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The Web will be AI or the present danger of WebAssembly

For some time experts have been waring, or trying to warn humanity for the dangers of AI. Elon Musk has been one prominent captain of industry that explained his biggest fear is AI and that there should be some knowledge base created to judge activities in the wild and create new laws to prevent abuse of humans by (Aware) Autonomous Robust Goal Orienting Systems (as we call them  ARGOs).

The kind of warning Elon Musk expresses is not very effective because most people do not extrapolate from current developments to future outcomes, they do not extrapolate at all, they just want things they come across. Most people do not have a model of external processes, except the process of getting what they want. So most people are incapable and unwilling to extimate even the effect of their own actions. AI is a threat in part because most people are stupid.

The problem to start with is that we have only seen benign artificial intelligence, the problem is that AI has been subdued in its aggressive potential in games. This is because the gaming industry is an economic force and it does not want to be held back because users and other people start to recognize the danger of its virtual enemies entering our real live environment. Opportunism and short sightedness, born out of a desire to reach short term goals is allowing AI to develop at a rapid pace. It is naively seen as an economic opportunity.

Now what would you think if your neighbour was growing a black bear cub in an unkind manner, and leaving it out to roam across your neighbourhood? Bears are highly intelligent, they want to survive, they will do what is needed to achieve that. It would start to eat kids playing in the street if it couldn’t find any other food. We are lucky digital AI only needs electricity, but the point we are trying to make here is that any intelligence has a limited set of things it cares about. It must care about something, itself, or it can’t be intelligent for long, hence the Robust requirement in the ARGO definition of AI. We find animals stupid if they do not protect themselves. Evolutionary those animals that where exposed and had no protection disappeared. So AI when it is real is simply a force we can’t know to be safe.

The goal of any AI is the main worry, because even if it’s goal is ‘to protect the children’ how do we know it is not doing that by trying to make all cars explode? Or by killing all people it suspect of having the potential to harm them. If you have a digital AI with the goal to disable all insulin pumps it can find, written by a psychopath developer with a grudge against humanity you have to find the server it is running off, or servers. It may be a genetic algorithm that replicates, it is enough for us with our definition for the code to be autonomous, uninteruptable and goal oriented.

Now the threat has just been amplified. How? By intruduction of WebAssembly. WebAssembly means your browser can run code at the speed of your native computer. It means all browsers can now become a massive parallel computer running all the time (because people have browsers open online 24 hours a day). A massive global fast parallel computer has been let loose on humanity, and it has already ran face recognition. It can run any C or C++ code already in existence. It can listen, see, categorize, instruct, and do all stuff machine learning algorithms can.

WebAssembly already runs games predictably at near native speeds, it can use all cores of your computer. It is as powerfull as any application you can run on your laptop or mobile phone, but it can run on multiple devices at once. And as said it can see, listen, sense temperature, movement. We do not exaggerate if we state that the intruduction of it is the single most dangerous thing humanity has ever done. If you still need to know how and why you should ask your favorite politician. We know how this can turn dangerous but we won’t tell you here, we don’t want it to happen.

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Mad Maxes Mind, or Consciousness in Self Driving Cars

We are at the cusp of seeing real consciousness in artificial intelligence. It will show up in self driving cars. There are other systems in which it can occur but self driving cars are the most likely to demonstrate the first common embodiment of it. I write this as a former AI researcher, well versed in how our brain works, well versed in what machine learning strategies are common today, and uniquely versed in what it takes to be conscious.

Consciousness is our shifting awareness of our internal and external environment. Our awareness I define as everything that we can decide to adapt our behaviour to. I can be aware of a clock and point my finger to it, or tell the time, or walk over to it. If I’m not aware of it I can’t decide to do such things. We can adapt our behaviour to things we are not aware of, but then we can’t really decide, so we can’t make a conscious decision.

Our awareness is shifting and varies from second to second. Sometimes we are not aware of most external things except those that validate the routine we are executing. We may shift our awareness to where we think lies the most opportunity, so maybe internally to think of something interesting or externally if we see signs of a threat or something we may want to go after. There is a lot going on with what we experience as a result of our behaviour. This is too much to discuss here, but we can now use a self driving car as a full analogy of awareness and consious deciscion making.

