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Shocking images of unsustainability 20 Mar, 2008

We know we consume. We know others consume. But, it is nearly impossible to visualize what that joint consumption looks like as a whole or what kind of an impact it has on our environment.

An artist in Seattle, Chris Jordan, has found a shocking way to depict the sheer immensity of our consumption. The pictures are somehow pleasing, even beautiful, but the devil is in the details.A closer look reveals horrific sights and what a disaster we are creating. The figures are mind-bending:

  • 1,000,000 plastic cups on airline flights in the US every 6 hours
  • 410,000 paper cups in the US every 15 minutes
  • 2,000,000 plastic beverage bottles in the US every 5 minutes
  • 8,000,000 harvested trees in the US every month to make mail order catalogues
  • 11,000 jet trails for commercial flights in the US every 8 hours
  • 426,000 cell phones retired in the US every day
  • 1,140,000 brown paper supermarket bags the US every hour
  • 3,600,000 new SUVs in the US in 2004
  • 60,000 plastic bags in the US every 5 seconds
  • 170,000 disposable Energizer batteries produced every 15 minutes
  • 15,000,000 million sheets, used in the US every 5 minutes
  • 106,000 aluminum cans in the US every 30 seconds.

Now, see what it looks like. It’s scary.

Close to half a billion phones. Per year.

IDC analyst Aloysius Choong predicts that mobile phone sales in India will grow by 19% this year.

Both Economic Times and Financial Express report that mobile phone sales in the Asia Pacific region excluding Japan are set to grow an annual 10% to 400 million units in 2008.

The current mobile penetration rate in India is 20%. In China, the rate is 40%.

The Pyramid research report “The Next Billion: How Emerging Markets Are Shaping the Mobile Industry” says:

“India, not China, will add the most to the next billion.”

- Pyramid Research
October 2007

We believe they’re right.

Read more: Economic Times / Financial Express

The burning question of biofuels 19 Mar, 2008

Biofuels are a hot topic. And rightfully so. Recent research has indicated that farmers prefer biofuels instead of edible crops because of the high yields – resulting in food shortages. But there’s more.

CNN recently reported that “energy crops destroy natural forests that actually store carbon and thus are a key tool in the fight to reduce global warming.”

Ecologist Joseph Fargione continued the same thread in a Scientific American article, saying that “Any biofuel that causes land clearing is likely to increase global warming.”

Wall Street Journal’s “Environmental Capital” blog notes that “Ethanol appears to come with a higher greenhouse-gas price tag than previously thought — higher, indeed, than fossil fuel.”

And there’s more reading, like “Climate Change and Energy - The True Cost of Biofuels” at nature.org, and “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt” + “Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change” at sciencemag.org.

There’s seldom smoke without fire. We predict that the combustion engine will go bust sooner than later. Seems like our planet sure wouldn’t mind.

The missing piece of infrastructure 18 Mar, 2008

Mobile phone subscriptions increased 100 fold between 1990 and 2002. Despite this massive increase, the largest uncovered territories on the 1990 map remained the largest on the 2002 map.

Why? Simply because focus has been on expanding coverage in urban, high-density areas. And because the appropriate infrastructure has been lacking.

Growth has continued exponentially since 2002, but billions are still unconnected for the same reasons. This is exactly what Microtelecom will change.

Have a look at the map: Cellular Subscribers 2002 »

Business Week sees mobile as social force 17 Mar, 2008

From Business Week, Sept 24 2007:

“A mobile phone can dramatically improve living standards by saving wasted trips, providing information about crop prices, summoning medical help, end even serving as a conduit to banking services… A growing body of evidence suggests that access to communications boosts incomes and makes local economies far more efficient.”

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

New initiative puts a sunny smile on Adelaide 14 Mar, 2008

The forward-thinking state government of South Australia released a new solar “feed-in” legislation last year which allows home-owners with solar panels to receive double-credit for the power they feed into the grid.

Essentially, the government will buy back any excess energy that private solar cells produce.

The new legislation has resulted in the Adelaide Solar City initiative, which encourages citizens to go green, or rather, yellow. And make an extra buck while lowering environmental impacts.

We salute this initiative, and hope others will follow!

In 20 years, solar power rules

Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that in 20 years, the world’s energy needs will be covered entirely by solar - saying that there is 10,000 times more sunlight than we need.

Currently, sustainable energy sources like wind and solar only address around 1 percent of our insatiable thirst for energy, but this is sure to change as new technology like nano-engineered materials for solar panels starts maturing.

VNL is already pioneering the field of solar applications with WorldGSM™ - the world’s first entirely solar-powered GSM network.

Learn more about solar energy: read the full article at livescience.com