December 20, 2005

China onward march to become world's 6th largest economy

China raised its estimate of output this week by a sixth. The new estimate is based on a nationwide census which means China is now above Italy in sixth place in the world economic rankings of 2004 output, measured in dollars at market exchange rates.

Based on 2005 exchange rate movements and relative growth rates, economists calculate that China has now risen to fourth place, ahead of France and Britain, but behind the US, Japan and Germany.

The revision reflects better information on the services sector and on private firms, unearthed during a survey using 13 million people - one in every 100 Chinese.

December 17, 2005

London Stock Exchange in yet more discussions about mergers

Almost every week there is another news story about possible consolidation of various national stock exchanges around the world. This is long overdue. Globalisation and the digital economy are making traditional stock exchanges look very out of date.

See Bloomsberg news story below and the comments I made serveral years ago, about likely megers in Europe of national Stock Exchanges.

http://www.globalchange.com/stock.htm

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) London Stock Exchange Plc's biggest shareholder said it won't accept the 1.5 billion-pound takeover bid by a group led by Macquarie Ltd - Australia's largest investment bank.

Sydney-based Macquarie and other investors including Macquarie Capital Alliance Group and Finpro SGPS SA offered 580 pence a share in cash for LSE, below the closing share price of 622 pence a share on Dec. 14.

December 16, 2005

Convergence: Life after convergence in IT, telecom, consumer behaviour

Life after Convergence - Why so many companies are unprepared
Telecom companies become media houses. Food retailers become online banks. Computers become phones and video stores. However, while we will see convergence in products and services on price, features and quality, we will also see huge new investment in diversity - See article just posted on http://www.globalchange.com/convergence.htm

December 14, 2005

Bird flu: human pandemic could disrupt a country for more than six months - New Zealand's leading news and information website

Extract from Manawatu Standard New Zealand which indicates how another government is thinking about the threat of bird flu spreading amongst humans. As I have always said, the biggest impact is likely to be from an emotional reaction amongst people at home and at work, which will propel governments to drastic measures such as border closure even where such measures have been largely overtaken by events. The most likely scenario is a mutation into human form of bird flu (100% likely according to the World Health Organisation - only a matter of time) but in a far less dangerous way than worst case scenarios, perhaps with a death toll equivalent to 2-5 times a normal annual flu epidemic.

Text of the news bulletin:


Emergency managers are warning that a bird flu pandemic could last up to six months and people should be prepared to stay indoors that long.


Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management readiness manager Mike O'Leary said a bird flu pandemic could strike in multiple waves, lasting up to six months.

"Three waves of approximately eight weeks each is what we are planning for," Mr O'Leary told Human Resources magazine.

Local Government Online chief executive Jim Higgins said it is rubbish to think a pandemic would last a few days.

". . .I've heard people on television speaking of a pandemic lasting a week or two, and I think, 'That's complete rubbish.' More likely a pandemic is going to last for three to six months, with two or three waves of infection."

Local Government Online would be key to providing information during an pandemic.

New Zealand's existing emergency response planning is for short, sharp disasters, such as earthquakes or floods, with mop-up afterward.

"When you think about all the (emergency response) planning that's been done to date, none of it includes anything about not being able to go outside for an extended period of perhaps three to six months. This threat is unique," Mr Higgins said.

Mr O'Leary also warned New Zealand would largely have to manage alone: "Public expectations will be high that relief will come to them, but there will be no cavalry coming over the horizon."

Bird flu is now only a threat, but health experts are worried that a small mutation of the H5N1 virus could let it transmit between humans, and humans have no natural immunity to it.

Health Ministry senior clinical adviser Andrea Forde said the key to surviving any pandemic will be in how well prepared people are, how quickly people can respond and how soon recovery happens.

A pandemic outbreak would see quarantine measures imposed, closing schools and workplaces to prevent infection from spreading. International borders would also be closed, affecting exports and imports. The experts say it could take months to get business functioning again. Getting back to normal would take longer.

Mr Higgins said businesses had to accept the pandemic is going to happen and to start planning.

"It's not a Y2K scenario. If businesses fail to heed this and do not have contingency plans in place, they will most likely grind to a halt."

Ministry of Economic Development resources and networks director Tony Fenwick said a pandemic would see businesses close either because they had to or through reduced demand.

Key industries must plan now for a pandemic, Mr Fenwick said.

"Undisrupted provision of key infrastructure services, the food-supply chain, the capacity of the health sector, the continued operation of banking-payments systems and the legal system are areas we must focus on," he said.

Mr Higgins said the chance of containing bird flu, as Sars was contained, may be remote because of the more infectious nature of influenza.

". . .so we have to look at ways to ride a pandemic out. One of the best ways to do that will be to limit personal contact," he said.

That means businesses have to immediately start looking at ways staff can work from home. Email and telecommunications will be the top tools to keep functioning.

"This really is the sort of line we have to follow to avoid unnecessary infection."

See also http://www.globalchange.com/birdflu.htm

December 11, 2005

Villagers blamed for fatal clash in China - Asia - Pacific - International Herald Tribune

News of security forces firing on villagers in China - reported widely. International Herald Tribune reports today from Chinese sources that there have been amaybe round 70,000 protests in China over the last year (but remember there are 1.2 billion people - so the equivalent in the UK would be around 3,000 incidents, still a significant number but nothing like as dramatic). Almost all these protests were resolved peacefully, but in this case things appear to have got out of hand with differing accounts of what happened. Villagers fired off explosive devices - fireworks - which perhaps were mistaken for more serious weaponry. But having said that, firework rockets set off in the direction of armed forces must be considered to be a highly provocative act.

News report from International Herald Tribune is below:

Five days after a fatal assault by security forces put down a demonstration in a village near Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities began Sunday to consolidate an official version of the events, blaming villagers for the violence, but also punishing at least one local commander.

The delayed response by the Chinese government appeared, at least in part, to be part of a carefully measured public relations effort intended to defuse public outrage over the deaths of 20 or more residents of the hamlet, according to villagers' accounts, as well as upholding Beijing's own vision of public order and the "rule of law."

In the first widely circulated account the incident, which occurred in the village of Dongzhou, in southern Guangdong Province, the Xinhua press agency Web site cited the information office of the nearby city of Shanwei, saying that a "chaotic mob" had begun throwing explosives at the police Tuesday night, forcing the police to "open fire in alarm." The report said that three villagers were killed and eight others were injured.

The Chinese news reports said that 170 villagers, led by a few instigators, attacked a local wind power plant as part of their protest against another planned development there, a coal-fired power plant, using knives, blasting caps and Molotov cocktails.

On Sunday, as detailed accounts of the incident given by villagers were being reported in the foreign news media and commented upon in Chinese-language Web sites, the authorities announced the arrest of a local commander who was in charge during the incident. Without naming him, they said he had mishandled the situation under "extremely urgent circumstances."

The Xinhua report did not make clear whether there had been one or more arrests of officers in charge. Villagers interviewed Sunday said they had been told of two arrests.

The official account of the incident, as well as the death toll being reported in the mainland Chinese media, remain at odds with largely concordant accounts of the villagers, dozens of whom have been interviewed since Friday.

According to these accounts, three bodies were taken to a local clinic after the showdown between the protesters and security forces, and another to a hospital in Shanwei, a city about 25 kilometers, or 15 miles, to the north of Dongzhou, which has jurisdiction over the village.

In telephone interviews with villagers on Saturday and Sunday, witnesses spoke repeatedly of an additional seven or eight bodies seen by a roadside near the scene of the violence. Others accounts, given by numerous villagers, spoke of 13 or so bodies floating in the sea after the security forces used automatic weapons on the protesters. The villagers said they had set off fireworks and exploded blasting caps from a distance of more than 90 paces from the massed police and paramilitary forces. Villagers also repeatedly spoke of injured people being approached by security forces and fatally shot at close range.

"There were seven or eight bodies, killed by the spray of gunfire, that fell into a ditch," said one villager, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The next day, going up along the ditch deep into the grass bushes, villagers found up to 10 bodies. Those inside the ditch were taken away and cremated immediately. I saw it while hiding in the grass bush on the mountain. Immediately I felt like crying, it was such a cruel scene."

The villager's account dovetails with that of several other villagers who spoke of bodies by the roadside near a village crossroads. Others spoke of the effort by soldiers to dispose of corpses, keeping villagers at a distance while they burned some of them, and loading others into a minibus, which some villagers said, then took the bodies to a local crematorium for disposal.

Dongzhou residents also said that at least 40 villagers are still unaccounted for, and it is not known whether the missing were killed, arrested or remain in hiding.

If accurate, these accounts suggest a frenzied effort by authorities to maintain an official death toll of about three people, thereby minimizing the importance of the event, which constitutes the greatest known use of force by the Chinese security forces against ordinary citizens since the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing, in 1989.

Villagers said that with security agents still circulating in large numbers, and going from door to door to interrogate residents, some families that had recovered the corpses of their relatives had buried them hastily, and in secret, to avoid their confiscation.

Others said that the police had offered money to those who would surrender their corpses, as well as money for casing from ammunition recovered from the scene. Villagers said that some people had sold their casings, while others had kept them as evidence of the use of force.

The effort to manage public information about the incident was also apparent on Saturday in Shanwei, where villagers said some of the wounded and dead were taken by the police.

At one hospital, visited by a foreign journalist after 11 p.m., people said injured residents from Dongzhou were being cared for in isolation on a third floor ward. On the third floor, a wing of the hospital was fenced off and guarded by the police.


