June 10, 2006

Worldwatch: We really are in the middle of a paradigm shift.

Lending more testimony to the recognition that the environmental movement and energy paradigms are going through a interconnected paradigm shift is Worldwatch Insitute's President Christopher Flavin. The opportunity for investors is enormous.

A new report, Biofuels for Transportation: Global Potential and Implications for Sustainable Agriculture and Energy in the 21st Century, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV), is a comprehensive assessment of the opportunities and risks associated with the large-scale international development of biofuels. It includes information from existing country studies on biofuel use in Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Tanzania.

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Resource crunch favors green tech-Worldwatch

LONDON (Reuters) - Clean water and energy technologies can reap the benefit of a global resources crunch, the President of the Worldwatch Institute Christopher Flavin told a London conference.

"I believe we will look back on this period as being a turning point," Flavin told the Cleantech-sponsored conference on green technology investing late on Thursday.

"We're hitting a perfect storm of (threats to) resources and environmental quality," he said, adding the crunch was being fed by the booming economies in China and India.

The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute is a independent research body that reports on environmental, social and economic trends.

Flavin said China's hunger for raw materials could only continue, given its consumption was still a fraction of the West's -- for example per person oil consumption at less than a tenth of that in the United States.

Burning fossil fuels spews out carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas widely blamed for global warming, and coal is especially polluting.

"The potential for CO2 emissions from China and India is absolutely staggering -- especially as both have limited oil and gas, but vast amounts of coal."

But Flavin saw the environmental threat as a massive opportunity to developers of new, green technologies which either cut industry contribution to climate change, or help adaptation to global warming.

Such technologies can combat dwindling water supplies -- through desalination or water recycling and other methods -- or by improving access to clean energy, whether wind, solar or biofuels.
"We're hitting a perfect storm of (threats to) resources and environmental quality," he said, adding the crunch was being fed by the booming economies in China and India.

The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute is a independent research body that reports on environmental, social and economic trends.

Flavin said China's hunger for raw materials could only continue, given its consumption was still a fraction of the West's -- for example per person oil consumption at less than a tenth of that in the United States.

Burning fossil fuels spews out carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas widely blamed for global warming, and coal is especially polluting.

"The potential for CO2 emissions from China and India is absolutely staggering -- especially as both have limited oil and gas, but vast amounts of coal."

But Flavin saw the environmental threat as a massive opportunity to developers of new, green technologies which either cut industry contribution to climate change, or help adaptation to global warming.

Such technologies can combat dwindling water supplies -- through desalination or water recycling and other methods -- or by improving access to clean energy, whether wind, solar or biofuels.

"I would argue now there is a lot of similarity where we were with oil 100 years ago. This year will be the first that Iowa puts more (corn) into its ethanol plants than it exports. We really are in the middle of a paradigm shift."

Flavin went on to cite growth figures for clean energy consistently above 20 percent per year, compared to oil, gas and nuclear at less than 5 percent.

For example biofuels grew at over 20 percent in 2005, while wind power was consistently growing at 25 to 30 percent, and solar photovoltaics at over 30 percent, he said.

"You'd have to be an idiot not to make money out of biofuels," he told Reuters.


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2 comments:

Luis Matos said...

Just because , as it seems, we are changing from one kind of energy source to another, can we really call it a paradigm shift ?
I don't think so. The current paradigm is not so much about what particular forms of energy sources we are using, but more on what life style as resulted from it.
I would prefer to use that expression - the change in paradigm - if we were talking , for example, about a change in the urban concept. Today more than 50% of the world's population is living in urban areas. If we really want to solve the energy issue , we're more likely to find the solution in the paradigm of urbanity tham in the paradigm of energy, even though they are inexorably linked together.

C. Scott Miller, EDP said...

No one would question that publishing has undergone a paradigm shift with the advent of digitization of media input, processing, and output.

The impact of a shift from non-renewable fossil fuels to renewable ones parallels the digital revolution. Input will be renewable feedstock and waste to replace oil. Processing will shift to low emission technologies with clean electricity co-generation in place of polluting oil refineries. Output will be cleaner fuels - ethanol, biodiesel, and, eventually perhaps, hydrogen.

In the meantime the decentralization of the energy economy will dramatically affect the lifestyles of the world's populations - as it already is in Brazil and the American Midwest.

It's a paradigm shift - undoubtedly the first important one of the new millennium.