Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Foreign-aid Micro Credit (FAMC) -- U.S. Marines style


Airdropping an Emergency Banking System, Currency Base & ATM Network into disaster zones

The FAMC 1st Air Calvary ("Airmobile") feeds & liberates The Poor via the Profit Motive

The Disintermediation of Foreign Aid

Manna from Heaven updated for the 21st Century

"...for God maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain to fall on the just and on the unjust." -- [ Matthew 5:45 ]

During the current 2nd Gulf War in Iraq, to quell rebellion, to buy allies on the ground in hot zones, and to pay reparations, U.S. Marines would often walk around Iraqi villages and cities handing out almost randomly US$ 100 or 20 dollar bills to all passersby. Voila ! -- fiat paper manna from Uncle Sam ! -- delivered directly and rapidly to populations in need with no intervening bureaucratic layers.

But where's the traceability of this kind of U.S. Government Foreign Aid? Or, likewise, where's the accountability for this dispensing of tens of millions of dollars from the U.S. taxpayer ? Apparently in a Time of War on Terror, accountability and traceability are optional. Fancy that. Metric- and benchmarking-focused bureaucrats around the world must shudder at the thought.

But is the War on Hunger in the Developing World any less urgent than the War on Terror? Any less important to the strategic interests of the U.S. Government or the European Union? Clearly no. Or so most human hearts would murmur. So shouldn't a similar level of less traceability and less accountability likewise be tolerated in a Time of Hunger and during other Humanitarian Crises? Clearly yes.

Moreover, how can U.S. Foreign Aid or any foreign aid be delivered paratrooper-style, when the U.S. Marines or other national rambo forces from Europe or Japan are otherwise engaged ? Or summarily castrated by political indecision? The answer? -- via the cell-phone-based Foreign-aid Micro Credit (FAMC). I have already written at length about the FAMC in this blog:

"The Foreign-Aid Micro Credit (FAMC)"

"The Foreign-Aid Micro Credit in a Time of Famine"

The above posts mainly discussed electronically transferring small amounts of e-money or mobile money to 1,000s or 10,000s of existing cell phones in an afflicted area to rapidly provide a large population with e-cash to buy food and water. Because, as pointed out before, Food & Water migrate towards Money, regardless of physical, legal, governmental or temporal barriers to trade.

Skeptical? Again, skepticism is the luxury of your full stomach. The proof that goods migrate to cash? -- At the unethical extreme of the scale this concept is called Smuggling. Think heroin, cocaine and cigarettes. At the other, ethical end of the scale, we have the cell-phone-based Foreign-aid Micro Credit (FAMC), which may be used to buy food and water with e-money transfers between cell phones using text-based SMS messages (simple message service). In the case of both extremes, the customer with money is able to buy the desired goods.

How would Foreign-aid Micro Credits (FAMCs) be distributed in a war zone or after a major earthquake or cyclone? -- By broadly airdropping cell phones and portable solar-powered battery chargers into the afflicted area, along with operating instructions in the local language, or instructions "written" in pictograms, icons and other universally-recognizable symbols. The cell phones would be pre-loaded with US$ 100 - 200 of e-cash, transferable by SMS.

At the same time, outside the disaster area, advertise broadly by radio or leaflet drops that the afflicted Poor are now "rich" and liquid, comparatively speaking. Courtesy of the profit motive, an influx of food, water and goods will immediately begin migrating towards the e-money. Going the other direction, at the perimeters of the disaster zone where social infrastructure is still intact, the e-cash could be converted to real cash, either U.S. dollars or the local country currency. The U.S.$ is already the de facto hard currency and store of value, or the main black-market currency, in dozens of countries in the Developing World.

Would some cell phones and e-cash end up in undeserving hands? Did the U.S. Marines in Iraq inadvertently hand out US$ 100 bills to some insurgents and Al-Qaeda operatives, or to their children who were sent into the streets to greet the Marines? Surely yes. Did the Marines waste taxpayer dollars, then? History will deliver that verdict in the Distant Future. So yes, some cell phones and e-cash will "fall on the evil and on the unjust". But the great majority will fall on the Good and on the Just.

