Monthly Archives: June 2016

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Reality or Simulation

A short comment on the discussion if we are living in base reality or not. The discussion is an old one, because all through our history humans have augmented their reality with mystical entities who’s existence could not be proven, only derived from hard to understand phenomona. The gods of the Greeks, the animistic spirits trees and objects. The question “What is real” has always been hard to answer.

The quandry

Elon Musks argument for the idea we are existing in an artificial simulated environment goes like this : Considering that simulations, so tools that give us an impression of reality without being real (video games) are becoming more convincing all the time, at some point in the future it seems we won’t be able to decide whether what we experience is real or a ‘video game’ simulation. We can not know if this process of ‘video game’ optimization has already happened and we are in a video game already. The bottom line is we can’t tell whether our reality is real or not because it might be it is the result of a long process of making it appear as real as possible, so that it actually does appear real.

Reality is energy moving between dimensions..

From science

There are several angles you can still tackle this quandry. One is quantum physics. The deeper more fundamental research focusses on the pattern of rules dictating the existence of fundamental particles. They show surprising symmetry. It appears there is a super stiff lattice that contains all the dimensions energy can occupy, in a quantized space sense. and the rules of nature follow from energy moving in and our of these dimensions, defining the nature of the particles. Those that do not occupy dimensions can travel at the speed of light, those that do can’t. We find that only the most violent and energetic explosions found in the universe (where we need to be lightyears away to even survive them) are able to send a ripple to the stiff lattice. Some energy ends up in the lattice, but it doesn’t break. What is its nature? Is it like a giant computer memory manipulated by some giant processor?


Gravity waves propagate along the fundamental stiff latice in which all energy exists

No reason to expect us to ever escape this ‘simulation’ if it is one, and still no explanation why it is structured the way it is, other than to be discrete (which means that we can only see energy that takes some discrete transferrable form, like we can only read letters when a contrasting color concentrates in a certan spatial pattern). Part of our understanding of the universe includes that there’s an ocean of particles and energy we will never see because they only exist for a tiny amount of time, seemingly entering from elsewhere into our reality, but to short to be detected. The Kasimir effect proves their presence. So our understanding of reality is limited by what it allows to be known, tested and measured.

What is weird about reality is that it constantly comes into being in a way that preserves energy, the first law of thermodynamics is never broken. When we detect interactions between particles it always follows the rule of conservation of energy, even though quantum physics tells us there need not be particles, they could be in many places, until (it seems) some energy is transferred between dimensions, and that is what our reality exist out of. It’s like we’re in a big possiblility soup but once some part of this soup (us) starts to move the rest of the soup takes shape and becomes our reality. The constitution of reality is like a puzzle that is thrown in the air and falls perfectly into place every time we force it to. This does hint at some external process, but also tells us it can never be observed.

From the conservation of meaning

To answer the quandry of Elon Musk, or speak to his doubts about the reality of reality, we can also approach it in a different way : If reality is a simulation, but we can never find out, it is reality. This has to be the case or the word reality would lose its meaning. The mind that thinks “This might not be real” has no reason to think that other than knowing it can’t know. This is similar to thinking “There may be a God”. To be very dry about it : It’s not consistent with an empirical mind to assume things that can not be proven empirically. It is not consistent with the same mind to assume something that can not be tested, something that does not really play a causal role in reality. It follows that a mind that doubts reality without there being any causal effect of the outcome of such wonderings is either idle, deranged or has meta motivations (motivations that go beyond that of the individual mind). Religions usually combine all three aspects.

From purpose

A third way to anser Elons conjecture is to ask “What is reality to us”. Obviously there is no objective reality, as there is no objective observer. Reality for us has been, since we where worms on the precambrian ocean bed, what we deal with to keep ourselves alive. Reality was what we could sense, from the time we could only sense light to the moment we could actually read text, the reality for us as organisms was what we could tune our behaviour to so that we survived. Our imagination has been necessary to sensitize us to threats to our existence. They may not have been real, but they made us behave as if we lived in an augmented reality. Our minds don’t work like a typewriter, where reality has to impress itself to get in, they work more like a guy with a checklist seeking confirmation of what is expected. That expectation is a regenerated experience we call memories.

To boil the above angle down to the essence : What we experience to be reality can only be reality because otherwise the word reality would lose its meaning. To go beyond the boundaries of our human existence invalidates the use of reality as whatever we conclude the nature of things to be will never be real to us, never decide our fate. It makes no sense to wonder about things that we can’t see, feel, hear, taste or smell..

Conclusion

Even though the nature of reality can not be decided from our point of view, and is unlikely to change due to the immens energy required to gain knowledge at its fringes, we can wonder whether we live in a simulation. If we do it matters very little to our struggle to survive, and may even jeopardize it if we think of some intiricate but deadly way to prove we  are right (like all the ISIS suicide bombers can’t attest to becasuse they are dead and not in heaven). There is no limit to the conjectures that can be made when one assumes our lives exist in a simulation, like there is none if we assume angels exist, gods, etc.. It seems the chance we live in one is both large and small, large because we can’t know and don’t understand how we could exist at all (yet), small because reality is what we are born to deal with, it is what we are born to know to the best of our senses, and that means by definition it is real, not a simulation.

P.S. The Mathematical fallacy

Some people will say that it’s odd that all the laws of nature can be captured in mathematics. They will say that if our existence was a running computer program the rules would also be mathematical, and this somehow proves that nature has a mathematical basis, and thus may be a simulation. This is an extremely circular argument. Our brain is mostly concerned with ‘what happens next’ in order to protect us or point us to opportunities. As a result evolution resulted in a brain that can follow causal relationships in our surroundings. Mathematical formulas are just one way to represent them (1 + 1 = 2 means if you put two single things together at t=0, then at t=1 you count 2 things). So our mathematical language has two basic elements : things we can discern and how they develop over time. The way our brain works is that we can imagine based on a small clue, and a symbol number is a small clue it can work with. Mathematics thus makes a lot of use of our imagination, either prior, during or after it has reach results.

