Friday, May 31, 2013

Smooth Acceleration - Energy, Fuel Cells, Cultural Heritage

"What do the three quite different parts have in common? What makes them so prominent to put them into one article?"

"The United Nations estimates that one and a half billion people live without electricity and three and a half billion still rely on primitive fuels such as wood or charcoal for cooking and heating." ['Abundance - The Future is Better Than you Think', page 155]. Extracting the worlds energy resources at very crude ways, either by pumping oil of depleeting oil fields, starting to bring the last natural gas reserves up through intensive fracking, or chopping forests for charcoal or firewood might leave us not just with an empty planet but also puts lots of the cultural heritage out of our collective mind as climate change accelerates.

Lots of research efforts, and finding new fast adaptable ways to use energy that is abundant in existent, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and others are under way. As a region "on the edge" [of Germany] Saxony is strong not only in automotive, semiconductors, but also in (sustainable) energy. As a result of this status it was only natural to see from May 28-29, 2013, the 2nd Dresdner Conference on "Energy in Future" organized by Fraunhofer IWS take place in this city where cultural heritage and technology meet seamlessly.

What during these two days became clear is that even though technology is at very high stakes in this region there is vast opportunity space into practicable implication, new business models around new emerging energy technologies, and the use of exponential information technologies to spread the word, and enable future collaboration connections with end users, and clients to kickstart the 'Power of Pull' and economic strive for the region's organizations.

Only a day later the constituting workshop of "energy saxony", a network on decentralized energy production in Saxony, took place at Fraunhofer IKTS in Dresden. Fuel cells are a large part of the work of this network in order to generate electric power by use of available other means of fuel such as natural gas especially due to its high energy density. This also make this form of energy transformation into electricity of high interest for remote areas.

The third point of the beginning, "cultural heritage" comes into play in the row of events, as just today at the SLUB Dresden, the State and University Library of Saxony, the conference "Climate Change as a Threat to Peace: Impacts on Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diversity". As it became quite clear during this conference our behavior, as humanity, on using the world's resources, especially energy-related, have a huge impact on our cultural heritage. With rising sea levels, changing weather conditions, increasing pollution levels not only tangible heritage as artifacts, buildings and such are threatened. Especially we have to focus, and articulate on intangible cultural heritage loss due to accelerating climate we observe all around the world.

Reflecting on what draws the three conferences together, it is the common thread (man-made climate impact), and the urge to preserve the cultural heritage, and diversity in the future. At the same time we have to, even though we are embedded in our disciplinary silos (to my knowledge there has been nobody at all three conferences) we have lost the ability to perceive, see, and act upon the larger system we are embedded, and part of, even though we are unaware of it as our cultural (intangible) heritage has shaped us that way.

1972 was not only the start of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, it also was the year of the widely acknowledged 'The Limits to Growth' by Jay W. Forrester, Dana & Donella Meadows, and Jørgen Randers with a 40-year update lately.

Where are we today?
Where are we heading?
How do we know that we are on track?

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