Geothermal in Iceland vs New Zealand

Sigurdur, I always enjoy reading your Iceland-related stories and aspirations especially I have lived in New Zealand for six years and that Iceland shares many similarities with New Zealand. For example, distant, island nations with remote, beautiful landscapes, snow-capped mountains, the unique smoking volcanoes, geysers, mud pools, turquoise lakes, black sand beaches, millions of sheep…and importantly both countries are world’s top ten producer and user of geothermal energy while deriving more than 10% of their electricity from geothermal sources.

I recently read the “Uses of Geothermal Energy in Food and Agriculture Opportunities for Developing Countries” report produced by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2015. Very interesting to learn that Iceland bas been using geothermal heat or other clean energy resources for “drying” of food (for over four decades) to utilise commercially food that is currently either thrown away or spoiled due to lack of suitable storage facilities. And “drying” of food could increase the availability of food by upto 20%!

Your work is amazing! If the Iceland experience can be applied elsewhere in the world, multiple SDGs can be addressed concurrently. 

On the subject of indoor farming, I have been following the development of AeroFarms in New Jersey in the US, arguably one of the world’s largest indoor farm. According to a CNN article in 2016, I learnt that AeroFarms will use 95% less water than a conventional outdoor farm. It also combines a technique called “aeroponics” with big data mining, which will help this modern farm figure out optimal conditions for growth.

Look forward to hearing more successful stories on Indoor farming from Iceland!

Thank you Luka for sharing. Great seeing you and wife in Hong Kong earlier this year, certainly one of the happiest moments in 2019! 

The topic of “happiness” is very interesting. In Asia, increasing number of friends are travelling to Bhutan to experience this happy nation (consistently ranks amongst the happiest nation in the world). Similar to Dubai, Bhutan also has a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index and Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC). 

Bhutan equates its GNH concept as the Bhutanese version of sustainable development (source: Royal Government of Bhutan. Bhutan: In Pursuit of Sustainable Development—National Report for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012; Royal Government of Bhutan: Thimphu, Bhutan, 2012). 

GNH was first discussed and adopted by the 4th King of Bhutan in the 1970s, which is essentially a Buddhist philosophy that “measures the quality of a country in a more holistic way than GDP and believes that the beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other” (source: Center for Bhutan Studies. An Extensive Analysis of GNH Index; Ura, K., Alkire, S., Zangmo, T.,

Wangdi, K., Eds.; Centre for Bhutan Studies: Thimphu, Bhutan, 2012).

Bhutan, following its GNH development initiative, along with its carbon neutral declaration in 2009, and its economic commitments, will find the mission of meeting the SDGs easier than other developing countries with fewer guidelines and targets for holistic socio-economic development. 

Both Dubai and Bhutan could be showcases for happiness and prosperity, and thus, a role model for other countries (developed or developing) seeking alignment with the new universal SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

Look forward to sharing more happy moments with everyone in Cambridge very soon!

Wrapping up on personal leadership – changes, changes…

via Wrapping up on personal leadership – changes, changes…

 

Thank you Luka for sharing. Great seeing you and wife in Hong Kong earlier this year, certainly one of the happiest moments in 2019! 

The topic of “happiness” is very interesting. In Asia, increasing number of friends are travelling to Bhutan to experience this happy nation (consistently ranks amongst the happiest nation in the world). Similar to Dubai, Bhutan also has a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index and Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC). 

Bhutan equates its GNH concept as the Bhutanese version of sustainable development (source: Royal Government of Bhutan. Bhutan: In Pursuit of Sustainable Development—National Report for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012; Royal Government of Bhutan: Thimphu, Bhutan, 2012). 

GNH was first discussed and adopted by the 4th King of Bhutan in the 1970s, which is essentially a Buddhist philosophy that “measures the quality of a country in a more holistic way than GDP and believes that the beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other” (source: Center for Bhutan Studies. An Extensive Analysis of GNH Index; Ura, K., Alkire, S., Zangmo, T.,

Wangdi, K., Eds.; Centre for Bhutan Studies: Thimphu, Bhutan, 2012).

Bhutan, following its GNH development initiative, along with its carbon neutral declaration in 2009, and its economic commitments, will find the mission of meeting the SDGs easier than other developing countries with fewer guidelines and targets for holistic socio-economic development. 

