Friday, 18 March 2011

Opportunities and Challenges of Greening ICT: Making Cloud Computing Green

Friends of Europe arranged a roundtable and I was an introductory discussant on “Making Cloud Computing Green” together with:

> Molly Webb, Head of Smart Technology, The Climate Group

> Peter Thomond, Senior Consultant & Research Manager at The Think Play Do Group at Imperial College London

> Arthur Mickoleit, Policy Analyst, Information Economy Group, OECD

My initial recommendations was for ICT companies, customers and policy makers to work on the following areas (% of resources on each also indicated).

1. Cloud computing (1%):

> Building the first data centre that is a net producer of renewable energy. Together with this project present a plan to make the whole ICT system net producer of renewable energy.
2. The whole ICT system, e.g. the 21st Century Infrastructure (4%)

> Support multifunctional devices and where possible make them independent of grid charging.

> Support a module approach where devices are upgraded instead of thrown away when one part needs to be upgraded/replaced.

> Support a circular economy where re-use of material is promoted.

3. The use of ICT, Greening with ICT (95%)

> Introduce an alarm bell/flag to be used when the Commission or member states are introducing policies that should include ICT but are not (or only marginal). The recent transport white paper from the commission is a good example of a document where ICT should play a central role, but is not.

> Introduce an indicator that allows us to measure how offices use cloud computing in EU and beyond. Is cloud computing supporting a 21st century office or is it only marginally improving the current unsustainable system, or even making the current system even more unsustainable?

My final comments built on Willy De Backers observation/question that we are starting to see many black swans and how we should respond to this. I highlighted five areas:

1. The fact that we see so many trends converging now that we can expect the Black Swans become the norm. This will create tensions and rapid changes. The question is how ready Europe is to embrace these tensions and make them drivers for sustainable development. Using a 9 billion filter (asking if what we do is contributing to solutions that can be used by 9 billion people) is a good start.

2. We must look beyond individual issues, such as carbon, and aim for overall resource efficiency. If not we run the risk of moving the problems around instead of solving them.

3. We should explore the “Opportunity Hook” i.e. the fact that more ambitious targets from the start is often better than incrementally increase the ambition.

4. All stakeholders must abandon the sector approach when it comes to strategic planning and implementation. Instead a sector/service matrix should be promoted and a shift from product to service encouraged.

5. Finally I (again) highlighted the fact that smart coding must be acknowledged and said that I would stop working in EU if there was not a “Code of the Year” prize with in a year that acknowledged different smart codes that help reduce the pressure on the planet and provide the services we need.

UPDATE: I remembered that talking is good, but action is better so I registered and will see who’s interesting to join and support this…

Will focus on the launch of next Monday, but after that I will send out a letter with a rough outline to the participants.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Words from Japan that hopefully can inspire

I just got this mail from my long term friend Peter David Pedersen who lives in Japan. He wrote that the text could be spread and I think as many as possible should read this so here it is:


Ogoto-onsen, near Kyoto March 18th, 2011

I am writing to you from a hotel along the shore
of Biwa-ko, Japan's largest lake some 528 km west
(and slightly south) of the Fukushima nuclear
power station. Fresh snow is covering the
landscape in what would, normally, be a very
idyllic setting.

Right now, it feels absolutely surreal,
as if all the earthquake destruction in Eastern
Japan combined with the man-made specter of
nuclear destruction were scenes out a
Hollywood movie entitled "Twin Disasters." But
this is no movie, and whether there will be any
form of "happy" ending to the nuclear malaise
remains entirely unpredictable.

The Japanese government "cannot" talk openly and
honestly to the Japanese public about the
potential dangers in a worst case scenario at
Fukushima, primarily because of fears of panic in
the 30 million population in the world's largest
metropolitan area, Tokyo + Yokohama.

Personally, I have over the last 10 years or so
repeatedly experienced the attempts of TEPCO
(Tokyo Electric Power Co.) to control information
on nuclear power in this country. For eighteen months,
from 2000-2001, I anchored the main news program at MX
TV, Tokyo's local TV station, and was told by the
producer that "since TEPCO is a sponsor of our program,
I would prefer if you do not openly criticize nuclear power."

On another occasion, I was writing a piece for a
well-known publication for 5-6th grade school kids on
the environment, this time being told by the
chief editor that, "TEPCO is one of the sponsors
of our magazine. While I would like you to write
on the enviroment, please don't be critical of
nuclear power."

