Why Stranded Coal Money Can’t end World Poverty

RenewEconomy Australia runs a piece called “$US1 trillion: money wasted on stranded coal assets could end world energy poverty”. It’s an excellent example of how the economy, money is still fundamentally misunderstood. It reads :

“$US981 billion to be exact. According to a report released today by the Sierra Club, CoalSwarm, and Greenpeace, Boom and Bust 2016: Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline, that is the estimated amount that could be spent on the global coal plant pipeline…But instead of solving a global crisis, those trillion dollars may go down the drain, supporting potentially stranded assets in the dying coal industry.”

So it is claimed that the money that would have been brought into circulation in the form of credit, used to mine and buy the coal that would come on the market from mining, could be used to other things. This is not true, at least not with the same effectiveness. This is because coal is not a normal asset, it is part of the production cycle. Just like oil the money we use to buy it is created exactly and only for that purpose, to buy coal, and to allow it to be distributed to where it optimally plays its role in our economy.

Credit is created to mine coal, to buy the fuel to do it, then credit is created so people can buy the coal.

The coal has to find it’s way to power plants, furnaces and other machines that still use it around the world. This means banks have to create credit, loan it out to people, and those people will spend it on products and invest it in companies that need the energy made by coal. This is a very effective way to both make sure only those that actually do something usefull with the energy get it, and to minimize the amount of coal used, because companies that need less coal energy to make their products make cheaper products.

No fossil fuel company can spend its profits back into the market. That is because money’s purpose is to end up with a fossil fuel company. It is  carboncredit.

Without the coal being mined though, there is no reason to create the credit. In fact, if one created it this would destabilize prices. The credit would be spend on products made with other forms of energy and would raise prices as now more credit (money) competed for the same number of products. This is why we have banks, to make sure that we have exactly the right amount of money to spend, as much as there are products and services being produced, which in turn is a function of the output of fossil and renewable energy flowing into the production chain.

To make it simpler : If you compare coal with food for workers. If you have a ton of food for 100 workers, they can create a community, make products and trade those, and you’d have to introduce credit for food (and give every member some credit), and all could trade their credit for stuff they wanted, or food, or work for credit from others etc. But if there was no food. If someone locked the food warehouse and threw away the key, there would be no need or use for credit. The 100 workers would have 100 units of credit, but nobody would make anything to buy, no food could be bought, it would be a desperate situation. Money or Credit has no real value on its own.

If there are means of production, there are products and there is a need for a means of trade : Money

This is the carbon credit view of money, which is the only correct view still, because renewable resources like solar and wind do not lend themselves to central credit creation. In fact, a lot of what is happening in the energy market (smart grid, big remote projects) is done to solve this problem with renewables. At the same time banks know their best bet for survival is to hang on to oil, coal and gas, but losing coal is not such a big problem.

The $981 Billion credit that was supposed to be created to distribute coal (‘invested’ in it), could not be used elsewhere, if it where then it would consume fossil fuel resources now used by other consumers, companies, it would add nothing. The money could not be spend on the poor, because they would also by fossil fuel dependent products, only creating more demand for fossil fuels. The truth about coal is that not using it is a loss. A healthy and wise loss.

Coal is a dangerous fuel, and not using it does not leave us with more than we had before

A middle road we would perhaps see a sane is to use coal in specific instances where it powers solar panel and wind turbine factories and creation of other specifically coal and fossil fuel replacing products. This should be under tight supervision as we proposed in an earlier post. The situation is dire enough, fossil fuels are killing our oceans and soils, life on Earth is not resillient against change this fast. We need radical intervention to have a chance, and one of the biggest challenges is how to save ourselves without making the problem worse.




Is Adaption of Microbial (and other life) to Climate Change a Myth?

This sentence caught our eye :

it “calls into question the resilience of the overall environment to climate change,”

It is from a piece about tests with soil microbes, where the microbes where placed in environments with properties they will endure in the future as a result of climate change. They didn’t do well.

“Researchers say that as the planet warms, essential diversity and function in the microbial world could be lost.”

This would be a diseaster because these microbes make plant life possible by making minerals bioavailable and by forming moisture and carbon retaining networks. It would mimic the death spiral of our oceans, where acidification and warming will make plant life all but impossible.

Stop being nice to those that push us further into the furnace

Another reason to not be patient with the fossil industry. Another reason to not allow economics to rule, but our desire to survive as a species, because surely the death of our soils makes it clear to all that that will not be possible without action.

What is Going On, the thing to focus on according to scientists

Not all knowledge is equal and our attention is limited. How succesfull we are in life is a function of our ability to focus on usefull information amidst a hailstorm of distraction, and this can be hard. Scientist of the Univesity of Hamlet, UK have discovered the essential property of the thing we should know : It is ‘What is going on’. Knowing ‘What is going on’ has clear benefits compared to ‘Being clueless’ or ‘Out of the loop’, as shown in repeated double blind and somewhat clueless trails.

Gut feeling’s historic high point

Previously it was though that ‘a gut feeling’ was sufficient to know ‘what’s going on’ but just like ‘Winging it’ or going with whaterver comes to mind in a ‘Blink’ the ‘gut feeling’ lacks detail, but is usefull in sensing moments that one should find our ‘What’s going on’.

Dangerous climate change that requires a disruptive response, is one of the things scientist found it was ‘going on’.

Historically it was shown that the quality of knowledge gained from knowing ‘What’s going on’ does depend on the body of knowledge and understanding already gained by the subject. So Thor hammering on the clouds was not really ‘What’s going on’ even though the Vikins thought so. The best way to make sure you know exactly ‘What’s going on’ is, and this is one of the more shocking results, to ‘find out’. Subjects starting their reports with ‘I guess’ or ‘I don’t know but I think’ usually did not score well.

‘Getting it’ is also very important. according to lead Scientist Bee Lyne

The finding is particularly relevant since there are large portions of our society, business community and government where we should qualify our knowledge as ‘clueless’. For reasons of security, health and property rights it is imporant that more is done to know ‘What’s going on’. Scientist hoped education would help us create a new generation of clued in people, even though they said they hadn’t really been told what would be best to know until they found it out themselves. They hope to ‘find out’ more, setting an example for their colleagues.

Early proof, but of course scientist have to take three decades to discover the obvious.

Related : Scientists discover : It is true! (It seemed unlikely for a long time, but it is actually true).

The Relevance of Peter Westerveld, or the Trade-Off theory is Useless

Peter Westerveld worked in Africa, Mali and other places to promote what he called ‘contour trenching’. This is a way to increase ground water levels, and thus vegetation, by digging trenches that would capture some of the rain that would otherwise wash over the land without benefit. His thinking about prmoting tree growth by this approach even led him to develop a plan to increase rainfall in Spain. Apparently the idea that ground penetration of rain water is good for ground water levens is a novel one, because a study just concluded that Peter (who has died recently) was right.

For some inphatomable reason people held belief in a theory called the ‘Trade-off Theory’ which says that more trees means less groundwater. This may be true, and turns out to be true in regions with a lot of trees. There the humus and trees both absorb and evaporate water instead of letting it sink into the soil. This is no surprise.

In dry and arid regions with barely any trees however trees cause better ground penetration of rainwater, and thus more ground water.

“Without trees, these sensitive tropical soils lose their large pores, which are responsible for leading water down into the ground quickly,”

Again no surprise. Peter showed that even without trees, just increasing the penetration is better for grass, chrubs and of course insect, bird and other wildlife. What we are surprised by is that this ‘Trade-off theory’ was supposed to work in dry and arid regions. Of course there is a difference between deserts, regions with occasional trees and dense forrests. And of course if we have a dense forrests who cares about groundwater?

So it is clear and confirmed : In arid regions ground penetration of rainwater has to be improved, and if it’s possible to plant some trees based on the captured water or otherwise, then do it. The more trees the better.

A Serious Fossil Exit Strategy

Call it the #climatecharter

The COP21 Paris agreement is wanting for attention and enforcement. It is no surprise that’s very slow to arrive, because we live in a fossil credit economy. Most of our lifestyles are dependent on the use of fossil fuel, whether we are travel agent, car dealer, farmer or own a restaurant, it’s all still cheaper with fossil fuels. Banks depend on the fossil credit cashflow in order to take their cut of whatever is being traded, and to keep their power. This power is in a perpetual process of consolidation, now most notably by demonizing cash (while IT risks suggest they should do the opposite), since only when all carbon credit is virtual can you really control this system, and can you control everyone operating in it.

This can’t stand. we can’t survive this situation. We will be inundated, dried out, see our oceans die and turn toxic, and all the harzardous activities like nuclear and chemical plants will be insecure in a world trying to deal with catastrophy after catastrophy. To retreat is to lose this battle, we need to attack, and this requires us to sacrifice.

Our awe with the central banks, with the neat people of the oil companies, with all that is presented as ‘Big’ is misplaced and inappropriate. It is proof or our need for trust and be protected, because most of us are weak. We are weak when we are children, we are weak when we are old. We are weak because we are supposed to cooperate, and some that have turned this weakness in an agressive drive to protect themselves are not cooperating. Shell may be looking into wind energy like it’s a cadaver they will have to carry around. That type of lackluster smearing unenthousiasm is not going to cut it. We should not expect it. We should not wait for it.

