Saturday, 30 June 2018

Food for Thought for the NDC's leadership?

What an odd political party the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is sometimes. It is most unfortunate that the leaders of the NDC seldom recognise that there is political advantage in every difficult situation that crops up - no matter how terrible that  might appear to be. The question is: Why plan to march against the dismissal of Charlotte Osei - when the good lady herself has accepted the president's lawful decision to relieve her of her post as Electoral Commissioner: daft though her removal from office is politically?

Instead of organising a march to demonstrate against the president's decision, what a political party with a creative leadership that does original thinking would be doing, in the aftermath of Charlotte Osei's dismissal, would be to plan to build a Command Centre which in future would enable the NDC to monitor all polling centres across the nation simultaneously, during  elections. Ditto use cutting-edge facial recognition software to track all registered voters listed in the voter's register, to ensure that rigging does not occur in Ghanaian elections any longer. Haaba.

For their information, if they go to 112 Spintext Road, they will be told how to contact the Ghanaian-American owners of Roudofa Ghana Limited, which like any good corporate citizen of the Republic of Ghana, is politically neutral, and thus serves all political parties that approach it for solutions to  challenges those parties face. As it happens, one of the founders of Roudofa Ghana Limited, was responsible for building and deploying  America's most modern private-sector owned Command Centre. It is actually operated by Interpark - which he was instrumental in turning into a major player in the U.S. car parking industry. Food for thought for the NDC's leadership, perhaps? Hmmm, Oman Ghana - eyeasem o: asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa.

May Former Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur's Soul Rest In Peace - He Was A Fine Gentleman

It is sad to hear that Ghana's former vice president during the Mahama era has passed away. He was definitely a fine gentleman. Indeed, those who knew him personally, say that former Vice  President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur - who apparently collapsed whiles working out at the Ghana Air Force's gym at Cantonments yesterday, according to media reports  -  was an honest, hard-working and very humble gentleman.

Somehow, the impression one got when he was in office as vice president, was that he felt uncomfortable about some of the things that the National Democratic Congress' (NDC)  greediest and most unprincipled power brokers got up to,  especially when it came to padding public procurement contracts.

One feels particularly for his loving and loyal wife  - whose strength of character enabled her to  be a source of comfort and support for him  in the rough and tumble of party politics. And, although difficult, one hopes that his surviving family will bear their sad loss stoically - just as he was stoic in his difficult position in a regime in which it was an open secret that powerful rent-seekers (who ended up irreparably ruining their party's brand with the unfathomable greed that drove them), cared little for the ethical ethos that underpinned all that Mr. Amissah-Arthur did,  throughout his distinguished life serving Ghana as a public servant with a stellar record.

In a sense, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur was the personification of middle-class Ghana's reluctance to be confrontational, when faced with the ruthless and selfish nation-wreckers who participate in the gang-rape of Mother Ghana. Still, despite that, he went ahead and courageously agreed to serve his country as vice president, at a particularly difficult moment, when the nation entered unchattered waters and was grappling with the ramifications of the death of a sitting president, President John Atta Mills. It was proof positive that public service was an act of patriotism for him - more so when his shyness sometimes  made it a nightmare serving as vice president. May his sould rest in peace.

OpEdNews/Ellen Brown: Sovereign Debt Jubilee, Japanese-style


Share on Google Plus 1 Share on Twitter 3 Share on Facebook 4 Share on LinkedIn 1 Share on PInterest    Share on Fark!    Share on Reddit    Share on StumbleUpon 1 Tell A Friend    (10 Shares)
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
(# of views)   15 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds 6/29/2017 at 17:19:55  
Sovereign Debt Jubilee, Japanese-style

By Ellen Brown   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Ellen Brown    
(Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

How to cancel debt Japanese style
(Image by Socio-economics History Blog)   Permission   Details   DMCA

Japan has found a way to write off nearly half its national debt without creating inflation. We could do that too.

Let's face it. There is no way the US government is ever going to pay back a $20 trillion federal debt. The taxpayers will just continue to pay interest on it, year after year.

A lot of interest.

If the Federal Reserve raises the fed funds rate to 3.5% and sells its federal securities into the market, as it is proposing to do, by 2026 the projected tab will be $830 billion annually. That's nearly $1 trillion owed by the taxpayers every year, just for interest.

Personal income taxes are at record highs, ringing in at $550 billion in the first four months of fiscal year 2017, or $1.6 trillion annually. But even at those high levels, handing over $830 billion to bondholders will wipe out over half the annual personal income tax take. Yet what is the alternative?

Japan seems to have found one. While the US government is busy driving up its "sovereign" debt and the interest owed on it, Japan has been canceling its debt at the rate of $720 billion ( 80tn) per year. How? By selling the debt to its own central bank, which returns the interest to the government. While most central banks have ended their quantitative easing programs and are planning to sell their federal securities, the Bank of Japan continues to aggressively buy its government's debt. An interest-free debt owed to oneself that is rolled over from year to year is effectively void -- a debt "jubilee." As noted by fund manager Eric Lonergan in a February 2017 article, "The Bank of Japan is in the process of owning most of the outstanding government debt of Japan (it currently owns around 40%). BoJ holdings are part of the consolidated government balance sheet. So its holdings are in fact the accounting equivalent of a debt cancellation. If I buy back my own mortgage, I don't have a mortgage."

If the Federal Reserve followed the same policy and bought 40% of the US national debt, the Fed would be holding $8 trillion in federal securities, three times its current holdings from its quantitative easing programs.

Eight trillion dollars in money created on a computer screen! Monetarists would be aghast. Surely that would trigger runaway hyperinflation!

But if Japan's experience is any indication, it wouldn't. Japan has a record low inflation rate of .02 percent. That's not 2 percent, the Fed's target inflation rate, but 1/100th of 2 percent -- almost zero. Japan also has an unemployment rate that is at a 22-year low of 2.8%, and the yen was up nearly 6% for the year against the dollar as of April 2017.

Selling the government's debt to its own central bank has not succeeded in driving up Japanese prices, even though that was the BoJ's expressed intent. Meanwhile, the economy is doing well. In a February 2017 article in Mother Jones titled "The Enduring Mystery of Japan's Economy," Kevin Drum notes that over the past two decades, Japan's gross domestic product per capita has grown steadily and is up by 20 percent. He writes:

    It's true that Japan has suffered through two decades of low growth . . . . [But] despite its persistently low inflation, Japan's economy is doing fine. Their GDP per working-age adult is actually higher than ours. So why are they growing so much more slowly than we are? It's just simple demographics . . . Japan is aging fast. Its working-age population peaked in 1997 and has been declining ever since. Fewer workers means a lower GDP even if those workers are as productive as anyone in the world.

Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist for the World Bank, concurs. In a June 2013 article titled "Japan Is a Model, Not a Cautionary Tale," he wrote:

    Along many dimensions -- greater income equality, longer life expectancy, lower unemployment, greater investments in children's education and health, and even greater productivity relative to the size of the labor force -- Japan has done better than the United States.

That is not to say that all is idyllic in Japan. Forty percent of Japanese workers lack secure full-time employment, adequate pensions and health insurance. But the point underscored here is that large-scale digital money-printing by the central bank used to buy back the government's debt has not inflated prices, the alleged concern preventing other countries from doing it. Quantitative easing simply does not inflate the circulating money supply. In Japan, as in the US, QE is just an asset swap that occurs in the reserve accounts of banks. Government securities are swapped for reserves, which cannot be spent or lent into the consumer economy but can only be lent to other banks or used to buy more government securities.

The Bank of Japan is under heavy pressure to join the other central banks and start tightening the money supply, reversing the "accommodations" made after the 2008 banking crisis. But it is holding firm and is forging ahead with its bond-buying program. Reporting on the Bank of Japan's policy meeting on June 15, 2017, The Financial Times stated that BoJ Governor Kuroda "refused to be drawn on an exit strategy from easy monetary policy, despite growing pressure from politicians, markets and the local media to set one out. He said the BoJ was still far from its 2 per cent inflation goal and the circumstances of a future exit were too uncertain."

Rather than unwinding their securities purchases, the other central banks might do well to take a lesson from Japan and cancel their own governments' debts. We have entered a new century and a new millennium. Ancient civilizations celebrated a changing of the guard with widespread debt cancellation. It is time for a twenty-first century jubilee from the crippling debts of governments, which could then work on generating some debt relief for their citizens.


Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling WEB OF DEBT. In THE PUBLIC BANK SOLUTION, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and (more...)

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author     Contact EditorContact Editor     Author PageView Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): Inflation; Japan; Public Banking; Quantitative Easing; Sovereign Money, Add Tags  


Click Here to View Comments or Join the Conversation
- Advertisement -

Copyright © 2002-2018, OpEdNews

Powered by Populum

The Washington Post/Nicholas Carr: Is Facebook the problem with Facebook, or is it us?

 The Washington Post
Democracy Dies in Darkness


    Try 1 month for $1
    Sign In
        Newsletters & Alerts
        Gift Subscriptions
        Contact Us
        Help Desk

    Accessibility for screenreader

Outlook Review
Is Facebook the problem with Facebook, or is it us?
by Nicholas Carr June 29 at 8:00 AM

Nicholas Carr is the author of “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” among other books.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly apologized for the social network’s flaws and promised to do better. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

The only thing worse than being on Facebook is not being on Facebook. That’s the one clear conclusion we can draw from the recent controversies surrounding the world’s favorite social network.

