... in energy

Catching up with the global south...

06 Dec 2012 | 370 words | CFL climate cange energy lights technology migration

Almost 6 year ago (on the first of january 2007) i started taking an interest in the use of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) as exterior lightening. I first noticed this use of this type op lightbulbs on a new years day stroll to the recently bombed out southern suburbs of Beirut. A large number shops and market stalls has improvised lamps made from large CFLs. The next day i observed the same while visiting a number of recently destroyed villages along the Lebanese/Israeli border.

While this kind of eco-light bulbs where still relatively new and rare in north-west Europe at the time, their sudden appearance in Lebanon made a lot of sense: The Lebanon’s electricity generating capacity had been severely reduced by israeli air strikes during the previous summer’s war and in a situation where there is insufficient supply of electricity energy efficiency is a simple necessity (as opposed to the luxury it represents in the global north).

I later encountered large CFLs as (often improvised) exterior lighting in a large variety of places outside of Europe: In fast growing economies like China, Brazil and Indonesia (where supply of electricity does not manage to keep with the rapid growth of demand) and places like Cuba, Iran, Egypt or Syria, where the distribution infrastructure is often improvised and thus vulnerable to excessive demand).

Whatever the reason it appears that all of these countries were leapfrogging the developed world in use of energy efficient lightening, not because they cared so much about their carbon footprint, but out of sheer necessity (which of course nicely contrasts our self perception as moral champions of energy efficiency in the global debate about climate change).

In this context it is somewhat refreshing to notice that apparently we have started to catch up with the developing world. On my bike ride home from work the day before yesterday i noticed a number of stores (run by immigrants) that used CFLs for exterior lighting in pretty much the same way that they have been using them in Lebanon since 2007:

i am pretty sure we will see much more of this type of immigrant driven technology transfer from the periphery to the center in the years to come…

The first world catching up with the third

19 Feb 2009 | 53 words | energy modernity netherlands lights

While cycling along the Keizersgracht this morning i noticed that a number of the buildings now use CFL lamps for the outside illumination:

CFL lightbulb in a lamp on the outside of a building on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam

Looks like the first world is starting to play catch-up with the third world.

Essential humanitarianism (the Gaza Zoo)

02 Feb 2008 | 404 words | gaza energy israel

Leila points to a pretty intresting article by Darryl Li written after a recent visit to the Gaza strip. In his article ‘From Prison to Zoo: Israel’s “Humanitarian” Control of Gaza‘ (watch out, this is a link to a .doc file, what the fuck are they thinking at adalah.org?) he examines the policy of essentail humanitarianism develloped by the Israeli state after the take-over of the Gaza strip by Hamas last summer. Li claims that the conditions in Gaza have changed in such a way that it is more accurately described as a Zoo (as opposed as a prision) these days (and no he is not talking about the actual gaza zoo, where masked gunmen steal lions & parrots):

The metaphor of the Gaza Strip as the world’s largest prison is unfortunately outdated. Israel now treats the Strip more like a zoo. For running a prison is about constraining or repressing freedom; in a zoo, the question is rather how to keep those held inside alive, with an eye to how outsiders might see them. The question of freedom is never raised. The ongoing electricity crisis helps to illuminate this shift, so to speak. […]

The interaction between the state and the court is telling as regards the post-disengagement management of Gaza and the mentality of zoo-keeping. In 2006, Israel decided that the best way to punish Gazans for the capture of one of its soldiers was a one-off, spectacular act of violence that would lead to widespread deprivation. Now it seeks similar results - the loss of electricity and the resulting disruption of everyday life - through more calibrated, long-term means. This shift in approach is akin to the difference between clubbing an unruly prisoner over the head to subdue him and taming an animal through careful regulation of leash and diet. […]

The notion of “essential humanitarianism” (it is unclear what would constitute the “inessentially” humanitarian) reduces the needs, aspirations, and rights of 1.4 million human beings to an exercise in counting calories, megawatts, and other abstract, one-dimensional units that measure distance from death. It distracts from, and even legitimizes, the destruction of Gaza’s internal capacities and resources: its economy, institutions, and infrastructure. And even if implemented in good faith and with the best of intentions, it promises nothing more than turning Gazans one and all into beggars - or rather, into well-fed animals - dependent on international money and Israeli fiat.

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: