Driverless Cars Helping Humankind Sprawl out Further

Driverless Cars Helping Humankind Sprawl out Further

In this interesting essay of Dr Timothy Hodgetts, Research Fellow in the Geopolitics of Wildlife Conservation, University of Oxford on the very actual subject of driverless cars helping humankind sprawl out further. How could this, sometime in the not so far future, affect our everyday life is concisely decortiquated in this article that is republished here with our thanks to The Conversation.

As far as the MENA region is concerned, this sprawling whilst comfortably seated behind a driverless car dash could be limited by the prevailing natural elements and that unlike those in more of clement, it will be confined to only those areas of sustainable life.

Driverless cars could see humankind sprawl ever further into the countryside

File 20170825 1020 1hemucp
BreezyInt / shutterstock

Dr Timothy Hodgetts, University of Oxford

Self-driving cars will change how we live, in all sorts of ways. But they won’t just affect us humans – the coming revolution in autonomous transport has significant implications for wildlife as well. Nature conservationists and planners need to think hard about the impact of driverless vehicles, most notably in terms of renewed urban sprawl.

In some ways, wider developments in automotive technology bode well for the environment. Electric cars will increasingly replace the internal combustion engine, and that should, in theory, reduce carbon emissions and health-afflicting air pollution.

Through minimising traffic jams, driverless cars may also reduce overall energy use. Unlike human drivers, computers can avoid the “concertina” effect of needless acceleration and braking that exacerbates congestion, and won’t be tempted to “rubberneck” when passing an accident. And, as autonomous vehicles aren’t restricted by human reaction times, it may make sense to increase speed limits for them on major inter-city routes.

So driverless cars promise a future of faster journey times with much reduced environmental impacts. They may even mean less wildlife roadkill. But it’s the very efficiency of driverless cars that poses a challenge for planners and conservationists. The threat is an unchecked increase in low-density urbanisation.

Driving into the countryside

Autonomous vehicles promise a future in which passengers are free to use their time productively (working, for example). And they can park themselves (or be part of a shared pool) which saves yet more time in the morning rush. Coupled with faster journey times, the incentives to live further out of town will increase significantly.

Sprawling cities like Los Angeles could cover an even larger area.
Melpomene / shutterstock

There are both push and pull factors at work here: sky-high residential prices in most cities push people away from urban centres while healthy environments and green living pull people towards the hinterlands. The limiting factor in suburban spread is often travel time, either by public or private means. Driverless cars fundamentally alter the equation.

Existing planning policies are based on our current transport systems. Green-belts, for example, are designed to reduce urban sprawl by restricting development within a buffer zone around an urban area. However, the reduced transport times offered by driverless cars make it easier to live outside the belt while still working inside. So these loops of green are in danger of becoming a thin layer in a sandwich of ever-spreading suburbanisation.

This is, of course, a familiar challenge since the rise of the automotive age in the 1940s. However, the solutions designed by planners have been calibrated for a human-driving automotive system – not for the supercharged future of driverless transport.

Other examples of planning protection for wildlife include nature reserves, national parks and (in the UK) “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. Such areas have either strict controls on development, or do not permit it at all. However, they are nice places to live in or nearby. The coming revolution in automotive journey times and the ability to work behind the (computer-driven) wheel will make living in such areas increasingly compatible with a commute to the nearest city.

Sick of sprawl

Natural habitats being lost entirely or splintered into ever-smaller fragments have long been understood as some of the primary causes of species extinctions across the world. Renewed urban sprawl threatens to increase the magnitude of both habitat loss and fragmentation. These threats are well known among conservationists, but there are differences of opinion on how best to respond.

For example, eco-modernists advocate a strategy of “land-sparing”, whereby human activities are concentrated into urban areas and vast tracts of land are set aside for nature. There are many cultural and ethical problems inherent in herding humans into cities, but the near-term planning issues posed by autonomous vehicles will exacerbate the challenge given they will boost demand to live in “unspared” lands.

Alternatively, some conservationists advocate “land-sharing”, in which human communities redesign the way we farm and live so as to co-exist with wildlife, cheek-by-jowl. Autonomous vehicles pose significant challenges for either approach, by supercharging the fragmentary effect of road systems.

Whichever approach is taken, we’ll need to redesign existing systems and policies to take account of the increased range that driverless transport facilitates. This may involve new zoning laws to protect wider areas of countryside than at present. It certainly requires further development of green infrastructure, habitat corridors and “greenways”.

This bridge in Banff National Park, Canada, was built specially for bears.
WikiPedant, CC BY-SA

It might also involve engineering solutions, especially given the fact that autonomous vehicles should be much more amenable to being driven underground. It is possible to imagine a future in which the famous bear bridges of Banff are tiny precursors to a vast programme in which rural highways are covered with forests of green. Retro-fitting roads into tunnels won’t be cheap, but it becomes easier when human drivers are taken out of the equation. Software drivers are less bothered by artificial light and more efficient at mitigating the congestion impact during construction.

The ConversationMuch conservation policy is based on planning for the world we live in now. Strategic conservation planning needs instead to take account of likely futures. And in a future of driverless cars, that is likely to result in the mega cities of the 20th century becoming the mega sprawls of the 21st. Unless, of course, planners and conservationists rise to this new challenge.

