Curtis Faith on the Azimuth Project

Hi, I’m Curtis Faith. I’m very excited to be helping with the Azimuth Project.

A few weeks ago, I read John’s exhortation for blog readers to join in the discussion on the Azimuth Forum, so I decided to check it out. I was surprised at the amount of work that has been done in the last six months. I was inspired by the project’s goals and decided to commit to helping.

Since we need help, and hope that other blog readers might pitch in to help too, John and I thought it would be a good idea for me to explain a little about myself, why I think the Azimuth Project is so important, and how I think I can help.

I just turned 47 on Sunday. I am a first-time father with a 9-month old daughter. She is amazing. I don’t want her to grow up and wonder why our generation let things get so bad and I didn’t do anything to help make the world better.

I’m a real optimist by nature. But ignoring the very clear trends of the last 30 to 40 years is no longer an option. Our generation must stand up and do something about this.

A few years back I thought that politics might be the answer. I spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of politics. My wife and I even followed the 2008 U.S. election and filmed the campaigns of Obama and Ron Paul in the process of learning. It is clear to me—having seen the way the last few years have unfolded—that political solutions will not avert the coming crisis.

In the last few years, my wife and I have lived in southeast Asia for 4 months, and in South America for a few years. I wanted to get to understand the world from outside the U.S. perspective. To get to know people in other countries as individuals, as humans. This has made it even more clear what the major problems are, and that the solutions won’t be implemented until a major crisis strikes.

So I’ve been working on learning relevant technology and science for the last few years as a backup plan. Trying to see where I might be able to help out in the most effective way possible. I have also spent a lot of time investigating the various other efforts working on the major global problems. None of them appear to me to be facing reality. In contrast, the Azimuth Project fits what I’ve seen with my own eyes.

But most of all, the reason that I’m excited about the Azimuth Project is that it has the loftiest of goals and the Earth needs saving. We’ve screwed it up and we’re running out of time.

A bit about me

I’m best known for something that started 27 years ago, in the fall of 1983, when I was just 19 years old.

I dropped out of college because I was bored and joined a small group of traders who later became famous in the trading world because of our subsequent success and how we learned to trade. Some of the lessons I learned in that group about managing risk and uncertainty are very relevant to the Azimuth Project goals for saving the world.

A famous Chicago trader, Richard Dennis, took out large ads in the New York Times, Barrons, and the Wall Street Journal announcing trainee positions. After only two weeks of training we were given money to trade and at the end of the first month of practice with a small account, I was given a $2 million account to trade. Over the next 4 plus years, I turned that $2 million into more than $33 million, more than doubling the money each year. Most of the other trainees were also successful and this story became legend in trading circles as the group made more than $100 million for Richard during the life of the program. Our group was known as the Turtles and I wrote a book about this experience, Way of the Turtle, that became a bestseller in finance a few years back.

After Rich disbanded the Turtles, I got bored with trading. I was more interested in software and wanted to do something to make the world a better place. I started a few companies, built innovative software, tried to solve challenging problems and eventually found my way to Silicon Valley at the latter half of the Internet Boom.

Chaos, and risk and uncertainty

The sheer complexity of the issues and the scope of the problems that endanger the planet and life on it ensure that there will never be enough information to make a “correct” analysis. Except in the very broadest terms, we can’t know what the future will bring so we need to build plans that acknowledge that very real limitation.

We could pretend that we know more than is possible to know, or we can embrace the uncertainty and adapt to it. If we do this, we can concentrate on building flexibility and responsiveness along with an ability to assimilate and acquire an understanding of reality as it unfolds.

As a trader and entrepreneur, I learned about managing risk and uncertainty and how to develop flexible plans that will work when you can’t predict the future. Over time I came to see that other professionals who were forced to plan and make decisions under conditions of uncertainty used similar strategies.

But first, some background. While in Silicon Valley, I met a couple of guys who were forming a new hedge fund in the Virgin Islands, Simon Olsen and Bruce Tizes. In early 2001, it was obvious to most people that the Internet party was over in Silicon Valley. Pink slips were flying everywhere. So I thought it might be a good time to do something new for a few years.