On Saturday night, roads out of Shanwei for a distance of more than 160 kilometers had police checkpoints that taxi drivers said had been created to search for "fugitives" from Dongzhou.

On Sunday, villagers contacted by telephone claimed that people who visited their hospitalized relatives in Shanwei had been detained.

The deadly confrontation Tuesday was the culmination of months of tension over the construction of a coal-fired power plant at Dongzhou. Villagers said they had not been adequately compensated for the use of their land ? less than $3 per family, according to one account - and feared pollution from the plant would destroy their livelihood as fishermen. The construction plans called for a bay beside the village to be reclaimed with landfill.

"Shanwei's deputy party secretary said that he

wanted to trample Dongzhou into a flat land," said a village resident who gave her name as Jiang.

On Saturday, even as they continued their search of the village and questioning of residents, the authorities said they had no choice but to open fire.

"I'm a good friend of Dongzhou people," one party official said by megaphone as he toured the village. "Nobody wants to see anything like what happened here on the night of Dec. 6, but the people of this village are too barbaric. We were forced to open fire."

From the start, villagers have disputed accounts that said they had attacked the authorities first with explosives.

"We didn't use explosives, because we were too far away," said one villager, a 16-year-old boy who was in the midst of the crowd when the violence erupted. "Someone may have tried, but there's no way we could have reached them. These were homemade weapons, and when they started shooting, we didn't have a chance."

SHENZHEN, China Five days after a fatal assault by security forces put down a demonstration in a village near Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities began Sunday to consolidate an official version of the events, blaming villagers for the violence, but also punishing at least one local commander.

The delayed response by the Chinese government appeared, at least in part, to be part of a carefully measured public relations effort intended to defuse public outrage over the deaths of 20 or more residents of the hamlet, according to villagers' accounts, as well as upholding Beijing's own vision of public order and the "rule of law."

In the first widely circulated account the incident, which occurred in the village of Dongzhou, in southern Guangdong Province, the Xinhua press agency Web site cited the information office of the nearby city of Shanwei, saying that a "chaotic mob" had begun throwing explosives at the police Tuesday night, forcing the police to "open fire in alarm." The report said that three villagers were killed and eight others were injured.

The Chinese news reports said that 170 villagers, led by a few instigators, attacked a local wind power plant as part of their protest against another planned development there, a coal-fired power plant, using knives, blasting caps and Molotov cocktails.

On Sunday, as detailed accounts of the incident given by villagers were being reported in the foreign news media and commented upon in Chinese-language Web sites, the authorities announced the arrest of a local commander who was in charge during the incident. Without naming him, they said he had mishandled the situation under "extremely urgent circumstances."

The Xinhua report did not make clear whether there had been one or more arrests of officers in charge. Villagers interviewed Sunday said they had been told of two arrests.

The official account of the incident, as well as the death toll being reported in the mainland Chinese media, remain at odds with largely concordant accounts of the villagers, dozens of whom have been interviewed since Friday.

According to these accounts, three bodies were taken to a local clinic after the showdown between the protesters and security forces, and another to a hospital in Shanwei, a city about 25 kilometers, or 15 miles, to the north of Dongzhou, which has jurisdiction over the village.

In telephone interviews with villagers on Saturday and Sunday, witnesses spoke repeatedly of an additional seven or eight bodies seen by a roadside near the scene of the violence. Others accounts, given by numerous villagers, spoke of 13 or so bodies floating in the sea after the security forces used automatic weapons on the protesters. The villagers said they had set off fireworks and exploded blasting caps from a distance of more than 90 paces from the massed police and paramilitary forces. Villagers also repeatedly spoke of injured people being approached by security forces and fatally shot at close range.

"There were seven or eight bodies, killed by the spray of gunfire, that fell into a ditch," said one villager, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The next day, going up along the ditch deep into the grass bushes, villagers found up to 10 bodies. Those inside the ditch were taken away and cremated immediately. I saw it while hiding in the grass bush on the mountain. Immediately I felt like crying, it was such a cruel scene."

The villager's account dovetails with that of several other villagers who spoke of bodies by the roadside near a village crossroads. Others spoke of the effort by soldiers to dispose of corpses, keeping villagers at a distance while they burned some of them, and loading others into a minibus, which some villagers said, then took the bodies to a local crematorium for disposal.

Dongzhou residents also said that at least 40 villagers are still unaccounted for, and it is not known whether the missing were killed, arrested or remain in hiding.

If accurate, these accounts suggest a frenzied effort by authorities to maintain an official death toll of about three people, thereby minimizing the importance of the event, which constitutes the greatest known use of force by the Chinese security forces against ordinary citizens since the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing, in 1989.

Villagers said that with security agents still circulating in large numbers, and going from door to door to interrogate residents, some families that had recovered the corpses of their relatives had buried them hastily, and in secret, to avoid their confiscation.

Others said that the police had offered money to those who would surrender their corpses, as well as money for casing from ammunition recovered from the scene. Villagers said that some people had sold their casings, while others had kept them as evidence of the use of force.

The effort to manage public information about the incident was also apparent on Saturday in Shanwei, where villagers said some of the wounded and dead were taken by the police.

At one hospital, visited by a foreign journalist after 11 p.m., people said injured residents from Dongzhou were being cared for in isolation on a third floor ward. On the third floor, a wing of the hospital was fenced off and guarded by the police.


On Saturday night, roads out of Shanwei for a distance of more than 160 kilometers had police checkpoints that taxi drivers said had been created to search for "fugitives" from Dongzhou.

On Sunday, villagers contacted by telephone claimed that people who visited their hospitalized relatives in Shanwei had been detained.

The deadly confrontation Tuesday was the culmination of months of tension over the construction of a coal-fired power plant at Dongzhou. Villagers said they had not been adequately compensated for the use of their land ? less than $3 per family, according to one account - and feared pollution from the plant would destroy their livelihood as fishermen. The construction plans called for a bay beside the village to be reclaimed with landfill.

"Shanwei's deputy party secretary said that he

wanted to trample Dongzhou into a flat land," said a village resident who gave her name as Jiang.

On Saturday, even as they continued their search of the village and questioning of residents, the authorities said they had no choice but to open fire.

"I'm a good friend of Dongzhou people," one party official said by megaphone as he toured the village. "Nobody wants to see anything like what happened here on the night of Dec. 6, but the people of this village are too barbaric. We were forced to open fire."

From the start, villagers have disputed accounts that said they had attacked the authorities first with explosives.

"We didn't use explosives, because we were too far away," said one villager, a 16-year-old boy who was in the midst of the crowd when the violence erupted. "Someone may have tried, but there's no way we could have reached them. These were homemade weapons, and when they started shooting, we didn't have a chance."

SHENZHEN, China Five days after a fatal assault by security forces put down a demonstration in a village near Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities began Sunday to consolidate an official version of the events, blaming villagers for the violence, but also punishing at least one local commander.

The delayed response by the Chinese government appeared, at least in part, to be part of a carefully measured public relations effort intended to defuse public outrage over the deaths of 20 or more residents of the hamlet, according to villagers' accounts, as well as upholding Beijing's own vision of public order and the "rule of law."

In the first widely circulated account the incident, which occurred in the village of Dongzhou, in southern Guangdong Province, the Xinhua press agency Web site cited the information office of the nearby city of Shanwei, saying that a "chaotic mob" had begun throwing explosives at the police Tuesday night, forcing the police to "open fire in alarm." The report said that three villagers were killed and eight others were injured.

The Chinese news reports said that 170 villagers, led by a few instigators, attacked a local wind power plant as part of their protest against another planned development there, a coal-fired power plant, using knives, blasting caps and Molotov cocktails.

On Sunday, as detailed accounts of the incident given by villagers were being reported in the foreign news media and commented upon in Chinese-language Web sites, the authorities announced the arrest of a local commander who was in charge during the incident. Without naming him, they said he had mishandled the situation under "extremely urgent circumstances."

The Xinhua report did not make clear whether there had been one or more arrests of officers in charge. Villagers interviewed Sunday said they had been told of two arrests.

The official account of the incident, as well as the death toll being reported in the mainland Chinese media, remain at odds with largely concordant

December 10, 2005

The Future of China

The future of China: chinese economic growth, statistics, graphs and tables, demography, social trends, outsourcing, exports and other useful data - presentation slides

December 09, 2005

Technology: life after convergence - what happens next?

Life after Convergence ? innovation, variety and divergence

Everyone is talking about convergence, yet few corporations fully understand the real threats and opportunities. Telecom companies become software and media houses. Food retailers become online banks. Computers become phones and video stores, while phones become TVs, and cameras become e-mail devices. However, while we will see many strange partnerships, with convergence in products and services on price, features and quality, we will also see huge new investment in diversity. The nanopod is just one example of divergent, highly specialised, low cost devices, designed to do just one simple thing really well. In comparison, convergence can be boring, destroys variety, breeds monopoly, kills invention, adds unwanted options, makes life more complicated - and robs consumers of choice.

Convergence is about co-packaging, but all real innovation is about diversity: doing things different to serve clients better. Many companies are trying hard to sell single multi-tasking, convergent (expensive) devices to solve all problems. Take the so-called digital home: convergence might mean total control with wireless TV / video / music / web in every room, all from one online PC, also used for children?s games and homework - or a fridge that is also a web browser. But who really wants web access on a fridge door, or a single remote control for every device in the house, or a single device to play the same music in every room?