Dr Timothy Hodgetts, Research Fellow in the Geopolitics of Wildlife Conservation, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Goodbye Petrol, Hello Tesla

Goodbye Petrol, Hello Tesla

At a time when most car manufacturers are one after the other starting to, like for all of us, to realise and take for some of them the decision that soon every car launched will have an electric motor, there subsists doubts as to human activities have a bearing on the planet. Meanwhile scientists say the world may have already missed its chance to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming, according to a number of new research. But it is never too late and to reinforce what everyone knows perhaps instinctively, EVANNEX published an interesting post titled Goodbye Petrol, Hello Tesla written by Matt Pressman commenting a recent article of The Economist titled The death of the internal combustion engine, posted on August 15, 2017 of which we republished some excerpts here below. 

Goodbye Petrol, Hello Tesla

The most recent cover story in The Economist* announces, “The death of the internal combustion engine… it had a good run. But the end is in sight.” In a remarkable account, The Economist reports that the internal combustion engine’s “days are numbered. Rapid gains in battery technology favour electric motors instead… Today’s electric cars, powered by lithium-ion batteries, can do much better.”
Recent developments are encouraging: “Last month Britain joined a lengthening list of electric-only countries, saying that all new cars must be zero-emission by 2050. The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long. The first death rattles of the internal combustion engine are already reverberating around the world—and many of the consequences will be welcome.”

Above: The Economist’s most recent issue calls the internal combustion engine “Roadkill” on its cover (Source: The Economist*)

Already, there are “Mass-market vehicles with driving ranges close to that offered by a full tank of petrol, such as Tesla’s Model 3” that will be a catalyst for change. But sweeping changes ahead are fast-approaching. “Many forecasters reckon that the lifetime costs of owning and driving an electric car will be comparable to those for a fuel burner within a few years, leading sales of the electric cars to soar in the 2020s and to claim the majority sometime during the 2030s.”

The benefits of zero emissions driving will be significant: “electric propulsion will offer enormous environmental and health benefits. Charging car batteries from central power stations is more efficient than burning fuel in separate engines. Existing electric cars reduce carbon emissions by 54% compared with petrol-powered ones, according to America’s National Resources Defence Council. That figure will rise as electric cars become more efficient and grid-generation becomes greener. Local air pollution will fall, too. The World Health Organisation says that it is the single largest environmental health risk, with outdoor air pollution contributing to 3.7m deaths a year. One study found that car emissions kill 53,000 Americans each year, against 34,000 who die in traffic accidents.”

Above: (1) Forecasts differ but even ExxonMobil now predicts electric vehicles will account for over 100 million vehicles sold by 2040; batteries are changing everything (Source: The Economist*)

And its not just battery electric vehicles that will transform energy: “For Tesla and other big battery-makers grid-storage projects are the most attractive part of the electricity market; they offer contracts that use up otherwise surplus capacity in satisfyingly large job lots… [so Tesla’s] gigafactory is not just for cars. Hearing of electricity blackouts in South Australia, Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, tweeted to the state’s premier in March that by the end of the year Tesla could provide enough battery storage to make sure that the grid never fell over again. At the gigafactory they are now hard at work cramming 129 megawatt-hours (MWh) of capacity into a facility designed to keep their boss’s word.”

How big is this project for Tesla? “When installed on the other side of the Pacific, it will be the biggest such grid-based system in the world; but many more are on the way. Industrial-scale lithium-ion battery packs—essentially lots of the battery packs used in cars wired together, their chemistry and electronics tweaked to support quicker charging and discharging—are increasingly popular with grid operators looking for ways to smooth out the effects of intermittent power supplies such as solar and wind… Batteries are becoming an integral part of the low-emissions future.

To address the accelerating growth of electric cars and grid-scale energy storage projects, battery expansion efforts are already underway by the industry’s top players: “The top five manufacturers—Japan’s Panasonic, South Korea’s LG Chem and Samsung SDI, and China’s BYD and CATL—are ramping up capital expenditure with a view to almost tripling capacity by 2020… The vast $5bn gigafactory Tesla is building with Panasonic in Nevada is thought to already be producing about 4GWh a year. Tesla says it will produce 35GWh in 2018. Just four years ago, that would have been enough for all applications across the whole world.”

One reason for this massive energy industry shake-up — plummeting battery costs: “All the big producers are adding capacity in part because it drives down unit costs, as the past few years have shown. Lithium-ion cells (the basic components of batteries) cost over $1,000 a kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2010; last year they were in the $130-200 range… Tesla says that cells for the Model 3 are cheaper.”

Above: (2) Panasonic/Tesla lead worldwide battery manufacturing capacity; (3) battery costs continue to drop as battery energy density improves (Source: The Economist*)

And Tesla continues to push the envelope further: “Tesla and Panasonic have now developed the 2170 [battery cell which is] a bit longer and wider; Mr Musk says it will be the most energy-dense battery on the market. The company says that the cost of driving a Model 3, released in late July to rave reviews, will be half that of any of its previous vehicles. At the car’s launch Mr Musk seemed a bit overawed at the prospect of producing 500,000 such vehicles next year: ‘Welcome to production hell,’ he told the assembled workers.”


Palestine is the world’s fastest growing tourist destination

Palestine is the world’s fastest growing tourist destination

Palestine is the world’s fastest growing tourist destination as it has seen in 2017 a 57.8% rise in international arrivals says Mariam Nabbout in stepFEED citing a new report compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The report features two other MENA countries in its top ten list. These are Egypt, second and Tunisia, in fifth. The Telegraph amongst several other media reported on the latest trends of worldwide tourism.
Tourism that this morning of August 18, 2017 events have somewhat tarnished further in the city of Barcelona where for months some sort Tourism-phobia was soul-scathingly debated amongst the local politicians.
Would tourism be affected by these unfortunate events? We republish excerpts of this article of  Gavin Haines with our thanks and respectful compliments to the publisher.