I had often thought about getting back into trading so I could build up enough money to fund my own projects. I didn’t like the way that all the funding in software was focused on money. Most investors didn’t care about building cool software, and certainly not about doing positive things for the world. If those things came, they were secondary to profits. So for a while I thought it best to go make my own money. So I wouldn’t be restricted to only those strategies which optimized profits for investors.

So I decided to join Bruce and Simon in their hedge fund venture, and Bruce and I subsequently became good friends. Bruce had a very interesting background. He is one of the rare true polymaths that I’ve run into. He is incredibly bright, with a very flexible mind. He graduated high school at 15 years of age, college at 16, and medical school at 20. He later made a lot of money investing in real estate and trading stocks.

For most of the time since he had become a doctor, Bruce had been practicing emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. Mount Sinai is the inspiration for the television series E.R. that also takes place in Chicago and is a major destination for accident and gunshot victims in the downtown Chicago area.

So in various discussions over lunch or dinner over the few years we worked together, I came to learn a bit about the life of an emergency room doctor. Over time, Bruce showed me that there were similarities in how ER doctors and traders approached risk and uncertainty.

From my experience with software entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, I knew that they too handle risks and uncertainty in similar ways. It seemed like everyone who was forced to deal with uncertainty in the normal course of business followed similar general principles, and that these principles would be very useful even for those who didn’t learn them on the job.

Since my first book sold very well, the publisher was interested in getting me to write another book. I agreed to write one. But this time I wanted to write a book about these important principles for managing risk and uncertainty rather than a trading book.

This became my second book, Inside the Mind of the Turtles. Unfortunately, against my wishes and better judgment, it was marketed as a trading book. The truth is that it is a much more general book written for times of chaos and uncertainty, even for the emergency room doctors for a planet in peril. It contains ideas that are very relevant to the Azimuth Project.

In my next post here, I’ll outline the Seven Rules for Risk I develop in the book and show how they are relevant for the Azimuth Project because of the tremendous uncertainty inherent in environmental and sustainability issues.

In the meantime, I urge you to join in and help with the Azimuth Project. Read some articles in the Azimuth Library and join the discussions on the related Azimuth Forum.

The Azimuth Project is multidisciplinary so there are opportunities for all different kinds of people to help out. For example, I have been interested in low-energy transportation alternatives. So I plan on doing more research, adding to the Azimuth library of articles for advanced transportation, and finding some of the best experts to see if they will help on the Azimuth Project itself. I am also good at simplifying and explaining complicated problems. So I plan to take some of the more complicated sustainability issues and summarize them for non-experts. This will make it easier for people of diverse talents to grasp the full scope of the problems Azimuth is tackling.

I’ve spent much of the last 10 years trying to figure out how I can best help make the world a better place.

For me, the Azimuth Project is that answer. Come check it out.

23 Responses to Curtis Faith on the Azimuth Project

  1. Crazy Bill says:

    Cool bananas. Hope you can stay around for a while!

  2. John F says:

    Hi Curtis. I’m a professional research scientist, i.e. not teaching or anything just doing research. I haven’t made near $2M salary my whole career, now in third decade. Several inventions for my employer have yielded nothing for them or me because of costs of due diligence lawyering.

    There are a lot of things that need doing and can be done about climate change, including geoengineering
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoengineering
    Just on this blog alone, some dozens of contributors could suggest dozens of feasible projects. However, climate change is happening regardless so one may be better for example investing in wheat futures in Siberia. The traditional environmental problems of human development, namely pollution and resource depletion, continue instead to be the real looming problems.

    Anyway it is nice to hear from a successful inventor not just interested in making money. Since all there is to do with money is 1) make more money 2) waste money 3) make something real, evidently it takes some maturity (and money!) to get to where constructing reality is important.

    • Curtis Faith says:

      it is nice to hear from a successful investor not just interested in making money

      It seems to me that one of the great tragedies of our current way of organizing the consumption of resources is that we end up giving everything to those who are willing to put their own interests ahead of others. I have found that money is useful, even necessary in today’s system, but not important. But one cannot ignore the reality that money is how our society decides how to allocate resources. The selfish end up with power and money. The scientists, and teachers, and those who are working to make the world better end up with less power. Whether this is right or fair is irrelevant, that is our current reality.

