“Systems Thinking” Guru Peter Senge on Starbucks, P&G, and the Economic Power of Trash


BY Anya Kamenetz Fri Oct 22, 2010


One of the world’s top management gurus is spending a lot of time these days thinking about trash. I spoke with author of The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge, because of his work with Starbucks on their pledge to provide recycling in all their stores. But it turns out that his interest in the waste stream goes far beyond that. True to his reputation as the major popularizer of “systems thinking,” Senge sees the potential for a whole “underground economy” of great wealth that’s literally being tossed away under our noses. “Nobody likes to throw stuff away,” he told me. “It’s just antithetical to our sense of being a person. But we’re all habituated to that way of living today.”

On the Starbucks cup:

It’s an archetypal problem and I liked it right away. What more compelling icon of the craziness: On the one hand, the convenience that we can stroll down the street sipping our latte, but then, the craziness that we can toss over our shoulder and maybe you feel a little bit better if it lands in a bin instead of the ground, but it really doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Let’s look at the whole system, all the way upstream and all the way downstream: Where does the cup come from? Who makes it? A tree or an oil well.”……………

full story at http://www.fastcompany.com/1696174/systems-thinking-guru-peter-senge-on-starbucks-pg-and-the-economic-power-of-trash

A Green Investment Bank to Power the Economic Recovery

The AG have launched a new report that is a collection of articles written by leading commentators from finance and industry that put forward their views in regard to the scope, barriers and capitalisation for the Green Investment Bank. The Government is due to publish its policy proposals after the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn.

Report can be downloaded here http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/reports

By Matthew Easter, SEC Industrial Battery Company

What are Feed-In Tariffs and why have they been introduced?

In the broadest sense, the UK Feed-In Tariffs (or FIT’s as they have become known) are a financial incentive being introduced by the UK government to encourage home owners and businesses to fit renewable energy systems to their properties and generate electricity on a local scale. There are a number of reasons why they have been introduced but, at the most basic level, like many other countries we urgently need to address the fact that our energy consumption requirements continue to increase, whilst in contrast our ability to generate electricity using traditional methods will decrease in the years ahead, as fossil fuel and nuclear power stations are decommissioned but not replaced. The other key objective of this scheme is to facilitate a significant increase in the amount of power we generate nationally from renewable methods, with the aim of meeting the EU target set for the UK of 15% through renewable energy by 2020.

How do the Feed-In Tariffs actually work?

From April 1st 2010, the UK Feed-In Tariff scheme will start and homeowners or commercial businesses/property owners can apply to receive money for every Kilowatt Hour (kWH) of energy generated using approved renewable energy systems that they buy and have installed on their property. There are several different types of renewable energy system included within the FIT scheme, as follows……………

Fullarticle at http://www.lowcarboneconomy.com/community_content/_tips_did_you_know/9207/rss

How it works – IBM’s interactive explanation of the intelligent utility network can be viewed at


The video clip at the link below shows the need we have to communicate our new reality, but we also know that it hard to learn a second language later in life and this where we stand now as economies.

We have all learnt a language from birth that is shaped by the multi-planet lifestyle we are trying to lead on the only planet we have.

We now have to learn a new language that is appropriate for our ability to communicate in the One Planet World we are entering. Like the Tower of Babel, we have fractured into many languages, quality, environmental, CSR, sustainability, H&S and others.

The critical need is to create an Organisational Esperanto to communicate the ‘sustainability journey of integrated continual improvement towards perfect quality’.

The ‘Babel Fish of Sustainability’ as Douglas Adams might call this Blog.


Reshaping business education in a new era



Source: Strategy Practice McKinsey Quarterly

This is a Conversation Starter, one in a series of invited opinions on topical issues. Watch the video, then share your thoughts by commenting

With rising interest in corporate social responsibility and increasing doubt in the sanctity of institutions, an evolving breed of MBA student is surveying the business landscape with a more discerning eye and demanding a new type of education. One person who feels this shift acutely is Blair Sheppard, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Sheppard has a prime view of this maelstrom of forces—changing expectations from students, different contours of global business, new management issues for educational institutions—and a unique perspective on what these portend for business students and business schools alike. He spoke in New York with McKinsey Quarterly editor Allen Webb about where MBA education stands in the wake of the financial crisis, and where he thinks it’s headed.

