Earth is warming up, and we don’t seem to have the powerstructure to deal with it in a timely fashion. It is becoming increasingly likely we either miss the opportunity but for some catastrophic event. Cowboy style geoengineering with our atmosphere has gone on now for more than a century and perhaps we should try our own move in this arena.
Russia’s space mirror
One option is to block sunlight. This has been proposed to be possible by spraying sulfer aerosol in the upper atmosphere, but we think this would only increase problems of our biosphere trying to cope. It is used as a scare tactic to smear the term ‘geoengineering’ so the public feels like it has no option than to wait out the death of fossil fuels.
There one option we think now has a bigger chance than say a couple or years ago. That is to build a sunshade in space. These ideas according to Wikepedia stem from 2002, a year in which the world didn’t know SpaceX or reusable rocked boosters. The best idea in our opinion is to use the so called Lagrange point L1. This is a point in space between the Earth and the Sun at which the gravitational pull of both cancel each other out. It is a point that travels with the rotation of the Earth around the sun. All sunlight that hits our planet passes through this Lagrange point L1.
There should be about as much invisible planets as there are planets in our solar system
You could consider L1 something of an invisible planet orbiting the Sun. It does not have a gravity well, but anything you bring to it will stay there. Theoretically a small mass there will act as if it is the only one in the region and things will fall towards it. This is a very convenient situation if we want to reduce the suns power on Earth. Even though we would need to create an enormous area with some kind of radiation shielding material, it is possible in the sense that we could even solar driven factory complex there, and create it in situ.
Closer to Earth the mirror would have to by much bigger, so L1 is a more practical location
All that is needed is to shield sunlight. One could use all kinds of debri to do that, including rocks already flying around in space. We don’t know the instability of material that is say 1000 km away from L1, but gravity doesn’t fall off quickly like magnetism. The spacestation has to travel really fast to miss Earth as it falls towards it. A light gold film could be one atom thick and reflect a large portion of the light. We’ll gather more sources for this idea over the next couple of weeks.
Cooling the Earth has beneficial properties because we are already seeing the number of heatwaves rise. Deadly heatwaves for 20 days a year affecting 75% of humanity are expected in 2100. We could be seeing 6 billion people die from heat exhaustion as we come up to that date. Plants will also die as 40 degrees Celsius is about all most of them can take. The only option is to lower the temperature somehow.
We have written about the option to grow seaweed to absorb CO2. This can be done using deep ocean water which holds all the necessary nutrients. The study that proposed this method mentioned it would have a side effect to cool the atmosphere to such an extend that most biomass gain would be from plants on land not dying from the heat! It would warm the oceans up, and the dumb reason to not do it now was that we might not be able to keep it going, risking a warmer Earth with a warmer ocean. Of course we would use robots and intelligent systems to execute and monitor this approach.
The L1 point can become a space station location for which the parts are not build on Earth but on the moon, so launching it is much less effort. With SpaceX technology it is thinkable to bring the necessary equipment to orbit and beyond. Perhaps the moondust can be slingshot around Earth in a constant stream. The challenge would be how to stop it though.
We’ll explort this option that will be part of all the solutions available. To be continued..
There’s talk of the risks of artificial intelligence. Nick Bostrom and Elon Musk are warning the world that not regulating AI before it is to late is asking for serious trouble, so much trouble that it could be an existential threat to humanity (and we already had one!). We think this is true, and in spite of the high fantasy level of some of the ideas about AI, we are facing real risks from intentional automated systems.
We have written on this topic before, and described what intelligence actually is, because most people don’t have a clue. Our acronim ARGO captures it, we think. Intelligent systems are ones that are Autonmous, Robust, have a Goal and can Orient towards it. Each of these aspects is essential for true intelligence. Awareness will be a consequence of autonomous goal setting in advanced AI systems.
A system can be any collection of ‘components’ that perform a function through their interaction. Humans can be such a component.
The purpose of intelligence as it became a property of living organisms is to allow events to evolve in such a way that the system remains intact. Self perpetuation has been the main goal of all life, but sometimes very simple responses are enough to secure a very simple and weak organism, just because the environment allows for it, or because reproduction rates are so high the occasional losses aren’t a problem.
An intelligent system can orient towards a goal, and it can confirm whether such a goal is reached or approached. The orienting can be any manipulation, perhaps Actuation would be a better choice of word but that doesn’t imply an intended goal. Whatever is intelligent has to be able to influence the physical world. A superbrain without a body doesn’t cut wood. Very easy actions for a computer like sending an email or text count as orienting/actuation.