      So we need to organize and plan and cooperate within the constraints of that reality.

      There is certainly some attempt to align economic interests with global social interests, and these attempts have made some progress, i.e. there are people selling wind turbines and solar power systems, and other potential solutions to some of the problems. However, since I know a lot of investors who are driven primarily by money, I am skeptical that we will innovate our way out of the current problems. Power and money are too risk averse, too conservative, and too concentrated at the moment and the trends are only getting worse.

      Besides there is far more money tied up in the current system and current power associated with it to expect sudden change. The famous Niccolo Machiavelli quote applies:

      There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.

      So, I believe that the “real looming problems” that you mention are problems that our current systems cannot and will not fix until it is at least partially too late. I hope I am wrong but history is on my side. As long as there are people who are willing to sacrifice tomorrow for a better today for themselves we will have this problem.

      This is one of the reasons that I believe the Azimuth project is important. Simply extrapolating from current trends we can see big problems. If the whole world develops as the west has, we are in big trouble. If the whole world follows the example of the U.S. we are in even bigger trouble.

      These “looming problems” will affect us all. To what extent, and in what exact form, we do not know. But we need to be ready with well-thought-out proposals to mitigate the problems and to minimize the damage to the environment, and the loss of life which will follow from them.

      We also need to figure out better ways to share common resources like the oceans and the air we breathe that aren’t constrained by ideas of past centuries. The world society acts very much like an adolescent child who is strong but not yet wise. The planet needs us to grow up quickly.

      • John F says:

        Curtis,
        In discussing algorithmic thermodynamics
        https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/algorithmic-thermodynamics-part-2/
        John Baez gave an interpretation of algorithmic temperature. I think for that particular case, calling it temperature makes sense denotionally but not operationally – I can’t think of a procedure to adjust it.

        What is economic temperature? I would guess it has to do with the money supply, as well as work and fluidity. How could it be adjusted?

        • Hudson Luce says:

          The trouble with trying to adjust the money supply is that all economies are in competition with one another, and all of them are interconnected, so unless you have a central authority which can exercise global control, adjusting the money supply of one nation will not have a predictable effect on the rest of the world. The market prefers homeostasis, as opposed to violent oscillations, even though the best opportunities for making huge sums of money lie in the violent oscillations, because broader economies can be ruined which may in turn lead to extended depression and popular uprisings. In preferring homeostasis, markets will adjust in a matter of minutes to any movement in the money supply, given the effective nearly instantaneous movement of information and the fact that worldwide markets are open 24/7/365. See:

          • Jean-Pierre Aubin and Richard H. Day, Homeostatic trajectories for a class of adapting economic systems.

          (an ‘equilibrium theory of economics based on thermodynamics’).

        • Curtis Faith says:

          I’m afraid I’m not a big believer in being able to control or even understand complex systems like economies with simple measures.

          Unlike molecules or other entities which exhibit simplified behavior when considered in large numbers, human beings have very complex interactions that are not easily modeled statistically, in my experience. So I don’t think the idea of an economic temperature would be as useful in actual practice as it might seem.

          There were quite a few interesting discussions along these lines in John’s recent post on mathematical economics.

        • John F says:

          Curtis,
          I don’t think that large numbers of any interacting entities exhibit simpler behavior than small numbers. But given each individual’s lack of overall influence, even nonequilibrium they provably tend to have behavior that can be modeled with far fewer parameters (e.g. P,V,T) than might be expected by extrapolating. I think you are not saying can be no uses of such parameterization in macroeconomics, i.e. that unemployment, wages, price indices, etc. do have some meaning, just that those parameters are not as useful as in the physical realm.

          Even if it isn’t useful, or isn’t easily adjustable, what might economic temperature be? Those mathematical economics posts certainly included entropy discussions, so there must be some temperature.

        • John F says:

          Hudson,
          that journal also has a short article “Measurement of temperature in economic systems considered as thermodynamic models” by D. Collins. Can you summarize? I don’t have immediate access. Its abstract looks like it is more thermometry than fundamental relations or phenomenological. We wouldn’t want to define temperature to be “that’s what thermometers measure”.

