April 19, 2018

Rooftop gardening

Welcome to 2030. I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy, and Life Has Never Been Better

This article is part of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils.

For more information watch the What If: Privacy Becomes a Luxury Good? session from the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017.

Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city – or should I say, “our city”. I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.

It might seem odd to you, but it makes perfect sense for us in this city. Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.

First communication became digitized and free to everyone. Then, when clean energy became free, things started to move quickly. Transportation dropped dramatically in price. It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes. We started transporting ourselves in a much more organized and coordinated way when public transport became easier, quicker and more convenient than the car. Now I can hardly believe that we accepted congestion and traffic jams, not to mention the air pollution from combustion engines. What were we thinking?

A yellow bicycle. Bicycles could be a primary form of transport in our future society.
Sometimes I use my bike when I go to see some of my friends. I enjoy the exercise and the ride. It kind of gets the soul to come along on the journey. Funny how some things seem never seem to lose their excitement: walking, biking, cooking, drawing and growing plants. It makes perfect sense and reminds us of how our culture emerged out of a close relationship with nature.

“Environmental problems seem far away”
In our city we don’t pay any rent, because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it. My living room is used for business meetings when I am not there.

Once in awhile, I will choose to cook for myself. It is easy – the necessary kitchen equipment is delivered at my door within minutes. Since transport became free, we stopped having all those things stuffed into our home. Why keep a pasta-maker and a crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards? We can just order them when we need them.

This also made the breakthrough of the circular economy easier. When products are turned into services, no one has an interest in things with a short life span. Everything is designed for durability, repairability and recyclability. The materials are flowing more quickly in our economy and can be transformed to new products pretty easily. Environmental problems seem far away, since we only use clean energy and clean production methods. The air is clean, the water is clean and nobody would dare to touch the protected areas of nature because they constitute such value to our well being. In the cities we have plenty of green space and plants and trees all over. I still do not understand why in the past we filled all free spots in the city with concrete.

The death of shopping
Shopping? I can’t really remember what that is. For most of us, it has been turned into choosing things to use. Sometimes I find this fun, and sometimes I just want the algorithm to do it for me. It knows my taste better than I do by now.

When AI and robots took over so much of our work, we suddenly had time to eat well, sleep well and spend time with other people. The concept of rush hour makes no sense anymore, since the work that we do can be done at any time. I don’t really know if I would call it work anymore. It is more like thinking-time, creation-time and development-time.

For a while, everything was turned into entertainment and people did not want to bother themselves with difficult issues. It was only at the last minute that we found out how to use all these new technologies for better purposes than just killing time.

“They live different kinds of lives outside of the city”
My biggest concern is all the people who do not live in our city. Those we lost on the way. Those who decided that it became too much, all this technology. Those who felt obsolete and useless when robots and AI took over big parts of our jobs. Those who got upset with the political system and turned against it. They live different kind of lives outside of the city. Some have formed little self-supplying communities. Others just stayed in the empty and abandoned houses in small 19th century villages.

Once in awhile I get annoyed about the fact that I have no real privacy. No where I can go and not be registered. I know that, somewhere, everything I do, think and dream of is recorded. I just hope that nobody will use it against me.

All in all, it is a good life. Much better than the path we were on, where it became so clear that we could not continue with the same model of growth. We had all these terrible things happening: lifestyle diseases, climate change, the refugee crisis, environmental degradation, completely congested cities, water pollution, air pollution, social unrest and unemployment. We lost way too many people before we realised that we could do things differently.

Author’s note: Some people have read this blog as my utopia or dream of the future. It is not. It is a scenario showing where we could be heading – for better and for worse. I wrote this piece to start a discussion about some of the pros and cons of the current technological development. When we are dealing with the future, it is not enough to work with reports. We should start discussions in many new ways. This is the intention with this piece.

Written by Ida Auken, Member of Parliament, Parliament of Denmark (Folketinget)

Read more articles from World Economic Forum
References: World Economic Forum

Welcome to 2030. I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy, and Life Has Never Been Better

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Earth & Energy
California May Reach Its Renewable Energy Goal 10 Years Early
Wikimedia Commons
Governor Jerry Brown signed a law in 2015 that gave the state until 2030 to have 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy. A new report released this month shows the state may reach or surpass this goal by 2020.
In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would see the state committing to renewable energy. The law gave California until 2030 to ensure 50 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources like the Sun and wind. At the time, Brown made it clear that fossil fuels are taking humanity down a dangerous path, despite their impact on getting us this far.

