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    Wednesday
    Mar102010

    Who is Monitoring Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere? Top scientific minds or cash strapped well intended individuals

    Here is something that will leave you thinking.  Who and what measures and monitors the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?

    The Orbiting Carbon Observation (OCO) satellite developed by NASA/JPL was supposed to do this, but it crashed after launch on Feb 24, 2009.

    Scientists to NASA: We Need A Reliable Way to Track Global Emissions - 07.31.2009

    By Keith Johnson

    Forget all the haggling with China, India, and parts of the U.S. Congress—the real obstacle to a global climate-change treaty might be accurately measuring greenhouse-gas emissions in the first place.

    That’s the warning from the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council to the head of NASA. The upshot? Without a sophisticated satellite that can track global emissions, it will be hard to know what everybody is really up to: “[C]urrent methods for estimating greenhouse gas emissions have limitations for monitoring a climate treaty.”

    NASA had such a sophisticated satellite—the Orbiting Carbon Observatory—which failed to reach orbit in February. The space agency is considering trying again—thus the letter from the NAS pointing out just how useful such satellites can be.

    The monitoring in OCO was simple.

    The satellite carried a single instrument that would have taken the most precise measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide ever made from space. The instrument consisted of three parallel, high-resolution spectrometers, integrated into a common structure and fed by a common telescope. The spectrometers would have made simultaneous measurements of the carbon dioxide and molecular oxygen absorption of sunlight reflected off the same location on Earth’s surface when viewed in the near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, invisible to the human eye.

    Here is a video that gives you background on the OCO satellite

    The Economist discusses the issue of monitoring greenhouse gases in length.

    Monitoring greenhouse gases

    Highs and lows

    You might think that measuring the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be a priority. If you did think that, though, you would be wrong

    Mar 4th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

    IN NEGOTIATIONS on nuclear weapons the preferred stance is “Trust but verify”. In negotiations on climate change there seems little opportunity for either. Trust, as anyone who attended last year’s summit in Copenhagen can attest, is in the shortest of supplies. So, too, is verification.

    Barack Obama was asked when he was in Copenhagen whether a provision by which countries could peek into each others’ assessment processes was strong enough to be sure there was no cheating. He answered reassuringly that “we can actually monitor a lot of what takes place through satellite imagery”. That statement conjured up thoughts of the sort of cold-war satellite system that America used to identify and count Russian missiles. But the president was being a bit previous; at the moment, no such system exists, because America’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), a satellite that would have fulfilled the role, was lost on launch this time last year. The purpose of OCO was to work out the fate of carbon dioxide that is emitted by industrial processes but does not then stay in the atmosphere—about 60% of the total.

    The Economist author points out the problem with the system.

    America is planning to build a new OCO. In the meantime, however, a small group of scientists labours away on Earth, doing its best to monitor emissions at ground level. At the end of February a number of these researchers met at the Royal Society in London, to discuss what they were up to.

    Measuring gas levels day in, day out can look a little humdrum to outsiders, including those who hold the purse strings. They tend to prefer scientists to experiment and test hypotheses, not just tally things. But that attitude galls the greenhouse-gas measurers, and not only because it denies them money. It also ignores the fact that careful measurement is a way of discovering new things, not just of checking the status quo. Monitoring is not just a necessary handmaiden of science—it is the real thing.

    And, what people do in the short term.

    Indeed, for all the noise that is made about climate change, much of this research is done with next to no money. Asked how she paid for her monitoring of various greenhouse gases in Baden Württemberg, Ingeborg Levin of Heidelberg University replied “by stealing”—meaning not that she robs banks, but that the monitoring work is cross-subsidised by grants intended for other studies.

    How broken is the discussion on GHG that there is no world-wide GHG monitoring system?

    Let's hope the NASA budget gets approved for OCO 2.

    Proposed reflight

    Three days after the failed February 2009 launch, the OCO science team sent NASA headquarters a proposal to build and launch an OCO "carbon copy", which planned to have the replacement satellite launched by late 2011.[16] On February 1st, 2010, the FY 2010 NASA budget request did include US$170 million for NASA to develop and fly a replacement for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory.[17]

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Mar092010

    Who will be the winners of Mobile Computing?

    Don Dodge let go from Microsoft, and currently Google employee blogs on the Platform shift to Mobile.

    MARCH 04, 2010

    Platform shifts Mainframe to Mini to PC to Mobile. Why leaders fail to make the shift

    Platform shifts happen every decade or so in computing. The leaders of the previous generation are rarely successful in dominating the next generation platform. IBM dominated the mainframe business. They didn’t lose their dominance because another company built a better mainframe. They lost it because the market shifted to a new platform…Mini computers. Digital Equipment, Data General, and a few others dominated that market. Another platform shift is happening today, from PCs to Mobile devices, and another industry leader will be left behind. John Herlihy of Google Europesays “In three years time desktops will be irrelevant”

    The issues for Innovator's Dillemma are referenced.

