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campaign Earth Hour

Solving Unproductivity

I will distribute free copies of Getting Things Done!

Click here to lend your support to: Getting Things Done and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

We all want to save the world, but we are remarkably ineffective at it. We leave the car at home once a week, replace a few light bulbs and complain to our friends that the government should do something about AIDS. Perhaps we even donate a bit to charities.

The problem is that it just doesn’t add up. It feels good, but it often turns out there are far more effective things you could do. But how do you decide what the best way is to spend your precious time and money?

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Earth Hour

X-Prize for carbon removal?

Last year, Richard Branson offered $25 million to the person who comes up with the best way of removing one billion tonnes of carbon per year from the atmosphere.

I say, let’s be a bit more ambitious and offer $10 billion to the person who actually removes about 300 billion tons before 2013. In other words, whoever restores CO2 to preindustrial levels before Kyoto ends, wins.

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Earth Hour Uncategorized

Lomborg vs. Lomborg-errors & Co. (Part 3/3)

What’s with the precautionary principle?

Lomborg discusses the Precautionary Principle in his book, but none of his critics seem to refer to this discussion. They seem to ignore it, because they do exactly what he warns about.

Lomborg essentially argues that the Precautionary Principle is being abused by scientist to attract unjustified large amounts of resources.

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Earth Hour Uncategorized

Lomborg vs. Lomborg-errors & Co. (Part 2/3)

Debunking Cool It Critique

My short answer to the critique on Cool It is that it is mostly right about the details, but completely wrong about the big picture. The most comprehensive resource of critique on the book can be found on http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/. Kåre Fog and others have spent many years creating an inventory of every mistake – big and small – that Lomborg has made over the last decade.

The idea behind the site is the following:

For every piece of information in the books, you have to check if it is true and if the presentation is balanced. If the concrete information given by Lomborg is correct and balanced, then it follows that his main conclusions are also correct. But if the information is flawed, then the main conclusions are biased or wrong.

Categories
Earth Hour

Lomborg vs. Lomborg-errors & Co. (Part 1/3)

After I discussed Lomborg’s latest book about climate change in my previous post, it came to my attention that there is a website dedicated to its flaws at http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/ . Initially I was very concerned because it indeed shows some very serious issues about the book and Lomborg’s methods in general.

Upon closer inspection however, it turns out that the critique completely misses the point. The same goes for Ackermans paperHot, It’s Not – Reflections on Cool It!, by Bjorn Lomborg‘ and the other critics that I’ve been able to find so far.

What they are not seeing, is that Lomborg is proposing a paradigm shift. Or at the very least, they don’t understand the paradigm shift. I demonstrate this later on, but let me first explain this new paradigm. Please pay attention, as paradigm shifts tend to be hard to get if you are not used to them.

TOC:

      1. A new paradigm for looking at climate change? (part 1)
      2. Introduction to the new paradigm
      3. How to properly use this paradigm in your critique of Lomborg
      4. Debunking Cool It Critique (part 2)
      5. My personal take home messages from Cool It
      6. How bad are Lomborg’s Errors?
        1. Polar bears
        2. Heat and Cold deaths
        3. Melting glaciers
        4. Sea level rise
        5. Hurricanes and extremes
        6. Malaria
        7. Final score Lomborg versus Fog
      7. What’s with the precautionary principle? (part 3)
      8. What about Ackermans paper?
      9. The organizational perspective
      10. Conclusions
      Categories
      campaign Earth Hour livejournal

      Earth Hour – On the bright side

      Those following me on Twitter may have noticed that I am a little bit skeptic about Earth Hour – an initiative that asks everyone to turn off their lights for one hour to raise awareness about global warming.

      It is a great thing when the whole world joins together for one hour to think about something important. I love that about Earth Hour. But why just climate change? There are so many other problems in the world.

      Imagine having the worlds attention for one hour – something nobody has ever achieved – what would you say? What would you want 6.7 billion people to think about?

      So here is my challenge for anyone who cares about the world, has a camera and some free time:

      Send me a one hour video with your top 10 best ways to help the world!

      Rules

      There are just a few simple rules:

      1. A top 10 of of best ways to help the world
      2. 60 minutes
      3. Explain the problem
      4. Explain how it can be solved on a global scale
      5. Provide a simple first step for individuals to contribute or learn more
      6. No lies: be prepared for some serious fact-checking by the community
      7. No divine intervention: it’s just us this time
      Categories
      Uncategorized

      Startup Camp and the Cultural Divide between those who Have Money and those who Want It

      Startup camp

      Last weekend I participated in the first edition of the Melbourne Startup Camp. What happens when you put twenty five people, who may or may not know each other, in a room, divide them into three teams and tell them to start a company within less than 48 hours? What if you also introduce a couple of ambitious deadlines throughout that weekend and convince everyone their companies might be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars once they are funded by the Venture Capitalist…. this Sunday at 3 pm.

      Well, obviously, you end up with a fantastic and completely exhausting weekend. You end up with many lessons learned, many new contacts made and maybe even a surviving startup or two.

