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1. Browse through articles by clicking on "Older Posts" below each article in the center column.
2. Search through the Blog Archive at the lower right-hand column.

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4. Get Technical help in the lower left hand column.
5. Efficiency and low-waste strategies in the lower right column.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beyond Sustainability

Our Choice

Finding Durable Prosperity

Is there such a thing as sustainability? Some environmentally concerned thinkers are questioning whether there is a need to rethink the concept, to better define the true mission statement required to attain a healthier more naturally balanced world.

Sustainable means "capable of being kept at one level; maintainable." The problem with sustainability as a buzzword is that nothing stays the same in nature. The natural world is described by a dynamic which is ever changing. Nothing can be sustained. Nothing is static. The world can only change. In regards to the quality of life for the inhabitants of this planet, there can only be change - for the better or for the worse. It cannot remain the same.

We as humans are a powerful natural force for change. How we go about bringing this change relates directly to whether the outcome is for a better world or a degraded one. Cynics will say, it doesn't matter how we act. If we don't take the most selfish actions, providing the most immediate short term gains, then we are fools because someone else will. Yet, this point of view is beyond cynicism, it is self-serving denial, making pathetic excuses for destructive behavior. If we deny the importance of taking responsibility for the outcomes of our actions, then we are likely to be self destructive, poisoning our own environment, laying waste to our own nest, and dragging down the rest of the natural world as well.

So if "sustainable" is an unrealistic expectation in a world where change never ends, what is the healthy optimal mission for humans. What is the right way to live, that avoids suffering, and assures that the results of our initiatives build and strengthen, instead of tearing down, the fabric of this incredible world?

Instead of "sustainability" how about if we talk about prosperity. Prosperity is the condition in which nature, including the humans, can thrive, be nurtured, be fulfilled, bringing forth a cornucopia of healthful results for the whole natural order. Prosperity is continuous change for the better. More health, more education, more wisdom, more fulfillment, more caring, more connection, more enlightenment, more beauty, more hope, more finesse, more richness to life.. Along with these increases we can look for ever more appropriate use of materials, an ever lighter footprint upon the earth, a way of living that is integrated with nature rather than at war with it. Out of this "light on the earth" approach to living, will inevitably come rising standards of living for humans and a healthier world for all of the inhabitants of this planet which is, after all, our total life support system, our only home.

If we can imagine this kind of prosperity, perhaps we can continuously set out to attain it. Then should we undertake this mission, perhaps we can find durable prosperity, in which we use our creative powers to bring about continuous change for the better.

There is no question that we have influence in the natural environment. We bias the outcomes at every step. What we do every day is important. Our intention or our obliviousness changes the world. What if we were to start taking full responsibility for the creative power which is our legacy? What if we simply accept that not only must we change the world, but that we must make it better.

History shows that "golden ages" occur from time to time in which durable prosperity abounds and results in a flowering of human potential. Can we have this happen in our times? Yes we can. We can have durable prosperity by unleashing the creativity of the people, by encouragement and education - by challenging ourselves to meet or exceed our highest standards. Then, if our creativity is interwoven with responsibility for the elements of nature that we have influence over, a flowering of human potential in balance with nature will inevitably arise.

This dream of our highest nature is as much a part of being human as the nightmare of humankind as the scourge of the world. So, who determines which aspect of our nature rules? We do.

In Hawaii, it is said, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." The opposite is also thought provoking. "The life of the land is terminated in selfishness."

Our choice.

Jonathan Cole

Riding with the sun

Delft University Team Wins Solar-powered Car Competition

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2007) — The Nuon Solar Team were first past the finish, crossing the line at exactly 16:55 local time. This means that the Nuna4 has now won the World Solar Challenge for the fourth time running. The final day of the race went well, with only one tire change. The vehicle completed the final leg of 760 km in just eight hours.

Nuon solar car from Delft University won the Panasonic World Solar Challenge in Australia. (Credit: Source: Panasonic World Solar Challenge, Photogapher: Hans-Peter van Velthoven)

The eleven Delft students who make up the Nuon Solar Team tested their new solar-powered car, Nuna4, at the Daf circuit in Sint-Oedenrode. The practice helped the team’s drivers win the Panasonic World Solar Challenge.

The new car’s predecessor, Nuna3, and others of its type have now proven beyond doubt that it is possible to cross 3000 kilometres of Australia on solar power alone.

Last year the Nuna3 more than matched speed of an ordinary car. In so doing, it reached the original target set by the organisers of the World Solar Challenge. That is why they have decided to add new elements to the competition.

From now on, the solar-powered vehicles have to meet specifications closer to those of a normal family car. And they must run on fewer solar panels. But the students have risen to the challenge, designing and building a new car from scratch to comply with the revised rules.

How does the new car differ from last year's Nina3?

  • Its solar panel is smaller, measuring 6m2 instead of 9m2. This means that it will be slower than its predecessor. It is also smaller than Nuna3.
  • The driver sits almost upright. In previous Nuna cars he was lying down.
  • The driver is protected not only by a tough canopy, but also by roll bars and a helmet.
  • Nuna4 has a steering wheel. Previous versions were steered by levers.
  • Nuna4 is higher. That makes it frontal surface area rather bigger, but the consequences of that are partially offset by even better aerodynamics.

Adapted from materials provided by Delft University Of Technology.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sunny Profits in Germany

WITNESS: Money falls from the sky in Germany

By Erik Kirschbaum

(Erik Kirschbaum, a U.S. citizen, has worked for 18 years as a Reuters correspondent in Germany, Austria and the Balkans.)

BERLIN (Reuters) - My father warned me "money doesn't grow on trees" and he was right, of course.

But I have discovered that money can fall out of the sky -- if you have the equipment to catch it.

In an age of global warming, rising fossil fuel prices and dwindling natural resources, I've learned that in Germany and a growing number of countries, solar power can give you more than just a feeling of "doing something" for the environment.

It can also give you a steady stream of income.

My roof has been turned into a cash machine, thanks to a state-mandated "feed-in tariff" that requires utilities to pay anyone who installs a photovoltaic system more than double the market rates for the electricity produced for the grid.

The 34 sleek black panels, measuring about 1 meter by 1.5 meters (yards) each, lie inconspicuously on the slopes of the roof as they quietly harvest enough power for two households -- and generate annual revenues of some 3,600 euros ($5,300).

In other words: Every day about 10 euros ($15) worth of energy from the sun (or even daylight) lands on the roof and is converted into electricity through the wonders of photovoltaic.

The local utility is required, by law, to buy it off me at a fixed rate of 49 cents per kilowatt -- guaranteed for 20 years.

The entire supply of rooftop power spins through the meter into the grid at the elevated rate and the power used returns through another meter in my basement at the market rate of 20 cents per kilowatt.

A London friend who installed a PV system on his roof earns the market rate of 9 pence (13 cents) per kilowatt that he feeds into his grid and has to pay 12 pence (17 cents) for what he takes in from the grid.

It annoys him that Britain is one of the few countries without a higher feed-in tariff to promote private investment in the green technology. He reckons in the long run his outlay was still worthwhile because it added value to his house and freed him from the whims of power company price increases.


Yet no one should feel any pity for the utilities paying out the higher feed-in tariffs for they simply pass along the costs (nearly 1 billion euros a year in Germany) to their customers.

Thus, those with no solar panels are subsidizing those who have them. I'm not sure that's fair. But it's the law.

About 47 countries -- including Spain, Greece, Portugal, France and Italy -- have adopted laws modeled on Germany's 2000 "Erneuerbares Energie Gesetz" (Renewable Energy Act).

It may not be the silver bullet the world is looking for to solve climate change but the abundance of solar energy means photovoltaic produces fast results in reducing CO2 emissions.

Germany now has more than 300,000 PV systems and that is projected to triple by 2013. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he will put a PV system on his roof at home.

Even though Germany is often covered by clouds, the EEG has helped the northern European country become the world's leader in PV and eliminate 10 million tonnes of CO2 each year. Some 55 percent of the world's total PV output comes from Germany.

Some farmers in Germany derive more income selling the electricity collected from solar panels on their barn roofs than they do from their harvests or livestock.

Germany gets 3 percent of its electricity from photovoltaic.

The total worldwide peak power of installed PV was about 6,000 gigawatts (more than 3,000 from Germany) at the end of 2006 and was forecast to rise to 9,000 gigawatts this year. In Germany, some predict 100,000 gigawatts of PV within 10 years.


The idea of installing solar panels had been on my mind for years but there were always reasons not to do it -- it seemed costly, my roof was not pointed south, and there was always a worry solar panel prices might later plunge.

But when I took a close look, I saw I could turn a profit.

So instead of a just plundering my savings for a 3 kw system to produce enough for a family, I got a bank loan to double the size of the investment to about 30,000 euros for 7 kw.

Ever since I've been happily answering a deluge of questions from neighbors, strangers and colleagues about the nuts and bolts of whether it really works. It does. It's magic.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

30% Efficient Commercial Solar Technology?

SunFlake Breakthrough?
Published: 19 December 2007 05:00 PM
Source: The Engineer Online
Danish research has discovered a new material, nano flakes, which could revolutionise solar power, making it far more efficient to generate electricity from solar energy.

Researcher Martin Aagesen is a PhD student from the Nano-Science Center and the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen. During his work on his PhD thesis he discovered the novel material.

‘ We believe that the nano flakes have the potential to convert up to 30 per cent of the solar energy into electricity, and that is twice the amount that we convert today,’ said Aagesen.

‘I discovered a perfect crystalline structure. That is a very rare sight. While being a perfect crystalline structure we could see that it also absorbed all light. It could become the perfect solar cell.

‘The potential is unmistakeable. We can reduce the solar cell production costs because we use less of the expensive semiconducting silicium in the process due to the use of nanotechnology. At the same time, the future solar cells will exploit the solar energy better as the distance of energy transportation in the solar cell will be shorter and thus lessen the loss of energy.’

Aagesen is also the director of SunFlake, a company founded to exploit the technology in the development of a new solar cell.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

German ship fights climate change with high-tech kite

Mon Dec 17, 2007 3:50pm EST

By Erik Kirschbaum

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Turning ocean winds into gold while cutting greenhouse emissions in the process might sound like some sort of alchemy for the 21st century.

But unlike futile earlier efforts to convert ordinary metals to gold, two fast-growing German companies have worked together developing a high-tech kite system to pull enormous ships across the oceans -- and save enormous amounts of money.

The 132 meter (433 ft) long MV "Beluga SkySails" will make its maiden voyage in January across the Atlantic to Venezuela, up to Boston and back to Europe. It will be pulled by a giant computer-guided 500,000-euro ($725,000) kite tethered to a 15-metre high mast.

It is a throwback to an earlier maritime age, harnessing the winds that fell out of favor over a century ago when sailing lost the battle for merchant shipping to modern steam power because it was seen then as primitive and unpredictable.

But now, in the age of climate change, wind power is making a remarkable comeback thanks to modern technology.

"This is the start of a revolution for the way ships are powered," Beluga chief executive Niels Stolberg said in an interview with Reuters on the windswept deck of his new ship MV Beluga SkySails. "It's a small but crucial step for the future."