Despite the privacy violations, despite the spewing of lies and insults, despite the blistering criticism from politicians and the press, Facebook continues to suck up an inordinate amount of humanity’s time and attention. The company’s latest financial report, released after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the #DeleteFacebook uprising, showed that the service attracted millions of new members during the year’s first quarter, and its ad sales soared. Facebook has become our Best Frenemy Forever.

In “Antisocial Media,” University of Virginia professor Siva Vaidhyanathan gives a full and rigorous accounting of Facebook’s sins. Much of the criticism will be familiar to anyone who has been following the news about the company. What distinguishes the book is Vaidhyanathan’s skill in putting the social media phenomenon into a broader context — legal, historical and political.

He explains, for instance, why our discussions of data privacy have been so arid. Because the American view of privacy has been shaped by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of “unreasonable searches and seizures,” we tend to see privacy in narrowly legalistic terms: What we do in secret is protected from prying eyes; what we do in public is open to examination. Now that the personal information people once kept in closets and file cabinets circulates through vast corporate clouds, the old legal distinction has been erased. Everything is subject to inspection.

(Oxford University Press)

Lost in the legalistic view is any sense of the ethical consequences of going through life under constant surveillance. We don’t consider that being watched, parsed and classified may be antithetical to human dignity. Our blindness to privacy’s moral dimension suits Facebook and other social networks. They can address privacy concerns through arcane contractual language and endless checkboxes, reducing the subject to a matter of consumer choice. We come to see privacy as something to be traded for apps and amusements.

Vaidhyanathan’s criticism is sharp but even-handed. He debunks some of the more extreme claims about the influence of social media on public opinion. He finds little evidence to support the popular idea that online voter-manipulation schemes run by outside agents had a decisive influence on the outcome of the Brexit vote in Britain or the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But Facebook and its ilk are nonetheless debasing politics, he argues. The messages that grab the most attention on social media are tightly targeted, highly charged appeals to emotion, not reasoned arguments. It’s no longer necessary for a candidate to offer “a general vision of government or society.” In an era of brute-force micro-messaging, partisanship trumps statesmanship, pandering trumps policymaking. Facebook is “the worst possible forum through which we could conduct our politics,” laments Vaidhyanathan. But it is the forum to which we have flocked.

The problem is compounded by Facebook’s practice of dedicating staff members to political campaigns to ensure that candidates use its data and ads in the most effective ways possible. Vaidhyanathan argues that Facebook’s “embedded” consultants played a particularly central role in crafting Donald Trump’s online advertising during the 2016 presidential race. They steered the campaign toward the kind of inflammatory, visually striking messages that stir passions and get widely shared throughout the network. Facebook profited by selling more ads, and Trump profited by attracting more votes, more volunteers and more contributions. Through this “confluence of interests,” Vaidhyanathan posits, Trump gained a considerable advantage.

“Antisocial Media” is not a hopeful book. Vaidhyanathan doesn’t think Facebook can be reformed from within, however many times CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologizes and promises to do better. “The problem with Facebook is Facebook,” he writes. It’s not just that the company makes its money by pimping its members to advertisers. It’s that the network is now so immense that it has become impossible to weed out the scoundrels and creeps until after they’ve done their damage. “Facebook,” Vaidhyanathan concludes, “is too big to tame.” The company will always be cleaning up messes, begging our forgiveness.

(Henry Holt)

If “Antisocial Media” is scholarly in tone, Jaron Lanier’s “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” is cheeky. Lanier, a computer scientist who has become one of Silicon Valley’s best-known apostates, aims to convince us that Facebook, Twitter and other such platforms are so deeply corrupt, their effects so personally and socially destructive, that we need to ditch them, and fast. “Quitting entirely is the only option for change,” he writes.

Lanier sees social media as a manipulative system that demeans everyone it ensnares. The more information about ourselves we feed into it, the better it gets at steering our thoughts and opinions. The essential business of a company like Facebook, he argues, is behavior modification. Not only does it harvest incredibly detailed data about individuals’ habits and preferences, but it also runs myriad experiments aimed at determining which messages and other stimuli are most likely to grab attention, elicit strong reactions and trigger compulsive consumption of information. Needless to say, these kinds of sophisticated techniques for psychological engineering are extremely valuable to advertisers that want to sell us goods. They’re equally valuable to political operatives, legitimate or otherwise, who want to shape our views.

Because the techniques are hidden from us — the companies treat their algorithms as trade secrets — we’re rarely conscious of the ways we’re being manipulated. As the software exerts ever more influence over what we see and how we think, we begin to lose our free will and even our sense of individuality. Unable to think for ourselves, we drift toward tribalism. Giving in to one of the more primal forces of human nature, we establish our identity by subscribing to groupthink and pillorying those with different ideas.

Missing from social media, Lanier suggests, are the “public spaces” of the physical world, where the presence of others reveals similarities that transcend differences. That sense of shared humanity, essential to a decent society, is lost when people are reduced to streams of messages and images. Even when we go out into public spaces today, Lanier observes, we are often gazing at our screens, not our surroundings.

Although given to windiness, Lanier is an astute critic, able to see things others miss. But his analysis is distorted by a flawed assumption. He views the problems of social media as “blessedly specific,” resulting from Facebook’s and Google’s reliance on personalized advertising to make money. By closing our social media accounts, he contends, we’ll give Silicon Valley an opportunity “to improve itself” — to retool its business in a socially responsible way. That’s a cheery notion, but it’s naive to think that, if we just hit the reset button, Silicon Valley will reform itself and right its wrongs.

Social media’s problems stem not just from Internet companies’ business strategies but from the technologies the companies use and venerate. By turning all types of information into the digits of binary code, computer networks encourage the consolidation of once-diverse media into data empires of unprecedented scope and power. And the very design of smartphones and apps, research shows, saps us of the patience and attentiveness we need to evaluate the meaning and worth of the information pulsing through our screens.

As Lanier acknowledges, the tendency of digital media to promote emotionalism, diminish thoughtfulness and undermine civil discourse was already in evidence when people first began conversing online in the 1970s, long before the ads showed up. When people talk in person, eye to eye, they naturally feel a kinship, even if they disagree with each other. That fellow-feeling tempers distrust and encourages courtesy. When those same conversations take place in the sterile realm of the computer screen, they are much more likely to deteriorate into angry name-calling and one-upmanship. The technology itself brings out what Lanier calls our “inner troll.”

We can’t separate Silicon Valley’s business interests from its tools, nor can we trust entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to remedy complex social ailments. Even if the public were to stage a mass exodus from social media, Internet companies would, if left to their own devices, construct new communication systems and media empires with similar defects. They’d probably invent better ways to bewitch us.

It’s moot, anyway. Barring a radical cultural shift, it’s hard to imagine many people heeding Lanier’s call and deleting their social media accounts. As the past year has shown, even those who profess outrage over social media’s depredations go right on using Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. It’s not so much that they’re addicts (though they may be). It’s that social networking is now woven into their friendships, their jobs, their spare time, their very sense of self. By abandoning social media, they would exile themselves from society.

The most revealing moment in “Antisocial Media” comes when Vaidhyanathan describes his own online habits. Despite his comprehensive understanding of Facebook’s ill effects, he has been a loyal and largely happy member of the network for more than a decade. “As much as anyone in the world I have lived my life through Facebook,” he confesses. “Facebook has been the operating system of my life.” As to the future: “I have no plans to resign.”

The problem with Facebook is not just Facebook. It is also us.
Antisocial Media
How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

By Siva Vaidhyanathan

Oxford. 276 pp. $24.95
Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

By Jaron Lanier

Henry Holt. 160 pp. $18

The Washington Post/Brian Fung: AT&T is raising an obscure fee on customer bills to make an extra $970 million a year analyst says The

The Washington Post
Democracy Dies in Darkness


    Try 1 month for $1
    Sign In
        Newsletters & Alerts
        Gift Subscriptions
        Contact Us
        Help Desk

    Accessibility for screenreader

The Switch
AT&T is raising an obscure fee on customer bills to make an extra $970 million a year, analyst says
by Brian Fung June 29 at 12:27 PM Email the author

President Trump listens to AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event at the White House on June 22, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

AT&T’s wireless customers are expected to pay almost $1 billion in new fees every year to the company after it increased a monthly “administrative fee” this spring in a move that went largely unnoticed, according to an industry analyst.

The analyst, Walt Piecyk of BTIG, initially estimated that AT&T could pocket roughly $800 million more annually from the higher fee, before revising that figure upward to $970 million once he learned that the fee hike also will affect tablets and smartwatches on AT&T’s network, not just cellphones.

“Some people might not get hit till next cycle,” Piecyk said.

The higher fee reflects a 58 percent increase over its previous level of $1.26 per line. The fee is now more than three times what it was when AT&T first introduced it in 2013. It does not apply to prepaid customers but affects the vast majority of AT&T’s roughly 65 million postpaid subscribers, Piecyk said.

“Presumably the Administrative Fee is another way to help AT&T fund its network build and Time Warner acquisition going forward,” wrote Piecyk in his note airing the discovery.

AT&T declined to say whether the fee would be allocated toward defraying its merger costs. The company said in a statement that the fee is a standard practice across the industry, and that it “helps cover costs we incur for items like cell site maintenance and interconnection between carriers.”