Reality in fact does not follow basic mathematical rules, and the temporal relationship that is implicit in formulas breaks down below the quantum level. Time turns out to communicate with space such that less time can happen if you wish to cross more space. We argue that this is because if you travel you extricate yourself from space (any dimension), but that is another topic. For some reason the new state of the universe every time we look at it is a result of a carefull summation of probabilities, a summation that took place in zero time. The result is unpredictable, because it is a probability field so that for instance an electron can show up in a number of places at any time. So (x,y,z) = ??? we don’t know.

So the fallacy of mathematics is that it views it’s ability to capture a lot of what we know in causal relationships as proof there is a fundamental mathematical nature in reality. But if the transformations allowed are any and all we might encounter, like the position of a particle is a result of summation of probabilities, then the ability of mathematics to capture it is trivial. Is the ability of an apple to be picked up by a hand proof there is handyness in the apple? And if the hand picks up a basket and carries 10 apples, is that still proof of a handy essence in the apples? Clearly the part of reality that eludes us is where there are no causal effects, so where particles exist and dissapear without interacting. The only thing that is wondrous about reality is that it is consistent with itself. Mathematics can not be consistent with itself, even though it’s rules are always trying to force consistency (so this similarity is also trivial). Why reality is consistent, energy is conserved, nobody knows, only that there would be nobody to wonder if it wasn’t the case..

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Smart Populism or the EasierLife movement

Europe is in the grips of a rising tide of populism. We can easily see why that is the case : There is to much central authority, which freezes up the market structure, and this is against the wishes of the banks, and industry, who both have an interest in chaos and dependent people. The more chaos the more opportunities for loan and credit and control by banks, and the more  chaos the easier it is to hire and fire people from companies who are in the hard regiment of bank required profit.

The two ends of the political spectrum are either to be intelligent and have a vision for a better more equal and fair future, or to be unintelligent and be angry about things. The intelligent part is lied to and catered to by conservatives and labour both in the sense that both present a vision. Conservatives sell freedom, labour sell the fair share and government care. Both are driven by positive desires because although conservative freedom seeking is profit motivated, and the profit motivation is to serve the banks, the base of that desire lies in that for stability and a good life.

On the unintelligent side though the motive is fear and anger. These people do not have control over their lives, they are in debt, they get lousy jobs, they create a negative environment for each other, they are unrepresented because they don’t trust easily. The conservative and even labour mentality is to ambitious for them. They are used by conservative led companies, and they need labour to protect them, but labour doesn’t do that, it is driven by economic principles which never protect the individual (that is what a competitive job market means). What these people can do is vote. They can be motivated to do things, not by a vision of improvement but by anger and fear. And populist know that and speak to that anger and fear.

It is necessary to have populist at the moment, and it is very noticable where their funds come from : It is the fossil fuel industry. Why is that noticable or necessary? Because first of all these people all serve the economy, the PVV, Farrage, all care nothing about the individual, only about money. Money is fossil fuel credit. Having our lives dominated by cost of everything is what keeps us in the fossil fuel regime. All conflict, strive, aggrevation, anger, frustration is evoked to disable the large group of people who will suffer as money (thus energy) is shifted from them to industry. They NEED to be angry and frustrated at all these things to NOT unite them against the reason for their suffering : The fossil fuel and banking sector.

Industry will happily go green, renewables. That would create millions of jobs and make life cheaper. But the fossil fuel lobby and banks can not allow that to happen. Not as long as there is still oil and gas to sell. And to make sure that people do not turn around to attack the parasite on their backs there need to be politicians that keep the poor and uncapable focussed on other causes of misery, right or wrong. To keep them from cooperating constructively to alleviate their lack of ownership. To avoid not a Brexit but a recapture of land and real estate and industry to local citizens. Focus on the EU, not on your own street, because you have no means (money) or ownership in your own street. 

If people decide to calm down for a second and follow a different path, one in which the anger and frustration and fear is targeted towards banks, real estate and peak oil, a path that recognizes the increased scarcity of all resources (including f.i. sand, water, oil, gas, wine, chocolate, medicine) , then this would not be good news for banks and fossil fuels. Renewables, generated locally can help local manufacturing of all the things people need, and once such energy sources are in place the need for credit will drop. The power of the banks will disappear. People will be able to live their lifes comfortably in their homes they have payed off. Water will be clean, air will be clean, all things will improve. If they direct their anger at their captured state. If they direct their fear towards their uncertain fossil energy future.

Anyone who stands up and points this out will be branded a communist. Most people are well conditioned to respond to this epitaph with anger and loathing. This is the curse of those same less intelligent people : They fall victim to conditioning, they fall victim to the effect of repetition, because they do not use language as effectively and consistently as the higher educated. The difference is that to one you explain, to the other you repeat. Underlying this is that the people in the poor neighborhoods are demoralized. Because of their lack of control they do not want control. They are negatively motivated, which makes them such easy targets for populism.

For ten years we followed the rethoric about banks, and as usual this rethoric is owned by the banks. Because people are forced to fight for every Pound or Euro or Dollar they always anger when they see people who seem not to deserve the money. Money is so important to them and this is the trap, because those that have less complicated lives (using the term low education already casts them in a role of inferiority) do not create money. They are struggling at the trough of the banks and companies that distribute their means of existence. This is what they allow to happen because the need they are kept in is high.

If these people cooperate then two things happen : 1. it is branded communism, even though you’d be talking about a few people cooperating, not gulags and not a 5 year planned agro economy (at all!!). 2. Some well spoken neat person will take over at some point, some well meaning individual with better social skills and better manners, that impresses all those cooperating. He/she will shut them up. He/she will tell them about the economic aspects of their ambtions and guide them back to serfdom. 3. If such a person is not accepted then the group or organization will be smeared as anarchistic, Violent elements will be send to create an image of anti social behaviour. This will poison the initiative. These things will happen sooner or later. There’s always time to increase the downward pressure of debts and low income.

