Archive: future of oil

November 1st, 2010 | By Catherine Otten | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Innovation, Science & Tech | Comments Off

10 Big Green Ideas

(With this blog entry we welcome Catherine Otten back to, where she is now Director of Communications and Programs. Catherine is particularly committed to ideas that improve the environment, so in addition to her administrative duties we look forward to future blog entries like this.)

10 Big Green Ideas

Newsweek recently ran an article (in their Oct. 25 issue) called 10 Big Green Ideas. They truly are big ideas that show the many different routes to the future of sustainability. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” This list is a quick look at some of the amazing ideas coming from some of those thoughtful citizens.

1. Make a Greener Burger – Blairo Maggi has recently started promoting “sustainable development,” “carbon credits,” “avoided deforestation” – and green beef. He has signed moratoriums on selling beef from recently deforested lands and has been urging local ranchers and meatpackers to clean up their acts.

2. Invest in the Improbable – Vinod Khosla, Sun Microsystems cofounder, is betting on green-tech startups. “I like technologies that have a 90 percent chance of failure,” he says, “because a 10 percent chance of making 100 times your money is better than an 80 percent chance of doubling your money.”

3. Get Out of the Gulf – Jackie Savitz, a political party analyst with the ocean-advocacy group Oceana, sees a fairly simple way to get out the gulf completely. All we have to do is electrify 10 percent of America’s cars by 2020, switch oil-based power plants to clean electric ones, update one quarter of oil-heated homes to electric power, and phase in all available non-feedstock biofuels.

4. Catch a Wave – In March, 10 energy firms were allowed to set up off the coast of Scotland and pilot plants have also been set up in Portugal, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Northeastern United States.

5. Hug a Nuke – Traditionally, nuclear power plants use enriched uranium to generate power. Enrichment itself is inefficient and up to 92 percent of uranium is cast aside as “depleted uranium”. TerraPower has come up with a plan to run an entire plant with depleted uranium.

6. Turn Smoke Into Rocks – Calera has developed a process that takes CO2 from a power-plant smokestack and turns it into cement.

7. Drink Your Garbage – Singapore installed a system two years ago that turns sewage into drinking water and now WaterCAMPWS is working on doing it in the U.S.

8. Hire a Microbe – In Minneapolis, BioCee is working on microbes that soak up sunlight and carbon dioxide and convert it into a substitute for petroleum. Stanford discovered a bug that uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. In California, Amyris created genetically modified yeast that produces something like gasoline.

9. Shout it Out Loud – A tiny NGO in Beijing, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, collects government data about local suppliers that are violating environmental standards and finds out which international companies the violators are connected with. They then work with foreign non-profits to pressure the big international companies to clean up their act.

10. Lighten Up – LED bulbs may cost more, but they can save a fortune on your electric bill. LED Savings and Solutions helps companies retrofit their buildings to reduce energy and save thousands each month.

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November 25th, 2008 | By Amy Frazier | Posted in Environment & Energy, Innovation | 3 Comments

Fuel – The Movie

Fuel” is out. The documentary by biofuel pioneer and Veggie Van evangelist Josh Tickell, 11 years in the making, premiered in Seattle this past weekend. I just saw it. The timing, as the Big Three plead their case before government, is serendipitous. An indictment of how Detroit has mismanaged innovation (while Sweden, Germany and other European countries ride the wave of the future — to say nothing of Israel, which has committed to an electric car network by 2011), plays one part in the argument Tickell sets forth, as he traces the government and industry influences that have driven us (no pun intended) to live as “crack fiends for oil.”

Much of the argument is familiar: we sell our security for the price of foreign oil; US energy policy is written by the oil industry; a national tragedy was hijacked to justify a ruinous war. What stands out against the dark background of this portrayal of oil-igarchy is the color green: the chartreuse fields of European fuel crops; Tickell’s variegated Green Grease Machine, with which he toured the country promoting biofuels (in one scene, he pulls into the drive-through of a fast food restaurant and orders “a medium drink and all your used cooking oil”); and the diaphanous, squiggling green bodies of the cellular organisms that, in their primordial appearance on the global scene, set the fossil stage for a century-long punch-drunken black-gold binge. And from which their algae descendants just might now help save us.

Tickell is hopeful but not naïve. It will take more than squiggly greenies to pull us out of this, and biofuels are not without their cost. In fact, Tickell’s quest to open the public imagination in favor of biofuels was rocked by the recent backlash against ethanol production and its unintended consequences: Amazonian deforestation and the perilous rise in food prices for the world’s poor. And, using an oil-barrel graphic near the end of the film, he echoes the sentiments we’ve heard from Al Gore and others that biofuels, algae, wind, solar, hybrids, conservation, biomass are each insufficient in and of themselves. But together they can create a viable, survivable future. And, like Gore, he maintains that public will and political vision are endlessly renewable resources.

Here’s a fascinating bit I didn’t know: the diesel engine itself was originally designed to run on biofuel. It was Rockefeller and Standard Oil that co-opted this intention, and the captains of the oil industry haven’t looked back.

As we look toward a future we desperately need to green up now, a quote from the movie stands out, as both portent and directive: “Man is not bad,” said Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the engine that was to set the world on fire, “only badly governed.”

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October 1st, 2008 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in New at | Comments Off

Quarterly Forecast: Sailing Rough Waters

My new quarterly forecast, for the 4th Quarter 2008, is now available. As a futurist speaker and writer I track a variety of events, trends and developments. This issue discusses the future of oil, the future of the workforce, and the future of the economy, with an eye toward anticipating the kind of environment a president-elect will face.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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July 23rd, 2008 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in New at, Site News | Comments Off

Launch of Glen Hiemstra’s Quarterly Forecast

This week we launch a new series, in which Glen Hiemstra will present a “quarterly forecast.” This is intended to compliment and extend the annual Outlook. The first is for Q3 2008.

The quarterly forecasts will be published in the Articles collection on the site. We’ll send notices to those who have signed up for the free newsletter, and of course those who have chosen an RSS feed of the blog will receive their standard notice that a new quarterly forecast is available.

In these quarterly forecasts we will continue our traditional whole systems or big picture view. While we will continue our general emphasis on the opportunity to create preferred futures here at the website, and in my speaking, and consulting, in the quarterly I’ll go out on a limb and reveal some of my own expectations and predictions.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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July 15th, 2008 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Environment & Energy | Comments Off

Simmons on oil in current environment

Matt Simmons, oracle of oil, on CNBC last Friday, July 12, 2008, in the midst of the banking melt down.

The most interesting thing in this video is not what Simmons says, though he is more alarmed than usual, but rather how stunned the MSNBC crew appear to be. Most alarming though is the in-house expert who, though just doing his job I suppose in helping viewers to supposedly make a buck, basically seems unable to grasp the larger systems implications of a new energy future.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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