IBM, Smart; Forbes…

Nissan smart roads

Nissan smart roads

Infrastructure

IBM’s ‘Smart’ Moves
by Andy Greenberg
Company revamps its infrastructure offerings just as the Senate is expected to approve billions in IT spending.

First came the lofty pronouncements. Now, comes the products–and the timing couldn’t be better.

Since November, IBM Chief Executive Sam Palmisano has been making futurist statements about the need for a “smarter” national infrastructure, using information technology to upgrade the nation’s roads, electric grid and health care system in a bid to increase their efficiency; to make America more internationally competitive and to create thousands of jobs.
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Warning to fellow writers: I sent a query to the Silicon Valley editor at Forbes about a year ago, re: HoloGenomics.

He declined, saying it wasn’t the sort of thing they do very often.

Except he did — on the same subject, a few weeks ago.

I asked the editors at Forbes how they were going to make this right.

Thus far, their worships have not deigned to reply.

I also proposed a piece on why the old media are dying …

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Camelot

You are One, under the stars.

You are One, under the stars.

That’s it… and look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then… this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, ‘I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!’ For it is the doom of men that they forget.

– Merlin, Excalibur

Dream on!

Bridge to the Future

Bridge to the Future

I was watching the News Hour a few days ago. Two economists were talking.

One was a thoroughly dismal character (no doubt a lot of fun at parties), who saw only boondoggles coming out of Obama’s economic stimulus package — more bridges to nowhere.

The other was more optimistic, reminding listeners that previous programs had given rise to marvels of modern engineering, such as the Golden Gate Bridge — investments in infrastructure which continue to pay dividends today and which are also totally bitchin’ cool.

That got me to thinking: Given what we can do in the 21st century and given the crying needs before us, isn’t this an excellent opportunity to dream big — to envision a bold, beautiful, sustainable future that we and our posterity can take pride in?

We can do this.

We can make it better.

Hey! Ho! Let’s go!

We, the People of the United States

Excerpted from:

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Op-Ed Contributor

The Climate for Change

By AL GORE 

Published: November 9, 2008 

What follows is a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100 percent of our electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years. It is a plan that would simultaneously move us toward solutions to the climate crisis and the economic crisis — and create millions of new jobs that cannot be outsourced. 

First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity. 

Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used. New high-voltage, low-loss underground lines can be designed with “smart” features that provide consumers with sophisticated information and easy-to-use tools for conserving electricity, eliminating inefficiency and reducing their energy bills. The cost of this modern grid — $400 billion over 10 years — pales in comparison with the annual loss to American business of $120 billion due to the cascading failures that are endemic to our current balkanized and antiquated electricity lines. 

Third, we should help America’s automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new startup companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available as the rest of this plan matures. In combination with the unified grid, a nationwide fleet of plug-in hybrids would also help to solve the problem of electricity storage. Think about it: with this sort of grid, cars could be charged during off-peak energy-use hours; during peak hours, when fewer cars are on the road, they could contribute their electricity back into the national grid. 

Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting. Approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from buildings — and stopping that pollution saves money for homeowners and businesses. This initiative should be coupled with the proposal in Congress to help Americans who are burdened by mortgages that exceed the value of their homes. 

Fifth, the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world’s efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation. 

Of course, the best way — indeed the only way — to secure a global agreement to safeguard our future is by re-establishing the United States as the country with the moral and political authority to lead the world toward a solution. 

Looking ahead, I have great hope that we will have the courage to embrace the changes necessary to save our economy, our planet and ultimately ourselves.

Rev up the auto industry

Fisker Karma Plug-in Hybrid Sedan

Detroit 2008: Fisker Karma Plug-in Hybrid Sedan

Dear PJ,

I hope you didn’t think I was trying to get your goat in re: Obama and the auto industry. Being a banker and financial wizard, I somehow suspect your sympathies lay with McCain — for whom I have a lot of respect — but I strongly feel as though his fatalism regarding our auto industry was precisely the wrong tack to take.

Because our entire economy runs on wheels, as it were. Perhaps more importantly, our cars are a great source of pride to Americans and to simply give up in the face of foreign competition seems a singularly un-American, dispiriting prospect.

On the other hand, reviving the industry and going on to lead the world with cool, clean-running cars — that is something millions of us could get on board with and could go a long way toward providing the kind of leadership and momentum we clearly crave at this uncertain hour.

Anyway, those are my considered thoughts on the issue, for what they’re worth.

From today’s WP :

A Friend in Need

Mr. Obama needs to show the auto industry some tough love in helping it weather its troubles.

BARACK OBAMA made clear yesterday that the American automobile industry will have a friend in theWhite House starting Jan. 20. At his first post-election news conference, Mr. Obama, who had supported more federal aid for Detroit during the campaign, echoed talking points the industry has been using to seek more aid from Congress. He described carmaking as “the backbone of American manufacturing,” and noted that its current “hardship” extends to “countless suppliers, small businesses and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry.” Mr . Obama wants his aides to come up with new ideas “to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States.”

Hemorrhaging cash, Detroit wants an acceleration of an already approved $25 billion government loan to retool for greater fuel efficiency, plus $25 billion more to help the automakers ride out the financial crisis. This would, indeed, be a bad time for a sudden shutdown of the industry; including related businesses, that could eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, with tragic effects for communities across the Midwest. Still, the industry is no longer quite as pivotal to the American economy as it once was; and many other businesses are also hurting, including many whose workers make less than Detroit’s unionized workforce. Even with a bailout, U.S. carmakers will have to shed workers by the thousands. As for improving the fuel efficiency of the U.S.-made fleet, the best way to do that would be to permanently raise federal gas taxes. Alas, higher gas taxes seem to be politically impossible at the moment.

Renew American Infrastructure Now

Last evening on the PBS News Hour, two learned gentlemen reasoned that, rather than throw money at our financial difficulties, the wiser course consists in investing in our national infrastructure.

I found their comments persuasive and even compelling. Here’s a link to an MP3 of the discussion: Infrastructure Issues

It seems to me that all of us who strive for a clean, sustainable economy can get on board with this project.

Oui

Green Jobs Now

Join us and tens of thousands of Americans of all backgrounds for an unprecedented National Day of Action calling for Green Jobs Now: Build the New Economy. 

On Saturday, September 27th, the We Campaign, 1Sky, and Green for All will hold events across the country to send the message that it is time to Repower America with 100% clean electricity within 10 years and lift people out of poverty.

September 27th is only one week away, so sign up to host or attend an event today! It’s easy and it’ll be fun.

The solutions to our climate crisis are simple. Make the switch to clean, renewable energy, end our dependence on fossil fuels, and revitalize our economy. With energy costs and utility bills increasing unchecked, and millions of green collar jobs at stake, there is no time to waste.

We’ll be there on September 27th to say it’s time to Repower America with Green Jobs Now. Sign up today and join us!