To latch onto the powerful winds prevailing well above the surface, the kite attached to the high-tech steerage unit flies up to 300 meters high to tug the 10,000-tonne ship forward, supporting its diesel engines and cutting fuel consumption.

Under favorable wind conditions, the 160-square meter kite shaped like a paraglider is expected to reduce fuel costs by up to 20 percent or more ($1,600 per day) and cut, by a similarly significant amount, its carbon dioxide emissions.

Burning fossil fuels cause CO2 blamed for climate change.


A driving force for Beluga -- and other shippers already lining up to buy the system if it delivers on its promise -- is the fuel price, which has tripled for shippers in recent years.

While it might seem almost too simple -- or too good -- to be true, SkySails inventor Stephan Wrage and German engineers have spent more than five years perfecting the system and they will tell you that it is anything but pie-in-the sky technology.

"At the heart of this all for me, the real motivating factor is to get to the crossroads of ecology and economics -- and to prove it pays to protect the environment," Wrage said in an interview on the ship so new it still smells of fresh paint.

While some political and industry leaders complain about the financial burdens of fighting climate change and cite costs in resisting CO2 reduction efforts, Wrage said SkySails is proof that the opposite can be true: there's money to be made.

"If our calculations are right, our clients will not only have considerably greater earnings but also substantially reduce their CO2 output as well," the 35-year-old added after a ceremony to christen the new ship in Hamburg port on Saturday.

"To be able to make a contribution to fighting climate change makes us all proud," the SkySails managing director said as the sail made of ultralight synthetic fibre and as big as a medium-sized passenger jet unfurled in a breeze above the deck.


SkySails developed the kite propulsion system that Beluga Shipping only just finished installing on the new cargo ship. Both firms aim to prove on a commercial scale what years of testing on smaller vessels showed: you can turn wind into cash.

Wrage, who got the idea as a 16-year-old while flying kites and wishing he could tap their power to make a small sail boat go faster, is optimistic even greater savings can be achieved. He said larger kites should cut fuel usage by 30 to 50 percent.

Two 320-square meter kites will pull two more Beluga ships by 2009 and after that 600-square meter kites will be added.

"That's where the savings get really interesting," he said.

But the immediate impact on cutting CO2 caused by ships will be limited. Shipping carries more than 90 percent of the world's traded goods. There are more than 50,000 merchant ships carrying everything from oil, gas, coal, and grains to electronic goods.

They emit 800 million tonnes of CO2 each year -- 5 percent of the world's total. They emit high levels of sulphur dioxide.

Yet Wrage is confident the demand will take off. There are three orders in hand and if the savings achieved on a smaller 55-metre long prototype are confirmed by the "Beluga SkySails", he said others were lined up to buy systems.

"We're planning to equip four to eight ships next year, provided the first voyage turns out as well as the trials did," he said. "In 2009 we expect to sell at least 35 systems. After that, we want to at least double every year."

The target is 1,500 vessels equipped by 2015.

"I've had a lot of meetings where shippers have said to me 'If it works out on the Beluga SkySails we're going to buy one, two, four or 10 systems'," Wrage said. "Believe me. If we're successful now, it won't be hard to find buyers."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Top 50 ways to save the planet

The Top 50 ways to save the planet

London, UK, November 6, 2007. The UK Environment Agency has polled a group of environmental experts for their suggestions on how to save the planet.

The renewables field makes a strong showing at number 14 with an entry entitled 'A Surge in Renewables.' It points out that Britain has some of the best renewable energy resources on its own doorstep, including 40% of Europe's windpower. The sea comes in for particular praise, with Paul Brown, former Guardian correspondent and author of global warming, and Chris Goodall, Independent on Sunday writer and author of How to Live a Low Carbon Life, enthusiastic about undersea turbines that harness tidal power. Ocean energy conversion - which uses the difference in temperature between surface and deep sea water to extract heat and turn turbines - is also favourably mentioned.

Incentivising green products is enthusiastically endorsed, ranking at number six in the Top 100. "Every product that reduces the nation's carbon dioxide footprint (for example, insulation) should be zero rated for VAT and clearly labelled as such," says Paul Brown. One intriguing idea put forward by David Boyle, an associate at the New Economics Foundation, is for local, regional and city currencies. "This means we use resources more efficiently," he says.

At number four the unbundling of electricity generation and distribution is a revolution waiting to happen, according to the experts. Noel Wheatley, Head of International Relations at the Environment Agency, believes that EC member states need to accept that electricity production and distribution can be owned separately. From there it's a short step to 'small scale electricity generation that is cost effective and works well, particularly wind turbines and solar panels.'

Also in the top five are demands for a major post-Kyoto treaty, 'based on support from citizens, businesses, local authorities, NGO's and faith groups.'

Solar power is ranked near the top of the list at number three with Jonathan Porritt, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, enthusiastically endorsing large scale solar power. According to Paul Brown, "using giant mirrors in tropical and desert regions to direct the sun's rays onto a liquid so it boils and turns turbines to make electricity." Chris Goodall observes that the very high cost of producing large slabs of silicon may fall sharply because of recent advances in nanotechnology. "We can expect very thin layers of photovoltaic material to cover large parts of buildings at a reasonable price" says Goodall.

A notable arrival at number two is what might be termed a matter of faith. That is, the need for religious leaders to make the planet, rather than their respective gods, the priority. "The world's faith groups have been silent for too long," says Nick Reeves, Executive Director, CIWEM. "It is time that they fulfilled their rightful collective role in reminding us that we have a duty to restore and maintain the ecological balance of the planet."

At number one pride of place goes to powering down the profusion of white goods that are estimated to waste the equivalent of two electrical power stations every year. Friends of the Earth Director, Tony Juniper sums it up as, "All electrical products to embody the most energy efficient technology."

The report makes fascinating reading. Amongst other things it reads like a wish list for the renewables industry as it highlights familiar demands such as the need for better biofuels, increased use of solar power, tougher post-Kyoto targets, decentralisation of power supplies and the abandonment of the fossil fuel habit. Surprisingly for a report from an official government body there is no mention of nuclear power and overpopulation is oddly passed off as the responsibility of Governments not couples.

Of course it's not all plain sailing for renewables. For example, although biofuels make the list at number 15 they are strongly criticised by one of the contributors, Chris Goodall. He says "Conventional biofuels are a complete disaster, financially and environmentally," but then dispels the gloom by making a plea for better biofuels. "We may see cost competitive technologies for breaking up the cellulosic material of plants within ten years or so. This means we will be able to use most organic wastes to make fuels much more efficiently."

One thing that comes through strongly in reading the list is the emphasis on individuals generating their own power either at home or in the community and the need to ‘spread the word’.

Each contributor was able to nominate up to five things in the following categories - consumer and domestic, groups and networks, ideas and belief systems, policies and agreements and science, technology and education.

The Top 50 ways to save the planet

London, UK, November 6, 2007. The UK Environment Agency has polled a group of environmental experts for their suggestions on how to save the planet.

The renewables field makes a strong showing at number 14 with an entry entitled 'A Surge in Renewables.' It points out that Britain has some of the best renewable energy resources on its own doorstep, including 40% of Europe's windpower. The sea comes in for particular praise, with Paul Brown, former Guardian correspondent and author of global warming, and Chris Goodall, Independent on Sunday writer and author of How to Live a Low Carbon Life, enthusiastic about undersea turbines that harness tidal power. Ocean energy conversion - which uses the difference in temperature between surface and deep sea water to extract heat and turn turbines - is also favourably mentioned.

Incentivising green products is enthusiastically endorsed, ranking at number six in the Top 100. "Every product that reduces the nation's carbon dioxide footprint (for example, insulation) should be zero rated for VAT and clearly labelled as such," says Paul Brown. One intriguing idea put forward by David Boyle, an associate at the New Economics Foundation, is for local, regional and city currencies. "This means we use resources more efficiently," he says.

At number four the unbundling of electricity generation and distribution is a revolution waiting to happen, according to the experts. Noel Wheatley, Head of International Relations at the Environment Agency, believes that EC member states need to accept that electricity production and distribution can be owned separately. From there it's a short step to 'small scale electricity generation that is cost effective and works well, particularly wind turbines and solar panels.'

Also in the top five are demands for a major post-Kyoto treaty, 'based on support from citizens, businesses, local authorities, NGO's and faith groups.'

Solar power is ranked near the top of the list at number three with Jonathan Porritt, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, enthusiastically endorsing large scale solar power. According to Paul Brown, "using giant mirrors in tropical and desert regions to direct the sun's rays onto a liquid so it boils and turns turbines to make electricity." Chris Goodall observes that the very high cost of producing large slabs of silicon may fall sharply because of recent advances in nanotechnology. "We can expect very thin layers of photovoltaic material to cover large parts of buildings at a reasonable price" says Goodall.

A notable arrival at number two is what might be termed a matter of faith. That is, the need for religious leaders to make the planet, rather than their respective gods, the priority. "The world's faith groups have been silent for too long," says Nick Reeves, Executive Director, CIWEM. "It is time that they fulfilled their rightful collective role in reminding us that we have a duty to restore and maintain the ecological balance of the planet."

At number one pride of place goes to powering down the profusion of white goods that are estimated to waste the equivalent of two electrical power stations every year. Friends of the Earth Director, Tony Juniper sums it up as, "All electrical products to embody the most energy efficient technology."

The report makes fascinating reading. Amongst other things it reads like a wish list for the renewables industry as it highlights familiar demands such as the need for better biofuels, increased use of solar power, tougher post-Kyoto targets, decentralisation of power supplies and the abandonment of the fossil fuel habit. Surprisingly for a report from an official government body there is no mention of nuclear power and overpopulation is oddly passed off as the responsibility of Governments not couples.

Of course it's not all plain sailing for renewables. For example, although biofuels make the list at number 15 they are strongly criticised by one of the contributors, Chris Goodall. He says "Conventional biofuels are a complete disaster, financially and environmentally," but then dispels the gloom by making a plea for better biofuels. "We may see cost competitive technologies for breaking up the cellulosic material of plants within ten years or so. This means we will be able to use most organic wastes to make fuels much more efficiently."

One thing that comes through strongly in reading the list is the emphasis on individuals generating their own power either at home or in the community and the need to ‘spread the word’.

Each contributor was able to nominate up to five things in the following categories - consumer and domestic, groups and networks, ideas and belief systems, policies and agreements and science, technology and education.

Click here for more info...

Sunpower era rising

$100 oil prospect fuels clean energy stocks

Thu Nov 1, 2007 11:54am EDT
By Gerard Wynn - Analysis

LONDON (Reuters) - Clean energy stocks worldwide, and especially solar, have roared upwards in the past 10 weeks following the latest spiral in oil prices, but proving a direct link with oil is elusive, analysts say.

U.S. crude oil futures have hit a succession of all-time highs, on Thursday hitting $96 a barrel, and the spectre of $100 now looms large.

That should be good news for clean energy companies that supply alternatives to fossil fuels such as wind and solar.