Divergence means I have a nanopod for personal music, plus a tiny mobile phone (useless for serious camera use), a pocket PDA with colour screen and video, an ultra-small portable PC with 5.5 hours battery life suitable for long flights, and a giant-screened laptop for high-powered applications, suitable for car journeys where screen size prevents nausea and eye strain. I also have a data projector for a 3 metre wide home cinema with a dedicated DVD / digital TV system, and so on.

We need to keep focussed on the needs of ordinary people who want many simple, well-designed, reliable, low cost products ? to do different things. We need to encourage diversity, innovation and creative genius, to improve quality of life, solve real problems and make great things happen. Convergence is important but divergence will drive the future, and survival of every technology company will depend on it.

December 07, 2005

Reuters AlertNet - Latest bird flu cases in humans

Dec 7 (Reuters) - A 10-year-old girl in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi is the latest human victim of H5N1 avian influenza, the World Health Organisation confirmed.

The girl developed symptoms of fever and cough on Nov. 23, followed by pneumonia and is being treated in hospital, the WHO said.

Comment: initial reports have suggested that the girl is in an area where no birds are sick, raising questions about whether she caught the infection from a bird or another person.

Continued concerns that milder cases of humans with bird flu may be being missed, and that human to human spread could begin without being obvious, if the illness is insufficiently serious to raise suspicion.

Central and Eastern Europe: proceed with caution, 3i warns the food industry

Part of the press release from 3i following my speech in Prague 10 days ago to food and drink industry analysts, investors, bankers:

The Central European region contains 100 million consumers with rising incomes and an appetite for higher quality products. Combine this with the lower wages prevalent throughout the region and it makes for a highly attractive market for retailers and manufacturers alike.

Dr Patrick Dixon, one of Europe's leading futurologists, is optimistic about the potential for food and drink companies in Central Europe, but he cautions companies to be aware of the long-term economic, social and political drivers affecting the region. "It is a common mistake to group the Central and Eastern European countries together. Each is radically different and any company wanting to succeed needs to fully understand the dynamics of each market and get under its skin," he comments.

3i's global head of food and drink, Keith Ellis agrees, "There is no doubt the region represents a first-class opportunity for European food and beverage producers, but for successful strategies, the devil will be in the detail, in terms of location, product, distribution and timing."

December 06, 2005

The Million Dollar Homepage - Own a piece of internet history!

Here is an interesting story: a student who is about to earn a million dollars by selling pixels on a single page of his website to companies!

Have a look...

Podcast - many problems

This podcasting business has a long way to go... could really take off but is still a messy business to set up....

Podcast of lecture on new technology for 2,000 clients of Fujitsu Siemens by Patrick Dixon

Click on link above to listen to MP3 of one hour presentation on new technology, consumers, fashions and fads, what's coming up next and how corporations should get ready. You can also watch video of the same presentation on http://www.globalchange.com/ppt/fscfuture and subscribe to regular podcasts on http://feeds.feedburner.com/DrPatrickDixon-FutureTrends

Podcasting takes off

Podcasting is a way of delivering your own music or speech to ipod users around the world, who can collect your new broadcasts automatically when they connect to the net. I have been trying to set it up for a few hours now - and it needs to be made much simpler: making the audio file, translating into MP3, uploading and then notifying the online community about it.

More soon....

December 05, 2005

China aviation industry growing fast

China signed a framework document today with Airbus for 150 mid-range planes worth nearly 10 billion dollars during a visit rance by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. The contract, signed by Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert and the president of the China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group, Li Hai, covers aircraft from Airbus's A320 family of single-aisle planes, which typically seat up to 185 passengers. The A320 family of single-aisle jets comprises four aircraft capable of seating 107 to 185 passengers.

This is just a small demonstation of the massive expansion that we can expect in the Chinese aviation industry.

December 03, 2005

Skype Partners For Webcam Sales

Skype has launched a video-enabled addition to the free telephone service after being bought recently by e-Bay. It works well and is a fast, easy way to get low cost videolinks but does not yet rival traditional videoconference software. Logitech and Creative joined Skype on Thursday to co-market the Luxembourg-based VoIP developer's newest software with their cameras and headsets. Skype has released the beta version of Skype 2.0, which features integrated video calling.

Skype worked with Logitech and Creative to ensure that their webcams would function properly with new video functions of Skype 2.0. Many of Logitech's QuickCam range of webcams have been certified to work with Skype 2.0, including Fusion, Orbit, Pro, Zoom, and Notebooks Pro models. Creative, meanwhile, has introduced the Creative WebCam Instant Skype Edition, which bundles a webcam with headset, Skype, and a stand-alone microphone. Creative's Skype-certified webcams will be available at retailers in Europe, while Logitech's can be purchased through the Skype online store. Skype 2.0 can be downloaded from the Skype Web site.

December 02, 2005

China senior official resigns over Harbin toxic spillage

China's chief environment official, Xie Zhenhuahas, the director-general of the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA), has resigned in the wake of sharp public criticism of the handling of a toxic spill into the Songhua river, which supplies water to millions of farmers and city dwellers, including Harbin, in north-east China.

The resignation was announced tonight in a statement through the official Xinhua news agency. Mr Xie has been forced out and is to take responsibility for the damage caused by the spill into the Songhua river, near Harbin, and SEPA?s mishandling of its aftermath, according to the statement.

Comment: Central government is taking strong measures to show that action is being taken in an effort to maintain trust.

Europeans reject abstinence message in split with US on Aids

We continue to see a polarised debate about how to prevent HIV transmission between some of those in developed nations who tend to favour condoms above all else (sometimes perhaps to the exclusion of other options), and those in the poorest nations who often feel the case for abstinence and faithfulness is being ignored (and sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about condoms).

The dispute is confusing and in many ways unecessary.

We need a reality check: as the work of the AIDS foundation ACET (which I started in 1988) has found, the realities on the ground tend to impose their own solutions. Rhetoric and political posturing disappears when you are confronted by the magnitude of the disaster in countries with very few resources and health budgets of maybe only a couple of dollars per person a year.

Take for example the plight of Africa where at least 10% of the population in vast rural areas is already infected. Those that promote condoms as (virtually) the only way to halt spread don't seem to have worked out the logistical and economic challenge of applying a condom-dominated message across an entire low-income region.

The world AIDS budget is insufficient to supply every sexually active adult in Africa with as many condoms as they may need to protect every sexual encounter. Such a policy also assumes perfect distribution channels to villages which may be almost entirely cut off from Western-style supplies, and even date-checking of condom packets which deteriorate in tropical heat.

In any case, such an approach is deeply insulting to many in Africa since it ignores religious and other cultural values which in many places give honour to those who abstain before marriage and are faithful within it. There have been (totally false) widespread rumours that condom-dominated programmes are a front for secret Western attempts to stop babies being born in Africa. But these rumours have influenced many, and have come about because of mistrust of "imperialistic" wealthy nations.

And then there is the sensitive issue of youth. Even if one were to say that a condom-dominated message is the only right one for adults, and older teenagers, how about younger ones?

Is it right with a class of 11 year old girls to only talk about condoms, without raising the possibility that they might have an option to say no to sexual activity at such an age?

In practice, the pro-condom campaigners, and pro-abstinence activists tend to share common ground when tackling HIV education and prevention amongst those at such a young stage in life.

At the other extreme, most pro-abstinence activists also recognise that adults are determined to take a risk that could end their lives should be told about all the ways that such a risk can be reduced, including how to get hold of what they need eg condoms.

And between these two extremes, you will find the vast majority of HIV prevention programmes in Africa and Asia, looking to co-operate in doing all they can to educated people about risks, enabling them to take their decisions about how to stay healthy, in a culturally sensitive way, encouraging every avenue to save lives, whether condom use, refraining from risky sexual activity, not sharing needles and so on. And when it comes to avoiding sexual risk, as the World Health Organisation has always pointed out, there are two options: abstaining from penetrative sexual activity if the person could be infected (recognising you may never know), or being in a faithful relationship where both are known to be uninfected, and are both continuing to take every step to avoid becoming so.

We need every approach: sexual health clinics have a vital role to play in helping reduce other infections and an important co-factor for HIV spread; schools have a central task in informing young people about all health risks; parents have perhaps the greatest opportunity of all with young people growing up; the media, government, churches and other faith-based or community-based organisations likewise all have roles to play. Detached teams can target particular at-risk groups and so on.

This is not a time for disputes over how to put out the forest fire. We need everyone to pull together.

Unfortunately many people on every side of the debate tend to try to produce statistics to back their case. The trouble is that much of the science of prevention has been very weak. It is almost impossible to separate two different groups so that the only variable is your own programme. In almost all cases there are many other factors which could be operating to explain outcome differences. That is why so many of the studies show apparently conflicting results.

Rigorous studies are very hard to do and data that exists needs to be looked at very carefully.

However one thing is clear: advertisers have for years persuaded companies to spend huge amounts of money by proving that messages can change behaviour. Prevention programmes are an extension of the same process. They work.

We can debate about which approaches are most cost-effective, sustainable or culturally appropriate but as we have seen, when all parts of a community pull together, AIDS can be beaten.






Thursday December 1, 2005
The Guardian


Europe, led by the UK, last night signalled a major split with the United States over curbing the Aids pandemic in a statement that tacitly urged African governments not to heed the abstinence-focused agenda of the Bush administration.

The statement, released for World Aids Day today, emphasises the fundamental importance of condoms, sex education and access to reproductive health services. "We are profoundly concerned about the resurgence of partial or incomplete messages on HIV prevention which are not grounded in evidence and have limited effectiveness," it says.


While the US is not named, there is widespread anxiety over the effect of its pro-abstinence agenda in countries such as Uganda, where statements by Janet Museveni, the president's wife, and alleged problems with supply have led to a serious shortage of condoms.

