Monthly Archives: February 2016

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When does Hunting become Farming?

In a news item today one can read that 7 of 10 of the wild boar found in dutch woods is shot annually. That seems like a high number, and hardly sustainable. But what if it was? What if our idea of hunting is wrong, that it is not trying to chance on an unlucky animal and shooting it (a moronic practice in our age) and eating the ‘spoils’. What if hunting has become a dead certain activity where you basically just go out and get a boar (with a gun that really is just a cruel and messy way to slaughter an animal). What if hunting is more akin to the ‘canned hunt’ like we see in Africa?

We know that in some regions of the world it makes no sense to haul in beef from Argentinia if there’s moose all over the place, so hunting can be sensible, but in Holland we have no shortage of meat ! It is one thing to pretend you are brave hunter with your green jacket, but it would be another if you use our nature reserves to kill a protected animal (due to culling laws) and enjoy its meat where this clearly is not the intention we had with nature reserves.

Culling boar can cause the population to spike requiring one to cull them

The line that you can cross is to shoot so many animals that here is so much food that the remaining animals will multiply until there are to many, which you then shoot. So instead of allowing a natural population density to develop you disturb it causing wild fluctuations. Predator-prey models can quickly tell you that this is easily achieved. Apply it to wild boar population, and you can ‘harvest’ boars without anyone thinking you are doing anything but taking care of them. We read that ‘there’s a lot of boar this year due to there bing a lot of acorns’, but maybe those acorns are there because we shot the boars that ate them last year! So the question becomes : Are we farming wild boar on public land without paying the public?

We can now even buy wild boar ham and pate in the supermarket, so there is clearly an industrious side to this ‘hobby’. We have not seen the effects of consumption of this meat, maybe it contains hormones and other substances that influence our behaviour in ways we don’t know (as it is not ham from a totally dominated an abused industrial pig). If hunting takes place on such a scale that  the meat ends up like any other kind in the supermarket, then we have a case of extreme organic farming with cruel and unusual slaughter methods. Better just leave those boar alone and take the money out of the hunt.

The natural enemy of wild boar is hunger so culls should be stopped

Not being a killjoy one can also imagine ‘no-huntharvest areas’ next to extended ‘hunt harvest areas’, increasing our nature reserves, where boars are caught and slaughter most ‘humanely’. A shooting range will be offered to the ‘hunters’ to let off steam. Hunting with a gun on a boar really is for cruel childish men.

When you think about it, big game hunting makes no sense at all. Big game, an cool sounding name for lions, tigers and other top predators is not necessary for security. This is because these animals have better options for food than humans. So in the wild these animals will rarely attack humans. Wild animals are hunted to extinciton by spoiled westeners. Poachers are also hunted in some countries, by snipers, as they should be when they threaten an entire species. You can not bring back the Dodo, or the Lion or the Elephant if the last one is shot.

The problem with our economy is that it does not care about things that do not exist, so once a resource is lost, it is never thought about again. We need an economy that keeps track of reserves and introduces a prohibitive cost when a resource is threatened with depletion

It is typical that local communities and even poachers themselves don’t feel good about what they do. Yet the key to wildlife conservation is taking away the domination of economic factors, and this is best done by using renewable energy as a new basis for wealth creation. Renewables that can also be used to revive wild populations.


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What’s causing Microcephaly, Zika or Monsanto

Update : Zika virus targets brain cells in developing brains.

The title says it all. According to a number of doctors the terrible birth defect called microcephaly, that causes babies to have smaller skulls than they should, may be caused by a Monsanto larvecide and not by a mosquito.

“However, they fail to recognise that in the area where most sick persons live, a chemical larvicide producing malformations in mosquitoes has been applied for 18 months, and that this poison (pyroproxyfen) is applied by the State on drinking water used by the affected population.” (source)

It can be hard to detect, you have insects that spread disease, then you fight it with insecticides, so both factors are in the environment, both can be the cause of the birth defects. It would be super tragic however if Europe in fighting Zika carrying mosquitos would introduce insecticides that cause the defects, and then conclude that although a lot of poison was used, the incidental case of Zika (perhaps having passed unnoticed by the patient) still makes infant victims. So tragic.