Worldwide, companies specializing in various climate change strategies including renewable energy, waste and water management are up an average 18-27 percent since late August, versus a 32 percent-plus hike in crude, various research shows.

But a definite link between the two is elusive.

"If the market perceives this is... a sustained oil price increase it should impact sentiment for clean energy," said Merrill renewable energy analyst, Asari Efiong.

Most low carbon, fossil fuel alternatives such as wind and solar are still more expensive than oil and coal, and so should benefit from higher oil and power prices.

"It's not as obvious a correlation (with oil) as you'd expect," said Ian Simm, chief executive at Impax Asset Management, which has some 1 billion pounds ($2.08 billion) invested in environmental companies.

"Government support is much more important," Simm added, who attributed current renewable energy optimism to stronger government backing.

Deutsche said last month it had invested nearly 6 billion euros ($8.66 billion) in climate change strategies, while Bank of America and Citigroup this year announced planned investments of $20 billion and $50 billion respectively in environmental markets.


Solar stocks are up 49.9 percent since the start of the latest oil price surge, triggered by a U.S. interest rate cut on August 17, versus a 32 percent hike in U.S. oil futures, according to New Energy Finance data.

Global equities generally, as measured by the MSCI World benchmark, are up 12 percent and energy stocks 19 percent, over the same, late August time frame.

Solar stocks are up 125 percent over all this year, says NEF, which tracks 17 solar power companies.

"Clean energy stocks are not driven by the oil price, but are dependent on it," said NEF analyst Katya Grigorian.

Investment banks and others have issued a raft of indices this year to track "climate change stocks" in clean energy, waste, water management, energy efficiency and carbon markets.

Impax and ABN AMRO environment indices cover a range of sectors and each show a 23 percent hike since late August. The ABN AMRO index has tracked crude oil with about 16 percent correlation.

Standard & Poor's and Credit Suisse launched this year indices which focus on clean energy, and are up 24 percent and 18 percent respectively since August 22.

The only black spot on the clean energy score card is biofuels. The escalating prices of feedstocks such as palm oil, corn and rapeseed have squeezed profit margins for producers of the alternative transport fuel.

NEF's basket of biofuel stocks is down more than 15 percent this year, and up 3.7 percent since late August.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Unique Financing Option For Solar

October 30, 2007

Berkeley Offers Residents Unique Financing Option for Solar

Berkeley, California []

The City of Berkeley, California is set to become the first city in the U.S. to allow property owners to pay for solar system installation and energy efficiency improvements as a long-term assessment on their individual property tax bill.

"Berkeley's proposal is brilliant because it removes the number one roadblock to solar, the high up front costs...If Berkeley makes this work, I have no doubt it will be replicated all over the state and the nation."

-- Dan Kammen, Professor, UC Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates will ask the City Council to approve the framework for a "Sustainable Energy Financing District" at their November 6th Council meeting.

The City's plan eliminates the two major financial hurdles to solar electric and solar hot water systems—the high upfront cost and the possibility that those costs will not be recovered when the property is sold. If approved, the program could begin operating next year.

"Nearly every expert we have worked with on this financing initiative believes it can fundamentally change the market for solar," said Bates. "There are more than 400 solar installations in Berkeley today. With this program, I think we can install thousands of solar systems over the next decade and go a long way to meeting our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets."

UC Berkeley Professor Dan Kammen, who directs the University's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, will be assisting the City in developing the program.

"Berkeley's proposal is brilliant because it removes the number one roadblock to solar, the high up front costs. It also allows property owners to take advantage of the City's ability to find the best rates," said Kammen. "If Berkeley makes this work, I have no doubt it will be replicated all over the state and the nation."

The Sustainable Energy Financing District is being developed as part of the City's implementation of Measure G—last year's ballot measure setting greenhouse gas reduction targets for Berkeley and directing the Mayor to lead the development of a plan to meet those targets. The first complete draft of the Climate Action Plan will to be released for public comment in mid-November.

The financing mechanism is loosely based on existing "underground utility districts" where the City serves as the financing agent for a neighborhood when they move utility poles and wires underground.

In this case, individual property owners would contract directly with qualified private solar installers and contractors for energy efficiency and solar projects on their building. The City provides the funding for the project from a bond or loan fund that it repays through assessments on participating property owners' tax bills for 20 years.

No property owner would pay an assessment unless they had work done on their property as part of the program. Those who choose to pay for solar and energy efficiency work through this program would pay only for the cost of their project, interest, and a small administrative fee.

"Nearly every day we meet potential customers who think they can't afford a solar energy system. With Berkeley's financing plan in place, just about any home or business owner who can afford to pay their utility bill every month should be able to go solar," said Gary Gerber, President of Sun Light & Power, a solar installation company in Berkeley.

The Financing District solves many of the financial hurdles facing property owners. First, there would be little upfront cost to the property owner. Second, the total cost of the solar system and energy improvements may be less when compared to financing through a traditional equity line or mortgage refinancing because the well-secured bond will provide lower interest rates than is commercially available. Third, the tax assessment is transferable between owners.

Therefore, if you sell your property prior to the end of the 20-year repayment period, the next owner takes over the assessment as part of their property tax bill.

Property owners and their contractors would be required to agree to certain terms and conditions mandating energy efficiency steps, appropriate warranties, and other performance measures to take advantage of the financing.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Greenhouse gas could be halved by 2020 by using existing technologies for energy efficiency

Unsustainable development 'puts humanity at risk'

  • 17:15 25 October 2007
  • news service
  • Catherine Brahic

Humans are completely living beyond their ecological means, says a major report published by the UN Environment Programme on Thursday.

The 550-page document finds the human ecological footprint is on average 21.9 hectares per person. Given the global population, however, the Earth's biological capacity is just 15.7 hectares per person.

The report is UNEP's latest on the state of the planet's health, taking five years in the making. It was put together by about 390 experts and peer-reviewed by an additional 1000.

It reviews the state of Earth's natural resources, from the atmosphere and water, to land surfaces and biodiversity. It concludes that instead of being used and maintained as a tool for the sustainable development of human populations, the environment is being sucked dry by unsustainable development.

Examples of how humans are over-exploiting natural resources to their own detriment include:

• Water – by 2025, 1.6 billion people will live in countries with absolute water scarcity; 440 million school days are already missed every year because of diarrhoeal diseases.

• Land use – modern agriculture exploits land more intensively than it has in the past. In 1987, a hectare of cropland yielded on average 1.8 tonnes of crops, today the same hectare produces 2.5 tonnes. This increased productivity comes at a cost – overexploited land is degraded and becomes less productive.

• Fish – 2.6 billion people rely on fish for more than 20% of their animal protein intake, yet as the intensity of fishing increases, the biodiversity of the ocean and the ocean's capacity to produce more fish decreases.

• Air – more than 2 million people die each year because of indoor and outdoor pollution.

Unsustainable consumption

The individual average footprint of 21.9 hectares per person estimated by UNEP, includes the areas required to produce the resources we use, as well as the areas needed to process our waste.

"About half of the footprint is accounted for by the areas that are required to absorb our greenhouse gas emissions," says Neville Ash of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, underlying the scale of the climate change problem. "The other half is the land which produces our food, the forests which produce our timber, the oceans and rivers which produce our fish."

The inflated size of the footprint, says Ash, is partially the result of the growth of the human population. The population is currently estimated at 6.7 billion people, and is expected to reach 8 to 10 billion by 2050.

But for Ash, the main driver of the size of our footprint is our unsustainable consumption. "There is no doubt that we could sustain the current and projected population if we lived sustainably," he told New Scientist.

'Inexorable decline'

According to the report authors, energy efficiency is key to sustainability. Johan Kuylenstierna of the Stockholm Environment Institute says that greenhouse gas emissions in rich nations could be halved by 2020 simply by using existing technologies for energy efficiency.

According to Jo Alcamo, at the University of Kassel in Germany, who led the group which looked at future development for the report, open borders and free trade could also be important. In models of the future where trade between countries is made simpler, technologies that improve the sustainable use of resources are adopted more quickly.

"Much of the 'natural' capital upon which so much of the human wellbeing and economic activity depends – water, land, the air and atmosphere, biodiversity and marine resources – continue their seemingly inexorable decline," warns Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director.

"The cost of inaction and the price humanity will eventually pay is likely to dwarf the cost of swift and decisive action now."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Big Growth for Photovoltaics

Solar PV predicted to grow 40% per year

NEW YORK, New York, US, May 16, 2007. Demand for solar PV power will grow 40% per year by 2011, “offering opportunities for investors who can ride out near-term bumps,” according to a report from one of the top investment banks.

“Solar industry profits are here to stay, since both public and government support are likely to remain strong until solar can compete on a cost basis with grid electricity,” says Stuart Bush of RBC Capital Markets and author of ‘Investing in Solar Now.’ “Today, solar energy costs nearly double what would be economical without subsidies, but solar energy companies are aggressively pursuing their Holy Grail: Organic competitiveness with grid electricity.”

Rising costs for fossil fuels, environmental concerns, geopolitical factors and growing demand for energy have swelled global interest in renewables and, with more government subsidies for solar and other green technologies, profitable companies are on the rise in this sector, the report explains. The solar industry is seeing profits throughout the supply chain and silicon cell PV solar technology installations (currently accounting for 95% of the market) will book gross profits of US$7.7 billion this year and grow to $11.5 billion in 2011, the report predicts.

The estimate does not include profits from the alternative thin-film PV technology, which is projected to grow from 6.5% of the market now to 19% in 2011. It also excludes equipment makers and derivative industries.

The solar industry is implementing technology improvements that will continue to drive costs down, and the industry’s installed cost for PV will decline from an average of $7.37 per kW in 2007 to $4.40 in 2011. The industry will achieve organic competitiveness with grid electricity at $3.50 per kW, without incentives and depending on the region by 2012 - 2014.

The long-term outlook for solar power is positive but sector stocks are likely to remain volatile in the near term, it warns. RBC has developed a supply and demand forecast model that predicts solar companies are likely to experience tightening margins over the next few years, driving vertical integration and capacity consolidation, particularly among new silicon producers, smaller cell and module producers and independent installers.

Given the industry's evolution, investors should consider key investment strategies for the emerging global solar industry, Bush suggests. Solar companies that focus on high value-added elements of the supply chain (silicon, wafer and cell producers) will generate higher margins than labour-heavy and low barrier-to-entry module and installation segments. As the majority of the solar industry is dominated by standard solar products, companies with higher efficiency products or lower-cost thin-film designs are better suited to command superior profits long term.

As additional silicon supplies drive raw material costs down over the next two years, operating cost structure will emerge as the long-term driver of profit margins and producers in Asia (most notably in China) stand to benefit, it adds. Investing among companies located in Germany or China will limit exposure to cross-border macro trends and highlight comparably strong regional producers.

RBC Capital Markets is the investment banking arm of the Royal Bank of Canada.

Photovoltaic Business in U.S.

PV prices increase in U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, October 15, 2007.
The shipment of solar PV cells and modules in the United States has increased almost ten-fold in the past decade, including a 50% jump from 2005 to 2006.

