Society & Culture
8 days ago
When Investment in New Energy Surpassed That in Fossil Fuels (Forever)
A worldwide energy crisis might have hampered renewable energy and clean tech investment. Nope.
BNEF's 2023 Energy Transition Investment Trends study surprised and encouraged. Global energy transition investment reached $1 trillion for the first time ($1.11t), up 31% from 2021. From 2013, the clean energy transition has come and cannot be reversed.
BNEF Head of Global Analysis Albert Cheung said our findings ended the energy crisis's influence on renewable energy deployment. Energy transition investment has reached a record as countries and corporations implement transition strategies. Clean energy investments will soon surpass fossil fuel investments.
The table below indicates the tripping point, which means the energy shift is occuring today.
BNEF calls money invested on clean technology including electric vehicles, heat pumps, hydrogen, and carbon capture energy transition investment. In 2022, electrified heat received $64b and energy storage $15.7b.
Nonetheless, $495b in renewables (up 17%) and $466b in electrified transport (up 54%) account for most of the investment. Hydrogen and carbon capture are tiny despite the fanfare. Hydrogen received the least funding in 2022 at $1.1 billion (0.1%).
China dominates investment. China spends $546 billion on energy transition, half the global amount. Second, the US total of $141 billion in 2022 was up 11% from 2021. With $180 billion, the EU is unofficially second. China invested 91% in battery technologies.
The 2022 transition tipping point is encouraging, but the BNEF research shows how far we must go to get Net Zero. Energy transition investment must average $4.55 trillion between 2023 and 2030—three times the amount spent in 2022—to reach global Net Zero. Investment must be seven times today's record to reach Net Zero by 2050.
BNEF 2023 Energy Transition Investment Trends.
As shown in the graph above, BNEF experts have been using their crystal balls to determine where that investment should go. CCS and hydrogen are still modest components of the picture. Interestingly, they see nuclear almost fading. Active transport advocates like me may have something to say about the massive $4b in electrified transport. If we focus on walkable 15-minute cities, we may need fewer electric automobiles. Though we need more electric trains and buses.
Albert Cheung of BNEF emphasizes the challenge. This week's figures promise short-term job creation and medium-term energy security, but more investment is needed to reach net zero in the long run.
I expect the BNEF Energy Transition Investment Trends report to show clean tech investment outpacing fossil fuels investment every year. Finally saying that is amazing. It's insufficient. The planet must maintain its electric (not gas) pedal. In response to the research, Christina Karapataki, VC at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a clean tech investment firm, tweeted: Clean energy investment needs to average more than 3x this level, for the remainder of this decade, to get on track for BNEFs Net Zero Scenario. Go!
16 days ago
Why Are There So Few Startups in Japan?
Japan's startup challenge: 7 reasons
Every day, another Silicon Valley business is bought for a billion dollars, making its founders rich while growing the economy and improving consumers' lives.
Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Medium dominate our daily lives. Tesla automobiles and Moderna Covid vaccinations.
The startup movement started in Silicon Valley, California, but the rest of the world is catching up. Global startup buzz is rising. Except Japan.
644 of CB Insights' 1170 unicorns—successful firms valued at over $1 billion—are US-based. China follows with 302 and India third with 108.
1% of US startups succeed. The third-largest economy is tied with small Switzerland for startup success.
Mexico (8), Indonesia (12), and Brazil (12) have more successful startups than Japan (16). South Korea has 16. Yikes! Problem?
Why Don't Startups Exist in Japan More?
Not about money. Japanese firms invest in startups. To invest in startups, big Japanese firms create Silicon Valley offices instead of Tokyo.
Startups aren't the issue either. Local governments are competing to be Japan's Shirikon Tani, providing entrepreneurs financing, office space, and founder visas.
Startup accelerators like Plug and Play in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, the Startup Hub in Kobe, and Google for Startups are many.
Most of the companies I've encountered in Japan are either local offices of foreign firms aiming to expand into the Japanese market or small businesses offering local services rather than disrupting a staid industry with new ideas.
There must be a reason Japan can develop world-beating giant corporations like Toyota, Nintendo, Shiseido, and Suntory but not inventive startups.
Culture, obviously. Japanese culture excels in teamwork, craftsmanship, and quality, but it hates moving fast, making mistakes, and breaking things.