A self driving car has a lot in common with a human. It has ARGO, the acronym for autonomous robust goal orientation, which is the principle definition of intelligence. Robustness depending on how easily it is disturbed in its function. Robustness seems a strange quality of intelligent systems, but this quality is expressed in living creatures having scales, fangs, agressive behaviour, hiding behaviour, but also in the fact that most thoughts involve many many redudant neuronal pathways. It does not take intelligence to hide, but if a system that decides to hide it can more easily continue to be intelligent. Try to get to the AI in a moving Tesla. Not easy. This makes AI dangerous in the same way as it makes a rhino dangerous.

Until now Tesla’s have been mapping out the cars in front and around it, mapping the route to where it was asked to go. The route optimization would tell it to avoid traffic jams or road construction. This would all be procedures, algorithms that churns out its best answer. Can the Tesla decide what route to act on? No, it can only suggest it to the driver who then tells it to take one of the suggestions. But now there is a mode, the Mad Max mode, in which the car tries to get though traffic fast. This is a high level incentive for the car to engage with its surroundings. What the Tesla is asked to do is to make decisions on the situation it is aware of to achieve a goal beyond just getting from A to B.

With the Mad Max mode the Tesla now wants something. It wants to go fast but it does not have all the information it needs to do that. It is limited by the ranges of its sensors. The trick to aware intelligence is to allow it to explore opportunities, to choose them and explore them. What I mean is that if the Tesla senses there is space between two cars ahead but it can’t see for sure if that’s where it can sneak forward, it must accelerate to bring the opportunity within ranges and scope it out. This means it has decided to alter its awareness because it can orient towards its goal (being fast) better.

With the option to scope out suspected opportunities the Tesla will behave very much like a human would, and as shifty. The process as it occurs with humans is that partial information triggers a vision of a future with something of value, and this value is initially set pretty high. In the human brain its a dopamine spike that releases our motoric system to behave freely. Without it we sieze up, which is the safest thing to do in most cases. So the Tesla will rank opportunities even if there is only partial data. Then it will estimate the cost of scoping out one of them. Then, if the cost is acceptable, for instance in terms of risk vs other vehicles, it will make its move to learn more. Once it learned the true value of the opportunity it can have an automatic response.

The purpose of our awarness is condition an automatic response. For much of our behaviour, even if the triggers are varied, we develop these responses and we chain them together. If we can’t tell how to respond, or like the Tesla we see no real opportunity, awareness kicks in and amplifies some part of our environment so we orient towards it and learn what we need to either force a response or abandon our attention to it. For this to occur in AI systems they need to be in a real environment, have an embodyment that can move about so the sensory input varies. Tesla cars are such embodiments.

If you adapt the Navigate on Autopilot so it will do what I describe above you can let it report and it will go on like “I don’t see much I can do, o wait, there is some space, let me check it out. Wow this is enough, I can slip in this space, let’s move on. This other road is more quiet let me get this off ramp..”. Is it general purpose AI, no, but it is aware. The question for Tesla is how did they implement it. This is where the crux of AI will lie, because it’s obvious that being able to raise stimuli to awareness is the key to its function, and not every system is capable of the required flexibility nor do most reseachers know how to achieve this. Luckily.

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Cooling the Oceans

The oceans are warming much faster than previously thought. 60% faster it turns out. What happens is that solar rays penetrate the top layer and all the heat gets absorbed by the water. Depending on the mixing this heat ends up at greater depths and this causes the oceans to outgas, because gasses dissolve better in cooler water.

The risk of hot oceans is not that they cause storms and fish have a hard time because it doesn’t absorb oxygen well anymore, the true dangers is toxicity due to anaerobic sulfur based bacteria taking over. We know them from swamps, where the typical smell of rotten eggs can be sensed. Humans are very sensitive to this smell because the gas can be deadly. It is toxic, corrosive H2S. As the oceans turn anoxic they will start to produce massive amounts of H2S and this gas kills everything that needs oxygen, including humans, plants, animals, molds..

You’d say this is a wierd and exaggerated vision of the future, but it happend before during the biggest dieoff of life on Earth, the extinction that ended the Permean. This is one of the climate warming excinctions, the majority of them was caused by warming of the climate for various reasons. Nearly everything died. To get though the current Shell and Exxon driven global calamity we need to 1. keep the oceans oxidized, and preferably 2. keep them cool.

Oceans are going anoxic at an alarming speed. It’s a pitty because fishing grounds are shrinking and something can be done about it if we wanted to. Just add oxygen.