This is the world’s fastest growing destination – but where is it? CREDIT: GETTY

10 surprising destinations where tourism is booming in 2017

A new report compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has revealed the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations for 2017 – and the results throw up a few surprises.

So what can we read into the data? Well, the fact that countries such as Egypt and Tunisia feature in the top ten seems to indicate their ability – against the odds – to bounce back after a string of terrorist attacks.

As well as telling tales of resilience, the report also chronicles holidaymakers’ increasing appetite to travel beyond traditional destinations and forge paths on roads less travelled. The presence of Mongolia and Nicaragua in the top ten is testament to that.

The list throws up a few surprises, such as Mongolia (pictured) CREDIT: GETTY

Here are the fastest growing tourist destinations so far in 2017:

  1. Palestine

Earlier this year the street artist, Banksy, opened a boutique hotel in Palestine’s West Bank, which, in hindsight, appears to have been a sage move: tourism in Palestine is booming. According to the UNWTO, the occupied territories witnessed a 57.8 per cent rise in international arrivals so far this year.

Overlooking the Israeli West Bank barrier, Banksy’s politically-charged Walled Off Hotel has likely helped raise awareness of tourism in Palestine, which is on course to welcome more than 630,000 holidaymakers by the end of the year. Read our review of the Walled Off Hotel here.

  1. Egypt

Egypt’s tourist industry has had a torrid time of late. Ongoing political unrest and the downing of a Russian passenger plane in 2015 – which investigators attributed to terrorism – deterred many people from visiting the North African nation.

Egypt’s tourist industry has had a torrid time of late CREDIT: AP/FOTOLIA

Much to the chagrin of the Egyptian authorities, the UK government still refuses to let airlines fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, from where the doomed jet departed, meaning Britain is the only European nation apart from Russia not serving the holiday resort. That hasn’t stopped other nationalities flocking to the country, which has witnessed a 51 per cent spike in international tourist arrivals this year and is on course to welcome nearly 8 million holidaymakers in 2017 (though that’s still well below the 14 million who visited in 2010).

A plaque commemorates the spot where the Sousse massacre took place CREDIT: GETTY

  1. Tunisia

Tunisia’s tourist industry suffered a similar fate to Egypt’s following the Sousse beach massacre of 2015, when a gunman killed 38 people – most of them 30 Britons – during a shooting rampage.

The hotel where the massacre took place reopened earlier this year and the FCO has since eased its travel advice for Tunisia, which seems to have signalled a change in fortunes for the country: the UNWTO reports arrivals are up by 32.5 per cent so far this year. If the trend continues, some 7.5 million holidaymakers would visit Tunisia in 2017, not far off the 7.8 million who flocked there in 2010.


As of today, Humanity would be living in Credit

As of today, Humanity would be living in Credit

Today Wednesday August 2, 2017, we have according to Earth Overshoot Day consumed all the natural resources that the planet can produce in a whole year. This date was arrived at from the computation of a set of variable factors that are all linked directly to our way of life and generalised to all humanity. So as of today, Humanity would be living in credit and that it will be biting into next year’s reserves.  It was also found that in most cases this date always intervened earlier as we go as it were into the future.

Then until the end of 2017 and to continue to drink, eat, live in comfortable surroundings, heat our homes or move, we will be overstretching the ecosystems and jeopardizing our ability to regenerate our environment.

This “Earth overshoot day” is computed each year by the Global Footprint Network, an International Research Institute based in Oakland, California as from 15,000+ United Nations data through comparing the ecological footprint of humans whilst exploiting the natural resources of the Earth.

The resulting data are put against the bio-capacity of the planet to replenish its reserves and to absorb greenhouse gases.

The available resources or the equivalent of 1.7 planet is necessary to satisfy the needs of humans.

The “Overshoot Day” of the Earth has not stopped moving since 1969. All resources in excess in 1961, with a quarter of its unused reserves, land became unprofitable by the early 1970s. And that day kept getting sooner and sooner. This date was November 5th, 1985, October 1st, 1998, August 20 in 2009 and today as far as 2017 is concerned. However since the beginning of the Decade, the acceleration along the timeline got to be slower.

But it remains that at this rate, we would need two planets by 2030. And it would seem that at what is at issue here would obviously be global population growth, but especially lifestyles increasingly gourmet resources and dependent on fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas).  It is however acknowledged that all humans were found not to be responsible, however, in the same proportions as say an Australian or an American, it would take more than five planets

Excerpts of the Overshoot Day

. . . . The costs of this global ecological overspending include deforestation, drought, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The new Footprint Calculator allows users to measure their own demand on nature (Ecological Footprint) and assess their personal Earth Overshoot Day. A user’s personal Earth Overshoot day is the date Earth Overshoot Day would be if all people had their Footprint.

A personal Earth Overshoot Day earlier than August 2 means your demand on nature is higher than the world average. If it is earlier than April 24, it is higher than Germany’s average; if it is earlier than March 14, it is higher than the US average. (See here for all countries.) . . .