On a third occasion, not directly related to TEPCO,
I was interviewed by the Yomiuri Newspaper,
one of Japan's top two newspapers in terms of
circulation, about the 1978 demonstrations throughout
Denmark against the possible introduction of nuclear
power in which I participated as a child. When the
interview appeared in the newspaper, my phrase
"demonstrations against nuclear power" had been altered
to "demonstrations for renewable energy." This was
not what I had said, and when I called the journalist
in charge, he sheepishly apologized, saying that "I did
not dare to write anything negative about nuclear power
lest I should invite the wrath of my editor (boss)."

I feel so very sorry for the people who are,
right now, sacrificing their future health, and
some of them their immediate lives, working to
stop the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear Power Station. They may be described as
"heroes" - and surely their efforts as such are
heroic - but in a wider perspective they are
victims of an industry in which the brainwashing
of contractors and workers to believe that what
they work with is safe has been pervasive.

In its entirety, the present situation in Eastern
Japan and the Tokyo Metropolitan area has
revealed the amazing fragility of modern
civilization. All lifelines - water, transport,
electricity, food supplies - have been severed or
disrupted in Eastern Japan, and one of the
world's largest cities, Tokyo, was yesterday
afternoon (March 17th), in danger of a large
scale, sudden blackout as a cold spell of weather
drove up electricity consumption close to the limit of
maximum supply. A good friend of mine, working at
Tohoku University not far from the epicenter of the
earthquake, called to tell how he finally, after six days,
managed to leave Sendai (a city of more than a million
on Japan's (Honshu's) east coast), driving to Tokyo in
a 16 hour ordeal. No gasoline being available
anywhere on the route, he barely managed to reach Tokyo, his
gas tank drying up. More frightening than the drive, though,
was how food and water were virtually impossible to obtain
in the city center of Sendai. "Emergency supplies have
been distributed to the schools where tens of thousands of
people take refuge, but nothing seemed to reach the city
of Sendai and shelves in supermarkets were almost completely
empty. For the first time, I had the feeling of a threat to
my life because of an inability to buy food," he told me.
My friend made it, but older and weaker people are dying - or
will die - as the crucial lifelines of a hypermodern
society have been devastated.

The question, obviously, is what we can learn,
not only in Japan, but in modern society as a
whole, from this experience. It remains to be
seen whether we will, truly, learn anything at
all. To me, there seem to be at least three major
lessons. The first is the question of how or if
lifestyles and values will change. The thing that
the Japanese have been praised for throughout the
first week of this terrible disaster, has not
been "technology" or "financial strength"; it has
been the strong spirit, the patience, the human
qualities of the people here that has touched
many around the world.
Money and shiny goods in temples of consumption
have carried absolutely no value for the people
here in the last week. Is there a chance that we
may, now, see and act on the emptiness of useless
consumerism? A chance there must be, I hope,
although I do at the same time fear that once
things settle down, Japan and the world will go
on as if nothing had happened.

The second lesson is the danger of concentration
of population into huge metropolises. Although
the epicenter of the M9.0 earthquake was hundreds
of kilometers northeast of Tokyo, the city was
paralyzed, streets clogged, subways inoperational,
phone lines dead. The staff at my office could
not get home or get in touch with their family.
What if - and this could happen any day - the
earthquake had hit Tokyo straight on?
I have not the courage to think of the scale of
disaster or the number of human lives that would
have been lost. As urbanization continues at
great speed in the world's population centers,
the utter fragility of the 21st century
megacity poses serious questions. Is there a
way to answer this question in a more humane and
sustainable manner than we are experiencing today?
There must be.

The third lesson is the folly of making ourselves
dependent on energy production from large scale
and extremely dangerous power stations, where
no workable plans exist to control worst case scenarios.
Huge costs will be incurred in Japan over the next several
decades to clean up Fukushima. Huge costs were incurred
to build the plant in the first place. Surely, this money
could have been used more wisely. Hopefully, the lesson
taken from Fukushima will, finally, make the idea
of non-violent, non-toxic, decentralized energy
sources the mainstream policy and business choice
around the world.

If we can learn the lessons, there is hope for
the future.

