Dilma Roussef was elected President of Brazil January 1st of 2011.  She is the first female president of one of the largest democracies in the world–an ’emerging market’ or ‘developing’ democracy that is now, along with China, become a legitimate competitor of the United States in the global marketplace.  How did she become President?  According to Hans Rosling:

“I can assure you, this woman in the favela in Rio [de Janeiro], she wants a washing machine.  She is very happy about her Minister of Energy that provided electricity to everyone.  So happy that she even voted her.  And she became Dilma Roussef of one of the biggest democracies in the world, moving from the ministry of energy to president.  If you have democracy people will vote for washing machines!”

And what does Dilma Roussef have to do with washing machines?

In his TED talk from March 2011, Hans Rosling tells the story of the first time that his mother used a washing machine when he was four years old.  His grandmother was invited to see the washing machine work its magic.  “Throughout her life [my grandmother] had been heating water with firewood and [had] handwashed laundry for seven children. And now she was going to watch electricity do that work.”  After clicking the button, his grandmother pulled up a chair and watched the entire washing cycle.

In his talk, Rosling mentions that there are billions of people even today that aren’t able to use washing machines and still need to wash clothes by old manual methods.  In a compelling sequence of graphics he outlines the inevitable: as developing countries become industrialized they too will adopt time-saving technologies, increasing–possibly dangerously–global energy consumption.

“The high probability of climate change is real…  Of course [we in the developed world] must become more energy efficient.  [We] must also produce new forms of green energy…  But until we use the same amount of energy per person [as people in the developing world] we shouldn’t tell people what to do.” 

To underscore his point, Rosling In an elegant coup de gras he tells the story of how his mother was able to take him to the library since the fact that the laundry was now automated gave her extra time.  His story is a parable for how innovation was self-perpetuating: due to the fact that the washing machine was invented, Hans Rosling was able to go to school and become a world-class demographer.  Now he is helping to design the future: how will cities and civilizations transform and reform in the future.

His presentation is a soft pitch for the absolute necessity of green energy innovation.

Author: Thomas Stone, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys spending his time keeping up with the latest innovations in home appliances.