      • Curtis wrote:

        The scientists, and teachers, and those who are working to make the world better end up with less power.

        Well, today I’m feeling quite powerful: Now that the economy is buzzing again, there’s that German angst word going around again: Fachkräftemangel (shortage of skilled workers, e.g. IT specialists). I’m one of those they desperately seek – yet from my experience don’t deserve: My dream job meanwhile would be organic pig shepherd… So, I got a new job today. Not as farm hand, but in a nice and friendly structural engineering office, just drawing plans in 2D CAD. No sophisticated programming any more – I’m fed up throwing my pearls at hominids. So, dear Tsherman wannabe IT bosses, go scream and kick, I won’t work for you. OK, gimme 500.000€ plus show me a shred of intelligent work organization, then perhaps

        For Fachkräfte like me, the way to gain power is learning to live without much money.

  3. Giampiero Campa says:

    Hi Curtis,

    It is clear to me—having seen the way the last few years have unfolded—that political solutions will not avert the coming crisis.

    I don’t disagree with the above statement, but i’d be interested in a short explanation of the reasons why you think politics cannot offer the solution, or at least not until it’s partially too late. And if politics can’t work, what can ?

    • Curtis Faith says:

      I’ve been following politics very closely for about four years. I read an hour or two every day of the major U.S. political blogs, try to keep up with world news, and have done so since the 2008 U.S. elections began. So while I’m no expert, I’m a pretty educated amateur.

      Here’s my take: In order for there to be a political solution to the problem we would need a confluence of three factors:

      1) Political Awareness in the Entire Developed World – While there seems to be much more awareness of politics in Europe, and in the developing world, sadly in the U.S. most people do not pay any attention to politics at all. They only start paying attention a few weeks before the major elections. This only happens every four years when the President is elected. Without the U.S. electorate, I don’t see any political action in developing countries like China or India or Brazil. Europe is better here but without the U.S. we can’t get a worldwide agreement. Even with the U.S. it would be difficult, without the U.S. it is impossible.

      2) Ecological Awareness in the U.S. and Developing World – The people in the U.S. are largely unaware of the effects of their consumption habits on the planet. Business interests propagandize to keep ignorance high. The developing world is trying to follow the Western lead and the poor example of the U.S. Most countries are smarter and certainly use much fewer resources but in many countries, the ideal is still defined by cars and habits defined by Western ideals for affluence. This means there is little political will to reduce consumption on the part of those who are leading the growth in consumption.

      3) A Sense of Urgency – There is currently no sense that acting today is necessary. A large portion of the people in the U.S. seem to think that the problems have been exaggerated. A large portion of the older population is conservative and believes that science is liberal and prone to bias against business. Without the U.S., since it is the leading consumer of energy and resources, I don’t see how you can get other countries to commit to a solution in time to avert a major crisis.

      So I don’t think we’ll see major political changes because I don’t think we have any of those three necessary factors at the moment, let alone all three.

      And if politics can’t work, what can ?

      Good question. I don’t think we’ll see any major action until it is at least partially too late. Even then, I’m afraid that we’ll see lots of blaming and not enough action.

      There are some things that we can do to effect change. The most powerful influence individuals can have is through our wallets, not our voting. But we’d need to band together to have any major effect. Large blocks of consumers, even if they represented a political minority would be feared and respected by the major companies if those consumers acted strategically to influence events. I can certainly see this as a possibility in the future given the advances in coordination and organization made possible by the internet, and by likely advances in energy technology in the future.

      To me, the key is to be prepared with a backup plan for what to do when things get bad. I don’t see how we will avoid that scenario at this point.

      • John Baez says:

        Curtis wrote:

        Large blocks of consumers, even if they represented a political minority, would be feared and respected by the major companies if those consumers acted strategically to influence events.

        It’s worth noting that loudly expressed consumer preferences already can push companies towards environmentally sounder policies. So far, however, it’s happening in ways that are a lot smaller than I’d like.