Orienting captures the idea that the system is able to bring the situation in line with its goals. So heat seeking missile will move its ailerons to point towards the target. A fly will turn towards the smell of ketones as it tries to find a place to lay its eggs. It may be that internally the system only tries to maximize a certain input, or it doesn’t ‘try’ through an active process but it is wired to do so. Orienting requires a comparison between the actual state and the desired state so that subgoals can be prioritized that work towards that desired state. If humans build a house of cards the image of the full house stops our activities, but our actions are never able to build the complete house, only one stack at a time. The Goal is the complete house, the Orienting consists of the stacking.
The Goal is a representation of the desired end state. When optimizing one actually has a variable end state, one that adapts to the abilities of the system. Awareness can be seen as a side effect in a system that optimizes between several goals and within goals. To optimize within a goal the representation of that goal needs to be deep and structured. This is usually not the case in ‘intelligent’ systems.
Robustness is a underappreciated aspect of intelligence. It is actually one of the most important ones. Being that intelligence is meant to aid survival, the system that is intelligent needs to be robust in many ways, the more robust, the more intelligent we will consider it. The orientation needs to be robust agianst perturbations, work in al situations or the system could not operate in them. The representation of the goal needs to be robust when the system can be sabotaged or distracted. If you can poke out a memory chip in a computer that tries to kill you, its intelligence never really comes off the ground. Perseverance is another form of robustness, which in mechanical systems may involve the recreation of a goal in another representational system f.i.
Autonomy is usually the goal of an intelligent system. In living organisms this is what most of the system works to ensure. It’s also a consequence of the finite nature of a living being. What it also signifies is that the goals of the system are all it cares about. This is perhaps the most risky aspect of modern ‘AI’ systems, that they are given total autonomy to optimize or to reach their goal. The risk lies in unintended consequences, or a too narrow interpretation of the goal.
Humans in the loop
The best way to think of an AI is to treat it like some kind of animal. Mammals are all very intelligent if you take the above definition. The ARGO criteria are all met to a certain degree in every mammel, but there are clear differences. It will be the same with intelligent systems as they are being developed.
The deep learing algorithms and recognition systems now made available by Google are just part of a potentially intelligent system. They are the recognition part, the goal representation part. Software languages are already enough to use the neuromorphic process in deep learning networks to make a profit or criminal application.
Many applications are aimed at optimizing spending in consumers. They usually have a very simplistic or absent orientation part. If they recognize patterns in consumer behaviour that qualifies them as a target for certain products or marketing strategies this assesment is then used by humans to trigger a message or show an add. Much more dangerous uses are possible and they will be developed by people with criminal intent.
The trick of real intelligent in a digital system is not so much the recognition part, but the prediction of outcome. A Sci Fi intelligent system like in the movie Eagle Eye that reasons common sense based on the constitution and coerces random individuals to augment its actuator/orientation part, are far off in terms of accuracy. The brain simulates our reality to a high degree to predict the outcome of our actions. A digital system would have to have a similar capability to be effective.
The problem with AI is that we now kind of understand all the parts that need to be there, and even if only a few parts are there we can do a lot of damage. Take a sniperbot with face recognition that aims and shoots a target when it sees it. This is now almost an off the shelve device. What will we do with crimes committed by AI systems who’s builder we can’t pinpoint or convincingly like to the device?
The human intelligence has a need to dominate it’s environment to minimize energy spend on learning and adjusting. It will use AI as a tool to make that easier, one of the earliest example is the invention of the thermostat. This will lead to criminal applications of AI.
What to do with a system that trolls facebook looking to find depressed people to troll them based on their interest? The maker of such a system could gradually develop the goal representation so that to achieve it more actions become possible. A lot is made of data, big data, and in deep learning big datasets are necessary to train the network. But an AI system can be set up such that does all the things of ARGO without going through a lot of data or training. These systems just won’t be very intelligent, but can still be very dangerous.
We consider systems with humans in the loop also intelligent if the humans will voluntarily perform the necessary function. These are robust to human change of heart, because that human will be replaced by some other human in the loop. The economy is a system with a set of principles, a goal, and people form it’s embodyment. Economists will come and go, bankers, oil workers, executives, the economic system will remain robust, autonomous and goal oriented.
“Or you die” is a great way for an AI system to get people to become part of its orienting/actuating system. In our economy people already have been recruited that way, their lifestyle is constantly on the line as they serve a set of economic principles.
AI systems can recruit random people to do their bidding, as now already happens with randomware for instance. Imagine a randomware virus that causes a considerable amount of bitcoins to untraceably flow towards an escrow account. This account’s contents will then be released on finding 3000 hits when googling ‘Mickey Mouse Murdered’ (you can fill in your favourite name).
Of course many digital systems are unprotected. Factory installations often use ancient profibus communication which allows for anyone to listen in and add messages to the transmission lines. Even more sophisticated protocols with encryption can be stifled, especially when one can use drones or position a wifi station in a critical place.