“We’ve got to realize that we are here today because of oil — oil and gas, [and] to a lesser extent, coal,” SFGate reported Brown saying. “What has been the source of our prosperity has become the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off of it.”

Now, only two years later, California is seemingly ahead of its own schedule. A recently released annual report from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reveals the state is on track to meet its goal by 2020 — a full 10 years before the established deadline.

According to the Renewables Portfolio Standard report, California’s three biggest utility providers — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) — all surpassed the 25 percent requirement for 2016. Renewables accounted for 32.9 percent of PG&E’s electricity; SCE reached 28.2 percent, while SDG&E reached 43.2 percent. Going forward, all three companies predict “they will meet or exceed their 2020 RPS compliance period requirements.”

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, California has been pushing renewable energy since 2002, with both Governor Brown and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger steadily raising the requirements over the years. Since 2008, California’s emissions have been on a decline, and it’s only expected to continue. It helps that the prices of both solar and wind contracts have dropped considerably, making it cheaper for companies to invest in renewables.

“The RPS program has helped achieve large reductions in cost for renewable electricity: between 2008 and 2016, the price of utility scale solar contracts reported to the CPUC have gone down 77%, and between 2007 and 2015 reported prices of wind contracts have gone down 47%.” In 2008, solar contracts were $135.90, but as of 2016 they’re priced at $29.17; in 2007, wind contracts were $97.11, but were as low as $50.99 as of 2015.

California’s efforts are beginning to pay off in big ways, and the state continues to show its commitment to reducing its impact on climate change and global warming. It wants to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, and is considering a ban on non-electric vehicles. At the rate its progressing, California is due to get everything it wants.

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References: San Francisco Chronicle, California Public Utilities Commission

California May Reach Its Renewable Energy Goal 10 Years Early


Kyree Leary
@KyreeLeary Website
Published: November 17, 2017
#california#clean energy#electricity#renewable energy

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Advanced Transport
Volkswagen Has Pledged to Spend $40 Billion on Electric and Hybrid Cars
Volkswagen is shifting rapidly in the wake of their 2015 emissions scandal. With a quickly growing EV market, the company is working to produce more electric vehicles. The company has stated they’ll spend $40 billion through 2022, mostly on electrifying current models.
Yet another automaker has stepped up to the plate in making their vehicles more environmentally friendly. Volkswagen (VW) has announced that they plan to spend more than 34 billion euros, or $40 billion, between 2018 and 2022 on developing electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and new technology. Most of that money, the company stated after a supervisory meeting, will be spent on updating Volkswagen’s current models to into electric or hybrid.

This projection is significantly larger than a different pledge, released two months ago, that VW would invest 20 billion euros through 2030 on electric and self-driving cars.

The ID BUZZ, one of many electric models Volkswagen has announced. (Image Credit: Volkswagen)
The ID BUZZ, one of many electric models Volkswagen has announced. Image Credit: Volkswagen
“With the planning round now approved, we are laying the foundation for making Volkswagen the world’s No. 1 player in electric mobility by 2025,” said Matthias Mueller, VW Chief Executive, in a press conference, Reuters reports.

The German automaker already has four electric models on the road, and has unveiled plans for several more, including an electric crossover with autonomous features and the retro-inspired electric ID BUZZ.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic
The company’s push for more eco-friendly vehicles comes as little surprise in the wake of their 2015 emissions-cheating scandal. The scandal erupted when the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that VW vehicles contained a device that allowed them to meet emissions standards when an emissions test was detected, but emit up to 40 times more greenhouse gases than the legal U.S. limit otherwise.

The shift is also being prompted by quotas requiring the shift to electric cars in China, where more electric vehicles (EVs) are sold than anywhere else. CNN reports that Volkswagen plans to invest as much as 10 billion euro, around $11.8 billion, in China over the next seven to eight years. This will include developing as many as 40 new electric and hybrid models by 2025.

Not to mention, Volkswagen may find itself forced to switch over as EVs begin to dominate the auto market — many of VW’s competitors, including General Motors, Porsche, Ford, Honda, and even Lamborghini have announced plans to go hybrid or fully electric.

Volkswagen Has Pledged to Spend $40 Billion on Electric and Hybrid Cars

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