“chemical control is contaminating the environment as well as people, that it is not decreasing the amount of mosquitoes” (source)

But Monsanto would have killed, and in 18 months the vaccin would be there and fighting the mosquito may have been succesfull. We would never know unless we try to correllate insecticide use in regions without Zika with microcephaly incident.

The comments in the report are not mild, maybe this is the first time that the prevalence of striving for commercial gain at the cost of effectiveness against a problem by chemical and pharmaceutical companies is exposed.


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Open Fuel Standard Policy

Dutch politician Sharon Dijksma dreams of an ETS type system to reduce industrial emissions around the world. She thinks that with the help of the EU she can introduce a limited emmision rights system that can restrict CO2 emissions even in aviation and shipping. The ETS system has been found officially defunct simply because there are more than plenty of emission rights sloshing around and no plans to restrict their amount. This means industry really doesn’t feel much pressure to exit fossil fuels, so the fossil fuel dependent industrial sectors are pretty much protected.

It is excessively naive to think you can introduce an emission rights scheme where there is an existing one in place, failing completely, and then want to do it globally where the ETS system is European. It is not naive, it is malintended. There is a rich history in politics of inventive delay strategies, and failing plans is definitely one of them. While one tries to do the undoable there is no room for alternative approaches and there is no real progress. Who better to try that than the PVDA, who has been in a dependent alliance with the liberal right wing party. One can basically say the PVDA is now inhabited with liberals that will say they want change but will always side with the liberal VVD in holland. A total scam party, which is why people flock to the SP, a more truthflly pro labour and pretty green party. The mistake is wanting to govern instead of protecting the interests of workers, which the PVDA doesn’t do.

But the whole idea of new emissions rights trading is totally wrong to begin with. The approach is already indirect. The point is that those that are realistic about the consequences of climate change want to reduce the buring of fossil fuels. Many people try to achieve this. The simplest way is to make these fuels more expensive. Tax them more! There is an important caveat with this approach though : Whatever tax revenue you get from his can only be used to make renewable energy sources. Who understands the carbon base of our economy understands that any money spend will cause emissions (by being spend into a carbon fuel burning production system) and thus is better off not being spend. So with the fossil fuel tax you either NOT spend it at all (also not use it as base for credit, which is exactly the opposite of what you want) or use it to build renewable energy sources.

Right now we seem to have low fossil fuel prices and cheap credit. This seems significant, but you can also have low prices if there is next to now fuel when there is next to no credit. The fossil fuel price says NOTHING about how scarce the fuel is, how much can be delivered in the future, what the fuel volume is today, because prices are as much a function of the availability of money as they are of the availability of product. This is a vary scary aspect. It also means that even if you tax fuels you can expect banks to create more credit to deal with the price hike, and so governments have to watch barrels, tons of fuel etc, not the cashflow, price etc. Tons imported minus tons exported should be minimized. Throughput should also be minimized. This will be extremely hard for Holland as we derive a lot of power from our control over fuel/pretrochemical/gas logistics.

As banks produce fossil fuel credit which is wastefully spend in our economy a government that wants to reduce emissions has to either tax and keep the cash (not spend it) or become a bank and eliminate the commecial banks. A third option is to set clear standards for investment, so that wastefull (CO2 budget wise) activities are curtailed. Since the government is infested with pro banking, pro fossil fuel thinking people, from labour to liberal, any big change won’t happen soon. Maybe there will be a green revolution with the conviently named ‘socialist party’ and ‘green left’ but the liberals basically have a majority of the political spectrum, because in Holland if you don’t want to rich you won’t have much of a life (a situation created by the liberal banker lakeys).

So what to do? One option is to tax into a renewable energy source fund that is just about building wind turbines and solar farms and storage to support the grid. Put the money in pensions, which is a great way to destroy its fossil fuel purchasing power for now. Sadly the opposite is happeing, liberal labour politicians want to free up pension cash to drive fossil fuel consumption.