Watch the video, or download a PDF of the transcript.

Story and video (Free account needs creating) at https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/ghost.aspx?ID=/Strategy/Strategic_Thinking/Reshaping_business_education_in_a_new_era_2500

The clip below highlights our current predicament with regard to our future, the reductionist questions we are asking ourselves “how to we prevent climate change?” – “how do we mitigate the effects of climate change?” are not the right ones.

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not the Earth is creating our One Planet World, the only question that matters is “How do we help the Earth create that One Planet World so humans have a viable future in it?”


‘Build your future helping create the One Planet World’


Are You Asking and Answering the Right Questions?

Author: From the Editorial Staff at e-BIM
Posted: 01/07/2010

Peter F. Drucker had a special genius for asking the right questions.

Indeed, one of his most notable principles was: “You will attain the greatest results in business (or any other institution in society) if you drop the word ‘achievement’ from your vocabulary… and replace it with ‘contribution.’”

When people tell you what they’ve achieved, you should ask them: “What have you contributed?” Hopefully, it won’t be a conversation stopper.

Instead, of talking today about “entitlement” we should be talking about responsibility and contribution. Said Drucker: “What we ought to be asking is not, ‘What should you be entitled to?’ but ‘What should you be responsible for?’”

A question such as this can give people a new direction and a new purpose.

Our point? We tend to answer questions, that is, react to them. This means we react, many times, to the wrong question. Changing the question can change everything.


Peter F. Drucker observed most organizational/people conflicts result from people asking and answering different questions.

In short: Assume all conflicting parties are providing correct answers. However, also assume all are answering different questions.

“Never ask, ‘Who is right?’ in a conflict. Never even ask, ‘What is right?’ The proper response is to discover, first, what the question is that everyone is answering.”………………….


full story at http://www.sixsigmaiq.com/columnarticle.cfm?externalID=1761&columnid=11&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SixSigmaIQ+%28Six+Sigma+IQ%3A+Powered+by+e-BIM%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Kodak Chooses Clamshell Alternative For Camera Packaging


By GreenerDesign Staff Published January 08, 2010

Richmond, VA — Eastman Kodak’s C-182 digital camera will be sold in Natralock packaging, an alternative to all-plastic clamshells that is made with recyclable PET plastic and paperboard.

The Natralock packaging, by MeadWestvaco, uses an average of 60 percent less plastic than all-plastic clamshells, which are typically made from plastics like PVC that are not generally accepted in recycling systems.

With MeadWestvaco’s packaging, products are put in a PET shell that’s just big enough to fit the item, and the plastic is then sandwiched between paperboard that comes from sources certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

The company says that its packaging is slimmer, 29 percent lighter, uses 65 percent less energy in production and seals an average of 60 percent faster in production than clamshells.

MeadWestvaco is also working with SanDisk, Lexar and other consumer electronics companies to transition their clamshell packaging to Natralock, which can run through most existing sealing machinery.

Full story at http://digg.com/u1Joqf

Localization and Carrying Capacity


By Chris Nelder
Friday, January 8th, 2010

………………..What is the true carrying capacity of America, if the San Joaquin Valley’s water problems persist? About one-fifth of California’s total electrical power demand is used to pump water; about four-fifths of the water pumped in California is used to irrigate agriculture.

The ability of the state to build sustainable power supply — like those turbines in Tehachapi — has direct implications on the nation’s food supply. Likewise, much of the population of Los Angeles could not exist without the massive pipeline system that brings the city water from the Colorado River.

How will the little mining towns of northwestern Arizona fare as fossil fuels decline? They’ll still be able to ship their minerals by rail along the freight tracks I paralleled on Route 66, but they’ll need to have alternate sources of revenue if peak oil quenches economic growth.

Supporting those proposed solar arrays and grid connections could mean the difference between thriving and shrinking, which explains why in a parched, windswept, and sun-baked land like Mohave County, the need for local water and energy supply is urgent enough to override the usual political bent and make strange bedfellows of Republicans and renewable energy advocates. Such alliances will become more common in a century of decline. Necessity wins over ideology every time.

