By Ellen Cohan
As environmentalists paint an ever-foreboding future, many Americans agree that reducing our collective and individual carbon footprints will be better for our planet and our wallets. However, the gap between opinion and action remains wide. A recent article in Wired posited that employing positive feedback loops in our daily lives could change that.
There are four steps in a feedback loop: data collection, data presentation, significance and action. That action, in respect to household energy consumption, would include such small tasks as turning off lights or unplugging certain appliances. The data is collected through small sensors that until a few years ago were far too costly for household use. Presenting the data is where creativity comes in, giving us what Wired calls “an emotional connection to a rational goal.” For example, Belkin’s Conserve Insight device, placed between the outlet and an appliance, displays in watts and – more important – dollars the amount of energy the appliance is using. This kind of information reveals to consumers the real-life significance of using certain appliances, thereby motivating them to change their behavior.
A company like eMeter employs feedback loops on a larger scale, working with businesses to measure energy use and reduce energy waste. Want to learn more about this emerging technology? Come hear Chris King, the chief regulatory officer of eMeter, discuss his solution for our enormous carbon footprints with Sally G. Bingham and Gregory Walton July 22 at The Commonwealth Club.
Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks today once again used strong words to accuse large portions of the Republican Party of not being serious about governing and being more interested in posturing and political purity than in making progress toward conservative goals. It's quite a swing from the cautiously optimistic view about compromise in Washington that Brooks expressed in his January 1, 2011, speech to The Commonwealth Club.
Part of the solution might be laid out on July 26, when Margaret Hoover speaks to The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco about how the GOP can attract the next generation of voters. Hoover, a Fox News analyst and the great granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover, argues for a mixture of conservative fiscal policies and libertarian social policies.
We got a taste of her message this morning when Hoover appeared on The Today Show (see video below). Come meet her on the 26th to see if she's got the answers to the GOP's future – and maybe find out what the purists think about her plans.
The Hollywood Reporter is asking whether the wide-ranging (and continually expanding) "phone hacking" scandal in Britain could end up tarnishing Les Hinton, head of Dow Jones.
The scandal exploded when it was reported that people working for Britain's best-selling newspaper, the weekly News of the World, had not only hacked into the private phone messages of a murdered girl but had deleted some messages, leading the girl's parents to believe their daughter might still be alive. News of the World and Dow Jones are both owned by News International, a sprawling international media company headed by Australian-turned-American Rupert Murdoch.
Earlier today, the Guardian – a competitor of News of the World that has basically led the investigative attack on the now-defunct paper – reported that "[p]olice are investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal." Other allegations that have been discussed by British media and government officials is the alleged payment of bribes to police officers by News of the World agents and the hacking into phones of other victims, including the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq. This week, News International announced that it was canceling the 168-year-old News of the World in the wake of the scandal. But even that move hasn't stopped party leaders in the British Parliament from calling for the resignation of the head of News International's UK papers, and it is unknown whether the purchase of the remaining shares of satellite company BSkyB that Murdoch doesn't already own will be derailed by this mess.
Les Hinton's being dragged into the sordid mess because, reports The Hollywood Reporter, he twice testified before Parliament about a News of the World reporter implicated in a different round of phone hacking. He also used to be responsible for the paper in question. "At News International [Hinton] oversaw The Times, The Sunday Times and the tabloid paper The Sun, as well as The News of the World. Parliament member John Whittingdale, who chairs a subcommittee before which Hinton appeared, said that given the events of this week, Hinton's statements 'now look increasingly unconvincing.' But he added, 'Les gave very clear assurances that he himself was not involved, and I have no reason to doubt that,' " according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Hinton visited The Commonwealth Club in May of this year to talk about "Technology, Mobility and Accelerating the Collective Intelligence." You can watch video of his speech.
SUMMER READING 2011
The Commonwealth Club Bookstore is having a summer blowout sale! We will highlight one book each week for your buying (and saving!) pleasure. If you buy two books, the second is 50 percent off! You can purchase the book from our online store.
This week we highlight Hitch 22, by Christopher Hitchens. The book usually retails at $26.99, but it can be yours for only $18! (includes tax+shipping)
Over the course of his 60 years, Christopher Hitchens has been a citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom. He has been a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam and a supporter of the U.S. war against Islamic extremism in Iraq. He has been both a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most dangerous places and a legendary bon vivant with an unquenchable thirst for alcohol and literature. He is a fervent atheist, raised as a Christian, by a mother whose Jewish heritage was not revealed to him until her suicide. ??In other words, Christopher Hitchens contains multitudes. And he believes the personal is political.?? This is the story of his life, lived large.