Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Hundreds create aerial art to stand up to fossil fuels and protect the Amazon Reef
Press release - 29 March, 2017
Rio de Janeiro, 29 March 2017 - More than five hundred people joined together to form the messages “Defenda os Corais da Amazônia” and “Petróleo Não” (“Defend the Amazon Reef” and “No Oil”, in English) around a huge butterfly fish on the sands of Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, this morning to show their support for protection of the reef discovered at the mouth of the Amazon River. The Amazon Reef is threatened by the possibility of a spill from nearby oil drilling.
The Amazon Reef biome, considered unique and of great scientific importance, was seen underwater for the first time earlier this year on a Greenpeace expedition. The French oil company Total and the British company BP, operator of the Deepwater Horizon platform that spilled 5 million barrels of oil in 2010, want to explore the Brazilian seabed for oil near the Amazon Reef. Oil activity would put this ecosystem under the constant threat of an oil spill.
"Oil exploration is a thing of the past. In the face of so many accidents that have devastated marine life and nearby communities, we can’t accept drilling near the Amazon Reef", said Pedro Telles, Greenpeace Brazil's Climate and Energy campaigner. In addition, the burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of climate change. "We are living at the end of the oil age. Clean, renewable energy can supply our demand without causing environmental damage", Telles added.
The aerial art was coordinated by the internationally renowned artist and activist John Quigley, famous for his installations of gigantic proportions. For John Quigley, ensuring kids and teenagers participated in forming the huge fish was a way of alerting future generations to their role as agents of change.
"The youth of Brazil have inspired me by helping create the giant human butterfly fish and Amazon Reef Defender Shield. They are standing up for our future by calling for the Amazon Reef to be protected from the potentially devastating impacts of an oil spill. They are leaders of a new generation of Brazilians who recognize the crucial importance of accelerating the transition to renewable energy and protecting the natural world", Quigley he said.
On Monday, in Paris, 30 Greenpeace activists joined Brazilians in protesting against Total's desires to carry out new oil drilling in the mouth of the Amazon by creating a fake oil spill at the entrance to Total's headquarters. Meanwhile in Belgium, activists, including Greenpeace International Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid, deployed their own action at Total’s operating center in the port of Antwerp. 
Both activities in Belgium and the human art in Brazil are part of Break Free, a global wave of people taking a stand against dirty energy. All around the world, From Chile to Thailand, South Africa to Poland, tens of thousands of people, and hundreds of organisations, are taking action to demand that companies and governments quit fossil fuels. To save the climate and environment that we all depend on, we must opt for a more sustainable future and accelerate the shift to an era of renewable energy.
The first pictures of a huge coral reef system discovered in the Amazon last year have been released by environmental campaigners.
The Amazon Reef is a 9,500 sq km (3,600 sq miles) system of corals, sponges and rhodoliths, Greenpeace says.
The reef is almost 1,000 km (620 miles) long, and is located where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Oil drilling could start in the area if companies obtain permits from the Brazilian government, the group warns.
"This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light, and physicochemical water conditions," researcher Nils Asp, from the Federal University of Para, said in a statement.
"It has a huge potential for new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of fishing communities along the Amazonian coastal zone."
Scientists were surprised by the discovery, in April 2016, as they thought it was unlikely that reefs would be found it the area given unfavourable conditions," they said in a paper in the scientific journal Science Advances.
The reef ranges from about 25-120m deep (82-393ft)
Mr Asp now says that his team wants to gradually map the system. At the moment, only 5% of it has been mapped.
"Our team wants to have a better understanding of how this ecosystem works, including important questions like its photosynthesis mechanisms with very limited light."
But Greenpeace says drilling in the area means a "constant risk of an oil spill".
Campaigner Thiago Almeida said environmental licensing processes for oil exploration there are already under way.
"The Cape Orange National Park, the northernmost point of the Brazilian state of Amapa, is home to the world's largest continuous mangrove ecosystem and there is no technology capable of cleaning up oil in a place of its characteristics," the group said.
"In addition, the risks in this area are increased due to the strong currents and sediment that the Amazon River carries."
The group said that, so far, 95 wells have been drilled in the region, and 27 of them were abandoned as a result of mechanical incidents - the rest due to the absence of economically or technically viable gas and oil.
Images shows coral reef discovered in the Amazon
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
7 Ways The Internet Of Things Will Change Businesses In 2017
Okay, marketers and technology enthusiasts have been talking about the coming of the Internet of Things (IoT) for years. But with products like Google Home and Amazon Echo emerging and gaining popularity, it’s reasonable to suspect that 2017 is the year that IoT finally starts taking off.
