Friday, June 12, 2009

The transition has begun in earnest.

Update: June 12, 2009;

The transition has begun in earnest. Of the big three auto builders in North America, Ford is standing tall with a world class hybrid model line-up. Many towns and cities throughout the world have established sustainability strategies in addition to existing recycling programs. Carbon trading, although controversial, is slowly growing. May you/we live in interesting times!

One brief article on electric cars:

MONTREAL - Hydro-Québec and Ford Motor Co. are collaborating on a program to test plug-in electric cars, the two companies said Tuesday.

The auto company, along with the Electric Power Research Institute, picked Hydro as one of nine utilities to join a North America-wide demonstration and research plan for plug-in electric vehicles.

The three-year test program on the Ford Escape is designed to develop and evaluate technical approaches for integrating plug-ins into the electric grid. Hydro-Québec is the only Canadian company participating in the project.

"We have to accelerate the replacement of oil by electricity for individual transportation and public transit. The transport sector accounts for 42 per cent of Québec’s greenhouse gas emissions. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that could be achieved through the electrification of transport in Québec, where 98 per cent of the electricity is produced from renewable sources, would be considerable. Hydro-Québec will act as a leader in this area," said Thierry Vandal, Hydro president and CEO.

Refueling costs for an average vehicle driven 18,000 kilometres per year would be $244, compared with $1,383, the Electric Power Research Institute estimates. Based in several U.S. states, the non-profit institute conducts research and development into the use of electric energy.

(The direct link to this article is in the title above.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

How Resilient Is Healthcare? Health After Oil blog

Imagine the American healthcare industry as the proverbial proud oak tree that refuses to bend during a windstorm. For decades the industry has been deft at fending off resolution of the Three Cs, cost, coverage and quality of care. Predictably, this political success has nurtured a lack of resilience, by which I mean the ability of an organization to absorb exogenous shocks or disturbances and return to its original state.

As with the financial sector and the automobile industry, healthcare will be humbled by the ongoing fiscal/economic crisis, which has hidden ecological roots and far-reaching social and political implications. My view is that in the context of this crisis the Three C’s will take on the aura of “toxic assets” and SUVs –once profitable now a millstone. This suggests three outcome scenarios: 1) a medical care system affordable only to the rich; 2) nationalized universal coverage in a system using less energy and other resources; 3) a collapse followed by reorganization at a lower level of complexity and resource consumption, probably accompanied by an integration with public health and alternative forms of medicine (Wikipedia[a] ND).

A warped recognition of the macro-economic predicament is betrayed in the industry’s recent proposal to “voluntarily” hold down cost escalation. Whatever motivation lies behind this offer is it not astounding that this is the response with unemployment spiraling upward; federal debt growing at an unprecedented pace, with a $2 trillion deficit in 2009 and one of every two dollars budgeted borrowed; world oil production at its peak, population growth, climate change, water scarcity and a host of environmental pressures; Social Security and Medicare in distress; income and sales tax revenues declining; most states and many cities this year dependent on bailouts from a debt-ridden federal government with California on the precipice of fiscal calamity; housing prices continuing to plummet; production capacity utilization at its lowest point in at least 42 years; double digit wealth destruction that is eviscerating retirement plans; commercial real estate set for major defaults; GDP shrinking at a rate of 6% a year; and on and on it goes.

more at link...