Archive: Environment & Energy

May 19th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Environment & Energy | Comments Off

Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways! – You can help

Update June 30 – Solar Roadways made it, raising nearly $2.3 million. Thanks to all who helped. They really have a chance now to commercialize their vision.

I will leave this blog up a bit longer so you can watch this wonderful video. We will get back to some new blogs about the future in July.
GH

10 days left to invest in Solar Freakin’ Roadways !!!!!

Go to Indiegogo and help now.

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April 21st, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Ecosystems, Environment & Energy, Innovation, Millennial City | Comments Off

The Future of Roadways is Solar, and Brilliant

We’ve been tracking the progress of Scott and Julie Brusaw of Sandpoint Idaho and their federally supported project to build a prototype for a smart highway that generates power and pays for itself. This is Solar Roadways. We’ve chatted from time to time and I show videos of the project in many of my programs (people love it and are amazed at the audacious idea). This is a project worth supporting. The are launching an Indiegogo campaign on Earth Day, 22 April 2014.

We share their press release below with a photo of the prototype parking lot recently completed. They modestly call it an “intelligent” highway system – but I’d call a road that pays for itself, heals itself, generates solar energy, has built in lighting, and heating that prevents ice and snow buildup, and is made of glass… brilliant!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 14, 2014
SOLAR ROADWAYS RELEASES FIRST PHOTOS OF SOLAR PARKING LOT PROTOTYPE
Announces crowdsource campaign to launch on Earth Day
SOLAR ROADWAYS, SAGLE, IDAHO (APRIL 14, 2014)

Parking lot east

Solar Roadways was tasked by the Federal Highway Administration, with a Phase II SBIR contract, to build a solar parking lot prototype. The first photos of the initial installation have been released. “The basic installation is now done, but there is still work to do before the parking lot will be totally complete- LED patterns, covers for mounting holes and mastic to fill the gaps between panels are still to come”, said Scott Brusaw, co-founder, along with his wife Julie of Solar Roadways, Inc.

“One of the biggest challenges of this phase was to explore and test various glass surfaces and textures and test them for strength, traction and durability and all test results have exceeded our expectations. In addition to the solar cells, the panels contain heaters to keep them snow/ice free and LED lights for road lines and verbiage” , said Scott Brusaw.

The company needs to acquire funding to begin hiring a team, streamline the process for quick and cost effective production, and gear up for manufacturing. To this end, Solar Roadways will launch an Indiegogo campaign at 12:01am EST on Earth Day, April 22, 2014.

The Brusaws plan to locate their first manufacturing facility near their home in north Idaho, but envision facilities in most states and various countries as production ramps up. Solar Roadways has already received an outpouring of interest from potential customers, from their home town of Sandpoint, Idaho to remote areas of the world.

Solar Roadways is a company with a single purpose: to replace our nation’s deteriorating highway infrastructure and crumbling power grid with an intelligent highway system that pays for itself through the generation of electricity and doubles as an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized power grid.

Roadway image

Contact
Scott and Julie Brusaw
(208) 263-2537
julie@solarroadways.com

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March 29th, 2014 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Art & Society, Education, Environment & Energy | Comments Off

How to Negotiate a Better Future – Part Two

Diplomacy between Nations

The negotiations that take place between world leaders and their staff have shaped the world we live in today more so than any other types of negotiations. Sometimes negotiations can avoid wars, sometimes they can go wrong and cause wars – history would look a lot different if just a handful of negotiations had turned out differently. An example of ongoing negotiations that have been very unsuccessful between nations is in the Middle East, where countries have been at war for centuries. Generations of would-be negotiators have tried their hand at finding a resolution, but it’s all been futile so far. When the stakes are so high, and negations go wrong, it’s often the innocent who pay the price. A recent example is the current situation going on in Ukraine, and a great quote comes to mind “Deals Don’t Stick if they Don’t Resolve the Problem“. So far, all we’ve seen is examples of negotiations failing, but for the betterment of the entire region let’s hope that both sides are able to reach an agreement.

Takeaways

In life, sometimes it’s easy to hold a grudge but you’ve got to ask yourself, is it really worth it? Even if you’ve been slighted in the past, sometimes you’ve got to start with a clean slate in order to move forward. Set your preconceived notions aside before you get to the negotiation table.

Working Together For Mother Nature

It’s never easy to get countries to come together to protect the environment because that often comes at a price, and many countries will put their own short-term prosperity ahead of the long-term health of our planet which is very frightening. It takes incredible people with amazing negotiation skills to get countries to work together for the greater good of all mankind when the results won’t be seen until future generations are living on our planet. “It’s a great person who plants the seeds of trees whose shade they’ll never enjoy”, says the old saying. A major issue with climate negotiations is that the current global economic crisis is taking attention away from long-term issues like achieving sustainable energy, clean and safe drinking water, having safe and healthy food available, and more.