Energy is a basic requirement for all of us. Soon we will see millions die because they can’t grow food, can’t access water, can’t make water with energy or trade something they make for that energy and water harvesting equipment. For some (and this is a controversial claim) this is an opportunity for eugenics and land grab. Less people less pollution. Once you accept that not humans are equal (like those in the fossil industry clearly do, as they protect their ‘lifestyle’ at the cost of the lives of billions of creatures today and in the future), all bets are off. You can calculate on a napkin exactly how much you need to lose. The cloud will provide the data, it’s what happend before in WOI, the Napoleontic wars, in every resource war, those that die are no longer a burden, those that live apparently earned it. This is the unempathic train of thought, one that we certainly not support, but that is certainly out there. It is a losing strategy because it prevents effective climate action.

A serious fossil exit strategy that does not involve war and catastrophy goes something like this : The US, China, Russia and the UN convene in Geneva or some other neutral place and decide that:

  1. Human rights of food, water and shelter are aknowledged and equal protection in all the regions is the starting point. Patents and other protections that prevent equal access will no longer be enforced.
  2. All fossil reserves will come under a central authority, including also Clathrate methane, Tundra methane (not considered fossil). oil, coal, gas and peet or high carbon containing soil like is found in the tropics.
  3. All non essential fossil requiring production processes will be halted for a period of ten years. This includes flights, cruises, production/use of fertilizer (phased out asap).
  4. Every region will get solar panel, solar thermal, wind turbine and battery factories. Geothermal well drilling will be provided for free, the fuels needed will be taken out of the reserves.
  5. Transition of essential production processes to renewables will be priority nr. 1. This includes the production of renewable energy sources.
  6. Renewables (floating wind and solar farms) will be exanded to our oceans to create artificial habitats (using deep ocean nutrients) which will be expanded to the largest possible size, providing food and storing carbon.
  7. All land is free for anyone who wants to work on using it without fossil input, sequestion carbon, planting forests. The use can be ‘Extraeconomic’ meaning not for trade, only for carbon sequestration and sustainance of the workers. For that purpuse renewable energy sources will be provided for free. Expansion into deserts and barren regions will be supported.
  8. Money is created by the tax office, and given in a fair part to whomever produces energy in the form of electricity, gas, food, depending on how much secondary production this energy will allow, and in a fair part to its civil servants/institutions. This way there is always exactly the right amount of money and there is no credit.
  9. The goal is to reduce atmospheric CO2, to eliminate CO2 (greenhouse gas) emissions from human sources and preventable natural sources, To maximize the amount and variety of biomass on Earth.
  10. All armies protect this process. People that do work that is important for other people’s lives get rewarded in relative terms by the regional tax office.
  11. Local communities will be encouraged to create beauty and foster a variety of plants and animals as part of their culture and to ensure life offers evolution the widest variety of candidates.
  12. No change to this process untill CO2 drops below pre industrial levels.

This is what needs to happen. Also birth control and education, which will be much easier with VR and speech technlogy as it is now being developed. A lot of industry and industrial might will go away quickly if the above strategy is used, all the ‘Big’ corporations are protected by infinite amounts of fossil credit, and fossil credit will no longer be the property of banks to create at will. Doing the above will change a lot of lives, but it is necessary, because the economic process now expected to solve things will not, because it is fundamentally dependent on fossil fuels.

The Enlightenment Dilemma

Our world has a lot of threats, it has a lot of crime. Luckily it is a big world so most crimes may not have knocked on your door yet. Any crime that gets so big it starts to affect a significant portion of the population either gets assimilated into one of the institutions or fought with all the benefits to law enforcement and the security industry.

Credit card fraud has been a billion dollar problem for decades, but it was acceptable. It doesn’t stop with new cards, the simplest way to explain it is that security only comes from being removed from whatever tries to break in. Even the most advanced encryption systems work with Certificate Authorities that keep track of which encryption keys are used by whome, and if they are not somewhere else then the system they are supposed to authorise, they are no good. Distance is the only real security system we have. Even if it is abstracted to distance in time in the case of encryption, that encryption is worthless if we can not keep the adversary removed from what we try to keep secret.