Both Dubai and Bhutan could be showcases for happiness and prosperity, and thus, a role model for other countries (developed or developing) seeking alignment with the new universal SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

Look forward to sharing more happy moments with everyone in Cambridge very soon!

Reflection on my personal leadership opportunity around Confucius learning

Throughout this wonderful personal learning journey, I learnt that education was the secret to changing people. Some of his famous sayings in this regard include:

“Education breeds confidence, confidence breeds hope, hope breeds peace”

“It is not possible for one to teach others who cannot teach his own family”

And I managed to integrate the following Confucius learning in the daily lives of young kids (start with my two daughters):

  • importance of “ren,” or loving others. He taught people to treat each other as they would like to be treated. 
  • children should love their parents (in return of unconditional love from their parents).
  • all people can succeed if they study/ work hard and develop character.
  • leaders should be self disciplined and humble. They should lead with kindness
  • Remember other famous sayings of Confucius such as “Do not do unto others, what you would not want others to do to you.” / “If you make a mistake and do not correct it, that is called a mistake” / “when I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn” / “by three methods, we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Few months ago, I switched my elder daughter from a local school to an international school in Hong Kong.

Thereafter, I observed some dilemma arising from the principles set by the first private teacher in ancient China about 2,500 years ago.

For instance, Confucius believed in rules and regulations. His rules were fixed; they never changed. He had a rule for almost everything. His many rules dictated the way individuals should behave so they did not behave in the incorrect way. His students had to learn his many rules and regulations and always comply with them.

However, in an international school environment, teachers will encourage students to speak up and be more open-minded and creative and its perfectly fine for students to deviate from the rules and regulations sometimes. Ironically, if a student is highly disciplined, the student could be perceived as rigid and even stubborn and might be incapable of thinking outside-the-box.

From the “teaching” perspective, Confucius also has a famous saying of “If the mat is not straight, the teacher will not sit.” Apparently, teachers at present world are expected to be flexible, inspirational and innovative. Again, this expectation could contradict the model teacher in the mind of Confucius.

Owing to the aforesaid, I believe the ideal education model for our next generation should be a delicate blending of Confucius learning and the best-in-class learning model (eg Finland) from the Western world.

In Analects 16.7, Confucius says:

“The gentleman has three things to be careful about: when he is young, when his energy and blood are not yet settled, he must be cautious about sex. In his middle age, when his energy and blood are still strong, he must be cautious about fighting. In his old age, when his energy and blood are weak, he must be cautious about greed.” Some people think President Trump violates all these Confucius norms. I’m hopeful that, after the Trump administration, the global community (especially our future leaders) will increasingly value the Confucian emphasis of family, order, and hierarchy, which is a cornerstone of Chinese culture. 

 

Thucydides Trap in the Sustainability World???

In recent months, we have been seeing many press reports around US-China trade war quoting the famous Game Theory “Tit-for-Tat” as tactics adopted by President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping. Also, politicians and journalists and media around the world are increasingly worried about the world falling into the “Thucydides Trap”, a deadly trap first identified by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. As he explained, “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” The past 500 years have seen 16 cases in which a rising power threatened to challenge a ruling one. 12 of these ended in war.

Before the real war happens, we already saw a “Cold War” happening in the sustainability world partly around the Paris Agreement.

Many people think the campaign around the Chinese Government stepping up its efforts in addressing global warming is a successful one. Since President Obama and President Xi Jinping signed the Paris Agreement in September 2016, the Chinese Government has undertaken the following green and sustainability initiatives: (a) conducted central environmental inspections, carried out guidelines to control air, water and soil pollution, published its own plans to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and is implementing a national plan to tackle the climate change; (b) betting big on the long-term benefits of solar power. After doubling the number of solar panels in 2016, China’s overall solar power capacity is now twice as large as that of the United States. The Chinese Government plans to spend RMB 2.5 trillion on renewables by 2020, an investment that is projected to create 13 million jobs in China; (c) China’s CO2 emissions for 2017 has marked the fourth consecutive year of declining emissions; (d) become the world’s largest green bond issuer.

When Liu He (Vice Premier of the Chinese Government) attended the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2018, he earmarked three strategic priorities for the Chinese Government. These include: 1) preventing and resolving the major risks, 2) conducting targeted poverty reduction, and 3) controlling pollution.

These campaign (supplemented by seamless execution and real actions) over the past 27 months has won the Chinese Government significant credibility in front of the global community. Today, more people start to think China is at the forefront (globally) in pushing for sustainability and green.