“Something” could happen on the Paris Agreement

“Something” could happen on the Paris Agreement

This last July 14, 2017, Donald Trump on a visit to France took opportunity to perhaps reward his host by revealing a reversal of his previous decision on the international agreement on climate change saying that :

“Something” could happen on the Paris Agreement . 

In between times and not far from Paris, Turkey’s president voiced out some concern as reported in the following article of Think Progress. 
Would this domino effect get really started or be limited in its extent?



Domino effect: Turkey won’t ratify Paris climate accord, citing Trump’s exit

Erdoğan says other G20 countries have a “problem” with Paris and “are not renewing their full support.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that Turkey will not be ratifying the Paris climate accord, citing President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the deal.

“After that step taken by America, the position that we adopt is in the direction of not passing it in parliament,” he told the press Saturday at the end of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Despite the fact that every other leader but Trump signed on to the summit’s final statement asserting “the Paris agreement is irreversible,” Erdoğan said some of those countries had a “problem” with the accord and are “not renewing their support.”

In the lead-up to Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris deal, a top concern was that U.S. withdrawal could pave the way for other defectors. Russia would be on the top of the list of other countries that might follow suit — Putin has never liked the deal since it means much if not most of Russia’s fossil fuel reserves would remain in the ground, unable to provide vast revenue for him and his fellow Kremlin kleptocrats.

Significantly, the U.N. reports Russia still hasn’t ratified the deal, and has said it won’t until 2019 or 2020 at the earliest.

The most optimistic spin one can put on Erdoğan’s remarks is that he is seeking negotiating leverage. He said he had warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the summit, “No offense, but we will not pass it in our parliament as long as the promises made to us are not delivered.”

Erdoğan asserted that, at Paris, the previous French president (François Hollande) had promised Turkey would be considered a developing economy, rather than an industrialized one, so that it would get money from a global climate fund for cutting carbon pollution instead of having to pay into it.

Unfortunately, when Trump pulled out of Paris, he also said the U.S. wouldn’t cover $2 billion in unpaid commitments to that fund — casting doubt on the fund’s entire future, especially its ambitious goal of proving $100 billion a year in financing to developing countries by 2020. So if Turkey is hinging its ratification of Paris on getting a lot of money from this fund, it might be a long wait, especially if Trump were reelected.

The bottom line is that U.S. leadership matters to the ongoing future of Paris and global climate action. Trump’s abandoning the deal was reckless, and the best response at the G20 came from Merkel: “Unfortunately, and I deplore this, the United States of America left the climate agreement.”

Dr Joe Romm, is Founding Editor of Climate Progress, “the indispensable blog,” as NY Times columnist Tom Friedman describes it.

R & D made Silk in the University of Cambridge

R & D made Silk in the University of Cambridge

We would like to consider the following as a landmark step in sustainability and therefore would republish here with our compliments to all, this marvellous piece of R & D made Silk in the University of Cambridge.  We would hazard to imagine that one application of this could be the sadly omnipresent shopping plastic bag in our seas and oceans as elaborated on in “More Plastic than Fish in the Sea by 2050”.  If this is the case, we would not mind making another guess as to the state of our seas and oceans by that proposed year 2050 to be somewhat quite different.

Researchers have designed a super stretchy, strong and sustainable material that mimics the qualities of spider silk, and is ‘spun’ from a material that is 98% water. 

This method of making fibres could be a sustainable alternative to current manufacturing methods.

Darshil Shah

A team of architects and chemists from the University of Cambridge has designed super-stretchy and strong fibres which are almost entirely composed of water, and could be used to make textiles, sensors and other materials. The fibres, which resemble miniature bungee cords as they can absorb large amounts of energy, are sustainable, non-toxic and can be made at room temperature.

This new method not only improves upon earlier methods of making synthetic spider silk, since it does not require high energy procedures or extensive use of harmful solvents, but it could substantially improve methods of making synthetic fibres of all kinds, since other types of synthetic fibres also rely on high-energy, toxic methods. The results are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Spider silk is one of nature’s strongest materials, and scientists have been attempting to mimic its properties for a range of applications, with varying degrees of success. “We have yet to fully recreate the elegance with which spiders spin silk,” said co-author Dr Darshil Shah from Cambridge’s Department of Architecture.

The fibres designed by the Cambridge team are “spun” from a soupy material called a hydrogel, which is 98% water. The remaining 2% of the hydrogel is made of silica and cellulose, both naturally available materials, held together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular “handcuffs” known as cucurbiturils. The chemical interactions between the different components enable long fibres to be pulled from the gel.

The fibres are pulled from the hydrogel, forming long, extremely thin threads – a few millionths of a metre in diameter. After roughly 30 seconds, the water evaporates, leaving a fibre which is both strong and stretchy.

“Although our fibres are not as strong as the strongest spider silks, they can support stresses in the range of 100 to 150 megapascals, which is similar to other synthetic and natural silks,” said Shah. “However, our fibres are non-toxic and far less energy-intensive to make.”

The fibres are capable of self-assembly at room temperature, and are held together by supramolecular host-guest chemistry, which relies on forces other than covalent bonds, where atoms share electrons.

“When you look at these fibres, you can see a range of different forces holding them together at different scales,” said Yuchao Wu, a PhD student in Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, and the paper’s lead author. “It’s like a hierarchy that results in a complex combination of properties.”

The strength of the fibres exceeds that of other synthetic fibres, such as cellulose-based viscose and artificial silks, as well as natural fibres such as human or animal hair.