Data from the Department of Energy show that total shipments in 1997 was 46,354 kW (peak), of which 1,853 kW were imports and 33,793 kW exports. By 2005, total shipments were 226,916 kW (90,981 imports, 92,451 exports), rising to 337,268 kW last year (173,977 imports, 130,757 exports).

The number of companies involved in the U.S. PV industry was steady at 20 from 1997 to 2004, when it increased to 29 in 2005 and 41 in 2006, DOE’s Energy Information Administration explains in its annual report on PV manufacturing activities. The data does not include shipments of cells and modules for space/satellite applications.

Of the 337,268 kW, the largest type (44%) was cast & ribbon at 147,892 kW, up from 64,239 kW (35%) in 2004. Single-crystal silicon represented another 25% (85,627 kW), down from the 52% share of shipments only three years earlier. Thin-film was 30% (101,766 kW), up from 12% in 2004, while concentrator accounted for the final 1% (1,984 kW).

Prices for cells and modules continue to climb in the U.S., with the average price of cells last year at US$2.03 per peak watt (down from 2.17 in 2005) but modules prices at $3.50 (up from $3.19 the year prior). Single-crystal modules averaged $4.09 while cast & ribbon were $3.66 per watt. Data for thin-film and concentrator silicon were not released to avoid disclosure of proprietary company data.

Installers provided the largest distribution last year at 146,948 kW (34,779 in 2004), followed by wholesale (126,101 vs 106,400), module manufacturers (9,635 vs 11,868), retail distributers (7,086 vs 5,140), exporters (4,188 vs 2,354) and end users (3,092 kW in 2006 vs 1,029 kW in 2004). For end users, electric generation was accounted for 274,197 kW of grid interactive and 18,003 remote, 6,888 for communication, 4,030 for consumer goods, 2,438 for transportation, 2.093 for water pumping, and 6,132 kW of cells/modules to OEM.

The number of companies involved in the solar PV manufacturing industry in the United States was 41 in 2006, compared with 21 in 1997, while employment (Person-Years) grew from 1,736 to 4,028 last year. Total revenue for complete PV systems was $193 million last year, compared with $39 million in 2004.

“This may be a sign of confidence from investors as well as the solar energy industry itself about the future of the solar energy market,” the report explains. “This outlook is supported by the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies of some western states (Arizona) requiring that a certain portion of the RPS be solar-based.”

Of the 130,757 kW exported out of the U.S., Germany was the largest destination at 80,583 kW (62%), with Spain 15,241, Portugal 6,605, China 4,403 and South Korea 4,021 kW comprising the top five.
The PV industry is actively promoting new products, with 14 companies expecting to introduce new crystalline silicon products this year and six companies planning to introduce new thin-film products to the industry. Four companies plan to produce new concentrator photovoltaic products, and many companies engaged in the manufacture or import of PV modules and cells say they are involved in other PV-related activities.

The answer to global warming is here now

Best Solar Homes: German Team Wins Solar Decathlon

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2007) — The Solar Decathlon challenged 20 college and university teams to compete in 10 contests and design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient

The Solar Decathlon’s homes are zero-energy, yield zero carbon, and include the latest high-tech solutions and money-saving benefits to consumers, without sacrificing comfort, convenience, and aesthetics. Each house must also produce enough “extra” energy to power an electric vehicle. Many of the solar power and building technologies showcased on the National Mall are available for purchase and use. Teams have worked for more than two years designing, building and testing their homes – the Solar Decathlon is the culmination of that work.

The ten contests that decide the Solar Decathlon measure many aspects of a home\'s performance and appearance. A perfect total score for all ten contests is 1,200 points.

First Place: Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt

This team from Germany came to the Solar Decathlon hoping to have an impact on people, and it\'s safe to say that this happened. Darmstadt won the Architecture, Lighting, and Engineering contests. The Architecture Jury said the house pushed the envelope on all levels and is the type of house they came to the Decathlon hoping to see. The Lighting Jury loved the way this house glows at night. The Engineering Jury gave this team an innovation score that was as high as you could go, and said nobody did the integration of the PV system any better. Darmstadt was one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Energy Balance contest. All week, long lines of people waited to get into this house. Total points - 1024.85

Second Place: University of Maryland

At the beginning of the week, people wondered if the Maryland team would have a home-field advantage because they are so close to Washington, D.C. As the week progressed, and Maryland won the Communications contest and was second in Architecture, Market Viability, and Lighting, it became clear that Maryland didn\'t need any advantage. The Communications Jury praised their excellent Web site and house tour. The Architecture Jury said the house definitely belonged in the top tier. The Lighting and Market Viability juries also had high praise. They were one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Energy Balance contest. Total points 999.807

Third Place: Santa Clara University

This team wanted to build a sustainable solar house that is functional, elegant, and innovative—and they did just that. The Communications Jury lauded their friendly, enthusiastic house tour, which was informative, entertaining, and very much "on target" for public audiences. They were one of five teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Hot Water contest and one of seven teams to score a perfect 100 points in the Energy Balance contest. Their house almost didn\'t make it to the Solar Decathlon, because their transport truck broke an axle and delayed them by three days. Total points 979.959

Adapted from materials provided by Department Of Energy.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Innovation Can Repair The Climate

Decade of innovation could spark climate fix

Thu Oct 4, 2007 7:07pm EDT
By Timothy Gardner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The explosion in interest about the threat of global warming should unleash innovations over the next 10 years that begin to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change, experts told a Reuters summit.

"Ten years from now we will see the beginning of a flowering of all sorts of new technologies that's very hard to envision today," Fred Krupp, president of New York-based Environmental Defense, told the Reuters Environment Summit this week.

"The picture is not just going to be black, because it's also maybe a chance to reinvent a new type of relation in the world," said Monique Barbut, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, a leading environmental funding agency.

She said, for example, that climate concerns have led Paris commuters to bicycle more, a change that not only saves greenhouse emissions from automobiles but also brings them in closer touch with the city.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist also was optimistic. "It's almost stunning to me how much this issue is being talked about, how much is being done in this area," he said. "That gives me tremendous encouragement that this is all going to work out."

Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," said he thought there had been too much hand-wringing already.

"In 10 years time, there is a real risk that we will have over-worried so much about climate that by then we will be sick and tired of over-worrying and perhaps end up under-worrying," he said.


Even with all the optimism, most of the experts agreed that global warming problems will get more serious over the decade.

Krupp said Arctic sea ice, which melted to the lowest level ever recorded late last month, according to U.S. scientists, will liquefy even more over the next 10 years. Greenhouse emissions already in the atmosphere could make it worse.

"It's going to be hotter for sure. I'm not buying another coat," Barbut told the summit.

Poor countries that can least afford to relocate their citizens, such as Indonesia and Bangladesh, could be hurt the most in 10 years by flooding and stronger storms, Krupp added.

Droughts and heat waves could sear other regions. "I think life will be a lot more difficult in Africa if these scenarios hold," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program.

Fortunately, alarm over rising temperatures has already begun to spur technological innovations.

Krupp said the energy system, the top source of greenhouse gas emissions, could be changed on the sort of quick timeline that the cell phone and the BlackBerry have evolved in the last 10 years.

The trick is to harness market forces to spark innovations in low-carbon technology like energy efficiency, solar and wind power, clean coal and nuclear power, the experts said.

Europe's market on heat-trapping emissions, though criticized for giving away too much to industry, has helped lead to investments in renewable technologies and could be a model for other regions, Krupp said.

The U.S. Congress is mulling bills on reducing emissions, and candidates in next year's U.S. presidential election say they want to regulate the gases to create such a market.

In China, focus on alternative energy has sharpened as government ministers worry that melting Tibetan glaciers could hurt agriculture irrigation, hitting food production and jobs.

One point the experts all agreed on is that there's no time to waste. "The deadline for our tasks was yesterday," said Brazil's Environment Minister Marina Silva.

(Additional reporting by Deborah Zabarenko in Washington, Ray Colitt in Brazil, and Gerard Wynn and Alister Doyle in London)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Zealand Commits to 90% Renewable Electricity by 2025

September 26, 2007
New Zealand Commits to 90% Renewable Electricity by 2025
Wellington, New Zealand [;jsessionid=63144CD70B2015DBA47C8FF68A3C1E2E?id=50075]

In a speech this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke announced New Zealand's intention to commit to 90% renewable electricity by 2025, according to a press release issued by the New Zealand government.

The country already uses 70% renewable electricity, primarily hydro- and geothermal power and will continue to increase its use of renewables over the next 20 years.

Eventually, the Prime Minister would like to see the country carbon-neutral. “I have set out the challenge to our nation to become the first truly sustainable nation on earth…to dare to aspire to be carbon neutral," Prime Minister Clarke said.

The Prime Minister also gave a brief outline of further goals, which included a 2040 target of reducing by half per capita emissions from transport and widely introducing electric vehicles. She also stated the goal of achieving a net increase in forest area of 250,000 hectares (617,000 acres) by 2020.

“The long-term benefits of becoming a sustainable nation will spread beyond our national reputation and success in business to benefit all New Zealanders,” Prime Minister Clarke added.

Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks as the government releases the New Zealand Energy Strategy, the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy and the Transport Strategy Implementation Plan. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The planet is not at risk. We are.

The planet is not at risk. We are
By Vaclav Havel

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Over the past few years questions have been asked ever more forcefully whether global climate changes occur in natural cycles or not, to what degree we human beings contribute to them, what threats stem from them and what can be done to prevent them.

Scientific studies demonstrate that any changes in temperature and energy cycles on a planetary scale could mean a generalized danger to all people on all continents.

It is also obvious from published research that human activity is a cause of change; we just don't know how big its specific contribution is.

Is it really necessary to know that to the last percentage point, though? By waiting for incontrovertible precision, aren't we simply wasting time when we could be taking measures that are relatively painless compared to those we would have to adopt after further delays?

Maybe we should start considering our sojourn on Earth as a loan. There can be no doubt that for past hundred years at least, the Euro-American world has been running up a debt, and now other parts of the world are following its example.

Nature is now issuing warnings and demanding that we not only stop the debt growing but start to pay it back. There is little point in asking whether we have borrowed too much or what would happen if we postponed the repayments. Anyone with a mortgage or a bank loan can easily imagine the answer.

The effects of possible climate changes are hard to estimate. Our planet has never been in a state of balance from which it could deviate through human or other influence and then, in time, return to its original state.

The climate is not like some kind of pendulum that will return to its original position after a certain period. It has evolved turbulently over billions of years into a gigantic complex of networks, and of networks within networks, where everything is interlinked in diverse ways.

Its structures will never return to precisely the same state they were 50 or 5,000 years ago. They will only change into a new state, which, so long as the change is slight, need not mean any threat to life.

Larger changes, however, could have unforeseeable effects within the global ecosystem. In that case, we would have to ask ourselves whether human life would be possible. Because so much uncertainty still reigns, a great deal of humility and circumspection is called for.

We can't go on endlessly fooling ourselves that nothing is wrong and that we can go on cheerfully pursuing our consumer lifestyles, ignoring the climate threats and postponing a solution. Maybe there is no danger of any major catastrophe in the coming years or decades. Who knows? But that doesn't relieve us of responsibility toward future generations.