Some threats are not real yet, they are imagined, like catastrophic climate change. Try to imagine how hard it is to convey this risk to a dog. It is impossible. Even humans are not easy to convince, not easy to evoke a visceral feeling of uneasy in. For that there needs to be a sense of absoluteness, and alignment between truth and physical safety in the mind. This is usually the core of the mind of a scientist. If that is unattainable then a trust in scientist that are honestly trying to make a significant career out of analysing and discovering truth. A belief in cooperation helps to trust the experts when they say we should act. If that trust is eroded and catastrophic relativism has taken hold in the mind then the only thing that will convince that individual is reality. At that point predictions are useless.

Some threats however are not safe to explain. We have seen some examples, like the dutch paper on how to create a H1N1 avian flue virus in the lab. In the process of showing that soceity is at risk of roque gene slicing terrorists these people are shown how to do their thing. A more recent example is the skimming of near field payment cards. Ok, so you need a portable merchant account and you can spend al day skimming people that pass by you in the street. Not everyone will be aware of this threat but the news does help those that want to present it.

VR, AI and the IoT are all threats. The threat of VR is that we become so distracted and maleducated that we let our world go to shit, we won’t notice it or care. We can hunt lions in VR all day so what does it mean they are going extinct? Africa? Been there, me and my ten AI avatars that know me better than I do.

With IoT you can talk about privacy, but really, tiny computers that talk to each other in everything, while hospitals declare emergencies because someone hacked into the system and holds data for ransom? How vulnerable do you want your world to be if a burglar can simply scan the thermostats in a neighborhood and see who’s at home? Malware for sale, identity theft services with a smile. Iphone chips drilled open to reveal part of the decryption details. Dangerous crimes become off the shelf combinations using incredible technologies at our finger tips.

AI is perhaps the killer. Now everyone is suddenly after it. AI we define as ARGO, or Aware robust goal oriented systems. Aware is some way off, but really not as far as most people think. I can make my computer be aware of itself as I let it babble words. When it recognizes what it said it can conclude it no longer needs to say it, then it can wait for me to repeat and it knows 100% for sure communication has worked. Maybe not what most think is self awareness, because there’s no rest of a self that the computer can be aware of, but the principle holds : The self is part of the goal oriented system’s assesment of whether the goal has been reached.

The risks of AI are similar to those of VR, the main being that we lose ourselves. Our brain is not capable of knowing what body it inhabits, especially when it sits still or lies on the couch watching a movie, that’s why these movies work so well. Our brian is confused and thinks we’re there, thinks we are one or the other actors. It has to do that, it’s wired to do that. Luckily AI is still not achieved and one of the reasons is that people are looking in the wrong direction. This is good. Now here comes the enlightenment dilemma : Let’s not explain what people do wrong with AI, or in thinking about AI. Even if we can’t really explain the threat AI presents.

The most tragic story of the Enlightenment Dilemma is that of the atomic bomb. Scientist across the world where exploring nuclear physics, but the president of the US was hardly aware of this. It was Leó Szilárd that convinced Einstein to write a letter about the potential threat of atomic bombs that made Roosefelt pay attention. Without it the US would not have had the bomb ready in time for use against Japan.

Humans evolved over millions of years and then they invented the economy, that ran of fossil fuels, and this economy turned the humans into destructive end points they called ‘consumers’, and these consumers in time got wrapped up in VR and cuddled and pampered by AI, and they did not notice their planet was going to shits. Or. We start only trying to know and understand that which will get us closer to a safe and healthy world to live in. Maybe some technology should be restricted, just like alcohol and drugs, just to keep our humanity prominent and strong.



Wetlands for CCS

A somewhat lazy post but certainly a low cost go to method for capturin CO2

CCS, carbon capture and storage is any manipulation that catches CO2 and sequesters it out of reach of oxygen or our atmosphere. Oil companies and coal burning power plants tout the storage of CO2 in salt caverns, but that’s just a delay strategy, they never actually do it, unless to push out more oil and gas from wells. CCS by biomass is much easier to realise. Trees not only store carbon in their cellulose, but they do have one drawback : they are usefull for burning and building.

This is why we advocate ‘Extraeconomic’ development of forrests. But it turns out wetlands can capture CO2 as well, and turn it into peet, which, when it happens out of reach of humans, may be a safe way to keep carbon sequestered.

A study shows wetlands are much more effective than rainforrests in storing carbon. This is interesting because for new carbonsequestrion intiatives it may be easier to create wetlands than plant forrests. Of course whatever basin is created needs to be seeded with some kind of growth.

“One of the reasons wetlands may be better than forests at carbon capture is because of the way sediments and organic matter, such as leaves, build up under water. There, they are likely to break down more slowly, thus acting as a carbon sink.”