In addition to its strength, the fibres also show very high damping capacity, meaning that they can absorb large amounts of energy, similar to a bungee cord. There are very few synthetic fibres which have this capacity, but high damping is one of the special characteristics of spider silk. The researchers found that the damping capacity in some cases even exceeded that of natural silks.

“We think that this method of making fibres could be a sustainable alternative to current manufacturing methods,” said Shah. The researchers plan to explore the chemistry of the fibres further, including making yarns and braided fibres.

This research is the result of a collaboration between the Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis in the Department of Chemistry, led by Professor Oren Scherman; and the Centre for Natural Material Innovation in the Department of Architecture, led by Dr Michael Ramage. The two groups have a mutual interest in natural and nature-inspired materials, processes and their applications across different scales and disciplines.

The research is supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Leverhulme Trust.

Yuchao Wu et al. ‘Bioinspired supramolecular fibers drawn from a multiphase self-assembled hydrogel.’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1705380114


Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does

Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does

France, Norway, Sweden headquartered Volvo are all about to do away with the use of anything to do with fossil oil. Such momentous decisions amongst others tend to vulgarise as it were all renewable forms of energy.  Meanwhile, there has been over the years so much talk and speculation about oil peaking this or that year, that up to recently, scepticism prevailing, everyone went about one’s business fairly insouciant that as put by Javier Blas, writer of the proposed article of Bloomberg; “Some Big Oil executives expect demand for the commodity to shrink faster than anticipated, with dire consequences for Middle East producers.” Would It then matter as and when demand may top out before supply does or is it perhaps the other way around.
Here is a Middle East related excerpt of that article with our due compliments to the author and thanks to the publisher.

Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does: Bloomberg

Remember Peak Oil? Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does

. . .  .

For Middle East nations that sit on huge hydrocarbon reserves, peak demand is more of an existential threat. “If you have 100 years’ worth of oil reserves, then 25 years looks like a very short time frame,” says Martijn Rats, a Morgan Stanley oil analyst in London. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait depend on oil for as much as 90 percent of their income. They and other Middle East nations have used their oil wealth to provide their populations with well-paid employment in the public sector and generous handouts—a tacit social contract underpinning their absolute petromonarchies.

The current bout of low prices offers clues about how these countries would handle a permanent drop-off in demand. With oil revenues sharply down, Middle East producers are dipping into their foreign exchange reserves—Saudi Arabia has drawn almost $250 billion since mid-2014. They’re also borrowing more. The combined public debt of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi, and the United Arab Emirates is set to jump to almost $800 billion by 2020, more than double its 2015 level, according to the International Institute of Finance, a group representing large banks. The situation is direst in such places as Nigeria and Venezuela, where corruption and mismanagement have drained state coffers.

BP’s Dudley and his counterparts at Total and Shell acknowledge that their forecasts hinge on many variables and could easily turn out to be wrong. And even if they’re right, oil consumption wouldn’t suddenly plunge; it might plateau for several years or begin a slow decline.

This view isn’t universal inside the industry. The International Energy Agency, which advises rich countries on policy, sees consumption growing steadily at least through 2040, the cutoff date for its long-term outlook. That’s also the view at Exxon. And Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s two largest oil exporters, don’t see a peak until 2050 at the earliest.

Others point out that a few years ago all the talk was of a peak in supply. Then new technologies unlocked fresh production, notably from shale formations in the U.S. “I’m very skeptical about peak oil demand,” says Bob McNally, a former White House energy expert and founder of Rapidan Group, a consulting firm. “The next big surprise is when we reach the peak of  ‘peak demand’ talk and people realize that consumption continues to rise.”

Short-term trends back the view that peak oil consumption is a long way off. Last year global demand growth was 1.6 million barrels a day, above the 10-year average of 1.1 million.

Still, oil companies need only to look at the electricity sector for clues about how quickly technology can disrupt an industry. The U.K., for instance, marked a significant milestone this year: a 24-hour period in which not a single power plant burned coal, a first  in 200 years. Despite its famously rainy weather, Britain at times gets 10 percent to 20 percent of its electricity from solar photovoltaic panels. Technology, some executives say, is the wild card. “The pace at which electric cars will be adopted could be surprising,” says Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel SpA, one of the largest utilities in Europe.

Philip Verleger, an energy consultant, thinks oil majors and oil-exporting countries are confronting a similar situation to the likes of Kodak, Polaroid, and Encyclopedia Britannica. “Sadly, these seem destined to make the same mistakes,” he says. —With assistance from Jack Farchy


The Industry of the Future & the Future of the Industry

The Industry of the Future & the Future of the Industry

Believe in the industry of the Future and the Future of the Industry is a Report to the French Government on the impact of the Fourth World Economic Revolution and is believed to be as relevant to the new Algerian growth model as global geostrategic challenges of 2030 as it is to that of France itself. 
Hoping for a concrete application and meaning for the well-being of Algeria, I have with few experts worked free of charge, on what I was and still am advocating the reasonable solution of deep reforms, as always taking into account the social reality.

Several international media have recently asked me about Algeria and its economic choices that affect its future sustainable growth, taking account all of the geostrategic changes that lie ahead between 2020 and 2030. My reply was that I have discussed the very topic between 2010 and 2016.  Would these be applied by the new Government, I wondered ?