I don't agree with those whose reaction to the possible threats is to warn against the restrictions on civil freedoms. Were the forecasts of certain climatologists to be fulfilled, our freedoms would be tantamount to the freedom of someone hanging from a 20th-story parapet.

We live in a world ringed by a single global civilization comprising various areas of civilization. Most of them these days share one thing in common: technocracy. Priority is given to everything that is calculable, quantifiable or ratable. That is a very materialistic concept, however, and one that is drawing us toward an important crossroads for our civilization.

Whenever I reflect on the problems of today's world, whether they concern the economy, society, culture, security, ecology or civilization in general, I always end up confronting the moral question: what action is responsible or acceptable? The moral order, our conscience and human rights - these are the most important issues at the beginning of the third millennium.

We must return again and again to the roots of human existence and consider our prospects in centuries to come. We must analyze everything open-mindedly, soberly, unideologically and unobsessively, and project our knowledge into practical policies.

Maybe it is no longer a matter of simply promoting energy-saving technologies, but chiefly of introducing ecologically clean technologies, of diversifying resources and of not relying on just one invention as a panacea.

I'm also skeptical that a problem as complex as climate change can be solved by any single branch of science. Technological measures and regulations are important, but equally important is support for education, ecological training and ethics - a consciousness of the commonality of all living beings and an emphasis on shared responsibility.

We will either achieve an awareness of our place in the living and life-giving organism of our planet, or we will face the threat that our evolutionary journey may be set back thousands or even millions of years. That is why we must take this issue very seriously and see it as a challenge to behave responsibly and not as a harbinger of the end of the world.

The end of the world has been anticipated many times in the course of history and has never come, of course. And it won't come this time either. We need not fear for our planet. It was here before us and most likely will be here after us. But that doesn't mean that the human race is not at serious risk.

As a result of our endeavors and our irresponsibility our climate system might leave no place for us. If we drag our feet, the scope for decision-making - and hence for our individual freedom - could be considerably reduced.

Vaclav Havel is the former president of Czechoslovakia. Translated from the Czech by Gerald Turner.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Coming Great Flood

Rising Seas Likely to Flood U.S. History
Sep 22 01:21 PM US/Eastern
AP Science Writer

Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting.

In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased.

Global warming—through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding—is expected to cause oceans to rise by one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation.

Rising waters will lap at the foundations of old money Wall Street and the new money towers of Silicon Valley. They will swamp the locations of big city airports and major interstate highways.

Storm surges worsened by sea level rise will flood the waterfront getaways of rich politicians—the Bushes' Kennebunkport and John Edwards' place on the Outer Banks. And gone will be many of the beaches in Texas and Florida favored by budget-conscious students on Spring Break.

That's the troubling outlook projected by coastal maps reviewed by The Associated Press. The maps, created by scientists at the University of Arizona, are based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Few of the more than two dozen climate experts interviewed disagree with the one-meter projection. Some believe it could happen in 50 years, others say 100, and still others say 150.

Sea level rise is "the thing that I'm most concerned about as a scientist," says Benjamin Santer, a climate physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

"We're going to get a meter and there's nothing we can do about it," said University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris. "It's going to happen no matter what—the question is when."

Sea level rise "has consequences about where people live and what they care about," said Donald Boesch, a University of Maryland scientist who has studied the issue. "We're going to be into this big national debate about what we protect and at what cost."

This week, beginning with a meeting at the United Nations on Monday, world leaders will convene to talk about fighting global warming. At week's end, leaders will gather in Washington with President Bush.

Experts say that protecting America's coastlines would run well into the billions and not all spots could be saved.

And it's not just a rising ocean that is the problem. With it comes an even greater danger of storm surge, from hurricanes, winter storms and regular coastal storms, Boesch said. Sea level rise means higher and more frequent flooding from these extreme events, he said.

All told, one meter of sea level rise in just the lower 48 states would put about 25,000 square miles under water, according to Jonathan Overpeck, director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona. That's an area the size of West Virginia.

The amount of lost land is even greater when Hawaii and Alaska are included, Overpeck said.

The Environmental Protection Agency's calculation projects a land loss of about 22,000 square miles. The EPA, which studied only the Eastern and Gulf coasts, found that Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina would lose the most land. But even inland areas like Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia also have slivers of at-risk land, according to the EPA.

This past summer's flooding of subways in New York could become far more regular, even an everyday occurrence, with the projected sea rise, other scientists said. And New Orleans' Katrina experience and the daily loss of Louisiana wetlands—which serve as a barrier that weakens hurricanes—are previews of what's to come there.

Florida faces a serious public health risk from rising salt water tainting drinking water wells, said Joel Scheraga, the EPA's director of global change research. And the farm-rich San Joaquin Delta in California faces serious salt water flooding problems, other experts said.

"Sea level rise is going to have more general impact to the population and the infrastructure than almost anything else that I can think of," said S. Jeffress Williams, a U.S. Geological Survey coastal geologist in Woods Hole, Mass.

Even John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a scientist often quoted by global warming skeptics, said he figures the seas will rise at least 16 inches by the end of the century. But he tells people to prepare for a rise of about three feet just in case.

Williams says it's "not unreasonable at all" to expect that much in 100 years. "We've had a third of a meter in the last century."

The change will be a gradual process, one that is so slow it will be easy to ignore for a while.

"It's like sticking your finger in a pot of water on a burner and you turn the heat on, Williams said. "You kind of get used to it."


On the Net:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on sea level:

The U.S. Geological Survey on sea level rise and global warming:

University of Arizona's interactive maps on sea level rise:

Architecture 2030 study on one-meter sea level rise and cities:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Science and Art of Change

The Creative Process
The Science and Art of Change
By Jonathan R. Cole
Copyright 1997


What humans call matter is actually just a subset of the dynamic flows that we call energy. Energy and matter are only distinguishable because they exhibit different space-time geometries. Our senses are able to differentiate between these energy forms. This is helpful since we exist in a continuum between energy and matter. Einstein figured this out when he informed the human race that E=MC2. This means there is energy and there is mass. They are proportional and even very roughly equivalent, because if you multiply one unit of mass by the speed of light squared (thirty four billion five hundred and ninety six million miles per second) you get one unit of energy. That's what E=MC2 means among other things. Maybe we should choose bigger units of mass? Anyway...........
Interestingly it also means that the difference between energy and mass is relative to what other quantity you compare it with. In fact mass is energy. Mass is a small subset of energy. How can we know this? Space is mostly filled with non mass forms of energy, such as photons, rays and other energetic emanations. The mass that makes the rest of the cosmos is lonely indeed. In any case it is itself a dense form of energy twisting in on itself in convoluted vortices. So to get the whole scope of it we need to add the mass/energy to the free energy of interstellar space. Amazingly, our senses, so conveniently attuned to the force fields of mass boundary layers, are actually missing most of the cosmos. We get a good sense of the solid, a tenuous sense of the liquid, and nearly no sense of the gas, the plasma and the free energy of interstellar space. But we sure are working on enriching that inadequate and unsatisfying version of existence.
The free energy of space comes mostly from the great energy emitters such as the stars including the sun. The emitted energy is absorbed by other masses such as planets, where some of it is transmuted to a lower frequency and re-emitted. The major emitters are minor absorbers, as the major absorbers are minor emitters. Waves and back waves, intersecting creating secondary waves, tertiary waves, ad infinitum. The energy absorbing/emitting capabilities of mass can be enormously large as in a so called black hole or relatively small as in a so called atom. Energy is emitted from mass and absorbed by it. Energy is focussed by mass. The free energy of space is constantly being absorbed, channelled through mass and reemitted. Energy transcends scale. It is present everywhere.
Every energy absorber has what can be called an event horizon. That is, a layer behind which the attracted energy/mass (E=MC2) is strongly held and cannot escape without a disruption of the attractor by a larger force. Since there is far more energy than mass in the universe, there is sufficient force available to disrupt any event horizon, irrespective of the mass of the attractor/absorber. In other words, there is enough force of energy to overpower the attractive force field of the largest mass.
When incoming energy intersects an event horizon, energy can be emitted or radiated. This occurs whether the absorber is as powerful as a black hole or as small as an atom. It must occur because all mass can be reduced to an energy state equation. E=MC2 . When the balance of energy and mass is disrupted, energy emission is the means by which equilibrium is re-established. Matter is energy. It is a form of energy vortexing within extremely tight spatial geometries and intricate convoluted topologies.
At the event horizon the energy states do not change abruptly. Instead they can be represented as stationary wave fronts which can be visualized as striations which are parallel to the event horizon surface and quantized. In other words, there are distinguishable energy densifications like bands or shells which surround the attractor. This is evident on the planetary level by phenomena such as the Van Allen radiation belts and other distinct bands of ionized energy. At the molecular level, phenomena such as the so called electrical double layer represent the same quantized stationary wave fronts. At the atomic level the layers of electrons are the quantized wave fronts. All of these are examples of the way nature provides for changes from one energy state to another. At these interfaces, no matter what the scale, these layers of energy trapped in a stationary wave front appear to exist.
As humans we live at the interface of mass and energy. In other words we live at the event horizon of the planet Earth. The sun streams photonic energy which intersects with the surface of the planet. Much of this light energy is transmuted to lower frequency infrared and re-emitted. We live in this rich, bi-directional energy environment. We are in fact animated by this energy. The energy in the infrared, commonly referred to as heat, is indisputably essential to our survival. Without it our entire bio mechanism would be frozen, with too much it would be toasted. This is why we tend to sleep when it is dark - the night represents a diminishing of both infrared and photonic energies, which constitute major components of our animating force.
The patterns of energy surrounding and imbuing us are the direct effect of the design of what we call the universe. The creative force which drives this whole system can be perceived by fine atunement to both the gross and the subtle fluctuations of these energy patterns. We can perceive some of these patterns directly with our senses. A more complete form of perception becomes possible by developing capabilities beyond our five senses. We cannot directly detect many of these energy fluctuations. We can get beyond the limits of our five senses using the vision of sensors and computer enhancement. We can expand our vision into every realm that we can discover. Vision in every spectrum of electromagnetic energy and beyond electromagnetics, are within our grasp. We can use our sixth sense, thought, to watch patterns develop across time. This broader vision can result in a greater understanding of cause and effect (a necessary by-product of sequential time) than we now comprehend.
These patterns of the creation are the language of the creator. The many highly specific forms of order that exist make it improbable that the information we receive from the feedback of the senses is simply cosmic noise. It appears that we may expand our capabilities of understanding by practicing receiving and interpreting the message that these ordered forms contain. We may then use this to build a new understanding, a model or map and thereby to become powerful instruments of this creative unfolding. Any map or model must be internally self consistent to be very useful. It needs to be self predictive across time - to be predictive of the quantities and qualities that unfold as we observe them. When we find and utilize this map/model, the blur enveloping the nature of existence falls away before our eyes.
As we refine our abilities in this realm the number and quality of possibilities arising from our creations can be truly astounding. For example, at one time, only one human comprehended the wheel. That human, at that time, was on the leading edge of instrumentality in the unfolding of the creation. The rest of the humans of the time probably did not get it at first. Now most of the six billion plus people take the wheel for granted. The creations of our time drawn from the same creative spirit may seem fantastic today, but someday will be considered common knowledge and common sense. By then, other generations of humanity or its heirs will be at the leading edge of the Creative Process as it relentlessly sweeps across history and all time. What a ride!


