Summer 2004



The Arlington Institute’s “futures” conference in Washington, D.C., last April, had an amazing cadre of presenters. Here are “nuggets” from an event that was a “feast”… particularly elements with ties to what we do professionally … and opportunities.

The Millennium Project

This international think tank surveyed over 300 influential heads of government, corporations, and “Non-Government Organizations” (NGOs), globally, asking what they saw as the biggest issues that mankind needs to address. Of the top 15 presented, #1 … way out in front of #2 … was “Sustainable development for everyone.”

More people inhabit Earth. And the amount of consumption per person is much greater than it was even 100 years ago. We’ll soon reach a projected population of 9 billion. 5 to 7 billion will be urban dwellers. Therefore new systems – for water, wastewater, power, solid waste, housing, and transportation – are needed for cities.

2nd biggest concern was providing sufficient clean water without conflict . Water tables are falling globally. 40% of humanity lives on international watersheds. Many rivers run dry for parts of the year, while heavily paved cities empty their water into the ocean. Water wars, which could be nuclear, would be disastrous for all of us.

Agriculture uses 70% of the water. Greater efficiency is essential: filters, sanitation, storage, lots of trees. Business as usual water management = coming disasters.

The other major issue directly impacting our profession is #13, “The growing energy demand must be met safely.” Part of the solution is conservation. Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, or upgrading to more efficient toilets can solve a lot of problems. However, much of the solution must come through clean, renewable sources. Wind is least expensive, and growing rapidly. PV installations on buildings are increasingly common; they also ensure power when the grid is down. Wave and tidal motion is a research focus, as most of mankind lives near an ocean.

New Technology

“Molecular Manufacturing” is creating greater productivity, faster delivery, less cost, stronger products, and less mass requirements to do a job. Most of the work is being done by corporate scientists; they have R&D money. “Efabrics”, such as Kevlar bullet-proof shirts, stain-shedding pants, and PV fabrics that glue to building roofs or walls, are examples. Soon, more complex products will simply be “grown.” This growing molecular technology positively addresses each of the top 15 global issues.

Many new sewerage treatment processes tend to be smaller and decentralized. Martinez, CA., Elkton, OR., and Fredericksburg, VA. facilities are using recirculating sand filters. The results are essentially … odor-free, fully sustainable, and yield material used for greenhouses and gardening.

Several manufacturers are refining processes for recycling waste products into new. Over 750 million used tires exist in the U.S. alone. Some new machines produce plywood from sugar cane residuals, composites from rice straw, stucco-looking building facings from 7-Up bottles, and used tires into an improved form of concrete.

Another process uses coal to create carbon fuel cells, which can produce electricity, without combustion … and the accompanying air quality problems. Then, new “ultraconductors” are 100,000 times more efficient than copper. This material conserves power by eliminating transmission fall-off. It can be placed underground, with no radiation problems. It improves efficiency in machines and appliances. The material also stores power … which cuts the need for batteries, a major waste problem.

Data Sources

As you’d imagine, public opinion is heavily shaped by both the press and TV. One of their difficulties has been budget … being able to support a cadre of investigative reporters to uncover news. That makes the media more dependent on sources that provide them with pre-packaged information … such as government or corporations. To get a more balanced perspective, you can use the Internet to gather information from a wide array of (free) international publications with online editions in English:

Banns.com (Denmark) — http://www.euroaudio.dk/triple_site/banns/nan.asp

Earthtimes (global) — http://www.earthtimes.org

EUObserver — htp://www.euobserver.com

FAZ (German) — http://www.faz.com

The Guardian (Britain) — http://www.guardian.co.uk

International Herald Tribune — http://www.iht.com

Spain Post (Spain) — http://www.spainpost.com

The Toqueville Connection (French) — http://www.ttc.org

Times On-Line (England) — http://www.timesonline.co.uk

In a few minutes each day, you can scan articles from around the world. Many are of little interest, but some are of considerable interest. For instance, a global conference on renewable energy just concluded in Bonn, Germany. While the U.S. sent only an undersecretary of energy, over 3,000 delegates began setting concrete targets for levels of renewable power by specific dates. Germany is now the world’s largest wind power producer. Solar power generation has more than tripled, globally, in the past five years; wind power has quadrupled. And bank financing has surged.

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The March marketing skills workshop in Raleigh had an excellent response. We’ve recently had similar inquiries about having a workshop out west, such as San Francisco. If you have one to three people who need marketing skills training, probably sometime this summer, let us know. We’ll work to organize something in response.

Market Driven Organization, a book fusing marketing methods with professional firm organization principles, will be ready for the SMPS convention in August; keep an eye out. The guidelines should prove incredibly useful to you and your firm.

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