As usual, small-minded micro-moaners and disintermediated bureaucrats will raise petty objections against this application of The Foreign-aid Micro Credit (FAMC), but they can all be neutered easily like stray cats:

--(1) The phones will be used by terrorists and criminals -- Then monitor or "wiretap" the phone conversations randomly and disable phones being used for criminal purposes

--(2) There won't be cell-phone transmission towers in the afflicted area -- Wrong, coverage is extensive throughout the Developing World, or just drop in portable towers

--(3) Cell phone transmission towers will be destroyed in the crisis -- Then, again, airdrop in new towers too

--(4) There is no electrical grid to charge the phone batteries -- Right, but don't forget the portable solar chargers

--(5) Foreign governments will prevent the airdrops -- Then don't ask for permission, like U.S. military drones over Pakistan & Afghanistan. That was our mistake in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 -- we foolishly asked the junta's permission to enter the country to provide humanitarian aid. Americans are far toooo polite. We should have just sent in the U.S. Army, Navy & Marines with the aid and shot any Myanmar junta forces that got in the way

--(6) Bureaucrats and "little shits & crooks" will steal the phones or the e-cash in them -- Sorry, the phones will be distributed sooooo broadly and have such small amounts of e-cash in each phone (US$ 100 - 200) that theft, graft, embezzlement and/or confiscation of the phones and e-cash will be almost impossible, or very negligible on a percentage basis

--(7) The national or regional mobile carriers won't cooperate -- Why wouldn't they ? All they have to do is assign telephone numbers to the 10,000s or 100,000s of phones and instantly they have that many new customers with pre-funded accounts. The carriers will be ecstatic. They can start charging the Poor immediately for every SMS message, every call, every cash withdrawal at any bank or store, etc. Woohoo!

--(8) National central banks will not allow, or are not equipped to handle, such an instantaneous engraftment of another banking system and currency base onto their own sovereign financial systems. If so, then forget them and use instead the systems and infrastructure of the African Central Bank, the European Central Bank, or the Asian Development Bank. Or the systems of any transnational commercial bank in any neighboring country

--(9) The present system of U.S. foreign aid works just fine, thank you -- Sorry, no. Refer to the post noted above: "The Foreign-Aid Micro Credit in a Time of Famine". Thousands of children starve to death waiting weeks and months for American food aid to be shipped by truck & train & boat & bicycle & horse and cart to Lands Faraway, sadly. And, finally --

--(10) _______________________________________

Add your own petty objection here -- Now Google around for a few minutes and find out why it's really drop-dead dead wrong.

In this extreme example of the cell-phone-based Foreign-aid Micro Credit (FAMC), an entire banking and currency system (or currency base) is quickly parachuted into a large afflicted area. Although barter systems usually rapidly take hold in a disaster area, those people with nothing to barter can go hungry and often die. In this case, however, a large, uniform, fungible, and recognizable currency base is quickly established to facilitate trade and commerce among 10,000s or 100,000s of people. Most of the currency will be used for daily necessities during the emergency, but as the crisis winds down, remaining e-cash balances might be used for savings or investment and thereby have an economic multiplier effect. Longer term upon the return of normalcy, as a legacy of the disaster, every recipient of a phone will have a cell-phone-based savings account and ATM access via an on-line cell-phone-based banking system such as Safaricom's M-PESA system in Kenya.

Moreover, recent history shows that once The Poor in the Developing World have cell phones in their hands, they quickly develop new uses for them that the well-fed in America and Europe could not imagine, thus leading to more efficient and additional economic activity. Also, as detailed several times elsewhere in this blog already, an established base of cell phones may immediately serve other functions such as for microtele-medicine, microtele-education, and as an emergency broadcast system to warn of or to react to further national disasters.

Finally, by allowing unfettered and largely uncontainable communication among the Common People, a cell phone is the Voice of Freedom & Truth that can liberate The Poor from bad government and military oppression.

The Foreign-aid Micro Credit (FAMC) -- Manna from Heaven updated for the 21st Century.

Semper fidelis,

David A. Palella
Chief Carbon Paratrooper

San Diego, CA
tel: 858-793-0741



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The Googlesday Book" -- A Universal Census of the Families of Man in 2009 AD?


The Great Survey of 1086 AD for William the Conqueror --> The Domesday Book or The Doomsday Book

Every tweet a haiku ? --- Or ? --> "The Tweets, like Dust" ?

Are there Limits to Google's Granularity ? Or Grainularity ? [sic]

A Billion Points of Light on Google Earth ?

"But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." -- [ Luke 12:7 ]

A main concern about Carbon Micro Credits (CMCs) is validation of the micro offsets created by 10s or 100s of thousands of unknown families in Strange Lands in the distant Developing World. Who are all these people? What are their names? Where exactly do they live? Do they really even exist?

In order to determine assessment of taxes and conscription of labor, in the years 1085 - 1086 AD, William the Conqueror of Normandy ordered an inventory of the assets of his newly conquered territory -- all England -- as well as a census of the entire population. Books from the time commented, translated into Modern English, that not a single square yard of land nor a single beehive escaped this universal survey of every physical possession and this census of every human being throughout all the Land.


