Green Cars and Economic Stimuli

Heard on the morning news that the German $66B economic stimulus package passed today also includes a measure to encourage people replace their cars. It is sort of understandable as a short term measure, as their economy is quite reliant on the infamous German car makers who, of course, are looking at a bleak 2009. Still if you think of, say, a few million germans rushing to buy new cars and dump their (probably well-running) existing ones — doesn’t sound that reasonable from long term environmental damage point of view.

I looked it up, and it comes out that…

Other measures include a 2,500 euro payment for drivers who buy a new low- emission car.

Now, depending on what “low emission” means in this case the measure could work either way – for German manufacturers or for the environment. For some reason I doubt that these two goals could be obviously achieved together, or at least perceptionally “green” and “german” are not the first semantic associations that pop into mind as a bundle when thinking about cars…

Toyota announced their new Prius yesterday. Looking slightly better (but not beautiful), adding a few interesting innovations (such as solar-paneled moonroof that generates power for the ventilation on hot days) and less than 5l/100km (50mpg) fuel consumption it is a worthy upgrade to what has already been a great if somewhat quirky car till now.

Toyota basically owns the hybrid car market, claiming 91% market share in Europe in 2006. So putting one and one together – to what extent will the German government be supporting the Japanese economy instead of their own with their new car purchase support measure?


Teeme Ära: I’m so proud of my colleagues

Estonia inherited a mass of rubbish after it regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 but it has only added to the problem since. 50,000 people, more than 3% of Estonian population of 1.3 million were out this Saturday to clean the forest, roadsides and other public areas from illegal waste. Volunteers had mapped over 10 656 garbage dumping sites all over the country by the beginning of April. This weekend 207 temporary collecting stations were put up to gather the waste collected by the volunteers.

6000 tons of illegal waste has already been registered to been collected during the initiative, more specific numbers are yet to come in the following weeks. The initiative aims to recycle up to 80% of the collected waste, making it first massive recycling project in Estonia. The usual amount of garbage recycled in Estonia is 10%, so this is eight times more than the average.

This is a quick summary of Teeme Ära 2008.

As only suitable for Skype, a number of our best brains helped the initative as volunteers to develop all geomapping and logistics software to keep the tens of thousands of moving parts under control. I am just in awe for what they did over the nights and weekends of their spare time, besides building the infamous software that lets people all over the world talk for free.

And to show that we are also not afraid to get our hands really dirty, there was an even longer list of Skypers who went into the woods. See here for the before and after pictures of the junk pile assigned to Skype.

See some more coverage in English:

Thank you, all friends and colleagues involved!

And congratulations, Rainer & the team for pulling this through.


How to Present Your Story (of Stuff)


(the video above is just a teaser – to see the story in full glory, see [storyofstuff.com](http://www.storyofstuff.com/))
[The Story of Stuff](http://www.storyofstuff.com/) must be the lowest-effort way to spend 20 minutes of your life getting an introductory glimpse into the impact of our consumerist lifestyle to Mother Earth. Simplistic – yes. Slightly propagandist – maybe. US-centric – a bit, but guess where most of negative environmental impact originates from? Definitely worth your time nevertheless.
What I admire the most is the extremely effective use of different mediae and interaction of putting this thing together. Narrative meets video meets illustration meets animation meets data visualization in just the right way. Enhancing your consumption of new information while entertaining you. Importantly – while not overwhelming you with unnecessary effects.
After watching the story try to imagine how boring it could have been if written down as a text-based web page. Or a PowerPoint deck. Or even an audio podcast. Would you ever have made it to the end?
Don’t you wish the author of your daily dose of business presentations or school lectures had put in 2% of the effort seen here?