        An amusingly complicated case concerns McDonald’s clamshell controversy:

        Debate over McDonald’s packaging materials started in the 1970s when the public became concerned that too many trees were being cut down to make packaging. In response to this interest, Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder, commissioned the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to conduct an environmental impact study comparing the paperboard packaging McDonald’s was then using to polystyrene packaging. By analyzing all aspects of the two alternatives from manufacturing though disposal, SRI concluded that plastic was preferred. They reasoned that the coating on the paperboard made it nearly impossible to recycle, while polystyrene was recyclable and
        used less energy in production.

        As a result, McDonald’s switched to polystyrene for their cups and sandwich containers, and launched an environmental education program to communicate to the public their rationale for the switch from paperboard to plastic. In 1989, McDonald’s piloted a recycling program in 450 of their New England restaurants by asking in-store customers to sort their trash into designated trash bins. The polystyrene was then shipped to one to eight plastic recycling plants formed in a joint venture of eight plastics companies. The program gained enough success that soon it was expanded to California and Oregon at the request of state officials, and involved a total of 1,000 stores. McDonald’s began planning a national expansion of the program. However, Environmental Defense Fund Director Fred Krupp told Ed Rensi, Chief Operating Officer and President of McDonald’s USA, that he would publicly refuse to endorse the recycling program, because he did not regard it as the best environmental solution.

        And so on… Let’s pick up the story here:

        For many years, crew members made McDonald’s multi-layer sandwiches right in polystyrene clamshells, closed the tops, and delivered the packages to customers. In 1991, the corporation phased out the polystyrene clamshells and adopted a poly-wax coated wrap with an SBS collar of virgin fiber. McDonald’s found that the wrap and collar were simply not as efficient for crew members making sandwiches. A new generation clamshell was needed.

        Going beyond the easy or obvious, an SBS clamshell, for example, the packaging team at Perseco/Havi began investigating a slightly more expensive option—a microflute corrugated design. This option offered a number of environmental advantages. The micro-flute clamshell weighed approximately 40 percent less than a comparable SBS package, and it had a significant percentage of post-consumer fiber. Both the lower weight and recycled-fiber content would reduce the pack’s impact on the waste stream. Less bleached fiber minimized dioxins produced during manufacture. McDonald’s supply chain partner, Burrows Paper, used its expertise in corrugated board processing to replace the low-density polypropylene binding agent with renewable and biodegradable cornstarch. The package also featured a renewable soy-based ink. McDonald’s launched its newly designed micro-flute clamshell in 1993.

        Fast forward 13 years. Today’s environmental focus now includes a wider appreciation of the sustainability benefits of this package. “In the manufacturing process, waste from clamshells is entirely recycled,” says Bill Burrows, CEO Burrows Paper Corporation. “A third of it goes into an insulation material, while two-thirds is repulped and returned into a new form of paper. “Significantly less water is used in the manufacturing process for the three grades of paper that go into the micro-flute package versus SBS. We are extremely proud of the fact that the energy consumed in manufacturing the clamshell is matched 100 percent with renewable energy resources from such sources as biomass and hydro.”

        McCracken added that the post-consumer content in the McDonald’s clamshell has increased over the years to a minimum of 46 percent today. Recycled content saved the equivalent of 2,200 tons of virgin fiber, based on 2003 sales figures, compared with the wrap/collar package. McCracken says, “The success of this packaging effort was truly improved by supplier collaboration.”

        All this work… for not terribly much! Now imagine trying to make McDonald’s go carbon-neutral.

        (Developing cows that burp less would be a start, but nowhere near enough.)

        On the other hand, Unilever claims to have a plan to halve their carbon emissions by 2020. Do they really mean it? Can it work?

        • Curtis Faith says:

          It’s worth noting that loudly expressed consumer preferences already can push companies towards environmentally sounder policies.

          Yes it certainly can. It doesn’t take as many people as one might think. Especially for mass-market companies that care about their reputation.

          So far, however, it’s happening in ways that are a lot smaller than I’d like.

          What would you like to see? What does something big enough look like? What do you think is missing here?

          I see this as the big opportunity to effect change. And the only means that has a chance of working in time to prevent too much catastrophe.