Now, almost 1,000 years later, what is the capability of Mankind to duplicate this ancient and remarkable feat ? Has technology kept pace with the growth of human populations and their physical possessions, such that a Modern Domesday Book could be written ? Could every Human Being on Earth be numbered and accounted for, and not one missed?

Sadly, no.

The closest approach Man might make today to the Domesday Book is to first apply the surveying and indexing power of Google to numbering and tallying the Families of Mankind, to write, perhaps, a Googlesday Book ?

But what are the limits to the granularity of Google ? Apparently a googol -->> 10 to the 100th power, or more atoms than present in the visible Universe. Recently, for example, Google has started indexing the tweets of Hard to believe, but true. is a web site for broadcasting short one-line thoughts ("tweets" of 140 characters or less) to all Humanity -- in sum, an electronic dumpster of instant-messaging nervous ticks, haiku hairballs, trashy SMS confetti, popcorn logorrhea, pseudo-intellectual crumbs, ADHD ramblings, analretentive scratchings in a kitty-litter-box diary, and verbal vacuous vacuity.

In public squares and on broad avenues, Roman emperors ordered the carving of seminal Words in marble that over 60 generations of Man have read, but this generation of children spray-paints alphanumeric flatulence on the Alleyways of Time with electrons that ultimately may prove as durable. But will your great great grandchildren and their endless progeny in the distant future read your randomly puked tweets and be ashamed of your boffo banality? Once it's indexed on Google, you can't erase it, so think deeply before you tweet.

So how could Google begin to index the Families of Man ? Especially in the Developing World where the task is the hardest ? Easy -- Home is where the Hearth is. Or, the Family that cooks together, stays together. In short, the same family unit that claims cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credits (CMCs) by reducing their cooking emissions could be the basic counting unit for a new Census of Humanity. And for the dozens of reasons documented in this blog, indeed, every family in the Developing World should be a participant in a Carbon Micro Credit program.

In the Developing World, then, what would be the unique identifier or census account number for this nuclear-family cooking unit? One option ? -- a password-protected account number based on the unique serial number of their low-carbon-emitting stove or solar cooker. Plus the GPS coordinates of the cell phone used to claim their daily, weekly or monthly Carbon Micro Credits. GPS transponders are now built into many cell phones.

With this information, then, the family unit could be plotted as a point of Light on the appropriate map on Google Earth. Fiat lux times 1 billion ? May Carbon Manna make Google Earth twinkle like the Milky Way.

So why not include the cell phone number too in the unique identifier? Because Carbon Micro Credits (CMCs) may be claimed via any cell phone. And many families in poorer areas may be using the same cell phone to claim their CMCs. And why the unique cooker serial number and not another number ? Because in the Developing World, the cook stove is the foundation of the home, the source of all sustenance and Life. No other possession of the Poor is more important. Not to mention it being a valuable profit center -- the source of their Carbon Micro Credits too. So what family or woman or man or daughter would lose their stove or forget its serial number?

The password-protected account would also be the Family's on-line bank account, their access to the Developing World's equivalent of an ATM network (e.g., Safaricom's M-PESA cell-phone-based banking system in Kenya), and their depository for not only Carbon Micro Credits earned from low-CO2 cooking, but also from any other green-house-gas offset projects the Family unit might undertake in the future such as installing a small solar panel on their roof to charge a battery to run a light bulb at night so their children could study.

Moreover, the same account number could be used to access a simple record of the family -- the number of members in the household, their genders, their ages, their names, and so on. Small incentives of cell phone minutes or micro-cash could be offered to families that regularly update their census information via text-based SMS messages, which can cost as little as 4 cents/message in Kenya.

Is such a Universal Census of Humanity beginning in the Developing World beyond the capability of Google? If Google can index the limitless tweets of millions of under-employed and over-fed twits in America and Europe, then assuredly Google could count and number the grains of rice in all the billions of bowls of the Poor in the Developing World. And likewise all the human beings holding those bowls -- bowls partially filled with the Carbon Manna of Carbon Micro Credits.

So which is a more noble cause? And a better use of limitless computing power? Indexing tweets? Or counting human beings?

Finally, a Googlesday Book would also facilitate administration and auditing of Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) programs, accelerate adoption of the CMC system worldwide, and ensure the better feeding of The Families of Man.

"Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they?" -- [ Matthew 6:26 ]

Very unquantifiably yours,

David A. Palella
Chief Carbon Numerologist

San Diego, CA
tel: 858-793-0741


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Beautiful Desert -- Mankind's Dessert from Over-population


Unsustainable Biomass Combustion & Planetary-wide Desertification

Global Warming? Global Cooling? Global Pangeastasis? -- You decide.