It is thought that rotting biomass in wetlands could produce a lot of methane, and certainly lakes with anoxic life can stirr up and release massive amounts of this potent greenhouse gas, as well as CO2. But apparently the anoxic environment also preserves carbon, like it happend in the peet soils that are so carbon rich, and perhaps also the soils that formed coal seams.

The popular theory held by many uninformitarian geologists is that the plants which compose the coal were accumulated in large freshwater swamps or peat bogs during many thousands of years. This first theory which supposes growth-in-place of vegetable material is called the autochthonous theory.

So maybe this is once again a finding of the kind “We need to put ice back on the poles, but that would take to much fossil fuels! (listen to this podcast for more)”, but there are places where wetlands could be created. Africa has a large depression near Ethiopia that will eventually flood. On the other hand building rain dams and dikes in less populated regions with rain can quickly form wetlands.

Wetlands can be part of climate action and steadily collect carbon without needing much care 

Saddam Hussein famously destroyed the Mesopotamian Marshes covering an area of 20.000 square kilometers. Surely the carbon sequestring potential of that oil rich region can not be questioned. Maybe more work should be put in restoring them to offset fossil emissions from the oil and gas out of that region.

“Recovery of the Central Marshes has been much slower compared to the Huwaizah and Hammar Marshes; the most severely damaged sections of the wetlands have yet to show any signs of regeneration”

The First Groundhog Generation

Society is on the brink of a number of significant changes and challenges. As climate change is starting to affect our food supply, water supply significantly artificial intelligence and VR/AR (Virtual and Augmented Reality) are entering the scene. Microsoft Hololens is not for making stories, it’s for populating your world with AI avatars you want to interact with and that will take control over your life in an unprecedented way (See the Human Integrity Charter). But there are two sides to everything. Science is in spite of what is being claimed still progressing, the question has to be : How far will we let this go?

The pressure to sell fossil fuel and generate cashflow for banks has pushed industry to extremes

When Holland was struck by famine a couple of times at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20 century it became more scientific about agriculture. It made itself food secure, but it created a science and industry that did not want to stop at ‘enough’. The artificial fertilizer and poisons and methods could be sold all over the world and would eventually lead us into an intensive farming prison it will be hard to back out of, because the soil is now toxic and depleted (see the Post Intensive Farming Food Gap). We should have checked this industry, but like any other fossil fuel consuming industry, the means to bribe and sue to get ahead have been limitless.

Telecommunication has created an army of jealous zombies wanting everything, driving the world economy

Technology serves humans, and humans have surprising little needs, it really depends on what they are used to. Television really does a great job making us jealous of more complicated and expensive lives. Without television new ideas and products would permeate only very slowly and still everywhere people would be relatively happy. Internet has the same effect, but also excludes a lot of potential customers for what it shows. When you haven’t moved to instagram or don’t use Viber you will not be included in whatever is targeted to those users. VR and AR will make that effect even stronger. People will be able to live happy lives even if they are the only one left on the planet, surrounded by AI driven avatars that will actually do stuff for you because they are paired with robotic automated systems.

VR and AR will change life just like the internet has done

But people are of questionable use if such a society would develop, and if that society where to develop based on scarce or depletable energy sources, only the best consumers, the ones selling it best would remain. Eugenics is build into every system, but will  certainly become stronger with big data and a cost for every living consumer (see Eugenics and Big Data). This is a risk, and usually people do not respond to risk, they only respond to real opportunities. With VR and AR that rule will become obsolete. It will be possible to read entire cities of individuals in a fantasy world, with rules they would never come across in nature. Already young people are pushed as far away from being in control by being made to pay attention to nonsense and be happy about crap. Get your crayons out dude, there’s a war on!

Recently Hewlett Packhard made a 180 turn on memristors. These easy to create devices where the missing link for electronics, and allow the creation of super compact computers that need very little power and that remember whatever they stored for decades without it. Perfect material for drones, robots etc. No more silicon based chips, just a small factory in the back of the house can make these devices out of white paint, aluminum, carbon. HP was very enthousiastic, talking about the ‘Machine’ that every employee of the company would contribute to, a scene right out of a distopyina sci fi movie. But HP stopped (with some lame excuse).

Memristor technology is dangerous. To much power, to robust.

Another recent significant event is the victory of AlphaGo over Go world champion Sedol. Not for the reasons you may think. We don’t consider AlphaGo AI, as we have written about this topic, and robustness is a key property of any AI. AlphaGo is superfragile. But interestingly the victory is used to rewind development in AI research by putting young scientist on the trail of neural networks. These things that we had personal experience with as a neuroscientist researcher are not the answer nor the way to AI, at least not in the shape they are offered by f.i. GNU. Sure you can do a lot with it, but not make a thinking robot.