A page on AT&T’s website also says that the fee is “not limited” to covering cell site maintenance and interconnection.

Like the country’s other wireless carriers, AT&T is moving aggressively to build out a nationwide successor to its 4G LTE data network, an endeavor that is likely to cost billions. It is also spending $40 billion — and could receive more than $30 billion from the federal government — to construct a new wireless network for first-responders.

AT&T is changing rapidly in other ways. The company this month closed its landmark $85 billion merger with Time Warner, becoming an entertainment and media giant overnight. It is moving quickly to capitalize on the acquisition, renaming Time Warner as WarnerMedia and launching a new streaming video service, WatchTV, that contains some of the programming it now owns. It also acquired AppNexus, a digital advertising firm that could help AT&T monetize WarnerMedia’s video content.

It is unclear whether price hikes could be coming to other AT&T services. Arguing for the deal against the Justice Department in court this year, attorneys for the company claimed that prices for AT&T’s pay-TV service, DirecTV, were likely to go down. But critics of the deal said that the Time Warner merger was likely to increase prices for TV viewers indirectly nationwide.
Brian Fung
Brian Fung covers business and technology for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic. Follow
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.
Try 1 month for $1
Market Watch
Dow 24,271.41
Today 0.23%
S&P 2,718.37
Today 0.08%
NASDAQ 7,510.3
Today 0.09%
Last Updated:06/29/2018

The Washington Post/Justin Jouvenal: Police used facial-recognition software to identify suspect in newspaper shooting

The Washington Post
Democracy Dies in Darkness


    Try 1 month for $1
    Sign In
        Newsletters & Alerts
        Gift Subscriptions
        Contact Us
        Help Desk

    Accessibility for screenreader

Public Safety

Jarrod Ramos, suspected of killing five people at the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, is seen in this 2013 Anne Arundel Police Department booking photo obtained from social media. (Reuters)
by Justin Jouvenal June 29 at 4:46 PM Email the author

When the suspect in the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis was taken into custody Tuesday, he had no identification and said little, so police turned to a sophisticated facial-recognition system, officials said.

Police fed the man’s photo into the Maryland Image Repository System (MIRS), which matched it against tens of millions of photos from state driver’s licenses, offender photos and an FBI mug shot database.

It apparently returned a hit: Jarrod Ramos.

The case is the most high-profile use to date of MIRS, a cutting-edge and controversial tool that has been used by the Maryland State Police and other law enforcement agencies across the state since it launched in 2011.

“The facial recognition system performed as designed,” said Stephen T. Moyer, secretary of Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), in a statement. “It has been and continues to be a valuable tool for fighting crime in our state.”

[Suspect made threats against newspaper, authorities say]

The system uses algorithms to compare a suspect’s distinctive facial features against at least 7 million Maryland driver’s license photos, 3 million state offender images and nearly 25 million FBI mug shots, according to a 2016 report by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology. DPSCS did not respond to a request for updated figures.

MIRS initially drew little attention, but became a focus for privacy and civil liberties advocates after documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that it was used to identify protesters in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.

“Maryland’s use is on the more aggressive end for how we see the use of this technology,” said Clare Garvie, an associate at the Georgetown center.

But it is hardly alone. Garvie said 31 states permit the FBI to search their driver’s license photos for facial matches.

“Over 50 percent of all adult Americans are in biometric databases that are accessible for criminal investigations,” Garvie added.

A 2017 audit said Maryland did not track how often the system was used but noted that it costs about $185,000 a year to maintain. The Georgetown Law report said it was unclear whether Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services scrubs the database to eliminate people who were never charged, had charges dropped or dismissed, or were found innocent.

Officials acknowledge in materials about the system that it can misidentify individuals.

Civil liberties advocates are particularly concerned about the impact on minorities, given that research has shown some facial-recognition software has a harder time identifying the faces of African Americans. They are also concerned that the system might eventually be used in conjunction with surveillance cameras to provide real-time scanning of streets.

[Amazon is selling facial recognition software to police — for a fistful of dollars]

The use of facial-recognition software by law enforcement has been a hot topic in recent months. In May, a coalition of groups called on to stop selling low-cost facial-recognition software called Rekognition to police because of concerns about surveillance of vulnerable communities. (Amazon founder and CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

“People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government,” the ACLU wrote in a blog item. “By automating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom, posing a particular threat to communities already unjustly targeted in the current political climate.”

     Share on FacebookShare
      Share on TwitterTweet
    Share via Email

Justin Jouvenal
Justin Jouvenal covers courts and policing in Fairfax County and across the nation. He joined The Post in 2009. Follow
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.
Try 1 month for $1
Most Read Local

    It started with your shoes, then your water. Now the TSA wants your snacks.
    Capital Gazette shooting suspect held without bond on 5 counts of murder
    Everyone thought he was killed by a giant rock at Pompeii. Then, they found his skull.
    White supremacist propaganda is inundating college campuses, civil rights group says
    Tens of thousands expected to protest Trump’s immigration policy during Washington rally
    © 1996-2018 The Washington Post
    Help and Contact Us
    Policies and Standards
    Terms of Service
    Privacy Policy
    Print Products Terms of Sale
    Digital Products Terms of Sale
    Submissions and Discussion Policy
    RSS Terms of Service
    Ad Choices

The Washington Post/Geoffrey A. Fowler: Whoa! Meet the future phones that fold up, have 9 cameras and charge over thin air.

The Washington Post
Democracy Dies in Darkness


    Try 1 month for $1
    Sign In
        Newsletters & Alerts
        Gift Subscriptions
        Contact Us
        Help Desk

    Accessibility for screenreader

The Switch Review

Whoa! Meet the future phones that fold up, have 9 cameras and charge over thin air.

Lately, our smartphones all look alike. So our tech columnist hunted in labs, start-ups and China’s thriving phone scene to find what’s next for our favorite gadget.
by Geoffrey A. Fowler June 29 at 10:57 AM Email the author
Here's what the smartphone of the future looks like

Foldable screens are just the beginning. The Post’s Geoffrey A. Fowler looks into his crystal ball at the tech innovations coming soon to smartphones. (Jhaan Elker, Geoffrey Fowler/The Washington Post)

Your next smartphone might just throw you a curve.

Picture this: You pull your phone out of your pocket and unfold it like a napkin into a tablet. You press your finger on the screen, and it unlocks. You switch to the camera app, and a spider-like array of lenses shoot simultaneously to capture one giant photo.

These are all things I’ve seen phones do — some in prototype form, others in models you can get only in China. Analysts in Korea say we might see a folding “Galaxy X” phone from Samsung as soon as next year. When I look into my crystal ball, I’m convinced we’re on the cusp of the most significant changes to the design and functionality of smartphones since they first arrived.

The shake-up couldn’t come soon enough. You probably couldn’t live without your phone but feel as excited about it as you do running water. And the water company doesn’t hold an event every year to hype slimmer faucets. From the front, the iPhone 8 is pretty much indistinguishable from the iPhone 6 that came out nearly four years ago. Americans are holding onto old phones longer than ever — 25.8 months, according the most recent research from Kantar Worldpanel.
Smartphone shipments are slowing world-wide

At the end of 2017, smartphone sales growth went red for the first time
Year over year growth
Q1 2018

Source: IDC

The Washington Post

The tech industry has been doubling down on software and artificial intelligence capabilities, which still hold huge potential. But there’s a lot to be done on improving phone hardware, too, the number one reason most people upgrade.

Longtime tech analyst and futurist Tim Bajarin, of Creative Strategies, tells me he’s also excited by what he sees coming. “When we turn the corner on the next decade, that is when we will start to see a revolution in everything from flexible displays to glasses,” he says.

So I went on a hunt for new technologies in China (where phonemakers are more creative), among start-ups and at industry conferences where the likes of Samsung and Apple find new components. Of course, it’s hard to predict what ideas will stick and what will end up being a gimmick. I looked for ideas that could make phones simpler to use, easier to carry and better for watching video and doing work. And, of course, I looked for anything that might make batteries last long enough to bring an end to the contact sport of hunting for an airport outlet.

Here are five ideas that will, at the very least, make your next phone interesting. Or if not your very next phone, then the one after that.

Characters on HBO’s “Westworld,” which just ended its second season, use fold-up tablets rather than laptops. Similar devices are really in development. (Courtesy of HBO)
Fingerprint scanners go inside

The big idea: You can have it all: a phone that’s entirely screen on front and a fingerprint scanner still right where it belongs. When full-screen phones came into fashion, some Android phones moved this key function to the back. Apple killed the home button entirely with its full-screen iPhone X, opting for face-scanning sensors that some (including yours truly) find fail just enough to be annoying.

Recent breakthroughs let phonemakers embed the fingerprint reader inside the screen. Just press your finger over the right area of the screen — indicated by a thumbprint image — and the phone unlocks. Component maker Synaptics figured out how to take a picture of fingers by looking in between the phone’s pixels; Qualcomm created an ultrasonic sensor capable of scanning not only though screens but also metal … and even underwater. So far, the tech has made its way into phones from Chinese makers Vivo and Xiaomi.

The Vivo X21, sold in China, is one of the first phones that embeds a fingerprint scanner inside the screen. (David Orr for The Washington Post)

Before you get too excited: The in-screen reader was a bit more finicky than traditional scanners when I tested it on the Vivo X21, one of the first phones to offer it. And, Apple people, don’t hold your breath this will ever come to a new iPhone. Apple has said it thinks Face ID is the future, and it doesn’t often reverse course.