The US has pledged $15bn (?8.6bn) over five years to fight the disease, most of which is channelled through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar). Pepfar grants come with conditions, however - two thirds of the money has to go to pro-abstinence programmes, and it is not available to any organisations with clinics that offer abortion services or even counselling. The US is also opposed to the provision of needles and syringes to drug users on the grounds that it could be construed as encouraging their habit.

But the statement from 22 EU member states, released at a meeting under the UK presidency in London yesterday, calls on developing world governments to use every prevention tool, from condoms to clean needles to sexual health clinics, in a bid to slow down ">Google Desktop Search: Europeans reject abstinence message in split with US on Aids: "Thursday December 1, 2005
The Guardian


Europe, led by the UK, last night signalled a major split with the United States over curbing the Aids pandemic in a statement that tacitly urged African governments not to heed the abstinence-focused agenda of the Bush administration.

The statement, released for World Aids Day today, emphasises the fundamental importance of condoms, sex education and access to reproductive health services. 'We are profoundly concerned about the resurgence of partial or incomplete messages on HIV prevention which are not grounded in evidence and have limited effectiveness,' it says.


While the US is not named, there is widespread anxiety over the effect of its pro-abstinence agenda in countries such as Uganda, where statements by Janet Museveni, the president's wife, and alleged problems with supply have led to a serious shortage of condoms.

The US has pledged $15bn (?8.6bn) over five years to fight the disease, most of which is channelled through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar). Pepfar grants come with conditions, however - two thirds of the money has to go to pro-abstinence programmes, and it is not available to any organisations with clinics that offer abortion services or even counselling. The US is also opposed to the provision of needles and syringes to drug users on the grounds that it could be construed as encouraging their habit.

But the statement from 22 EU member states, released at a meeting under the UK presidency in London yesterday, calls on developing world governments to use every prevention tool, from condoms to clean needles to sexual health clinics, in a bid to slow down "

December 01, 2005

Who is the world's most influential business thinker alive today? Thinkers 50 2005 ranking

Friend sent me an e-mail today - seems I have been ranked number 17 in the world in answer to the question, "Who is the most influential business thinker alive today?". In the last ranking (2003) I came number 46 - rather a surpise. And even more so to be ranked where I am today. An article describing the process is below. Maybe the fact that my www.globalchange.com site has now been seen by 9 million different visitors, half of whom are managers, has helped a little.

All business rankings have their own characteristics as every business school knows, and at the end of the day, the final adjustments by the team of judges will carry some subjective judgments.

Here is an explanation in the Times

Porter thinks his way to the top;Profile;Michael E. Porter;The Most Influe ntial Management Gurus;Thinkers;Thinkers 50

1 December 2005
The Times

The death of Peter Drucker means that there is a new king of management thinking, write Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer.

THE most influential living management guru is Michael E. Porter, head of Harvard Business School's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, according to the rankings of The Thinkers 50 2005.

The Thinkers 50 ranking is based on the votes of 1,200 business people, consultants, academics, MBA students and visitors to the project's website.

Nonetheless, Professor Porter only just made it to the top. Had the ranking been compiled a few weeks earlier, the title would have gone to Peter Drucker for the third successive year. But the father of modern management died on November 11 at the age of 95.

Professor Porter's ascension is no surprise. After the new economy meltdown, strategy is fashionable again. More of a surprise is a massive surge of support for Bill Gates. Once regarded as the business equivalent of a James Bond villain, Gates's elevation to the No 2 slot suggests that he has successfully reinvented himself through a judicious combination of vacating the Microsoft hot-seat and billion-dollar philanthropic giving.

Also benefiting from a generosity of spirit is another strategy guru, Professor C.

K. Prahalad, of the University of Michigan, whose book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid challenges conventional thinking about the world's poor. He rises an impressive nine places to No 3. Professor Prahalad is one of several Indian-born management gurus to make the 2005 ranking. These include the CEO coach Ram Charan (ranked 24), Professor Vijay Govindarajan, of Tuck Business School (30), and Harvard's rising star Professor Rakesh Khurana (33). As yet no Chinese guru has emerged.

Business gurudom is a man's world, with only four women in the top 50. Insead's Professor Renee Mauborgne is the highest placed at 15, followed by Harvard's Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter at 19, Dr Lynda Gratton, of the London Business School (34), and the No Logo author Naomi Klein (46). The anti-management message of Dilbert rises from 27th to 12th place in the guise of the cartoonist Scott Adams. However, despite a strong showing early on, there is no place in this year's ranking for the ultimate management fashion victim David Brent.

THE TOP 50 BUSINESS BRAINS:

1. Michael Porter (2)* - Harvard strategy specialist

2. Bill Gates (20) - Founder of Microsoft

3. C. K. Prahalad (12) - (left) LBS strategy man

4. Tom Peters (3) - Leadership consultant

5. Jack Welch (8) - GE's ex-CEO and celebrity

6. Jim Collins (10) - Author of Good to Great

7. Philip Kotler (6) - Kellogg's marketing guru

8. Henry Mintzberg (7) - Promotes Managers not MBAs

9. Kjell Nordstrom & Jonas Ridderstrale (21) - Funky Business exponents

10. Charles Handy (5) - British portfolio worker

11. Richard Branson (34) - Entrepreneur and Virgin flyer

12. Scott Adams (27) - creator of Dilbert (left)

13. Thomas Stewart (37) - Intellectual Capital author

14. Gary Hamel (4)- Strategy consultant

15. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne (31) - Blue Ocean Strategy duo

16. Kenichi Ohmae (19) - Japanese strategy master

17. Patrick Dixon (46) - Futurist and change guru

18. Stephen Covey (16) - Knows The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

19. Rosabeth Moss Kanter (9) - Harvard's change manager

20. Edward De Bono (35) - Lateral thinker and author

21. Clayton Christensen (22) - Harvard's new-tech guru

22. Robert Kaplan & David Norton (15) - Balanced scorecard creators

23. Peter Senge (14) - Learning organisation inventor

24. Ram Charan (-) - Coach to the CEOs

25. Fons Trompenaars (50) - Intercultural management man

26. Russ Ackoff (-) - Specialist of systems thinking

27. Warren Bennis (13) - Humanist leadership guru

28. Chris Argyris (18) - Action and learning guru

29. Michael Dell (33) - Dell Computer's founder

30. Vijay Govindarajan (-) - Tuck's strategy innovator

31. Malcolm Gladwell (-) - Blink and Tipping Point guru 32. Manfred Kets De Vries (43) - Psychoanalytic economist

33. Rakesh Khurana (-) - Harvard labour market guru

34. Lynda Gratton (41) - LBS people and strategy guru

35. Alan Greenspan (42) - Head of US Federal Reserve

36. Edgar Schein (17) - MIT organisational psychologist

37. Ricardo Semler (36) - Radical CEO of Semco

38. Don Peppers (48) - Customer relationship man

39. Paul Krugman (40) - Economist and columnist

40. Jeff Bezos (39) - Amazon's main man

41. Andy Grove (26) - One of the Intel founders

42. Daniel Goleman (29) - Emotional intelligence inventor

43. Leif Edvinsson (-) - Professor of intellectual capital

44. James Champy (25) - Advocate of re-engineering

45. Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones (-) - Authentic leaders

46. Naomi Klein (30) (left) - No Logo author

47. Geert Hofstede (47) - Cultural expert

48. Larry Bossidy (-) - Chair of Honeywell

49. Costas Markides (-) - LBS strategy professor

50. Geoffrey Moore (38) - Hi-tech marketing man

* 2003 ranking in brackets

(c) Times Newspapers Ltd, 2005

November 26, 2005

Another chemical explosion in China -

An explosion at a chemical plant in southwest China killed one worker and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes, Agence France-Presse reported.

The explosion happened yesterday at Yingte chemical plant at a town near Chongqing, AFP said. A female worker died and more than 10,000 residents were evacuated.

An initial explosion went off near barrels of benzene, sparking a second one which created a yellow cloud. Officials ordered people to stop using water from taps and started gathering water and air samples.

A previous explosion on November 13th at a chemical plant in the northeast of the country spilled nitrobenzene into the Songhua River, leading to reports of contamination of the drinking water of Harbin, a city of 3 million.

These kinds of accidents are to be expected in a vast country, growing rapidly, populated by millions on low incomes who are struggling to survive economically, and for whom short cuts may bring promise of higher productivity and wages.

Accidents can happen in any country and any industry and it is easy for smaller nations to point the finger, when the main reason they have fewer accidents is the relative size of their industries - together witht the fact that they have had the benefit of relative wealth for some decades.

It is hard for the government when accidents happen because the lines of authority may be long, information may not always be available and when announcements are made, they may not always be believed by citizens who suspect local officials are playing down the situation. The result can be rumour and panic.

One way to deal with this problem would be to allow greater freedom in the media to investigate and criticise. A free media might be more trusted at such times - for example over whether local drinking water is safe. However, freedom in the media may bring other challenges, making it easier for organised protest movements to develop, perhaps leading to destabilisation. These are the dilemmas facing government leaders as they seek to lead the country along the delicate path of rapid growth, job creation, digital revolution, internet access and mobile telephone on the one hand, and secure, stable party rule on the other.