Another option which is indirect is to open up fuel standards. Instead of dictating the fuels used in vehicles the standard should only say something about safety and emissions. So any new fuel has to have at least the emissions and at least the safety aspects as the current fuels. One can be surprised that new fuels have to be MUCH safer than existing fuels to be allowed. This is another build in protection barrier for fossil fuels. Without going into detail this change can be a big change. It has to be introduced quietly, it is a rule of practical equivalence for fuels.

Another approach is to make a rule that determines the energy per carbon content per unit weight of fuel, which will favour high hydrogen fuels. The thinking should go to simple rules with large impact on emissions in fields not monitored by the fossil industry. This is exactly how the fossil industry has created the high fossil fuel wasting environment we find ourselves in, by creating laws where we didn’t understand their impact.

Politics and industy uses the fact new generations are unaware things have been tried many times before. The media sure help suggesting whatever doesn’t work as loudly as whatever does work. Economist don’t like profitable problems to go away, certainly not fossil fuel use. It makes total sense for the climate aware political parties to negotiate before the next Dutch elections in order to establish a majority outcome to counter the current VVD, PVV, CDA, PVDA group of short sighted economic thinking parties. Sharon Dijskma’s idea sure as hell will not help ever or fast enough.




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Did Serious Die?

The twenthieth century was special, because so many people survived the first time. Penicilin and other scientific and medical advances increased the lifespan of the average (Western Hemisphere) citizen considerably. The beginning of the twenthieth century with it’s world wars and subsequent cold war drive a focussed and serious effort to eliminate big problems for humanity. Working hard payed off and people where respected for their significance in building up our society. Science and technology as well as engineering and a good education enjoyed high regard.

What you watch you become

The twentieth century was also one in which big lies where sold for the first time. Although Napoleon did a good job selling his non-existent successes in Egypt with devestating results for many french soldiers before, in the last century marketing really became the primary tool to control society. Selling sigarets by portraying them as a symbol of emancipation, or selling presidents by appealing to the things people felt most passionate about, even if these where unimportant childish impulses. The idea the advertised lifestyle is in reach of everybody created a population in constant cognitive dissonance between what they wanted and what they had. Marketing approaches slowly permeated almost every corner of our society mainly because it is simply easier to lie than to perform.

Where the first mass propagandists had to deal with important hard working, well educated citizen, these days that is much less the case. The wealth of a society with low automation and low use of external energy sources depends on the individuals. These individuals are recognized and recieve respect and power. Today most people are either salespeople, in logistics or stewarding some kind of semi automated production process. Most goods are not hand made and if they are the people that make them are anonymous remote powerless slaves. There’s definitely a counter movement and this definitely only goes for parts of the ‘world economy’ but nonetheless this changes the ease with which individuals are captured and influenced by marketing.

The principles of economics and modern capitalism, recently even lamented by Goldman Sachs, have separated people as much as possible from what they need. A model family has no land to grow their food, no hobbies that allow them to trade, yet own cars and houses and have a world view that ties them to jobs and makes them waste as much fossil fuel as possible. The ‘consumer’ really is a destructive endpoint for the incomprehensible amount of wealth we have been able to create with the stored solar energy reserves of coal, gas and oil. People need to carelessly destroy goods and services or we would not need to keep selling fossil fuels, and we need to keep doing that or the banks would have no business. This is what i call the CarbonCredit model (which everybody slowly starts to aknowledge, even Steven Keen). It is important to note that the fossil-credit dependency is the driving force that shapes our society today and that renewables would create a totally different society.

There is one aspect that amazes me about this outcome, and about where it is headed, namely a world in which we wonder in a semi dream state through a barren sensually augmented reality so as to maximize our consumer role, until fossil fuel runs out and all collapses. It is the lack of drive to survive. The focus of our iives has shifted to the threat of our own death and demise to the threat of social poverty. We fear each other more because we can take ‘the life’ away from each other, than we fear the dangers of being distracted by what comes down to meaningless tantrums of egoism. We plow forth towards our destruction because we no longer know or have experienced what is needed to feel dangers to or lives and that of others.