The way to change this dynamic is to adopt a standard approach that keeps cooperation local, but also creates a recognizable movement so people elsewhere can be inspired and feel solidarity. The aim should be to own. Owning real estate is just a way to reduce debt pressure, not a method to create wealth. Wealth comes from energy sources, agriculture and local industry. Those need to be owned by local owners too. The way to achieve ownership can be any that doesn’t put people in jail. The priority should be towards reducing the cost of living, not attaining some ‘high value’ asset or beautifull landmark. Going bankrupt is a fair way to achieve this.

Locally the communities that want to escape the money carving cycle can do what they can to reown their environment. On a higher level they can cooperate and vote against any rule that criminalizes debt, that helps banks, that creates monopolies that drive cost up for those of little means. Driving renewables is a core aspect to make this movement work, because renewables put power in local hands.

Call it the EasierLife movement..

  • Reduction of role of money in daily lives
  • Local trust systems, local cooperation based on clear living standard outcomes
  • Regional cooperation on law creation, to protect against bank, fossil, industrial lobby
  • Local ownership of cost of living reducing assets
  • Local ownership of agricultural land
  • Creation of living earning roles in local economy
  • Debt burden reduction by assisted bankruptcy
  • Reduce fuel cost by eiminating fuel requiring technology, introducing renewables

Populist motivation

This movement has to be motivated by populist arguments, driving anger and fear, but unlike the common ones used by extreme right wing and xenophobic movements, the enemy is the real one, the fear is the appropriate one. Not forreign immigrants with no power are the enemy, but foreign companies with enormous, illogical financial support.

  1. Banks should not own everything, they should not force us to earn money because debt is not a real need that needs to met
  2. How with peak oil, scarcer resources are we going to make a living, or even run companies we work in?
  3. Why is there constand crisis, how can we become locally resilient against them
  4. Foreign companies that sell us products, why do they need to be foreign.
  5. Who pays for lobbyists? Who pays for right wingers? Who pays for wars? Why do we accept that?
  6. How can we use renewable investment to reduce cost of living.

 

 

 

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Zero Emission Freight Trucks, EVs

Update: Mercedes Benz city distribution truck.

Trucking around the world is a major pollutor. In the developed countries the engines and fuels may be optimized, but in the rest of the world they are not, and soot and NOx and fine dust is spread into our streets and fields. It is a part of our real economic system that would be easy to neutralize in terms of climate impact : Just use Ammonia, NH3 instead of diesel, and the CO2 and VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) and of course the pollution of the supplying fossil industry would be eradicated. NH3 however seems to be one of the fuels that will never happen.

The first thing we should ask, before we rejoice in innovation is why we are shipping goods over such incredible distances. Is it because of economic divide and conquer? Because this gives banks control over our lives? Maybe first start to do locally what we can..

Electric trucks are another solution. Trucks don’t have restrictions on form factor, really, they do want to carry a certain weight, but they are not in a hurry. So they can carry bigger batteries and recharge more often than consumer cars. Hydrogen/electric is also an option, but hydrogen is understood to be too  gas intensive and NH3 would be a cheaper and safer way to get hydrogen into trucks (or rail locomotives, we have writen about it here). Another option is to have trolly like power lines to power the engines of electric trucks, this approach would be very efficient, as the truck would not have to carry much batteries. It was found that aerodynamics can improve fuel efficiency by up to 30%!! Walmart found this too (20% in their case)


Wallmart hybrid electric truck

Walmart optimizes its fuel use and now experiments with a hybrid truck, a gas turbine/electric system. Soon it will find it can eliminate the driver and create drone trucks. The hybrid systems seem efficient but can not match electric.

Electric trucks have been driving around ports for ages, but over short distances and at slow speeds. Still some lessons may be learned from their use.

BMW took a page from the port truck it seems and made a road legal version

BMW and Scherm launched the above electric truck in 2015

 Truck building companies however have to jump into the opportunity to build electric trucks or be left behind, so big is the efficiency advantage. Its not impossible as can be seen in the image below..

Transpower heavy duty electric truck

“Pure battery-electric trucks can operate for up to about 100 miles on a single battery charge, while trucks with range extenders are expected to operate for 200 miles or more before needing recharging or refueling.”

Swiss based E-force AG also has an electric truck. The conversion of a normal to electric truck is not that complicated so it is likely that a lot of other manufacturers will pop up. It seems this company has been create soley for producing electric trucks.

The eforce Electric freight truck

Rail transport has been more efficient than road transport, simply because the rail system creates less friction and losses. It does require transfer of f.i. containers from the truck bed to the rail carriage, and this is an energy and time consuming process. The trolley system is like electric road rail, and is more than 100 years old. Maybe if it is adopted more widely some will suggest to adopt the rail bed for truck wheels, or give trucks rail wheels to hop on rails when they can. This would be even easier if the logistics along rail tracks is fully automated, so no drivers in the trucks.


Test in Sweden


Siemens is ready

This is a railroad diesel truck towing wagons..Why not electric?

Ammonia was considered for hydrogen distribution. It was tested (as we reported) against other fuels and find to be safer due to it’s higher combustion temperature and lower toxicity. It has a distribution system in place (for agriculture) and can be made using renewable energy. Either burned directly or first split into N2 and H2 and used in a PEM cell to generate electricity.

Ammonia production from electricity, air and water..

Ammonia used in a pick up truck. It is really the fastest way to transition to CO2 free trucking. The man in the video explains how he created his CO2 free truck 20 years ago, but was stopped by the oil lobby. The oil industry has been fighting for it’s position with extreme force (as the dominant player) for decades, and the damage to our future is dramatic. Time to give it a shot, go for fast track inprovements in emissions, at least in the short term. Once CO2 is in our atmosphere it is like ink in a swimming pool, very hard to wash out again..