November 24, 2005

Human cloning pioneer confesses to breaking ethical code

Woo Suk Hwang, of Seoul National University, has confirmed that two junior researchers in his laboratory had donated their eggs for his groundbreaking experiments in human cloning.
"I am very sorry that I have to tell the public words that are too shameful and horrible," Professor Hwang said at a press conference in Seoul. He also said he would step down as head of the World Stem Cell Hub, an international research network based in Seoul that also has laboratories in San Francisco and London.

Professor Hwang's team cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them.
They went on to clone patient-specific embryos and stem cells this year. Professor Hwang also cloned the first dog, Snuppy, announced this year.

Cloning raises a number of significant ethical issues, of which this is just one.

In the meantime the rational is disappearing for human cloning as a source of stem cells to fight disease, as scientists learn more about the potential of adult stem cells.

November 23, 2005

AIDS pandemic is still out of control in many countries

Text of UNAIDS press release on World AIDS Day 2005..... Note: ACET International Alliance has been involved in the fight against AIDS for 17 years (I started ACET in 1988) and we have also seen signficant falls in HIV in places like Uganda. However we have also seen rapid spread recently in places like India and Russia.

Press Release:



HIV infection rates decreasing in SEVERAL COUNTRIES

but global number of people living with HIV

CONTINUES TO RISE



Increased HIV prevention and treatment efforts needed to slow and reverse AIDS epidemic, according to new UNAIDS/WHO report





GENEVA, 21 November 2005 ? There is new evidence that adult HIV infection rates have decreased in certain countries and that changes in behaviour to prevent infection?such as increased use of condoms, delay of first sexual experience and fewer sexual partners?have played a key part in these declines. The new UN report also indicates, however, that overall trends in HIV transmission are still increasing, and that far greater HIV prevention efforts are needed to slow the epidemic.



Kenya, Zimbabwe and some countries in the Caribbean region all show declines in HIV prevalence over the past few years with overall adult infection rates decreasing in Kenya from a peak of 10% in the late 1990s to 7% in 2003 and evidence of drops in HIV rates among pregnant women in Zimbabwe from 26% in 2003 to 21% in 2004. In urban areas of Burkina Faso prevalence among young pregnant women declined from around 4% in 2001 to just under 2% in 2003.


These latest findings were published in AIDS Epidemic Update 2005, the annual report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The joint report, which this year focuses on HIV prevention, was released today in advance of World AIDS Day, marked worldwide on the first of December.



Several recent developments in the Caribbean region (in Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic and Haiti) give cause for guarded optimism?with some HIV prevalence declines evident among pregnant women, signs of increased condom use among sex workers and expansion of voluntary HIV testing and counselling.



Despite decreases in the rate of infection in certain countries, the overall number of people living with HIV has continued to increase in all regions of the world except the Caribbean. There were an additional five million new infections in 2005. The number of people living with HIV globally has reached its highest level with an estimated 40.3 million people, up from an estimated 37.5 million in 2003. More than three million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2005; of these, more than 500000 were children.



According to the report, the steepest increases in HIV infections have occurred in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (25% increase to 1.6 million) and East Asia. But sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the most affected globally? with 64% of new infections occurring here (over three million people).





?We are encouraged by the gains that have been made in some countries and by the fact that sustained HIV prevention programmes have played a key part in bringing down infections. But the reality is that the AIDS epidemic continues to outstrip global and national efforts to contain it,? said UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot. ?It is clear that a rapid increase in the scale and scope of HIV prevention programmes is urgently needed. We must move from small projects with short-term horizons to long-term, comprehensive strategies,? he added.



Impact of HIV Treatment



The report recognizes that access to HIV treatment has improved markedly over the past two years. More than one million people in low-and middle-income countries are now living longer and better lives because they are on antiretroviral treatment and an estimated 250 000 to 350 000 deaths were averted this year because of expanded access to HIV treatment.



Commenting on the potential enhanced impact of integrating prevention and treatment, the 2005 report emphasizes that a comprehensive response to HIV and AIDS requires the simultaneous acceleration of treatment and prevention efforts with the ultimate goal of universal access to prevention, treatment and care.



"We can now see the clear benefit of scaling up HIV treatment and prevention together and not as isolated interventions," said WHO Director-General Dr LEE Jong-wook. "Treatment availability provides a powerful incentive for governments to support, and individuals to seek out, HIV prevention information and voluntary counselling and testing. Effective prevention can also help reduce the number of individuals who will ultimately require care, making broad access to treatment more achievable and sustainable."



Future challenges for strengthening HIV prevention



New data show that in Latin America, Eastern Europe and particularly Asia, the combination of injecting drug use and sex work is fuelling epidemics, and prevention programmes are falling short of addressing this overlap. The report shows how sustained, intensive programmes in diverse settings have helped bring about decreases in HIV incidence?among young people in Uganda and Tanzania, among sex workers and their clients in Thailand and India, and among injecting drug users in Spain and Brazil.



The report notes that, without HIV prevention measures, about 35% of children born to HIV-positive women will contract the virus. While mother-to-child transmission has been virtually eliminated from industrialized countries and service coverage is improving in many other places, it still falls far short in most of sub-Saharan Africa. An accelerated scale-up of services is urgently needed to reduce this unacceptable toll.



Levels of knowledge of safe sex and HIV remain low in many countries ? even in countries with high and growing prevalence. In 24 sub-Saharan countries (including Cameroon, C�te d?Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda), two-thirds or more of young women (aged 15-24 years) lacked comprehensive knowledge of HIV transmission. According to a major survey carried out in the Philippines in 2003, more than 90% of respondents still believed that HIV could be transmitted by sharing a meal with an HIV-positive person.



Finally, weak HIV surveillance in several regions including in some countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North Africa is hampering prevention efforts and often means that people at highest risk ? men who have sex with men, sex workers, and injecting dug users ? are not adequately covered or reached through HIV prevention and treatment strategies.

AIDS pandemic is still out of control in many countries

Text of press release from UNAIDS:

Background: the AIDS foundation I have been part of for 17 years, and helped found, has also seen dramatic falls in HIV infection in Uganda and some other countries, while places like India and Russia have been losing ground.



UNAIDS Press Release World AIDS Day 2005

There is new evidence that adult HIV infection rates have decreased in certain countries and that changes in behaviour to prevent infection?such as increased use of condoms, delay of first sexual experience and fewer sexual partners?have played a key part in these declines. The new UN report also indicates, however, that overall trends in HIV transmission are still increasing, and that far greater HIV prevention efforts are needed to slow the epidemic.



Kenya, Zimbabwe and some countries in the Caribbean region all show declines in HIV prevalence over the past few years with overall adult infection rates decreasing in Kenya from a peak of 10% in the late 1990s to 7% in 2003 and evidence of drops in HIV rates among pregnant women in Zimbabwe from 26% in 2003 to 21% in 2004. In urban areas of Burkina Faso prevalence among young pregnant women declined from around 4% in 2001 to just under 2% in 2003.


These latest findings were published in AIDS Epidemic Update 2005, the annual report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The joint report, which this year focuses on HIV prevention, was released today in advance of World AIDS Day, marked worldwide on the first of December.



Several recent developments in the Caribbean region (in Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic and Haiti) give cause for guarded optimism?with some HIV prevalence declines evident among pregnant women, signs of increased condom use among sex workers and expansion of voluntary HIV testing and counselling.



Despite decreases in the rate of infection in certain countries, the overall number of people living with HIV has continued to increase in all regions of the world except the Caribbean. There were an additional five million new infections in 2005. The number of people living with HIV globally has reached its highest level with an estimated 40.3 million people, up from an estimated 37.5 million in 2003. More than three million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2005; of these, more than 500000 were children.



According to the report, the steepest increases in HIV infections have occurred in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (25% increase to 1.6 million) and East Asia. But sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the most affected globally? with 64% of new infections occurring here (over three million people).





?We are encouraged by the gains that have been made in some countries and by the fact that sustained HIV prevention programmes have played a key part in bringing down infections. But the reality is that the AIDS epidemic continues to outstrip global and national efforts to contain it,? said UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot. ?It is clear that a rapid increase in the scale and scope of HIV prevention programmes is urgently needed. We must move from small projects with short-term horizons to long-term, comprehensive strategies,? he added.



Impact of HIV Treatment



The report recognizes that access to HIV treatment has improved markedly over the past two years. More than one million people in low-and middle-income countries are now living longer and better lives because they are on antiretroviral treatment and an estimated 250 000 to 350 000 deaths were averted this year because of expanded access to HIV treatment.



Commenting on the potential enhanced impact of integrating prevention and treatment, the 2005 report emphasizes that a comprehensive response to HIV and AIDS requires the simultaneous acceleration of treatment and prevention efforts with the ultimate goal of universal access to prevention, treatment and care.



"We can now see the clear benefit of scaling up HIV treatment and prevention together and not as isolated interventions," said WHO Director-General Dr LEE Jong-wook. "Treatment availability provides a powerful incentive for governments to support, and individuals to seek out, HIV prevention information and voluntary counselling and testing. Effective prevention can also help reduce the number of individuals who will ultimately require care, making broad access to treatment more achievable and sustainable."



Future challenges for strengthening HIV prevention



New data show that in Latin America, Eastern Europe and particularly Asia, the combination of injecting drug use and sex work is fuelling epidemics, and prevention programmes are falling short of addressing this overlap. The report shows how sustained, intensive programmes in diverse settings have helped bring about decreases in HIV incidence?among young people in Uganda and Tanzania, among sex workers and their clients in Thailand and India, and among injecting drug users in Spain and Brazil.



The report notes that, without HIV prevention measures, about 35% of children born to HIV-positive women will contract the virus. While mother-to-child transmission has been virtually eliminated from industrialized countries and service coverage is improving in many other places, it still falls far short in most of sub-Saharan Africa. An accelerated scale-up of services is urgently needed to reduce this unacceptable toll.