When will I get it? In the United States, I think we’ll see it on a phone within the next year. The Korean tech media report that Samsung “confirmed” to industry partners it would use an in-screen scanner in its Galaxy S10, though no executives have said so to me.

This prototype phone from a camera start-up called Light incorporates nine lenses on the back but isn't much thicker than an iPhone X. (Courtesy of Light)
Cameras sprout more lenses

The big idea: Phone snaps could soon compete in quality with big-honking-lens cameras. How? By covering the back of the phone with a bunch of small lenses that shoot simultaneously — and then stitch it into one big photo.

We’ve already seen a version of this in Apple and Samsung phones with two lenses on the back. The second helps with zoom shots and measuring depth to create photos with artistically blurry backgrounds. The P21 Pro flagship from Huawei includes three lenses: one color, one monochrome (to help with depth and lowlight situations) and one 3x zoom.

The Huawei P20 Pro phone included three camera lenses on the back. Now Huawei is rolling out the P21 Pro. (Geoffrey A. Fowler/The Washington Post)

A camera-maker called Light has taken this idea furthest. It showed me concept and working prototype phones with between five and nine lenses — yes, nine — on the back. It says its phone design is capable of capturing 64 megapixel shots, better low-light performance and sophisticated depth effects.

Before you get too excited: All those lenses — and the processor power required to stitch together all those individual shots — don’t come cheap. A stand-alone camera from Light with 16 lenses costs $1,950.

When will I get it? Light, which counts giant phone manufacturer Foxconn as an investor, says a smartphone featuring its multi-lens array will be announced later this year.

In a 2013 presentation at CES, Samsung showed this video of a concept folding phone. (Courtesy of Samsung/YouTube)
Screens fold up

The big idea: We once had flip phones. Now here come the flip tablets. At a display industry conference in May, the buzz was about prototypes of screens that were flexible enough to roll and flap in the wind. One firm, called BOE, showed a gadget it dubbed a ”phoneblet” with a 7.5-inch screen that folded, without seams, into a phone and back again … without breaking. Fans of the HBO show “Westworld” might have seen the sci-fi equivalent in the folding tablets characters use to control killer robots.

It’s been coming for at least a decade. Samsung showed a wowee folding phone concept video at CES in 2013. The first bendable screens went into curved TVs and phones that round at the edges. We’ve now crossed a threshold where we can make screens that bend repeatedly — and soon we’ll be able to fold screens as sharply as a piece of paper, said Helge Seetzen, the president of the Society for Information Display.

How does that work? BOE says it got rid of the traditional color filter and backlight, and replaced rigid glass with plastic. Bending doesn’t break the pixels because each one is so tiny; it’s like how a single human can walk seemingly flat on Earth even though it curves.

Before you get too excited: Working prototypes are one thing — producing millions of screens that can reliably fold and unfold is much tougher. Anything with hinges (hidden behind the screen) could be easier to break than our current solid devices. But one silver lining: Moving to plastic could make phones and tablets more shatter-resistant, even if they might be easier to scratch.

When will I get it? We’ll see foldable devices in the next year, though the first ones may have seams. Some analysts think Samsung’s folding phone (nicknamed the “Galaxy X”) will start production in November and will cost $1,850 when it debuts in 2019. Seetzen says screens that fold like paper are five years away.

A prototype Wi-Charge adapter let this phone juice up sitting on a table -- without any plugs. (Geoffrey A. Fowler/The Washington Post)
Batteries charge over thin air

The big idea: Battery life is the biggest problem with today’s phones. Now imagine if you rarely had to think about your battery because your phone was constantly charging itself. This is going to sound a little crazy, but researchers have figured out ways to beam low levels of power through the air. Firms such as Energous and Ossia send power using radio frequencies, while rival Wi-Charge uses infrared light that’s closer to lasers.

I’ve seen functional prototypes of both technologies. For these over-air charging systems to work, of course, you have to be in a room outfitted with transmitters. Energous says those might first get embedded into other gadgets, such as computers and speakers, so they could charge gadgets nearby. Wi-Charge says it is looking to go into light fixtures.

Wait, will any of this fry us? The makers of the tech say no because they’re using such low levels of power. It’s true we’re already surrounded by energy from radio waves and the sun. Energous says it doesn’t expose bodies to more radiation than cellphones, and Wi-Charge automatically cuts out if anything gets between its transmitter and receiver.

Before you get too excited: None of this wireless charging tech is nearly as fast as plugging in your phone, though arguably that’s less important if your phone charges all day. And companies have been promising this sort of technology for years. They’re finally clearing regulatory hurdles but now have the double challenge of getting gadget makers to use it — and figuring out how to get transmitters into homes, airports and coffee shops.

When will I get it? Energous says hearing aids supporting a first version of its tech (which requires closer contact) are coming in a matter of weeks. It says devices that charge over medium and larger distances are more likely by 2019 or 2020. Wi-Charge says it hopes to sign up gadget-makers as soon as next spring.

The Magic Leap One headgear is due to ship, at least to developers, later this year. (Courtesy of Magic Leap)
Glasses so you don’t have to look at your phone

The big idea: Glasses are the “what comes next” that the tech industry is counting on, because they would let us remain online without looking down at screens. Start-up Magic Leap raised more than $2.3 billion to make a “lightweight, wearable computer” that looks like a pair of welding glasses. Apple also applied for patents for glasses tech, and CEO Tim Cook frequently talks up the potential of augmented reality, the technology that merges computer images with the real world. (A form of AR tech is what powered the Pokémon Go craze.)

The $400 DreamGlass displays apps running on a tethered phone inside glasses. (Courtesy of DreamWorld)

Early AR glasses are already coming out. I tried one from a start-up called DreamWorld that offers a 90-degree field of view and responded to my hand gestures. It weighs only about half a pound, because it plugs into a phone that does the processing and holds the battery. Smart glasses are likely to require nearby phones until the parts shrink enough to let them replace phones entirely.

Before you get too excited: Wasn’t Google Glass a flop? Yes. Very few people want to walk around wearing a face computer. And then we have new social norms to figure out, such as: If your glasses are taking a picture of — or looking up information about — a person, how do you let them know?

When will I get it? DreamWorld’s DreamGlass is available now for $400. More consumer-friendly glasses that don’t require wires or heavy gear are at least five years out. Magic Leap has promised to ship a developer-focused version of its Magic Leap One at some point this year.

Read more tech advice and analysis from Geoffrey A. Fowler:

Hands off my data! 15 default privacy settings you should change right now.

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube wants to replace your remote, but Alexa gets a little tongue-tied

The new Gmail sends self-destructing emails — and nudges you to reply to mom

The Switch newsletter

The top stories on the tech industry, tech policy and tech in our lives, delivered every weekday.
By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

     Share on FacebookShare
      Share on TwitterTweet
    Share via Email

Geoffrey Fowler
Geoffrey A. Fowler is The Washington Post’s technology columnist based in San Francisco. He joined The Post in 2017 after 16 years with the Wall Street Journal writing about consumer technology, Silicon Valley, national affairs and China. Follow
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.
Try 1 month for $1

    10 Big Tech Stocks That Are Surprising Bargains Right Now 10 Big Tech Stocks That… Trendingstock Today
    Tom Hanks Ad-libs His Way Through an Audience Emergency While Playing Falstaff Tom Hanks Ad-libs His Way… TheaterMania
    The Most Hilarious Selfie Captions On The Internet The Most Hilarious Selfie… Bossip

    Everything You Need to Know About Credit Cards — Simplified Everything You Need to Know…
    The Several Faces of Intel Compilers The Several Faces of Intel Compilers Homepage
    The Keys to Helping New Leaders Find Their Niche The Keys to Helping New… GROCO CPAs & Advisors

Recommended by
Most Read Business

    Analysis ‘Not what we expected’: Trump’s tax bill is losing popularity
    Trump calls for another round of tax cuts, further reductions to corporate tax rate
    GM says new Trump auto tariffs threaten American jobs
    Perspective How I got a perfect 850 credit score
    One man is responsible for most of the fireworks used in America: Mr. Ding.

The story must be told.
Subscribe to The Washington Post
Try 1 month for $1

The Switch newsletter

The top stories on the tech industry, tech policy and tech in our lives, delivered every weekday.
Market Watch
Dow 24,271.41
Today 0.23%
S&P 2,718.37
Today 0.08%
NASDAQ 7,510.3
Today 0.09%
Last Updated:4:41 PM 06/29/2018
    © 1996-2018 The Washington Post
    Help and Contact Us
    Policies and Standards
    Terms of Service
    Privacy Policy
    Print Products Terms of Sale
    Digital Products Terms of Sale
    Submissions and Discussion Policy
    RSS Terms of Service
    Ad Choices

Dr. Mercola: Fruits and Veggies Are Healthy, but Don't Miss These Superstars

Organic Food — Hype or Hope?