If you have a brilliant idea in Silicon Valley, quit your job, get money from friends and family, and build a prototype. To fund the business, you approach angel investors and VCs.
Most non-startup folks don't aware that venture capitalists don't want good, profitable enterprises. That's wonderful if you're developing a solid small business to consult, open shops, or make a specialty product. However, you must pay for it or borrow money. Venture capitalists want moon rockets. Silicon Valley is big or bust. Almost 90% will explode and crash. The few successes are remarkable enough to make up for the failures.
Silicon Valley's high-risk, high-reward attitude contrasts with Japan's incrementalism. Japan makes the best automobiles and cleanrooms, but it fails to produce new items that grow the economy.
Changeable? Absolutely. But, what makes huge manufacturing enterprises successful and what makes Japan a safe and comfortable place to live are inextricably connected with the lack of startups.
Barriers to Startup Development in Japan
These are the 7 biggest obstacles to Japanese startup success.
Unresponsive Employment Market
While the lifelong employment system in Japan is evolving, the average employee stays at their firm for 12 years (15 years for men at large organizations) compared to 4.3 years in the US. Seniority, not experience or aptitude, determines career routes, making it tough to quit a job to join a startup and then return to corporate work if it fails.
Even if your product is buggy and undocumented, US customers will migrate to a cheaper, superior one. Japanese corporations demand perfection from their trusted suppliers and keep with them forever. Startups need income fast, yet product evaluation takes forever.
Japanese business failures harm lives. Failed forever. It hinders risk-taking. Silicon Valley embraces failure. Build another startup if your first fails. Build a third if that fails. Every setback is viewed as a learning opportunity for success.
4. No Corporate Purchases
Silicon Valley industrial giants will buy fast-growing startups for a lot of money. Many huge firms have stopped developing new goods and instead buy startups after the product is validated.
Japanese companies prefer in-house product development over startup acquisitions. No acquisitions mean no startup investment and no investor reward.
Startup investments can also be monetized through stock market listings. Public stock listings in Japan are risky because the Nikkei was stagnant for 35 years while the S&P rose 14x.
5. Social Unity Above Wealth
In Silicon Valley, everyone wants to be rich. That creates a competitive environment where everyone wants to succeed, but it also promotes fraud and societal problems.
Japan values communal harmony above individual success. Wealthy folks and overachievers are avoided. In Japan, renegades are nearly impossible.
6. Rote Learning Education System
Japanese high school graduates outperform most Americans. Nonetheless, Japanese education is known for its rote memorization. The American system, which fails too many kids, emphasizes creativity to create new products.
Immigrants start 55% of successful Silicon Valley firms. Some come for university, some to escape poverty and war, and some are recruited by Silicon Valley startups and stay to start their own.
Japan is difficult for immigrants to start a business due to language barriers, visa restrictions, and social isolation.
How Japan Can Promote Innovation
Patchwork solutions to deep-rooted cultural issues will not work. If customers don't buy things, immigration visas won't aid startups. Startups must have a chance of being acquired for a huge sum to attract investors. If risky startups fail, employees won't join.
Will Japan never have a startup culture?
Once a consensus is reached, Japan changes rapidly. A dwindling population and standard of living may lead to such consensus.
Toyota and Sony were firms with renowned founders who used technology to transform the world. Repeatable.
Silicon Valley is flawed too. Many people struggle due to wealth disparities, job churn and layoffs, and the tremendous ups and downs of the economy caused by stock market fluctuations.
The founders of the 10% successful startups are heroes. The 90% that fail and return to good-paying jobs with benefits are never mentioned.
Silicon Valley startup culture and Japanese corporate culture are opposites. Each have pros and cons. Big Japanese corporations make the most reliable, dependable, high-quality products yet move too slowly. That's good for creating cars, not social networking apps.
Can innovation and success be encouraged without eroding social cohesion? That can motivate software firms to move fast and break things while recognizing the beauty and precision of expert craftsmen? A hybrid culture where Japan can make the world's best and most original items. Hopefully.
1 month ago
How a misplaced item may change your outlook
Losing your wallet means life stops. Money vanishes. No credit. Your identity is unverifiable. As you check your pockets for the missing object, you can't drive. You can't borrow a library book.