Levels of knowledge of safe sex and HIV remain low in many countries ? even in countries with high and growing prevalence. In 24 sub-Saharan countries (including Cameroon, C�te d?Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda), two-thirds or more of young women (aged 15-24 years) lacked comprehensive knowledge of HIV transmission. According to a major survey carried out in the Philippines in 2003, more than 90% of respondents still believed that HIV could be transmitted by sharing a meal with an HIV-positive person.



Finally, weak HIV surveillance in several regions including in some countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North Africa is hampering prevention efforts and often means that people at highest risk ? men who have sex with men, sex workers, and injecting dug users ? are not adequately covered or reached through HIV prevention and treatment strategies.

November 18, 2005

China oil consumption - and global warming

Interesting fact: If China develops to the same level as South Korea (GDP per head), it could consume as much oil per day as 60% of the whole world at 2005 levels.

Expect the Chinese government to invest great efforts not only in securing their own oil supplies by buying significant stakes in oil companies around the world, but also to invest in alternative energy sources, especially coal.

November 17, 2005

BBC NEWS | Business | Pension age 'should rise to 67'

We are rapidly learning more about why people get old, and ways we can interfere with that process. When you add in all the progress we are seeing with adult stem cells in repairing tissues, and other medical advances, it is clear that we are going to see further extensions of life-expectancy.

That is why the proposal to increase retirement age from 65 to 67 has already been overtaken by the realities of biology. Workers who are in their 20s today have more than two additional years of life ahead of them compared to people now in their 60s when they were at the same age.

You will see government actuaries continue to upgrade their estimates of how long we will all live, every few years, and every time they do so, we can expect to see further worries about the solvency of corporate pension funds.

For more on these important issues see http://www.globalchange.com/ppt/index.htm
for presentations on ageing and the future of medicine, also http://www.globalchange.com/stemcells2.htm
for more on stem cell advances.

November 16, 2005

Future of Management - business success, marketing, leadership, change management and motivation - by Dr Patrick Dixon

I have just created a new collection of articles on management, marketing and motivation - plus more links to presentations and videos.

November 15, 2005

Man cured of HIV infection? New information

Reports in the media today of a press statement from the hospital casting some doubt on the story. They say that the first tests were for antibodies only and imply that no direct tests were made for presence of the virus, that have been found to be positive at any stage. This raises the possibility, they say, that the person never had HIV infection. Once again they say they would like to conduct more tests.

In other words, the first test(s) might have given a false postive result - which can happen.

It is interesting that the media story only broke after the person concerned had talked about taking legal action against the hospital, for the distress caused by telling him he was infected and having to live with that thought for many months before being told he was not infected.

So as I have said all along, this is a complex story, broken in an unusual way - not in a reputable medical journal - from which many of the most important facts have been missing, and may be complicated still further if it turns out that the person was paid a large sum by the newspaper that broke the story to the world.

November 14, 2005

Man cured from HIV infection?

Media continue to cover this story but the medical facts are still unclear. It will be some time perhaps before we know for certain one way or the other if he was infected in the first place or not, and whether if so he is now completely free of infection. And indeed we may not know, if he choses not to have further tests, or to keep the results confidential.

November 13, 2005

Man cured of HIV in London? Comment on recent press reports

Today has been a busy day with BBC Breakfast TV and other programmes / channels looking for comment on a story about a London man who tested positve for HIV who it is said has "cured" himself. Of course one can only comment in very general terms since so many of the facts have yet to emerge and the report was in a newspaper, not a peer-reviewed scientific research publication. I have been involved since 1987 in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and founded the international AIDS agency ACET in 1988, now a growing alliance of independent AIDS care and prevention programms in countries such as Uganda, India, Thailand, Russia and Ukraine. Over the years I have come across a number of anecdotal reports of people who appeared to be infected with HIV and then had no trace of infection, but it has not been possible to verify what has happened or recheck their results. We do know that some people have a genetic profile which gives them some protection against HIV infection.

Independent researchers will want to take a very close look at any case like this, firstly to be sure that there were no errors in the testing process, and if so, to make certain that there really is no HIV infection lurking in the background. If they are satisfied on both counts, they will try and work out what process the body has used to eliminate HIV. Antibody tests are the usual way to look for HIV infection, and measure the body's reaction to the virus. Direct tests for the virus particles themselves are more difficult and expensive, but it would be very significant if they also tested positive at first, and then negative. It is unclear from the first reports what kinds of HIV tests were positive or negative at each stage.

For more comment on this important story:

http://globalchange.com/hivcurereport.htm

November 12, 2005

China reports new bird flu outbreaks, and other countries report more cases

Bird flu continues to spread unchecked with new countries reporting cases every few days. While the risk of human to human spread remains very low unless there is a mutation, the chances of such an event are growing with every new outbreak of the disease amonst domestic birds.

China reported its seventh and eighth bird flu outbreaks in three weeks. Vietnam has ordered police and the military to help fight the disease. In Thailand, an 18-month-old boy became the 21st person to catch the H5N1 bird flu virus, but is recovering in a hospital. North Korea issued an alert restricting access to chicken farms, urging the public to help fight bird flu.

One of the new Chinese outbreaks was in Liaoning province in the north east. Premier Wen Jiabao visited Liaoning this week and warned that the disease was not under control. The outbreak killed 300 chickens in Beining village near the city of Jinzhou, the agriculture ministry said in a report on the website of the Paris-based International Organisation for Animal Health. 2.5 million birds were destroyed to contain the outbreak.

The other outbreak, in Hubei province's Jingshan County, has killed 2,500 poultry. Authorities haved destroyed more than 31,000 birds, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The case, which reportedly occurred on November 2. China has reported no human cases.

November 10, 2005

Fujitsu Siemens - and use of robots to build computers

I visited Fujitsu Siemens computer factory near Munich yesterday and was interested to see the very high levels of automation in motherboard assembly with large numbers of robots.

This followed a presentation to 2,000 of their clients earlier in the day on the future of new technology and management.

The need is growing for instant response to requests from European cusomters for custom-built machines, and that means the computers cannot be built in a country like China.

At the conference exhibition I learned that every LCD computer screen in a building can be read up to 100 metres away, if you have the right equipment. It is possible to tune in to each computer and read capture anything on the screen, with major consequences for computer security, privacy, confidentiality and leakage of sensitive business data. Of course there are easier ways to do it. using bugs of various kinds or viruses, and most security breaches are caused by employees inside, not people using clever technology a few streets away. There is a solution to reading at a distance which is to screen the computer and display using the principles of a faraday cage and these kind of solutions were being demonstrated.

November 08, 2005

Rioting in France - an expression of tribalism

We should not be shocked at recent riots in France. These kind of events could occur in most countries, in any situation where there are minorities of people who feel frustrated or oppressed.

Tribalism is the most powerful social force in the world today - and at its extreme is seen as terrorism.

Expect significant shifts in the political landscape in France over the next 2-3 years as a result of these events, with greater sensitivity to minority issues.

November 06, 2005

Financial Times feature on future trends now available for viewing online

pdf file can be downloaded and viewed of last week's feature I wrote on future issues to watch.

November 04, 2005

The Science of Ageing - Why actuarial forecasts for life expectancy are incorrect - for AIG by Dr Patrick Dixon

It is increasingly clear that actuarial forecasts for life expectancy are flawed. Here is a presentation made to AIG fund managers explaining some of the rapid progress being made in our understanding of ageing.

November 02, 2005

Conference lectures and keynote speeches by Dr Patrick Dixon, Futurist speaches

Many new presentations have been uploaded and some videos - for example, slides for the following:

Conference lectures and keynote speeches by Dr Patrick Dixon, Futurist speaches: "The Future of Car Recycling and Vehicle Disposal 10th anniversary client event for ARN on this rapidly growing industry. Impact of new European regulations on disposal of 9 million vehicles a year. How the Netherlands will continue to lead the way with advanced shredder technology, with competition from Central Europe as well as China - already taking 50% of all UK recycled plastic bottles.
The Future of Air Travel, Air Freight and Tourism - for Executive Board of Virgin Atlantic looking at a wide range of issues that are likely to shape airlines, business and personal travel and related expenditure. What will be the shape of airlines in future? How will airlines adapt to market pressures in a deregulated world which is increasingly dominated by short distance budget operators?
Integrating the Supply Chain - Client event for IBS on the future of logistics, manufacturing, wholesale and retail supply chain management. Impact of RFID technology with major savings in every aspect of supply chain operations, including stock reduction and theft control.
The Future of Distribution: postal services, couriers,and other logistics issues - for Swedish Post (Posten)
Futurewise - Futurepeople: Future of Management and Motivation - Keynote for IBEC on aligning people with business strategy in a rapidly changing world where strategy itself is often overtaken by events. Trends for HR professionals to watch out for. Connecting with passion to get the best out of teams.
The Future of Insurance, Pensions, Fund Management, Health and Life - Internal event for senior team members of Allianz looking at opportunities and challenges from such trends as new technology, demographic shifts, emerging markets and lifestyle choices. What will happen to life expectancy and the latest on ageing.
The Fut"

October 31, 2005

World loses control of Bird Flu - facts, pictures, truth about avian influenza virus risks

Bird Flu - spread, facts, pictures, truth about avian influenza virus risks

Global human pandemic of bird flu is now only a matter of time according to the World Health Organisation. What will be the economic and personal impact when bird flu virus mutates?