Author of this has seen technology ready for market 20 years ago that is now presented as novel

We often comment on reinvention, for instance when we see a video of someone doubting the possibility of a car running on Ammonia, and explaining they have achieved a milestone in moving closer to this future possibility. It’s bullcrap. It can be done, today and without much effort. But of course it tells a lot of people not to expect or demand it, after all, someone is working on it. Buy gasoline in the mean time people. The same goes for small wind turbines on land, they always die or suck, sometimes with the help of big investors. This is the industrial market protection system, the reality that our industry competes over resources, when they should cooperate in generation of resources. Que Bono? The intermediaries.

The fossil industry and banks have slowed down technological progress when their revenue was threatened, and still do

But there seems to be a second reason except the fossil fuel lobby and the intermediaries likeing their trade to limit technological advancement, a third reason to keep people searching for AI in the wrong place, a reason to shut down the introduction of the memristor : Security.

Why look here for life, health and freedom, it’s the hardest place..

Science and technology can serve us, but we need only very little. If the ones amongst us that have been taught to want riches and a high lifestyle got hold of certain technology this would lead to crime. VR/AR sure is going to make it much easier to learn skills and be taught. Super compact low power computers can drive devices with a persistence (which is robustness, a property of true AI) we won’t like. Datamining already is exposing everyone’s political affiliation and making it available to whoever is in power. Who knows whoelse the NSA is selling data to, it is a known fact energy companies and financial institutions make use of their data.

Big Data leads to Eugenics

Do we want a world in which a disgruntled teenager can make a device that causes serious damage? What makes more sense : Have a ubiquitous fallable surveillance system or not making certain knowledge available. It is only because fossil fuels are causing climate change and the response is not fast enought that the owner of this blog knows about technology as much as he does. If the world was ‘safe’, if the future was secure, why spend time online, why look at the challenges if they where not such a threat, even to our ability to respond.

In some places humans feed of their dreams and abitions, and the more ugly these places are, the more people will cling on to their dreams. VR and AR are going to help that proces.

Someone writes that most big inventions have been done already, we should not look so eagerly to new technology (in dutch). Such a position can be simply pro fossil fuel (stop the renewable tech advance) or it can be motivated to avert the threat of individuals capable of using dangerous technology. For sure scientific development has not reached its limit, but do we want to share all that knowledge if it causes our reality to desintegrate, if it makes us insecure in so many ways.

Humanity could slow down it’s search to innovate, if this where safe. It is not safe yet.

The solution would be simple on one condition : Humanities primary task will be to reverse and surive climate change by the most effective and practical means. This condition is not yet met. If it where met one can then introduce a simple system of lifestyle choice. the technology route would be highly discouraged unless certain technology was still necessary. The reason to do this is that humans have evolved for a certain challenge level, and technology is to powerfull to either resist or survive if humans, with their fragile psyche, where allowed to handle it. We are all mostly peacefull, but there are poor, frustrated young men out there with a debilitating belief system that leads them to be crushingly immoral, and how is one to keep dangerously effective technology from their hands.

Science serves our happiness and security, not the cashflow of those that sell fossil fuels

So we may see this generation as the first Groundhog Day generation, the generation that does not progress, that actually regresses to a more open en green society with less rules, less to fight for but also less technology. At the same time the technology that will exist like VR and AR will have a definite security agenda, drawing angry young men into society, teaching us skills to enjoy and creating an illusion of a global community. The question is : Will it be safe, or will it end up being like a hazourdous materials overall with an occulus rift strapped to it. We need to get renewables to dominate the agenda, then the pressure to capture people in ‘economic jobs’ to keep depleting resources because it generates cashflow and to top down control the world will disappear. Then we can live our Groundhog Days in paradise.


NH3 as Quick Fix for Diesel Pollution

As this is a dutch blog it may sometimes seem it is written from an ancient perspective, in many places of the world the switch to renewables is an inevitable one, and one can feel the power of this change, and see it everywhere. Belgium’s solar installations for instance present a remarkable contrast from the ones in Holland, when you travel by train and look out the window, there’s no street in Belgium without at least one set of panels.

The Anti Diesel movement is global and growing

But some really significant options have been weeded out by consultants early on in the game, maybe not elsewhere but for sure in Holland. When universities, consultancies and industry organized a series of workshops to teach politics about our energy transition, hydrogen H2 was promintent, but Ammonia, NH3 was ignored, and even questions about it where ignored (I asked them). This made me believe that the events where really about diverting attention to long term programmes, to protect the fossil industry. CCS was prominent, Nuclear, it’s the usual suspects of bad ideas making a few people shitloads of money.

