3p Contributor: jmadden

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Trilby Lundberg: Got Reliable Sources?

| Thursday August 23rd, 2007 | 4 Comments

bush_exxonmobil.jpgOnce in a while, it makes sense to check one’s “sources”.
With the glut of information that is continually flooding my mind space from a seemingly endless array of sources and mediums, it is necessary to develop a system for both cataloging and qualifying information. The “system” I have developed is a hybrid of intuitive sense and objective reasoning.
For example, if I am reading about a current event, I intuitively account for the particular slant (political/philosophical, etc) of the publication and I also look for 3rd party verification of information presented. Off the top of my head I can think of several such 3rd parties that are used in the media to validate information—Gallup, BBC, Zogby, New England Journal of Medicine, etc. Another “source” that I hear quoted on at least a weekly (if not daily) basis is the Lundberg Survey, which is often used in reference to U.S. fuel prices (gasoline and diesel) as well as a source for a myriad things relating to the Oil Industry.
Somehow, I have been cajoled into accepting the Lundberg Survey as an unbiased source for market research relating to the Oil Industry. My Mistake. This past week I was shocked when I came across the Ms. Trilby Lundberg’s pontifications on oil consumption, conservation and climate change being reported by none other than CNN.

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Going Green: An Exercise in Irrationality

| Monday June 4th, 2007 | 0 Comments

OK, I am guilty.
As an MBA student in Sustainable Management at the Presidio School in San Francisco and an entrepreneur in Sustainable Business, I figured I better make certain that I was “walking the walk” before I began “talking the talk” to friends, family and business associates with regards to sustainability. Thus, I set out to “green my life.” Sure I drive a hybrid, recycle, compost and use cloth shopping bags, etc. in the name of reducing my impact on the planet. However, last year when my wife and I were looking at “greening” our home, the very first thing we did was look into solar power. This was a mistake. Please don’t get me wrong, solar power is a good thing. In fact, if one wants to get technical, it is the mother of all renewables, as it is ultimately the source of wind energy, wave energy and biofuels. The mistake we made in immediately looking to solar power to address our home energy consumption needs is that, prior to implementing any renewable energy technology, we should first have looked into reducing our overall home energy consumption through efficiency maximization and good old fashioned conservation efforts.
I am not certain what it is in our societal make up that tends to point us in the direction of the latest and greatest technology, but there does seem to be an element of “consumerism” even in well intended efforts to move toward sustainability. Maybe it is an element of keeping up with the “Jones’ of sustainability” or maybe it is an effect of successful marketing by the renewable energy sector, I am not sure. Whatever it is, it seems that the same phenomenon is true at the corporate level as well.
A recent story in the Economist suggests that,

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The “Fossilization” of Exxon-Mobil

| Saturday June 2nd, 2007 | 3 Comments

Exxon%20Dinosaur.jpgIn the great scheme of things, the dinosaurs did not fair so well in the end. By most accounts, it was their inability to adapt to a rapid change in the earth’s climate. Looking out at the road ahead, it seems that there is a possibility that Homo-sapiens may share a similar demise (along with a great deal of other species). Unlike the dinosaurs, however, we sapiens will be in the particularly peculiar position of understanding that climate change is happening and that it is detrimental to life, comprehending that our actions are the cause and making a conscious choice not to change.
Now…Take a breath, engage that “advanced brain” that we uber-primates all share and think about that for a moment. It is not an easy thing to grasp….even for a species endowed with so much gray matter.
Now consider the outcome of the Exxon-Mobil annual shareholders meeting in Dallas. Defying fierce opposition amongst the ranks of its shareholders to take action on climate change, the company decided to stay the course, saying that action was “important but premature”.
Ironically, in reading the AP article, I actually took comfort in one particular phrase:
“Exxon Mobil is a petroleum and petrochemical company”
While other giants like BP and Shell see themselves as energy companies, Exxon-Mobil sees itself as a petrochemical company. The world demands energy, not petrochemicals.

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Design: Rethinking our Needs

| Thursday May 31st, 2007 | 3 Comments

design%20image.jpgI should take time out to sit down and think more often. It is almost inevitable that when I do so, the clutter in my mind disappears and I get a better sense of what I need as opposed to what I think I need while I am caught in the hyper-pace of what has become my day to day.

Yesterday, my day turned out to be another hectic scramble to meet the immediate needs of tasks that tend to arise faster than I can address them. Somewhere in the midst of the afternoon, I found myself in need of a quick fix meal and ran off to grab a Clif Bar. I inhaled the Clif Bar (along with a cup of coffee) and continued my foray into an ever escalating state of madness. Similar situations arise throughout the day and I often spend time and energy trying to quell one need after another. As I write, it is apparent that I did not need a Clif Bar (or the coffee) or any of the myriad quick fix solutions I pursue. What I really need is a better approach/system that will allow me the wherewithal to be proactive rather than reactive in my daily activities. However, I devote relatively little time and/or energy to satisfying my true need in this regard. Thus, it is important to note that needs which are derived from actions/situations/endeavors that are unnecessary in the first place are not needs. Rather, I would be best served by assessing the true nature of the desired outcome for any endeavor (large or small) prior to undertaking action. Doing so would not only eliminate unnecessary actions, it would likely decrease overall activity and reduce consumption of energy and goods.

If I look beyond the mundane needs of my everyday, this can be applied on an aggregate scale. A recent article in the NY Times suggests that the great majority of the world’s “design capital” is focused on developing the latest and greatest widget, widget label or widget promotion for sale in developed economies.

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Liquefied Coal: Defying Common Sense

| Wednesday May 30th, 2007 | 0 Comments

liqufied%20coal.jpgBrilliant. That is about all I can say regarding the latest news of the recent push in Washington D.C. subsidize liquefied coal as a potential fuel source for vehicles. In this case, there is no need to make any remarks rooted in partisan leanings one way or another, as the proposal, supported by Peabody Energy, has backers on both sides of the political aisle. In fact, given the fashionable status of “alternative fuels” among the mainstream, it seems the proponents of liquefied coal are seeking to include it alongside biodiesel, ethanol and hydrogen under the umbrella of the popular term. This is an abomination. Even if one were to ignore all of the ill effects of the coal mining industry on the physical landscape, the biological systems and the people who reside in the Appalachian regions of the U.S., one would have a difficult time defending the decision to develop a fuel that, when burned, is more green house gas (GHG) intensive than other fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel.
With the onset of climate change and the consensus among the scientific community that humankind must make drastic reductions in GHG emissions (due, in large part to the burning of fossil fuels) in the very near future to avoid catastrophe on a global scale, it is counterproductive (if not idiotic) to utilize taxpayer money in support of such a technology. Considering the magnitude and the gravity of the problem (no to mention the time and resources currently being spent to address the problem), it is ludicrous to invest time, energy and taxpayer money into a technology that contributes to the same problem we are attempting to solve. The idea is akin to dragging the garden hose into an already overflowing bathtub and turning on the faucet while simultaneously trying mop up the excess water from the floor.
One does not have to be an environmentalist, a climatologist or an economist to understand that investment in coal liquefaction technology defies the laws of common sense. Apparently, the afore mentioned “laws of common sense” do not apply in the District of Columbia.
******Joe Madden
Dir. of Business Development
DriveNeutral

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