So, instead of indulging in the installation of yet again other commissions or to rush to other expensive consultancies, I would with all due respect recommend to the Government to study so as avoid the mistakes of the past and in order to adapt it to the country’s reality the important and useful white paper titled “Believe in the industry of the future and the future of the industry”; a report addressed to the French Government (2017) in 84 pages based on a survey of French industry leaders.  It is as a matter of fact, the backbone of the economic program of the French president Emmanuel Macron (1).

This report first recalls that industrial history would without doubt that the formalization of the concept of industry of the future was born in Germany under the heading “industry 4.0”as of a will to drive upmarket the German machine tool industry in the face of competition from Asia. But with the gradual rise in power of the processing of industrial data and acceleration of innovations, the concept took a whole other dimension.

Meanwhile, the avalanche of new technologies that occurred in recent years has indeed an important potential for transformation and improvement of the performance of the industry which could make the assumption of re-industrialization of our country credible again.

The goal is to customize mass production that has not yet been reached, the ecosystems that will be the first to provide a “digital continuity” will also be those that help get production that much closer to the final customer.

The report is structured as follows:

Part I – Industry of the future: framing, context and issues

  1. Framing and context
  2. What economic issues?

Part II – The five challenges of the industry of the future:

  1. How to think the transition?
  2. L’ industry of the future must be thought of in terms of performance, not technology.
  3. Do not underestimate the emergency, nor the competitive pressure
  4. Make transformation a matter of skills and organization
  5. Adopt a broader vision of the value chain
  6. Place the internal operational model and the ecosystem management at the heart of transformation plans.

Part III – different degrees of mature businesses: an industry of the future with variable geometry

  1. Introduction and definition of the criteria taken into account
  2. Variable maturities
  3. Putting into the perspective the model

Part IV – threat or opportunity of the industry of the future

  1. What are the prospects for French industry?
  2. The French specificities
  3. What decisions are at stake? –


  1. Business leaders
  2. Public leaders
  3. A shared vision?
  4. Survey methodology and assumptions of the model.

It must be said that the majority of the experts including those of the Economic and Social Council of Algeria use to always say the opposite of what is proposed today by the Government. How then can they be now that credible?

In several of my contributions from several years ago, I drew the attention of the Government that hydrocarbons price will be low and for a long-time; refer my conference before the Prime Minister and the members of the Club of the Pines of Algiers on November 4, 2014, and before the senior executives of the National Security Department on May 15, 2015

I elaborated on the policy of widespread subsidies that together with the current industrial policy could lead Algeria right against a brick wall.  Short of ideas, the country must avoid living on the illusion and outdated patterns of development, such as conventional mechanical industries of which car assembly of very low capacity, highly capital-intensive with Algeria taking on all costs with the rule of 49 / 51% is at the forefront.

Without a serious shift in economic policy, based on good governance and the development of knowledge, Algeria may end up deadlocked by 2018/2020 with the risk of depletion of its foreign exchange reserves when foreign operators, not getting remunerated, may decide to leave it altogether.

As far as the “emergence of an economy” and a globalized product of development of today’s capitalism is concerned, the process is not yet complete, and since the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, questioning on the one hand of the ability of nation States to do in the face of these changes.

This is no longer the time where the wealth of a Nation identified with its major firms, large firms having been modelled on military organization and have been described with the same terms: chain of command, job classification, the scope of control with their leaders, operating procedures and standard guidelines.

All jobs were defined in advance by rules and pre-established responsibilities. As in the military hierarchy charts determined internal hierarchies and great importance was attached to the permanence of control, discipline and obedience. This rigour was necessary in order to implement plans with accuracy to benefit from economies of scale in mass production and to ensure strict control of prices in the market.

As in the operation of the army, strategic planning required a decision on where you want to go, followed up by a plan to mobilize the resources and troops to get there. In the totally outdated mechanical era, the production was guided by predetermined objectives and sales by pre-determined quotas. The innovations were not introduced by small progress, but by technological leaps due to the rigidity of the organization.

At the top, large bureaucracies occupied the rectangle of the chart, halfway up middle managers and right at the bottom of the workers. Education, from elementary to upper education through high school, was only a reflection of this process, orders being transmitted by the hierarchy, the schools and universities in large sizes to ensure economies of scale as well.

These analyses have also been widely developed between 2012 and 2017 in the Algerian press and internationally under the titles as shown below.

A new organization is currently taking place showing the limits of the old organization with the emergence of new dynamic sectors in order to adapt to the new global configuration. We are seeing the successive passage of the so-called Taylorism organization marked by integration, the Divisional, matrix organization that are intermediary organizations and finally to the recent organization in networks where the firm focuses its strategic management on three segments: research and development (heart of value added), marketing and communication and under the Treaty all the other components.

And with more and more oligopolistic organizations of a few companies controlling the production, finance and marketing networks are no more national. Even those said small and medium-sized enterprises connected as networks of subcontractors to large ones could be among these.

Jobs in current production tend to disappear involving mobility of workers, the widespread use of temporary employment, and therefore permanent flexibility of the labour market with the permanent recycling training called upon in the future.

Thus, other types of jobs appear including the breakthrough of producers of symbols whose conceptual value is higher than the added value from the classic economies of scale, questioning the ancient theories and economic policies inherited from the mechanical age era like the old political “industrialising industries” based on the model of the old Soviet Union while the 21st century is characterized by the dynamism of large firms but especially those linked in networks to them SMIs/SMEs all devoting a good portion of their budget to research and development.

