De groei van het luchtverkeer loopt uit de hand. Steeds meer kleine luchthavens worden bijgeschakeld, en grotere worden uitgebreid om maar aan de vraag tegemoet te komen. De tickets zijn goedkoop ondermeer omdat er weinig belasting over de brandstof wordt geheven. Ondertussen zitten burgers in de smog en het lawaai.
Ten behoeve van de reductie van CO2 uitstoot zou men al die uitbreidingen en toename niet willen. Dit is zeer urgent omdat emissies die eenmaal zijn gebeurt heel moeilijk zijn terug te draaien. Het is zo urgent om iets te doen dat de politiek niet langer in staat lijkt het noodzakelijke tempo bij te benen, als het dat al zou willen. De Nederlandse politiek is iig nog in grote mate in de greep van de banken en fossiele bedrijven, die altijd geld genoeg hebben om iets te beloven, later, als niemand oplet.
Electrische propellor vliegtuigen zijn veel efficienter dan straalvliegtuigen, omdat een straalmotor op hoogte steeds minder goed werkt.
Intussen staat de techniek niet stil. We hebben niet alleen steeds efficientere vliegtuigen, maar tegenwoordig ook het perspectief van het electrische vliegtuig. Zo’n vliegtuig heeft batterijen aan boord, electromotoren en is stiller, schoner en efficienter. Kleine modellen zijn er al, net als vliegende auto’s, omdat je met electromotoren makkelijk een aantal in plaats van twee of vier kunt gebruiken. De belemmering is nu nog het gewicht van de batterijen. Deze zijn echter in constante ontwikkeling, met af en toe een doorbraak.
De meest recente doorbraak in batterij techniek is de uitvinding van solid state batterijen waarin het vloeibare electroliet vervangen is door plastic of een andere stof. Deze batterijen zijn niet alleen veiliger maar ze halen ook capaciteitswinst. Het is een kwestie van tijd tot batterijcapaciteit groot genoeg is voor een transatlantische vlucht.
Het is idioot om in de vijftien jaar die het nog duurt voordat er een getest groot electrisch vliegtuig is onze toekomst te verpesten met fossiele vluchten, zeker als het om vakanties gaat. De alternatieven, trein, auto, bus, hyperloop, zijn veel makkelijke klimaatvriendelijk te maken dan meer vluchten en meer/grotere luchthavens. Het is daarom geen gek idee om een moratorium op uitbreiding van luchthavens uit te vaardigen, tot electrische vliegtuigen beschikbaar zijn, danwel om de groei van luchthavens te koppelen aan investering in electrische vliegtuigen.
Goedkope vluchten ondermijnen de ontwikkeling van energie efficientere, schonere alternatieven
We genieten enorme welvaart door het benutte van fossiele hulpbronnen, maar deze welvaart wordt nu ook door deze bronnen bedreigd. Het is een goed idee eens een kleine pauze in te lassen voor we blindelings de economische krachten volgen. Deze hebben ons in de huidige rampzalige situatie gebracht, en zullen deze (als we de luchtvaart laten toenemen) nog rampzaliger maken. Een moratorium tot we veiliger, gezondere manieren hebben ontwikkeld om te vliegen lijkt ons fair.
The above makes perfect sense. Pick up the tab, like a rock band that destroyed a hotel room, our pollutors, when it comes to CO2 or other harmfull ‘externalities’ need to pick up the tab. Pay for the restauration, cleanup. We have seen this in many oil spills, Exxon Valdes, the Gulf oil spill and most probably now in Athens, which has had a major oil diseaster nobody reports on.
Clean this up oil dickheads
But money on it’s own is not the best remedy against such events, whether it is toxins that kill small animals, bees in the US right now, or some mine who’s toxic basins have overflowed in a storm or the dams of which have broken, like it happend in Spain. All these events have and would cost enormous amounts of money to deal with, and these companies (for example BP) would be fighting the claims all the way, or simply fall over like TEPCO, go bankrupt, and go home.
Our money is carbon credit. If it doesn’t buy fossil fuels it is still useless, This is not an accident. Our economy is a system to distribute fossil resources (and indirectly all others) to maximize the cashflow for private banks and profit for private oil companies.
We have been writing about something we call carbon credit. This is our money. It has value in our economic system anyone who owns it can buy fossil fuels with it. This is the hidden fundamental assumption in our economy. Most people think of money in terms of some universal trading token, but it isn’t universal, there is an mechanism at work we need to aknowledge, and this is the competitive distribution of fossil resources through competition for money.
Just try to think of a world in which the Euro or Dollar bought everything except fossil fuels. You could work but you can’t heat your home with your paycheck. You could not drive anywhere. You could not buy bread because the baker needs something to heat the ovens. You could not buy clothes because the logistics of them is fossil based, the growing of cotton is fossil fuel based. You could not go to a movie because the projector needs electricity from fossil powered power plants. Even if the mix is shifting today, our credit system relies on fossil fuels, not renewables. That is why we call it the carbon credit system.
If you ask for money to restore nature you will recieve fossil credit, and using it will destroy the world some more.