The works of Picasso, Einstein, Galileo, DaVinci, Darwin and Tesla although spanning a wide range of material and intellectual endeavour, have as their common basis, a process. It is the process which is at the root of all accomplishment, the creative process.
From the most mundane of all tasks to the most far reaching result, nothing is actualized without a process. With the acceleration of change in recent years, in some cases for the best and in many cases for the worse, there is a growing need for the people of the world to increase their ability to not only accommodate change, but to effect it, through the conscious use of the time tested pathway to new manifested realities - the creative process.
So what stands in the way, if anything? Asking the man on the street, we find that great works of change are attributed to “genius”, a mysterious quality that only those blessed with an accident of birth or circumstance are ever likely to experience. The ability to create, that is, to follow the pathway from conception of ideas to their manifestation is as dimly by most people understood as mathematics would be to a chimpanzee. Yet the process used by those considered geniuses is used instinctively by everyone at some level. What separates the “genius” from ordinary people is the ability to effect purposeful change through a conscious process.
So why do we acknowledge so few as having genius? Perhaps it is simply because those who exhibit “genius” come to their extraordinary abilities by an unusual combination of experiences coupled with an unusual amount of education, encouragement and/or self confidence. If this is the case, then this so-called “genius” would by sheer probability have to arise in some very small percentage of the population. Perhaps those deemed to have genius have been individuals who found an instinctive rather than a conscious path to the creative process. If this instinctive way is indeed possible it may be buried in an incalculably complex course of events, impossible to trace and therefore outside the realm of language and pedagogy.
On the other hand, what if we were to study and describe the creative process, with the goal of clarifying its structure and making it consciously knowable? Would we thereby be providing a map as well as the tools for purposeful change? Might we raise the effective results which flow from human potential and in doing so raise the standards of life on this planet? The answer is yes! And to those who might protest that to put such a powerful tool in the hands of the ignorant risks damage to the user and the surroundings, fear not! Since consciousness is about being fully aware of what is going on, the conscious creative process is itself a filter separating ignorance from knowledge and screening out all but the able.
It can be demonstrated, to be sure, that all manifestations of our desire do not necessarily prove to be beneficial. However, as the conscious awareness of the creative process arises it must lead to a much higher quality of resulting creations which are more harmoniously integrated into the world that surrounds us. This is the inevitable outcome of a growing comfort and facility with a conscious creative process. In order to achieve this harmonious integration of ideas with the world, we must bring the process out of the shadowy world of such vague concepts as “inspiration”, “genius” and “art” and into the light of conscious understanding, making possible conscious evolution and purposeful change.
It is inevitable that benefits or defects accompany evolution of any sort, but always, ultimately, movement is in the direction of a strengthened and more suitable adaptation to circumstance. The rewards of the development of a conscious understanding of the process by which we may purposefully manifest change should be sufficient to drive us through fear, past cynicism, to an eager engagement to the task.
The process popularly referred to as “trial and error” must become trial, error, trial, success, but above all, trial, because unless we overcome cynicism and doubt and try to create, degeneration and entropy are sure to follow. This is exactly why resisting the complacency of cynicism is in fact enlightened self interest, while also in the interest of society as a whole.
The fear of creations which are degenerate is an important issue and one which is often overlooked by creative people. However, if the creator reflects sufficiently on a concept, inherent defects can be foreseen. This process of penetrating thought and reflection leads to creations which are largely unblemished by undesired and unforeseen influences.
In other words the realization of a defect or unwanted effect of a concept should not necessarily result in the abandonment of the concept. Instead, all efforts should become focussed in order to diminish any undesirable aspects of the concept thus allowing the brainchild to survive. Though it is true that throughout the creative process we shall encounter obstacles in many forms, it will be found that it is a rare obstacle which does not contain within it the potential to give a concept new direction, new depth - new life.
These writings are meant to be a description or map of the creative process. The reader will notice how the terms used as the chapter headings could just as easily be describing the process which leads to the birth of a child. The reason for this natural fit is that the creative process is one of the forces of nature. When nature's map is followed it leads to nature's treasures. What are these treasures? Among others they include:
• An acceleration of the evolution of human society and culture;
• An increased realization of human potential;
• The empowerment of humanity to seek, find and make a better world.

The desire to create a world which is more to our liking than the one we perceive to exist is at the core of our nature. What ways and methods do we need to understand and cultivate in order to shape this world in ways which are of benefit to ourselves, our families, our communities and even the world?
We are now facing unbelievably rapid change, which presses us to be active participants in the unfolding which we are witness to. If we sit back, we are passed by while those active participants in change are creating a world in which we must live. With the scale of change larger than ever before, newly manifested concepts set into motion large effects, which color the future and shape the lives of us all. How can we participate?
What is needed is a clearer understanding of how we may produce positive change - A set of guiding principles to measure our dreams, visions and concepts and at the same time to light the path of the creative process. What we need is neither dogmatic ideology, nor a substitute for our own intuitive perception, but rather, a description of the process of creation and its foundations.
To create means to bring into being. The intention of these writings is to bring into being a map to a better world.

Table of Contents

1) Penetration - Exploring the Omniverse
2) Conception - The Brainchild
3) Gestation - Reflection and the Mind's Eye
4) Motion - The Convergence of Mind and Matter
5) Expansion - Development toward Viability
6) Emergence - Form, Function, Focus
7) Embrace - Acknowledgment and Acceptance
8) Manifestation - A Life of Its Own

1) Penetration - Exploring the Omniverse

We live in a world whose boundaries have traditionally been determined by our sensory capabilities. These are our senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. These capabilities seem to present us with a compelling sense of what is “real”. This reality is incomplete however. In response to this realization, scientists, engineers, and inventors have developed technologies which overcome some of our sensory deficits. Some examples are, x-ray photography, cat scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonic imaging, night (infrared) vision, scanning-tunnelling microscopy, interferometry, cloud chambers - the list goes on and on and continues to expand at a rapid pace. These machines are allowing us to view parts of reality which are beyond our direct sensing abilities. Our minds are opening up to whole new aspects of the universe.
The word “universe” is derived from the Greek words meaning “one truth”. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear that this “truth” is evolving and expanding. At least our idea of it is. Our larger perspective is being driven, in part, by the aforementioned examples, in which we use machine sensors and computer graphic enhancement to translate what the machine “sees” to something that we can see. Like using infrared detection to gain night vision. This technological achievement is direct evidence that there is a wider reality than has previously been assumed to exist, at least by most people.
Once we humans begin to realize the potential of expanded consciousness, it is only natural for us to try to grasp a wider world view leading to new realizations of what is actually going on around us and within us. It was not too long ago that large numbers of people were absolutely certain that the earth was flat and that it stood still as the sun and the heavens revolved around it. So as our consciousness of the world's nature increases, and the old conventional wisdom is found to be wanting, we cross over into new territory which continues to beckon us. Now we can call upon every ability we possess to try and find more complete knowledge of this new frontier.
It is now certain that the rich diversity of creation goes beyond our five senses. “Science” is leading the way by validating truths which were previously considered the realm of metaphysics, mysticism and religion. Unseen energies which flow through everything, action at a distance without physical connection, postulations of a “conscious” universe, the impossibility of separating the observer from the observed, the demonstrable design inherent in chaos - the list is long.
This evolution of understanding is leading us to a picture of reality which goes beyond the “one truth” of the universe to the knowledge that the whole picture is related to the “all truth”, we can call it the omniverse. This omniverse contains the sources of all of our sensory perceptions. These sources can be described as structures of energy in space. The domain of our existence is the space-time continuum - space and its energy structures cannot be separated from time. Therefore the omniverse must include everything in the past and that which is yet to come. Every action has a reaction. One thing leads to another. The evidence of our senses and the analysis taking place in our thought suggest the apparent truth that “reality” is founded on cause and effect.
Penetrating deeper into this concept, it becomes clear that the five senses alone, which respond only to the stimuli of the present, are insufficient to an understanding of cause and effect which must by definition include the element of time. The element of time must be included since cause must precede effect.
If not by means of the five senses, how then have we sensed the stream of cause and effect? It is clear we have another sensing ability. We can think of it as a sixth sense. It is the time sense. It responds to, or senses that which is held in the mind. This ability to sense what is held in the mind is a tool more powerful than anything else in our human inventory of capabilities. It enables us to become explorers in the realm of all cause and effect, including all possibilities and impossibilities
The speed at which we traverse this realm is limited only by our understanding of its simple truth. That is, in all possibilities, cause must precede effect. Armed with this knowledge we may penetrate the causal pathways of both the past and the future and draw from this experience to lay out the way to the best of all possible worlds. This is the reward of mastery of the process of purposeful change through a conscious creative process.
No concept is purposefully manifested without some understanding, through penetrating thought, of the tools, actions and methods by which an idea becomes a material representation of itself. This is obvious in all endeavour, regardless of whether the manifestation is of solid material such as a machine or intangible such as a musical composition. Anything which begins its existence as a concept and results in a manifestation which can be discerned and perhaps used by someone, results from a process which begins with thought.
It is also possible to point to any aspect of such a creation and trace its benefits or defects back to the pathway of thought that preceded it. If this ability is put to conscious use it becomes a highly useful means of examining manifested reality. The idea of conscious use is stressed here. Although most of us are constantly analyzing what comes before us, we tend to do so in a semiconscious or unconscious way. As a result, our analysis remains inaccessible or at best partially accessible through an intuitive path. Remember the unknowable, unpredictable intuitive path of the “genius”? That is no longer sufficient. We need “genius” on demand.
While our five senses may only provide us with a partial version of reality, that version is indispensable to our survival. This is because the five senses can be depended upon for immediate feedback. These senses also allow for the gathering of direct experience which is the basis for penetrating thought. You might say that the five senses are the foundation of the sixth. These five senses which many see as our only means to determine reality are merely narrow windows onto a larger reality which encompasses all causes and all effects.
Perhaps we can never come to comprehend all causes and effects, but as many persons throughout history have demonstrated, we can pass beyond a world view which is limited by the five senses and pass into a domain of applied intelligence or penetrating thought. By applying our intelligence through study and direct experience, we can come to see how cause leads to effect. We can then begin to select and implement the causes which create the desired effect. This may seem obvious - and it is. Yet only when we consciously apply this obvious truth do we develop, through practice, the means to make a world more to our liking.
Everything which is manifested in the material world can be responded to by one or more senses. For example, the paper on which this is written. Most people asked to describe the paper would use information derived from the five senses as a complete basis for the description. This type of description, however, is limited to what the paper is in the present time - describing an effect which is only the current manifestation of a long series of previous causes and which itself is a cause of future effects. In other words if we describe the paper in the stream of time, we begin to penetrate beyond the surface of the thing. Now the paper is no longer merely a white, two dimensional, smooth object with marks on it, but rather, it is understood to be one stage of a process of evolving existence.
If we start with what the paper is now we can penetrate backwards in time to a fuller understanding of its nature. We can trace the human creative process which has lead to the paper as a manifested effect. This is a simple demonstration of the concept of penetrating thought:
The oldest conceptual precursor of this paper may be the cave walls that our early ancestors used to illustrate their world. Later soft stone and clay tablets added portability to this ability to record the world. Leather and papyrus scrolls reduced weight allowing more information to be transported. Parchment and paper continued this trend while making the medium more uniform, less costly and available to be manufactured from a wide range of readily available plant materials. The uniformity of paper allowed the development of printing, widespread dispersion of printed material and in fact was the precursor of all the machines that are today used to record, manipulate and archive information. The computer that this essay is being composed on is a good example. It evolved from those cave walls. What I have described here is of course a longer term picture in the course of paper's development. We can also delve into the more recent causes of this effect that we call paper.
In order for this paper to be here now trees and other fibrous materials had to be gathered. The materials had to be processed with binders, bleaches and fillers. The finished product had to be dried, pressed, and cut. The paper then had to be packaged, shipped, stored, inventoried and sold. These operations involve packaging equipment, trucks, planes, ships, trains, warehouses, ledgers, computers, mail, telephones, publications, and stores. This paper is manifested through geochemistry, biochemistry, photosynthesis, and many other natural processes. In addition, thousands of people such as package designers, chemists, foresters, truck drivers, pilots, engineers, merchant sailors, train operators, clerks, construction workers, managers, labourers, factory workers, accountants, programmers, postal workers, writers, editors, publishers, and countless others are all part of the process and are the causes of which this simple paper is an effect. In the future when the paper has finished its life it must be discarded, recycled, composted or burned. These actions will involve countless others such as public workers, paper manufacturers, farmers and gardeners and so on in a circle of creation. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is destroyed. In its due time all material creation changes.
We now can begin to see the paper as a part of a large interconnected process encompassing the life, work and resources of tens of thousands of people across hundreds of generations and eons of evolving processes of the Earth and beyond. These are the causes, this paper is the effect. Each point in the causal pathway which has lead to the resultant paper may be followed back through time as well as forward into the future. We can penetrate the process to as detailed a picture as we may deem useful. This is how the creative process is accessed through penetrating thought.
What we are doing here is using thought processes to follow the path of cause and effect (causal pathways) through time. This mind travel through the causal pathways makes it clear that each cause and each effect is part of a process, the creative process, the process by which our world is created.
The potentials of humanity will only be fully realized when can freely enter the domain of cause and effect of the already manifested world, extracting an understanding of its causal pathways. We can then apply this knowledge to purposefully create the world that we want, the world that is yet to come.