And of course new trucks can be self driving..

Self driving trucks for freight are a logical extension of the already partially unmanned logistics systems in ports and distribution centers. Several companies are working on them. Unlike with cars though trucks will have to be fully automomous, or remote controlled. Drone trucks so to say..

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The Day Tesla Will give Solar for Free to All

Solar today is free for all, but we are caught by a group of fossil fuel salesmen, aided by banks that clearly have an interest to channel the resource to their own best advantage. We moved beyond solar to fossil and we are now moving back at an accelerating pace.


The first Tesla car was a roadster, a high end car that cost a lot to create

Solar electric panels entered the scene in the 70s and where held back by Shell for a considerable time. Prices would have dropped and investment would have flooded in much earlier if fossil interest had not worked hard to slow it down. Today PV (photovoltaics) projects go by the Megawatt, installations on roofs and on land and water are enormous.


The second Tesla car was the Model S, still at the price level of the Lexus

Today Tesla, the electric car company, announced it wants to fuse with Solar City, a solar installation company. Solar City is planning to use more panels of the company Silevo who are producing a different type of cell than is common from Chinese manufacturers. There’s innovation everywhere, and especially in Tesla and Solar city the drive to optimize is strong.


The Model X was made to service the demand for SUVs. It was a lesson in manufacturing.

Elon Musk uses the ‘reason from physics’ approach to problem solving. This means that not the actuall present situation or method is taken as a starting point, but what is physically possible. The creation of a car is the question “How do I arrange the metal, plastic, etc in such a way that I have a car”.  The cost of the metal, raw materials are the base cost of the car. Optimally there is a minimal difference between those cost and that of the car. Of course when you look at the cost of the aluminum of the Tesla you can wonder “How do I get the aluminum at the start of the production process from any possible source”. This may lead it to talk to the mines, logistics companies, aluminum smelters so that the cost of the aluminum drops and so the cost of the car can drop also. There are physical limits to optimal mining and smelting would create a clear goal to strive for.


The Tesla Model 3 will be the opposite of the X, a study of optimizing production. More than 300.000 have been ordered.

The goal for optimization is to require less resources and create a product in less time so that demand can be met, but also so that the effect of the products can be realized. The sooner more electric cars are on the road, the sooner our air will become cleaner, and the sooner people will expect more of them, learn they are enjoyable etc. As part of that process Tesla is building the mega battery factory in Nevada that will double the worlds capacity to make batteries when it goes live (although the worlds capacity to build batteries elswhere will have increased). Part of that factory is a huge solar power plant on its roof. The energy it produces will power the plant and perhaps charge the electric cars of the employees. Perhaps it will power the trucks bringing in the raw materials.


The Tesla Giga factory will produce as much batteries as the worlds competitors combined..They are needed

Those Giga factory solar panels however do something else : They lower the cost of production of batteries. The question can be : where does that need to stop? The answer is : It doesn’t. Renewables in the production chain can lower the cost of running it to zero. You can compare it to the solar powerplants in the leaves of trees. They power the process of building the trees, growing the flowers and fruit (if it is fruit bearing), and the whole organism extracts resources and gets help from nothing outside itself but the sun and environment.


The Powerwal is a way to have a power backup in house, store solar energy. It can cycle 10.000 times.

Like the tree a company can become a mechanism that operates without need for anything else but the raw materials, and if the mechanism extends to the mines it can operate without need for anything else but access to those mines. As long as it produces enough energy it can trade that away for anything else it may need, but it will not be needing money to buy anything. The oil industry has operated like that for a century. You may think they need money, but they dont, they only need their product oil (or gas or coal) and they can sell it for anything they may need. That has been the reason fossil companies are so hard to stop, they don’t depend on cooperation from outside.


Solar City, partly owned by Elon Musk, has it’s own Gigafactory

If Tesla/SolarCity decide to convert their entire production chain in one that they can power themselves, with raw materials they can either get themselves (from owned ground or from a modest consession) and they produce energy in surplus which they can use to aquire whatever they may need to keep going, the cost of their products can go to zero. This is true for any operation, but Tesla is a nice example of how optimization is applied to its maximum effect.

Cost free production? It is possible with renewables as part of the production system

That day will come, because Tesla is a tree that bears fruit people want. They will pluck the model 3 and the model 4 as they do the Roadster, S and the X. If Tesla optimizes its production process increasingly the cost reduction is caused by a lack of necessity for money. This is a logical evolution, because it makes sense that any automated process will become like organic processes. The integration of solar into the DNA of production chains will blend automated, robotic, productive environment into the background of life as we know it.

Renewable energy will make mechanized systems equal to organic ones..

After a century of fossil fuel slavery, of suboptimal solutions to real problems, of economic expansion and useless waste of energy to provide business to banks and energy companies, we will find that solar (and other renewable energy sources) provide a permanent path of ascension to a nature compatible mode of existence for humanity. In order to accelerate that we can expect zero cost solar from Tesla. It will happen.

 

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The Banks Global Coup, TTIP and TiSA, TPP

We have written here about the banks running the so called carbon credit system in tandem with the fossil fuel industry. This system that allows creation of fossil fuel credit is the major obstacle to climate action, which involves moving to renewables, making fossil fuel credit obsolete. Banks are not taking this lying down.

The rules in the new secret agreements create a one way street to privatization. This means the market will take over from the government, giving banks ultimate control through their ability to extend or withold credit for certain activies. Also the power of corporations is extended so that it can introduce laws, meaning these players can totally rig the game.