With the predominance of services that have a more and more merchant character contributing to the increase in the added value, the firm turns into a global network, and it is impossible to distinguish between individuals affected by their activities that as a consequence would be a large, diffuse group, around the world. In this global village, there exist only consumers/producers cross networks.

This will have implications for the future organization at all political, economic and social systems levels.

Finally, this analysis raises the issue of national security. Since 2012, I did not do enough warning the Government on the inconsistency of its policy of subsidies, the inconsistency of its industrial policy and against a policy of hidden import of car assembly plants as well as other industrial segments living off a certain rentier situation.

Two lessons are to be learned.

  • First, the money capital does not create wealth; it is only a means to an end. In fact it’s the work and intelligence that are the source of permanent and sustainable wealth of a Nation.
  • Second, globalization is a reality and time is never caught back in economics. There is an urgent need for a strategic vision as an adaptation to this unstable and turbulent world, a Nation that does not move forward, would necessarily step back.

I would not remind enough that the engine of any development process lies also in research and development and that without the integration of the knowledge economy, no industrial and economic policy would have a future in the 21st century, where technological innovations would inevitably have a constantly changing feature.

Algeria would be best in investing in democratic institutions than in segments where it can temporarily have some comparative advantages: agriculture, tourism major deposit, new technologies and in sub-segments of industrial sectors taking into account the profound technological changes. I would suggest a Monitoring Committee coordinate the investment policy which must synchronize with the dialectical relationship between the complementary roles of the State and the market, put an end to the present distortions which may cause losses, due to lack of visibility and strategic coherence.

(1) « Croire en l’Industrie du futur et au futur de l’industrie » as translated by “Believe in the industry of the future and the future of the industry” – white paper – report to the French Government – (2017) in 84 pages – A survey of French industry leaders with (1) to Ernst Young by Opinion Way between September and October 2016 directed by Alain Galloni and Olivier Lluansi associate, Ernst & Young Advisor (Paris 2017) . The same report in PDF format is at$FILE/ey-resultats-enquete-industrie-du-futur.pdf

Armenia and Turkey 2 neighbouring countries of the MENA

Armenia and Turkey 2 neighbouring countries of the MENA

Robert Fisk once said in The Independent  of Tuesday March 9, 2010 the following:  Jemal Pasha, one of the architects of the 1915 genocide, and – alas – Turkey’s first feminist, Halide Edip Adivar, helped to run this orphanage of terror in which Armenian children were systematically deprived of their Armenian identity and given new Turkish names, forced to become Muslims and beaten savagely if they were heard to speak Armenian. The Antoura Lazarist college priests have recorded how its original Lazarist teachers were expelled by the Turks and how Jemal Pasha presented himself at the front door with his German bodyguard after a muezzin began calling for Muslim prayers once the statue of the Virgin Mary had been taken from the belfry. Nowadays, would both Armenia and Turkey 2 neighbouring countries of the MENA live side by side and transcend the past.
Always on the same subject, The Economist of June 26, 2017 published this article on possibly one of the most dramatically lived trauma that the Middle East ever experienced and did never since then get over it.  Amongst all that is currently going on in this part of the world, it is worth mentioning that after all happy ending such as Reverse diaspora does exist and this is the story with our compliments to the author and thanks to the publisher.

Syria’s Armenians are fleeing to their ancestral homeland

The war may bring an end to a Christian minority’s century-long story


WHEN war broke out in Syria in 2011, some of the wealthier families from the country’s Christian Armenian minority decamped to Yerevan, the Armenian capital, where they rented luxury flats on the city’s Northern Avenue. It felt, some would later say, as though they were on holiday. The government allotted them space in a local school, where Syrian teachers who had fled as refugees continued to instruct their children using the Syrian curriculum. It took some time for it to dawn on them that they might never go home.

Syria’s six-year-old civil war has forced more than 5m of its citizens to seek refuge outside their country. In 2015-16 hundreds of thousands trekked through the Balkans, seeking safety in Europe. But hardly any of Syria’s Armenian minority took this route. Instead, many went to Armenia. With its own population shrunken by emigration (falling from 3.6m in 1991 to 3m today), Armenia was happy to welcome as many Syrian Armenians—most of them educated, middle class and entrepreneurial—as would come.

Before the war some 90,000 ethnic Armenians lived in Syria, two-thirds of them in Aleppo. Many were descended from ancestors who had fled their homeland in 1915, escaping systematic Ottoman massacres and ethnic cleansing. For most of them, the civil war has put an end to a century-long story. Hrair Aguilan, a 61-year-old businessman, invested his life savings in a furniture factory in Aleppo just before the war, only to see it destroyed. Now he is in Yerevan to stay. “It lasted a hundred years. It is finished,” says Mr Aguilan. “There is no future for Christians in the Middle East.”

No more than 30,000 Syrian Armenians are believed to remain in Syria. Many dispersed to Lebanon, Canada, Turkey, the Persian Gulf states and elsewhere. The rest, up to 30,000, went to what they regard as the motherland. (Some have since moved on to other countries.) The wealthy, who found it easy to move, came first. Others tried to wait out the war in Syria, fleeing only once their means were exhausted. They arrived in Armenia with nothing.

Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister of Armenia who was born in Aleppo, says many of the refugees have started small businesses. In Syria, members of the Armenian minority tended to be skilled professionals or artisans; they were known as jewellers, doctors, engineers and industrialists. Native Armenians are delighted by the restaurants opened by the newcomers, who have brought their much spicier cuisine to a country where food (and almost everything else) has long been influenced by the bland flavours of Russia.