The pro fossil right wing politics have eroded the education system to a degree that it produces people that really don’t know much or understand much more than what is local and real to them in every day life. The economically necessary hardship also forces people to focus on what’s in front of them, and if we wait war and the problems caused by climate change will do exactly the same. Yet the response to this process of encapsulation is not a revolt or new movement to break out of it, because the state does not offer instructions how to escape. May of us have been defeated because we don’t carry the knowledge or behaviour that allows us to change and become our own agent of freedom.

Getting the fuck out of this hologram

It can not be a bad thing for a person to try to secure his health or that of others, or to try to escape a wastefull process of disenfrachisement. Even if it doesn’t do any good, it still saves more fossil fuel and other resources for others. Wait until scarcity drives people to ‘take their fair share’ even if they don’t need to. The number of ways in which human nature can be led to (economically profitable) abuse is endless. What makes the difference is when people get serious. Serious is under attack because what does serious mean? It means that we are ready to act based on what we consider a serious issue. If we know we are going to be really worse off because of something we do or say we will become serious about it. One can easily see the number and types of issues people are serious about today is different from that which people where seriou about say 50 years ago.

Serious is under constant attack by the media. Serious is the enemy of wastefull economic activity, because serious has degrees. Serious is about the protection of our agency, not our individual identity but our individual power to shape our own lives. For most consumers there is no threat to it if they play by the economic rules, but once someone starts to think it is very important what such a person takes seriously, and what ideas and knowlegde one has. A serious moment can make our existential predicament gradually clearer and in the end force us to change our behaviour. You blow a puff of sigaret smoke, you think about the smoke and what people say about it, that it may kill you, you consider you don’t want to die just because you smoked, to much other things to enjoy,  and you quit. Just like that your seriousness got the better of you, and you won over the many messages to not care or care about other things like the lifestyle of the Marlboro man (who died of lung cancer). Serious is a serious threat to marketing and to economics.

So in the US and increasingly in Europe the media have developed a format which keeps us from being serious. It is comedy applied to real life news. It is also comedy applied to our own morals. The combination of Jon Steward, Stephen Colbert and Louis CK is destroying a generation of potentially serious people. Not that you should not laugh at things that embarres you, or things you can’t change, but some issues are serious and should mobilize your reflex to protect your agency. As a dutch person I can see the shamefull copying of the Steward format (Lubach, joking about gays thrown from buildings by ISIS), and slowely it becomes more clear that this form of humor throws out the baby with the bathwater.

It is not clear if the audience starts off without the ability to be serious ourside running their consumer lives, or that the comedy makes these people lose their edge because they are tought to laugh about everything. Family guy and the Simpsons is also highy demoralizing comedy, you can not watch Family guy and go more than one minute without being invited to imagine some disgusting acts, leaving your judgement and self trust eroded. We don’t have to be moral cruisaders so don’t think its about advocating parental control, but why are we so desensitized by our comedians? Is it time to kick the humor addiction and go serious at least for some issues?

We are invited to enter an era of augmented reality, where we see stuff in our every day environment that is not there, where all services are gamified, where we study for points, where the promise of reward is ever present but where real reward can not exist, real freedom, real control, because that’s not what the people that create this artificial environment want for us. You are fine playing a VR video game as a distraction from a long day of work, but what if your entire life becomes a game. Already the economy is designed to make it really hard for anyone to escape it, unless of course they want to live in a shack in the woods. If you don’t want to play the ability to control your life without you notecing is bigger than ever. How to get back if not only your life is a complete designed hologram but your beliefs about the way to free yourself are such holograms as well.

We need to get serious about our consumption of media, about our control over our environment. We don’t have to go back to basics, but we need to ask questions like ‘What is the five and ten year security of my food supply’,’How am I going to educate my kids so they have a sense of reality’,’What am i serious about?’,’Why is it always others that create my environment and job opportunities, and not me’,’What if I did not have to pay anyone to live, how do I get there’, ‘What if stuff breaks down and there is nobody else to fix it’. etc. A good exercise of seriousness is just for fun trying to answer any one of those questions. Drop the comedy diet, drop the virtual reality, find people that think this is actually a challenge that is more fun and eventually reap the benefits of your serious freedom.