    Why do leaders fail to adapt? The Innovators Dilemma, made famous by Clayton Christensen, clearly explains why market leaders fail to make the leap. Innovation usually happens at the low end of the market where the products are simple, prices are low, margins thin, and the market totally undefined. The industry leaders have great margins, high prices, and customers who want more features and are willing to pay for them. The industry leaders always move up market and leave the new emerging market to smaller innovators. The process usually follows these 6 steps;

    1. The disruptive technology is discovered, often by the market leading company.
    2. Marketing people seek reactions from customers and industry analysts.
    3. Established companies decide it is a better strategy to speed up the pace of sustaining technical advancement in their own product rather than go down market with the disruptive technology.
    4. Start-ups learn about the disruptive technology and see opportunity. They keep their cost structure low, build the technology, and find new markets through trial and error.
    5. The start-ups get some initial success and then move up market and eat away customers from the market leading company.
    6. The market leading company finally jumps on the bandwagon reluctantly with a half hearted attempt and fails. It is too late.

    Morgan Stanley's Mary Meeker is referenced.

    Platform shifts have 10X the number of devices and users. The move to Mobile is big and fast. Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley says Mobile Internet usage is bigger than most people think, and it is exploding. Every platform shift has 10X the number of devices and users. There were about 1M mainframes, 10M mini-computers, 100M PCs, and 1 Billion cell phones. The next wave of mobile devices will be over 10B.

    10x platform shifts

    Mary Meeker's report has lots of good information in it.

    image

     

    image

    Note the fast growth of Mobile Internet compared to other technologies

    image

    And, she makes the point I have seen few make which is spot on.  The growth of real-time wireless sensors.

    image

    I was talking to a Google developer brainstorming some mobile scenarios, and he laughed when i was going three steps beyond his ideas.  When we both worked at Microsoft we were talking about GPS data with photos in 2001, and people thought we were crazy - "that's too expensive and what would you do with GPS coordinates."  Make money!!!!

    image

    Google is all over this scenario.

    image

    What is the new publishing and distribution network for Mobile?

    image

    The Mobile's phone capabilities are less important and some young users look at phone calls as people who aren't with it.

    image

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Mar092010

    OMG there are 138,279 members of Greenpeace's we want Facebook on 100% renewable energy

    Gartner makes a prediction that THE social networking site is Facebook.

    image

    I wrote 2 weeks ago about the idea maybe Facebook should have bought a Bloom Box to diffuse the decision that the company will buy coal based electricity.

    Feb 22, 2010

    Maybe Facebook should have bought a Bloom Box to diffuse Greenpeace’s campaign against a coal powered data center

    Thanks to Matt Stansberry’s reporting on SearchDataCenter, attention was drawn to Facebook’s Prineville Data Center being coal powered.

    Tiered energy rates bring higher prices for new customers
    By 2012, BPA will charge tiered rates for power. Customers that signed 20-year contracts in 2008 will pay tier-one (i.e., inexpensive) pricing for their current electricity demand. These customers use most of the power produced by the dams.

    Matt Stansberry broke the news on this topic and has demonstrated the force one person can have, especially a press writer. 

    Greenpeace decided to start a Facebook page on getting Facebook to run their data center on 100% renewable energy.  They had a goal of 10,000 members of the group.  It was 6,700 on Feb 22, 2010.

    There is even a Facebook site for this topic with over 6,700 users.

    image

    In 2 weeks it is now 138,279

    Members
    6 of 138,279 members See All

    Liat Shoval

    Liat Shoval

    Aya Michaelovich

    AyaMichaelovich

    Leah Green Ben-Avraham

    Leah GreenBen-Avraham

    Sébastien Aertgeerts

    SébastienAertgeerts

    Rinat Korbet

    RinatKorbet

    Michal Shimoni

    MichalShimoni

    How many more members will there be in 2 more weeks?

    This gives a whole different way to think of the value of a green data center.  If Greenpeace is successful in getting Facebook to convert to 100% renewable energy and pay a premium over coal who is next?

    I've always said the problem with data centers is they have big targets painted on them for environmentalist as they have high concentrations of electricity use and are run by rich companies.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Mar092010

    Is Smart Grid opportunity in Residential or Commercial? I voted Commercial, but the popular media topic is Residential

    I’ve watched the industry come up with energy monitoring solutions over the past few years, and I am amazed at how much attention the residential market gets vs. commercial.  I determined that the commercial market and data centers being the epitome of the right place for energy efficiency.  Which is part of what got me to spend more time in data centers.  Data Centers are the early adopters of the ideas, and we’ll get the rest of commercial to follow next like Hospitals.

    After sitting in multiple presentations at conferences on energy efficiency and monitoring, I figured out that this was a futile effort to educate the masses.  The comparison I’ve used in consumer behavior terms is when you get your monthly bills how much effort do people spend on their credit card & bank bills vs. the utility bill.  Think about.  How many people spend even a tenth of the time on their utility bill vs. bank/credit card bills?

    Why is smart grid in the consumer space popular?  It is easy for the media to talk about and relate to, making it a popular topic.  There are tons of appliance and electronic vendors who see the money to be made by selling smart grid features.  Utilities are viewed as progressive to come up with residential smart meter solutions.  Google and Microsoft are throwing efforts in as well.  Does this make residential the right one just because it is popular?

