NEW YORK – Two months ago, I was introduced to a start-up called CityMart, a for-profit marketplace dedicated to helping vendors and city managers to find one another – and to spreading municipal innovations outside of their home turf. This month, in Thailand, I met Jonathan Hursh, who runs Compassion for Migrant Children (soon to be renamed), which focuses on migrant populations – adults and children with few resources and few rights – in the slums that surround almost every large city in the world. In mid-May, I’ll be attending the New Cities Summit in Paris, a three-day forum focused on the future of cities.
Illustration by Paul Lachine
Cities matter, as they always have, but now more of the world is starting to take notice of their problems and possibilities. At their worst, cities are slums, places where the social constraints of the village are loosened, people can misbehave in anonymity, and poor and unemployed people live in squalor. At their best, they are places where the best and the brightest congregate, new wealth is created, and scholars and artists sharpen their wits and hone their creativity.
Most cities have grown through evolution, from unpremeditated beginnings. Moreover, they rarely die.
Yes, Fareed, but you are leaving out point “C” which is actually ‘why’ “B” and “A” matter — oil is a finite resource, and peak oil (the point where we reach zenith of production capacities) is upon us. There is ever-more demand, and ever-less supply. Yes, there is a lot of politicizing going on about who can do what, but where is the person who is going to start talking reality about the world’s (and US’s) energy situation. Why does it remain such an unmentionable situation?
(I’ll also use this opportunity to announce the development of a new “Politicization of Energy Discussion in the USA” Case Study. It’s not just about this election year, either, it’s a long-standing trend, and this post is just one piece of a larger puzzle).
Simply because this issue comes up so much recently, I am re-posting this article here. Claims that a president has authority over gas prices are ridiculous — deserving ridicule. I invite you to learn more about Peak Oil, and offer another source for great oil/energy news daily – The Oil Drum. Below is an excerpt, click on the link for the full article and more charts. Also, stay tuned for the upcoming Case Study, Politicization of Energy in US Politics.
Good article. A very unfortunate situation for Japan; nuclear making up 30% of their energy mix - and all fossil fuels requiring transportation to the island nation.
My quest to figure out what happened/is going on Japan continues….
…. Jenkins says Japan’s goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is now shelved. In fact, emissions are going up. “They’re swapping fossil fuels for nuclear and that’s driving up their CO2 emissions and the carbon intensity of their electricity supply,” he says. …
In the meantime, as the economy recovers from the tsunami and earthquake, industry will need more electricity. The Japanese public will be asked to sacrifice, as they have over the past year. Yamaguchi says it’s a daunting future. “It’s a mess, you know,” he laments. “We have to cut our consumption itself. We did it. But whether we can continue for the coming five, six, seven years without sacrificing the Japanese economy, it’s almost impossible.”
But Japan has been through tougher times. Its engineers are second to none and the country is wealthy. The IEA’s Varro says a wholesale shift to green energy isn’t impossible. “It is certainly going to be expensive,” he predicts. “How slow it is, that depends on the decisions that Japan makes. Japan is a rich and technologically sophisticated society. I think they have the potential to surprise us.”…
API has been calling on Obama to act for some time now…
WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) — The United States can shield itself against upheavals in the Middle East by tapping into domestic oil and natural gas reserves, a trade group said.
Oil prices are hovering near 9-month highs in part because of unrest in the Middle East. Crude oil prices spiked when Iran announced it was stopping oil deliveries to some European countries and shipping services are wary of delivering Iranian crude because of European sanctions.
Jack Gerard, president and chief executive officer at the American Petroleum Institute, called on U.S. President Barack Obama to send a “powerful signal” to the international markets that U.S. oil and natural gas was ready for swift development.
“The U.S. cannot control unrest in the Middle East, international supply disruptions, or rising worldwide demand, but it can increase world supply of crude oil by developing more of our own ample oil resources,” he said during a conference call with reporters.
The Obama administration said oil production is at historic highs, though Obama’s say that’s because of policies enacted by the previous administration. Gerard said Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy is actually slowing oil and natural gas production.
“We urge him to truly do all of the above to help immediately create downward pressure on crude prices that will benefit American consumers,” said Gerard.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon is cultivating investors from Seoul to New Delhi eager to own natural gas that’s 85 percent cheaper than Middle East supplies because of a glut in the U.S.
As head of the second-largest U.S. natural gas supplier, McClendon met executives of Asian power utilities and state-run energy companies on a 14-day trip last month. He said they’re unfazed by Chesapeake’s $10.3 billion debt load, more than twice Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s burden, and gas trading near a 10-year low of $2.23 per million British thermal units — two factors that have helped send its stock down 26 percent in the past year.
Soaring oil prices have displaced Greece’s sovereign debt as a threat to global economic growth and financial markets, HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank by market value, said.
“With Greece disappearing, at least temporarily, from the headlines, investors have quickly found a new source of anxiety thanks to the recent surge in oil prices,” HSBC Chief Economist Stephen King said in a note today. “If the trend persists, a fragile economic recovery in the developed world could quickly be derailed and inflation could return to emerging markets.”
Brent crude surged to as much as $128.40 a barrel yesterday, the highest since July 2008. Brent for April settlement slipped 1.2 percent to $124.67 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 12:48 p.m. today.
Equity investors should “take insurance” by becoming overweight in energy stocks while foreign exchange investors should favor the currencies of oil-producing nations such as Norway, Malaysia, Brazil and Russia, he said.
For four decades, Amory Lovins has been a leading proponent of a renewable power revolution that would wean the U.S. off fossil fuels and usher in an era of energy independence. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about his latest book, which describes his vision of how the world can attain a green energy future by 2050.
It seems there is, perhaps under the radar, a consensus about some of the biggest challenges of our day - who is it? It is going to involve pointing the finger at ourselves. This comes from a debate (or blame game) about who should take the lead - private industry, governments, NGOs, no one? Again I am reminded of another article about public opinion and it’s relation to (responsibility to address?) the larger issues we are facing. “Civic engagement”, a phrase from my undergrad comes to mind. Public will to push for R&D, public will to push for solutions to the global (and domestic) economic troubles. Public will, perhaps as this latest article states, to move people towards a more enlightened perspective about the consequences of our interactions; towards conceiving a sustainable future…
[QUOTE]… said Thomas Dietz, assistant vice president for environmental research at Michigan State University. (SOURCE)
Information plays a much smaller role than we like to think, Dietz explained. In order to truly address big issues like climate change or sustainability, we need to talk at a society-wide scale about our values and reach mutual understanding about the values needed for sustainability.
“However, we don’t like to talk about our values or feelings, because it threatens our personal identity.”
Engaging the public
Treating nature as an object, separate and distinct from us, is part of the problem, said Sacha Kagan, sociologist at Leuphana University in Germany. The current environmental crisis results from technological thinking and a fear of complexity that science alone cannot help us with, Kagan said.
The objectification of the natural world began during the Age of Enlightenment about 300 years ago. People saw the world and their place in it in very different ways before that, said Robinson.
Today, he said, sustainability will not be achieved without “engaging people in numbers and at levels that have never been done before”.
For more of my thoughts throughout the week and to see what news I’m following, I invite you to join the conversation via Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. Or visit my main website, INFLUENCE with Jesse Parent to view Case Studies, Reports, Editorials and more.