David Nabarro Bird Flu chief at the UN / WHO, declared in October 2005 that a human pandemic of bird flu can no longer be prevented, even though the first human to human case has yet to be recorded.

This WHO prediction is based on the fact that the world has lost control of bird flu amongst migrating wild birds which are rapidly spreading the disease to chickens and other domestic birds, with cases in many nations. Every time a human catches the infection from close contact with such a bird there is a small risk that the virus will mutate - if the person is already infected with ordinary human flu.

The UK has declared bird flu as public health enemey number 1. The government has given a commitment to try and vaccinate the entire population of the country against the new human variant once one emerges, even though spread of such a virus could occur months before vaccinations are manufactured and given.

Read full article

Feature in Financial Times by Dr Patrick Dixon on tribalism and ageing

Your company may have a reputation for brilliant leadership, outstanding innovation, clever branding and effective change management, but the business could fail if the world changes and you are unprepared.

Many debates about the future are about timing, such as the uptake of technology. But the future is also about emotion. Reactions to events such as bird flu are often more important than the events themselves.

July 30, 2005

Skype - The whole world can talk for free.

Skype - The whole world can talk for free.

135 million people have already downloaded Skype software which allows free net calls. You can also call landlines and mobiles in every nation for a fraction of the usual rates.

In our home we have a phone which plugs direct into the router - and works on the same principle. From

http://www.kinitron.co.uk

This technology also allows corporations to create virtual offices and switchboards at almost zero cost.

July 29, 2005

Future of Fund Mangement and Related Issues - Dr Patrick Dixon for ICBI 2005

Future of Fund Mangement and Related Issues - Dr Patrick Dixon for ICBI 2005

Interesting how few fund managers believe their actively managed retail equity funds are worth investing in.

Most of the fund managers at the ICBI conference had little confidence in their own funds - according to the straw poll in my own plenary.

Best value: tracker funds

July 28, 2005

Terrorism

Terrorism

2 out of 4 of the would-be suicide bombers last week in London were African. Unless we sort out the growing inequality between rich and poor, especially the poverty crisis in Africa, we will see new protest movements emerge that will make Al Qaeda look like a mere insect bite.

450 million children in Africa will become adults by 2020, most of which exist today on per capita incomes of a single dollar a day or less.

July 24, 2005

Terrorism

Terrorism

The real challenge in dealing with the recent London bombing attacks is how to deal with the underlying issues.

We learned that over 30 years in responding to the IRA terrorist threat.

During the Second World War it was rare to find soldiers willing to go into combat on suicide missions, although individual acts of supreme bravery were common.

We need to understand why young men (mainly) are so willing to give up their lives in this way, and what they hope to achieve for the world they leave behind.

Of course those reasons are complex, vary from person to person, but there are common elements which include intense feelings of injustice, and contempt for what is seen as a degenerate and evil society.

The other thing we learned from the Irish troubles was that the greatest weapon of a terrorist is fear - and that fear is usually irrational.

By the end of the Second World War around 25% of all London homes were damaged or destroyed, yet life went on.

Even if there ten deaths from terrorism in London every week, the statistical chances of being killed in this way would be less than being killed on the roads as a part of normal day to day life.

Every nation affected by terrorism needs a sense of perspective, which is the greatest protection against terrorism of all. We cannot allow bombers the victory of bringing the whole of London to a halt.

July 21, 2005

Future of Fund Mangement and Related Issues - Dr Patrick Dixon for ICBI 2005

Future of Fund Mangement and Related Issues - Dr Patrick Dixon for ICBI 2005

Here is a strange thing. In my experience it is rare to find fund managers who are confident they can outperform tracker funds, or who actually have a significant proportion of their own wealth tied up in their own actively managed retail equity funds, or who would recommend such retail investment products to their own family or friends.

Quite the opposite, as a straw poll identified during my keynote for ICBI. Most fund managers seem to think that their products offer poor value for money - with charges of maybe more than 2% each year on gains of maybe 4% in a good year and less than 1% in bad.

A misselling scandal waiting to happen?

July 20, 2005

ACET International Alliance - ASSET - AIDS prevention and care

ACET International Alliance - ASSET - AIDS prevention and care

See news on new countries covered by the ACET International Alliance family - a foundation which my wife and I started back in 1988 and is now active in many parts of the world, saving lives and caring for those affected by HIV.

July 08, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK | London bombs killed 'at least 50'

BBC NEWS | UK | London bombs killed 'at least 50'

All terrorism is an extreme expression of tribalism, which is the most powerful force in the world today. More powerful than the combined military of US, China and Russa.

Unless we sort out the growing inequality in Africa we will find new protest movements grow up which will make Al Qaida look like a mosquito bite.

450 million children are growing up in households across Africa that survive on $2 a head or less each day. Many see Western lifestyles on TV in village bars and towns... and they see their own.

This issue is perhaps the greatest moral challenge to our world today.

June 26, 2005

New Scientist Special Report on Climate Change

New Scientist Special Report on Climate Change

Another useful link on global warming

Climate Change: Instant Expert | New Scientist

Climate Change: Instant Expert | New Scientist

I did a BBC Radio 5 Live interview on Global Warming last night. Interesting how the debate has moved on. Even if you take the most sceptical position, which is that maybe there is only a 5% risk that there is any link between human activity and global warming, that is still a very significant possibility.

Most of us insure our homes and other parts of our lives against much lower risks than 5%. However we don't have an insurance policy against global warming.

And most scientists think the risk is higher than 5% in any case.

That's why governments are right to be taking action now.

We cannot wait until the case is proven beyond all doubt.

One small step every family and business can take is to become carbon neutral in the longer term, by buying a tree in a new wood or forest to offset every 0.8 of a ton of carbon we use.

That's the equivalent of £20 on the cost of a transatlantic return flight or £160 on the annual costs of driving 12,000 miles.

An alternative to planting trees is to fund projects that reduce carbon emissions in places like India - for example a single 100 watt low-energy bulb will save over 10 years the equivalent in carbon of an entire mature tree being cut down (according to Future Forest). That is when you take into account the inneficiency of generating electricity and power losses on distribution.

June 24, 2005

ARK - Absolute Return for Kids

ARK - Absolute Return for Kids

Interesting sign of the times - new organisation backed by money from hedge funds and others. Every day I am hearing about major new philanthropic initiatives being started by people who have made a lot of money in business.

Part of the same trend that has seen over 500,000 people in Britain buy white wrist bands in just 6 weeks, in support of the "Make Poverty History" campaign.

June 01, 2005

Small Business Insurance - why small companies can be wiped out in a week. The truth about small business risks

Small Business Insurance - why small companies can be wiped out in a week. The truth about small business risks: "Small Business Insurance

The truth about insurance against small business risks - why your small business could disappear in a week - huge risks may not be covered by your insurance policy

Small businesses spend hundreds of millions a year on insurance yet policies may not fully cover some of their most serious risks. Risk management is a vital part of running a small business, yet neglected by most small business owners who say they haven't got the time.
The trouble is that when disaster strikes, you may need more than a small business insurance payout to keep going. And disaster comes around often.
Small business owners run on a tight margin and don't have spare resources to tackle major issues, so are very vulnerable to business disasters and other negative events. Small business insurance may cover obvious costs but not all the hidden consequencies.
Take backup of computer data for example: you assume that everything works find until a hard disk crashes. When you come to restore data you find either the system was not backed up recently enough, and you have lost vital e-mails and other data, or that the backup files are corrupt. This kind of event is far commoner than you may imagine. Every computer your business owns is a separate risk of sudden hardware failure or attack by a virus, and small businesses are especially vulnerable because they don't have the backup of a professional IT department, and are often dependent on a varied collection of computers, and staff who don't fully understand how to use them.
Does your small business insurance cover you for destruction of your business following staff errors in backing up or even for the loss of your own personal organiser and all your diary for the next 6 weeks? For lost ....."

Read on...

Small Business Insurance - why small companies can be wiped out in a week. The truth about small business risks

Global Change Ltd - website statistics

Global Change Ltd - website statistics

The www.globalchange.com traffic is heavier than ever: up to 88 million words a day requested.

8.5 million unique visitors to our pages
(5.5 million from July 2003 - March 05)

Site visitors peak at over 22,500 different people and 110,000 pages a day - At peak times an average visitor requests 4.5 pages of around 800 words each, over 7 minutes - a total of more than 2,600 hours onsite in 24 hours, not including offline reading time, during which our server can deliver an estimated 88 million words including more than 2,200 book chapters

13 million pages viewed in 12 months from 1 April 2004 to 30 March 2005
Around 500,000 unique visitors in a busy month. Up to 600,000 html pages viewed a week. Of around 320 million global search requests a day in March 2005 (source: WordTrack) , up to 22,500 a day landed up at our site - so we think on busy days around one in 14,500 of all 320 million search requests around the world produces a visit to our pages - or more like one in 30,000 at quieter times . Around 65% of our traffic is from the US (compared to 42.4% of all net traffic). In March 2005 there were around 110 million individuals in the US who used search engines (Wordtracker figures), of which we estimate around 325,000 different US citizens visited our pages. One person in every 360 American users of search engines visits us in a busy month, and we estimate around 3% of 175 million US online citizens have visited our site at least once since we launched in 1996 - the figure is far less for the rest of the world.