We already wrote about ways to cool the oceans, and to increase the abundance of life and carbon capturing capacity. Research found out this can be done with wave powered pumps that pump up cool and nutritious deep ocean water to the surface where it drives algae growth (so CO2 capture) and cools it. It was dismissed because one could stop doing it and then the oceans would be warmer on a deeper level. We see no reason why these measures would stop, because renewables will make everything cheaper and robotics will allow for automated deployment of these installations. (more here)

When oceans get hot and the gas from the deep has all left the water they quiet down and become stratified. That means the hot water stays on top and the cold water stays at the bottom. This means nutrients are separated from the solar energy and life can’t return. This can last for millions of years. When it is hot all over there is less wind so even the coastal areas become less of a source of mixing and opportunity for life. This is what we need to avoid.

We think it is possible to both fertilize the ocean, do it automatically and have an automated system to expand and maintain the installations (and perhaps produce it). Als we think apart from this it will be necessary to reduce the heat absorption of the oceans. This can be achieved by covering large parts of it with some white material, or have wave activated cloud generation installations to reflect more sunlight. It is one of the biggest challenges in dealing with the problems caused by oil companies.

 

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After Jobs, Health and Happiness, or how the Roboeconomy will reshape society.

We are rapidly approaching an era of gigantic jobloss. AI will replace many jobs as it gets cheaper. Robots will be doing jobs because every manufacturer can get them. This process is unavoidable because the global market is at the same time funded by a small number of wealthy people, who buy stuff from companies that compete agains many others, who are incentiviced to eliminate human assistence in the production process.

The empoverishing effect of automatic production is already ongoing. When before the economy valued a person for its skills and its ability to destroy products, it will now only be valued for the latter talent. Producers want you to destroy their product the faster and more often the better. This can clearly be seen when we look at throw away items, plastic packageing. If a product lasts beyond our sens of purchase it can break down, even though some products who need to last (like outdoor gear and stage pianos) are much more appreciated.

But what will it mean for humans. It means there will be less opportunity to feed at the economic trough. Luckily we are in a transition that will anihilate the economic system, because it is based on the desire to maximize the fossil fuel cashflow, and this cashflow is drying up due to the increased use of renewables. Instead of globally flowing fossil fuels, we will see locally havested and stored renewables. This and automation will seriously undermine the global economy because it will make local production more competitive, even if autonomous vehicles deliver the stuff or autonomous ships and planes ship and fly it across the globe. The added complexity can be easily handled by AI systems, but those need to be build and maintained.

So due to automation and renewable energy eventually the local economy will win over the global one, which will see its cashflow implode. We call this new economy the Roboeconomy. This is where robots make everything we need with renewables, an also restores nature for us.

So what is left to focus on for people who have assisted each other to reach the above level of ‘life support’? Happines and health. Beauty of nature, intimate persuits, labour that feels good. We should know this is going to be the future, and prepare for it. Why worry about jobs if you can support people’s lives with automation and renewables. Make sure you have that mechanism put in place and you can focus on more social factors, like if people are healthy or happy or if they need a better place to live.

Ignore politicians that talk about jobs, especially in old industries. If they talk about jobs in renewables then welcome them, because the deployment of renewables will enable local manufacturers to produce goods and services cheaper, and it will reduce the power of banks to maintain the economic rat race (one in which they determine the scarcity of money, their main product). If your car can drive electric and charge at your home you can deliver pizza’s at a lower cost and compete more. If your oven is solar electric you can bake them cheaper and compete more. If the ingredients are farmed automatically and organically, using electric farm equipment, you can again lowe the price of your pizza. And if this happens to all other jobs the burden to make money, as well as the difference between rich and poor shrinks and this will do miracles for society and happiness.

 

 

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The Slow Future

Here’s what’s going to happen : The next summers are going to be hot, each hotter every year. The news will say we are breaking new records, that we are seeing highs not seen for at least a couple of millenia. We will read the farmers have a hard time, that there’s drought and the produce is getting shorter. Farmers will be compensated or go bankrupt, and the news will be that it becomes harder to farm everywhere. All these things make sense to a person without memory, without awareness of consequences or causality. The Nemo fish which is the modern consumer can be kept in its fishbowl for quite some time.

The future that is predicted is becoming reality and the future we can no predict, with even more accuracy is deadly. It means death to a lot of people, and eventually all people. We have argued that the ability to predict the future, or at least have expectations of it, is the fundamental skill needed for survival. It is the reason humanity is alive today. If nobody ever worried about what would happen next, then we’d been eaten by creatures that did a long long time ago. It is easy to understand that as long as our leaders and politicians don’t respond to the clear predictions made by those that compete to produce the best ones, we are doomed do die. And because we have leaders we all have to share the fate of the shortsighted ones.

In a sense we are blessed with countries, we don’t want to reduce the number of them. We need more language barriers. Why? Because we humans are not the system we operate in, we are imperfect and as our planet changes we need to change our behaviour. You can fix problems because it makes money, but at some point you have to wonder if your fixes are ever going to work or result in the true goal : Survival.

The economy wants you to think you have eternal youth and endless opportunity to repair any damage, either that or (when it comes to medical insurance, pharmaceuticals and other health services) that you are fragile and run risk and should be treated preventively etc. etc. For each temperament there is the optimal mix of fear and hubris to drive you to maximum purchase and bondage (as a worker).  The question should be : Does this make me live longer and more healthy? The answer is that nobody really cares, unless that would be a USP of a specific product.

We need to be confronted with our real future, in which our pension will become worthless, in which order will break down in parts of the world, in which we will have to use robots to save us, and this has to be done as a huge investment that bankers won’t accept. We thus have to get rid of the privilige of bankers. We have to face the fact that most of us are too stupid to survive, not in a forrest, but in the reality we find ourselves in : A dry and hot world that is burning and becoming less hospitable every year. You may say “This is an exhageration”, but go look in Australia.

We also must not be fooled by temporary lapses in the deterioration, a drop in temperature, a sudden rain to break the dry spell. The predicitons and models take variation into account, and we should understand that this is only an opportunity to do more in a more comfortable world. But if it is 37 dergrees for 6 weeks a lot of people die, cognitive abilities fail. We can’t forget that right afterwards and act as if nothing happened. We must remind ourselves and others of the future we can see unfold, and ACT upon its ultimate outcome because our lives depend on it.

Reject the media if the present a slow future, a window on now to trigger an emotion. That’s entertainment, you are being tickled. But are you a child? Do you need tickles or something you can use to protect your life, kids, grandchildren?

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Sanity Check

Well you followed the link and are now reading this, good! How do you feel about the recent months? Have you experienced unusual high temperatures? I have, I live in Holland and for weeks it was 35 degrees, tropical up to 37 even. And I had to work in a thin roofed room on the sunny side of an office building. Many have suffered from the heat. The heart needs to pump around more blood in an attempt to keep the core temperature optimal when it is hot, and this means heart patients and elderly people have been challenged (and if the heatwave of 2003 in France is anything to go by, many died!).

If you have not been shocked by this summer you may be insane

Now we know what is causing this, but even if we didn’t know, or even if you deny it, how do you feel about this? Next year will likely be more brutal, and the year after even more. Regions of Europe and the Middle East are said to become uninhabitable, mainly because if it’s above 37 Celsius and humidity is high, you simply can’t survive for more than half an hour or less.

How do you think someone feels that has been interested in climate change for more than 10 years? This summer has been like finding bear tracks during a forrest walk.  A very bad sign of things to come. Nature is showing its hand and its deadly, massive forrest fires, failt harvests and people fainting in the heat. QED so to say, but then nobody seems to be listening.

We listen and watch to much, it turns our brain into a formless directionless mush not capable of doing anything strong or willfull

The opposite is true though, everybody is listening, but to the wrong message, to a fake drone of distracting newsitems with zero positive or negative impact. Trump this Trump that, just to keep you insulted and demotivated to act on your own impulses or ideas. You can watch a million shows about more or less fantasy people, play VR games, try the new BBQ etc. but don’t you dare to think straight and from the facts!!

The facts are :

  1. Dangerous climate change is here, this summer killed hundreds of thousands of people
  2. The oil, gas and coal companies are just companies, with employees, they do not have private armies and they are not above the law, and right now they are a clear and present danger to everyone.
  3. Politicians and media are sedating and confusing the public with all kinds of nonsense, because fundamentally the economoy is the most lucrative thing to serve, even if it doesn’t serve any human values (including surival) anymore..

Dutch pro oil politicians are actually debating if they will give a 2 billion Euro advantages to corporations (mainly Shell Oil) while this idea was proposed by none of the parties!! How dead can democracy be?

What do you do if you work a 9 to 5 job, can’t afford rent because banks drive up prices all the time, are stuck with student loans or kids who need to compete in the schoolyard. You are stuck, pinned down by the banks (because does a simple house -really- have to cost 500.000 Euro? Be honest!) and forced to drive economic activity while the prudent thing to do would be vastly different..

We should :

  1. Make sure we allocate resources towards generating fresh water and chemical/fuel free agriculture (which is more drought resistant). We should revisit low energy intensity technologies to achieve fresh water and grow food. Current farming methods maximize economic turnover, cashflow. We need to eat and drink and so do plants and animals.
  2. Get a grip on those who are incentivised to sell oil, coal and gas, on every scale because those forces are simply dangerous and corrupting. The resources that these companies sell should be brought under central control for rationing, but the order needed for this may not exist.
  3. Think about our children and what they will experience. How can we do large scale things with few means (because really we can’t burn a lot of oil fixing climate change), how do we get CO2 out of the atmosphere at the fastest possible rate. There should litterally go trillions into fixing this.
  4. Figure out how to make our society resilient against severe fossil fuel restriction? If young people start burning IC cars because they are sick of being poisoned while we could use electric vehicles, and they manage to paralyze the fuel supply (as happened in France a few years back), what can we do?

We can live luxuriously with a lot less luxury than we demand today. We should ban the promotion of consumer behaviour, so no adds for flying to the Maldives or being an idiot that eats meat and drives a huge SUV.

Strangely what we also need to do is fight crime. For that we need to be brave. Why? Because oil/coal and gas companies align with criminal activity, because the way to use this resource to get rich is so simple : You get it and you sell it, and nobody cares what happens, everyone is glued to their screens. Beware: There needs to be a serious effort to reduce crime and remove potential criminals, even if our government is full of treehuggers and animal lovers.

Also strangely the rich, as global warming intensifies, conclude there are simply to many people. There will be a surge in racism, eugenic thinking along the lines that “hey, some need to die, let it be the least valuable”. Of course ‘value’ is likely to be measured in terms of money, and so the poor are sacrificed no matter what talent they posess. The already are in Africa as the rain has stopped and will drop 50+% in the next years, no water no food no people..

I think the best thing to happen is if some people united secretly and moved to remote places to start running carbon capturing or negative emissions activities. Not for profit but for effect. These extraeconomic enclaves will have to be a secret and not invite any economic exploitation of its resouces (which may be wood or some othe carbon capturing material). We call this Extraeconomic activity, and extraeconomic enclaves. The focus should not be on maximizing joy while slaving for a mortgage, it should be maximizing biomass production while surviving with simple means.

 

 

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Avatarians

We are an immitating species. Our brains have developed to be able to execute plans tretching out over years, but it all began with immitation of others. The social impulse is born out of the desire to observe others, empathize with them to learn what behaviour we can have that is safe, what is a good response to imbalances in our life, how to find solutions to problems we all share.

Imitation is possible because our mind works by envisioning, imaging what we would feel and look like if we perform certain acts. This is no effort, we in fact select the acts based on what emotions are triggered by the imagining. So our mind wanders and we imagine ourselves doing various things. The thing that triggers enough of an emotional response selfapmplifies and becomes fixed in our mind, and if our reality is not too different from the idea we will try to make reality conform to it. Otherwise we may plan to remove an obstacle to reduce the difference, our orientation in life has shifted towards that idea, and our brain conforms, using our talents as necessary.

A consequence of this imitation learning, and the higer level learning through imagining from text, is that we program ourselves, sometimes automatically. We observe what another individual does, and we can empathize with its succes and reward, and thus we decide to imitate that persons behaviour. What do we do? We reimagine it, and surrender ourselves to the acts. We embody what we observe, and thus we become an avatar for that behaviour, in uncertainty about any reward.

In a way our mind absorbs and reenacts behaviour we observe. It also generates new behaviour, ones that it never really observed but ones that happen because of how our body is made up, how our brain is wired. You can have a brain defect and think your wife is a hat so it is clear that the integrity of our brain can be clearly deduced from our behaviour. This has always been imporant in our survival, because another person can be a friend or an enemy. This underlies our keen sense what is normal behaviour and what not.

So lets take this information and think about it for a second. We are individuals, our minds are perturbed and seduced by what we observe, our behaviour follows that which we observe. So we are at least some of the time, avatars for observed behaviours. This means we may act as we have observed, with or without feeling the reward we observed or imagined is associated with the behaviour. The normal dynamic is that we know what reward we will recieve or what good we serve if we have certain behaviour. But we can go too far in serving and hoping for a reward, and this can mean we behave without any.

This ability to imitate others or our imagination has a purpose, it should serve our health and happyness. We know if this is the case if we feel happy and healthy at least some of the time. If we know our brain wants to imitate, and will observe and internalize rewarding behaviour, we should start paying attention to what we observe, whether wat we expose ourselves to is actually truthfull and good. Truth becomes a meaningfull word in this context. Something is true if when we adopt the idea we find we do not need to change our idea as we seek confirmation.

A behaviour can be true when it yields the imagined rewards. So you plant a seed, tend it and it grows into a tree. When you learn about this it can be a fantasy, but as you try it you see it confirmed. You where right in believing this fantasy, your internal library of behaviours is enriched. Now if you talk about this idea of planting a seed, tending it and seeing it grow into a tree, you will not burden others with wrong ideas. They will not go out, expend their lives and energy to find no tree grows rom a seed. Obviously true behaviours are at least as valuable as true knowledge.

Joy, being able to rejoyce, is also important. We dance and make music and make ourselves beautifull and there is something special about this. Because if you seek beauty you do not need examples. You know it right away if something is easy or painfull to behold, of music is pleasing to the ear or harsh, if someone moves beautifully or shows signs of pain and suffering. This knowledge is intrinsic, like feelings themselves. We know instantly and we don’t need to be shown and tought what to feel.

 

 

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Pricing Car Fuels To Incentivise Efficient Transportation

We are seeing increasing resistance against diesel cars in cities, because they pollute the air right where people want to live, with soot and NOx that can cause heart and brain damage. In the defence of the car companies we read that they say diesel engines are more efficient, get more miles per gallon. It’s an interesting claim because it shows you how these interests will hide reality from you even in small portions. They are never honest.

The truth is, diesel is more energy dense than gasoline, so one gallon of diesel contains more energy than one gallon of gasoline. So it’s natural you get more miles out of a diesel engine using the same volume of fuel. That said, a diesel engine is slightly more efficient because it is hotter, diesel doesn’t ignite as easy so it needs to be. Hotter also means you can extract more energy because the temperature gradient limits the amount of work you can get out of a heat engine (which an internal combustion engine ultimately is). So technically yes, a diesel engine makes better use of the energy avialable, but you don’t show that by comparing miles per gallon.

But the overal efficiency of an internal combustion enigine is appaling. 30% maximum. So 2/3 of all the emissions from cars trucks ships, planes (who are probably worse) is just wasted buring of fossil fuels.

To me that should be reflected in the price, the energy in the fuel. So if I buy a gallon of diesel, it should cost more than one of gasoline. The cheapest form of energy should be used as a base price, and that isn’t diesel or gasoline. It is solar, because no oil well or gass well stops needing attention, a solar panel does. The cost of a solar kWh should be the standard for all energy carriers, so that we price gasoline correctly (source).

Say a solar kWh = $0.10 ct.

A gallon of gasoline should cost $3.34

and diesel $3.79

Another sane thing is to tax in engine efficiency to incentivise more efficient use of energy. So for an EV with an electric motor, efficiency is about 85%, so you divide the cost by this efficiency, you get $0.117 ct/kWh. For gasoline and diesel this translates to

Gasoline $3.34 /0.2 = $16.7 Gallon

Diesel $3.79 /0.3 = $12.6 /Gallon

Another way is to price the roadmeters into the fuel, for transportation fuels. This means you include the average engine efficiency and take the optimal performance as the benchmark.

The average EV gets 0.32 kWh per mile. This is probably a low estimate as Tesla’s do better than this.

A gasoline car gets 23 miles per gallon, which is 23 miles/33 kWh = .69 kWh per mile

So a gasoline car should pay twice as much as an EV per mile.

In order to control congestion you could introduce a system whereby you set prices such that the minimum of traffic jams happen, then you will have to increase the cost of road kWh considerably, and as a consequence the price of road gasoline and diesel. Instead of maximizing for fuel consumption as our current economy does, one could maximize for efficiency in the road system, which clearly has not been an objective. This way fossil fuel companies can no longer dominate the transportation market by dumping their energy at the lowest possible cost.

 

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Gecoordineerde Decarbonisatie van Nederland

Nederland lijkt zich te willen ontworstelen aan zijn fossiele traditie. Het gebruik van aardgas uit Groningen en de kolen overslag in Rotterdam liggen onder vuur. De nieuwe minister van Economische Zaken Eric Wiebes lijkt het te begrijpen, en het is te hopen dat hij de ontwikkeling en financiering van hernieuwbare energie projecten voorspelbaar houdt.

In mijn ogen ontbreekt er iets essentieels in de mix van acties en milestones, en dat is duidelijke coordinatie tussen de afname van fossiel brandstof gebruik en toename van hernieuwbare energie. Als  Rotterdam zich tegen de kolen overslag verzet, wat doet het dan om de downstream behoefte aan kolenstroom te bedienen. Er zijn verschillende redenen waarom dit zo gaat maar het is zeker niet nodig om het zo te laten blijven gaan.

Een reden waarom het fossiele exit pad zo chaotisch wordt gevolgd is dat het ETS (Emissions trading scheme) niet werkt. Al enige jaren geleden is in een rapport geconcludeerd dat de CO2 handel niet het gewenste effect heeft (reductie emissies) en dat er misschien een andere doelstelling moet worden bedacht voor het ETS (geen grap). Er zijn teveel rechten op de markt, CO2 is te goedkoop, het systeem is slechts een werkverschaffer voor de financlele sector.

Een andere reden waarom de aanpak zo chaotisch is is de invloed van banken en industrie in de politiek. Vooral de banken zijn bang voor de gevolgen van gedistribueerde energie productie en afname, aangezien de geldstromen die daarmee gepaard gaan niet via hen hoeven te lopen. Ook de taak van finaniciering van projecten (die meestal dient om de fossiele energie die nodig is aan de deelnemers ter beschikking te stellen) zal op termijn verdwijnen. Hierdoor is onze politiek doorspekt van ‘economische’ optimalisatie, wat frans is voor ‘fossiele cashflow maximalisatie’. Economische winst en krediet zijn dingen die we niet kunnen respecteren als we afscheid willen nemen van het fossiele tijdperk.

Nog een reden voor de chaos is de aard van de politiek, de zeldzame burger die zijn comfort zone verlaat en niet door zijn omgeving is teruggefloten of door een goed gesponsorde carriere politicus is verslagen is meestal nog niet georganiseerd op een manier die zijn denkbeelden ondersteunt. Je kunt bv. lid worden van de VVD, maar dan weet je dat je eerst jaren fossiele lakei moet zijn, waardoor je later geen scrupules zult hebben om je zakken te vullen waar het kan. Dit is echter geen monopolie van de VVD, de nederlandse politiek zit vol mensen die het een prima salaris vinden voor licht werk.

Intussen is het overduidelijk dat er een formule te bedenken is die zegt dat als je hier gas weghaald je daar energie toe moet voegen. Dat als  je kolen centrales sluit je zonnecentrales moet openen. Dat zonnecentrales energie kosten om te bouwen en dat je dus een bepaalde hoeveelheid fossiele energie nodig hebt om deze in feite te vermenigvuldigen met een factor 6 (zonnepanelen). Dit is een plannings geoorienteerde aanpak van de transitie, niet een ‘vrije markt’ georienteerde aanpak.

Natuurlijk krijg je als je van een geplande transitie spreekt (niet een met politieke doelen maar met als doelstelling te maximalisatie van hernieuwbare energie en de minimalisatie van fossiel op zo kort mogelijke termijn) rechtse pro-fossiele politici over je heen die je beschuldigen van communisme, socialisme en alles waar oude kiezers bang voor zijn. Of course. Maar pro fossiel rechts is dan ook de vijand van al het leven op aarde momenteel, en dit is geen overdreven uitspraak. Wie wil weten wie debet zal zijn aan onnoemelijk lijden voor onnoemelijk veel zielen in de komende decennia moet naar rechts kijken, want daar wordt het fossiel economische belang en dat van de fossiele distributeurs in de financieele sector boven het welzijn van de andere burgers geplaatst.

Als we de maatschappij verdelen in hen die voor een (overigens veel welvarender) hernieuwbare toekomst zijn en hen die hier tegen zijn dan kunnen er twee groepen ontstaan waarvan de ene vol op de transitie kan inzetten en de andere door zijn elitaire basis snel het onderspit delft. Pro hernieuwbaar of niet? Elke politicus moet kleur bekennen, niet op mensen stemmen die wauwelen over economische groei en banen. Elk bedrijf zal banen creeren en moeten opgeven, waaronder banken en wind turbine fabrikanten. Wie meer banen wil moet zorgen dat de energie en grondstoffen om die baan mogelijk te maken er zijn, en dat kan beter en goedkoper met duurzame energie dan met fossiel.

Als elke gemeente een som kan maken van de fossiele energie die ze verbruiken en wat er nodig is om die te vervangen, en er een markt kan worden gecreerd om deze vervanging te realiseren, dan kan in een soort algemene ruilverkaveling de transitie zeer doelmatig worden gerealiseerd. Natuurlijk zijn er activiteiten die Nederland nu ontplooit die na de transitie niet meer nodig zijn, bv. de kolen overslag in Rotterdam, het treinvervoer naar de centrales. Dat lijkt economisch verlies, maar het is geen verlies van welvaart.

 

 

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How to beat Global Warming if you have Nothing

For years we have tried to alert people to the dangers of a post peak oil climate fight, meaning the task of fighting climate change with very little productive resources, because the oil distribution system has more or less collapsed. Our current attempt to respond to global warming within the economy is just inviting this situation to come about, because the economy as a whole will do 90% by wasting fossil fuel and maybe 10% of the fuel will be turned in to renewable sources that multiply the fossil input by a factor 6 or more. The economy is the problem it can not be part of the solution.

If it is possible to cordon off resources to fight climate change from the fossil fuel pool this would be fine, it would not take any money, only the resolve of politics, and it would cost banks a dear sum of lost profit from fossil fuel cashflow. Banks have to be overruled by politics, and this is hard in our modern corrupt political systems.

If there is no way to win from the banking/fossil fuel cartel there are still ways to win the climate fight, but these have to be minimally resource dependent. They will be labour intensive no doubt. We don’t know all of them but it seems a good idea to start thinking of them.

Trees

Easiest of them all is planting trees. Even though it is said that trees are darker and can warm up our atmosphere it is still better in the long term to do it, but it needs to be done with no economical objective. We believe that closely planted trees are a better strategy than planting trees at wide distances, because of the shade and micro climate trees can create. Colder air stays down, and this way water can be retained in the soil that would otherwise evaporate.

There’s quite a lot of land mass that is unpopulated, unused for farming and still able to sustain trees, and these should be planted aggressively.

Hydrologic interventions

On land the run of rain and flood water can be changed so that water is stored underground and doesn’t flow away to the oceans. This can be done also by freezing water with ambient air as is done in the Himalayan mountains. We have written here about contour trenching, done to allow flood water to sink into the soil instead of washing over it. This is a great way to improve ground water levels, which can then drive tree growth.

We think that above ground storage of floodwater either within walls or plastic containers can also work. The barriers that hold 1 meter of water do not need to be extremely strong, yet the total volume held that way can be very large.

We think that heating sand using solar energy can enable the building of water retention and distribution structures without the need for heavy  material logistics.

We think that well drilled in regions with aquifers (which also occur in f.i. the Sahara desert) can be an enabler of afforestation projects that can in turn change the regional temperatures.

We think that flooding salt flats with ocean water is a good way to increase humidity, even though this can also have a negative effect in regions that will become to hot to survive in. This can include digging canals or waterways.

Ocean Nutrition and Oxygen

Oceans can be a great CO2 sink, but currently they are actually losing that function because of too much CO2. The changes in PH are bad for plant life, such that the more acid the oceans get, the less it can remove it from the atmosphere. Also the warming of ocean water makes them less able to retian gasses like CO2 and O2. All these factors are moving our oceans to catastrophic release of gasses, methane, their death and ultimately their role as a source of toxic H2S.

To fight this we need to use all the potential available. We can perhaps use underwater obstructions to drive deep ocean water to the surface, where its nutrients (from which the top layer is usally depleted) can allow plant growth. Japan has experimented with this with success. As long as the ocean currents exist (They will stop once the oceans are more uniform in temperature) they can be used to enable carbon capture. Ocean life has a tendency to lose carbon which will sink to the bottom. There it can remain in an anoxic environment, so carbon can actually be stored.

We think covering large parts of the ocean with white plastic to reflect sunlight may help keep our planet cool. This sounds like a costly solution but there is a lot of plastic out there, so barges that process it and turn it into floating albedo shields may be a good idea.

We also have written here about the possibility of floating farms, floating on bamboo rafts. Of course recycled plastic rafts can help. Such farms can grow fish, Kelp, seaweed, algae, but also land crops once they reach sufficient height. We would like to see countries like the Phillipines investigate this option as they have a large undersea undeep shelve they can havest from.

A german study calculated the option of increasing algae growth using deep ocean nutrients using wave driven pumps to get the water to the surface. This would cool the air, lead to more growth of plants on land and have a 10% annual carbon reduction impact if continued as long as needed.

It may be possible to use salt to create a highly reflexive surface that can be floated on sea or laid down on land. It seems vitaly important to slow down warming of Arctic ocean waters and Russian permafrost. In agriculture white plastic is used to cover vast areas of land, and this may be a good way to keep the permafrost cool, and the escaping methane may be captured and used in the process of covering.