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Time to start worrying about Oxygen

Burning fossil fuels drives the production of CO2, causing climate change. We can see the CO2 concentration in our atmosphere rise at an alarming rate, higher than geological records show in the last million years. It is causing all kinds of problems, amongst which is warming and acidification of or oceans. Burning anything, including fossil fuels, requires oxygen, by definition. So what happens to all the oxygen we are now binding to carbon? There are measurements for that, an example you can see below.

As you can see the amount is dropping steadily. We know that this dropping of oxygen will continue for quite some time, and that a spontaneous rise absent any life and photosynthesis will not occur. We are looking at the reduction of a primary condition for human life in permanent decline. Even though we can calculate that it will take a long time until we all choke to death, without action, this will happen. This is because of secondary effects of CO2 increase.

The disappearance of oxygen is not a new phenomenon, it happened before, and it meant the end of species that required a lot of oxygen. During the extinction that ended the Permean era the oxygen breathing land animals all disappeared. The ancestors of the life that survived all where really small or cold blooded, requiring much less oxygen (making the then heated up planet ideal for dinosaurs). Most life however had a very hard time during that (global warming related) extinction because the atmosphere was full of toxic H2S that evolved from the anoxic ocean. We are seeing the same scenario unfold today even if there is still plenty of time to turn the process around.

Oceans make 50% of the oxygen added to our atmosphere each year. The plankton floating on its surface use nitrients and sunlight to grow consuming CO2, H2O to make sugars, cellulose and oxygen is a byproduct of that process. Now, because oceans are becoming more acidic and warm, the amount of plankton is dropping. fast. In the Indian ocean the phytoplankton dropped 30% in the last 16 years. This means it could halve within 26 years, or faster, depending on the process involved. Many studies already shown that ocean phytoplankton (plants, seaweed) grows slower or not at all when water becomes more acidic. Also many fish species use the ocean environment for conception, and this process proves to be highly sensitive as well.

The decline can be monitored with a smartphone. Yeey

Another process also happens because of climate change, called stratification. Layering of the ocean into warmer and colder layers happens because the top layer absorbs the sunlight, which makes it expand and be lighter than the deeper colder water. This seems a harmless logical process, but it is not because nutrients sink down, and when the warm top layer never mixes with the deeper cold layers, the nutrients stay down, preventing anything from growing in the top layer, thus preventing the generation of Oxygen.

“A decline in ocean mixing due to warming surface waters is to blame for that phytoplankton plummet, researchers propose online January 19 in Geophysical Research Letters. The mixing of the ocean’s layers ferries phytoplankton nutrients from the ocean’s dark depths up into the sunlit layers that the mini plants inhabit.”

What can we do about this process? First of all we could stop burning stuff. We are slowing it down gradually, which is good. We are also reducing fishing, being more sensible about it, which means more nutrients stay in the top layer of our oceans as live or dead or digested organic material. Fish keep their own environment fertile so to say.

Above shows how nutrients are distributed with depth. It is clear values can be low at the surface, probably also a result of rain which replaces surface water while containing zero nutrients. As it is clear the ocean is stratifying as well, it seems a good approach to pump deeper water to the surface, to cause mixing in order to preserve plankton growth. This approach has been tried and analysed as we reported before. It comes in different flavours, namely one focusing on iron defficiency so called ‘iron fertlisation’ and one called ‘artificial upwelling’ that looks to imitate coastal current effects (where deeper ocean water gets pushed up, feeding abundant ecosystems). Iron fertilization has been tried and comes under considerable fire from the anti-geoengineering camp.

The idea of using upwelling has been tested, but these tests have not been completed or thorough enough. Even though it was calculated that artificial upwelling had positive effects on ocean life as well as on land (when done at a large scale it would cool the air also above land, increasing plant species survival) the approach has been dismissed on strange grounds. The argument being that once you start to revive the oceans you would have to keep doing it or global warming would be worse, because you warmed the oceans by circulating deep water. Also the difficulty in monitoring the widespread positive effects would be a problem.