Banks want cashflow. Privatization guarantees that, use of fossil fuels does

We need to take action against the initiators of these rules, because they will try again if they fail now. Why would we live in a world where profit is the only motive, and human happyness or natural resources are never part of the equation? Why would we create a centrally run planet consuming centrally created content through centrally run media channels etc. if we are so far apart, in our separate resilient nations? The only authority that is driving all these large agreements is the pervasive corruption achieved by corporations and banks that have escaped control of any countries law. All this to make the banks and their obsolete model survive.

When wages can differ from $15 per hour to $0,65 between US and Asia. The cost of logistics can be ignored..

Baks need the economy in which everything costs money, so that every transaction involves them, and they will use their power to make it so. Banks like big companies better, because they require less work, allow more kickbacks with deals, are more predictable. So bank is boss, big is better. Voting citizens don’t matter.

There is no political freedom in Vietnam

According to Bernie Sanders many workers in Malasia are actually slaves, 94% who’s passports have been taken away. This means they have no rights at all. Working conditions where subhuman. No privacy and no property. This is what trade agreemens force us to ‘compete’ with. For what purpose? Because all we need is food and shelter. Why should we have retchet lives because some want profit? Why would we forgo our governments powers in favor of such a situation..

More logistics means more cashflow so the economy, run by the banks, will make logistic chains longer than necessary, and find people working for less to justify it

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Urban Farmers in The Hague

We had the opportunity to visit the Urban Farming project in UF de Schilde in The Hague, to satisfy our curiosity for this type of solution to long supply chains and energy waste in farming. The site is situated on top of an old telecom building, which was selected for the weight the floors could carry.

This Urban Farming project is part of an international rooftop farming enterprise funded from Switzerland. This should ring some “that’s wierd” bells right off the bat. Our question to be answered by our visit was “Is this really a project aimed to utilize unused resources (roofs) to bring cheaper and healthier and less climate impacitng food to local communities?” and also “Does this project teach us what we need to replicate it fast?”

The site cost about 2.6 million to build. It was initiated from Swiss investors, who found local companies (holland has an enormous amount of greenhouse know how) to design and build the system. Paul, below, who made a aquaphonic system (combining fish farming and aquaculture) himself, guided us through the site, which now consists of two floors, one with fish tanks, one with greenhouses.

The site is still starting up. The guided tour costs 19,- Euro. As we would learn the site is there to make money, the produce is targeted at restaurants and priced above regular organic food.

A lot of plastic being used. No holds barred on doing it the ‘best practice’ industrial way. Below we check out the fish tanks, holding Tilapia. the fish is bought from outside and grown in the tanks. The green food distributers (automated) contain fish food combining meat, fish and vegetables. The idea is to cycle the water from fish to plants and back, although we don’t know if there is any benfit from the plant root water getting to the fish.

The plant water also sees a lot of evaporation, so loss, and becomes more saline.

Above you see a tank with black plastic pellets, that function as a home to two types of bacteria that turn the Tilapia excrement into something nutritious for the plants (they need phosphates and nitrates).

Looking inside the fish tanks..

Tilapia in two stages.. We assume they don’t get bored. There are plans to grow musquito’s to feed the Tilapia. This is easier in an open pond aquaculture, but as you will see this setup is not designed that way.

The blue box below contains a water cascated that removes excess CO2 from the water, and plans are to use this as fertilizer in the greenhouse.

One floor up is a different world. The heavy construction (because of wind forces no doubt) holds several spaces, one in which tomatos are grown. We where not allowed into any growing space for risk of contamination, as we where asked not to touch the fishtank water. Is that risk real?

Some freely growing pickle plants create a nice backdrop. The intent is to rent out the floor for events. This is a key part of the UF projects, “To tell a story” and to maximize the urban farming gimmick it seems. Of course it is not a gimmick.

Above the tomato’s being grown. Several crops come out of the greenhouse, pickes, bitter cucumber, cherry tomatos. All organic, mostly because the fish won’t tolerate toxins and have to be human edible. They are like tasters in a French court, not a bad system..

The tomatos root in a plastic trough which has three layers through which the water trickles down. This helps airrate it which is good for the plants. Pests are controlled by little cars with insect ‘seeds’ that will eat them. This growing method saves water, insecticides and produces higher priced vegetables.

Other crops are started in a separate greenhouse. Its business as usual, what happens in any agricultural professional setup.

The tour ends with a view into the above greenhouse. We where asked our thoughts about it. We did not feel that the setup or project was what we need because it did not cut any corners and simply threw millions at the challenge of rooftop farming. With thousands of acres of greenhouse just around the corner and the option for electric logistics this project can never compete. Also the so called Westland greenhouses can decide to grow Tilapia under their greenhouses..

Amongst the other visitors was a spanish plastic manufacturer and a South African that knew about this from a friend who build a similar system from trash lying around..

Like we have seen with Uber, there is a new taste of big money to own every activity. We are told it is a bottom up organic thing but it isn’t. It is millions put into the taxi market, data sold off, laws broken. The financial world can always do this with ideas that are to be implented at a small scale and locally, and thus always shape thinking of the wider public about these approaches. Local companies see an opportunity to make money and protect their business.

This is not the way urban farming is done in the wider world (it for one does not seek to supply at lower cost to the local community), so we will look more at those projects. That said this project will have to meet it’s financial constrains so hopefully this will make a living lab for moving to high cost industrial approaches to greenhouse farming to more cost effective methods applicable to all..

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The Transparency Principle or Locality as a Solution

Democratic movements often talk about transparency. They want all the information about who thinks what and does what, and what was written as a result to be open to outside investigation. The simple reason is that those people, what they say, how they motivate their actions (by morality or the prospect of financial gain), and what is written into law control our lives. Of course there’s a big difference between the law and what gets enforced, which is another area in which maximum transparency is desired.

But one immediately sees that full public disclosure and transparency can’t work in all cases, because the public consists of people desiring to play by the rules, and many that don’t. Opening up every piece of information to the pubic means you also inform those that are looking to evade detection or capture or that are looking for opportunities to commit a crime.

These are your website postboxes. Who has access to them?

