April 30, 2006

Becoming carbon neutral - buying carbon credits

Our family and my business Global Change Ltd have just taken a big step to become carbon neutral. We calculated the total amount of carbon we will use this year including all my business travel lecturing on global trends (a staggering 80 tons of carbon on air travel to conferences and corporate events). We have invested in a hydroelectric scheme outside the UK which would not otherwise be viable. By joining up with other organisations we have enabled the project to start generating electricity which will directly reduce local use of coal and gas, offsetting the carbon we will produce this year.

It is not the answer to global warming but is a small step which if replicated by every business and every household would make a big difference, balanced by other measures for energy efficiency.

April 29, 2006

Cancer from electromagnetic radiation? Power lines and children

The UK government announced yesterday that no more homes should be built near high voltage overhead power cables, following a report suggesting that the risk of leukaemia in children is significantly greater amongst those living under or near power lines.

If it is true - uncertain still - then the mechanism remains unknown. While it could be a direct effect of electromagnetic radiation, it could also be linked to ionisation of molecules in the air around the cables.

Expect more research into this - as well as more studies into whether mobile phone radiation, or mobile phone masts also cause health risks in humans. Some studies already show quite convincing effects on living tissue and on other animals when subjected to high radiation levels for long periods. However the risk to humans is probably very small.

April 26, 2006

New UK threat to traditional telecom companies

Phone users in the UK will soon be able to make on-the-move calls over the Web, posing a new threat to mobile phone companies.  The internet phone corporation Vonage and WiFi hotspot operator The Cloud will launch a new service allowing Vonage subscribers with special WFi mobile handsets to make calls at landline rates from any of The Clouds hotspots in Britain.  Meanwhile Skype now has 100 million active users, all able to phone each other for free, with new companies offering Skype add ons such as instant teleconferencing for up to 500 people.  It all means further headaches for traditional telecom companies who are struggling already to catch up with what consumers are doing, and is part of a rapidly changing landscape for communications.

Expect ordinary telecom call costs to continue to fall towards zero, with further pressure on prices of premium services such as video over mobile.

 

April 25, 2006

BP oil profits up - beyond petroleum?

BBC NEWS | Business | Oil boom helps BP beat forecasts

BP is leading the way for many other oil companies with the slogan "Beyond Petroleum", which is a summary of a firm commitment to develop alternative energy sources. However, environmental and safety issues remain a challenge as well as continued dependence on oil for most revenue generation.

April 24, 2006

Blogging takes another small step forward

If you can read this post, it shows that blogging has taken another step forward in control of cyberspace.  Over 200 million blogger create postings at least once a week, but almost all go to a web page to do so.  This posting was created with a simple e-mail which makes posting faster and quicker.  It also means that the contents of e-mails can easily be forwarded to the entire online community.

 

On the delivery side, the number of blog postings which are automatically sent out using e-mail distribution lists or news feeds is also growing fast.

 

April 23, 2006

200 million people now have a personal blog or web diary

There are now estimated to be more than 200 million personal web diaries or blogs online. Their content is now shaping opinion, making and braking brands.

Many people believe comments about - say - a hotel in a blog far more readily than they believe an official corporate site.

Question: which do you trust more? Online adverts on a search engine, or a community website? My own informal polls of senior executives around the world suggests that unnoficial community sites win almost every time.

It spells the death of traditional advertising and brand management.

If the blogs come up high in the search engines and contain a lot of negative comment about your product, no amount of web advertising is going to help you.

That's why some companies are now employing people to post positive comments about their products and services on bulletin boards, blogs and other community sites, disguising the fact that their agenda is a paid promotion campaign.

It is building up to be a serious issue - and one hafrdly understood by most large corporation leaders.

A prime example is the leisure, travel and hotel industry - just type in the name of a large hotel into Google and see how far down you need to look before you hit a site like www.traveladvisor.com.

April 22, 2006

Future of Marketing

Future of Marketing

You can find many presentations on marketing including videos on a wide range of related issues on http://www.globalchange.com/ppt/index.htm

Teenagers getting fatter in spite of health drive - Britain - Times Online

Obesity will be a major problem in future not only in wealthy nations, but also in emerging economies among the increasingly affluent.

One third of babies born today in the United States will develop diabetes during their lives as a direct result of being overweight, and obesity is estimated already to cost the US health care system many billions of dollars a year, plus lost productivity to the economy.

Expect to see many innovative approaches by pharmacuetical companies in addition to other control measures by governments such as additional regulations on marketing junk food to children.

Creative solutions could include developing new drugs which are similar to thyroxine. One such compound causes monkeys to lose a significant amount of their body weight on a normal diet in just a couple of weeks, without the normal toxic effects that one might expect on the heart.

April 21, 2006

Analysts tip oil will push beyond current record - Business - Business

Analysts tip oil will push beyond current record - Business - Business

Some time ago many people predicted that global economic growth would slow significantly if oil prices rose as high as $50 to $60 - and yet little has happened.

Now some are warning of dire consequencies if the oil price were to rise to $100 a barrel.

The fact is that when we allow for inflation, oil is still cheaper than it was at the height of the oil crisis in the 1970s - 30 years ago.

The oil price per barrel would need to be around $90 to equal the real cost then, but other things have changed. In the 1970s many nations had far higher rates of inflation. Today, globalisation and the digital age have resulted in falling prices across a wide range of goods, and have also reduced the costs of many services like banking.

It could be argued that recent oil prices as low as $15 a barrel were highly undesirable for the sustainable future of the earth, encouraging energy waste and making it impossible to develop profitable alternative energy sources.

From that point of view we should welcome higher oil prices, which are already helping stimulate huge new investment into solar, wind, tide, hydroelectric and other generation methods, while also encouraging fresh efforts in energy conservation.

Higher oil prices suck vast amounts of cash out of oil-poor countries into the hands of oil producers, and this is already finding its way quite rapidly back into other economies. Just look for example at the amount of Middle East wealth that is flowing into the real estate markets in Europe, particularly the UK.

There are a large number of new business opportunities that arise from these wealth movements, and of course from energy conservation / alternative power generation.

April 20, 2006

Human nature - better than we sometimes think?

Comment on the power indviduals have to create damage and chaos - yet how few do so... how most people are responsible, law abiding citizens who respect those around them:

Yes you are right about the asymmetry of antisocial acts in terms of effort for impact - and this has always been a problem for society eg the tiny effort needed to commit arson, or to daub graffiti on walls, or to deliberately drive a car into a bus queue. Yet the strange thing is how rarely these acts happen, and how powerful is the social pressure on people to "behave" in a way that respects community.

The same with theft. It amazes me how few people carrying laptops in their bags, or using them on tube trains, are mugged for what is a very valuable item....

The vast majority of people in every country most of the time act in ways that enhance community.

Most people give time to community causes they believe in, and so on...

Yes the problems of society are huge and growing and the answers are complex, but the innate creativity of human beings and their passion for change should also not be underestimated.

It is indeed the reason why suicide bombers blow themselves up, in a
(misguided) ultruistic belief that the world will be a better place as a result of their "self sacrifice".

The other noteworthy thing is how resilient society is to major shocks.

Take London in the second world war when one in 4 of all homes were rendered unusable because of random rocket attacks. The result? Life went on. That's why we know that a few suicide bombers in London, even if more arrive, cannot possibly alter daily life in a major way. Actually we have lived with terrorism (IRA) in the UK for several decades.

You see the same in war-torn regions of Africa... in the midst of instability and troubles, daily existence for most people usually continues relatively unchanged (compared to what some might imagine).

April 18, 2006