Recognizing a shapeshifing foe
The threat of Artificial intelligence will come on gradually, and in much simpler systems than we anticipate. The deep networked intelligence Elon Musk talks about requires siginificant goal representation sophistication. The risk now is that systems in which humans participate take on such a robust kind that they will do real damage.
One can think of VR systems that optimize hours spend on it, or user excitement, and end up completely capturing their audience. The risk is usally defined as ‘when people can no longer do their job’, but this is the narrow industrial take. The risk really is that people can’t function as usefull individuals towards each other, or that people stop cooperating (becaus some AI is polarizing through generated messages and fake news).
There is almost no need to talk about risks in military applications. If you add to this a corporation that hires people to do specific jobs and devices that can deliver big and small payloads and you have a recipy for diseaster. What if Russia build a system that optimized the chance of a nuclear accident on US soil to happen.
Like with climate change dealing with the dangers of AI requires global cooperation. The big AI that we wrote about earlier called the ‘Economy’ is already undermining control as China just announced it wanted to ‘win the AI race’. This is like entering a competition who can create the biggest wild bear.
Some preventive actions
There should be a global agenda that has the following items :
Make an inventory of all arms manufacturing and arms trade and work out what can stop all trade and arms races.
Cut up large networks so problems in their smaller sectors can trigger containment.
Look for unintended ‘actuators’, orienting methods of a creative AI system, this means making sure no dangerous process can be easily started via internet. The IOT may be to risky to allow to evolve further
Protect the ability of humans to create equitable exchanges by limiting data gathering and analysis. Set a limit to the commecial intrusions in their lives.
Shut down data gathering by social apps and force all to store their data in one big identity database.
Don’t allow dedicated development of AI systems. Match the sophistication with the intended function.
Develop analysis tools to spot the parts of ARGO coming together
Many more measures
The bottom line is that humans don’t need super sophisticated digital systems more robust than them. An autopilot doesn’t need to understand the emotions of the driver or be able to hold a conversation, not even in a spaceship. Humans in an attempt to secure their lives may create a system that endangers them (even more than the economy already does). The process of risk avoidance may thus introduce risks, rendering further optimization impossible.
Economics at large is causing humanity to degrade its habitat to such an extend that extinction is now a likely outcome. Economics, capitalism has been altered from using true capital (material resources and human expertise) to using fossil fuels in nearly all cases, to harvest and modify natural resources into what ‘the market’ demanded. A good demonstration of what ‘the market’ is we saw this week when US carmakers demanded China slowed down its adoption of electric vehicles. Of course not the carmakers and their factories are driving this, but the banks financing that industry, who have only one option which is to fight to the death against the demise of the fossil credit economy.
Renewable growth is slowed down by its inclusion in this wider economy. Investments are going into fossil fuel intensive activities as long as fossil fuel mining and drilling operations are allowed to continue, and the same people that finance the consumption of fossil fuel of course lobby for its protection and advertise the habits of a petrolhead as manly and tough. If you are a BBQing open carry diesel truck driving fatso with racist tencencies then you’re the posterboy for fossil. There’s no greater mob to recruit than the overentitled. Of course this is a gross generalization, but be sure the fossil industry has those it likes and those it doesn’t like. Who? Just check the right wing media, they tell you.
So what to do about this unfair competition. Why is fossil credit banking the only game in town? Is it? By posing this question we can open up a new world of opportunity for renewables and the so called roboeconomy. Traditionally the kind of money we use today (empty contracts for which fossil fuel can be bought) is more compatible farming and renewables than with fossil fuels. This is because a farmer could in principle always pay its workers with a I-owe-U or credit note for part of the harvest. Farming futures are one of the few kinds of futures that actually make sense.
What dit that farming credit do? It organized people, they held a promisary note and because they understood what they where doing and how farming worked they could trust it would be valuable later. They could even buy food today with those notes. In the end the baker supplying bread could use the notes to buy grain after the harvest. With that sale the credit note disappeared. Today we have a wierd system of debt, the holder of the credit has debt to the bank, which means he has to return the note.
The answer to how to finance many renewable project should then be to create a currency that will hold value if the activities for which it is created are fruitfull. This may be the planting of trees, the irrigation of land, the building of renewable energy factories. The question arises how to redeem this credit, how it would function. The answer is not simple and your intuitions are not going to be right, because the world that it could create by organizing people works different from your current fossil fuel economic environment.
