7Billion people, Peak Oil, C02 Recapture and Global Markets

My 9 year old budding environmentalist asked over dinner the other night if it was possible to keep the earth cool. It appears that this has been a topic of learning in her 4th grade “weather” module.

What ensued was an interesting discussion between me, the “marketing guy,” my wife the Environmental Scientist by training and trade, and my daughter on what could happen. And oh yeah, we had to talk in terms that a 9 year old (and my 7 year old son) could understand.

What kicked off the conversation is this fascinating article in Fortune Magazine about CO2 recapture technology. My daughter had liked the picture of the big “fans” in the middle of the plains and read a few paragraphs of the article.

This was a new one for me as well. The concept of pulling CO2 out of the air at any kind of scale was something I hadn’t heard of.

We also learned this month that the world’s populate topped 7 Billion people. When I was my daughter’s age, 4 Billion people seemed like a lot, and the concept of “doubling in my lifetime was far too abstract and seemed catastrophic.  How would we feed all of these people? How would we deal with the overcrowding?

The same way we always have, a little bit a time. Slow, incremental changes give us time to adapt. The oceans are not going to rise 2 feet overnight. The population isn’t going to double overnight. Oil isn’t going to stop being produced overnight.

So what did I tell my daughter? I told her that despite the meltdown of 2008, I believe in global markets. At some point oil will be too expensive and alternative energies will become worth it.  Then, market forces will take over. The same with rising oceans, and the same with rising populations. What seems too abstract (7  Billion people?!) will become real as will the solutions, there will be too much at stake.

The idea that you could use recaptured CO2 to grow enough Algae to meet our energy needs in a completely renewable lifecycle is one of those abstract ideas. But as the technology evolves, and the price dynamics of oil change around, the early research being done today might pay off. Only time will tell.

Even if it’s already too late to have a real impact on global warming. Even if Peak Oil has in fact come and gone. Even if we can’t possibly see how we will ever feed 7 or 8 billion people. Because, even with all of that, I believe in the power of Markets and the resiliency of the human race.

And in the end, do we really have a choice?


Wikinomics, MacroWikinomics and WikiRevolutions

Just back from the Gartner Portals and Collaboration Conference this past week in LA. It was a very interesting show with a broad range of content topics covered. Lovely hotel the JW Marriott at LA Live (yes, an iron and more washcloths than I could possibly use.) and the lobby was bustling with activity on the night Lady Gaga was playing at the Staples Center.  People watching at its finest!

Don Tapscott, accomplished author of numerous titles, but perhaps best known more recently for “Wikinomics” was the keynote address at the end of the show. His talk was fascinating on many levels, though it was clear that 60 minutes just wasn’t enough. I felt like he could have gone for 2 solid hours.

Tapscott shared some vivid stories of how the face of revolution changed dramatically in Northern Egypt through the use of social tools. Though careful to state that social media did not cause the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, rather it was the foundation upon which revolution was spread.  This is truly crowdsourcing revolution, or “WikiRevolutions” as one slide was titled.

He told the story of how people on the ground in Tunisia who were getting fired on by government snipers were able to use social tools to triangulate the coordinates of the snipers and communicate those locations to revolutionary forces who were able to take out the snipers. And this was perhaps the most vivid example of how Digital Natives (he considers himself a Digital Immigrant incidentally) adapt technology for their own needs in powerful and unpredicted ways.  I am pretty sure there isn’t an app for that.

These kinds of behaviors that are ingrained in the current generation entering the workforce have wide ranging implications for all manners of corporations and managers. Tapscott shared how one government agency turned off access to Facebook and a 27 year old worker was quoted as saying “That is the single most demoralizing thing that they could have done.”

This is not a community to force fit into the structures and constraints of yesterday. This is a community to empower with tools and open-ness that will challenge all of us to think very differently. As marketers we need to understand the new rules of engagement. One that is defined by the terms Context, Community, Engagement and Open. How do we provide freedom to address our community of buyers to create a community around our products, allow them to engage with them in new and interesting ways and then step back and listen?

I am personally more energized than ever to explore these new channels and new opportunities. Tapscott shared this quote near the beginning of the talk:

“The future is not something to be predicted. The future should be achieved.”

Let’s go achieve our future together.


USA 1 – England 1

It was a huge match for the Americans to squeeze a tie out of the heavily favored Brits yesterday. And save for a desperate dive by the English keeper and a well placed post, The Yanks may have pulled a win outright.


Right about the time the match came to an end, a young left fielder strode to the plate in a sold-out Fenway park. It was his first major league appearance after several years in the low minors and independent leagues. His parents scrambled to get to Boston in time to see their son’s debut leaving their luggage at the notoriously slow Boston Logan baggage carousel. As luck would have it, the bases were loaded in a game the home town Red Sox trailed 2-0.

On the very first pitch he saw, Daniel Nava drove the ball into straight away center field.  37,000 fans rose as won, as did millions more watching on the Fox national broadcast.  High and deep, the ball carried well into the Red Sox bullpen where it was caught by Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen.

Bedlam ensued.

As a citizen of the global world, I do understand the Football phenomenon, and can appreciate it being played at the highest level. I cheered when the British keeper etched his name permanently in England’s dog house, practically an own-goal. I sweated out the last few minutes of the match hoping the Yanks could hold on to the…. Tie?

Sorry, it just doesn’t work for me.

Yes its true, I prefer the drama of the early stages of an important June baseball game to the vagaries of what we call Soccer.

Postscript: Wouldn’t you know it, Nava came up the very next inning with the bases loaded. Only this time he struck out. The Red Sox did hold on for a 10-2 win however.