Peter David Pedersen
Chief Executive
E-Square Inc.
Tokyo, JAPAN

Friday, 11 March 2011

New Report: Norway and global leadership in the 21st Century: Supporting transformative low carbon ICT solutions

Here is the link the the report "Norway and global leadership in the 21st Century: Supporting transformative low carbon ICT solutions" (5 meg).

Presenting the report today here in Oslo.

TelecomTV: Broadband for a Greener, more Sustainable Future

Here is a link to a clip from the launch of the Working Group on Climate Change by the Broadband Commission in Barcelona during the MWC. There we took the Guadalajara Declaration for transformative low-carbon solutions to the next level

Thursday, 10 March 2011

China Daily: Attempts to blame China for cyber attacks 'politically driven'

Below is an article from yesterday that I contributed to:

Link to China Daily.

BEIJING - Recent attempts to blame China for a number of international cyber attacks are groundless and aimed at turning international public opinion against the country, analysts said on Tuesday.

Media reports on China's "cyber attacks" were publicity stunts with a clear political purpose, said Jin Canrong, vice-dean of the School of International Studies at the Beijing-based Renmin University of China.

"Playing up the 'threat' from China is a ploy by politicians to win votes and put more pressure on China in the international community," Jin said.

Large parts of the western media tend to portray China as a villain. As any country that is growing in important China can be seen as a problem or an opportunity. Today however, almost all reporting are negative, Dennis Pamlin, an international advisor and IT expert based in Sweden told China Daily.

Pamlin has begun to analyze covers from major international magazine publications and it looks like there are about 70 percent negative, 20 percent neutral and 10 percent positive.

"This is a serious problem," said Pamlin, "it is important to have a discussion about how media is dealing with the combination of new areas such and China's growing importance and issues like IT and renewable energy, where China is playing an important and often very positive role."

The French Finance Ministry suffered from a cyber attack in December targeting information related to its presidency of the G20, officials said on Monday.

A report on the website of Paris Match magazine claimed that some of the information had been redirected toward "Chinese websites", according to a Reuters report.

Yonhap News Agency, citing a South Korean opposition lawmaker, on Monday claimed that Chinese hackers broke into a computer network of the South Korean Defense Ministry last year and got secret documents on a plan to buy spy drones from the United States.

David Fouquet, director of Brussels-based Asia-Europe Project Information Service said that such allegations should be treated very carefully and with some skepticism.

"There are accusations of this type virtually every week, which are never completely verified there is considerable confusion, misinformation even manipulation in this sector," Fouquet added.

"China is likely to once again be made a scapegoat for the hacking attacks," said Cui Baojiang, an expert on information security with Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

"Hackers usually connect to overseas servers several times to hide their attacks. China's cyber security technology is so weak that international hackers usually use servers based in China to hide themselves and wage attacks," Cui said.

"Many groups are interested in getting hold of information and can use innocent peoples' computers to do this," said Dennis Pamlin.

Server protection technology is underdeveloped in China, so it is much easier for international hackers to break into servers based in China, Cui said.

"Internet users in China fail to pay enough attention to cyber security," added Cui.

"The amount of Chinese Internet users as well as computers (servers) is so large, which provides more chances for international hackers."

Fouquet said that the international community should cooperate to address cyber security in the same way that it deals with issues such as arms control or disarmament, before it gets out of control.

At the January summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama in Washington, both sides agreed to examine the problem, while Russia is also taking steps on this issue, he added.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The hobby project The Urban Micro Jungle starts

The same day as Oil prices hit the highest level since Sept. 2008 I put up the first Beta of my new hobby project "The Urban Micro Jungle" (just a PPT put on the web).

That oil prices reached new highest the same day was obviously a coincident. But it is a bizarre situation when I launch a project to encourage people to see the beauty around them and the same day "analysts" say that problems with high oil prices include "commuters opting for public transportation and car pools" and "vacations closer to home". To call "vacations closer to home" a problem is close to criminal with the current climate crisis, and it just show how far away the rhetoric is from action when it comes to a low-carbon development.

One idea with the Urban Micro Jungle is to get people who use models and work at places that use such assumption to reflect on what they are doing. Not by threatening with a climate catastrophe or how future and current generation are/will be affected, but by showing the beauty around us.

And this is a hobby project so I'm allowed to this without assessing the likelihood of such change ever happening, I will just do my best and hope.