First of all we need to ignore all bank ownership of land, all endebtedness. The only concrete form current bank debt takes is as CO2 molecules in our atmosphere. That is the consequence of fossil credit : When it is spend CO2 and H20 are dumped into the atmosphere, that is the problem we try to counter, we are not going to respect that system at all. We don’t need to. If the work takes 50 years, so much will change and so many owners will die of climate change, the financial centers will not be populated by the same people. On the other hand, this is not some communist revolution, we don’t need to disturb anyone. This is because the point of the currency can be to become valuable through political change. This is why financeing started in wars, we can have our own ‘war’ and finance it with our own currency.
If you support the effort you buy the currency. If you use the currency to run your local economy you no longer feed the system that is so damaging. If you achieve more status of the currency by political influence you have a good motivation to do work on that. The end goal is to avert catastrophic climate change and to sustain the order that is needed to fight it.
We suggest we set up climatecoin.eu to implement this system.
Trump is dropping the ball on US global hegemony. He has openly said that the cost of policing so many countries is something he doesn’t want to bear. At the G20 he appears isolated and his actions seem inconsequential to say the least. No final statement, this global leader has signed off.
Trump leaving the world to it’s own talent for cooperation
This is not a bad thing although it is risky. The US power umbrella has been based on control over fossil fuels and military projection. For a long time you could only buy oil in dollars, the so called Petrodollar, and our world was basically unipolar. Slowly as the world economy started to evolve this has been eroding, basically because anyone outside the US does not like to live under the fossil fuel (carbon) credit control of Wallstreet, enforced by Washington and the Pentagon. It was a stabilizing trinity but ultimately unsustainable and ultimately undesirable.
Law and order even in our western societies is nothing more than a self fulfilling prophesy. Because we wish it to exist, we behave by the rules and do not consider countless opportunities to break the law as real ones. We fear punishment we know won’t come in most cases, and for sure if we all decided to forget about law and order, no force could be mounted to restore it, at least not quickly. The prevalence of peace on a global scale equally depends on decent relationships being the norm, and it has been achieved mainly by the power of fossil fuels which could be distributed by the US to whoever it gave petro dollar credit. China has been a notable recipient of US fuel aid enabling it to develop as it has in the last three decades. Without the US China would not have happened.
The alternative to a global unipolar fossil credit based order is one in which the parties understand enough of the limitations of action to remain peacefull and cooperative. The balance of power is a balance of energy, but also one of opportunity to gain. What does Russia have to gain from invading Germany? It can’t really absorb it’s qualities in its own population, it makes no sense to move its population, it might as well just trade with Germany and leave things as they are.
War like all violence happens in defence or to gain something, but the cost of war will become to high to be compensated by the gains, as long as we abandon fossil fuels
Tillerson announcing fossil fuels are over
As the USA abandoned its role at the G20 the G19 showed they where willing to continue the order, and this order they agreed would be based on mutual renewable energy based growth and cooperation. This makes absolute sense, because what has to replace the petrodollar fossil credit? Local renewable energy credit. Not only is this wise and the only survival option for humanity, but it will drive peace and prosperity for all regions, as renewables are perfectly able to sustain a modern technologically advanced civilisation.
The new world order (and humanities survival) will be conditional on denuclearization, relative race-self containement and renewable energy cooperation
You can’t really fight good wars without fossil fuels. Most war equipment is fossil fuel powered, planes, trucks, tanks, even drones. Of course warfare has evolved and we have written before you only need untouchable drones and satelites to dominate the world. This art has been perfected by the US and other countries. But light war, non nuclear war, can only serve to maintain order against small insurrections. This is ok, as long as populations are capable of cooperating productively without more than small insurrectons. It at the same time seems unlikely the world will fall into such a state of chaos that the necessary surveilance to police a cooperating productive population becomes impossible. This makes the world fundamentally stabile.
The G20 produced a denuclearization treaty. So this seems to spell a future in which our world will be multipolar, no big wars are to be fought, especially not with nuclear warheads, which just like with US and Russian warheads after Reagan and Gorbachov had their agreement, can now be used to generate electricity, CO2 free. The only thing that can go wrong could be North Korea lopping a bomb on the US, which will bomb back, and China getting involved. Another thing that can go wrong is that some nations don’t keep their population where they are, so migration and expasion of f.i. chinese or arabic populations (and possible religious dictatorships). That will cause conflicts we don’t need.
Even a small alliance can stifle any unenlightened despot’s rise to power
In all Trump has done a good job in landing the US believably in this new multipolar world. The 75 years ahead (until it is expected that in 2100 3 out of 4 world citizen will have died from heatwaves) offer a canvas to paint either a lasting world peace capable of defeating the biggest threat to mankind, or one in which harm infliced as temperatures rise to unbearable levels causes technological regression and chaos making extinction of our species inevitable.
a renewables based economy has much less pressure to consume resources, because banks play a much weaker role
A key element in the stabilization of a multipolar world will be communication, and a key factor in that will be internet. There are now three initiatives underway for global broadband coverage, two satelite based and one based on solar drones. It will be key to fighting climate change as it will reduce isolation of remote populations and enable robotics that can restore ecology (for roboeconomic and extraeconomic purposes). It will also help detecting (future) carbon emission crimes and natural methane sources. It will be relatively untouchable, cheap and become cheaper.
