Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘climate solutions’

It was only a matter of time before open source made its way to science. InnoCentive has made the jump, and quite successfully, according to today’s article in the New York Times. InnoCentive connects companies, academic institutions, public sector and non-profit organizations, all hungry for breakthrough innovation, with a global network of more than 145,000 of the world’s brightest minds on the world’s first Open Innovation Marketplace™.

Cross-pollination and crowdsourcing, all wrapped up in one place for global problem solving, I love it! The world has never been smaller . . .

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

There is no disputing the importance of the social factor, in moving citizens along the greener path. One additional element to take into account, is the issue of personal relevance. How does one turn global warming solutions into personal benefits? Research shows that most direct way to interest people is through their pocketbook. Last, I would add the availability of technology to enable desired behavior changes.

Short and sweet for the bottom line, here is my secret green sauce recipe:

P (personal benefit) + S (social network) + T (enabling technology) 

Best examples of green ventures that understand the power of the PST formula, are in the area of home energy efficiencyAgilewaves, Greenbox, and Lucid Design Group show great promise.

Read Full Post »

I don’t always agree with John Tierney, but I have to thank him for pointing me in the direction of ‘Nudge‘, a new book by University of Chicago professors, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler.

The authors agree with economists who’d like to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by imposing carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade system, but they think people need extra guidance.

“Getting the prices right will not create the right behavior if people do not associate their behavior with the relevant costs,” says Dr. Thaler, a professor of behavioral science and economics. “When I turn the thermostat down on my A-C, I only vaguely know how much that costs me. If the thermostat were programmed to tell you immediately how much you are spending, the effect would be much more powerful.”

It would be still more powerful, he and Mr. Sunstein suggest, if you knew how your energy consumption compared with the social norm. A study in California showed that when the monthly electric bill listed the average consumption in the neighborhood, the people in above-average households significantly decreased their consumption.

Meanwhile, the people with the below-average bills reacted by significantly increasing their consumption – not exactly the goal of the project.

That reaction was avoided when the bill featured a little drawing along with the numbers: a smiling face on a below-average bill or a frowning face on an above-average bill. After that simple nudge, the heavy users made even bigger cuts in consumption, while the light users remained frugal.

Mr. Sunstein and Dr. Thaler suggest applying those principles with something more sophisticated than smiley faces. A glowing ball called the Ambient Orb, programmed to change colors as the price of electricity increases at peak periods, has been given to some utility customers in California, who promptly reduced their usage by 40 percent when the ball glowed red in peak periods.

Another gadget, the Wattson, which changes colors depending upon how much electricity a house is using, collects data that can be displayed on a Web site. Clive Thompson, a columnist for Wired, has suggested that people start displaying the Wattson data on their Facebook pages, an excellent idea that I’d like to take a little further.

I have written before about the need for people to be recognized for their good deeds, and what that means in terms of behavioral strategies for the climate fight. At heart, we remain little children. No matter how grown up I may pretend to be, there is this place inside my heart, that smiles whenever my efforts get acknowledged . . . I call that the ‘sticker effect‘. The other insight deals with the ‘lemmings‘ phenomenon, a behavior I have often observed in myself! Both behavioral tendencies are interrelated and stems from our inherent nature as social beings.

Nudge‘ is behavioral psychology at its best. Maybe not as appealing to the big boys as fancy technology, but potentially just as effective to fight climate change.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, Kyle sent me this mail:

I was youtubing it, enjoying my new broadband, and came across this interview snip with David Holmgren, founder of the “permaculture” project:


He’s talking about the future of suburbia, and is rather more optimistic than that bigot Kunstler. What I got out of it was that he expresses very well something I think, that we can’t be too hopeful about grand top-down plans – though he’s afraid of them, I’m not, I just think they’re not likely to happen – and he thinks positive change will come about from necessity. He presents it all as an “organic” process – by which he means a smooth and natural one, though of course organic processes are not always very neat and pleasant…

If you’re waiting around for government to do something, then things look pretty dark. If you’re looking for ways in which people can do things for themselves, then things look a bit brighter. So this is “green psychology” in that it’s a way of looking at the world which keeps you hopeful and focused. I’ve just seen quite a bit of loss of hope and frustration in the blogosphere lately, and seen it in your posts, too.

Kyle is right, I have been feeling a bit down lately, and frustrated, regarding the apparent lack of action. Nothing depresses more than driving on the freeway at peak hours, and being a part of this seemingly endless flow of CO2 spewing machines. I want someone to step in, and say stop. My fantasy of a conductor is going nowhere however. Not even Obama comes close, when I listen to him speak and propose his timid plan for cooling the planet. Don’t get me wrong, I know the man has to think about politics, and getting elected, and pushing only as far as the crowd will allow.

While watching the David Holmgren‘s video, what struck me most was not so much what he had to say, as how he delivered his message. No rush, no fear, no need to control. Instead, calm assurance that events will lead us back to where we need to be again, and that individuals will naturally organize towards increased energy efficiency strategies. As somebody who is informed about the perils of climate change, I have found it hard to withstand the tension from not having an immediate, quick fix solution. David Holmgren is reminding us that the straight path may not be the way to go here.

I also connected with Homgren‘s emphasis on ‘retrofitting‘. Many proposed solutions to global warming, jump to the creation of new infrastructures, new cars, new cities, new houses, new gadgets. Our throwaway culture has found its way in the climate fight. Less sexy, but a lot more sustainable, is the notion of retrofitting existing environments to enable a carbon neutral lifestyle. Maybe now is the time to make ours the 4R’s:

‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Retrofit‘.

Read Full Post »