April 22, 2005

Euthanasia - update of previous article on mercy killing and assisted suicide

Euthanasia: "As a care of the dying specialist in the past I have often been asked to kill people - which is euthanasia, mercy killing or assisted suicide.
Sometimes relatives have taken me on one side and told me they cannot bear it any more: 'Isn't there something you can do to end it all?' More often requests for euthanasia have come from those who are ill. I remember visiting a man with lung cancer. He asked his wife to leave the room. As she closed the door he leaned over and grabbed my arm. 'I want to die', he said. 'Please can you give me something.' He felt a burden on his wife and wanted euthanasia for himself. People are often more afraid of the process of dying than of death itself.
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society wants to allow people 'with a severe illness from which no relief is known' to be lawfully killed if they wish. One US euthanasia campaigner has suggested people could be killed on the basis of their previous instructions, even if they now want to live. This is in the case of someone with Alzheimer disease where the person is no longer distressed about memory loss while others are.
Where do you start or stop euthanasia? How advanced must cancer be for euthanasia to be appropriate? How can you be sure? Doctors are often wrong about diagnosis or prognosis. What about other illnesses, dementia, or handicap? Who decides about euthanasia? On what basis do we judge? Are those in pain receiving proper medication? Has every appropriate treatment option been explored?
What is euthanasia? Mercy killing is the literal definition of the word euthanasia.
The hospice movement started in this country because people were dying badly, often in pain. In thirty years over 200 hospices have opened and 240 hospitals now have specialist nurses. Almost 100,000 people each year are visited by home care teams, over half of all those dyin"

April 15, 2005

Outsourcing impact on business, jobs and the economy

Outsourcing impact on business, jobs and the economy

The truth about the speed, scale and unstoppable momentum of outsourcing. What will be the net impact on the American and European economies? How should company executives and union leaders respond? Can or should the process be reversed? Advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing?

Outsourcing is very controversial and affects every part of business from manufacturing through to design, software development, financial control, logistics management, customer support and sales. Outsourcing has been praised as cost-effective, efficient, productive and strategic - but also condemned as evil, money-grabbing, destructive, ruthless, exploiting the poor.

Outsourcing can generate weeks of hostile media coverage, widespread protests and industrial action. The issue is so sensitive that decisions are usually taken behind closed doors at the most senior levels in the organisation, and only announced after much careful research into how the proposals are likely to be received.

If handled badly, outsourcing can damage corporate image, weaken a brand, unsettle customers, and result in lower quality of products and services. But when handled well, the results can be good enough to save a failing corporation.

You have to show why outsourcing is right

(extract from Building a Better Business - book - take the online $20,000 Challenge - relevant to outsourcing, change management, leadership, marketing and motivation)

If you want to save money fast and take everyone with you, you have to convince those involved that the world will be a better place as a result. Take the high moral ground.

A good example of this has been tensions over relocating call-centres and software support from countries like the UK and the US to India . More than 230,000 jobs are bring lost each year in America as a result of outsourcing - but many economists believe that a similar number of new jobs are being created at the same time (see below).

Union members have protested that jobs are being destroyed in an immoral way, not only because communities are hit back home, but also because they argue the new jobs created in other countries pay very little and exploit the poor. They have often driven vigorous campaigns at work and in the media, designed to block the process.

This has happened because many of the corporations concerned have failed to tell a good news story in a convincing way, to explain why outsourcing will result in a better future in a broad sense � not just for shareholders.

So what is the good news story? First you have to tell the bad news, and prepare the ground for how you are going to save the day. Corporations may differ, but when it comes to outsourcing to a developing country, the �better world� promise is nearly always identical.

BAD NEWS
We need to take urgent action to reduce costs

If we don't run our business efficiently, everyone could lose their jobs

People who have entrusted their life-savings to us (mainly pensioners), will also lose their money

Customers will feel exploited by our high prices, and will go elsewhere

GOOD NEWS
We can easily save costs, save the company, save most people's jobs, keep prices down and offer great service � by relocating some jobs to other, less expensive parts of the world

Highly skilled people are available in some of the poorest nations

Their daily costs of living are lower, and we can pay them less while still enabling them to enjoy a good standard of living � see table

People in these countries really do need our support and investment

Every job we create in these countries can create many others as new money flows into the national economy, and is spent on local goods and services

By investing in these countries, we are also helping them develop into new markets for our own business, which is good for everyone

We are also doing our part to help tackle the greatest moral challenge of our time, which is the growing gap between richest and poorest nations, helping build international peace, prosperity and security for a better future

And so the message continues: In summary, if we continue as we are, the result will be disaster for everyone � customers, workers and the community. If we outsource, the future will be better for all, apart from a few who we deeply regret will lose their jobs for the sake of those who remain. We are deeply indebted to them for the contribution they have made and are committed to their future. We will do all we can to help them find employment elsewhere.

It matters how outsourcing is done

It is harder to argue for outsourcing if the corporation is making record profits, is not facing significant competitor pressures, and is making people redundant against their will.

On the other hand, few labor organisations consistently oppose outsourcing if the corporation is vulnerable, competitor pressures are severe, other companies have already led the way, and if existing workers are being offered voluntary redundancy on reasonably generous terms as well as retraining. And of course, people also want to see assurances that new workers in emerging countries will get an appropriate, fair wage and safe working conditions.

Facts about Outsourcing

Some say that it is wrogn to pay people in India less than the same job would justify in somewhere like the US. However we need to compare not just salaries, but what those salary levels will actually buy in different countries. An IT professional in India may be far better off in terms of lifestyle, even though paid only a third of the US salary. It all depends on exchange rates. The pressures will continue to grow, not just for cost saving, but also for quality, service and speed.

* India produces more than 870,000 new IT graduates a year and produces more than a million engineering graduates a year, plus 16 million others with engineering diplomas. India is leading the way in new areas of pharmaceuticals, biotech, electrical and mechanical engineering. China also.

* One in 5 UK workers at risk from outsourcing have difficulties reading and writing. The UK struggles to turn out just 8,000 IT graduates a year.

* Most outsourcing is by large companies, yet small comopanies provide most jobs in America and Europe, and most of the economic growth. Big companies create headlines but the greatest impact is elsewhere and almost invisible. The UK has 3.3 million companies. If each one takes on just one more person on average, the result would be more than 3 million new jobs, and that is what has happened in the last few years, with unemployment at very low levels despite several million people added to the labour force. Yet 6,000 redundancies at a factory is mistakenly seen as a national crisis.

* Each outsourced job in India can generate work for more than 20 other people as the money flows around the national economy, usually at a far faster rate than in countries like the US.

* When a product is manufactured in China instead of the US or Europe, only a small part of the total retail price lands up in that country. Most is taken as before by the retailer, wholesaler, distribution system, research, design and development teams and company owners as profit. So the impact is less than you might expect.

* Research shows that some of the new economic activity generated in developing countries by oursourcing will generate new demand for goods and services in the country where the jobs have moved from (eg America).

* Outsourcing saves money for corporations which means lower costs for consumers, and higher dividends for pensioners who own 75% of US and UK wealth - that means more money to spend on other things such as local services (meals out, beauty treatments, gardening, decorating etc) and that produces new jobs.

* Outsourcing has meant for example that you can buy a DVD player for less than $100. It is one reason why retail costs of products has halved in many sectors over the last 20 years, allowing for inflation.

* Future economic growth depends on new generations of creative, dynamic entrepreneurs, with good access to venture capital, who will drive national economies through transition.

April 13, 2005

Recent Tsunami could happen again. Tsunami pictures, videos, facts, maps, tables

Risk that recent Tsunami could happen again
Tsunamis in the past, Tsunami facts, history, pictures, charts and photos, Tsunami sattellite images, Tsunami videos, what is a Tsunami and how are Tsunamis caused? How lives can be saved in future.

No one will ever know how many died in the 2004 Tsunami because so many of the towns and villages affected were in remote areas with few records of population. It is possible that more than 200,000 were drowned or buried in mud in just a few minutes. The worst affected areas were close to the earthquake epicentre, but the wave caused destruction as far away as India and Africa (East Coast).

Could Tsunami deaths have been prevented?

Many scientists had been warning of the risks of a severe Tsunami in the region, and continue to warn of future Tsunami risks. The 2004 Tsunami was caused by a major shift in part of a well-known fault line. The result was an increased pressure on other parts of the fault, making further earthquakes more likely.

We never know when a major earthqake will happen. Tsunami waves travel very fast, and it is impossible to provide warnings for those very close to the earthquake zone which generates the wave. However, it is certainly possible to provide other coastal areas further away with adequate time for many people to get out of danger by moving to higher ground.

Tsunami warning systems are now in place across the region most affected in December 2004 and were used during a recent tremor (April 2005). If they had been working earlier, it is possible that many tens of thousands of lives would have been saved.

What is a tsunami?

How are Tsunamis formed? Tsunamis are caused by sudden movement of the sea bed, during an earthquake or volcano. The result is a ripple of waves, just as if you dropped a large stone into a pool. Tsunami waves can travel at over 400 miles an hour through deep ocean, but don't usually cause any trouble at that stage to ships or boats. That's because the water is deep and the waves are long. Ships and boats just rise and fall gently - and may have no idea that a Tsunami wave has just passed beneath them.

However as the wave approaches land, the water becomes more shallow and all the wave energy is concentrated into a very small area. The Tsunami wave slows down and increases in height. It is unusual for the wave to break: more commonly it just looks like a massive tide of water sweeping into the shore. Tsunamis are often called tidal waves, and pictures often show tsunami waves over 30 metres high breaking over the coastline, although the reality is more that the water level rises rapidly, and later falls just as fast.

In the 2004 Tsunami, much of the damage was done by seawater returning to the ocean, and also by a second wave a few minutes after the first.