Even though original estimates held that we’d see 50 billion “connected” devices by 2020, revised estimates are still targeting nearly 30 billion, representing an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the near future.
So here’s the question—is your business ready for the IoT? Even if you don’t deal directly with technology, IoT devices are going to have a massive impact on how you do business.
1. Data, Data, Data
Marketers and entrepreneurs love data, and with IoT devices connecting consumers in new ways with more interactions, they’ll have greater access to that data than ever before. Smart devices will be able to track and record patterns of consumer behavior, and possibly even learn from them, making intelligent product recommendations and customizing searches in new, innovative ways.
Companies can start taking advantage of this by using these data-based insights to come up with more effective advertising, and get to know their target demographics on a more specific, qualitative level. Chances are, you’ll have more data at every stage of the consumer buying cycle, from research to purchase and implementation.
2. Inventory Tracking and Management
Next up, IoT will likely revolutionize how companies track and manage their inventory. If you’re a business that relies on warehousing, manufacturing, or storage, you probably use remote scanners and similarly high-tech devices to help your workers keep track of inventory item by item. In the near future, smart devices should be able to keep tabs on inventory changes completely automatically, freeing up your workers for more important, cognitively demanding tasks. It’s not just about the “smart home” anymore—it’s also about the “smart office” and “smart warehouse.”
3. Remote Work
On the other hand, if your business doesn’t directly deal with any physical inventory, the IoT could open up a world of new possibilities for remote work. With multiple devices all wired into the same network, your remote working employees will be more connected than ever before, and may be able to accomplish new types of tasks from remote locations by tapping into devices in your office or factory floor. Remote workers tend to be happier and more productive, so the arrangement could also help improve your bottom line.
4. Speed and Accessibility
Since consumers will have access to new forms of research and purchasing, the buying cycle will likely diminish in length. Consumers will, with a handful of spoken phrases, be able to find and order exactly the product they’re looking for, and they’ll demand delivery of the product sooner (since all our technological advances tend to emphasize instant gratification). Fortunately, your partners, suppliers, and logistics providers will all have similarly advanced technology at their disposal, meaning you’ll be able to serve your customers faster.
5. Efficiency and Productivity
It’s not all about speed—you’ll also be able to get more done in less time. In addition to instant gratification, technological evolution also tends to favor productivity and efficiency. The latest and greatest IoT developments will likely allow you and your workers to accomplish large-scale tasks faster and with greater precision, including data analysis and management. You may find that you need fewer staff members, or else you’ll be able to scale operations in new areas that allow you to expand your business.
6. New Consumer Needs
Speaking of expanding your business, don’t forget that consumers who gain access to and familiarity with these new types of devices are going to have new needs. They’ll want things they didn’t know they wanted before, and they’ll expect more out of every new purchase they make. “Smart” devices will become the new standard for appliances, gadgets, and maybe even items like furniture. Consumers will also demand more integration, more efficient tools, and accessories that make their new smart home-enabled lives smoother and more efficient. It will be your job to dream up the ideas that can make that a reality.
7. New Staffing Needs
I already mentioned the fact that you may have to cut some staff members or reassign them to new areas, but in addition to that, you may find yourself in need of some new team members. You’ll need experts in IoT technology if you’re going to be successful in integrating these devices into your current procedures, and data analysts if you want to make the best use of the data. These are highly skilled positions, but will serve to ensure you get the most out of your new investments.
Charting a Timeline
So how quickly is IoT technology going to take off? As I mentioned earlier, the initial estimates (from a few years ago) were somewhat ambitious; they overestimated how quickly consumers would be ready to adopt these devices, and assumed that there would be more consistency tying these devices together. Instead, we’ve had a bit of a clunky start, but with two major “home base” devices on the market and dozens more to come, I suspect that 2017 will be the year that IoT devices explode in popularity, with at least a third of all homeowners owning at least one smart device.
Beyond that, it’s too hard to predict a timeline accurately, but the changes are coming. The question is, will you be ahead of or behind your competition when they come?
How the Internet of Things Enables the Circular Economy
Ellen MacArthur, founder of Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and a global expert on circular economy, gave a keynote during the first European Circular Economy Summit, held in Barcelona together with the Smart City Expo World Congress. After describing her experience as a sailor, and how going solo around the world taught her about finite resources, she gave a comprehensive explanation of the Circular Economy concept and why we need to embrace a new way to manufacture and consume products.
