The L2C Interview: Anthony Watanabe of Asia Clean Innovations (ACI) on ASEAN Cleantech

I recently moved from Boise, Idaho in the western U.S., to Bangkok, Thailand. (Of all the well-worn paths used by traders and immigrants throughout history, this was not one.) I’ve been to Thailand several times before as much of my wife’s family lives here, but this time things are very different. Instead of a time-bound vacation filled sightseeing and amazing meals, I’m engaging in an open-ended adventure seeking to help businesses cut their impacts on the planet. (Okay. If I’m being honest, the meals are still amazing.)

When I landed in Bangkok a few weeks ago, I needed to find a few friendly faces in the crowd of close to ten million people. I started looking for opportunities to connect with “my people” and I found a workshop, “Partnering for Sustainability,” that was bringing together people from NGOs, academia, and the business sector to wrestle with the region’s issues. The only problem, the event was two days away, and the registration deadline had passed over a week before. I frantically emailed the workshop contact and essentially begged for permission to attend.  (more…)

Can a Tuktuk Ride Change the World? (Meet The Pilgreens)

If changing the world for the better was easy, we’d all be doing it. But it isn’t. It’s incredibly hard. But thinking that you can make a difference is audacious. It takes a sort of beneficent arrogance to set out to push humanity in a positive direction. To believe you will succeed is madness, but to believe otherwise is to surrender. I think of giving up as a form of death, so I’ll gladly side with the crazy ones who are trying to make things better.

[bctt tweet=”It takes a sort of beneficent arrogance to set out to push humanity in a positive direction. “]

The world needs change as we’re headed toward multiple planetary boundaries, so someone needs to take the wheel and point us in a better direction.

I was invited to an intriguing event last Friday where I learned about the plans for something audacious. Something crazy.


Can we afford renewable energy?

A new report has just been released that’s calling for a “moonshot” effort around renewable energy. The Global Apollo Programme seeks funding in line with that of the 1960’s Apollo Program which put the first man on the moon.

The report asks countries to commit at least 0.02% of their GDP to this effort. I’ve come across multiple articles on this, but those that I read didn’t attempt to put the ask in context. Let’s give it a whirl… (more…)

The 6 Stages of Climate Grief



I had an interesting conversation yesterday in which I was challenged over my distaste for Stewart Brand’s recent Aeon Magazine piece on rethinking extinction.  The post opens by stating, “The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis.”  I have two problems with this statement.  First, Mr. Brand claims to know what the future holds.  Second, he seems to be claiming that the mere idea of a current mass extinction is too much for the public to bear.

Myopia and the Snowball Effect



Climate Change.  Inequality.  Epidemics.  Water shortages.  Biodiversity.  The list goes on.

We know the issues are out there, but we choose to ignore them.

It’s not my problem.  It’s not that big of a deal.  Someone else will take care of it.  Maybe it will just go away.

We tell ourselves these things to avoid acting as we’re too busy, too tired, too overworked, too whatever to get involved.

So we bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away. (more…)

The City as Ecosystem

The question from the Masdar Sustainable Cities contest:

How can cities contribute to the advancement of sustainable development and address issues including water, energy and waste?”

Sustainable Cities of the Future
To borrow a phrase from the author William Gibson, linear society is dead – the news of its passing is just not widely distributed. That may sound hyperbolic, but it’s plain truth that always was and always will be. Cities can either drive the bus to the sustainable future, or they can take us off the cliff. There is no middle ground. There is no alternative.The “take, make, waste” model which my generation grew up with is woefully unsustainable. We’re running out of holes in the ground to store our waste in. We’re using up the earth’s bounty faster than it gets generated. Additionally,many still view the spewing of externalities into the wind as good business, but it’s time for a fresh perspective. (more…)