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Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Remembering Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs passed away today. I have never met or seen him but strangely enough, it felt like loss of a relative, a neighbor, a friend or a head of state. He was none. There are a few people in my generation who have made as profound impact as he did. His legacy lives in the hands of the people of over 100 countries where IPhone sells and in billions of conversations we have on touch screen phones everyday. I remain astounded by the fact that how can a person make so many right decisions one after one.

Steve has been criticized for advocating the sales of so many electronic devices that inherently are not green. But I think he thought about the environmental damage. His statement at http://www.apple.com/hotnews/agreenerapple/ mentions what he was trying to reduce the footprint of the devices. Apple needs to continue to follow his lead. I have always been a fan of innovation and the word Innovation lost an alphabet today.

 

 


Posted by praneymittal at 7:29 PM PDT
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Thursday, 10 February 2011
Buses and the public transport
Topic: Conservation etc ...

While we talk about reducing the dependence of the country on oil, it is an issue of national security. America does not own a large part of oil supplies and whosoever has the control over them owns the planet. A very strange thing that I somehow dont see in the news is the private mass transport options.

In bay area, I am seeing a continuing trend of companies deploying their buses to pick and drop employees. They do this if their locations are not convenient and some of the good ones like Genentech and Google even see this as an employee sat issue. I think this trend needs to go up and private operators need to operate point to point transport options. Each bus has the potential of taking out 15 - 20 cars off the road and a bus can be run completely on alternative fuel options.

It is a great opportunity to start a modern fleet of point to point transport buses that are environment friendly and can take off the cars from the road. Automakers can start making fuel efficient buses and still participate in an entirely new economy.


Posted by praneymittal at 9:56 PM PST
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Sunday, 2 May 2010
BP: Preparing for next Exxon Valdez
The worst ecological disaster ever is in the works. BP's sunken platform is like an undersea tap polluting the seas. I am not a drilling expert but for the love of my life, I cant explain to myself why there was no mechanism to shutoff the well in such a disaster. The political blame game has begun and billions are being spent on cleanup. The earliest time when the leak will get stopped is at least 10 days away. This is something that is going to leave a mark on the Gulf of mexico for a long long time - all because of our love of oil. I worry about the reefs off the coast of Miami, hope the oil never reaches there.

Posted by praneymittal at 7:21 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 3 May 2010 12:33 PM PDT
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Saturday, 1 May 2010
California is still in drought .. at least .. according to state officials

This year has been an anxious year for California - State economy was in dumps and the effects were aggravated by an ongoing drought. Now, having seen the real "drought", I don't think that if our reservoirs are half full, it is really a drought but many would dispute my account. Every end of the month, there is an article published in sf chronicle reminding that we are in drought and seems to be following the state official's systematic way of keeping the drought financing alive.

This season, as far as I can remember, we have had major storms every other week and I literally turned off watering for 5 months - my water bill is less than 40 dollars for 2 months. It has rained like anything. The biggest California reservoir shasta lake is 110% of normal and almost full. Snow pack is 143 % of normal. Lake Oroville is 3/4 th of normal and fast catching up as snow melt happens. All southern cal reservoirs are normal or above.  We are still in drought because only one reservoir out of 12 is 3/4th of normal!

Ughh .. Drought politics

 

 


Posted by praneymittal at 11:33 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 May 2010 7:30 PM PDT
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Sunday, 14 February 2010
The IPCC Argument
Topic: Green Business

I have been following some of the recent news about the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). First they goofed up on Himalayan Glaciers incorrectly stating their disappearance, now it is about how much of Netherlands in under water. It is an embarassing moment for a body that was given Nobel prize. First of all, I dont believe that their intent was wrong but it is clear that they have compromised their integrity. This is a black mark that will take a long time to wash out. I am a big supporter of keeping our environment clean and sustainable, but I dont support the institutions that malign the cause by leading the cause and running it aground! There is no recourse to losing integrity and IPCC has done exactly that. There are two short term side effects of such mistakes - people will stop believing that our planet is at risk and secondly, they will stop trusting anyone who tries to be good and works for a more sustainable environment. IPCC should just be dissolved and the torch should be handed over to a more responsible body which is more accountable.

 


Posted by praneymittal at 9:26 PM PST
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Sunday, 7 February 2010
Cap and Trade - Some more good links
Topic: Cap and Trade

Bruce Richardson : Sustainability Software: Forget Cap and Trade, lets Track and Save


Posted by praneymittal at 10:24 PM PST
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Sunday, 31 January 2010
Cap and Trade Links
Topic: Cap and Trade

Some links for the Cap and Trade Markets-

Evolution Markets

IETA Site

NPR On Cap and Trade

American Tree Farm System

Carbon Calculator


Posted by praneymittal at 4:41 PM PST
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2010 11:07 PM PST
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Thursday, 28 January 2010
Cap and Trade, the Airline and the utility company
Topic: Cap and Trade

Today, listening to NPR was really enlightening. Terry Gross was talking to Mark Schapiro about Cap and Trade and the Carbon economy. The work done by Mark is incredible. Basically, Cap and Trade is a program that has two parts - set the emission caps and trade the over the cap emissions. The system is amazingly speculative and according to this documentary, $150 billion is involved per year. So, here is the run down.