“The [upwelling] model predicts that about 80% of the carbon sequestered is stored on land, as a result of reduced respiration at lower air temperatures brought about by upwelling of cold waters. ” (source)

Saying as in this press release that the method of artificial upwelling ‘is not feasible’ is wrong, it is perfectly feasible. Only to have a positive effect one needs to keep doing it for as long as it takes. It seems the time has come to try this and start doing it on a large scale, making succes in terms of local plankton growth the biggest determinant of succes. Maybe similar arguments apply to iron fertilization but that is much more difficult to determine for a non-marine expert. Bringing life back to the oceans, preventing the stratification and death of them seems an obvious win, and we might be able to do it while also increasing resources for human consumption like in fish farms. Those that dismiss it as dangerous geoengineering underestimate the speed with which the approach would grow, wich leaves plenty of time to spot and prevent negative effects. On the other hand, it might be our only shot at securing oxygen for future generations.

Artificial Upwelling of Deep Seawater Using the Perpetual Salt Fountain for Cultivation of Ocean Desert

Enhancing fish stocks with wave-powered artificial upwelling

Upwelling calculations and results at greenseaupwelling

Click here to listen to a presentation on ocean upwellings

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Wind Driven Desalination, winds hydraulic potential, a visit to Solteq


Mogelijk hydraulisch windpark op zee

SolteQ is a company run from the watercampus in Leeuwarden, by Herre Rost van Tonningen. He is an innovative thinker and entrepeneur (you can find his Ning page here) when it comes to opening up the huge potential of renewables, especially for the carribean, where he spend a large part of his professional life. Recently he finished a solar car park, which not only solves the problem of hot carparks, but also optimizes land use and prepares for solar-electrical transportation.

Move the heavy stuff to the bottom, and save a lot of money on materials, maintenance, risk and complexity

Looking at local solutions to generating sweet water he found people where using windmills with simple mechnical pumps to use RO desalination. This had two interesting aspects, first the windmill where simpeler than when one uses an electrical generator, because of the reduced weight in the nacelle (gondola) also reducing cost of the tower and base, second the mechanical form of energy allowed many applications at lower cost because of reduced conversion losses and less parts in the system. Herre inproved this idea to use a hydraulic pump in the nacelle, transporting hydraulic pressure to the base of the wind turbine tower/pylon, and patented this idea as shown above.

The Solteq testing turbine, to be moved to Columbia. It uses a refurbished Lagerwey turbine tower and nacelle

Using mechanical energy instead of electricity also inspired the chinese to patent the use of a long axle to transmit power from the top of the tower to the bottom. This chinese patent can not be enforced except maybe for the very specific applications mentioned simply because its principle design is what has been in use in dutch windmills since the 1400s.

Another example of an hydraulic pump based wind turbine.

The above image follows the Solteq design with the exception that the pump is integrated in the turbine axle. This design may suffer from disadvantageous weight distribution. Companies like Artemis design ydraulic transmission systems, which actually are hydraulic pumps (called hydraulic drives), driving generators still located in the nacelle. As is said in the video, this changes the game for use of wind in many other fields of industry. An important innovation of Atermis is to have cilinders in the hydraulic pump switched on and of depending on the power available, so that the rotational speed can remain constant (ok, that’s what a gear box does).

Rotary hydraulic pump reminiscent of rotary engines for planes

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the world desperatly needs good ideas to be actually build because most people only respond to the reality they personally experience (which doesn’t work for dealing with the dangers of climate change). Below we see the inside of the base cabin, which can be a shipping container. Inside it are two systems, one RO system for making fresh water, the other is a hydroelectric generator that can use the excess pressure from the turbine. With this device one will have sweet water and electricity in any place with wind and salt water.


The cost of the hydraulic and RO part is about 50/50, and not particularly cheap. Water can be very expensive in some regions, especially islands. The use of fuels to power RO water desalination creates high and sometimes prohibitive running costs. Using wind to at least eliminate those cost is an obvious step.