    June 30, 2018 • 5,827 views Edition: English


Visit the Mercola Video Library
Story at-a-glance

    “Organic Food — Hype or Hope?” analyzes the benefits of organically grown foods. A problem common to many organic farmers is pesticide drift from neighbors growing their crops using conventional methods
    Pendimethalin keeps showing up in organic produce sampled in Germany, and has become a particularly difficult problem as organic farmers whose wares test positive for it cannot meet Germany’s strict organic rules
    If the European Union decides to impose even stricter limits on pesticide residues in organics, drift will prevent many organic farmers from qualifying for organic certification altogether
    Hundreds of studies have shown organic foods contain fewer detectable pesticides than conventional and higher levels of certain nutrients, especially antioxidants, which are important for health and disease prevention
    Studies have also shown organic farming is better for the environment and human health, provides unique social benefits and is more profitable for the farmer

By Dr. Mercola

The 2018 documentary, “Organic Food — Hype or Hope?” analyzes the benefits of organically grown foods. How are they different from conventional and do they really live up to the promise of being healthier? One significant problem is the fact that many organic farms are growing their food near farms using conventional methods. They liken it to smoking — if a nonsmoker is sitting next to someone who lights up, the nonsmoker ends up inhaling toxins even though he or she has made the choice to live a healthier lifestyle.
Pesticide Drift Can Decimate an Organic Farm

The film starts out by looking at a problem common to many organic farmers, namely pesticide drift from neighbors growing their crops using conventional methods. The European Union (EU) has strict limits on pesticide residues in organic food, and some farmers cannot sell their products as organic due to chemical drift settling on their crops. Depending on wind conditions during spraying, the chemicals can travel long distances, contaminating organic fields where such pesticides are not legal to use.

What’s worse, some chemicals, such as pendimethalin, can remain airborne for weeks on end, thereby assuring widespread contamination. Stefan Palme, who grows organic fennel for baby food on his farm in Uckermark, Germany, recounts how he has been forced to harvest the fennel earlier in the season to avoid chemical contamination, which would bar him from selling the fennel as organic.

It involves more physical labor and greater care to harvest early, but the alternative is to sell his organic crop as conventional, for a lower price. Rudolf Vögel, a German agricultural engineer, is investigating how long pendimethalin can be detected in the environment.

He believes the phenomenon of drift has been widely underestimated, noting that evidence emerging in recent years “calls for an urgent reassessment of the way certain agents are permitted.” Pendimethalin keeps showing up in organic produce samples, and has become a particularly difficult problem, as organic farmers whose wares test positive for it cannot meet Germany’s strict organic rules.

What’s more, if the EU decides to impose even stricter limits on pesticide residues in organics, drift will prevent many organic farmers from qualifying for organic certification altogether. It’s a troubling Catch-22.

On the one hand, most organic farmers agree with lowering limits, as it is good for health. On the other hand, the contamination is not caused by them and cannot be stopped by them either, and lowering the limits would put many of them out of business. Palme is now pushing for a ban on pesticides such as pendimethalin to protect the organic sector as a whole.
Pesticides Found in Trees and Groundwater

Frieder Hofmann, an environmental engineer, is tracking the drift of pendimethalin by collecting bark samples from trees. He’s been able to confirm this herbicide can spread at least 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the site of the spraying. The drift problem raises an important question: Can organic food be produced anywhere in Germany? The same question is likely to be applicable to any number of other countries, where organic farms are trying to coexist amid conventional farms using copious amounts of toxic chemicals.

In one instance, Hofmann found no fewer than 11 pesticides in the bark of a large tree, two of which were found in “alarming concentrations.” One of them was pendimethalin. Pesticides are not only found in food and trees. When it rains, the chemicals seep through the ground and contaminate groundwater as well. Soil samples taken from a depth of 15 meters, just over 49 feet, reveal the presence of both nitrogen (from fertilizer runoff) and pesticides.

Making matters worse, many pesticides biodegrade very slowly, if at all, and remain in the environment for years. As noted in the film, “This is legalized environmental pollution on a grand scale.” It also threatens our ability to obtain clean water, as pesticides are extremely difficult and costly to filter out.

Who pays? Those who pay for tap water — not the farms that cause the contamination. That said, German water authorities place the blame not on farmers but rather on the chemical industry, noting that in this day and age, we would expect chemical producers to create agricultural chemicals that not only do their job in the fields, but also properly degrade so they won’t contaminate groundwater and contaminate the environment for years to come.
Organic Food Contain Higher Levels of Antioxidants and Fewer Pesticides

Are organic foods healthier and therefore worth the extra expense? If “healthier” means the absence of pesticide contamination and higher nutrient content, then the answer is yes. A meta-analysis1 by Stanford University, published in 2012 — which looked at 240 studies comparing organically and conventionally grown food — confirmed that organics were 23 to 37 percent less likely to contain detectable pesticide residues. Organically raised chicken was also up to 45 percent less likely to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Following in Stanford University’s footsteps, a group of scientists at Newcastle University in the U.K. evaluated an even greater number of studies, 343 in all, published over several decades. Just like the Stanford study, their follow-up analysis,2 published in 2014, also found that while conventional and organic vegetables oftentimes offer similar levels of many nutrients, the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was four times higher in conventional foods.

Conventional produce also had on average 48 percent higher levels of cadmium,3 a toxic metal and a known carcinogen. Moreover, while many nutrient levels were comparable, a key nutritional difference between conventional and organics was their antioxidant content. In the Newcastle analysis, organic fruits and vegetables were found to contain anywhere from 18 to 69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown varieties. According to the authors:

    “Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies ... Significant differences were also detected for some other (e.g., minerals and vitamins) compounds.”

The filmmakers visit the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture4 in Frick, Switzerland, where they’ve been investigating the differences between ecological and conventional farming for over four decades. The Institute was the first to confirm that organic apples contain higher levels of antioxidants than conventional varieties. Antioxidants are a very important part of optimal health, as they influence how fast you age by fighting free radicals.

So, the fact that organic foods contain far higher levels of them vouches for the stance that organic foods are healthier in terms of nutrition, in addition to being lower in pesticides. There are also a number of other studies that support the claim that organically grown produce contain higher levels of nutrients in general. For example, a study5 partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found organic strawberries were more nutrient-rich than conventional strawberries.
Is There a Middle Ground Between Organic and Conventional?

Organic farming is more complex and economically challenging than conventional, and some have wondered whether conventional farms could just adopt some, but not all, of the organic criteria. Or vice versa, could organic farms use some conventional methods and still be just as beneficial for human health and the environment?

The short answer is no. Carlo Leifert, agronomist and professor of ecological agriculture at Newcastle University, heads up the university’s experimental farm. One of the things he’s looking at are the possible overlaps between the two farming systems.

Interestingly, in the film he explains that when you use organic fertilizer in combination with conventional pesticides, you end up with higher pesticide levels in the crop than were you to use conventional (synthetic) fertilizer and pesticides! This surprising result appears to be due to how different minerals and chemicals interact. So, to enjoy all the benefits associated with organic, a conventional farm making the switch to organic really must make a comprehensive changeover.
Organic Grass Fed Milk and Meat Is Healthier Than Factory Farmed, Research Shows

Two 2016 studies6 led by Leifert — one on the compositional differences of organic and conventional meat,7 and one on milk8 — also found clear differences between the two. Said to be the largest studies of their kind, the researchers analyzed 196 and 67 studies on milk and meat respectively.

The largest difference in nutritional content of meat was its fatty acid composition, certain essential minerals and antioxidants. Coauthor Chris Seal, professor of food and human nutrition at Newcastle University, commented on the findings, saying:9

    “Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. Western European diets are recognized as being too low in these fatty acids and the European Food Safety Authority recommends we should double our intake. But getting enough in our diet is difficult. Our study suggests that switching to organic would go some way toward improving intakes of these important nutrients.”

According to the review on milk, half a liter of organic full fat milk will provide you with an estimated 39 milligrams (mg) or 16 percent of the reference daily intake (RDI) of very long-chain (VLC) omega-3 (EPA, DPA and DHA), whereas conventional milk will provide only 25 mg or 11 percent of the RDI of these important fats.

As noted in the milk study,10 VLC omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including “improved fetal brain development and function, delayed decline in cognitive function in elderly men and reduced risk of dementia (especially Alzheimer’s disease).” Organic milk also contains lower levels of omega-6, providing a healthier ratio between these two fatty acids. Compared to conventional milk, organic milk was also found to contain:

    Higher levels of vitamin E
    Higher concentrations of iron
    Higher levels of antioxidant carotenoids
    40 percent more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has a wide array of important health benefits, from fighting cancer to decreasing insulin resistance and improving body composition

Other Studies Confirm Superiority of Grass Fed Milk and Meat

Other studies have come to very similar conclusions. A 2010 study11 looking at grass fed beef versus grain fed beef found the former had healthier fat composition and higher CLA levels.

As noted by the authors, “[C]hanges in finishing diets of conventional cattle can alter the lipid profile in such a way as to improve upon this nutritional package. Although there are genetic, age-related and gender differences among the various meat producing species with respect to lipid profiles and ratios, the effect of animal nutrition is quite significant.”

A 2013 organic milk study12 also confirmed that dairy from cows raised on pasture is higher in many nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene and CLA. Organic milk also contains about 25 percent less omega-6 fats and 62 percent more omega-3 fats than conventional milk. Research has also found that true organic free-range eggs typically contain about two-thirds more vitamin A, double the amount of omega-3, three times more vitamin E, and as much as seven times more beta carotene than conventional eggs.13
How Your Food Is Grown Matters

Studies such as these drive home the point that how food is raised makes a tremendous difference. You simply cannot cut corners during production without impacting the quality of the food and, by extension, human health. As noted by Leifert, commenting on the studies by Newcastle University that he led:14

    “People choose organic milk and meat for three main reasons: improved animal welfare, the positive impacts of organic farming on the environment, and the perceived health benefits … Several of these differences stem from organic livestock production and are brought about by differences in production intensity, with outdoor-reared, grass fed animals producing milk and meat that is consistently higher in desirable fatty acids such as the omega-3s …

    We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional food. Taken together, the three studies on crops,15 meat16 and milk17 suggest that a switch to organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products would provide significantly higher amounts of dietary antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids ...