On the contrary, Trump is doing exactly the opposite. Since becoming the 45th President of the US on 20 January 2017, Trump has announced the following anti-sustainability policies: (a) pulled out of the historic Paris Agreement; (b) announced new greenhouse gas regulations for coal-fired power plants – relaxing pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, while allowing individual states to decide how, or even whether, to curb carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants; (c) openly condemning the renewable energy sector. According to the Washington Post, Trump’s plan would “release at least 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compared with the Obama rule over the next decade.”

Overall, Trump’s energy campaign has attracted intense criticisms. 

Let’s hope the drama played out by the two opposing campaigners will net-net favor a sustainable development of a Beautiful Planet in 2019!  Fingers crossed!

Personal learning opportunity – promote Confucian learning amongst young children in Hong Kong

As I think back on my progress (ie promote Confucius learning amongst young children in Hong Kong) so far, I have observed that most young children in Hong Kong will be asked to memorise “Dizigui” by heart, from the age of 6 (ie primary school year one). 

“Dizigui” is a 17th century textbook based on Confucian teachings that demands respect for tradition and elderly to promote harmony in a hierarchical society.

However, I think memorising and reciting texts and attending moral classes by young children might not inspire creativity in children. Importantly, young children might not fully appreciate (and understand) the meaning behind the texts they memorise and recite by heart.

To take things forward, I would suggest primary schools in Hong Kong to teach young children moral values by way of “idiom” animation (ie similar to Disney or Peppa Pig cartoons) EITHER using overhead projector (in classroom) OR iPad (at home). This shall maximise the impacts of planting the seeds of moral values in the brains of young children. 

I plan to speak to few friends (who are existing school board members in Hong Kong) to try collaborate with three to five Government-subsidised band-three primary schools and rollout this initiative on a small-scale pilot basis. The school management can then observe the effectiveness, including the receptiveness by young children and their parents. If feedback is positive, the school management can communicate with the Education Bureau of Hong Kong Government then lobby for government support to hopefully rollout the initiative in much bigger scale. 

I believe this is no different from doing a small experiment research in several primary schools in Hong Kong. 

I shall choose less prestigious primary schools for experiment research purpose because such schools have lesser resources (from BOTH school AND parent/student perspectives) thus warrant more attention.

Without saying, a key hurdle is how best to fund such experiment research. In this regard, I will have to sound out interests of few NGOs to provide funding support.

hi Luka, it was a great and insightful post. Big data / data science / blockchain always excites me! I can appreciate why big data analytics and data science are increasingly important. According to an estimate by IBM, in 2020 there will be 300 times more information than we had in 2005. Understandably, there are immense possibilities which arise from a proper utilization of this data and environment sustainability is one of them. Out of many promises of big data, environment sustainability is one of the most important ones to implement and maintain (Saurabh Tyagi). Across academia, government, and industries both small and large, data science is being used to better understand energy and the environment, motivate policy, and shape business (Berkeley Institute for Data Science, 2017 April 20). Coincidentally, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and VeChain (2018, May 9) recently commented that logistics, GOVERNMENT and medical industries stand to benefit most from blockchain technology. Philipp Sandner (2015, March 23) attempted to name few examples of possible contribution of blockchain towards more sustainable economy. These include: (a) combination with smart meters, blockchain system can be utilized to transmit payment transactions, record and control electricity flow and storage, thereby managing payment as well as energy flow via smart contract deployed into a blockchain infrastructure (b) IBM partnered with Energy-Blockchain Labs to develop a “Carbon Credit Management Platform” on the basis of the Hyperledger blockchain for the Chinese carbon market (c) SolarCoin, similar to airmiles, rewards the production of solar electricity. United Nations has also spearheaded a series of initiatives to enhance use of big data for driving sustainable development (Priyankar Bhunia, 2018 January 16). In 2016, the United Nations introduced the idea of strengthening countries’ use of big data for sustainable development, including a data literacy platform, a proposal for a 12-point plan on privacy and governance issues and a mapping software for monitoring progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. Luka, you may want to take a look at the Data-Pop Alliance initiative, a global coalition crated by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab, and the Overseas Development Institute to promote the use of big data for sustainable development… Very much look forward to reading your future articles on this mega trend!

via Leveraging data science to reach zero carbon cities – potential & opportunity