Wind Ammonia as Bunker/Shipping Fuel

As I looked into NH3 the option to use it as fuel became a much better alternative than Hydrogen (H2). NH3 is basically Hydrogen on a Nitrogen carriers. It is liquid under much less pressure than Hydrogen, so it can be stored in tanks like LNG. It has similar combustion properties as diesel, and even gasoline engines can be adapted at very low cost to NH3 as fuel.

“Ammonia ()NH3 is a bulk industrial commodity, and can be burned in both diesel engines and gas turbines.”

NH3 has been used to power busses in WOII, and as a fuel has more power than Diesel, yet it is less flammable, so in the event of a crash the risk of fire is less. NH3 is also less harmfull than for instance gasoline, because it’s toxicity is reversable, so a person caught in a NH3 cloud will certainly get sick, just like one caught in a cloud of gasoline vapours, but that person will recover if saved in time with less problems than when caught in a gasoline cloud, or fireball more likely.

Ammonia performance car, not really true to say it’s only for low RPM..

For reference we can look at the people that cleaned up the Mexican Gulf oil spill of which many came down with irreversible brain damage due to the solvent properties of the fossil compounds in the oil slick (lets not talk about the carcinogen Benzene). NH3 is produced in the body, that’s how foreign the substance is.

NH3 burns with no CO2, only H2 and N2, and lower NOx than diesel or gasoline

Today we see a growing movement to ban Diesel vehicles from cities, this has two reasons, one is that it prevents lung disease, because especially as cars and trucks accelerate and decellerate diesel engins belch out a lot of soot and burn less efficiently. Also the diesel is better used in industry, and anything that reduces consumer waste of fossil fuel in favor of industry will lead to more wealth (as industry produces wealth, consumers destroy it). Also as industrial standards are weaker (having witnessed the pollution (and slow reduction of it) in ports first hand) heavy fuels have more longevity in industrial markets.

Cars can switch between diesel and NH3, Gasoline and NH3 while driving.

The ommision this movement against diesel makes is to look at NH3, because even as an interim solution, car parks are much easier to switch to NH3 than to being electric, especially and it’s amazing that Tesla probably has to build an electric truck before the big truck manufacturers see the light. The focus is put on self driving trucks, autonomous road trains and all the stuff that will keep us from actually transitioning to cleaner fuels. Part of this reluctance to look at it is that in the renewables based future it’s unlikely that a company that has to ship over the horizon will be viable. The long range logistics world is a product of fossil energy.

NH3 has been tried and promoted and is currently still promoted. It has been killed by the fossil industry many times, because the fossil industry has always been able to corrupt politicians, who want to meet short term needs usually a result of fossil fuel scarcity. Farmers have created wind turbines with a NH3 generating system to both fertilize their fields and drive their equipment. NH3/fuel cell cargo locomotives have been designed, road trucks converted  (sometimes only by changing the ignition software). And all these initiatives have been killed or died a quiet death. Consultancies have ignored it (and we know how independent they can be).

We have written about how NH3 can be extracted from manure quite easily still leaving suger and cellulose rich base material for biogas installations

NH3 logistics is not difficult, as farms need it year round. So all over the world there are NH3 storage facilities and pipes lying dormant most of the time. It is time we start using them. NH3 production used to be electric, using the Haber Bosch process and hydrodam electricity. When WOII came gas was used to make it, because the stuff was used in bombs, and after WOII this new artificial fertilizer was sold to farmers who all moved along with the fossil intensive (so fossil incentivised) agricultural intensivation movement. But farms can be organic and use NH3 as a fuel, and thus be independent and motorized, and it can be done in a matter of months not decades.

Power 2 Gas from Wind or Solar is about making H2, Methane and NH3

Many of us make money off of problems, and the manure surplus problem is one of them. The nitrates or nitrogen mentioned if people talk about it is part NH3, so a huge amount of usefull fuel is wasted so that farmers don’t see a way off of having to buy fuel every time again. This situation is politically motivated, because independent farmers are the natural leaders of society, not the banks and traders. To keep farmers quiet they need to be struggeling or in league with the powers that be, this has been a principle for centuries. This will change as fossil fuels become less prominent, and hopefully the world will be a greener, cleaner world, a patchwork of small communities that farm and enjoy life without high concentrations of people that make a lot of them desperate and ready to do immoral things to survive.

Freedom fertilizer projects, or farmers making NH3

There is limted time to get to that world, or it will burn up in front of our eyes, and one way to speed up progress is to use NH3 in diesel vehicles until they are replaced by electric ones. This should become part of any political parties agenda, of the EPA environmental services, road safetly watchdogs and those that now make diesel engines. Even though NH3 is now still a gas based product, it can be made with renewable electricity, wind, and thus be transitioned fast with less emissions and pollution.