First the demand side:

Lets imagine a utility company being regulated in Europe has a carbon emission limit of 100 million tonnes. However, with the technology investments in place, they can only come to 120 million tonnes. So, the company will need to buy 20 million tonnes to satisfy the 100 million tonnes cap. The deal is that if you create it, someone else offsets it. For an airline, a DC-10 may be highly inefficient but they want to use it as it is paid for. The emissions for this plane may be twice that of a Boeing and when, in total, they exceed for a certain year, then the company has to go to commodities market to buy it.

Then the Supply side:

There are three ways for the company to offset the extra pollution -

  1. Go green - Adopt more green technologies. This option is the simplest and companies can take either the efficiency route or the conservation route. Many companies are giving incentives for conservation to their customers. The interesting fact is that the customer's love for environment is exploited and used to cover up for Vendor's inefficiencies. The second way is to reduce the energy usage by adopting more environment friendly technologies like Solar, wind or in some cases, planting trees.
  2. Partner with an offset creating firm and trade the credits. When a large utility company parterns with a tree plantation firm, they buy carbon credits from that firm to offset emissions. Do you remember the optional line item on your bill to offset carbon emissions. This is likely the guy who gets it. But remember, the customer still paid indirectly for the utility company's inefficiency.
  3. Go to public commodities market and buy the carbon credits. The utility company or airline can buy carbon credits from a developing country company or other company which is planting trees in Amazon forest or simply has extra credits because it is operating under capacity or not emitting enough.

The Middlemen:

This is the most interesting part of the trade. US is a non-signatory to the Cap and Trade agreement. About 37 countries included in the Kyoto protocol signed it. So, guess where the business of carbon credits is centered - London. Most big investment banks (the remaining ones!) have set up a shop there. They deal in carbon credits. They buy the carbon credits from across the globe and create bundles and sell them to the companies which exceeded their cap. They take deep cuts in the money and it keeps their fat wallets growing.

The Moral Dilemma:

There are several very disturbing things in this system:

  • Carbon credit certificates are speculative in nature. They are regulated but by different bodies. They are based on future expectations not as of today. How do you measure the green house impact of a tree that has not been planted yet.
  • Why the middlemen? Investment bankers have no business being paid for auctioning environment.
  • It pays some companies for sitting idle. An undercapacity plant may trade off its carbon credits to an inefficient plant, thereby, having a Zero sum effect on the environment.

It almost seems like a fictitious market in existence. A bubble waiting to burst! Mr. Bernake, will u be there?

 


Posted by praneymittal at 9:17 PM PST
Updated: Thursday, 28 January 2010 10:07 PM PST
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Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Things we ignore...
Topic: Conservation etc ...

This year brings in new perspectives for all of us. I went to office one Sunday night to pick up an item on my way to airport. Our office is very conscious on resource wastage, so, I always thought there was nothing to worry about from the conservation perspective. However, that evening opened my eyes. There was not a single person in the office and lights and most airconditioning was off. It was evening time but the entire floor was lit up with the light from the monitors. Being an IT office, everyone gets two monitors.  We use these only 40 -50 hours a week and they are switched on most of the time - about 168 hours in a week. It seems that we use only 25% of their uptime and waste the rest of it.

I would think that this happens in IT offices of most companies. It does not just put extra pressure on the power supply, it also takes the airconditioning to keep these devices cool. I think we all owe a moral responsibility to shutdown the computers and monitors that we dont use at work.

I know I am not saying something new but it is so old that it gets ignored. Sometimes we just need to go back to basics ...

 


Posted by praneymittal at 10:31 PM PST
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Thursday, 22 October 2009
Berkeley Plan for the entire nation - Great Start but be cautious
Topic: Green Business

I recently read in the news that Berkeley's plan for financing the Solar panels is being adopted at a national level. Overall, it is a great start for a nation with the rising energy prices and towering unemployment. But this has the drawback that was typically seen in the nation's telecom infrastructure. Consumers have little incentive to go solar since the prices of the solar or Wind tech still remains very high compared to a montly bill. The administration should make an effort to make it a phased adoption because the early adoptors of this plan will likely see their investment wash out in 5-7 years since the mass production will bring the solar panel prices down drastically. Secondly, the solar panels should be produced indigenously in order to make a real impact on the economy. The solar panels being associated with a home value also makes it difficult to sell the home and reduce options for the purchaser who may want to try newer panels for the new home. Anyway, as the details of the plan become clear, it will be interesting to see how administration makes the policies.

 


Posted by praneymittal at 10:06 PM PDT
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