The multipolar world will be able to utilize robotics and renewables to counter the rising heat accumulation in our atmosphere, and if resources are directed away from a global arms race towards a global eco restauration effort our chances are good..
You can not be an oil, cas or coal company executive and not understand the damage you are doing to humanity. Decades ago people understood them, but the actuall damage was not that serious. Today you can see, if you are in a position of influence, that your activities are already causing problems, and models that have been optimized in the last 30 years also show you what will happen next. There is no way anymore to have a high payed job and not understand the consequences of your actions.
“Greenhouse effect, a heatwave all year long”
Experts expect that three out of four people will have died because of deadly heatwaves in 2100. That is about 6 Billion human beings dead because of climate change (heat accumulation). Of course it will be less billions before, and more billions after 2100. The death toll of the current batch of CEO’s and executives, politicians and lobbyists is so immense it will overshadow the Holocaust and Holodomor and all other mass killings and extinctions that ever occurred simply because of the speed at which our biosphere turns hostile to life.
Say in 2050, when we have either got a sense of recovery or we are in deep chaos due to migrations, faminers, storms, floods, heatwaves, we can look back on the people that now decide the fate of the oil, gas, coal and banking industry, the people at the ‘advisory institutes’ that tell governments to invest in fossil intensive activities, that delay and slow down the transition (like VNO), populated by older men and women that stopped caring about anything but themselves. We will know the names of those people who now pretend they do everything they can, who use every argument used by the lazy and weak to not defend our future together, but instead divide us and make us feel like we are all alone in our desire to change our fate.
Winters will be colder in some parts of the US, but that doesn’t mean we will have plant-compatible weather everywhere.
We have to make sure that the people taking the decisions today are not forgotten, can not disappear. In banking and finance this is the big problem of accountability. Who do you arrest? They will say “We where only doing our job”. The point is you should refuse to do this job. You should refuse to imagine a gas/coal/oil based future, desing it or develop it. You should refuse to earn money being a fossil lobbyist or a CEO like Rex Tillerson. It is clear that doing this kind of work is a crime. You are killing people when you do them.
Who agrees with the idea that nobody today that is actively involved in the fossil fuel industry can hide behind their ignorance, and is thus commiting a crime? We should prevent their escape of prosecution. Prosecute them and offer rewards for those that stop working for the fossil and banking industry where this has real effect. We welcome any plan in those industries to execute a hard transition to renewables, where those involved to all they can to make it the least fuel intensive process possible. We need to keep track of those that really don’t give a damn and only for their stupid ego,lifestyle and job, commit billions of people to suffer and die.
Investors are king. They are an anonymous mob (when banks like it) that can move around their money inflating and deflating parts of the economy. Banks say they need protection, of course they are a major source of income for banks, who like to fleece them if they are small, and use the bullying power if they are big.
It may have been a dutch invention, the East India Company emitted shares and thus financed it’s endeavours in the East. It was one of the first of the boom/bust pump and dump scams of which many have since followed. The main reason is that a share of a company can have more or less value, even without looking at divident. The New York exchange even had so called phantom shares, of companies that no longer existed until the regulators decided to split the profits and remove them.
Investors can do many different things, but the investment market is structured such that most will opt for a fund or share or something like that, offered to them by neat bank employees accompanied with a neat prospectus. What does investment in a share mean? That you in theory have part ownership of the company, that you can see returns if more people want to own the shares. Existing shares have no influence on the companies themselves, at least not if the company is not deeply in debt. Only when they are sold does it matter to the company what you think of it. Afterwards it will only care when it wants to sell more shares. It can go bust, your money has been collected already. This is why there was a .com bubble. The companies collected cash, and ‘burned it’ at a ‘burn rate’ (and investors accepted this as a good thing!) crashing, then leaving the investors with worthless shares!
Today there is a much better option, but it has not been structured for the public in the optimal way yet. It is of course renewable energy and storage, climate action in general. If you accept that fossil is on its way out and would like to survive the next century (3/4 of humanity is now expected to go extinct in the next 100 years!), you would do well to put every cent in renewables. Saving money is not meaningfull if your money is carbon credit. You want to create the means to keep you alive by investing, this is the key to survival and a good pension.
If you keep betting on all kinds of wastefull economic plans sold to you by the neat looking bankers, you’ll find that farmland will dry up, floods, rains and hales will destroy your car, house, roofs. Fossil will run out and society will stratify into a majority of desperate people and a tiny elite that doesn’t care about them (Trump sets the trend). Don’t expect to belong to that elite. You need to invest in what will make the future work, which is not fossil, not gas, oil or coal, not intensive farming, not big industry.
Even with current incentives solar yields more than 6% annually, so it is a no brainer compared to a savings account. But you are not beyond comprehending the real play of this century, which is to extract yourself from any fossil fuel dependence, because then you can 1. Own your food and wealth security 2. Prevent having to deal with all kinds of problems as now expected. 3. Have a better return, because you don’t only get the actual return but also the reduction/elimination of negative side effects and prices.
You can argue that solar prices keep dropping and you will not get your investment back, but you will be profiting from the cheaper solar what is invested in after you do, because the energy they produce will make products and services cheaper. The money you get in return will go further until you will find that government decides to give you a basic income based on renewables. But you need to invest. You need to ask your pension fund to invest also in the energy sources that will be used to make what you need when you want to spend your pension money.
We need to simplify the system a bit. Investment has to be channeled so it goes to productive or resource increasing activities. Now a lot of investment is meant to disappear money (your money) in order to reduce fossil fuel consumption. You should be able to invest in a global solar fund which builds solar PV and Themal installations at a return of about 5%, maybe more. In fact most renewable technologies can be standardized, say solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tidal systems are all pretty much evolved to a level where you can know what they can do. Then you should be able to invest in the wholesale transiton of your own region, which is the smartest thing to do because this is where you will be spending your future money.
If we look at all assets in terms of wealth creation, and I mean not the creation of expensive products, but of usefull resources like food, water, arable land, timber, then you will find that the financial system selling you investments is actually a big machine that tries to achieve as little as possible while destroying natural resources. Why? Because if you have consolidated a cycle of real wealth creation and destruction by consumption, the demand for fossil fuels, and thus fossil fuel credit, will die.
Some authority, maybe the UN, should create a small number of funds to invest in, with a clear return (just for your anxiety). They should invest directly, without bank invervention in wind, solar, wave etc. More or less standardized installations. The land used must be owned by the countries involved, not in some private hands that will push up the price. Then of course there still can be tenders for the work. You can also invest in specific regions.
The investment/return model as we know it today is not sustainable as we transition away from renewables, unless you for instance invest in wind/fertilizer plants in Ethiopia and the grains are shipped to where you are. Investment has been an abstract multiplier (for some, not for most), and this will change. You will see that it starts to matter more what you actually know about the real world, and as you invest, you may see that your investing real assets already owned, not money. Until we get there there must be an attempt to channel your funds now ready for investment so it is not put into ‘storage’ (long term bonds) or projects that will increase emissions and extend the domination of banks and fossil fuels.
Tesla shows that a enormous amount of money is waiting in the sidelines, but usually in small quanties of so called ‘cash’, which is money that doesn’t have to have a return or does not have to be returned as payment for debt. This money, that individual citizens can control without interference, is the key to a rapid transition. Put it into projects that produce real wealth. And vote for people that propose to make rules that force you and banks to do so.
We are working on a plan to green the deserts. It comprises of two parts : Water making and tree planting. Of course to do that you need some kind of infrastructure. We think we know what that can consist of : Yellow Brick Roads.
We don’t understand why deserts are not green. It seems to be mainly because not enough moisture is carried to them through the air, but also because the sand blowing around covers vegetation. Desertification can be fought by planting trees and plants that hold the sand together. We want to do that and more : Plant trees and plants in a high density, so they become accumulators of water and life themselves.
Plant dense forests, not ones that are wide spread and vulnerable, shade must be everywhere, and the thing will be a water sponge
To do that we would like to spike the desert with water. It’s not that difficult if you have fresh water and roads, like in many places. The winds will then carry the water (which you are wiser to use to micro irrigate desert hardy plants) around and sometimes off the continent. The road from Nouackchott runs well eastward, into the dry hot continent of Africa. Nothing grows there, the land is shaped by the prevailing winds that move westward. If only there was a source of moisture in the winds path, this would carry it over land towards the coast, giving a better chance to all life in between.
Long pipes and roads lead to the middle of the desert of Algiers
Algeria has immens pipe works, seemingly to export gas right from its immense hot dry heart. Why is there gas there? Because thousands of years ago the desert was green and swamps trapped gas which became covered by sand..What seems like a 4 lane highway is actually a 4 pipe connection over hundreds of miles to the coast. We could use only one of them to feed water the other way, and it would not have to be fresh water either. Salt water would corrode the pipes (preventable by putting a voltage between the water and the metal using solar), but it would evaporate soon enough and form coulds cooling the land, causing rain at night (when the desert cools considerably). Clouds are strong reflectors of solar radiation. They also absorb infra red, which they will carry up and radiate back there.