Marangoni High Performance Ammonia NH3 fueled upgrade version




Political Energy or the Coalition of Constructors

Renewable energy will grow at record speed the coming years. Even though it will banks invested in the fossil energy sector will be reluctant, fossil energy companies will push back by lobbying and existing laws will help them slow down the growth. In general the financial system, having profited greatly from CO2 emission rights, and allways eager to try and sabotage another solution, are simply not the partners for a greener future. Banks will become all but obsolete as stored energy reserves will become much less important than it is now (coal, oil, gas are all stored energy). Without stored production capacity (capital in a way) who needs banks?

The ‘right’ exists to protect the status quo

To accelerate this proces further it seems the left is playing the wrong game. Those that like to think of solutions in the real world, instead of short term solutions to a lifestyle need, like ‘I want to own a big house’, who generally are found on the left side of the political spectrum, make a mistake when trying to plea with the right side. The right side of the political arean is happy with the solutions it knows, and usually unable to follow any argument for change. The resistance is not intellectual, it is simply ideological.

The right usually chooses between two options : If it is a problem then of course someone is to blame, someone has to be found that solves it. If it is not a problem for the right the right is optimistic. Optimism, trusting that things work out well, is a very effective way to get rid of a problem. So migrants are problem, they are to blame, climate change is not a problem to the right, it will be ok. Bank failure is a big problem, the ‘economy’ is to blame. Joblessness due to that same ‘economy’ is a challenge the jobless will find a way to deal with. A left wing person will try to argue with a right wing person, and get nowhere, although the right wing person gets a chance to frustrate the left wing person and may do so for as long as it is fun. Don’t argue with a right wing politician!

Since capital is now fossil fuel, available for credit, capitalism as we know it needs to be replaced by a new system

What the left should do is make a clear separation between what is for the left and what is for the right. Right now the left lives in a society structured by right wing principles, a fossil fuel based globalized economy. What it wants for the sake of the planet is a renewables based economy with distributed energy and storage, distributed local production. Such a society is much safer to live in and can even have positive effect on the CO2 concentration (lower it). If cleaning up the climate was something the economy would do by itself we would not have the problem in the first place, so climate action on the scale needed will never fit in the right wing economic philosophy.

If the people owning solar panels realize they are insurgents in a fossil credit economy, if they buy storage for their power they will be invisible to the banking system in providing their basic needs (not food, but it gets there). If they grow organic on debt free land they would be totally outside the grasp of the banks (which is why the right lobbies for many restrictions on farming and growing). If they realized they are politically active in doing what they do, solar, wind, organic farming even insulating one’s house or planting a tree. These actions with real economic impact are what defines the Left, the ‘constructors’, relative to those that want to import, burn consume, pillage, raid nature and all its resources because there is no direct tangible consequence.

A philosophy of exclusive focus on the market does not marry with that of the farmer

The ‘constructors’ should own the storage, the grid, the factories that use the power, the trains, the busses and cars. The renewable energy system now feeds in to a happy go lucky we are all the same system which is fundamentally pro fossil and is slowing down the change. How many billions of gallons of oil will be wasted just because some individuals get a good life out of it is mindboggeling, the harm this will do equally so.  Destruction has been ongoing for a century now and we have passed the panic point. We should panic.

Do not reason with the right, your reasoning will teach them how to exhaust and discourage you

What we should not do is plea with the conservatives, those that think and feel we need to move to renewables asap should unite under one political flag and not focus on the divisions in some of their beliefs. The big switch has to be made by a united group, not a divided group of which many still haven’t understood the flaws in economic thinking. If one looks at a parlaiment, it should be clear who is a constructor and who isn’t so even on the rightish end of the spectrum one can vote for a person that wants to end the fossil fuel era and who will vote that way in all cases.

Constructor :

  1. 100%  Renewables ASAP, no burning, so no biomass. No nuclear.
  2. Growing storage for industry and homes
  3. Grid becomes publicly owned, no financialization of energy markets
  4. Carbon tax which will NOT be spend on fossil fuels directly or indirectly
  5. Renewable energy producers will receive credit to sell depending on the economic contribution of the energy. Tax office keeps taxes. (See Euro, Auro and Joule).
  6. Extra economic climate action, so climate action which will not be economically exploited.
  7. Persecution and shut down of pollutors, confiscation of fossil resources so they can be allocated most efficiently to the construction of renewable energy sources.