“Picking up the tab” in this system, so lets assume for a second there’s no renewables at all, means the pollutor has to allocate money to buy fossil fuels to fix things. The diesel in the ships that clean up an oil spill, the diesel in the trucks that deliver the chemicals that clean the birds, or those that plant trees. In some cases there is no other measure but time, and then the victims are awarded money because their lives have been shortened or destroyed. That money is spend on trips and food and clothes, so on fossil fuels. In the end, as our economy dictates, no real progress has been made, we are stuck in a profitable near misery and mild stress. The disaster has been forgotten, the claim money stream blocked pending a court case the claimants can’t afford. The mentality of the industries that is causing these problems is really that grim.
So how to deal with pollution from industry in general. The key is to avoid the ‘economy’. The key is to allocate resources towards the creation of an independent capacity to restore and revive our environment or ecological resources. Up until now it has been done within the economic system, and this meant that certain problems (like the manure nitrogen problem) actually became economic cash cows, incentivising the distruction of ground water by dumping nitrogen on land, while also keeping up the nitrogen fertilizer cashflow.
Clean up companies need to be green themselves. So a oil spill cleanup needs to be done with electric ships, running on solar. To get these ships and the solar power plants to power them one can use claim money. The simple pattern is you green your clean up operation first, then clean up. Another is to reduce the need for whatever caused the disaster as a way to reduce the risk. So if a tar oil train derails and burns a town. use the money to lower the demand for tar, using renewables.
This does two things. First it creates an independent capacity to restore and clean up nature, that can operate and very low cost, because it has it’s own energy (and perhaps food) resources. Secondly the punishment of spilling oil is not selling more oil, but less in the future. The money which can run in the billions in each case, is much better spend in long term energy resources, in autonomous clean up capacity, than on temporary fixes.
When the Gulf oil spill happend, the solvent for the slick was tried and supplied kind of randomly. Without testing the health effects. It could be toxic, carcinogenic. It could be waste someone had in a pond that needed to be dumped somewhere, and now it was dumped on the oil spill and people where happy about it. This kind of screaming cowboy shit we don’t want anymore. Let all the disaster corporations pay into a claims fund that is used to run a clean energy powered taskforce that can do cleanups, restaurations, all the stuff you need, and make the money go towards scaling up it’s operations wherever needed, or desired. That is also a great way to start the #Roboeconomy 😉
We have written here about the Roboeconomy, or real life 3.0 in Max Tegmark speak. It is the economy that succesfully integrated human welbeeing, renewables and automation. We are in a transition to it now as automated systems are becoming easier to own by end consumers instead of producers.
The extraeconomy or an extraeconomy is a small economic system that lives outside the wider fossil credit (EU, Yen, $) controlled economy, and is thus not vulnerable to investors trying to buy it and take its resources.
Extraeconomic communities can exist within the physical wider economy, but are more likely to exist in locations where the fossil credit economy can’t reach, that is to say places that do not have any resources to export, that don’t easily support humans, so where the (fossil fuel) cost of keeping people alive and happy can not be justified by the generation of cashflow elsewhere. The middle of Australia or remote parts of Morocco or any old desert or remote forest village is usually already extraeconomic. These places allow poor lives on the scarce resources available.
But with renewables that can change. This is because renewables provide a resource, electricity (and heat/cooling) that has many applications. Alic Springs is actually trying to get a big solar farm, being resisted in it’s attempts. Now if it has that farm and the energy it provides it can in turn generate water, it can plant trees and green the area. It can shape the land with electic machines to become even more habitable. It can cool offices so the people can be more productive and comfortable. It can solar power any type of logistics it needs and thus become a fully functional community as if it was situated much more favourably. Why? Because the energy is free.
We can imagine that with a few component technolgies being
1. Water harvesting
2. Electric heavy transportation
3. Solar/Wind/Geothermal generation
4. Electic construction equipment
5. (optional) LED growing
6. A separate unique currency that can not be exchanged into fossil credit currencies
Any place with sufficient renewable resources can become viable. Internet, virtual reality and cheap electric transportation (including hyperloop and eflight) will make it acceptable, if not really pleasant to live outside big cities. Then people can tend to large areas of new growth forest, see their surroundings shaped by robots to maximize their enjoyment.
The pressure to survive on a fossil diet means we have to compete for the share given to us, as the amount of fossil fuel is limited. This is done by competing over money, by trying to make profit on our deals, making them inequitable by definition. The renewable resources we are now starting to use are spread out geographically, and thuse distribute production capacity and thus wealth in a way that with a low enough population density nobody needs to endure scarcity or compete.
The above described fossil scracity driven competition is also the reason natural resources are shipped across the globe, this pressure to make profit is nearly everywhere. Of course it is the people with adventurous minds that will be best fit to give way to this competitive pressure, but that’s not the reason why they do it. It’s financial desperation usually. That doesn’t need to exist in the roboeconomy, and will certainly not exist in the extraeconomic communities.
