted  ngos  sustainability  singularitarianism  individuality  cyberpunk  steampunk  ingenuity  generativity  independence  community  punk  infrastucture  resistance  solar  chokwelumumba  resilience  thomasjefferson  yeomen  ghandi  swadeshi  invention  hacking  making  makers  hackers  reuse  repurposing  permaculture  adamflynn  denial  despair  optimism  cando  posthumanism  transhumanism  chokweantarlumumba 
october 2014 by robertogreco
13-Year-Old Makes Solar Power Breakthrough by Harnessing the Fibonacci Sequence | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World
"While most 13-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or cruising Facebook, one 7th grader was trekking through the woods uncovering a mystery of science. After studying how trees branch in a very specific way, Aidan Dwyer created a solar cell tree that produces 20-50% more power than a uniform array of photovoltaic panels. His impressive results show that using a specific formula for distributing solar cells can drastically improve energy generation. The study earned Aidan a provisional U.S patent - it's a rare find in the field of technology and a fantastic example of how biomimicry can drastically improve design."<br />
<br />
[More: http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/2011/aidan.html ]
design  technology  science  math  energy  solar  solarpower  aidandwyer  trees  nature  fibonacci 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Products - Kiran (Global)
"Light Performance: The Kiran provides up to 8 hours of light on a full battery and uses highly efficient LEDs. It is four times brighter than a kerosene lantern and provides 360-degree illumination. The lamp gives an even white light that can illuminate a workspace and can be used for a variety of activities like studying, cooking, or walking.
gadgets  lighting  solar  affordability  kiran 
january 2010 by robertogreco
FLAP Bag: Change Observer: Design Observer
"A shoulder bag conceived to help nomadic people in urbanizing places, by providing them with an integrated solar-powered light and the potential to charge electronic devices, shows how iteration can prepare a bold design for the market. It also shows how a powerful idea can be tripped up (though hardly vanquished) by obstacles on the path to mass production."
design  technology  africa  solar  timbuktu  bags  urban 
november 2009 by robertogreco
ZEROW HOUSE: Rice Solar Decathlon Home Page
"The ZEROW HOUSE is a 520 square foot zero energy home designed for the 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon by students from Rice University. The house is run completely off of solar power generated on site, through the use of a photovoltaic array and solar hot water system that collects solar energy. The ZEROW HOUSE is not only technologically innovative, it is also affordable, demonstrating that solar power is viable and that zero energy houses can be an attainable goal for many."

[via: http://www.media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=13115 ]
riceuniversity  homes  housing  solar  energy  technology  zeroenergy  solarpower  sustainability 
october 2009 by robertogreco
NPR: Power Hungry: Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid
"The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation's electrical systems."
via:preoccupations  us  maps  mapping  electricity  energy  power  environment  infographics  solar  wind  infrastructure  visualization 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Calif. Desert Becomes Home For Renewable Energy : NPR
"California's utilities are in a tight spot. They're mandated to procure 20 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by the end of next year.

Currently, renewable energy provides only 12 percent of the state's needs. Green energy is needed, and fast. Where to get it? The southeastern corner of California is becoming the state's Wild West of renewable energy."
via:cityofsound  california  imperialvalley  energy  geothermal  solarpower  solar  sandiego 
april 2009 by robertogreco
'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution - MIT News Office
"Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.
via:preoccupations  photosynthesis  science  energy  power  storage  solar  solarpower  sustainability  innovation  green  mit  economics  environment  future  technology  plants  cleanenergy  biomimicry  fuelcell  electricity  biomimetics 
august 2008 by robertogreco
WorldChanging: Imagine What Comes After Green
"The idea is simple: share, in words, images or sounds, your idea for the end of some outdated aspect of contemporary society and its replacement with a better way of doing things. Start with the phrase, "Imagine no...""
worldchanging  classideas  future  sustainability  diy  climatechange  green  design  environment  energy  economics  trends  ideas  politics  revolution  science  biofuels  community  solar 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Industrial strength Google solar | Beyond the Beyond from Wired.com
"There must be any number of rich and evil people who own seaside mansions and could hire a global-guerrilla gang to blow up coal plants with truck bombs. You could probably leverage that activity in the markets and make a whole lot of money. Very "Shadow
brucesterling  energy  coal  solar  future  futurism  google 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Devotec Industries: Solar Battery Power
"The new Solar Charger is the latest and smallest addition to the Devotec range. Weighing in at less than 80g, this tiny charger can still keep your phone juiced up twice over before needing a recharge."
solar  charger  mobile  phones  gadgets  energy  iphone 
may 2008 by robertogreco
SMIT: a sustainable design start-up company that is developing a new approach to solar and wind power
"Our mission is to create Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology. We will provide a sustainable relationship between our clients, our products, and the environment. SMIT's work will connect and provide for people in pursuit of a zero footprint lifestyl
design  electricity  energy  entrepreneurship  power  solar  startup  sustainability 
april 2008 by robertogreco
New Approach to Solar and Wind Power - Grow
"Combining the best of green tech and ecology, GROW draws inspiration from ivy growing on the side of a building - resulting in a hybrid energy delivery device of flexible, ivy-like fluttering solar leaves that provide power via both sun and wind."
architecture  biomimicry  energy  solar  sustainability  green  via:cityofsound  biomimetics 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Voltaic Systems | Voltaic Backpack, Solar Backpack, Solar Bag
"Silver Orange Green Charcoal The Voltaic solar bags are mobile solar power generators designed to charge virtually all handheld electronics."
apparel  bags  batteries  camping  electric  electricity  energy  environment  gadgets  gear  sustainability  technology  photography  mobile  travel  portable  wearable  wireless  shopping  solar  green  wearables 
february 2008 by robertogreco
SunNight Solar
"SunNight Solar is dedicated to shining a light on problems plaguing the developing world. And SunNight Solar is dedicated to helping solve those problems."
light  shopping  solar  socialentrepreneurship  gadgets  buyonegiveone  energy  sustainability 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Solar Powered Battery Charger, SOLIO Universal Portable Solar Charger
"Solio™, the Universal "Hybrid" Charger is powerful enough to charge all of your handheld electronic products at home or on the move, anywhere under the sun."
electronics  energy  environment  gadgets  innovation  green  power  technology  sustainability  solar  shopping  portable  ipod  mobile  phones  cameras  iphone 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The End of Oil is Upon Us. We Must Move On - Quickly. | Autopia from Wired.com
"If there are any lingering doubts as to whether the age of oil is nearing its end, the International Energy Agency has put them to rest and made it clear that only a massive and immediate investment in sustainable energy will prevent a global crisis."
globalwarming  green  sustainability  environment  oil  peakoil  economics  energy  security  resources  dystopia  future  global  urbanism  utopia  wind  solar 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Students Let the Sun Shine In
"see a selection of houses from the Solar Village and find out more about the projects."
homes  housing  solar  energy  sustainability  design  architecture 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Classrooms of the Future (TreeHugger)
"St. Francis of Assisi Primary School has built a biosphere as part of its school. It contains exotic plants and is made of the same material as the Eden Project in Cornwall. They have now installed solar panels on its roof that will produce one kilowatt
schools  schooldesign  environment  sustainability  energy  science  solar  uk  architecture 
december 2006 by robertogreco

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