2) Conception - The Brainchild

What is conception? It is the formulation of an idea, a spark of life. It is often assumed that concepts and ideas are inventions of specially gifted and creative minds. Those experienced, however, in wide ranging conceptualizing come to know that ideas are not the invention of a person. Rather they are the discovery of possibilities which have always existed. That is, they pre-exist in the large reservoir of all possibilities and are there to be retrieved by whoever explores the omniverse in penetrating thought. This is why in many cases, groups of people or more than one person at the same time discovers similar ideas. This occurs in part because the pathways to manifestable ideas are natural outcomes of knowable preconditions. In other words, by understanding what has gone before, we can come to understand what causes lead to what results. With this knowledge we can then project into the future and find out what results can potentially be realized from today's causes or from any result of the past. Therefore, anyone studying the same causal pathways which have already unfolded are likely to discover the same or similar future results.
Although in western culture we give ownership or exclusive rights to these discovered ideas, in fact they come from a reservoir of thought which belongs to anyone who desires to explore it. This reservoir is limitless and embodies the ideas which are a part of all manifested realities and all realities yet to come. This domain holds not only all possibilities but all impossibilities as well.
The creative process is not only about penetrating the pathways of thought which lead to conception, but also determining which thoughts and ideas are manifestable or realizable with the resources at hand. These resources are time, energy, motivation, tools and materials. If after having conceived of an idea, it is found that there is a shortage of any of these things, then we must follow the causal pathways to those levels of available time, material, resources and tools in order to zero in on the viable concept. When the necessary resources are found, what was previously “impossible” becomes “possible”.
It is heard from many sources that “ideas are a dime a dozen”, meaning that ideas themselves have little value. This is true. For an idea without the follow through of the creative process remains in the reservoir of all concepts and unmanifested. In western culture we tend to scoff at “dreamers” while at the same time romanticizing them. Yet the dreamer who actually manifests the dream becomes a hero.
The belief that ideas are a dime a dozen represents in popular thought the truth that it is not difficult to tap into the reservoir of all ideas. In fact we all do it, all the time. You might say that we cannot help but do it. However, bringing ideas to a manifested reality, demonstrating their viability in material form is something that requires greater finesse than merely dipping into the well of ideas. For every manifested reality that we see, every product, every work of art, every business, every mechanism and treatise, there are billions upon billions of others which have been conceived of by mankind and never manifested. Many of these have, no doubt been worthy of manifestation. This suggests that much of the unfulfilled potential of humanity can be realized with greater use of a conscious creative process.
How can we make more of our ability to explore the well of thought and the reservoir of ideas? We must learn to take concepts from the reservoir and bring them into being. We must use this ability to shape a world more to our liking. After penetrating the reservoir of all ideas we must choose what is viable. We must penetrate the limitless possibilities of all of Creation leading to the conception of the brainchild. We must watch over, guide and nurture it until it is able to take its place in the manifested world as a healthy and positive addition to the ongoing works of creation.
The time must come when such abilities will be taught as a part of the basic curriculum in institutions of learning. This will pave the way for a world of possibilities which now only exist in our hopes and dreams. An exciting, immensely inspiring world where the unlimited scope of possibilities is common knowledge.

3) Gestation - Reflection and the Mind's Eye

The brainchild is conceived. Now it must go through a process of gestation. In this biological metaphor gestation is the time during which the mother and child are connected in a feedback loop. The mother provides biochemical and other responses to cues from the life that grows within her. When this connection is prematurely broken the life of the child ceases. The same is true with the brainchild. However since we are talking of the process of growing a concept, we can usefully substitute the word reflection for gestation. Reflection after all is the ultimate feedback loop.
Inward reflection is deep consideration in search of direction and validation. The concept must stand up to real life conditions. To find out if it does, we draw from within on our experiences, measuring and comparing our concepts with what we believe to be true to life. We compare our ideas with those that have already been brought into being.
We can also draw upon the experience and perceptions of others by discussing the concept and then evaluating the feedback, particularly looking for responses which strike a resonance indicating a wider validation than personal experience alone can offer.
This kind of resonance is particularly applicable to issues of timing. “For everything there is a season”. A viable concept should be in its time, not too late and never ahead of its time. Unfortunate timing can cause an idea that could be “earth-shaking” in its influence to be merely a footnote. Although, if a concept is manifested in an untimely manner, that footnote may be resurrected later to new life. Leonardo da Vinci was way ahead of his time on the concept of the helicopter. It was hundreds of years before the timing was right. Now the reality of the helicopter is embedded in the annals of the creative unfolding, itself a cause of future effects.
Reflection is setting a new concept in sharp relief to the already manifested world in order to both refine the concept and to clarify the pathway to its realization. A concept arises from the reservoir of all ideas but in order to be manifested it must not remain there. Reflection is a calculating process on many levels. We are calculating the probabilities of an idea's manifestability while searching for the means to open the pathways and remove obstacles to its realization.
This is a stage of the creative process in which the ego is best put aside. What is required is not arrogance, but openness so that when the doors to the pathways of manifestation are opened, we will not miss them. Reflection is a process of dialogue, a dialogue within oneself and with others. It is organized around and based upon that spark of life which is inherent in the concept. It is a part of the process in which scrupulous self-honesty, character and integrity pay high dividends. In reflection we try to eliminate the emotional bias either for or against a concept being realized. The clearer the reflection, the more valuable insight that it holds.
We must penetrate beyond our own and other people's biases about what can or cannot be done, while realizing that these biases represent a resistance to manifestation which must not be ignored. An important part of the creative process is learning to assess the nature of these kinds of resistance and to find ways around it, over it, under it or through it. To do this, it helps to acknowledge the resistance and to know its roots.
Reflection by discussion with others has a unique value in that often the key(s) to insight come(s) up in conversation, bringing forth aspects outside the realms of previous consideration. Even seemingly irrelevant issues can contain the key that opens the door to manifestation. It is very important to be receptive to everything that is thought or said in this part of the process. The more detailed the reflection, the more valuable insight that it holds.
Reflection is both the examination of a concept and its development through new input and stimulus. Sometimes research is called for, bringing new knowledge about related subjects. As this comes in, further reflection creates a deeper and more refined picture of the possible forms a concept can take. The deeper the reflection, the more valuable insight that it holds.
The eye is a sensor for receiving light energy and transmitting its form to our cognitive centers. The mind's eye is both a receiver and transmitter which can involve itself in two way communication. The concept or idea is the focus of this communication. Ideas take form in the minds eye. We visualize the concept in a way that is constantly responsive to new input. Because these pictures are of the mind they can change, develop and evolve at the speed of light when conditions are supportive. This is why creative people describe “eureka” moments when sophisticated fully formed ideas seem to jump into the mind's eye.
This idea of the mind's eye is central to the process of reflection. We must use reflection to remove the impediments and obstacles which obscure the vision of the mind's eye. Some of these are ego, arrogance, fear and cynicism which are, in fact, variations of the same disabling doubt and negativity. These things are illusions which cloud the mind's eye. Those involved in the creative process do well to understand that it is possible for us to be the master of our illusions and that the positive illusion is more productive and certainly far more pleasant in this life than the negative one. We are free to choose the nature of our illusion. If we choose the positive illusion we are free to try to create a world more to our liking. If we choose the negative illusion we suffer and doubt the existence of a better world. This is when the first law of creativity is especially appropriate. Watch out what you want, because you're gonna get it!
The mind's eye is the womb of concept. Developing concepts are nourished by the light of inner and outer reflection.