Internets non-transparency

The digital sphere, being all encompassing in our lives today, is also struggling with a choice between openness and closedness (apart from the efforts to control access to people, direct them to and make them pay as much as possible for content). The bottom line is : The digital sphere is not transparent. The reason why is that it is not a space, it is a giant warehouse of post boxes with letters in them. Worse still, to access any of the post boxes with letters you need to use messages carried by messengers, and those messengers may not be reliable. So for instance this web page sits in a post box at One.com. When you ask for it by entering www.greencheck.nl in your browser or clicking a link, a message is send to one.com via a number of relay stations, it arrives at one.com, the message is read, it says “Send me the homepage”, the homepage is composed (usually on the fly), and send back via relay stations. Then your browser takes that information (usually incomplete, and to be completed over a few seconds after you see the first content), and renders it, which is like performing music from musical score. If you want to see that score you can right click you mouse and select ‘View source’ or ‘Pagina bron weergeven’.

A web browser

We put post box, relay station, the reading of the message and the rendering in bold because those are all elements that influence the message, the content you will see. They are also very abstract processes that you have limited access or influence over. The way you could survey this system digitally is like driving through dark tunnels with a patrol car, coming across little mailtrucks with boxes of letters, opening them, and then driving on. You can’t see what is in front or behind at all. Every now and then you enter a cavern where roads split and a traffic director is sending some mail trucks into one other tunnel and others another way. But you only have a flashlight and can perhaps ask the traffic director something like “Dit truck so and so pass by here”. The answer may not be true. The digital sphere is super non-transparent.

Vatican mail system

This tunnel based nature of the internet makes it impossible to survey or protect. You can try. You put seals and stamps on the messages, protect the relay caverns, put a tutor next to the browser reading the score, but the nature of the digital sphere is that the process can not observe itself reliably enough to prevent tampering, changing or out right destruction of data.

Encryption

Encryption is the new buzz word, we wrote about block chain technology here, which is a system of serially encrypted data that has the property that once you encrypt data and you include a fingerprint of that encrypted data to encrypt more data, any change (and thus tampering) with data encrypted earlier will be noticable. This is like sending data in little capsules through a pressured water pipe. If someone anywhere along the pipe drills a hole you will see the pressure drop instantly and know not to trust the data. The systems in use today are simply not robust enough, meaning they can be made to stop performing as expected really easily. Encryption does not change that.


A usb connector that secretly allows wifi intrusion

Recently it was discovered that a VPN system (Juniper), had a ‘hole’. This system was used for decades to create private tunnels through the network, so like a separate fenced lane in the tunnel, by which people could view their company servers. All big companies use the technology and where thinking they had the highest form of protection, they did not. The ‘hole’ seemed to be created by the NSA, so the US could have spied on companies around the world for decades. The NSA has a catalog of products and devices to spy on or disturb your communications and data.


Illustration of how your home wifi network can be hacked. Do you know you see the internet that is out there?

So while the internet tunnel system is super non-transparent, it is transparent to some people that simply drill holes into it and hijack/replace the mail trucks. Even though you may have encrypted your letters it is highly likely that that encryption will contain a flaw or that your private domain will be hacked into (if it is worth it). This means there is yet another way in which those with means can weaken and exploit those without, for instance if it comes to research, the US, with means to spy and introduce ways to siphen off data, can exploit researcg and innovation efforts in other countries. In extrema the interception of messages can allow internet connected people that cooperate to live in separate worlds. This has happened with documents in the European parlaiment, which would be altered as they where transmitted between parties. Imagine the chaos you can create by doing that! The US congress has similar problems where the content of bills (usually hundreds of pages of mostly unrelated laws) has been found to change between the vote and the filing as new law!


Can the internet carry the burden of attacks and it’s own protection, and
will it ever be succesfull?

Economics of security

Recently the SWIFT system was hacked. This is the digital inter bank money transfer system used by banks to reconcile individual transactions (say if dutch tourists shop in Barcelona, that bank will have to get Euro’s from dutch accounts). First a bank was compromized then the SWIFT system using the account of that bank. Like the internet it is very hard to track money flowing through that system, it is not designed to keep track of money or give an overview (and banks like that a lot). The fact is that the battle between those trying to protect valuable digital systems and those that want to attack and exploit them is assymetric. The protector has to do it right all the time, the attacker only once. The protector is more or less on his/her own. The attacker is not and can access a real market for exploits. And it’s not only the digital sphere in which attacks on digital systems take place. This assymetry plus the economic incentive causes the internet to become overburdened and forces it to change constantly, closing vulnerabilities but in the process opening up new ones. Internet can not monitor or secure itself ever, and the market for hacks will mean there is a constant cost to running it that will never pay for real security.

Privacy and Paranoia 

On the other side of the spectrum is the constant erosion of privacy. Personal data is spread to unknown parties from unknown sources. Your eye care company may sell the picture of your iris to biometric surveillance firms or governments that want that data to identify you if they want to. Companies like Microsoft aquiring Linkedin gaining valuable information about personal networks of you and me, who do not know who uses that knowledge. Financial data shared between banks and governments, and who else. The tunnel system protects those kinds of cooperation and transfer of data with a granite cloak. The paranoia (about you doubting if you even control your life) this could result in is fair, and people that are not paranoid about it aren’t because they either never thought about it or don’t have the energy. You don’t know if there is not a blacklist for employees, you don’t know if your medical treatment is not done based on your financial reserves. You don’t know if insurance is more expensive for you because the insurer knows about medical history in your family. You don’t know who sees the draft investment rapport. You don’t know if you are browsing the real web, your real bank website, and who knows about your searches (Google clearly does and shares this data).