    [T]he fact that there are now several mother and child cohort studies linking organic food consumption to positive health impacts shows why it is important to further investigate the impact of the way we produce our food on human health.”

Why Organic Foods Still Sometimes Contain Contaminants

The film also reviews European efforts to develop testing methods to authenticate organic food. It’s a very complex endeavor, but a much-needed one to protect organic producers and consumers. Unfortunately, the higher prices demanded by organics invite cheating and fraud, which is why many will rely on a farmer’s reputation over a label.

It’s also worth noting that while organic farming does not permit synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, chemicals that should not be in the food supply can be found even in organic foods. The primary reason is not necessarily fraud; rather, it has to do with environmental pollution. As explained in the film, dioxins, for example, are deposited on land via rain.

A hen or other animal can then eat contaminated grass or insects, and since dioxins are fat-soluble, they accumulate in fatty tissues. Disturbingly, organic eggs in Germany often contain up to 30 percent higher levels of dioxin than conventional eggs, and the suspected reason for this is because they spend so much more time outdoors, and eat off contaminated soil. It’s thought the contamination is then transferred into their eggs.
Organic Farming Is Sustainable and Environmentally Necessary

As noted by the filmmakers, “[O]ne thing is certain: Organic farming makes a major contribution to human welfare — by helping to mitigate climate change, protect the groundwater, conserve nature and promote animal welfare.” Indeed, all of these factors are powerful reasons to support a systemwide transition to organic farming. While naysayers claim organic farming cannot sustain our current rate of population growth, the scientific evidence does not support this view at all.

A number of studies have come to the complete opposite conclusion — that organic farming is the only way forward, as chemical farming is simply too destructive and has too many adverse effects on human health. For example, a 2016 study,18 published in the journal Nature Plants, compared the benefits of organics versus conventional in terms of four key sustainability metrics, concluding that organic offers many benefits that outweigh the higher price.

Coauthor John Reganold, professor of soil science and agroecology at Washington State University, noted that in the 1980s when organic farming first began, very little research existed and many claimed it was too inefficient to feed a growing population. Today, at least 1,000 studies have looked at the benefits and differences between organic and conventional farming. The Nature Plants study analyzed data that has emerged in the past 40 years, with a focus on how organic farming impacts sustainability in terms of:

    Environmental impact
    Economic viability
    Social well-being

Overall, they found that organic farms produce equally or more nutritious foods with fewer or no pesticide residues. Organic agriculture also provides unique benefits to the ecosystem, as well as social benefits. A 2015 study cowritten by Reganold also found that organic farms were more profitable,19,20 earning farmers anywhere from 22 to 35 percent more than their conventional counterparts. According to Reganold:

    “If I had to put it in one sentence, organic agriculture has been able to provide jobs, be profitable, benefit the soil and environment and support social interactions between farmers and consumers. In some ways, there are practices in organic agriculture that really are ideal blueprints for us to look at feeding the world in the future. Organic may even be our best bet to help feed the world in an increasingly volatile climate.”

UN Calls for Global Treaty to Promote Organic Farming

Last year, Hilal Elver, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, special rapporteur on toxics, also called for a global treaty to regulate pesticides, stressing the fact that these chemicals have now become a very troubling and pervasive food contaminant that is threatening the health of children everywhere.

They challenged the pesticide industry’s “systematic denial of harms” and “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics,” noting the industry is spending massive amounts of money to influence policymakers and contest scientific evidence showing their products do in fact cause great harm to human and environmental health.

Even more importantly, their report firmly denied the idea that pesticides are essential to ensure sufficient amounts of food for a growing world population, calling the notion “a myth.”21,22 According to Elver and Tuncak:

    “The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading. In principle, there is adequate food to feed the world; inequitable production and distribution systems present major blockages that prevent those in need from accessing it …”

Their report also highlighted developments in sustainable and regenerative farming, where biology can completely replace chemicals, delivering high yields of nutritious food without detriment to the environment. “It is time to overturn the myth that pesticides are necessary to feed the world and create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production,” they said.
European Parliament Report Stresses Benefits of Organics for Human and Environmental Health

Similarly, a 2016 report23 by the European Parliament, “Human Health Implications of Organic Food and Organic Agriculture,” detailed the many benefits of organic farming, based on a global literature search. The report is unusually comprehensive in that it also reviews a wide range of effects of organics, from nutritional content and the benefits of fewer pesticides to environmental impacts and sustainability.

Its conclusions are based on hundreds of epidemiological and laboratory studies and food analyses. Again, the clearest benefits of organics on human health were found to be related to lowered pesticide, antibiotic and cadmium exposure. As noted by the authors, “As a consequence of reduced pesticide exposure, organic food consequently contributes to the avoidance of health effects and associated costs to society.”
Organic Food Resources

While it’s easy to feel helpless, remember you can help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more sustainable systems by supporting organic farmers and choosing fresh, local produce every day. Remember to buy organic, grass fed beef, poultry and dairy, as well. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods grown in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner:

Demeter USA provides a directory of certified Biodynamic farms and brands. This directory can also be found on

American Grassfed Association

The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms. provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.

If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out and They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund24 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.25 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at
+ Sources and References
Most Popular

    4th of July
    Castor Oil
    How to Stop Snoring Naturally
    GMO Foods Ebook

Post your comment
Show Comments (1)
Previous Article
Next Article
Subscribe to Dr. Mercola's Natural Health Newsletter

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

    About Dr. Mercola
    Contact Us
    Employment Opportunities
    En Espanol
    Health Articles
    Health Videos
    Media Inquiries
    Mercola Community FAQ
    Mercola Social Responsibility
    Press Room
    Special Reports
    Terms & Conditions
    Updated Privacy Policy

    Special Info Sites
    Nutritional Typing
    Vitamin D

    Autoship Program
    California Supply Chains Act
    GMO-Free Products
    Healthy Rewards Program
    Low Price Guarantee
    Online Product Guide
    Online Shopping

    Our Service Commitment
    Premium Products
    Product Badge Glossary
    Return Policy
    Shipping Policy (Domestic)
    Shipping Policy (International)
    Store Locator
    Wholesale Program

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

If you want to use an article on your site please click here. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required.

Terms & Conditions | Updated Privacy Policy | Sitemap

© Copyright 1997-2018 Dr. Joseph Mercola. All Rights Reserved.

    Mercola Health Resources, LLC BBB Business Review
    McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams
    TRUSTe online privacy certification
    Click to Verify - This site has chosen a GeoTrust SSL Certificate to improve Web site security
    Privacy Policy

Call Toll Free: 877-985-2695

    Copy Link

Read Previous
Read Next

Friday, 29 June 2018

Fast Company/Steven Melendez: Facebook downplays “ambient audio” tech that can eavesdrop on you

Fast Company   

    06.29.186:00 am

Facebook downplays “ambient audio” tech that can eavesdrop on you
At least two Facebook patents describe listening to users’ TVs. Facebook says it will “never” deploy the technique, but other firms are using similar methods.
[Animation: joshborup/Pixabay; Josy_Dom_Alexis/Pixabay]

By Steven Melendez 5 minute Read

Amid persistent rumors that Facebook is spying on you through your phone’s microphone–rumors that the company has denied since at least 2016–reports emerged this week that the company has applied for a patent on technology that listens to “ambient audio” to detect what you’re watching on TV.

Essentially, your phone or another device would detect, via Bluetooth or other signals, that it’s near your turned-on TV and would record short snippets of sound. TV shows and ads could include high-pitched signals identifying precisely what you’re watching, and that data could be beamed back to a central server to “update user profiles of the individuals” in your household in order to better target users with personalized content, according to the patent application filed in late 2016.

A diagram from a 2016 Facebook patent application for analyzing “ambient audio” [Photo: courtesy of United States Patent and Trademark Office]
This isn’t the company’s only technology for capturing and identifying audio signals in a user’s environment. In another patent application filed in 2015, Facebook describes a system that can capture data about what a user is watching by using “acoustic fingerprinting” to analyze ambient audio, or even by analyzing electrical signals emitted from an HDMI cable or a television. Neither patents mention listening in on users’ voices or conversations.

When reached by Fast Company, Facebook said it will “never” actually put the patent-pending technology to use. According to an emailed statement from Allen Lo, VP, deputy general counsel and head of intellectual property at Facebook:

    It is common practice to file patents to prevent aggression from other companies. Because of this, patents tend to focus on future-looking technology that is often speculative in nature and could be commercialized by other companies. The technology in this patent has not been included in any of our products, and never will be. As we’ve said before, we often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications should not be taken as an indication of future product plans.

And when asked during his April U.S. Senate testimony whether Facebook used “audio obtained from mobile devices to enrich personal information about its users,” Zuckerberg answered, “No.”

Of course, the company stores audio and video deliberately uploaded and shared by its users, and its terms of service give it fairly wide latitude to analyze and process that data. But the company says it has no plans to use ambient sounds to shape ads or users’ feeds.