Take fisheries, for example, over-fishing is hurting ocean life, but those fish are being used to feed humans. As the world’s population grows, we need to make sure that we reach an agreement that will protect wild life and at the same time supply the quantity of fish needed for food. That`s very hard to do when you take into consideration profit-driven fishermen and illegal fishing.

Takeaways

In negotiations, it can help to point out when both parties are working towards a greater good that reaches beyond either group’s self-interest. Then, if both sides are willing to give a bit of wiggle room, everyone can be better off.

BDO_oceanconsumption_infographic_1660x960_V3

The Global Workforce

As multinational corporations, and even smaller businesses, start to outsource from all around the world to expand their operations, they are going to be hiring all sorts of different people. Not everything works the same from one country to the next, including the ways that people negotiate. You could greatly offend someone from one culture with something that seems perfectly acceptable in another culture, especially when you’re negotiating!

Takeaways

If you’re negotiating in unfamiliar territory, and this applies to all aspects of our lives, make sure you do your due-diligence to really understand what you’re getting into.

This is similar to the first situations we discussed, which were globalized trading opportunities. How does this apply to our own lives? No matter where you work, chances are there will be someone from another country who might not speak English, but a friendly smile and a wave of recognition can go a long way towards helping someone feel welcome. There are major negotiations, and then the small ones we face on a daily basis, like smiling at a stranger, deciding not to be rude even if a waitress is ignoring you, and so on and so forth. The way you handle these micro-negotiations has a larger impact on your mood, your success, and your life than you might realize.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Negotiations for a Better Future

More than ever before, we’re living as a global community. Hopefully this helps people to understand that their actions, or lack of actions, have a widespread and profound impact not just on those of us who live on this planet, but for our children and their children and all who come after.

|| Written by Mary Ann Keeling ||
Mary Ann is a writer and a blogger from Brisbane who likes to share her passion for the future through her writing.

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December 31st, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Environment & Energy, Innovation, Science & Tech | 1 Comment

To 2014 and Beyond

Happy New Year to all our Futurist.com visitors and fans.

Looking ahead, here are some thoughts to add to the endless lists of 2014 anticipations – if you like these things see Mark Anderson’s top ten for 2014, or Thomas Fry’s 33 for 2030, or David Brin’s speculations on the year ahead. Brin is an exception but most of these kinds of articles are lists of technologies and anticipated developments. I know these lists ‘sell papers’ as we used to say, and provide a certain kind of infotainment. But I don’t take them too seriously except as brain teasers. Check them out if you want.

Me? I expect the big stories of 2014 will include…

…a shift in politics to debating how and how much to increase Social Security in the United States. This meme broke through in 2013, and moved the Overton Window over by a surprising margin, away from “how to cut Social Security” and at least to ‘how to maintain it.” This shift in the political winds cannot come too soon as we face an impending retirement crisis and looming wave of elder poverty.

…a dawning realization that fracking, however successful in the next decade or two at tapping previously hard to get oil and gas, has not fundamentally changed the longer term (21st Century) energy picture in which conventional (and thus cheaper) oil has peaked, and thus we face a mostly more expensive future in energy. Cheap gas is the exception but the energy picture still demands that civilization prepare for the fossil fuel phase out to come. Negotiating this passage will literally determine whether modern civilization is maintained.

…a continuation in the downward curve in solar energy cost per watt generated, meaning that it becomes more likely that solar will become a dominant supplier of electricity sooner than later. The electrification of the transportation fleet will gain momentum in 2014.

…space exploration and exploitation will proceed more aggressively in 2014. The success of China on the moon, and the amazing drive of SpaceX and other private companies in space will make the next half-decade a likely dawn of the next era in space, the era that leads to truly occupying space.

…it is hard to know when or if a weather event will tip the balance of public concern toward a crash effort to mitigate, slow down, and prepare for global warming. The latest, and most dire, predictions suggest that this had better happen soon.

Photo Credit: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and Mother Jones

Photo Credit: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and Mother Jones

…finally, a global struggle with and about the deep issues of privacy versus security, continued drift to richer and poorer society, and the future of employment and work, will likely heighten in 2014. There is a reason, which is more than artistic or admiration of the actors, that the Hunger Games series has already placed its first two films in the top 20 grossing films of all time and is a world-wide phenomenon. There is a hunger for change that is rumbling. The fact that life imitates art in way that reeks of parody but is all too real just adds to the pressure. (In this case activists hanging a banner to protest a proposed pipeline were charged under an absurd terrorism statute – thus precisely proving the point of the banner.)