In the Bay Area where I live, the last few years has seen an increasing incidence of water main breaks and exploding transformers, sewage spills, bridges becoming unsafe, and roads becoming more patch and pothole than pavement, as its aging infrastructure crumbles and fails. Governor Schwarzenegger went begging the federal government this week for financial aid, and proposed privatizing prisons in an effort to close a budget gap that now runs into the hundreds of billions. A downgrade of the state’s debt rating seems inevitable for a state that is too big to not fail. Where will the revenue come from to fix all this, and keep the water flowing to the San Joaquin Valley, plus build out a new renewable energy and rail infrastructure?

Arizona’s in only slightly better shape. A week before Christmas, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer told her cabinet to slash spending sharply and push criminal alien prisoners back onto the Feds as quickly as possible, as she faces the prospect of borrowing $700 million a month to stay operational, and a looming 2011 fiscal year deficit of $3.4 billion. Solar power could be a massive financial boon to the state, but popular support has been sluggish and the leadership has been slow to understand the energy-water nexus. The solar potential of Arizona is far greater with photovoltaics and air-cooled CSP than water-cooled CSP.

The food production of the San Joaquin; the wind turbines in Tehachapi; the oil fields of Kern County; the solar resource of Arizona; the water resources of the Rockies that sustain its dense low desert populations… these all depend in one fashion or another on a complex, interconnected infrastructure of commerce powered by cheap fossil fuels.

No one has even begun to seriously add up the costs of transitioning it to renewable power and rail transport. The tab will run into the double-digit trillions for the state of California alone. If the state fails — and I think it could — then where will the investment come from? Can we still imagine a debt-based federal infrastructure spending program that would utterly dwarf the New Deal? If not, then the transition will be financed and built from the bottom up… or not at all.

I’m still betting that trillions of dollars will be spent over the coming decades to cut waste, build more wind turbines and solar plants, erect a long distance HVDC transmission grid, implement a smart grid with micro-islanding capabilities, stimulate a rail renaissance, and try to keep the American machine humming.

That’s why I call it “the greatest investment event of the century.” The investment opportunity in the Southwest is absolutely staggering, if the capital can be found.

But should those efforts prove too little, too late — and by my count, we’re already 30 years too late — the long-term fate of individual communities will be largely decided by what they do in the next two decades. What they have at the end of that period may be what they’ll have to live with for many decades afterward. The resources they depend on today may be stranded.

My family may indeed fall back on the old cross-cut saw to cut our firewood. The Tehachapi locals may have power, but struggle to maintain food supply. The mining towns of Arizona may wish they’d done more to deploy solar, especially water-pumping solar systems, when the getting was good.

Communities that localize their supplies of food, water, and energy, with a sharp eye on local carrying capacity (which is to say, those who have the ability to disconnect from the complex systems around them and be self-sufficient), could have a reasonably good future. Those that don’t may find themselves following the deer of the Kaibab Plateau.

The question for investors is this: Fifty years from now, will Route 66 be a blasted wasteland of ghost towns, a Mad Max relic of the fossil fuel age… or a string of small, self-sufficient oases, each with their own solar arrays, wind turbines, backyard gardens, and railroad depots?

I’ll have more to say on that subject next week when I write for Green Chip Stocks.

Until next time,

full story at http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/can-the-southwest-go-local/1048?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+eacfeed+%28Energy+and+Capital%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher


Underground data center to help heat Helsinki

In the chill of a massive cave beneath an orthodox Christian cathedral in Helsinki, Finland, a city power firm is preparing what it thinks will be the greenest data center on the planet. 

Excess heat from hundreds of computer servers to be located in the bedrock beneath Uspenski Cathedral, one of Helsinki’s most popular tourist sites, will be captured and channeled into the district heating network, a system of water-heated pipes used to warm homes in the Finnish capital. 

“It is perfectly feasible that a quite considerable proportion of the heating in the capital city could be produced from thermal energy generated by computer halls,” said Juha Sipila, project manager at Helsingin Energia

Beneath Helsinki’s Uspenski Cathedral a new data center is being built whose heat will help warm homes in the Finnish capital. 