          One of the great ironies of the push to globalize the world economy, open all the markets, and corporatize the power structures of the world made by the large companies is that they have made themselves far more vulnerable to mass consumer action. The financial world has moved to a very fluid and extremely short-term outlook. Companies rise and fall in years, not decades. A few bad quarters can spell the death knell and evaporate $ billions in market capitalization for individual companies.

          Since I have a background as a trader, I’ve certainly thought of ways to bring economic and investor pressure to bear on companies to get them to act better as global citizens. Corporations are inherently amoral and absent pressure to act morally, they won’t.

          There is a lot that a motivated group of like-minded individuals could do. One could even create investment funds or foundations that were non-profit and targeted at bringing about this sort of pressure. It could be both very profitable for the endowment of the foundation and very effective at getting corporate change.

          I believe it would be much easier for those who care about sustainability to band together to bring this kind of pressure directly against companies than it would be to fight companies in the political arena. Those efforts have failed and will continue to fail, IMHO.

          Economic pressure is different, companies need customers far more than consumers need any particular company or product. In the economic arena, coordination could allow for a divide and conquer strategy against even very large companies.

          One nice aspect of this kind of pressure is that it is completely voluntary and apolitical. No one proposes that each individual doesn’t have the right to decide what to buy and where to spend their money. This freedom is largely available even in most current dictatorships.

          There have been a few “green” initiatives over the last few decades but nothing along the lines of the grape boycott of the late 60s. César Chavez knew how to bring pressure to bear.

          The internet is an ideal organizing vehicle for mass consumer action. But it makes real good sense to first understand what changes are most important to make and what problems are most urgent.

          I believe that the reason we haven’t seen anything like this yet is because those who are interested have not yet realized the possibilities. There is much that could potentially be done.

          I haven’t been paying real close attention so perhaps I’ve missed something. Does anyone know of groups who are organizing to put economic pressure on companies to act more sustainably as a significant part of their strategy?

        • John F says:

          Curtis,
          I…Must…Reply…

          So what is “economic pressure” anyway, and how can it be adjusted?

        • John Baez says:

          Curtis wrote:

          What would you like to see? What does something big enough look like? What do you think is missing here?

          For something to be big enough, it can’t be provincial. It can’t be limited to United States, Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and a few other already wealthy countries. I bet the big emerging economies like China and India will make the difference between an environmental strategy that works and one that doesn’t.

          That said, the already wealthy countries are important ‘role models’. What people in the US and Europe have, people in China and India want.

          So, let me just for now focus on the already wealthy countries, where I understand a bit more about what consumers can do to affect corporate behavior.

          I think one big problem is that consumers can’t easily see the environmental impacts of their purchasing decisions. Without this information, a crucial feedback loop is missing. It’s like driving a car without a speedometer. Or worse: a car without headlights, on a dark road!

          Suppose when you bought a product you could easily see its carbon footprint, its water footprint and so on. Might that affect your decisions?

          Right now you can go to a website and see some rough average figures. For example, this website says a pound of tofu takes 244 gallons of water to make, while a pound of chicken takes 814, and a pound of beef takes 2500-5000. But just think how much better it would be if you could easily compare specific figures for different brands while you were at the store! Then companies would be more motivated to do better.

          (I apologize for using the barbaric ‘British’ system of measurements; I usually translate everything to metric but I’m feeling lazy today. I also apologize for the ridiculously precise figures of ‘244’ and ‘814’ side-by-side with the ridiculously broad range of ‘2500-5000’ — but that’s part of what I’m complaining about.)

          We could try to make companies put this sort of information on the label. We could try to pass a law, or try to shame them into doing it. But in the wealthy countries, maybe we could get around this step and just do it ourselves! Some wonderful things are possible nowadays. How about an iPhone app? And someday soon every piece of merchandise in a big chain store should have an individual radio-frequency identification tag on it, so with cleverness maybe one could just point a gadget at it and see crowdsourced information about it. (Not just environmental information, but whether you can get it more cheaply across the street!)