A coastal desalination plant (not RO but solar ionic f.i.) can fill carrier after carrier, which then drive unmanned solar electrically into the middle of the desert to irrigate trees, creating a patchwork of oasis.
The road into the desert may not exist everywhere, but we can use the sand, melt it into bricks or beams, and create roadways explicitly meant to be used to transport water carriers and maintenance bots. Pipes made of solar molten sand mean you don’t have to invest in logistics, sourcing the materials. You do need to invest in robotics, in automated and perhaps mobile systems to melt glass using either solar thermal or PV energy. The good thing is you can do it in parallel so your progress can be much quicker. With new internets (three sat constellations are in the works) everywhere it will be easy to control them.
The yellow bricks can be made with molten sand
We might as well start in places where it is hottest, and we might as well try to create clouds even if we don’t create biomass. Cooling is the name of the game. We have not done the math, but think cooling around the equator could offset warming around the poles? Especially ocean warming, which can’t be that serious around the poles but is strong around the equator. Clouds, made for instance by dispersing water into the air using wind turbines (Just wind driven pumps, not containing the whole electric system) can cool the atmosphere considerably. A cloud making apparatus can be very inexpensive, be made at some remote coast, from f.i. glass fiber, in large automate factories. We are lucky that AI is getting stronger, and we can expect machines building entire factories autonomously at some point.
Roads made of glass made of desert sand can be formed to transport water and maintanance bots
Global heat accumulation is a problem, and we can’t fix it as effectively if we allow warming to continue, because of outgassing from the oceans and plants suffering. Acidification being a direct result of CO2 in the atmosphere is another great problem, because removing CO2 will be like removing ink from a swimming pool, dropping it in is easy, but the mulecules disperse so it becomes hard to get hold of them.
We want the yellow brick roads, glass melting factories and robotic irrigation systems to be build, and it won’t be economic to do so, it will have to be extraeconomic, which is when resources are added to the total reserves without the economy having access to them. That is the opposite of clear cutting rainforrest or depleting soil carbon by planting palm oil trees. Extraeconomics exists to sustain its own process, our of sight from the wider public.
Sadly we expect this to take decades to become real, we will be working on it though.
Three more years to turn the dangerous heat accumulation we are now experiencing around, at least in theory. That combined with the incapacitation of most citizen in our world economy (they either struggle to make ends meet or don’t have any power) doesn’t bode well. Of course some of the rich people don’t really care, they are going to be dead when the worst comes to pass.
Chris Christie shuts down public beaches, then goes to the beach, then lets his minions lie about it..
Just like Mitsubishi started catching and deep freezing tuna when it became clear the species might go extinct, some if not all conservatives (who are pro fossil by definition) may be banking on the climate catastrophy, really. If they have to change course they can’t get the most numb of their voters with them. The “What happens after I die I don’t give a shit about” mentality may be pervasive. This combined with general ignorance, which is more prevalent if you life has been a breeze of luxury, because you have to be either a nerd or very inquisitive to find out and care about physical facts.
So we may be looking at a large, armed, greedy contingent of fatalists that now dominate US politics, law enforcement and military. The army has show serious interest in dealing with climate change, stating it is the single biggest threat. But congress has passed a law that prohibits the military from spending money on anything climate related. Generals that talk about climate action have been pushed aside. The party of the fatalists doesn’t seem to care. It wants to have the party.
“Bluefin tuna frozen at -60C now could be sold in several years’ time for astronomical sums if Atlantic bluefin becomes commercially extinct as forecast, a result of the near free-for-all enjoyed by the tuna fleet.”
The EPA removing restrictions that protect public health, the dismantling of Obama care, which can cost real lives, the agitation in the geostrategic sphere. All show that there is very little worry about instability caused. The thought may be that whatever happens, the poor will suffer most, the rich will escape and in the chaos nobody will care or know who did what. The screeny zombies with an attention span of no more than 140 characters sure as hell don’t know how to do anything about anything without paying for it.
Action is needed to weed people with this mentality out of our leadership. The problem is that money is too imporant, money is the promise, the virtual vision, and money today derives its value from fossil fuels. Banks ensure we all need it, we all struggle for it, which nicely organizes society, and we all get some cash when there is enough fossil fuels to go around. The new leadership has to grow from organizations that can sustain themselves 100% without money. Of course they have a big problem in gaining support, because most support in politics and business is gained from being able to give some kind of advantage, usually monetary.