(Credit: Jrielaecher/Wikimedia Commons)

Finland and other north European countries are using their water-powered networks as a conduit for renewable energy sources: capturing waste to heat the water that is pumped through the system. 

Due online in January, the new data center for local information technology services firm Academica is one way of addressing environmental concerns around the rise of the Internet as a central repository for the world’s data and processing–known as “cloud computing.” 

Companies seeking large-scale, long-term cuts in information technology spending are concentrating on data centers, which account for up to 30 percent of many corporations’ energy bills. 

Data centers such as those run by Google already use around 1 percent of the world’s energy, and their demand for power is rising fast with the trend to outsource computing. 

One major problem is that in a typical data center only 40-45 percent of energy use is for the actual computing–the rest is used mostly for cooling down the servers. 

“It is a pressing issue for IT vendors since the rise in energy costs to power and cool servers is estimated to be outpacing the demand for servers,” said Steven Nathasingh, chief executive of research firm Vaxa. 

“But IT companies cannot solve the challenge by themselves and must create new partnerships with experts in energy management like the utility companies and others,” he said. 

Data centers’ emissions of carbon dioxide have been running at around one-third of those of airlines, but are growing 10 percent a year and now approach levels of entire countries such as Argentina or the Netherlands. 

Energy savings
Besides providing heat to homes in the Finnish capital, the new Uspenski computer hall will use half the energy of a typical data center, Sipila said. 

Its input into the district heating network will be comparable to one large wind turbine, or enough to heat 500 large private houses.

Full story at  http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10405955-54.html



Who Will Grow Your Food? Part I: The Coming Demographic Crisis in Agriculture

Posted on: January 4, 2010 9:00 AM, by Sharon Astyk


What kind of radical cultural transformation would we have to have to allow middle class parents to say “I hope you grow up to be a farmer.” Or “Honey, why don’t you take some agriculture classes along with calc and physics?” Or “Honey, have you considered a cow college? Cows are great!” What would it take to make agriculture a profession of status? Eric and I are going to explore this question in one of the next posts in this series, talking about how we might begin integrating agricuture and systems science together for kids and college students.

When one out of three or two of every American kids was farmer, you could count on a large number of bright young people to grow up and become farmers. Even after the population began to decline, we benefitted from the fact that, as the expression goes, “The American public is lucky that farming is a disease not a job.” That is, despite every pressure to send out anyone bright and thoughtful, some of the best and brightest still stayed at it. It is a testament to the power of agriculture.

But the truth is that rural areas can’t bear the brain drain forever, and that we need thoughtful, well educated, creative people in agriculture *DESPERATELY* because as Greenpa put it in the comments to a previous post, we’re inventing a viable agriculture. That is, we’ve never before had to deal with the fact that there are no new frontiers, there’s no land we can afford to abandon, there’s no new place to go to avoid the consequences of fouling our land and wasting our resources. We need people who can create a sustainable – not in the superficial sense of the word, but really, truly sustainable – that is, can go on forever – agriculture. And that will take the best minds we have, and every kind of human intelligence, wisdom and thoughtfulness. And we need it soon.

For low income urban kids, even in the garden, the problem will be access to land, and also, access to a world of nature that expands beyond the highly structured nature of very small garden plots. That is, farming isn’t just learning to grow food, or learning to raise animals – it is learning to manage a space that is both wild and tame, and to have them exist simultaneously. A good farm pasture should support nearly as much wildlife as a comparable forest. A farm woodlot should support even more. A community garden plot or a public park offer little chance to teach kids to know and trust and understand the wild. We need a generation of people who have ties to such spaces – as I’ve written about before, establishing urban-rural ties may be our most central project.

We are facing a problem that literally has never been faced in human history – we don’t have enough people who know how to feed us to keep going foward. And for the most part, we’re not even fully aware of the problem. We have no plan going forward. And our children are being taught that farming is unworthy of them. This, folks, is a crisis.

Full article at http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2010/01/who_will_grow_your_food_part_i.php


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