We think we should design an extraeconomic model community for use in different climatic regions. The purpose if them being ecorestauration without economic exploitation, so true addition of natural resources, carbon capture, biodiversity increase, species conservation and giving humans a happy life. The rules are thus:
1. Only use solar, wind, geothermal, wave/tidal energy
2. The community members are to increase biomass, capture carbon dioxide
3. The community lives of a one figure and shrinking percentage of the biomass it creates
4. No external economic involvement is allowed, travel/internet is of course free
A managing body that allows fossil credit to be allocated to the creation of extraeconomic communities, as well as to fund the external existence of community members can be created. It can facilitate the exchange of knowledge and human resources between communities.
Of course we do not need an iron curtain mentality, it is more as if one manages a number of companies, who also do not allow their employees to leave at will, work for other companies or sell assets randomly. In that sense some companies are already becoming partly extraeconomic, like Volkswagen using wind power, but a large portion of their cashflow as well as their product remain tied into the fossil credit economy.
An early 1900 cattle ranch in Australie as extraeconomic, if it did not deplete the land and would not have sold the cattle. Most US settlers lived extraeconomic, as most things one needs to survive have for the longest time been supplied by nature. What makes this extraeconomic concept different is that renewables add a wealth enabling factor in places that without it would be uninhabitable, and thus we can inhabit the most remote unbearable places and make them thrive. Of course it makes most sense to start with easy ones.
Of nobody wants to live in the middle of nowhere planting trees, we still have the Roboeconomic approach, so we use robots to do the job, with maintenance robots to keep things running. But we think the different effect of renewables on the geographical viability of communites will catch on, maybe we can even play a role.
Elon Musk has started the Boring company next to his Tesla factory, to find a solution to the frustrations of his commute. He has now permission to drill a tunnel towards the nearby airport, and he has revealed concepts of how the tunnel will be used.
During an interview Musk agreed tunneling may have an application on Mars too, as the planet is cold, radiation is harsh on the surface, so most people will be living underground. Whatever the plans, we think drilling on Mars will not involve hauling a multi ton dril machine all the way through space to Mars.
The hyperloop is another reason to learn more about tunneling. The hyperloop is basically an electric driven maglev that will travel to a near vacuum, experiencing almost no friction. This mode of transportation will be able to compete with airflight directly, but will require tubes and control systems be layed on already densly populated land. The obvious idea is to move underground.
But these systems don’t need tunnels per se, they need tubes. Tubes can be made of steel, or as a concrete lining (which can already maintain the necessary vacuum for a hyperloop). But we think keeping things above ground will allow work on the hyperloop as well as traffic transit systems to progress faster. We would know to suggest a fast forward way to build tubes (one not seen tried until now) and we also know how to build tubes with less cost (also new approach), even with known tech (concrete/steel tubes on pilons) the desired product is achieved faster than by tunneling.
Basically the slowest component in the hyperloop/transit system should be eliminated to allow fast parallel deployment in many places. That doesn’t mean it will be easy to line up tubes over long stretches, or cheap or too fast to build them. That’s why other tech needs to be employed in our opinion.
Elon Musks success, even if he has stretched confidence of investors to the absolute limit (and has been stretched himself by investors to near breaking point), is inspiring. A Tesla car really does feel rock solid and really does wizz you up steep roads like its nothing. The fortitude it took for this to happen in the highly financialized car and pro fossil manufacturing environment he started in shows he knows his dreams and knows they can be real. This is inspiring others to think less about what they are asked to achieve, or what others achieve but more about what they like to achieve, or what is actually possible to achieve.
How about city streets where cars can be parked under the pavement, drive in tunnels under the street, with ventilation systems planted with Solar powered LED lighted CO2 scrubbing plants sucking the exhaust fumes and Tesla elevator systems to get the cars up and down where needed. Electric cars can even start driving on second floors, although it seems improbable we will ever have to go through such hassle with VR and AR developing as it is.
Earth is warming up, and we don’t seem to have the powerstructure to deal with it in a timely fashion. It is becoming increasingly likely we either miss the opportunity but for some catastrophic event. Cowboy style geoengineering with our atmosphere has gone on now for more than a century and perhaps we should try our own move in this arena.
Russia’s space mirror
One option is to block sunlight. This has been proposed to be possible by spraying sulfer aerosol in the upper atmosphere, but we think this would only increase problems of our biosphere trying to cope. It is used as a scare tactic to smear the term ‘geoengineering’ so the public feels like it has no option than to wait out the death of fossil fuels.
There one option we think now has a bigger chance than say a couple or years ago. That is to build a sunshade in space. These ideas according to Wikepedia stem from 2002, a year in which the world didn’t know SpaceX or reusable rocked boosters. The best idea in our opinion is to use the so called Lagrange point L1. This is a point in space between the Earth and the Sun at which the gravitational pull of both cancel each other out. It is a point that travels with the rotation of the Earth around the sun. All sunlight that hits our planet passes through this Lagrange point L1.