The opposite may also be tried, as it seems some conservative leaders are fatalistic and thus a public risk, strong action can be taken against them. Do you arrest a person that lies about being a surgeon that tries to operate? Do you arrest a politician that claims to know better than 95% of relevant scholars and researchers? Can you sanely claim to have such beliefs? You can’t but the behaviour can be explained by the desire to just have that party without looking ahead, at the cost of countless people, possibly humanity.
As an afterthought, these people, who also want to bomb iran and be at war with China and Russia, may believe that a nuclear war will cool the planet down and give our planet time to recover. There are better ways to do that however, but how is probably to complex a question for those now driving us towards destruction.
We are sleepwalking into an ever more deteriorated situation as we keep giving deference to the fossil fuel companies. They push on, cognizant of their mortality beyond which nothing matters, as they don’t care (apparently) for anyone but themselves. Shell families, often expat, children in an expensive school, father too bussy to see them. This is a recipy for intergenerational indifference. What about giving your children the same starting point as you had yourself? That’s nowhere on the minds of the people in the fossil fuel industry.
Solving the climate problem (or the global heat accumulation problem as we would like it be called) requires vision, you have to see the solutions, understand them, reject a lot of them because they are too complex. Many people have to be involved, which is fine because the benefit of their work will mostly be theirs as well.
But all this needs to happen in the fossil economic context. We already wrote a piece “Fossil fuels, a limit to growth”. How is this true? Well, if you want things to move, and you only have fossil fuels to make them move (for ease of argument). Then the number of things you can make move is finite, as the supply of fossil fuels is finite. This means that if you want to do something new, you need to take fossil fuel resources from another project. That is why our money system tries to maintain its integrity, so that there is no money trying to buy fossil fuel that doesn’t exist (which would show up as inflation).
Consequently, fossil fuels/money will go for 90% to wastefull activities, and 10% perhaps to stuff that makes fossil fuels obsolete. Those 10% will actually add to the total energy available to both make products and deplete (natural) resources. The economy is not geared to replenishing resources, so even if all energy is renewable, we still are risking a barren Earth, but that has to do with revising economics.
In short, if fossil fuel economics remains the dominant philosophy, and we can’t get a grip on fossil in some kind of emergency fashion, the allocation of fossil (and thus other) resources to renewables and climate action will remain low.
On the other hand, if fossil economics is replaced by roboeconomics (where robots running on renewables are used to provide what we need, and restore our ecosystems), then the way to think about this transition becomes different. The push would become to transition as fast as possible, even while restricting availability of many luxuries, because once the solar panel factories (and their associated supply chain) can run on solar, the production cost of the panels would fall to zero, and adoption would explode. Energy is so fundamental to creating wealth that even in our economy it’s market driven nature is nothing but a charade. Banks and energy companies are not normal economic entities. But if this became too clear we would know their power and we would find our way out as we have to in the end.
The above tries to show that thinking of climate action in terms of money is nonsensical. If at any time in the future the world is producing 200% of its energy needs from renewables, we won’t have to pay for much really. There will not be crazy stockmarkets of flash cash. Why? Because our money supply will probably only be used to aquire human labour, and the number of humans doesnt change that dramatically over time, certainly not in the eugeninst future we are now creating.
When coal, oil, gas have all shut down, when the methane burp takes hold and drives up temperatures, we must hope there are islands of energy security where humans can still make a plan and try to execute it. The good news is that robotics will make it possible to reach every corner of the planet, at least as long as there is an industry that makes all the parts. The bad news is that we are then in a situation so bad our chances to recover are close to zero.
We need courage and leadership, where courage is necessary to aquire power, and leadership means someone that carries a vision of a safe climate outcome which we can practically achieve. The market is not going to fix it, even though we should definitely use it while it is there. At the same time as we try to get the economy to accelerate the change to renewables (which is hard because banks don’t like it), we need a path of Hoover Dam style projects to drive renewables production and restore biomass on land and at sea. To do that we need energy, and that will be mostly fossil at first. This in turn means we need to take that from the wealth creation system, and this means life will get a bit more boring.
The vision of leaders also needs to be about what life we can afford, how we can make it good enough. This should be easier now that many of us spend so much time on virtual experiences. That can be a good thing if it reduces the need for natural resources, but a bad thing if it means people get indoctrinated and consumerized more by those that dominate VR/AR content. The latter also depends on whether we still use the fossil economic principles or Roboeconomic ones.
A global plan to fight climate change is not about keeping temperatures under 2 degrees, it is about abandoning methods and habits that have proven to be destructive, and adopting a global culture that be a basis for a century of renewable growth. It is not clear how the cacophony now created by the ‘market value’ of green initiatives will crystalize into one narative, one plan to succeed. We think we need visionary leaders with their own cash on hand (or a group of citizen that will take what is needed), to build the outline of our future society today, and show others that adoption of it’s principles will be a good work that leads to a happier healthier and human friendly future.