If someone tells you your data is safe you know there is no way to tell if that is true and it probably isn’t

The internet of things, basically connecting all electrical devices and a lot of non electric ones to the internet, wireless or wired, will only increase the chaos. It will allow sensing in places you may not want it, it will control systems (and be hacked while doing that) you may not want to be vulnerable in that way. Domotica, or devices for computerized control of homes, is aligned with this IoT trend and will make it so your oven can be hacked from Ukraine (or anywhere where there’s an economic incentive), maybe it can be made to do things that are unsafe, maybe hacking can provide entrance to your house or office in ways you had not thought about. Add to that the econmic and energetic and environmental burden of all that silicon and processing. Sure it’s neat to have a tub that knows when you want to take a bath, but there are downsides.

Conclusion

If we assume the internet is not safe and never will be then we have to start thinking where we want it. The economic system does not think about that, it sees an opportunity for change, involving introduction of IoT, internetization of everything. This change will create jobs and keep people bussy, spending fossil fuels, the way the economic rules like it. But reality is that we may be smarter to not go the route the economic opportunities hint at. Criminals show there are many ways to make money, achieve financial gain, but you know you don’t want to engage in those activities. So perhaps some systems are best kept offline, perhaps IoT should be taxed so it only invades parts of our lives where we understand it and can manage it safely.

The transparency principle : The fundamental non-transparent nature of the internet causes it to be fully transparent to unkown parties.

A bigger conclusion following from the above is the need to question large systems. So why do we need data in the EU from the US, why do we need to be served content from Hollywood while we are in the Netherlands. Why do we need to have such large companies and systems that we have such vulnerable infrastructures. Maybe we should not want the companies that need the vulnerable systems to even exist. And what does industrial spying ultimately serve, investments of US banks vs European banks. Why do we compete if once the competition is over everyone drinks coffee at Starbucks. Is localizing food, energy and industrial dependendency chains the ultimate answer to internet vulnerabilites? It sure as hell is cheaper and better for our future to not permeate our existence with a digital retina we intrinsically can’t trust.

 

 

 

 

 

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At the Greentech Trade Fair in Amsterdam

Greentech is about to explode. It is already booming around the world and Holland is a major player. Dutch flowers and greenhouse technology are advanced, and there’s plenty of cash and other funds for innovation. Sustainability is not only needed but also more profitable (although it also reduces the need for profit). So we took a look. We found a couple of interesting companies, and have probably missed a few as well.

We believe that renewables will bring a revolution to the restoration of nature. Now we are still in a global fossil credit driven market, where people compete for the same fossil fuel resources they buy with credit from banks. This will change. Because of the use of renewables prices of many products will drop. Also production chains and logistics chains will become cheaper so that product availability will increase. Automation and AI, and new sensing will make it easier to put together a system that can grow crops or other plants in regions now considered uninteresting. Think robots planting forrests where it is cheapest, irrigating and tending it with near zero operational cost.


A tomato greenhouse project that eats CO2 without buring fuel..

The above picture shows a project by van der Hoeven called Sundrop. Build in Port Augusta, South Australia, it combines a solar thermal power plant, ocean water desalination and ustilization of CO2 (from external processes). Except for the CO2, which may come from carbon burning power plants, and probable fertilizer input (made with natural gas) this is a big improvement over gas burning for CO2 and heat, using fresh water by depleting wells.

The other side of this equation, which is being forced to deal with fossil scarcity and pretending there is no solar, wind etc. is also interesting. Hydrophonic systems are evolving, there are even examples of closed systems (except for LED electricity input). Indoor and multistory growing are trends. With LED minimizing light energy to orient and power plants as they grow. Plans will still only convert 5% of the energy available, so growing for energy would make no sense with solar approaching 20% efficiency.

Different light bands have different roles for plants, the light can be pretty intense as shown here in a tiny greenhouse for us on board cruise ships..

As long as the inputs needed are not considered too expensive tiny automatic greenhouses, or larger systems can be operated practically anywhere, on ships, in highrises, on roofs of buildings and in basements. Maybe even in individual homes (as is already the case without LED for herbs). This drive to squeeze the most out of every cubic inch is driven by economics, mainly land prices, which are as high as they can be without hindering use and trade. Of course if the true value of land or real estate was considered (usually as low as undesirable farm land) this effort to put more plants in less space would not be so important. It really isn’t, it’s just convenient in a fossil fuel deprived world that lacks enough renewables. These systems are a bit like off grid power systems. We should not stive for a world where we really need them, just have them when it is the best solution. (nedled)

Many of the parts and systems use plastic, because that’s a very cheap and versatile. There’s a lot of waste biomass (1/3 of European production!)

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Rens van Tilburg and Carboncredit

Artikel

The economist Rens van Tilburg has commented on the liabilities on the financial market of amongst others the so called carbon bubble. We have written here about carbon credit for a while, basically explaining the same phenomenon but from a clearer perspective.

In the video above he compares the current mismatch between natural resources and the predictions in the financial sector to the ‘mispricing’ during the internet and mortgage bubbles. He considers stocks and mortgages part of the real economy, which we don’t. There’s nothing real about financial debt except the CO2 that was burned spending the (carbon) credit. Stocks are also just a type of currency, a means of exchange of right to divident and influence, not something real. We will ignore these typical economic misconceptions here.

The main message is that future profits of oil companies will come under pressure due to their inability to actually ‘harvest’ the fossil fuels. Mean while they are investing heavily in new exploration. That investment will not be financeable as people smell the demise of the sector. Also all manufacturers that either produce heavily fossil fuel dependent products or consume a lot of fossil fuels will see investors prefer companies that do not have such vulnerabilities.


The rise in CO2, plastic in our oceans and displaced/depleted resources are what remains of consumed carboncredit (debt)

His statement is that this change may be foreshadowed more severely and faster than we expect, or in short he suggest that the financial sector makes the choice we have been advocating for a long time, namely direct investments into high EROI (Energy Return on Energy Invested), sustainable or renewable energy enterprises.