4) Motion - The Convergence of Mind and Matter
Motion is action. Motion begins when the mental preparations of penetration, conception and reflection are at the stage where further progress demands action. Motion is the first transformation of the world of dreams and concepts into material reality. Movement in the realm of thought can be much faster than motion in the material realm. Therefore, when we transfer from thought to action the creative process may seem to slow. As a result of this slowing, this transition is often the most difficult part of the creative process. The difficulty can be partly ascribed to fear and partly to motivation. When fear is the inhibiting factor it may be fear of failure, inadequacy to the task, or insufficient mental preparation. When the inhibition is based on motivation, this notifies us that key elements in preparing for action may not yet be in place. Until we can answer the questions “why do I want to do this?”, “what do I hope to accomplish?” and “am I the one to do it?”, the motivation to engage in action may be weak.
Knowing in advance that these issues may arise at the interface of thought and action, they can be dealt with on a conscious level and not defeat the creative process.
Action is taken to affirm what has been done in the realm of thought and to expand the basis of the conception. It involves interaction with tools, resources, other people, organizations and institutions. It is a search for supporting evidence of a creation's viability. As the evidence is found it validates the concept, or becomes the basis for a more highly evolved concept.
When motion begins it carries with it, penetration, conception, and reflection. In other words, these stages of the creative process, once begun, continue to be important tools to the creator. At any place in the process, all previous stages continue to be used as a means of continuing the development of the concept.
Motion is the preliminary assembling of information upon which to base the selection of tools and human and material resources. As this proceeds, a process of assessment takes place in which some tools and resources are validated and others put aside as inappropriate, at least for now. Once assessed, however, all are mentally catalogued to be drawn upon, perhaps later at a more appropriate time. It is a serious error to become locked into an unchangeable judgment on the value of any resource. What is inappropriate today may be just the thing next week.
Entering into motion constitutes action in the material world as was said previously. This begins the research and development phase. Action in this realm comprises time, energy and material resources. These are expended to provide a material foundation for the emerging concept. Since they are finite, all efforts must be brought to bear to avoid wasting these resources. This is accomplished by a process of conscious and thoughtful engagement and careful selection of the resources that are gathered to oneself. The wasting of precious and limited resources can be the undoing of an otherwise sound concept.
Motion means to change position. Before motion commences we are at ground zero. Soaring in from the omniverse we have landed and are ready to move through the material world. In the world of thought we have been weightless and without impediments (except those of our own manufacture) and now we find our movements restricted by the limitations (also to some degree of our own manufacture) of a world in which the many players have often conflicting agendas and motivations. In this world emotion is often encountered such as fear, envy, hate, and jealousy. Motion must be pure action, uncomplicated by negative feelings (coming from ourselves or others) which hold us back by introducing doubt and sapping our determination.
Motion is action which leads to the conscious development of concepts drawn from the reservoir of ideas. This development results in the maturation of the brainchild. Remember, the purpose of motion is to allow the brainchild to grow into a refined and highly evolved entity!

5) Expansion - Development Toward Viability

Action leads to expansion of the possibilities inherent in a concept. These expanded possibilities arise out of new knowledge and perception gained through new experience. These experiences are the natural consequence of action. As this new information, experience and knowledge comes in, it enhances and modifies the concept which previous to action was purely an exercise of the mind. Action leading to expanded perception puts the concept to the test of material reality. Concepts can stray from realistically manifestable forms. The experience gained from trying things out can return the creator to the most direct pathways to manifestation. These new experiences give the concept greater weight, momentum and acceleration. The brainchild is growing. This is expansion.
To help clarify these ideas, imagine standing at the top of a snow covered hill. In your mind you conceive of a large snowball and pick up a handful of snow and shape it into a snowball. Think of this snowball as the concept. You think about the way to create the large snowball of your dreams out of this handful of snow (inner reflection). You ask all your friends about their experiences with snow and snowballs (outer reflection). Now you actually pick up some snow, shape it into a small ball and try to roll it down the hill (action). At first it is difficult to get it to roll on its own because it is small and without sufficient momentum. So give it help in the form of additional pushes (action). Gradually more and more snow will stick to the original until it has gathered to itself the critical mass which allows it to continue rolling on its own (expansion). As it does so it expands into a shape and size dictated by the temperature and consistency of the snow on the hillside (material reality) and the direction you have chosen to roll it (resulting from penetrating thought and reflection). If it's not taking the shape of that gigantic snowball of your dreams, you can change its direction, rolling it toward that patch of deeper wetter snow. As it picks up more snow (expansion) it also accelerates. This is where great care is necessary. It could become so large and unwieldy and accelerate at such a rate that you will not be able to keep up with it. And even if you can keep pace with it you might not have the strength to divert it from that large tree that it's heading for. Or even worse you might not be able to stop it from burying the town in the valley below.
But hold on! If your creation has been properly founded on penetrating thought and reflection, you will have foreseen this possibility before action was commenced. You would know the possible outcomes of rolling snowballs. You will have seen to it that the pathway of your expanding concept is one that does not threaten the destruction of itself or cause any other undesired outcome. So let's assume you are using a process of conscious creation and that you are prepared to direct the expansion phase.
Directed action is the means by which we keep the expanding concept from taking undesirable turns and forms. Later when we arrive at the point where we focus, everything that has been done to avoid the accretion of undesirable or unnecessary expansion will be rewarded by the fewer layers we then have to strip away in order to finely tune the creation.
In addition to effecting the scope and pathway of the concept, the expansion phase also widens the field on which to apply penetrating thought. Therefore, as the concept expands it simultaneously expands the pathways in the mind, leading to a refining process (education & experience) which is exponential. This mind-material feedback loop can be used to maximize a harmonious fit of the concept with the “real” world.
Everything that is gathered as the concept expands will not necessarily be used. Excess resources may have been gathered. This may seem to be wasted effort and of course skilled practitioners of the creative process will keep wasted effort to a minimum. It must be understood, however, that sufficient feedback must be gathered in order to have enough material and resources to choose from. So don't lament this surplus as waste. What is learned may well be useful in some subsequent project. On the other hand, the less efficient the process, the greater the cost in time and material. This can smother the concept in excessive expenditures. Energy, time, materials, and cash are all finite treasures that must be thoughtfully expended.
In the creative process, as in so many other aspects of life, balance is the goal, an approximation of balance will suffice and practice results in skill and efficiency.

6) Emergence - Form, Function, Focus

Eventually the analysis, research and development, planning, organizing, visualizing, and rethinking must come to an end. It is time for the concept to be born, to be manifested in the material world. For this to happen, the form and function are the guiding issues. The creator must focus on the final form that the concept is to take. The functional aspects of the concept most often determine, at least in part, the final form. Form follows function.
For many people, this stage of the creative process is the most difficult. Considerable effort may have accompanied the development of the concept giving momentum to the project which can be difficult to rein in. It is, after all, enlightening, educational, interesting and even fun to be in the process. For many artists it can seem as if the process is the art. Which is true. However, if the concept never takes form it remains in the reservoir of all ideas and is unlikely to become the cause of subsequent effects. This is what distinguishes creativity from creation. Creativity is the ability to come up with ideas. Creation, the result of the creative process we are discussing, is the ability to not only have the idea, but also bring it into being .This is what makes the creative process the science and art of change.
Taking material form is like the period at the end of the sentence. It may seem small compared to all that has lead up to it. Yet it is not necessarily an ending. It is likely to herald the beginning of a subsequent concept built upon what came before. Allowing the concept to be born in the material world is just one step in the creative process, a link in the chain, but one which links concept to concept across time. Thus the manifested concept becomes a step on the path to the future.
So allow the concept to be born. It may become an important link in the chain of creation or maybe just an interesting footnote. Either way, the rewards for the creator that come from developing the skills of the creative process will endure regardless of the life and durability of the manifested concept. In other words the skills developed while engaging in the creative process add up. The practitioner becomes skilled in the science and art of change.
That is, if he/she can master one last challenge.

7) Embrace - Acknowledgment and Acceptance

Technical issues are not the only issues we, as human beings, face. At every step of the creative process even the most optimistic individual, encounters resistance tugging at the edges of the mind. This resistance is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the rejection of the brainchild by others. Fear of wasted time. Fear of wasted resources. Fear of disappointment. Fear of ridicule. Fear, fear and more fear.
Within the most primal reaches of ourselves is a mechanism resulting from billions of years of material evolution. It is the fear mechanism. The fear mechanism is a powerful survival tool which pushes us to instinctively flee or do battle in the face of threat or harm. It is activated by the biochemical secretion of certain substances into the nervous system. So powerful are these substances that they dominate our behaviour when activated. They have the ability to overcome limitations of physical strength or to overcome conscious action placing us in highly evolved intuitive and instinctual state. The purpose of this evolved trait is survival. But the means of its activation is no different than infusion of the system with very powerful drugs. For many people it is addictive. In essence it is an addiction to fear.
This tendency to be in a state of fear is not helpful to the creative process.
Can the problem of fear be mitigated? Let's consider that. For individuals, what percentage of the time, on average, do the events of life actually justify the “fight or flight” syndrome? One percent of experience? Five percent? Ten? Think of the minutes of an average day. How many minutes of each day are we likely to encounter situations which justify this fear mediated response? For most people, it is clear, that this justified fear response occurs only a very small percentage of the time. Yet how much of our lives do we find effected by fear which is not based on survival pressures?
If this residual fear is only an artefact of the biochemistry of our survival mechanism, can its effects be controlled? If there is a means of mitigating unwarranted fear response, how can it be accomplished so that the benefits of this time tested human response are not diminished? For in addition to being an inhibiting factor, fear is often a valid warning which we ignore at our peril.
In the creative process, fear must be brought out of the instinctive and subconscious realm and into the light of conscious awareness and reason. It then becomes a valid tool or indicator which points to insufficient preparation and unanswered questions.
Embrace is the willing acceptance of the viability of the concept - in the full acknowledgment of the doubts and fears which may pull at us. When we acknowledge these feelings they are brought into the full light of conscious awareness where their validity may be ascertained through penetrating thought and reflection. If, through this process, it becomes evident that the fear is not supported in a clear headed evaluation, we become free to embrace the concept despite initial misgivings. If, on the other hand, we find some validity at the source of our fears, then the fears are a tool, an indicator of adjustments being required in order to establish a firm foundation for the emergent brainchild.

8) Manifestation - A Life of Its Own

Manifestation is the establishment of the concept in material form. At this point the conception has matured through the application of the creative process and is an expressed reality which now can have a life of its own. Other people can see it, know it, evaluate it and adapt it. It now has become a potential cause of future effects. The creator(s) may or may not continue to be involved in its evolution to an even more highly refined creation. Nonetheless, whether through the efforts of its originators or by a new person or group interested in its potential, further refinements and new forms may result from an ongoing application of all phases of the creative process.
Just as the first person to carve signs and symbols into a slab of stone or clay tablet was the progenitor to a host of subsequent creations such as papyrus scrolls, paper and even computers, so all creations contain within themselves, the seeds of their descendants.
This continuing development of a manifested concept becomes possible as soon as even one person sees previously unexpressed potential in the creation. It now becomes suggestive of future creations, future effects. Once this potential is acted upon, the creation can become embedded in human culture and experience. If we look around us, we can see thousands of examples of this evolutionary force at work. As a mental exercise we can create a family tree of objects, technologies, philosophies and even purely artful expressions.
We sit atop a massive pinnacle of creation. Just as we are free to draw upon as much of it as we can know, so will others in the future utilize the foundations that we now build. It is clear that we ourselves are embedded in a creative human process started long ago and one which stretches unlimited into the future. Since the fate of the world as we know it as well as the existence of the human race seems to hinge upon what we create, it is incumbent upon us to concentrate our efforts in order to create rich, thoughtful and refined expressions as our own contribution to the evolving fate of humanity.