The statistics below are from an unashamed promotion of a new book, but I thought this was well articulated. The authors cite some statistics to think about:
- The average car spends more than 95 percent of its time …. doing nothing.
- Less than 40 percent of electrical transmission capacity is in use at any given time.
- A calorie of beef requires 160 times more energy to produce than one of corn—and as the world grows richer, more people eat beef.
- The cost of bringing an oil well online has more than tripled over the last decade.
- A Motorway operating at peak throughput is less than 10 percent covered with cars.
- Phnom Penh has a lower water leakage rate than London.
There used to be a very small detached house just inside Pamber Forest which I used to pass daily, and often wondered whether I could live quite happily in such a small place. Not quite as extreme as the Capsule Hotels you find in some areas of Japan, but a step in that direction nonetheless. This would probably mean quite a ruthless clean of the miscellaneous stuff we have all over the current house, but i’m sure there would be impressive efficiencies if we knuckled down to it.
The good thing about looking at stats like this is to start having thoughts of what Larry Page (CEO of Google) terms “Moonshots“. What could be done to improve things 10x, 100x or 1000x better than is considered normal by the rest of us, and what changes will that lead us to.
The authors feel that there’s a lot of waste in the status quo, and thus a great chance to produce and use resources much more effectively. But they don’t think it means that the sky is falling, and that our grandchildren are fated to inherit a poisoned, angry, gloomy, planet. That is also the argument of their new book, Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century
by McKinsey’s Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers.
My brain starts to wander at this point, and I still have this nagging feeling that all the books in my bookcase could be summarised down to 1-2pages each of people really tried – or less than 30 if examples are cited. One of the neat things about Kindle Books is that Amazon actually allow you to produce and sell stuff at that length; the The Bitcoin Primer: Risks, Opportunities, And Possibilities book
I purchased was an excellent 27 page read.
In terms of manufacturing (I guess they must be manufacturing consultants by day), they suggest looking at five areas: substitution (replacing costly, clunky, or scarce materials with cheaper, better ones); optimization (using IT to improve the production and use of resources – to order rather than into stock?); virtualization (which must really mean sweating otherwise idle assets?); circularity (finding value in products after their initial use) and waste elimination.
However, then then start citing “having to deal with more complex supply chains”, while integrating “big data” (hmmm – fad alert!) and finding diverse talent with new skills in areas like software- and system-integration (while I thought those were pretty well established!).
They conclude, “any bet that we will succumb to a global economic crisis is a bet against human ingenuity. No such bet has ever paid off.”
Looks an interesting book nonetheless, and i’m sure some good nuggets to pick at. Duly added to my Wish List.