“Facebook has never used your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed, and we have no plans to do so in the future,” said Facebook’s vice president of ads Rob Goldman in a statement shared with Fast Company.

Meanwhile, rumors suggest that Facebook will soon launch a smart speaker product similar to Amazon Echo and Google Home, which would likely revive theories of spying, even unintentionally. Amazon devices have been known to misinterpret conversations as commands to record and transmit audio, and the devices generally work by constantly listening for cues in people’s conversations, even if they don’t retain that incidental audio or send it to the cloud.
It’s already happening

Capturing audio to figure out what you’re watching might sound outlandish, but it’s actually being done. A company called Alphonso does just that, using modules in apps such as games to listen to TV audio and identify shows, the New York Times reported last year. The company says it doesn’t pick up human voices, and users of apps with the code can opt out at any time.

In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wrote to developers warning them that if they used another TV-observing app module by data firm Silverpush and didn’t properly notify users, they could be violating the law. At the time, Silverpush said its technology wasn’t in use in the United States, according to the FTC, but vowed that it would kill the software anyway due to a “business decision.”

A year later, however, researchers found over 200 Android apps still using Silverpush’s inaudible sound “beacon” technology to spy on what TV commercials users were watching. The apps, including some used overseas and connected with large companies like McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme, had collectively been downloaded millions of times from the official Google Play market, the researchers wrote in a May 2017 paper.

Many smart TVs already do phone home with information about what you’re watching, provided you give consent in the often-dense menus you see when you first get the device home and plug it in. The TVs generally don’t need to listen to external audio to learn what you’re watching, since they already have that data. By gathering your IP address, broadcasters and advertisers can also use that information to match your viewing habits with other information known about your online behavior.

For instance, 4C, an analytics company and early Facebook and Twitter marketing partner, uses various techniques to help determine users’ offline activity and pair digital ads with live TV moments and commercials. Before it collapsed, disgraced elections firm Cambridge Analytica was touting similar techniques.

Even if marketers aren’t literally listening in, hackers and stalkers have been known to take over webcams and microphones to spy on innocent people. (Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly covers the camera and mic on his laptop.) Last year, a leak of CIA cyberweapons revealed a tool for capturing audio recorded by Samsung’s Smart TVs. And some companies offer spying apps that you can install on smartphones (often targeted at employers and parents) to monitor use, including turning on the microphone to eavesdrop as you see fit.

Related: Hackers Could Use A Pop Song To “Watch” You Through Your Smart Speaker

To prevent clandestine audio monitoring by apps, users can use their smartphone privacy settings to disable an app’s access to the microphone. This, however, can also prevent a number of useful features, like recording video with sound.

The bottom line is that advertisers have found they like the wealth of data they can get about your online habits, and there’s likely to be a continual push to find ways to get similar data about what you’re watching, listening to, and even discussing in the physical world. Even if Facebook isn’t listening, that doesn’t mean it technically can’t or that it won’t some time in the future.
About the author

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist living in New Orleans.

You Might Also Like:

    7 warning signs that you shouldn’t accept a job offer
    Remember, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also wrote her own winning ad
    This RV Full Of Lawyers Is Touring Rural America To Save Young Immigrants From Deportation
    Video: This company wants you to drink your beer--and eat it, too

Technology Newsletter
Receive special Fast Company offers.
See All Newsletters
Sponsored Financial Content
Powered by Dianomi
Where is the clever money going?
Where is the clever money going?
Latin America’s Renewable Energy Revolution
LatAm Investors
Latin America’s Renewable Energy Revolution
Content Marketing in Financial Services - 2019 Benchmarking Survey
Editions Financial
Content Marketing in Financial Services - 2019 Benchmarking Survey
How AI could be impacting childhood development
Trump’s tax law will likely hurt small charities the most
Activism built America’s infrastructure once, and can do it again
Nonprofits remain victims of their own ambition
Top 5 Ads Of the Week: Netflix diversity, Airbnb travels forward
Why AT&T Should Pay Attention to Go90’s Demise
CAA database of TV writers of color addresses dearth of diversity
Cities & Spaces
Design is like a drug
Apple and Samsung’s truce is the end of an era for design
Cities & Spaces
How the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign got its powerful design
Fast Company
I left my dream job at Facebook: Here’s the best way to quit a job
10 digital nomads share how they stay focused working abroad
Top 5 Ads Of the Week: Netflix diversity, Airbnb travels forward

    AdvertisePrivacy PolicyTermsContactAbout UsSite MapFast Company & Inc © 2018 Mansueto Ventures, LLCDigital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program Kwun: How the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign got its powerful design


    06.29.187:30 am

How the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign got its powerful design
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waged a wholly different political campaign–one that entailed a wholly different kind of visual identity.

By Aileen Kwun 5 minute Read

In the midst of what has been an incredibly upsetting week of news for many Americans, New Yorkers had a reason to rejoice as they witnessed a historic victory in the city’s 14th congressional district. First-time candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic Socialist with a progressive agenda, beat out 10-term Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in the biggest, most inspiring upset to mark this year’s primary midterm elections. Come 2019, she’ll be the youngest person to represent in the history of Congress.
Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez [Photo: Corey Torpie/courtesy Tandem Design NYC]

Pledging to run with zero contributions from lobbyists, Ocasio-Cortez won by a 15-point margin, an especially impressive feat given that Crowley’s campaign worked with a corporate-bankrolled budget that was reportedly 18 times larger than her modest $300,000. One of the many factors contributing to Ocasio-Cortez’s spirited, grassroots-powered win? An effectively designed visual campaign.
[Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images]

In posters, on Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website, and plastered on the side of an “Ocasio 2018–mobile” that made the rounds through the Bronx and Queens communities within her district, Ocasio-Cortez’s visual brand features a portrait of her center stage against a sea of deep violet-blue, her hair tied back in a low bun, with a look of undeterred gumption on her face as she looks upward and beyond, her gaze directed not at the viewer, but slightly askew and into the distance, as if to propel our attention onward to the future. Visual text-framing devices are styled as speech bubbles, symbolizing a vocal, pluralistic approach to politics. As Ocasio-Cortez says in her powerful campaign video, calling for more diverse racial, cultural, generational, and ideological representation in the face of monied, career politicians: “This race is about people versus money. They have money, we have people.”
[Photo: Corey Torpie/courtesy Tandem Design NYC]

The grassroots campaign sought to speak to a different voter base and audience–and that required a different visual language, explains Scott Starrett, 34, co-founder and creative director of the five-person graphic design firm, Tandem Design NYC, that designed the overall campaign brand and visual identity as an in-kind donation. Starrett, a close personal friend of Ocasio-Cortez, is a politically engaged designer who has previously worked with Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats–two progressive political organizations who have backed her campaign.

“Knowing Alex (we call her Sandy) personally gave us a lot to work with,” Starrett told Co.Design. “We spent countless hours discussing politics with her before she began her bid, so we knew exactly where she stood on the issues, we knew the caliber of person she was and the style of campaign she was running so it was a much easier challenge than most.” By no coincidence, Tandem’s team also falls into Ocasio-Cortez’s generational demographic; Starrett’s partner is 32, and the studio’s lead designers on the project, Maria Arenas and Carlos Dominguez, are recent 24-year-old graduates.

In crafting the visual look and feel of the campaign, Tandem’s team looked to revolutionary grassroots movements of the past, and specifically to the movements led by labor and civil rights activists like Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez–direct, refreshing visuals often made by hand and conveying a sense of cultural urgency. It was serendipitous that the defining photograph of Ocasio-Cortez, which was supplied by her volunteer team, carried “the same feeling of hope, the upward gaze to the future, to the vision of positive change,” says Starrett. “That gaze, in turn, informed the logo and typography to be set at a forward-leaning angle.”
[Image: Tandem Design NYC]

Opting for bold lettering and a flat design treatment that forgoes drop shadows, gradients, American flag motifs, and other visual cliches, the identity intentionally avoids pretentious signifiers to refreshing effect; one might even liken the energetic campaign visuals to a local poster bill. In place of red, white, and blue, Ocasio-Cortez’s color scheme draws upon purple–a symbolic blend of the two-party system’s red and blue, also used by Brand New Congress–and yellow, as its aesthetic complement.

Enlarged, all-caps text–set bilingually in English and Spanish, in equal weighting–frames Ocasio-Cortez’s countenance with similarly angular effect, and her name, proudly flouted with inverted exclamation marks and stars, is emphatically, unapologetically multicultural. It’s an outward display of Ocasio-Cortez’s roots as a third-generation, working-class Bronxite with Puerto Rican heritage.
[Image: Tandem Design NYC]

While typical corporate-backed political campaigns have increasingly come to visually and semantically mirror their donor base, with sleek, disingenuous logos bearing more likeness to a pharma company or Wall Street firm, Ocasio-Cortez’s eye-popping branding bucks convention.

“She is a non-traditional candidate running a non-traditional campaign, and we wanted her visual identity to reflect that, to be true to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” said Arenas. “There’s a misconception that political graphic design is about misleading people, misrepresenting the candidate, that branding is just for marketing, ergo, dishonest. Most political design is very timid, safe, and traditional. I think our work was able to break through that perception … Good design has a place in politics.”

If Obama’s wins taught us anything about design, it was the importance and power of a memorable and symbolic brand identity in an increasingly hyper-visual, digital landscape. At the same time, it goes without saying that graphic bells and whistles alone won’t clinch a win. Suraj Patel, a 34-year-old, first-time candidate who similarly ran against a longstanding incumbent in New York’s 12th congressional district, doubled down on an aggressively youth-friendly campaign identity, replete with millennial pink and merch tees featuring splashy taglines and graphics inspired by artists like Virgil Abloh. Anjelica Triola, the chief creative officer of Patel’s campaign, as Racked reported, was by no coincidence a former creative strategist to lifestyle brands like Adidas, Target, and LVMH. In the end, however, the appeal of Patel’s millennial ticket may have been curtailed by a shortsighted strategic move to catfish voters via dating apps like Tindr and Grindr.

Ocasio-Cortez, with her refreshingly direct, no-holds-barred progressive agenda, proved that the impact of knocking on doors and engaging community members IRL beats digital marketing any day. As Harvard Law School faculty member Ian Samuel aptly opined on Twitter: “The visual design of Ocasio2018 stirred my curiosity. But it was her Extremely Good politics that got my attention.”
About the author

Aileen Kwun is a writer based in New York City.


Co.Design Daily Newsletter
Receive special Fast Company offers.
See All Newsletters
Trump’s tax law will likely hurt small charities the most
Activism built America’s infrastructure once, and can do it again
Nonprofits remain victims of their own ambition
Top 5 Ads Of the Week: Netflix diversity, Airbnb travels forward
Why AT&T Should Pay Attention to Go90’s Demise
CAA database of TV writers of color addresses dearth of diversity
Cities & Spaces
Design is like a drug
Apple and Samsung’s truce is the end of an era for design
Cities & Spaces
How the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign got its powerful design
Fast Company
I left my dream job at Facebook: Here’s the best way to quit a job
10 digital nomads share how they stay focused working abroad
Top 5 Ads Of the Week: Netflix diversity, Airbnb travels forward

    AdvertisePrivacy PolicyTermsContactAbout UsSite MapFast Company & Inc © 2018 Mansueto Ventures, LLCDigital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program

Miljönytta: Energy innovation recovers the lost heat

Energy innovation recovers the lost heat

Jun 27, 2018 |
Energy innovation recovers the lost heat
Facts about Climeon

    Climeon was founded in 2011 by Thomas Öström (CEO), Joachim Karthäuser (CTO) and Sven Löfqvist. The company's vision is to become the world's number one climate solver, by supplying fossil-free heat power everywhere.
    The company's product, the Heat Power system, converts low temperature (70-120⁰C) heat to electricity with unmatched efficiency.
    Climeon is currently focusing on four segments: maritime, steel and cement production, gensets (generators) and geothermal energy. The company received the first order in 2015, and the list of customers include Viking Line, Virgin Voyages/Fincantieri, Maersk Line and steel producer SSAB.
    Climeon's innovation received the WWF Climate Solver Award in 2016. In 2018, Climeon was appointed ”New Energy Pioneer” by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
    The company employs 46 people (2017). The headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden. The volume of sales was approximately 12 MSEK in 2017. Climeon is publicly listed on Nasdaq First North Premier.

Externa länkar


Climeon’s modular system converts low temperature waste heat and geothermal heat to electricity, addressing an unexplored market. Ultimately, the company aims to replace fossil fuel based electricity production entirely.

”Climeon aims to become the world’s number one climate solver”, says Thomas Öström, CEO. ”We know that from today and until 2040, we need to increase the energy production with about 30 percent. That’s like adding another China and India into this mix. It is difficult to grasp”.

Half of the world’s energy production is eventually lost as waste heat. The Climeon Heat Power system can recover clean energy from various low-temperature heat sources. Illustration: Climeon.

Climeon’s Heat Power module can be described as a cube 2 meters in side, which converts the energy in hot water to electricity with a patented vacuum-based process. Each module has the capacity to generate 1 314 000 kWh of clean electricity every year, and they can be combined, allowing the system to scale with demand and availability.

”Every unit supplies enough electricity for about 250 normal-sized villas. They are packed with innovation in order to reach the extreme efficiency we have. They are mass produced and enables the customers to customize the power plant according to the energy source. We are very happy with the product”, Öström says.
Potentially disruptive energy technology

Compact, fundamentally cheap, with unique efficiency; according to Öström, this is an energy technology poised to be disruptive. And he is not the only one with confidence in the solution: the Swedish Energy Agency has called it “the greatest energy innovation in a hundred years”. When WWF chose the company as one of their Climate Solvers in 2016, they estimated that the technology could save over 21.6 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, with a ten percent market share in the maritime and industrial waste heat segments. On one single ship, the Climeon system can save 7 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, or five percent of the fuel consumption.

”Everybody knows about wind and solar. Heat power is not as well known – but it is trending very, very fast”, Thomas Öström explains. ”The first source is waste heat power, either from industrial processes, like we do on SSAB, or from transportation like on the maritime market with Viking Line, Virgin Voyages and lately also Maersk. It’s here and now. The other one, geothermal, is the  best power source of the future; the only thing that is stopping us from harvesting it is technology. And this is exactly what we bring. In the last months we’ve got orders in geothermal energy from Iceland, Germany, Canada and the US.”
A giant resource waiting to be tapped

About half of all the energy we produce is lost as waste heat. Waste heat recovery, from power plants, industrial processes or generators, could be a giant market; nevertheless, the low temperature waste heat that Climeon can use to produce electricity, 70 to 120 °C, is a relatively untapped resource today.

Heat power is usually recovered with the organic rankine cycle, ORC, where an organic working fluid is circulated against the heat source in a heat exchanger until it vaporises. The gas powers a turbine, and electricity is produced by a generator. The crux is that ORC usually only works well in the 120 to 300 °C temperature range.

In Climeon’s process, the working fluid is kept at a lower pressure than in traditional ORC systems – 2.5 bar instead of more than 10. This allows the company to both save material and employ a more efficient working fluid. They evaluated more than 3 600 fluids before they made their choice – but now, the Heat Power system can achieve ten percent efficiency in normal operating conditions, twice as much as a regular ORC system operating at the same temperature and more than half the theoretical maximum.

”In the maritime segment, we take the cooling water from these huge gensets and turn it into electricity instead of just dumping it into the Baltic Sea. Of all the industry segments, we have chosen a few: steel and cement. Chosen customers in chosen countries. The third segment is gensets, large generators and engines, that also exist in power plants. Just like on ships you have a cooling loop that cools the engine, at temperatures 80-100 °C”, says Christoffer Andersson, COO at Climeon. ”All these are within waste heat. Geothermal energy is something different. We enable geothermal energy in the temperatures range of 70-120 °C.”
A reliable substitute for fossil fuels

”Geothermal heat can be found today, and there are several players in the market making money. But that is on the high temperatures that can only be found in some areas in the world. But what we offer can generate geothermal energy everywhere on the planet. It’s cheap, and it’s baseload power”, says Thomas Öström, emphasizing the consequence: ”Fossil fuel is no longer needed.”

The Climeon module installed on Viking Grace. In the box, residual heat from the ship vaporises a circulating liquid that drives a turbine. Thanks to the vacuum pressure on one side of the turbine, efficiency is high. Photo: Climeon.

Both the technology and its commercial viability is established. Viking Line was among the first customers, with a pilot installation on the vessel Viking Grace in 2015. SSAB followed suit. The pilot facilities has been operational successfully for several years, and both customers have made repeated orders; Viking Line is looking to equip all their new ships with the system.

But it was in the last year things really took off. Virgin Voyages/Fincantieri made an order for three systems with 18 units for their cruise vessels; Maersk Line will be the first customer in the larger freight segment to make a pilot installation, planned for delivery in 2018; and in August 2017, the first geothermal order arrived from Icelandic Varmaorka. In June 2018, the order was increased to 197 units.

”We set off in early 2017 with proven technology and a feeling of competitiveness”, Thomas Öström says. ”Sales were focused on maritime and industrial waste heat recovery, while geothermal remained an exciting vision for the future. But in summer and fall, everything happened in quick succession.”

The units are manufactured by Mastec, an industrial group from county Småland in southern Sweden, and with orders piling up, it is a fair assumption they will be busy for a while. But in spite of Climeon’s expansive agenda – to challenge the fossil economy and seize control over one of the most important and least used energy resources we have – the company pledges to remain Swedish as long as possible:

”Building an industrial company in Sweden is a lot of fun!”

The article was published in June 2018.


PreviousSuit up sustainably in recycled polyester   
Related Posts
Cities may be future mines
Cities may be future mines

January 16, 2012
The sun is cooling Väla Centre
The sun is cooling Väla Centre

November 8, 2016
Environmental rubber for the world market
Environmental rubber for the world market

August 30, 2016
Textile biogas reactors
Textile biogas reactors

September 1, 2015

The Swedish project Advantage Environment provides information about existing and future products designed to reduce environmental impacts.

Subscribe via e-mail Subscribe via e-mail »

Subscribe via RSS Subscribe via RSS »

Cleantech Scandinavia
Cleantech Scandinavia is a membership network of investors and affiliated cleantech professionals.

offers risk capital, expertise and establishment support for investment in new growth markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe (non-EU).

Swedish Cleantech
is a website based on cooperation between government and industry and stakeholder associations, as well as regional environmental technology actors.

The Swedish trade and invest Council
Export of sustainable urban development, energy and environmental technology