Here’s a resume/CV I wouldn’t mind having myself:
Professor Daniel M. Kammen, University of California – Berkeley
Daniel M. Kammen is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. Kammen is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). Kammen is also the Co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment. Daniel Kammen is a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel
Peace Prize in 2007. In 1998 was elected a Permanent Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. In 2007, Kammen received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Commonwealth Club of California. His research is focused on the science and policy of low-carbon energy systems.
So what’s the point Dave, is this guy a Philippine hero?
No, he isn’t, but I noticed that virtually every time I mention alternative energy, particularly solar energy, I get feedback from people who perhaps don’t think about these things on their own but toss back quotes form “experts” about why solar energy (one of the great riches the Philippines is sitting on and doing very little with) even when the opinions of the “experts” are demonstrable facile and wrong … such as extrapolating US conditions and US prices to the rest of the world.
Well a week or so ago I had the pleasure of watching a show on Discovery Channel (also run by US experts by the way) hosted by Dr. Kammen. It’s part of a series titled Ecopolis and I highly recommend watching the series no matter where you live and what your alternative energy feelings are. You might learn something … or maybe not.
Anyway the focus of the episode I watched was putting Dr. Kammen to a pretty string test. He was asked to evaluate, critique and then select one, and only one, advanced technology demonstration for research funding and development funding for the US and the world’s future. The competitors had been narrowed to a list of five. I think just picking out five innovative systems is a big task but then to narrow them down to one, explaining the process, translating high level tech talk into TV viewer language and keeping in mind that you decision had a lot to do with how well the world survives the next 20 or 30 year ago is a task I wouldn’t want for any salary.
Dr. Kammen pulled it off with aplomb though, I must say. He really has great talent as a teacher as well as a scientist. Did a great job in explaining the factors he used in his decisions. I learned a lot.
So what in the world does this have to do with the Philippines and Philippine heroes? Simple. Dr. Kammen’s number two choice … the runner up system that placed ahead of every other current alternative energy system:
The SOLARco electric Jeepney, brainchild of Filipino engineer and entrepreneur Robert Lopez Puckett. Puckett and his team are would-class engineers. They could probably go to any country in the world and make good money with their talent. But they chose to stay in the Philippines and swim upstream to try to realize their dream. I salute them. And I again express my dismay and disappointment with the leadership and the media of the Philippines who spend so much of their time perpetuating the notion that there is no opportunity in the Philippines, that there is no scope for business here and that people who rush to the exits are “Philippine Heroes”.
Along with the eJeepney itself (which has some truly fantastic business numbers … it’s much cheaper than a traditional Jeepney, costs much less to run and would boost operator productivity as well) the program includes powering recharging stations from methane collection systems in Manila’s disastrously managed land fills. Win win. (I’m sure this series has been uninteresting to some, so I promise a new subject next article … I have lot more to say and a lot more info on alternative energy and the eJeepney on my PhilFAQS site.)
Dr. Kammen also considered how much value similar programs could have for dozens of other countries that share the Philippines economic and environmental challenges.
Of course the fact I mention the eJeepney was in second place gives a hint that something else won. And it did, In the end, Dr. Kammen gave the nod to a US proposal to generate electric power in commercial quantities from solar collectors/concentrators placed directly on city buildings that consume the most power. Of course many “experts” still “know” that commercial generation of electricity is too expensive, but I guess they forgot to tell the Stanford Energy and Resources Group and other “non-experts” like me that commercial solar won’t work.
I’m taking a lot of risk with this article because it can easily be construed that I am criticizing those who take the OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) route. This is not so. Every person should have the right to make their own choices and pursue their career in whatever way the chose. I salute those people as well, personally.
What I dislike, though, is the continual, on-going chorus of government, NGO and media voices that just repeat and repeat the same self-defeating message … exporting the talent and the true wealth of the Philippines, the country’s people is a “good thing” and something the government should spend tax money supporting and even promote, as if were the only choice for the country. It’s short sighted, it flies in the face of reason and good sense, and it’s one of those errors in leadership that could be changed overnight and at zero cost.
That’s one of the most depressing things I deal with every day living in the Philippines … the continual, sing-song copycat chorus of people who refuse to see the promise of their own country. It’s something that a foreigner really needs to think through because it certainly is a negative attitude that will weigh upon you every day you live here.