There should be about as much invisible planets as there are planets in our solar system
You could consider L1 something of an invisible planet orbiting the Sun. It does not have a gravity well, but anything you bring to it will stay there. Theoretically a small mass there will act as if it is the only one in the region and things will fall towards it. This is a very convenient situation if we want to reduce the suns power on Earth. Even though we would need to create an enormous area with some kind of radiation shielding material, it is possible in the sense that we could even solar driven factory complex there, and create it in situ.
Closer to Earth the mirror would have to by much bigger, so L1 is a more practical location
All that is needed is to shield sunlight. One could use all kinds of debri to do that, including rocks already flying around in space. We don’t know the instability of material that is say 1000 km away from L1, but gravity doesn’t fall off quickly like magnetism. The spacestation has to travel really fast to miss Earth as it falls towards it. A light gold film could be one atom thick and reflect a large portion of the light. We’ll gather more sources for this idea over the next couple of weeks.
Cooling the Earth has beneficial properties because we are already seeing the number of heatwaves rise. Deadly heatwaves for 20 days a year affecting 75% of humanity are expected in 2100. We could be seeing 6 billion people die from heat exhaustion as we come up to that date. Plants will also die as 40 degrees Celsius is about all most of them can take. The only option is to lower the temperature somehow.
We have written about the option to grow seaweed to absorb CO2. This can be done using deep ocean water which holds all the necessary nutrients. The study that proposed this method mentioned it would have a side effect to cool the atmosphere to such an extend that most biomass gain would be from plants on land not dying from the heat! It would warm the oceans up, and the dumb reason to not do it now was that we might not be able to keep it going, risking a warmer Earth with a warmer ocean. Of course we would use robots and intelligent systems to execute and monitor this approach.
The L1 point can become a space station location for which the parts are not build on Earth but on the moon, so launching it is much less effort. With SpaceX technology it is thinkable to bring the necessary equipment to orbit and beyond. Perhaps the moondust can be slingshot around Earth in a constant stream. The challenge would be how to stop it though.
We’ll explort this option that will be part of all the solutions available. To be continued..
There’s talk of the risks of artificial intelligence. Nick Bostrom and Elon Musk are warning the world that not regulating AI before it is to late is asking for serious trouble, so much trouble that it could be an existential threat to humanity (and we already had one!). We think this is true, and in spite of the high fantasy level of some of the ideas about AI, we are facing real risks from intentional automated systems.
We have written on this topic before, and described what intelligence actually is, because most people don’t have a clue. Our acronim ARGO captures it, we think. Intelligent systems are ones that are Autonmous, Robust, have a Goal and can Orient towards it. Each of these aspects is essential for true intelligence. Awareness will be a consequence of autonomous goal setting in advanced AI systems.
A system can be any collection of ‘components’ that perform a function through their interaction. Humans can be such a component.
The purpose of intelligence as it became a property of living organisms is to allow events to evolve in such a way that the system remains intact. Self perpetuation has been the main goal of all life, but sometimes very simple responses are enough to secure a very simple and weak organism, just because the environment allows for it, or because reproduction rates are so high the occasional losses aren’t a problem.
An intelligent system can orient towards a goal, and it can confirm whether such a goal is reached or approached. The orienting can be any manipulation, perhaps Actuation would be a better choice of word but that doesn’t imply an intended goal. Whatever is intelligent has to be able to influence the physical world. A superbrain without a body doesn’t cut wood. Very easy actions for a computer like sending an email or text count as orienting/actuation.
Orienting captures the idea that the system is able to bring the situation in line with its goals. So heat seeking missile will move its ailerons to point towards the target. A fly will turn towards the smell of ketones as it tries to find a place to lay its eggs. It may be that internally the system only tries to maximize a certain input, or it doesn’t ‘try’ through an active process but it is wired to do so. Orienting requires a comparison between the actual state and the desired state so that subgoals can be prioritized that work towards that desired state. If humans build a house of cards the image of the full house stops our activities, but our actions are never able to build the complete house, only one stack at a time. The Goal is the complete house, the Orienting consists of the stacking.
The Goal is a representation of the desired end state. When optimizing one actually has a variable end state, one that adapts to the abilities of the system. Awareness can be seen as a side effect in a system that optimizes between several goals and within goals. To optimize within a goal the representation of that goal needs to be deep and structured. This is usually not the case in ‘intelligent’ systems.
Robustness is a underappreciated aspect of intelligence. It is actually one of the most important ones. Being that intelligence is meant to aid survival, the system that is intelligent needs to be robust in many ways, the more robust, the more intelligent we will consider it. The orientation needs to be robust agianst perturbations, work in al situations or the system could not operate in them. The representation of the goal needs to be robust when the system can be sabotaged or distracted. If you can poke out a memory chip in a computer that tries to kill you, its intelligence never really comes off the ground. Perseverance is another form of robustness, which in mechanical systems may involve the recreation of a goal in another representational system f.i.
Autonomy is usually the goal of an intelligent system. In living organisms this is what most of the system works to ensure. It’s also a consequence of the finite nature of a living being. What it also signifies is that the goals of the system are all it cares about. This is perhaps the most risky aspect of modern ‘AI’ systems, that they are given total autonomy to optimize or to reach their goal. The risk lies in unintended consequences, or a too narrow interpretation of the goal.
Humans in the loop
The best way to think of an AI is to treat it like some kind of animal. Mammals are all very intelligent if you take the above definition. The ARGO criteria are all met to a certain degree in every mammel, but there are clear differences. It will be the same with intelligent systems as they are being developed.
The deep learing algorithms and recognition systems now made available by Google are just part of a potentially intelligent system. They are the recognition part, the goal representation part. Software languages are already enough to use the neuromorphic process in deep learning networks to make a profit or criminal application.
Many applications are aimed at optimizing spending in consumers. They usually have a very simplistic or absent orientation part. If they recognize patterns in consumer behaviour that qualifies them as a target for certain products or marketing strategies this assesment is then used by humans to trigger a message or show an add. Much more dangerous uses are possible and they will be developed by people with criminal intent.
The trick of real intelligent in a digital system is not so much the recognition part, but the prediction of outcome. A Sci Fi intelligent system like in the movie Eagle Eye that reasons common sense based on the constitution and coerces random individuals to augment its actuator/orientation part, are far off in terms of accuracy. The brain simulates our reality to a high degree to predict the outcome of our actions. A digital system would have to have a similar capability to be effective.
The problem with AI is that we now kind of understand all the parts that need to be there, and even if only a few parts are there we can do a lot of damage. Take a sniperbot with face recognition that aims and shoots a target when it sees it. This is now almost an off the shelve device. What will we do with crimes committed by AI systems who’s builder we can’t pinpoint or convincingly like to the device?
The human intelligence has a need to dominate it’s environment to minimize energy spend on learning and adjusting. It will use AI as a tool to make that easier, one of the earliest example is the invention of the thermostat. This will lead to criminal applications of AI.
What to do with a system that trolls facebook looking to find depressed people to troll them based on their interest? The maker of such a system could gradually develop the goal representation so that to achieve it more actions become possible. A lot is made of data, big data, and in deep learning big datasets are necessary to train the network. But an AI system can be set up such that does all the things of ARGO without going through a lot of data or training. These systems just won’t be very intelligent, but can still be very dangerous.
We consider systems with humans in the loop also intelligent if the humans will voluntarily perform the necessary function. These are robust to human change of heart, because that human will be replaced by some other human in the loop. The economy is a system with a set of principles, a goal, and people form it’s embodyment. Economists will come and go, bankers, oil workers, executives, the economic system will remain robust, autonomous and goal oriented.
“Or you die” is a great way for an AI system to get people to become part of its orienting/actuating system. In our economy people already have been recruited that way, their lifestyle is constantly on the line as they serve a set of economic principles.
AI systems can recruit random people to do their bidding, as now already happens with randomware for instance. Imagine a randomware virus that causes a considerable amount of bitcoins to untraceably flow towards an escrow account. This account’s contents will then be released on finding 3000 hits when googling ‘Mickey Mouse Murdered’ (you can fill in your favourite name).
Of course many digital systems are unprotected. Factory installations often use ancient profibus communication which allows for anyone to listen in and add messages to the transmission lines. Even more sophisticated protocols with encryption can be stifled, especially when one can use drones or position a wifi station in a critical place.
Recognizing a shapeshifing foe
The threat of Artificial intelligence will come on gradually, and in much simpler systems than we anticipate. The deep networked intelligence Elon Musk talks about requires siginificant goal representation sophistication. The risk now is that systems in which humans participate take on such a robust kind that they will do real damage.
One can think of VR systems that optimize hours spend on it, or user excitement, and end up completely capturing their audience. The risk is usally defined as ‘when people can no longer do their job’, but this is the narrow industrial take. The risk really is that people can’t function as usefull individuals towards each other, or that people stop cooperating (becaus some AI is polarizing through generated messages and fake news).
There is almost no need to talk about risks in military applications. If you add to this a corporation that hires people to do specific jobs and devices that can deliver big and small payloads and you have a recipy for diseaster. What if Russia build a system that optimized the chance of a nuclear accident on US soil to happen.
Like with climate change dealing with the dangers of AI requires global cooperation. The big AI that we wrote about earlier called the ‘Economy’ is already undermining control as China just announced it wanted to ‘win the AI race’. This is like entering a competition who can create the biggest wild bear.
Some preventive actions
There should be a global agenda that has the following items :
Make an inventory of all arms manufacturing and arms trade and work out what can stop all trade and arms races.
Cut up large networks so problems in their smaller sectors can trigger containment.
Look for unintended ‘actuators’, orienting methods of a creative AI system, this means making sure no dangerous process can be easily started via internet. The IOT may be to risky to allow to evolve further
Protect the ability of humans to create equitable exchanges by limiting data gathering and analysis. Set a limit to the commecial intrusions in their lives.
Shut down data gathering by social apps and force all to store their data in one big identity database.
Don’t allow dedicated development of AI systems. Match the sophistication with the intended function.
Develop analysis tools to spot the parts of ARGO coming together
Many more measures
The bottom line is that humans don’t need super sophisticated digital systems more robust than them. An autopilot doesn’t need to understand the emotions of the driver or be able to hold a conversation, not even in a spaceship. Humans in an attempt to secure their lives may create a system that endangers them (even more than the economy already does). The process of risk avoidance may thus introduce risks, rendering further optimization impossible.
Economics at large is causing humanity to degrade its habitat to such an extend that extinction is now a likely outcome. Economics, capitalism has been altered from using true capital (material resources and human expertise) to using fossil fuels in nearly all cases, to harvest and modify natural resources into what ‘the market’ demanded. A good demonstration of what ‘the market’ is we saw this week when US carmakers demanded China slowed down its adoption of electric vehicles. Of course not the carmakers and their factories are driving this, but the banks financing that industry, who have only one option which is to fight to the death against the demise of the fossil credit economy.
Renewable growth is slowed down by its inclusion in this wider economy. Investments are going into fossil fuel intensive activities as long as fossil fuel mining and drilling operations are allowed to continue, and the same people that finance the consumption of fossil fuel of course lobby for its protection and advertise the habits of a petrolhead as manly and tough. If you are a BBQing open carry diesel truck driving fatso with racist tencencies then you’re the posterboy for fossil. There’s no greater mob to recruit than the overentitled. Of course this is a gross generalization, but be sure the fossil industry has those it likes and those it doesn’t like. Who? Just check the right wing media, they tell you.
So what to do about this unfair competition. Why is fossil credit banking the only game in town? Is it? By posing this question we can open up a new world of opportunity for renewables and the so called roboeconomy. Traditionally the kind of money we use today (empty contracts for which fossil fuel can be bought) is more compatible farming and renewables than with fossil fuels. This is because a farmer could in principle always pay its workers with a I-owe-U or credit note for part of the harvest. Farming futures are one of the few kinds of futures that actually make sense.
What dit that farming credit do? It organized people, they held a promisary note and because they understood what they where doing and how farming worked they could trust it would be valuable later. They could even buy food today with those notes. In the end the baker supplying bread could use the notes to buy grain after the harvest. With that sale the credit note disappeared. Today we have a wierd system of debt, the holder of the credit has debt to the bank, which means he has to return the note.
The answer to how to finance many renewable project should then be to create a currency that will hold value if the activities for which it is created are fruitfull. This may be the planting of trees, the irrigation of land, the building of renewable energy factories. The question arises how to redeem this credit, how it would function. The answer is not simple and your intuitions are not going to be right, because the world that it could create by organizing people works different from your current fossil fuel economic environment.
First of all we need to ignore all bank ownership of land, all endebtedness. The only concrete form current bank debt takes is as CO2 molecules in our atmosphere. That is the consequence of fossil credit : When it is spend CO2 and H20 are dumped into the atmosphere, that is the problem we try to counter, we are not going to respect that system at all. We don’t need to. If the work takes 50 years, so much will change and so many owners will die of climate change, the financial centers will not be populated by the same people. On the other hand, this is not some communist revolution, we don’t need to disturb anyone. This is because the point of the currency can be to become valuable through political change. This is why financeing started in wars, we can have our own ‘war’ and finance it with our own currency.
If you support the effort you buy the currency. If you use the currency to run your local economy you no longer feed the system that is so damaging. If you achieve more status of the currency by political influence you have a good motivation to do work on that. The end goal is to avert catastrophic climate change and to sustain the order that is needed to fight it.
We suggest we set up climatecoin.eu to implement this system.
Trump is dropping the ball on US global hegemony. He has openly said that the cost of policing so many countries is something he doesn’t want to bear. At the G20 he appears isolated and his actions seem inconsequential to say the least. No final statement, this global leader has signed off.
Trump leaving the world to it’s own talent for cooperation
This is not a bad thing although it is risky. The US power umbrella has been based on control over fossil fuels and military projection. For a long time you could only buy oil in dollars, the so called Petrodollar, and our world was basically unipolar. Slowly as the world economy started to evolve this has been eroding, basically because anyone outside the US does not like to live under the fossil fuel (carbon) credit control of Wallstreet, enforced by Washington and the Pentagon. It was a stabilizing trinity but ultimately unsustainable and ultimately undesirable.
Law and order even in our western societies is nothing more than a self fulfilling prophesy. Because we wish it to exist, we behave by the rules and do not consider countless opportunities to break the law as real ones. We fear punishment we know won’t come in most cases, and for sure if we all decided to forget about law and order, no force could be mounted to restore it, at least not quickly. The prevalence of peace on a global scale equally depends on decent relationships being the norm, and it has been achieved mainly by the power of fossil fuels which could be distributed by the US to whoever it gave petro dollar credit. China has been a notable recipient of US fuel aid enabling it to develop as it has in the last three decades. Without the US China would not have happened.
The alternative to a global unipolar fossil credit based order is one in which the parties understand enough of the limitations of action to remain peacefull and cooperative. The balance of power is a balance of energy, but also one of opportunity to gain. What does Russia have to gain from invading Germany? It can’t really absorb it’s qualities in its own population, it makes no sense to move its population, it might as well just trade with Germany and leave things as they are.
War like all violence happens in defence or to gain something, but the cost of war will become to high to be compensated by the gains, as long as we abandon fossil fuels
Tillerson announcing fossil fuels are over
As the USA abandoned its role at the G20 the G19 showed they where willing to continue the order, and this order they agreed would be based on mutual renewable energy based growth and cooperation. This makes absolute sense, because what has to replace the petrodollar fossil credit? Local renewable energy credit. Not only is this wise and the only survival option for humanity, but it will drive peace and prosperity for all regions, as renewables are perfectly able to sustain a modern technologically advanced civilisation.
The new world order (and humanities survival) will be conditional on denuclearization, relative race-self containement and renewable energy cooperation
You can’t really fight good wars without fossil fuels. Most war equipment is fossil fuel powered, planes, trucks, tanks, even drones. Of course warfare has evolved and we have written before you only need untouchable drones and satelites to dominate the world. This art has been perfected by the US and other countries. But light war, non nuclear war, can only serve to maintain order against small insurrections. This is ok, as long as populations are capable of cooperating productively without more than small insurrectons. It at the same time seems unlikely the world will fall into such a state of chaos that the necessary surveilance to police a cooperating productive population becomes impossible. This makes the world fundamentally stabile.
The G20 produced a denuclearization treaty. So this seems to spell a future in which our world will be multipolar, no big wars are to be fought, especially not with nuclear warheads, which just like with US and Russian warheads after Reagan and Gorbachov had their agreement, can now be used to generate electricity, CO2 free. The only thing that can go wrong could be North Korea lopping a bomb on the US, which will bomb back, and China getting involved. Another thing that can go wrong is that some nations don’t keep their population where they are, so migration and expasion of f.i. chinese or arabic populations (and possible religious dictatorships). That will cause conflicts we don’t need.
Even a small alliance can stifle any unenlightened despot’s rise to power
In all Trump has done a good job in landing the US believably in this new multipolar world. The 75 years ahead (until it is expected that in 2100 3 out of 4 world citizen will have died from heatwaves) offer a canvas to paint either a lasting world peace capable of defeating the biggest threat to mankind, or one in which harm infliced as temperatures rise to unbearable levels causes technological regression and chaos making extinction of our species inevitable.
a renewables based economy has much less pressure to consume resources, because banks play a much weaker role
A key element in the stabilization of a multipolar world will be communication, and a key factor in that will be internet. There are now three initiatives underway for global broadband coverage, two satelite based and one based on solar drones. It will be key to fighting climate change as it will reduce isolation of remote populations and enable robotics that can restore ecology (for roboeconomic and extraeconomic purposes). It will also help detecting (future) carbon emission crimes and natural methane sources. It will be relatively untouchable, cheap and become cheaper.
The multipolar world will be able to utilize robotics and renewables to counter the rising heat accumulation in our atmosphere, and if resources are directed away from a global arms race towards a global eco restauration effort our chances are good..
You can not be an oil, cas or coal company executive and not understand the damage you are doing to humanity. Decades ago people understood them, but the actuall damage was not that serious. Today you can see, if you are in a position of influence, that your activities are already causing problems, and models that have been optimized in the last 30 years also show you what will happen next. There is no way anymore to have a high payed job and not understand the consequences of your actions.
“Greenhouse effect, a heatwave all year long”
Experts expect that three out of four people will have died because of deadly heatwaves in 2100. That is about 6 Billion human beings dead because of climate change (heat accumulation). Of course it will be less billions before, and more billions after 2100. The death toll of the current batch of CEO’s and executives, politicians and lobbyists is so immense it will overshadow the Holocaust and Holodomor and all other mass killings and extinctions that ever occurred simply because of the speed at which our biosphere turns hostile to life.
Say in 2050, when we have either got a sense of recovery or we are in deep chaos due to migrations, faminers, storms, floods, heatwaves, we can look back on the people that now decide the fate of the oil, gas, coal and banking industry, the people at the ‘advisory institutes’ that tell governments to invest in fossil intensive activities, that delay and slow down the transition (like VNO), populated by older men and women that stopped caring about anything but themselves. We will know the names of those people who now pretend they do everything they can, who use every argument used by the lazy and weak to not defend our future together, but instead divide us and make us feel like we are all alone in our desire to change our fate.
Winters will be colder in some parts of the US, but that doesn’t mean we will have plant-compatible weather everywhere.
We have to make sure that the people taking the decisions today are not forgotten, can not disappear. In banking and finance this is the big problem of accountability. Who do you arrest? They will say “We where only doing our job”. The point is you should refuse to do this job. You should refuse to imagine a gas/coal/oil based future, desing it or develop it. You should refuse to earn money being a fossil lobbyist or a CEO like Rex Tillerson. It is clear that doing this kind of work is a crime. You are killing people when you do them.
Who agrees with the idea that nobody today that is actively involved in the fossil fuel industry can hide behind their ignorance, and is thus commiting a crime? We should prevent their escape of prosecution. Prosecute them and offer rewards for those that stop working for the fossil and banking industry where this has real effect. We welcome any plan in those industries to execute a hard transition to renewables, where those involved to all they can to make it the least fuel intensive process possible. We need to keep track of those that really don’t give a damn and only for their stupid ego,lifestyle and job, commit billions of people to suffer and die.
Investors are king. They are an anonymous mob (when banks like it) that can move around their money inflating and deflating parts of the economy. Banks say they need protection, of course they are a major source of income for banks, who like to fleece them if they are small, and use the bullying power if they are big.
It may have been a dutch invention, the East India Company emitted shares and thus financed it’s endeavours in the East. It was one of the first of the boom/bust pump and dump scams of which many have since followed. The main reason is that a share of a company can have more or less value, even without looking at divident. The New York exchange even had so called phantom shares, of companies that no longer existed until the regulators decided to split the profits and remove them.
Investors can do many different things, but the investment market is structured such that most will opt for a fund or share or something like that, offered to them by neat bank employees accompanied with a neat prospectus. What does investment in a share mean? That you in theory have part ownership of the company, that you can see returns if more people want to own the shares. Existing shares have no influence on the companies themselves, at least not if the company is not deeply in debt. Only when they are sold does it matter to the company what you think of it. Afterwards it will only care when it wants to sell more shares. It can go bust, your money has been collected already. This is why there was a .com bubble. The companies collected cash, and ‘burned it’ at a ‘burn rate’ (and investors accepted this as a good thing!) crashing, then leaving the investors with worthless shares!
Today there is a much better option, but it has not been structured for the public in the optimal way yet. It is of course renewable energy and storage, climate action in general. If you accept that fossil is on its way out and would like to survive the next century (3/4 of humanity is now expected to go extinct in the next 100 years!), you would do well to put every cent in renewables. Saving money is not meaningfull if your money is carbon credit. You want to create the means to keep you alive by investing, this is the key to survival and a good pension.
If you keep betting on all kinds of wastefull economic plans sold to you by the neat looking bankers, you’ll find that farmland will dry up, floods, rains and hales will destroy your car, house, roofs. Fossil will run out and society will stratify into a majority of desperate people and a tiny elite that doesn’t care about them (Trump sets the trend). Don’t expect to belong to that elite. You need to invest in what will make the future work, which is not fossil, not gas, oil or coal, not intensive farming, not big industry.
Even with current incentives solar yields more than 6% annually, so it is a no brainer compared to a savings account. But you are not beyond comprehending the real play of this century, which is to extract yourself from any fossil fuel dependence, because then you can 1. Own your food and wealth security 2. Prevent having to deal with all kinds of problems as now expected. 3. Have a better return, because you don’t only get the actual return but also the reduction/elimination of negative side effects and prices.
You can argue that solar prices keep dropping and you will not get your investment back, but you will be profiting from the cheaper solar what is invested in after you do, because the energy they produce will make products and services cheaper. The money you get in return will go further until you will find that government decides to give you a basic income based on renewables. But you need to invest. You need to ask your pension fund to invest also in the energy sources that will be used to make what you need when you want to spend your pension money.
We need to simplify the system a bit. Investment has to be channeled so it goes to productive or resource increasing activities. Now a lot of investment is meant to disappear money (your money) in order to reduce fossil fuel consumption. You should be able to invest in a global solar fund which builds solar PV and Themal installations at a return of about 5%, maybe more. In fact most renewable technologies can be standardized, say solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tidal systems are all pretty much evolved to a level where you can know what they can do. Then you should be able to invest in the wholesale transiton of your own region, which is the smartest thing to do because this is where you will be spending your future money.
If we look at all assets in terms of wealth creation, and I mean not the creation of expensive products, but of usefull resources like food, water, arable land, timber, then you will find that the financial system selling you investments is actually a big machine that tries to achieve as little as possible while destroying natural resources. Why? Because if you have consolidated a cycle of real wealth creation and destruction by consumption, the demand for fossil fuels, and thus fossil fuel credit, will die.
Some authority, maybe the UN, should create a small number of funds to invest in, with a clear return (just for your anxiety). They should invest directly, without bank invervention in wind, solar, wave etc. More or less standardized installations. The land used must be owned by the countries involved, not in some private hands that will push up the price. Then of course there still can be tenders for the work. You can also invest in specific regions.
The investment/return model as we know it today is not sustainable as we transition away from renewables, unless you for instance invest in wind/fertilizer plants in Ethiopia and the grains are shipped to where you are. Investment has been an abstract multiplier (for some, not for most), and this will change. You will see that it starts to matter more what you actually know about the real world, and as you invest, you may see that your investing real assets already owned, not money. Until we get there there must be an attempt to channel your funds now ready for investment so it is not put into ‘storage’ (long term bonds) or projects that will increase emissions and extend the domination of banks and fossil fuels.
Tesla shows that a enormous amount of money is waiting in the sidelines, but usually in small quanties of so called ‘cash’, which is money that doesn’t have to have a return or does not have to be returned as payment for debt. This money, that individual citizens can control without interference, is the key to a rapid transition. Put it into projects that produce real wealth. And vote for people that propose to make rules that force you and banks to do so.