2014 will be a year of great opportunity and great challenges – not all that different than 2013 or, I suspect, 2015.

Let’s have a great year!

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November 13th, 2013 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Science & Tech | 1 Comment

A Greener Future With Self Driving Cars

DJ006-Driverless-Car-Infographic

Infographic by http://www.360financial.com.au/

By Mary Ann Keeling

In case you aren’t yet familiar with self-driving cars, the name pretty much says it all. Imagine phoning a taxi, the car pulls up, but there’s no driver inside. It’s just an empty car, ready to take you to where you need to go. Aside from that example, there are countless benefits to self-driving cars and they’ve actually proven, thus far, to be a lot safer than one might think. Not only that, but this trend has huge potential to help the environment and to take away some of the strain we’re putting on Mother Nature through our automobiles.

Google’s Self Driving Car
Over the past couple of years, Google has had self-driving cars driving around California. Even on the busy streets of Los Angeles, it’s absolutely incredible how safe this car has proven to be, even though it’s an early model. In all the time this Google car spent on the road in LA, a place notorious for gutsy drivers and terrible traffic, the car has only been in one accident. Guess what? When that accident happened, it was one of the rare times when there was a human driving the car. So, the car’s self-driving feature has proven to be safer than when the car has a human driving it. Now, this is just one piece of anecdotal evidence, but with the amount of automobile accidents and injuries that occur each year, even a small % reduction is welcome.

There are, however, some legal issues standing in the way of Google’s self-driving cars. First of all, they’re not getting much help from automakers, who are reluctant. Automakers are more focused on assisted driving, rather than full-on self-driving cars. Other downfalls are that these cars have trouble recognizing traffic cops and their hand gestures, or knowing where the lane markers are on the road when there is snow. If construction is going on, and the routes are different than on their maps, that also poses a set of risks. Needless to say, there are some kinks that need to be ironed out before self-driven automobiles are ready for the mainstream.

When Will These Cars Be Ready?
Currently there are about a dozen self-driving cars on US roads according to Google. Together, they’ve traveled 500.000 miles or more in beta tests. In the next five years they will be available on the market. In new Navigant research it is stated that by 2035 sales of autonomous vehicles will reach more than 95 milion worldwide (per year!). That’s about 75% of all light duty vehicles sold. Nissan has recently stated that they see 2020 as a target for self-driving cars to hit the roads in a major way. Assisted driving cars are already available, for example cars that have features to automatically parallel park for you, making an easy task out of of one of the most dreaded driving maneuvers. A more-optimistic Google has set 2018 as a realistic target, staring they are aiming to have some form of self-driving cars on the roads by 2018, and with their prototype in Los Angeles they’re well on the way.

How Does This Make The World Greener?
Cars driving around still need to be fueled, but the ways in which self-driving cars can pave the road to a greener tomorrow go beyond that. First of all, with fewer accidents there is less of a need for people to buy new cars to replace ones that are beyond repair, therefore less parts going into the scrapyards and landfills. Some parts from wrecked cars are recycled, but for the most part they’re just wasted.

Thanks to vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems, autonomous cars and trucks could significantly reduce traffic congestion and traffic accidents. And it’s about time, as no new car safety feature has been introduced since early 2000s and the use of airbags in vehicles.

In the introduction of this article, we talked about the idea of self-driving taxi cabs. If you can fit 5 people into a car, rather than 4, this will mean that in some cases people will only need to order one cab for their group of friends rather than 2, which cuts the emissions for the trip in half. This isn’t a huge deal, but every little bit helps when it comes to making the world a greener place for future generations, right? Also, that’s just one example.

Tesla Throws Their Hat Into The Ring
Finally, here’s the big one. Are you familiar with Tesla Motors? They make, arguably, the coolest electric cars out today. They started off with a luxury roadster, now their current model is a high-end sedan, but in the coming years Tesla will be releasing a car at a price point that’s much more accessible to the average consumer, thus bringing electric cars into the mainstream. That covers the green side of things, but what about self-driving? Well, recently Tesla Motors has announced plans for extensive research to put themselves at the front of the pack in terms of self-driving cars, so the logical conclusion is that the next breed of self-driving cars will also be powered by electricity and take a much smaller toll on the environment. It’s a double-whammy of green!

Final Thoughts On Self-Driving Cars
There are many advantages to self-driving cars, especially when you consider that someone could drive themselves and their friends out for a night on the town, and have the car take them home safely. Also, it should help a great deal for truckers who have to drive long shifts and worry about falling asleep at the wheel. Assisted driving is almost certainly the next step, we expect to see some degree of self-driving vehicles that still require some form of human interaction, but completely self-driving cars don’t seem to be too far away!

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