Gaia alla carbonara or Biosphere flambe ? -- A Scorched Earth Policy -- one meal at a time!

"Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble."
[ Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1 -- William Shakespeare ]

"Naked came I" -- Mother Nature stripped bare in the Concentrated Camp of a Famished Humanity

How do the approximately 935 million people living in Africa prefer to dine out every day? Obviously! -- alla carbonara ! -- from a charcoal grill. Yes ! -- that hickory-smoked flavor is de rigueur in the Cradle of Homo sapiens! -- that is, absolutely required in Africa, where cooking with biomass -- wood, charcoal, savannah grass, leaves, or dried dung -- is a daily Fact of Life.

If ! these can actually be gathered or bought, of course.

Imagine almost 1 billion people on one continent cooking daily with biomass. What is the result? -- desertification, deforestation, denudification, debeautification and terra-disfiguration on a Gaia- or Pangea-wide scale. Not to mention the release of millions of tons of CO2 daily into the innocent bystander atmosphere.

Some dyspeptic detractors of my cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) system have pointed to the decreasing price of carbon on the European Climate Exchange (ECX) -- -- as a potential weakness in the concept that will scuttle its economics. But it's immediate carbon credit-based economics are just one minor factor in the value of the Carbon Micro Credit system for the Family of Man.

Whether you believe in global warming, global cooling, global fooling or immutable global terrastasis, it's probably better for us to leave the CO2, methane, O2 & nitrogen recipe of Earth's atmosphere just as God made it in The Beginning. Dramatically changing the recipe must have SOME downstream effects on the look and feel of the atmosphere, yes? And most recipe changes result in a bad aftertaste.

Moreover, the most immediate benefit from implementing the Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) system based on solar cooking or more efficient biomass-burning cook stoves is to reduce the rate of desertification in the Developing World. Solar cookers obviously consume no living or dead biomass, and more efficient charcoal or wood-burning stoves can reduce daily biomass combustion by up to 60 %. Yes, sixty percent. Which means the alarming rate of desertification in such countries as Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya and The Sudan could be reduced by 1/3rd or more if nation-wide CMC programs were implemented.

What are other benefits of my cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) system? Let me count the ways:

(1) Improved indoor air quality & health in colder regions where the cook stove is also used for heating. Or in warmer/rainy regions where families traditionally cook indoors. Various sources estimate that 1.5 - 2.0 million children and adults per year die prematurely from respiratory diseases caused by indoor cooking. The same number that die each year from malaria.

(2) Improved standards of living resulting from less money and time being spent on buying or gathering biomass:

-- For families that buy biomass fuel, they could reduce their daily fuel expense by 20 - 40 %. In some biomass-denuded countries, families living on US$ 1 - 2 / day spend up to 60 (sixty!) % of their daily income on fuel, sadly. Now, instead of buying biomass, they could buy shoes for their children or pay their tuition to attend elementary school. Yes, you have to pay for elementary school in many African countries.

-- For families that forage for biomass, often making round-trips up to 15 - 20 kilometers a day, many "man-hours" / day can be saved and dedicated to other activities such as education, farming, or commerce. Of course, the burden of gathering biomass usually falls on the shoulders of women and children, leading to over-worked women and under-educated children. Thus, the Carbon Micro Credit system will contribute towards the Emancipation of Women and the Education of the Child.

In sum, ignoring for the moment the additional monetary value of CMCs, more efficient cooking methods immediately boost the living standard of ultra-poor families by 15 - 35 %.

(3) MicroEducation and MicroMedicine:

Elsewhere in this blog I have already mentioned how the cell-phone base of the Carbon Micro Credit system can also be applied immediately to MicroTeleEducation and MicroTeleMedicine:

(4) The Foreign-aid Micro Credit:

As detailed at great length earlier in this blog, the cell-phone base paid for with Carbon Micro Credits can also be applied immediately to "air drop" micro foreign-aid payments to distressed populations during famines or national emergencies such as war or natural disasters:

(5) Increase in GDP:

A McKinsey study of cell-phone usage in China, India and The Philippines reports the rubric or rule-of-thumb that a 10 % increase in the penetration rate of cell phones in a Developing Country results in a 0.5 % increase in GDP from both productivity gains and overall increases in commercial activities.

(6) Add your own favorite benefits here:


So in view of all the upside provided by the cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credit system, why do almost all NGOs (non-governmental organizations), charities, governments, microfinance institutions (MFIs) and major corporations ignore it?

Because they have terminal boners for the less elegant solutions they invented themselves, or for which they paid toooo much money to BIG-time consulting firms? Because this revolutionary paradigm comes from an unknown voice in San Diego? Perhaps because "micro" means it's very small and for the very Poor? Perhaps because "micro" means it will take tooo loooong to have a mega impact on Planet Earth ?

But millions of hectares of land in the Developing World became desert one small meal at a time. Thankfully, now, millions of the Poor in the Developing World will be elevated from Poverty by one small Carbon Micro Credit at a time.

In sum, is the daily price of a ton of CO2 really important in the Grand Scheme of Carbon Micro Credit Things ? No, assuredly not important at all.

Even if the Carbon Micro Credits (CMCs) earned in a year only paid for a US$ 6.00 cook stove and a stripped-down inexpensive cell phone for every family, or every 5 or 10 families to share for claiming their CMCs, the additional HUGE positives noted above for Mother Earth, for Father Time watching the Doomsday Clock, and for the Quality of Life of The Family of Man -- these collective positives roundly outweigh any time-line dilations and minor economic downside caused by today's low carbon prices.

Tsk, tsk. Now the Carbon Micro Credit naysayers and the dispossessed zero-sum micro-moaners must concoct new whining points and petty denials. But an arid and vapid Failure will be their just desserts, happily.

Very verdantly yours,

David A. Palella
Chief Carbon Iconoclast

San Diego, CA
tel: 858-793-0741


Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Dis-intermediation of Microfinance


"Death of a micro Middleman" -- The Director's Cut

Occam's Razor shaves microfinance industry

Law of Parsimony downsizes micromony

Samurai Tailor frightsizes micro loans !

Zero Transaction Costs -- and not a penny more!

Fiat lux! -- Photons DIRECT to the "Bottom of the Pyramid"

Micro-enablement and Micro-empowerment a la Cell Phone

Frequent Flyer Miles & Carbon Micro Credits: An Analogy

Among a few of the "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots" reading this blog, there is a Great Confusion regarding my cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credits (CMCs), which can be used to put any of several forms of hard e-currency or cash DIRECTLY into the hands of poor Individuals in The Developing World.

Again let me say it -- DIRECTLY. With no involvement of middlemen, no intermediaries, no MFIs (micro finance institutions), no bankers, no brokers, no hangers-on, nor other NGO or government officials seeking to "add value" or cravenly craving personal gains for themselves. Zippo for them.

Rather, courtesy of the miraculous cell phone, which even the poorest of the poor have access to in Africa and many parts of Asia, Carbon Micro Credits (CMCs) or Carbon Micro Revenue or Carbon Micro Earnings or Carbon Micro Currency -- or whatever future flatulent flattering imitators want to call them -- CMCs can appear magically in the cell-phone accounts of millions of Individuals -- like Manna from Heaven.

For a typical family in Africa using a more efficient charcoal stove (e.g., the Uganda stove), weekly Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) earnings from selling their carbon offsets could amount to US$ 0.40 to over one U.S. dollar. CMCs can be claimed weekly via an SMS message sent wirelessly, which can cost as little as 4 cents in Kenya, for example.

Do you see what I see? -- pharmaceutical margins ! when a poor family DIRECTLY sells their carbon offsets and claims their Carbon Micro Credits via their cell phone or any cell phone owned by an extended-family member or friend:

----->> Weekly Revenue = 40 --> 100 cents.

----->> Weekly Expenses = 4 cents.

----->> Weekly Profit = 36 --> 96 cents/week.

And the weekly fuel savings from using the more efficient stove? -- much more ! -- an additional US$ 1 - 2 / week.

For the so-called Ultra Poor living on US$ 1 - 2 / day or even less, these Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) revenues earned + the fuel savings represent a very LARGE increase in their standard of living.

And the Middleman?

Disintermediated ! -- Or should I spell it? -- Dys-intermediated ? Pity the now-poorer highly-misunderestimated middleman -- now dis-middleman-ated, dismandated, dis-integrated, displaced, dispossessed, financially disemboweled, dissed and disgusted to be dis-employed.

And the unwashed unholy Illicit Brood of the Middleman ? -- namely his children named Graft, Embezzlement, Theft & Usury? The chances of these devious children being spawned are also HUGELY reduced or totally eliminated as speedy and invisible photons deliver Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) earnings DIRECTLY to millions of different, Individually-owned cell-phone accounts.

Have you stolen any worthwhile photons lately ? It is technically possible, but not within the repertoire of 99 % of middlemen and thieves in The Developing World.

Microfinance is only 30 - 35 years old. Over time it will evolve as any paradigm does. Today the smart microfinance practitioner will devise self-funding, self-renewing mechanisms that permanently empower and enable poor Individuals DIRECTLY with no intermediaries involved, and WITHOUT initially indebting them.

