Popular notions that electric cars will suddenly replace conventional gasoline-powered cars don’t acknowledge the possibility that there could be eco-friendly advances in conventional car technology. A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) finds that “internal combustion engines are improving their ability to cut CO2 emissions at a lower cost than expected, and, as a result, carmakers should be able to meet 2020 emissions targets mainly through improvements to conventional technologies.”
A key word there is should. It would take a concerted effort by automakers in several technical areas. Continue reading “Electric vehicles will face stiff competition from eco-friendly gasoline-powered cars”
China is often seen as just a low-cost manufacturing outpost, but the new “High Tech Indicators” study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology clearly shows that the Asian powerhouse has much bigger aspirations.
The study of worldwide technological competitiveness suggests China will soon pass the U.S. in the critical ability to develop basic science and technology — and then commercialize those developments.
“Since World War II, the United States has been the main driver of the global economy. Now we have a situation in which technology products are going to be appearing in the marketplace that were not developed or commercialized here [in the U.S.]. We won’t have had any involvement with them and may not even know they are coming,” said Nils Newman, co-author of the study.
Georgia Tech’s “High Tech Indicators” study ranks 33 nations relative to one another on “technological standing,” an output factor that indicates each nation’s recent success in exporting high technology products. Four major input factors help build future technological standing: national orientation toward technological competitiveness, socioeconomic infrastructure, technological infrastructure and productive capacity.
A chart showing change in the technological standing of the 33 nations is dominated by one feature – a long and continuous upward line that shows China moving from “in the weeds” to world technological leadership over the past 15 years.
The 2007 statistics show China with a technological standing of 82.8, compared to 76.1 for the U.S., 66.8 for Germany and 66.0 for Japan. Just 11 years ago, China’s score was only 22.5. The U.S. peaked in 1999 with a score of 95.4. Continue reading “China ascendant; U.S. tech prowess peaked in 1999”
A key tenet of current U.S. foreign policy is to export democracy to other countries. So, how well does that really work? What are the critical success factors for one nation imposing democracy on another?
The Washington Post (17 September 2007) reports on new research by political scientists Andrew Enterline and J. Michael Greig that sheds light on this. Enterline & Greig studied 41 cases over the past 200 years and came up with four critical success factors (ingredients) for imposing democracy:
- large occupation forces early on to stamp out nascent insurgencies;
- a clear message that occupation forces were willing to spend many years to make democracy work;
- an ethnically homogeneous population, where politics was less likely to splinter along sectarian lines; and,
- the good fortune to have neighboring countries that were also democratic, or least didn’t interfere.
The two most successful “forced democracies” — West Germany and Japan — had all four ingredients. They’re in the category of “strong democracies,” which tend to survive at least 15 years and perhaps indefinitely.
Then there are the “weak democracies,” such as The Philippines, which tend to fail within the first 10 years.
Iraq, unfortunately, has none of the four ingredients.
Continue reading “Lessons in forced democracy”