Last seen? intuitively. Every kid asks this, including yours. However, you know where you lost it: On the Providence River cycling trail. While pedaling vigorously, the wallet dropped out of your back pocket and onto the pavement.
A woman you know—your son's art teacher—says it will be returned. Faith.
You want that faith. Losing a wallet is all-consuming. You must presume it has been stolen and is being used to buy every diamond and non-fungible token on the market. Your identity may have been used to open bank accounts and fake passports. Because he used your license address, a ski mask-wearing man may be driving slowly past your house.
As you delete yourself by canceling cards, these images run through your head. You wait in limbo for replacements. Digital text on the DMV website promises your new license will come within 60 days and be approved by local and state law enforcement. In the following two months, your only defense is a screenshot.
Your wallet was ordinary. A worn, overstuffed leather rectangle. You understand how tenuous your existence has always been since you've never lost a wallet. You barely breathe without your documents.
Ironically, you wore a wallet-belt chain. You adored being a 1993 slacker for 15 years. Your wife just convinced you last year that your office job wasn't professional. You nodded and hid the chain.
Never lost your wallet. Until now.
Angry. Feeling stupid. How could you drop something vital? Why? Is the world cruel? No more dumb luck. You're always one pedal-stroke from death.
Then you get a call: We have your wallet.
Local post office, not cops.
The clerk said someone returned it. Due to trying to identify you, it's a chaos. It has your cards but no cash.
Your automobile screeches down the highway. You yell at the windshield, amazed. Submitted. Art teacher was right. Have some trust.
You thank the postmaster. You ramble through the story. The clerk doesn't know the customer, simply a neighborhood Good Samaritan. You wish you could thank that person for lifting your spirits.
You get home, beaming with gratitude. You thumb through your wallet, amazed that it’s all intact. Then you dig out your chain and reattach it.
Because even faith could use a little help.
1 month ago
The reasons why our civilization is deteriorating
The Industrial Revolution's Curse: Why One Age's Power Prevents the Next Ones
A surprising fact. Recently, Big Oil's 1970s climate change projections were disturbingly accurate. Of course, we now know that it worked tirelessly to deny climate change, polluting our societies to this day. That's a small example of the Industrial Revolution's curse.
Let me rephrase this nuanced and possibly weird thought. The chart above? Disruptive science is declining. The kind that produces major discoveries, new paradigms, and shattering prejudices.
Not alone. Our civilisation reached a turning point suddenly. Progress stopped and reversed for the first time in centuries.
The Industrial Revolution's Big Bang started it all. At least some humans had riches for the first time, if not all, and with that wealth came many things. Longer, healthier lives since now health may be publicly and privately invested in. For the first time in history, wealthy civilizations could invest their gains in pure research, a good that would have sounded frivolous to cultures struggling to squeeze out the next crop, which required every shoulder to the till.
So. Don't confuse me with the Industrial Revolution's curse. Industry progressed. Contrary. I'm claiming that the Big Bang of Progress is slowing, plateauing, and ultimately reversing. All social indicators show that. From progress itself to disruptive, breakthrough research, everything is slowing down.
It's troubling. Because progress slows and plateaus, pre-modern social problems like fascism, extremism, and fundamentalism return. People crave nostalgic utopias when they lose faith in modernity. That strongman may shield me from this hazardous life. If I accept my place in a blood-and-soil hierarchy, I have a stable, secure position and someone to punch and detest. It's no coincidence that as our civilization hits a plateau of progress, there is a tsunami pulling the world backwards, with people viscerally, openly longing for everything from theocracy to fascism to fundamentalism, an authoritarian strongman to soothe their fears and tell them what to do, whether in Britain, heartland America, India, China, and beyond.
However, one aspect remains unknown. Technology. Let me clarify.
How do most people picture tech? Say that without thinking. Most people think of social media or AI. Well, small correlation engines called artificial neurons are a far cry from biological intelligence, which functions in far more obscure and intricate ways, down to the subatomic level. But let's try it.
Today, tech means AI. But. Do you foresee it?
Consider why civilisation is plateauing and regressing. Because we can no longer provide the most basic necessities at the same rate. On our track, clean air, water, food, energy, medicine, and healthcare will become inaccessible to huge numbers within a decade or three. Not enough. There isn't, therefore prices for food, medicine, and energy keep rising, with occasional relief.