          Another thing I really want is a smart energy grid, where you can see how much energy your appliances are using! Right now this information is darn hard to get… so not everyone realizes how terrible it is to, say, store frozen food in an extra freezer in the garage, especially an old inefficient one. But if they saw that 20% of their monthly electricity bill was going into that freezer, they might catch on.

          There are probably dozens of tricks that people have already thought about… ways to build crucial feedback loops that are currently missing. We need clever people who can figure out ways for people to make money or save money with better feedback.

          It’s important to know what gives the biggest bang for the buck. These reports are really helpful:

          • McKinsey and Company, Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?.

          • McKinsey and Company, Pathways to a Low-Carbon Economy.

          They are, naturally, availble on the Azimuth Library!

  4. WebHubTel says:

    Totally absorbed by your story and how it will unfold … we got your back.

  5. Phil Henshaw says:

    Certainly what we’re seeing from the youth movements in the Arab world today at the very least shows that politics can change. Unexpected constituencies can emerge and gain their voices. All the major political events of history, really, were quite “unexpected” eruptions of that sort, weren’t they?

    That finding of mine, that ~80% of the energy uses that businesses rely on to operate are individually untraceable,… points to a kind of paradigm shift in environmental impact measurement, for example. That “dark energy” used by businesses is hidden because it’s what the self-managing parts of business do, the direct business cost of the “know-how” they provide… without leaving receipts to trace it.

    It does in fact point to a fivefold increase in the known environmental impacts of business revenues, and growth, and so also of the growing payments for environmental services. The business community has already tacitly acknowledged they are their responsibility and major institutions all over the world are being built to to try to make a profit from them, somehow…

    That finding, once appreciated, will change the game, and is being accepted by people who read the paper. What is unclear to people is what it means to include the physical accounts of self-managing services (that businesses pay for) with the physical accounts of businesses too. What it means is that the economists have been counting that ~80% of the financial costs of business operations but ignoring the same ~80% of the physical costs…

    We other authors and I were told the special issue of Sustainability it is in should be released any day. http://www.synapse9.com/pub/SEA_EROIwind.pdf

  6. Curtis Faith says:

    John F wrote:

    I…Must…Reply…

    So what is “economic pressure” anyway, and how can it be adjusted?

    The two most common ways to bring economic pressure, as I used it above, are:

    1) Reduced consumption – A boycott of a company’s products is the traditional means of pressuring a company. It is the easiest to effect.

    2) Stock sales – Divestiture of stock is another means of bringing economic pressure. It can result in the stock price dropping significantly enough that boards and management change direction.

    Corporations have revenue and expenses and they want to maximize their profits (revenues – expenses). Economic pressure is anything that reduces or threatens to reduce corporate profits by significantly reducing revenues or increasing expenses.

    If the pressure is selective, it is more effective, e.g. if only one company in a particular industry is pressured it will have greater effect on that company because consumers will be able to meet their needs indefinitely and the relative competitive position of the company may not return to the status quo ante when the pressure is released. Consumers may not switch back.

    Corporations are owned by investors who don’t want to see the value of their investments drop. So anything that affects the stock price directly or indirectly concerns investors. This can sometimes cause a snowball effect. A drop in price, can itself cause in a further drop in price.

    There are other more sophisticated ways to bring economic pressure that are now possible. For example, one could have secondary boycott’s of wholesale or industrial suppliers. For example, if you wanted to affect a company that sold a particular type of packaging, you could threaten to boycott the users of that packaging unless they switched to an alternative supplier. If the threat was credible, this would cause the original supplier to lose business because the industrial consumers would make the switch because they, in turn, would not want to lose business.

    • peadarcoyle says:

      Is Curtis Faith still involved in this project? I’m interested in writing an article with him. – I’m a mathematician involved in a thinktank so I have some access.

  7. […] I noted in my previous blog post, from my experience as a trader, an entrepreneur, and what what I learned about how emergency room […]

  8. peadarcoyle says:

    Curtis very interesting to read your views. I share similar ones about money and the dominance of today’s culture. I’m a Masters student in Mathematical Physics in Europe, but I’m very interested in making the world a better place.

    Something very interesting is the dominance of political debate by ‘economics’. Especially since so much of Neoclassical economics is on shaky ground….

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