Almost all of the refugees have ended up in Yerevan, apart from some 30 families from a farming area, who were resettled in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-held territory that is disputed with Azerbaijan. Some young men who had fought in the Syrian army have volunteered to serve on the front lines of that conflict, but many more young Syrian Armenians hold off on asking for Armenian citizenship so that they do not have to do military service.

Vasken Yacoubian, who once ran a construction company in Damascus, now heads the Armenian branch of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), a global charity. He says refugees are still arriving from Syria, if no longer in large numbers. A few have even gone back, especially those with property (if only to try to sell it). Some Syrian Armenians argue that they have a duty to return: their diaspora forms an important branch of Armenian civilisation, and must be preserved.

Yet Mr Oskanian says those who have returned to Syria see little future for the community there. In Syria, Armenians have staunchly backed the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which has protected them from persecution by Muslim extremists. But that government controls only a portion of Syria’s territory, and Mr Assad’s fate in any peace deal is uncertain. Meanwhile officials at Armenia’s Ministry of the Diaspora, which was caught unprepared by the influx of Syrians, are taking no chances. They are making contingency plans in case a new conflict erupts in Lebanon, sending thousands of Lebanese Armenians their way.


Are and why Young People leaving the Cities

Are and why Young People leaving the Cities

As more and more young people these days are unable to afford purchasing their own home, reverting to renting as the first and only substitute is progressing.  The reasons are various and no alternative would be attractive enough to allow the “Renters Generation” to settle in as easily as more and more of these are flocking to all major cities worldwide for better life and good opportunities. This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation on 19 May 2017 and written by Jason Twill, Innovation Fellow and Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney. Are and why young people leaving the cities of the developed world ?
Would it be the same for the megapolises of the MENA region or is it already happening for other reasons?  In any case here is that interesting article of the WEF with our compliments to the writers and thanks to the publishers.
Image above is of REUTERS

This is the bright flight, or why young people are leaving the cities

If the growth of cities in the 20th century was marked by “white flight”, the 21st century is shaping up to be the era of “bright flight”. The young, highly educated and restless are being priced out of many of the world’s major cities.

They are choosing instead to set themselves up in smaller, regional cities. These offer access to less expensive housing and abundant cheap workspace. The barriers to entering the workforce or starting up a business are lower.

The “metropolitan pressure” of rapid urbanisation is generating a talent spill-over effect, which is setting the stage for a new era of urban winners and losers. This talent leakage is primarily made up of the “forgotten ones” – those who don’t qualify for social housing, but who are unable to afford market-rate housing.

In this age of of hyper-urban migration, where talent goes, capital flows. Cities need to respond to this migration trend and provide adequate housing solutions to retain talent. If not, it could shape up to be a major economic challenge as many are relying on this cohort of knowledge sector and tech-focused workers to lead them into the digital age.

Image: UN World Cities Report

Lessons from the rise of the suburbs

Many will know the urban story, or rather sub-urban story, of the mid-20th century. It was an era marked by “white flight”, the term used to describe the phenomenon of predominantly middle and upper-class Caucasians leaving urban centres to live in the suburbs.

For some, it was a chance to have their dream home in a culturally and ideologically homogeneous neighbourhood replete with white picket fences and enabled by access to cheap debt and favourable tax incentives.

From the cities’ perspective, this migration was devastating. Cities saw their tax revenues drained as higher-income earners fled to the ’burbs. At the same time, these cities required increased investment in social services, housing and education for low-income residents who largely had no choice but to stay in urban centres.

Over a few decades, this exodus led to severe economic and social decay in many of the world’s cities. By the mid-1970s, even New York was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Reversal drives an urban renaissance

This era of “white flight”, however, began to fade in the later part of the 20th century as a new generation of urbanites flocked to cities across the world.

What we are experiencing now is nothing short of a modern urban renaissance. From the very young to the very old, from singles to families, people are moving to cities in droves, drawn by the excitement, cultural diversity, eclecticism and array of employment opportunities that urban living offers.

Global cities like London and New York have rebounded from this era of urban decay better than they could ever have expected. In many ways, however, they have been too successful for their own good. The reverse migration back to the city has placed enormous pressure on our metropolitan regions.

As urban populations grow, so too does the level of investment needed for cities to function well. The investment is required to improve ageing infrastructure, expand mass transit, increase housing supply and extend capacity of civil services.

But making all these upgrades to improve and sustainably grow our cities creates another challenge: it increases competition for space. The more we increase density in our cities, the more expensive land becomes. The more expensive land becomes, the more expensive housing becomes, so people get priced out of their city of choice and move on.

Spilling over to second-tier cities

This pattern has been playing out for a some time now in the US. The spill-over of talent from top-tier cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco has flowed into more regional cities such as Seattle, Portland, Austin, Philadelphia and Denver.

Australia doesn’t have many regional cities that, like Minneapolis in the US, offer a place for talented workers to migrate within the country.

These second-tier cities have been the beneficiaries of this new wave of tech-savvy, knowledge sector workers. With all those bright workers around, companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon soon followed.

As a result, these cities now have some of the hottest property markets in the world. And they are now experiencing their own growing pains as housing prices have soared and the next wave of talent are being priced out.

And so the pattern continues and the talent spills into even more regional cities like Charlotte, Chattanooga and Minneapolis.

Read more on the original site of the WEF.