Why our civilizations are encountering what economists like me term a budget constraint—a hard wall of what we can supply—should be evident. Global warming and extinction. Megafires, megadroughts, megafloods, and failed crops. On a civilizational scale, good luck supplying the fundamentals that way. Industrial food production cannot feed a planet warming past two degrees. Crop failures, droughts, floods. Another example: glaciers melt, rivers dry up, and the planet's fresh water supply contracts like a heart attack.
Now. Let's talk tech again. Mostly AI, maybe phone apps. The unsettling reality is that current technology cannot save humanity. Not much.
AI can do things that have become cliches to titillate the masses. It may talk to you and act like a person. It can generate art, which means reproduce it, but nonetheless, AI art! Despite doubts, it promises to self-drive cars. Unimportant.
We need different technology now. AI won't grow crops in ash-covered fields, cleanse water, halt glaciers from melting, or stop the clear-cutting of the planet's few remaining forests. It's not useless, but on a civilizational scale, it's much less beneficial than its proponents claim. By the time it matures, AI can help deliver therapy, keep old people company, and even drive cars more efficiently. None of it can save our culture.
Expand that scenario. AI's most likely use? Replacing call-center workers. Support. It may help doctors diagnose, surgeons orient, or engineers create more fuel-efficient motors. This is civilizationally marginal.
Non-disruptive. Do you see the connection with the paper that indicated disruptive science is declining? AI exemplifies that. It's called disruptive, yet it's a textbook incremental technology. Oh, cool, I can communicate with a bot instead of a poor human in an underdeveloped country and have the same or more trouble being understood. This bot is making more people unemployed. I can now view a million AI artworks.
AI illustrates our civilization's trap. Its innovative technologies will change our lives. But as you can see, its incremental, delivering small benefits at most, and certainly not enough to balance, let alone solve, the broader problem of steadily dropping living standards as our society meets a wall of being able to feed itself with fundamentals.
Contrast AI with disruptive innovations we need. What do we need to avoid a post-Roman Dark Age and preserve our civilization in the coming decades? We must be able to post-industrially produce all our basic needs. We need post-industrial solutions for clean water, electricity, cement, glass, steel, manufacture for garments and shoes, starting with the fossil fuel-intensive plastic, cotton, and nylon they're made of, and even food.
Consider. We have no post-industrial food system. What happens when crop failures—already dangerously accelerating—reach a critical point? Our civilization is vulnerable. Think of ancient civilizations that couldn't survive the drying up of their water sources, the failure of their primary fields, which they assumed the gods would preserve forever, or an earthquake or sickness that killed most of their animals. Bang. Lost. They failed. They splintered, fragmented, and abandoned vast capitols and cities, and suddenly, in history's sight, poof, they were gone.
We're getting close. Decline equals civilizational peril.
We believe dumb notions about AI becoming disruptive when it's incremental. Most of us don't realize our civilization's risk because we believe these falsehoods. Everyone should know that we cannot create any thing at civilizational scale without fossil fuels. Most of us don't know it, thus we don't realize that the breakthrough technologies and systems we need don't manipulate information anymore. Instead, biotechnologies, largely but not genes, generate food without fossil fuels.
We need another Industrial Revolution. AI, apps, bots, and whatnot won't matter unless you think you can eat and drink them while the world dies and fascists, lunatics, and zealots take democracy's strongholds. That's dramatic, but only because it's already happening. Maybe AI can entertain you in that bunker while society collapses with smart jokes or a million Mondrian-like artworks. If civilization is to survive, it cannot create the new Industrial Revolution.
The revolution has begun, but only in small ways. Post-industrial fundamental systems leaders are developing worldwide. The Netherlands is leading post-industrial agriculture. That's amazing because it's a tiny country performing well. Correct? Discover how large-scale agriculture can function, not just you and me, aged hippies, cultivating lettuce in our backyards.
Iceland is leading bioplastics, which, if done well, will be a major advance. Of sure, microplastics are drowning the oceans. What should we do since we can't live without it? We need algae-based bioplastics for green plastic.
That's still young. Any of the above may not function on a civilizational scale. Bioplastics use algae, which can cause problems if overused. None of the aforementioned indicate the next Industrial Revolution is here. Contrary. Slowly.
We have three decades until everything fails. Before life ends. Curtain down. No more fields, rivers, or weather. Freshwater and life stocks have plummeted. Again, we've peaked and declined in our ability to live at today's relatively rich standards. Game over—no more. On a dying planet, producing the fundamentals for a civilisation that left it too late to construct post-industrial systems becomes next to impossible, with output dropping faster and quicker each year, quarter, and day.
Too slow. That's because it's not really happening. Most people think AI when I say tech. I get a politicized response if I say Green New Deal or Clean Industrial Revolution. Half the individuals I talk to have been politicized into believing that climate change isn't real and that any breakthrough technical progress isn't required, desirable, possible, or genuine. They'll suffer.
The Industrial Revolution curse. Every revolution creates new authorities, which ossify and refuse to relinquish their privileges. For fifty years, Big Oil has denied climate change, even though their scientists predicted it. We also have a software industry and its venture capital power centers that are happy for the average person to think tech means chatbots, not being able to produce basics for a civilization without destroying the planet, and billionaires who buy comms platforms for the same eye-watering amount of money it would take to save life on Earth.
The entire world's vested interests are against the next industrial revolution, which is understandable since they were established from fossil money. From finance to energy to corporate profits to entertainment, power in our world is the result of the last industrial revolution, which means it has no motivation or purpose to give up fossil money, as we are witnessing more brutally out in the open.
Thus, the Industrial Revolution's curse—fossil power—rules our globe. Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, Wall St., Silicon Valley, and many others—including politics, which they buy and sell—are basically fossil power, and they have no interest in generating or letting the next industrial revolution happen. That's why tiny enterprises like those creating bioplastics in Iceland or nations savvy enough to shun fossil power, like the Netherlands, which has a precarious relationship with nature, do it. However, fossil power dominates politics, economics, food, clothes, energy, and medicine, and it has no motivation to change.
Allow disruptive innovations again. As they occur, its position becomes increasingly vulnerable. If you were fossil power, would you allow another industrial revolution to destroy its privilege and wealth?
You might, since power and money haven't corrupted you. However, fossil power prevents us from building, creating, and growing what we need to survive as a society. I mean the entire economic, financial, and political power structure from the last industrial revolution, not simply Big Oil. My friends, fossil power's chokehold over our society is likely to continue suffocating the advances that could have spared our civilization from a decline that's now here and spiraling closer to oblivion.
1 month ago
I questioned Chat-GPT for advice on the top nonfiction books. Here's What It Suggests
You have to use it.
Chat-GPT is a revolution.
All social media outlets are discussing it. How it will impact the future and different things.
I've been using Chat-GPT for a few days, and it's a rare revolution. It's amazing and will only improve.
I asked Chat-GPT about the best non-fiction books. It advised this, albeit results rely on interests.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
A impoverished tobacco farmer dies of cervical cancer in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Her cell strand helped scientists treat polio and other ailments.
Rebecca Skloot discovers about Henrietta, her family, how the medical business exploited black Americans, and how her cells can live forever in a fascinating and surprising research.
You ought to read it.
if you want to discover more about the past of medicine.
if you want to discover more about American history.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou
Bad Blood tells the terrifying story of how a Silicon Valley tech startup's blood-testing device placed millions of lives at risk.
John Carreyrou, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, wrote this book.
Theranos and its wunderkind CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, climbed to popularity swiftly and then plummeted.
You ought to read it.
if you are a start-up employee.
specialists in medicine.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now shows how to stop suffering and attain inner peace by focusing on the now and ignoring your mind.
The book also helps you get rid of your ego, which tries to control your ideas and actions.
If you do this, you may embrace the present, reduce discomfort, strengthen relationships, and live a better life.
You ought to read it.
if you're looking for serenity and illumination.
If you believe that you are ruining your life, stop.
if you're not happy.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is an iconic self-help book.
This vital book offers practical guidance for personal and professional success.
This non-fiction book is one of the most popular ever.
You ought to read it.
if you want to reach your full potential.
if you want to discover how to achieve all your objectives.
if you are just beginning your journey toward personal improvement.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari
Sapiens explains how our species has evolved from our earliest ancestors to the technology age.
How did we, a species of hairless apes without tails, come to control the whole planet?
It describes the shifts that propelled Homo sapiens to the top.
You ought to read it.
if you're interested in discovering our species' past.
if you want to discover more about the origins of human society and culture.