Solteq has sold its first turbine to Columbia, where it will be erected on a nature reserve island (see picture below). The island draws tourists but there is no infrastructure to provide them with fresh water or other services. The turbine will do just that. Because of the rules for building in a nature protected area the turbine will be lower than its current 30 meter, and the mast will be hydraulically pumped up, instead of consist of stacked tubes (there will be no crane at the location)

Islands are the ideal locations to go full renewables, because they usually undergo less economic pressure, making it easier to escape the domination of the fossil/banking system that tries to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels as not to lose fossil fuel cash flows and credit dependency. This is easier to achieve this in densly populated land regions than on remote islands. We may see tropical islands go 100% (and subsequently 200% etc.) sustainable sooner than other parts of our world.

Dutch Rainmaker

Another interesting wind turbine we say on our trip to visit Solteq is the Dutch Rainmaker. It also has a pump system in its nacelle, but it does something different from the solteq turbine, because instead of desalinating it condenses water out of the air. So even though the Solteq turbine has a higher capacity and simpler design, it can not make water in the desert where the Dutch Rainmaker can. Still it is a question if water logistics combined with desalination does not reduce the need for direct extraction of water from the air.

It seems wind is slowly escaping the clutches of (fossil fuel dependent) bank sector supression of renewable energy, which started with denying credit to many wind projects, driving up cost by demanding super safety and clumsy heavy designs. One has to compare this to financing of new oil or nuclear energy technology for which many security, safety issues are being skirted on a regular basis. Not we see designs that are simply to easy to build, for which there are to many ‘free’ parts manufacturers and that break conventions held sacred (like the idea that going primary wind/electric is always the cheapest option) become reality. Wind is going to be even more competitive as the cheapest form of renewable energy than it already was.

SolteQ Energy B.V.
Water Campus
Agora 4,
8934CJ, Leeuwarden ,
The Netherlands

phone: +31 653234443

A smaller version of the Solteq design is produced by the ‘Drinking with the wind’. More info here.

Hydrostatic transmission

What hydraulics can do for wind

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Closer to AI, or Hewlett Packards Memristor Machine

Artificial intelligence is a topic of interest for many people. It is a potential threat, because it may be able to shape our world into one we can no longer control, one in which humanity may perish. Nick Bostrom is one of the vocal speakers on so called ‘Super Intelligence’ even though his analysis does not surpas that of many cheap sci-fi thrillers.

Humans are pretty stupid. Need proof? Look at our lack of control over fossil fuel use.

Humans are, in spite of their complex makeup, not very complex in their behaviour. We eat, drink, sleep, we may fabricate stuff we enjoy. Our ability to learn and change our behavior is very slow and limited, the older we grow the less flexible we are (this doesn’t mean we can demonstrate infinite variety). Our means of communication is laughably inefficient. We already had to design a set of rules we want each of us to obey, the rules of law and economics, because waiting until people figure it out for themselves is just a waste of time (according to the ‘bosses’ of this system). We have to be ware that although our intelligence is complex and intricate, it does not require the same amount of complexity to outsmart us. Take for instance a system that recoginzes patterns of fraud in financial transactions.

The economic system is an AI in the sense that we can’t control it, and it learns to ward off any attack on its reign using us humans

We are at the cusp of major changes in what digital systems can do. Not only in the field of sensual perception, but also in the field of processing. So where detecting a fraudulent transaction can be achieved by highly embedded logical code in a super organized information system, we now face systems that can make hay of arbitrary video and audio feeds, find individual, find every piece of info on them and predict their behavour and skills from years of observations. The NSA can tell you all about how they developed these kind of systems, which they analyse automatically and with human help. Why? Two reasons : 1. we tend to project the worst intentions on others, just because that is the safest strategy 2. It makes sense to the ‘Economic software’ of our society, both in terms of useless spending and securing the system against alternatives.

Our defensive instinct causes us to make others known and vulnerable, to ourselves and to whoever can access the information we gather about them (see big data, privacy and eugenics)

The major change to our automated, economically directed environment is the introduction of very powerfull low energy processor chips using a new electronic component the memristor. A memristor is a programmable resistor, a component that can have an analog varying resistance. Compare it to a bit in our DRAM, such a bit is a 0 or 1 state (implemented by capacitance or voltage), a memristor does two things differently, 1. : It can hold an arbitrary state between the common extreems of 0 and 1, and 2. : It doesn’t need power to maintain that state. A third thing can be added : A chip based on memristor technology can contain an entire computer architecture and does not need to be silicon based, can even be 3 dimensional.