In her presentation, she introduced the report “Intelligence Assets”, and how the internet of things (IoT) is enabling the Circular Economy. “[IoT] it’s allowing the Circular Economy to develop at a much faster pace than it ever could without into ICT and the internet of things in telemetry”, she said.
The fundamental role of cities in catalyzing transition towards a Circular Economy.
The key to make it happen, she argued, is the implementation of internet of things (IoT) technologies, with reuse and repurpose in mind, in the design and manufacturing of today’s products. While the IoT is already present in industries such as transportation, where busses, metros, railways, and aviation are taking advantage of billions of sensors to schedule maintenance, and reduce waste, many other markets are still behind, especially consumer products, and they are ripe for transformation.
The IoT and intelligent assets, which can sense, communicate, and store information about themselves, will enable the fusion of manufacturing and digital technologies, creating products that can signal any problem, determine when need to be repaired, and schedule their own maintenance. MacArthur said:
“Digital technologies are driving a profound transformation of our economy. Guiding this wave of change by applying circular economy principles could create value, and generate wider benefits for society, as this report shows. Intelligent assets are a key building block of a system capable of ushering in a new era of growth and development, increasingly decoupled from resource constraints.”
Inexpensive sensors could be fitted in everything from dishwashers to coffee makers, and from drills to lawn mowers, and help keeping them in perfect working condition for longer.
It is necessary to make products easy to maintain and repair, and help local communities share their use. The drill that people store in their garage, for example, is used an average of 45 minutes over its lifetime. People buy them because they are cheap and convenient to have on hand. You probably have one stored in a drawer or toolbox. Do you remember when was the last time you used it? Chances are you don’t.
A new generation of IoT enabled products could help eliminate waste if those are manufactured to be shared. Apps like Uber and AirBnb could be used to share rarely used equipment and charge a small price per use. For example, a lawn mower could be reserved, located, and rented as needed. It is like having a library where, instead of borrowing a book, you can borrow some tools only when you need them.
That could also be a new business for manufacturers. If a company such as Black & Decker could produce a durable drill, equipped with sensors to charge people per minute of use, as well as indicate when a component needs be replaced. Instead of making millions of drills every year, it could make thousands and collect usage fees.
One example of pay per use is electric-cars’ batteries. Most manufacturers, including Nissan, Renault, and Tesla, are starting to use a lease per km model. The electric vehicle owner leases the battery from the manufacturer, who charges a rental price per distance traveled or hours used, and the replaces the battery when its performance falls below 80%. Those batteries are then being repurposed to store electricity produced by renewable energy sources, where they can have a much longer operating life. At the end of their life cycle, batteries will be disassembled, and their still good components will be used to make new ones.
Another example is solar power. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report Intelligent Assets explained:
“For instance, an ecosystem of intelligent asset-enabled services could jointly open widespread access to reliable, grid-free renewable energy. Solar panels could be provided as a service to individuals and businesses without access to the capital to buy solar panels themselves, through weekly online payments. Battery health monitoring, predictive maintenance of panels, automated management of distribution systems and other IoT-enabled services could complement this model to avoid the massive investment in capital and resources needed to develop a centralized grid infrastructure.”
Unfortunately, the consumer electronics market is one of the biggest culprits. If you look at the smartphone vendors, they are making their products more difficult to repair all the time, and impossible to upgrade. Companies such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Sony, and others have moved from removable batteries to fixed ones, and they do not allow memory upgrades on many of their flagship models. They just want power users to replace their smartphones every two years.
A recent short film about the circular economy directed by Ed Scott-Clarke, in partnership with Dell and the Ellen McArthur Foundation, explains the circular economy and the problem of consumer electronics waste:
While most of the replaced high-end smartphones are still used for a couple of more years, as they are handed down to other family members, or sold on eBay, the inexpensive, low-end models have no such luck. They are completely discarded as soon as their owners can purchase a more powerful model. The best thing that can happen to those low-end smartphones is that they will be dismantled and some of the key components and metals recycled.
Ellen MacArthur was outspoken about the need to embrace the circular economy. She asked key questions:
- What economic model can actually function for the long term?
- What model could be regenerative and restorative?
- What can actually allow us to thrive with the growing population?
“An economy which is restorative and regenerative by design, an economy which is resilient, an economy which looks at the entire world through a different lens, where by design the first line on a design brief is: we need to be able to keep this product at its highest value at all times, and when it gets to the end of its life, if we can’t recover the components, we need to be able to recover those materials, and feed that back into the economy again.”