      During the weekend I was mostly focused on writing code – 26 hours straight – but that didn’t stop me from observing other things. I’ve learned a tremendous amount of things on technology and working in a multidisciplinary team of (mostly) strangers under high pressure, but that’s not what I want to write about here. This post is about culture.

      Venture Capital

      Please take a bit of time to read Duncans post about our project, the other projects, the weekend in general and the lessons he’s learned. The title – The Good, the Bad and the VC –  should warm you up and it’s an interesting read.

      Assuming you haven’t read it, one the things he discusses is the guest VC, Jordan.

      A VC (Venture Capitalist) is, as far as I understand it, basically someone with way too much money looking for even more money. In order to do that he needs to find a bunch of high quality people with a good idea. There is a lot of people out there with ideas and a need for money, so they have to keep it short. The resulting phenomena is known as pitching. It’s simply a more sophisticated and useful alternative to soccer. For an 14 minute introduction to the subject and just to get an impression of their pace, watch this TED talk. It’s a must-see for anyone who needs to give a presentation about anything actually.

      So Jordan gave some advice to the groups at Startup Camp about how they present their buisness plans to a VC such as himself. You should not start with how cool your project is. In stead you should first focus on how the VC is going to make a lot of money, only after that you should talk about the “details”.

      Duncan didn’t really appreciate this and wrote:

      The short version: bullshit and lie, and it’s only about the money.

      But I disagree. The short version is: don’t bother a VC unless you have something he wants.

      The reason he said you should exaggerate is not because he wants to invest in lies. That would simply not be in his interests.  The reason he says that is because he wants you to at least think along these lines. Even if your initial idea won’t achieve that, at least you have the right goal in mind and you’ll find another way.

      It is a well known fact that the end result of a starting company is nothing like their initial idea for a product. Coca-Cola doesn’t contain cocaine anymore, need I say more?

      The same goes for buisness plans; they change.

      The only thing that matters is the team. A great team with a mediocre idea and mediocre buisness plan, will fix both issues in due time. A mediocre team with a fantastic idea and brilliant buisness model is a recipe for disaster. Just lend your brand new car to a 16 year old cocaine prostitute to see my point.

      A VC does not want to invest money in a team that doesn’t share his goal of making a lot of money. If they both agree on that and if the team is good, he’ll get his profit. If the team doesn’t agree, e.g. it aims at more conservative buisness models, then he will not get his profit.

      It’s not about lying, it’s about thinking the same way. And yes, of course it is all about the money; that’s the difference between a VC and a charity.

      Culture shock

      Before I continue, I wish to quickly introduce a “new” phenomenon into the mix here: culture shock.

      If somebody moves to another country, he finds himself in an unfamiliar environment where all his subconcious daily tricks don’t work anymore. A person usually goes through a number of phases.

      • the honeymoon phase: everything is great, new and exiting
      • the (what I’ll call) denial phase: “characterized by a hostile and aggressive attitude towards the host country”. Stereotypes are formed, e.g. “Americans always…”
      • final adjustment: “visitor accepts the customs of the country as just another way of living. He can operate within the new milieu without a feeling of anxiety although there are moments of strain”

      So what does this have to do with anything? Well, Duncan concludes his analysis of our encounter with a Venture Capitalist, by saying that VC’s are:

      anything other than nice people, and any rumors they’d heard about VC’s were true

      Now I truly enjoyed working with Duncan, but this is, sorry to put it bluntly, a classical case of culture shock, denial phase. That is not something about Duncan in particular, because I read this type of statement a lot. The usual reasoning is that VC’s in Australia should behave more like VC’s in Sillicon Valley, but that is completely missing the point.

      There is simply a massive cultural gap between people who have money and people who want money. At least as far as the underground web entrepreneur crowd in Melbourne versus Australian Venture Capitalists is concerned.

      There are two ways to deal with culture shock: one is to “leave”, which is basically what Duncan seems to be doing when he says:

      And you know what, if I never pitch to a guy like Green again as long as a live, I’ll die out my days as a extremely happy man.

      The other way is to stick around and keep interacting until you figure out a way to use the situation in your advantage. At that point you’ve extended your comfort zone and you will earn buckets of money at the same time. I’m opting for the second solution in this case.

      Your choice should depend on the question whether you think you need VC money or not; personally, I would like to at least keep that option open (I’m talking in general here, nothing to do with any pluck).

      My impression was that Jordan (the VC) was actually really curious about us (all groups, the whole startup camp idea), but you could easily see he was not in familiar territory. He made a few remarks about presentation style, but quickly stopped doing that after he sensed the response. Trust me, if I was given carte blanche to criticize the three presentations, everyone would have left the building in tears. He was mild, if not soft. Not that the presentations were not great, or that I would have done any better, but they didn’t stand a chance to win capital.

      Next camp: more ugly!

      What I’m trying to say here is that we should involve VC’s (and other sources of capital such as the B-word: banks) much more closely in the next Startup Camp. They should be right on top of us during the ideation phase, forcing us to think more in their terms.

      That exposure will in turn make them understand “us” a bit better as well.

      But make no mistake: there is plenty of places to invest money, not plenty of places for us to get money, so we are the ones that need to adapt, like it or not.