Today the astute microfinance apparatchik will work diligently to make his own job obsolete, as any intelligent and reputable consultant does. In sum, he will disintermediate himself permanently from the microfinance food chain. Why? Because, is there ever enough food for everyone in The Developing World ?

And so why does the word "microfinance" mean "loans" or "debt" to almost everyone? Because that's how it started. But now, behold ! -- in this blog a new field, a new non-debt-based micro-paradigm is born, which could be labeled variously as:

----->> MicroRevenue

----->> MicroEarnings

----->> MicroProfit / Micro Profit Sharing

----->> Micro-entrepreneurism

----->> Micro-enablement

----->> Micro-empowerment

----->> Micro-emancipation

----->> Micro-enfranchisement

----->> Micro-disintermediation, or

----->> Micro-disfinance ?

Finally, as noted before in this blog, Carbon Micro Credits are the same as frequent flyer miles. Just as every airline in the world has a frequent-flyer program -- therefore to maximize disintermediation ! -- so every mobile carrier in The Developing World should have a Carbon Micro Credits program. It's that simple.

Moreover, let me ask: Do your frequent flyer miles indebt you? No. Are they immediately worth money, or convertible into valuable goods or services? Yes. Are they tiny in value? Yes, most major airlines sell frequent flyer miles to other merchants (to use as customer incentives), often to credit card companies for example, for around One U.S. Cent. Yes -- one cent. But do all these one cents add up to large amounts eventually? Yes. A free plane ticket to Europe? Several free nights in a 5-star hotel? Yes, one cent at a time.

Ditto should and can apply to Carbon Micro Offsets produced by the Poor. A few cents earned per day will start to keep Poverty away. So why not let cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credits or Carbon Micro Offsets DIRECTLY fund the immediate Emancipation of the Poor in the Developing World -- without ever indebting them, and without usurious (excessive) interest burdens?

Very directly yours,

David A. Palella
Chief Carbon Disintermediationist

San Diego, CA
tel: 858-793-0741


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't sell the Carbon -- Sell the Sizzle !


Branding the Carbon Stone ?

Retail Micro-Branding & Micro-Positioning of Carbon Offsets

Branding on the Wholesale/Producer side of Carbon Micro Offsets

"Natural Artesian" Carbon Offsets ?? -- Fiji water did it !

Every Carbon-Micro-Offset a snowflake

Celebrity Endorsements for Carbon Offsets ?

-- The Tiger Woods/Al Gore personal-jet Carbon Offset ?

-- The Britney Spears Global Carbon-Overdose Rehab Center ?

News flash ! -- "Burning Man Festival" buys carbon offsets !

The Coca Cola™ Carbon-Micro-Credit cell phone ?

Don't sell the steak -- sell the sizzle ! -- is a well-known phrase to salespeople in the U.S. In short, don't sell cold uncooked meat, rather, sell a sound associated with atavistic cooking aromas that would light a fire under any Neanderthal's taste buds. Like popping grease, your chances of a sale will explode appetizingly.

In this spirit, if you are a bicycling, tree-hugging registered Democrat in the U.S., would you want to buy cold uncooked carbon offsets scammed up at a methane-capture project on a registered Republican's tax-payer-subsidized pig farm in Iowa? No, rather, wouldn't you love to buy Micro Carbon Offsets democratically produced in Barack Obama's ancestral hometown of Kogelo, Kenya? Or be able to buy Micro Carbon Offsets handcrafted anywhere in Kenya? Wouldn't that be a dandy conversation piece at the next Democratic fund-raising dinner you attend ? Or if you meet the man himself someday? Certainly!

If you're in the marketing dept. at Godiva Chocolate and you're word-smithing an eco-friendly marketing message for your core target market (single, college-educated females 30 - 55 with blazingly white teeth, no lumbar tattoos or body piercings, who live in metropolitan areas), wouldn't it make great sense to offset your corporate carbon footprint by buying Micro Carbon Offsets from the West African nations where your cocoa beans are, perhaps, unsustainably harvested? -- namely, The Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Wouldn't that make Godiva look in tune with the times and socially responsible ? Certainment !

If you're in the advertising dept. at Starbucks and similarly want an eco-sensitive corporate branding message, why not go carbon neutral by buying carbon offsets from the coffee-growing regions of Colombia, Brazil and Indonesia? A perfect touchy-feely win-win branding message that boosts sales in American & Europe and saves Planet Earth -- all in one cup. Plus builds more goodwill for Starbucks in the coffee bean-producing regions where it sources raw product. Grande beango!

And if you're the Environmental Compliance Manager at Arcelor Mittal's steel plant in Bremen, Germany, should you, as an employee of an Indian-owned company, buy your 100s of thousands of tons of carbon offsets each year from just any old place? No, it would seem you should try to purchase permits or offsets produced in India, particularly offsets from the home state of the Mittal family. Wouldn't that impress the CEO and improve your chances for a promotion? Obviously.