What Rens can not do is talk about this situation clearly, because we all know that money is not a real issue in fossil fuel exploration and exploitation. How else can prices be so low while the energy it cost to get a barrel out of the ground has increased steadily? To get fossil fuels you need only fossil fuels. How can oil companies be in jeopardy if they still clearly call the shots. Without gasoline and diesel society grinds to a halt, no matter how much money the financial sector has to spend. Fossil fuels are the primary currency of our economy, and money derives its value from it.

Most jobs deplete resources that can not be recovered

The price of anything in a fossil fuel economy is not like the price of things 100 years ago. Then you could be a shoemaker, make shoes, sell them and get potatos from a farmer, who made potatos. Today you can be a car salesman, sell cars and earn money, but as you do so you use fossil fuels, used in making the cars, heating your showroom and lighting it that can never be recovered. Then you spend that money on potatos with a farmer who has put ten times the calories in terms of fossil fuels than he sells you in terms of potatos in them, so he too is using fossil fuels (gas for fertilizer, diesel to run his equipment) which can never be recovered. You and the farmer are both operating at a net loss in terms of total resources, while the shoemaker and farmer that lived in a society run on solar and wind (before coal and the industrial revolution) did not.


The fossil cost of all work today is basically our fossil consumption if you substract recreation. We are now trying to migrate to renewables (at least a large portion of us), but we fail to realise how fossil fuels consuption and resource depletion has become the standard in all our operations. This is not of any bad intention, just a result of miguidedly believing economic theory.

The financial sector will not exist post fossil fuels

Rens claims that investors and financial sector companies have to be aware of the risk to their bottom line, as trust in the longevity of some assets, companies and products implodes. This is great. But there are two flaws with this thinking. The financial sector deals with a lot of different aspects of financing and banking, some of which will not work post fossil fuel. This is of no concern to Rens, who as a typical economist has a short horizon. For example as we explained earlier, loans and debt will work differently or not at all.

To explain if you now want to build a school, you can borrow credit based on future income from running the school. Then you can use that credit to build the school, meaning you have to buy resources that will be brought together by workers and turned into a school. That process is now highly dependent on fossil fuels, for trucking, cement, and all the things the workers buy with their salaries. This is possible because fossil fuels are stored energy, and we have more than we need (or we can redirect it).

Suppose we have our needs covered with renewables, so solar, wind, batteries to cover low wind and sun periods, then can we loan out 30 million for a new school? Not really. Where will the energy come from to make the cement, to transport it to poor it, where will the energy come from for the workers, if they where jobless, how can there be any activity if all renewable energy is already used. You’d have to build a solar/wind farm first and you’d have to save energy and store it. Banks would be real banks again, not just offices where you get your carboncredit.

This is why we talk about carboncredit, because money is carboncredit today and banks know that they have to radically change and may not have a role in the future in providing credit at all. It is much more likely that a cement company has it’s own renewable energy source to make cement, and then  cement is cheap for those that need it. And a trucking company makes its own NH3 truck fuel with a couple of wind turbines, and all trucking is more or less free. After all it’s for a school for the community, or one close by, because multinationals operating across the globe will make no sense in a post carboncredit economy. A real world example of this is Tata Steel who is switching (after decades of subsidized coal use keeping a lot of people happy) to electrolysis on solar. The price to the consumer of steel processing wil no longer depend on the price of cockes, and will be much lower, but a lot of ‘economic activity’ and cashflow for banks associated with coal logistics will disappear.

Invisible wall

Meanwhile the same carboncredit can pull the wool over our eyes in terms of real economic risks. Why? Because fossil fuel is priced in carboncredit, so Euro, Dollar. Because these currencies can be inhaled and exhaled by banks at their whim we never know anything about the availability of the underlying asset, fossil fuels. Prices don’t only depend on the availability of the product, but also on the availability of the currency they are bought in.

Banks will want to preserve cashflow and keep it as stabile as possible. As we have seen lower fossil availability is paired with liquidity contraction. And if the last gas tanker is arriving in Rotterdam to supply the greenhouses with CO2 they will still not tell anyone. What would the use be? There would be immediat rationing, no free economy, to protect the population the government would confiscate all reserves and work on a super fast fossil exit plan. That is why the economy is blind to resource depletion : It would reduce profits if people constantly knew the time we can survive living like this is finite. They are keeping the wall as invisible as possible.

Rens points the wall out in a convoluted way. His exit plan (divest into more sustainable activities) is not going to fly with the fossil sector, because they don’t like working with zero control, no profits, they will be servants of the sustainable agenda. They will call it communism (as they always did any suggestion that would put a break on thier blind expansion of fossil fuel use). Rens is right but his warning is not enough. The fossil sector will have to hand over power to some more democratic organization, and the financial sector will also have to obey strick rules set by this new autority, as fossil fuel use is cut and a lot of fossil fuel intensive activites will simply be banned. No flying to italy for 100 Euro to have a cappucino next to the Trevi fountains. What makes you so entitled to do that while your own town may be in chaos because of fuel shortages and climate change? Do something usefull! Of course the italians are much better off, even though we consider them poorer. They never needed that carboncredit!

Take home message

The carboncredit, or fossil/financial sector is in trouble. Hopefully because you use your democratic power to tell them to stop wasting resources and hand over control (or be swayed by new rules) that directs those resources to secure our lives, instead of making them harder. For a few decades survival will be the name of the game, but soon this will be over and we will have more renewable energy than we have fossil fuel today. We will find that solving energy needs with renewables is a low maintenance, low cashflow, zero credit activity. We will find that banks are places where there is a store of some realrealeconomic asset, like natural gas or elecrtricity or wood or some other commodity. The economy wil become real and the rules will adapt, and economistmay find that finally there is some method to their metier. Resource utility optimization is a complex field, less bullshitting to make people accept the rate of fossil fuel production, more thinking about ways to use that super abundance (2500 times our current fossil ration) of solar energy to turn our planet into paradise (finally).