    CNET news has an article that provides a perspective on the smart grid that supports the opportunity in commercial.

    Businesses offer best path to money in smart grid

    by Martin LaMonica

    BOSTON--For consumers, the face of the smart grid is most likely to be a home energy monitor that gives people insight into home electricity use. But from a business perspective, there may be more action catering to business customers, rather than homeowners.

    A panel of smart-grid company executives here at the AlwaysOn GoingGreen East conference on Tuesday said saving commercial, industrial, and business customers is an easier sell than helping consumers save on utility bills.

    Images: The many faces of the smart grid

    View the full gallery

    Home energy monitoring systems and Web applications such as Google PowerMeter let people get details on where home electricity is going. But it's unclear at what point consumers are willing to make changes in their behavior based on that information.

    And raises the issue of consumer behavior.

    "I think we need to temper our expectations," said Tim Healy, the CEO of energy efficiency company EnerNoc. He noted an "apathy found by consulting company the Shelton Group, which found that consumers would be willing to spend $129 more a month on energy bills before taking actions, such as buying an EnergyStar appliance or scheduling dishwasher or dryer jobs to take advantage of off-peak rates. (Click for PDF of study.)

    And, here is a big wake-up call from an Accenture survey.

    Consumers Reject Lower Energy Use As The Answer to Reducing Reliance on Fossil Fuels and Energy Imports

    * Related Assets

    March 09, 2010

    Consumers call for strong government intervention in energy market

    NEW YORK; March 9, 2010 – Three out of four consumers are concerned by energy and climate change issues, but nearly two thirds say that using less energy is not the answer to reducing reliance on fossil fuels or foreign energy supply, according to global research by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The survey of 9,000 individuals in 22 countries also shows that almost nine out of ten consumers want more government intervention in the energy market.

    The survey reveals this interesting consumer behavior.

    · When asked why they think reducing reliance on fossil fuels is important, 60 percent of Americans say dependence on foreign oil while 26 percent say climate change and reducing emissions.

    · Globally, 49 percent of respondents say lowering emissions is the chief reason to reduce dependence on fossil fuels while 32 percent say dependence on foreign oil.

    · In the U.S., extreme concern for climate change declined to 36 percent from 53 percent in the past year.

    · U.S. consumers see new forms of energy as a better solution than reducing demand, with 62 percent favoring alternatives and 38 percent favoring curbs on demand.

    I am so glad i lowered my expectation in the residential scenario for energy efficiency.  Just because I turn off the lights, watch my energy consumption like a lot of you doesn’t mean the rest of the public will change their behavior.

    There is no Prius badge people can wear by shaving their electricity use by 10-20%.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Mar092010

    Lesson learned from Apple’s iPhone SDK agreement disclosure, beware of the Freedom of Information Act if a US gov’t agency signs

    Having been an ex-Microsoft, I learned this lesson if you have a gov’t agency sign an NDA or confidentiality agreement watch out for Freedom of Information Act.

    The act explicitly applies only to federal government agencies. These agencies are under several mandates to comply with public solicitation of information. Along with making public and accessible all bureaucratic and technical procedures for applying for documents from that agency, agencies are also subject to penalties for hindering the process of a petition for information. If “agency personnel acted arbitrarily or capriciously with respect to the withholding, [a] Special Counsel shall promptly initiate a proceeding to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted against the officer or employee who was primarily responsible for the withholding.” [6] In this way, there is recourse for one seeking information to go to a Federal court if suspicion of illegal tampering or delayed sending of records exists. However, there are nine exemptions, ranging from a withholding “specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy” and “trade secrets” to “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” [6]

    The Electronic Freedom Foundation used this to get a copy of Apple’s iPhone SDK agreement reports NetworkWorld.

    EFF publishes iPhone developer agreement

    By Dan Moren, Macworld
    March 09, 2010 02:02 PM ET

    If you've followed the news of App Store rejections over the past couple years, you may have wondered what exactly is engraved upon the stone tablets that govern the terms of Apple's App Store and developing for the iPhone. The trouble is we haven't been able to tell you, as the agreement itself contains terms that prohibit publicly discussing it. But on Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) legally obtained and published a copy of the agreement for the first time.

    In order to do so, it had to take advantage of a legal loophole. EFF noticed that NASA had created an application for the iPhone, and NASA--being a government agency--is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. EFF requested a copy of the SDK agreement and a revision dated March 17, 2009 was provided.

    If you have confidential information you may want to think about your disclosures to federal gov’t agencies.

    The author makes a closing statement.

    For my part, as somebody writing about these issues, the most frustrating part of the agreement has been the ban on public statements. I can see why Apple believed it was in its interest to keep the agreement private, but in the long term I think it's done more harm than good, both in terms of contributing to the perception of Apple as overly secretive and by gagging developers from speaking publicly about their issues. Apple's platform remains wildly popular despite what some consider Byzantine restrictions--the company shouldn't be afraid of a little discussion.

    And some of his points are why for the Open Source Data Center Initiative we are have adopted the practices of openness and transparency for what we will be doing.

    Click to read more ...