Branding of carbon offsets -- viz., creating or sourcing "designer offsets" -- is a new field. But as you see in the examples above, branding and positioning of offsets is a boffo business opportunity during the entire process from offset production to the final sales point. Is it really possible to brand a roundly unsexy industrial commodity such as CO2 or methane?

The best parallel or validation I see for branding of Carbon Micro Offsets is some companies' success with branding of the most abundant and plain-vanilla commodity in the world -- water. For example:

(1) Evian's "natural spring" water
(2) Fiji's "natural artesian water"
(3) Coca Cola's Dasani
(4) Perrier -- or is it just the shape of the bottle that sells it?
(5) Nestle's "Pure Life" & Aquarel brands; and
(6) add your favorite H2O brand here.

Amazing. Package it, position it, market the mystique, and charge a lot for an "exclusive brand" that is often just filtered tap water. So why not do the same with carbon offsets from the Developing World?

Likewise, the evolution over the past 30 - 40 years of 100s of different "brands" of coffee beans from micro-environments or micro-growing regions all over the world is another successful example of branding a commodity. Most of us are too young to know that before the mid-1950s there were no brands of coffee in the world, and coffee was just "coffee" in a plain tin can, no matter where it came from in the world. Imagine the abject poverty of a world with no coffee brands at all? How did people survive?

So as you can see on the web site below, on the retail or micro-retail end, there are already dozens of new companies breaking bulk and positioning & branding offsets or micro offsets:


Bravo. But in most cases, its not clear from where their offsets originate, and when it is stated on their sites, they don't seem to drill down to the level of the region or company or group or village or individual that originally produced the offset. Vague offset-project descriptions such as "wind farm project in Eastern Europe" or "methane capture project in India" don't inspire brand loyalty nor resonate with end-buyers.

Or, horrors ! -- were the green house gas offsets that you or your company bought really produced by a glue-vapor-reduction project at an unnamed athletic shoe factory in an unnamed Developing Country employing illegal child labor? Or, were the offsets produced by a CO2-reduction project at a Mexican cement plant near the U.S. border that is at the same time polluting the Rio Grande and the water table in Texas with heavy metals? Etc. Etc.

Ugh. How can you really know ?

So as you can see, the reasons for tracking the provenance or origin of Carbon Offsets down to the Micro or Mini level are numerous. Such tracking would allow both the seller and the buyer to gain more value from a sale or purchase of Carbon Micro Offsets. My Carbon-Micro-Credit (CMC) Registry described in detail in the post below dated November 22, 2008, would allow such fingerprinting and tracking of Carbon Micro Credits or Offsets:

Once implemented, the Registry would also facilitate so-called "perfect price discrimination" -- allowing a group of Poor Individuals selling Carbon Micro Offsets to identify the One customer worldwide that valued their offsets the most. Or nearly so. Of course, some economic "frictions" will always obtain and prevent absolute revenue maximization by sellers. But the Carbon-Micro-Credit (CMC) Registry could be the database for a global eBay-like auction marketplace that allowed Poor Individuals to eliminate multiple middlemen in the marketing & sale of their individual carbon offsets, or the sale of the collective carbon-offset project of their village or town.

Continuing the discussion on the offset production side on the ground in Africa and Asia, there are many opportunities for major corporations to sponsor carbon-offset origination projects and while so doing extend/expand awareness of, and loyalty to, their brand down to the level of the Individual in the Developing World.

The hypothetical Coca Cola™ Carbon-Micro-Credit cell phone captioned above is one example. Why is there no Coca Cola™ branded cell phone? And why not in the hands of the Upwardly Mobile Poor in Africa so they see the brand name every day of their lives when they claim their daily carbon manna? What strong "fixation", as a zoologist would say, and brand loyalty that would cause! So far the widespread marketing concept of affinity cards or group cards in the credit card world has not yet spread to cell phones, but why not ? It's just a different plastic shell and logo on the outside of the same cell-phone electronics.

Any multinational corporation focused on sales of inexpensive consumer goods like Coca Cola would be wise to embrace sponsorship of Carbon Micro Offset-origination projects in the Developing World. Such companies would include L'Oreal, Nestle, Lever Brothers, Kao, Pepsi, Yum Brands, Procter & Gamble, Lion, Shiseido, Sony, and many others. The Carbon-Micro-Credit (CMC) Registry will allow companies to easily identify micro-offset projects that meet specific geographic, demographic, philanthropic, product marketing and/or corporate or product brand-building requirements. Companies will be able to micro-target product promotion efforts and build goodwill with the exact target markets most likely to become long-term customers as their earnings potential grows over time, courtesy, initially, of the cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credit (CMC).

