Friday, June 27, 2014

Possible game changers

Visions of the future can be pretty bleak. Resource depletion and environmental degradation are real. Some sort of major financial collapse appears to be baked in the cake. Leaders care more for a tiny elite than the regular citizens. I could go on, but you get the idea.

There are technological breakthroughs that can make a big difference. Solar electric has come down in price to the point where it can compete in some markets directly with fossil fuels. Economies of scale along with the best available processes will drop the price even further. That's all happening now.

Then we Elon Musk. Sure the guy's rich and is involved in some far out ventures like SpaceX and the Tesla electric car. Now that stuff is cool, but for me a real game changer is releasing over 500 patents to the general public. This is huge. At the very least it will give a boost to other companies. They will not have to try to reinvent the wheel. I'm hopeful that the ramifications will be larger than the patents themselves. He sets a good example that doing things to advance humanity are more important than corporate trade secrets.

Then there's the world of money and investment. I'm encouraged by the proliferation of companies that are looking to profit from alternative energy and conservation. One model is for companies to do energy efficiency upgrades and/or alternative energy projects for homes and businesses. The property owner pays no money up front. The upgrades are paid for with savings from lower energy costs. It's a win win. The property owner saves money on energy and eventually owns the equipment. The installation company gets a better return on investment than they would from a bank.

A few years ago I hadn't even heard the word permaculture. Now I know people with permaculture certifications and who are putting those skills into practice. Sustainable agriculture is possible. The world does not have to starve.

There are tools and techniques available to make a better world. Will we use them?



  1. I don't think Solar scales up very well. But it does accel at at the residential level. I'm not rich and I live on SSD and even I can afford 200 watt solar panel, a couple of AGM batteries a charger controller and a 1000 watt inverter. Yes it took a bit of time to gather those parts but it is doable fror most preppers/survivalists. Cost was under a grand and can be bought over time.

    I bought a wood stove with a small signature loan and this year I bartered for my wood. With the "Polar Vortex" and the old coal plants just barely able to keep up with demand last winter, Those old coal plants will be shut down this summer and you won't have any eletric backup unless you do it your self.

    1. You are right. Solar works best at the residential level. Glad you won't be one of those people freezing in the dark. I fear for this next winter. Heating fuel stocks have not been replenished.

  2. Your first paragraph is correct. To many favors being done by CONgress.

    I have been in the medical device business most of my life and have quite a few patents to show for it (the companies patents).

    The issue I have with patents is they are needed but the length of time they lock others out of the business is far to long at seventeen years. For example a medical device or especially a drug patent should expire 3 years after issuance. This is not a problem as most companies drive a return on investment in 12 months or less. So they will have a astronomical profit margin for two years. Also when you file for a patent and it is issued even if you don't plan on using it the clock begins running for the three years. This will stop people like me from patenting 4-5 similar versions of the same device and just sitting on the patent for 17 years locking out competition. Lack of competition is the number one reason for unaffordable healthcare.

    The patent process needs to be changed to reflect today's manufacturing and marketing speeds. Patents need to take into account the average citizen needs and ability to pay for the life saving patented drugs or appliances.

    1. Don't even get me started on copyrights. Same old same old.