A memristor is a device that adds persisitence of state to common electronic systems so that they can model aspects of reality without cost

What we got here is a new device category, using low/no power, with high processing capacity and way faster than what we know today (mainly because the memory can be where the processing occurs, not in a separate chip). Also we are dealing with a much less transparent type of design, one in which we can not easily see what is going on because it is going on inside a 3d layered chip. The state of a memristor can symbolize anything, just like a bit, but it is analog, so multi bit if we want, and the memristor state does not disappear, it is independently persistent until it is changed or erased. This means that if you have a memristor based drone that seeks a target, it can be powered down, and when it is powered up again it will be able to continue exactly where it left off. It may need so little power it can run on stray radio wave energy, solar or a nuclear battery, in which case it could never stop.

Hewlett Packhard thought memristors where a great idea and came up with a cloud based machine concept with all the advances mentioned above. But the backtracked on this idea. They will not use memristors as soon as they announced. One reason can be that they decided it would cut into their business of selling independent chips of all kinds to hard, or they found they could not convince their creditors to allow them to make devices that killed companies like Intell and AMD etc. overnight. This is the economic argument. The other could be that the memristor will make computers to powerfull, to autonomous, give them to much power in to little space. In the hands of a hacking public the potential for crime and mayham (which we already see in the malwar, online hacking sphere), would become uncontrollable. We don’t want electronics that can run complex simulations of reality like we can, out there, to be used as tools of power or as Bostrom would expect, protecting their own existence even if someone defined that to be as stupid as “make paperclips out of all available iron” resulting in a mountain of paperclips on a stone age planet.

We can make the mistake of creating autonomous systems that can persist against our will

Maybe the time has come for science to not share all knowledge equally, simply because knowledge is power and power needs to be controlled or it will become destructive. We can really use autonomous systems with low maintenance and power requirements as we are restoring life to our planet, but we don’t want them to become a weapon in the hands of some megalomaniac or overly self protecting group (like f.i. bankers) thereby creating a polar world paralized by a perpetual conflict (like Israel/Palestines).

Overly self protecting groups of people will use any means they can get their hands on

The problem with AI is that it does not have to be something we can talk to or see. We can’t talk to snakes and bears, but they can make good use of our protein. Comparing an AI to an animal also makes it easier to understand it may not have any interest in our existence. We think we need to live, but a wolf or shark doesn’t see it that way. This means simple autonomous systems can become a risk if we can’t figure out where and how they are implemented. As I wrote before, ARGO is intelligence, standing for Aware Robust Goal Orienting systems. Even without the Aware or Autonomous a robust system that strives to a goal may cause problems we can’t control it or don’t know where it exists. For this reason we should ban encryption, while the defensive instincts are pushing to make all communication, even within computers encrypted. 

A sci fi future that can happen, will happen. Sci fi futures should be security risk profiles to be avoided

Our basic drive to avoid decomposition and rising entropy may result in the creation of ordered systems that are so much better at it that we won’t matter and won’t be able to control them. Then the irony is that an immortal AI has nothing much to do, so the planet could become a quiet place until some unanticipated event destroys the AI. It is only the principle of survival that made us the apex predator, and we may loose that position.

The best strategy forward is to cut of paths to futures we should fear. This may mean forced scientific regression.

Many, including Elon Musk and Bostrom, warn us of the risks of AI, and although I feel their imagination is running low on insight, they have a major point in worrying we may construct an enemy. We are good at that, because after all we have a century of happy destructive fossil fuel use that is about to tie a noose around our neck. We won’t  know, we are generally to stupid to understand the implication sof large systems we create. Better focus on what a simple human being needs, occupy his/her time with challenges within it’s abilities (just like our consumer economy challenges us to all kinds of harmless stuff that has to meet on imporant criterium : It can’t make you economically independent!), but make it so that the least amount of technology or technological understanding is needed to perpetuate the lifestyle and culture. Let’s only use technology to get us to that reality.