Branding of Carbon Micro Offsets is the wave of the Near Future. So don't be surprised if someday soon you find not just any ole plain-cocoa carbon offsets, but, rather, delicious aromatic Colombian Carbon Micro Offsets -- individually hand-picked by Juan Valdez -- in a coffee cup near you.

Think globally & act locally yours,

David A. Palella
Chief Carbon FireBrand

San Diego, CA
tel: 858-793-0741


Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Non-prophet Corporation


"The Charities, like Dust"

!! DONATE !! an organ NOW !!

Micro stick-ups and Macro interest rates

26 % !! -- Are U-surious ?

If you visit the web sites of the thousands of non-profit corporations or "charities" in the U.S., you'll note immediately the most prominent feature is a brightly colored button flashing the words: DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! DONATE NOW! -- But how annoying! How annoying! How annoying! How annoying! How annoying!

Secondary come-on's include guilt-inducing pictures of children with cleft palates or empty rice bowls. Or both.

But I challenge America's charities to replace their "Donate Now" buttons with a higher-value-added one flashing: INNOVATE NOW! INNOVATE NOW! INNOVATE NOW! INNOVATE NOW! INNOVATE NOW!

Or IDEATE NOW ! -- Meaning: "Give us a Good Idea! -- instead of cash, for nothing is more valuable than a Good Idea!"

But non-prophets (sic), lamentably, are mostly non-flexible and non-innovative by definition. They do not seek new ideas nor new paradigms. They do not see The Future, sadly. They are often populated by infinite legions of zero-sum thinkers who cannot fathom markets-based solutions nor execute on new Ways of Thinking.

Their lists of staff with job titles including the word "Development" are longer than a Quaker's beard. At first I thought this meant "Economic Development", such as growing the economies of poor African countries...? But no. They mean Develop or increase their membership to increase their own treasury. They mean Develop a higher revenue stream to fund their own organization and salaries & benefits.

And where are sooooo many of these non-prophets and charities located? In New York City -- the American city with the highest cost of doing business. So your donation is funding either their lifestyle or their 50 % tax-bill. Or both. Or they are located in London -- so ditto. Charities should rusticate (move to the countryside) and reduce their cost of doing business. Try Omaha, Nebraska. There are more millionaires there per capita anyway than anywhere else in the U.S. -- sounds like Heaven for a fund-raiser.

And Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs)? What does this term mean ? In many cases -->> Macro Stick-ups with a Micro label -- small loans with interest rates sooooo high that they would be termed usurious or usury (illegally high) in the U.S. If the repayment rate on micro finance loans is sooooo high, why are the interest rates also soooo high ? Either due to defaults or non-repayment of principal, or due to high transaction/processing costs for each small loan. Or both. In short, another paradigm that needs INNOVATION and new IDEATION.

But where is Innovation in the microcosm of micro finance? I search diligently with my lantern. In sum, many micro finance institutions should, as their name implies, indeed be duly institutionalized.

And what does the near-term Future hold for both non-profits/charities and for-profit MFIs (Micro Finance Institutions) ?

Hard Times. The world economy will struggle for the next 3 - 5 years, private donations and government grants will decline sharply, default rates on MFI loans will increase greatly, staffs will be right-sized, and the repo man cometh for the lease cars, laptops and lattes.

And this is the upside. Once Israel bombs Iran, which is already carved in stone -- "Never again" -- leading to The Third Gulf War, once oil resumes its march to US$ 200+ per barrel, once the U.S. Dollar collapses, once U.S. Government treasury bonds are downgraded to junk status, once Russia invades ________ (fill in the blank with the name of any 10 countries), once....once...once -- liquidity for the niceties of donations and micro finance loans will swirl around the bottom of the toilet bowl.

And the world dys-economy will flush twice.

And so, will New Ideas and Markets-based, Self-funding Solutions such as the cell-phone-based Carbon Micro Credit (CMC) described in this blog be the Deus ex Machina (god from out of the machine) that saves the Poor? And, tangentially, saves the charities, non-profits and MFIs that embrace it?

And what other Good Ideas are also before our eyes now but also ignored? Light your lantern and look first under your feet. Then, ask a child for New Ideas. Then inquire earnestly among naïve strangers. Then, like Dilbert, ask your garbage man for advice. The rough and uncouth unencumbered by knowledge and experience often see most clearly.

Warnest personnel retards,

David A. Palella
Chief Carbon Visionary Missionary

San Diego, CA
tel: 858-793-0741

P.S.: You can soak up the wisdom of Dilbert and his garbage man here: