Millenium projects


If you try to look past your coffee and tasklist in front of you to see what climate activists are worried about, you may run into several optimistic misconceptions. One of them is that if our food, transportation and housing could be climate neutral suddenly this would not halt the warming process. CO2 has to mix and spread through the atmosphere over time, so if emissions stopped today the insulating effect would still grow for 20 years or so. Then if we try to fight the warming with tree planting (and not bruning the wood!) that needs to go on for a while. Some headlines my suggest there is a fix for the climate, that shading particles spread at high altitudes will help (it will cool things down), it can only cause a delay in damaging effects. We are going to have to face some changes.

Dry barren places, inhospitable to humans (parts of India and the Arabian peninsula) can be used for CO2 large capturing installations

To someone who likes to think of solid solutions we think it is time to start so called millenium projects. These projects will exist for a millenium as the name suggests. Because of that they will have to be automatic. Humans can not run such a stabile activity not geared towards satisfying primary human urges. If we take the premise of a group of individuals going to a hot and barren place to sequester CO2 through some technological means, you are talking a closed community, which is vulnerable to many inbalances. People may starve, get sick, a leader becomes despot. Factions form. All these problems can not be allowed to hinder the process. The only places where we have seen such communities is of course in ancient times and science fiction (on space ships) and the simple truth is that in those situations people with deviant behaviour would be quickly killed off.

The Earth atmosphere may be restored as people live in orbit..

So back to the idea of a CO2 sequestration project that lasts 1000 years. They can take many shapes. They will occupy vast areas, but hopefully areas hard for humans to live anyway. There are several options but one example is to create desalination installations and plantations in desert regions, out of reach of normal citizen. These plantations will have to run and maintain desalination plants (on renewables) autonomously. The plantations for biomass will not serve any market other than the CO2 indicator.

The process will be simple :
1. Grow biomass
2. Remove anything but C and H as much as possible
3. Dump the biomass in a place without oxygen out of reach of people
4. Do this at the fastest pace and largest scale all running on renewables.

These installations will need to be out of bounds for humans. That gives them the best shot. At least they will have a mode that they will go into if no human is present or taking control. That way they can be controlled but will run autonously otherwise.

What do you think are good examples of autonomous activities that can continue for hundreds of years, and what places are a good fit? How would you organize this from a governmental point of view. We would use gobal meetings to designate ‘extraeconomic zones’ which will be hot and inhospitable, and allow industry to suggest projects (which won’t be aimed towards profit, because nothing will be sold!). This should be so called millenium projects, and their design can be part of a millenium prize contest.

Why the Oceans are the Only Solution

The ultimate temperatures we are facing today are close to the hothouse scenario, in which runaway warming will happen and humanity will be too messed up and malnourished to act on it. Robots can help but we have yet to start thinking big about robots and AI to fight climate change (what we call the roboeconomy). Sensible action is taken by many governments in planting billions of trees. This while Russia and China are preparing to use still more fossil fuels.

We are fighting nationalists and bankers. Nationalists because the economy is keeping countries together (like the US and China) while the people in the countries considere themselves of various ethnicity and might as well have been in separate countries (with a smaller footprint!). Bankers because credit today is still fossil fuel credit, and cashflow is maximized as well as ‘growth’ (meaning expansion of fossil fuel cashflow). Bankers have no future in the Roboeconomy, unless they control real assets (energy sources, raw materials), not financial assets or debt or credit. The entire financial sector will disappear if credit can no longer guarantee access to fossil fuels. A lot of pressure will also come off the global economy, and the global economy will shrink to a fraction of what it is today.

Then the world is stuck with the CO2 concentration. It requires big projects to deal with it. Tree planing is certainly a priority because trees will grow on their own for decades, so any calamity that may occur (severe food shortages, droughts) may not affect them. But the absorbing capacity of trees that stand is limited, and they will have to be removed and destroyed when they stop growing. Their carbon has to be extracted to be removed from the atmosphere completely, and this requires energy. Cellulose is not oil, it contains oxygen. That oxygen needs to be removed. The carbon and hydrogen may be dumped at sea. All this requires energy and labour, people or robots. So trees are a temporary solution untill we figure out how to process them.

All biomass on land will have to be processed, moved across land, turned into a hydrocarbon equivalent (if we want the ocean levels to drop), or just carbon. The infrastructure to do this will have to be enormous. It is a big question if this is the best way forward in the long term. We envision the grand canyon being filled from the sides by systems sucking up air and converting the CO2 into methane or pure carbon. This is going to be such a slow process mainly because the CO2 is highly diluted. Meanwhile warming will continue, you can’t shade the Earth because it will reduce biomass production.

On land you can start to irrigate and cool places where biomass is grown. This means building a lot of cover and shade and you can’t use fossil fuel to do it. You can use electric vehicles to transport water to irrigate, you can desalinat with low pressure freeze desal running on solar thermal energy or some newly invented simple way. For all this we need to produce the systems, and be there to do it, and maintain them for centuries. This is why we feel artificial intelligence is a key component of the solution.

It is however much easier to take to the oceans. Why? Because they are cool, they have nutrients (200 meter below) there’s room, if you want to sink off carbon you can do it where you are, you can float saltwater or sweetwater plantations on the oceans. You can cover vast, enormous areas build and controlled by robots. You will shade the deep sea, grow fish, cool with deep water, live on the same ocean. The main reason though is that if you want to get rid of biomass carbon you grown in or on the sea, you just have to drop it. There are tiny plants who do that actually make small pellets of carbon which sink to the bottom.

Oceans are also the solution because we need to protect ourselves against the anoxic ocean. This ocean will produce H2S Hydrogen sulfide, the rotten egg smell now produced by rotting seaweed in Brittany. The gas kills people, horses, anything, and is highly corrosive. It is thought that H2S contributed to a larged degree to the end-Permian extinction ~265 million years ago. Plants and oxygen breathing animals on land where killed by it. If we don’t want a repeat we need oxygen in our oceans, and to do that we need to grow stuff in them.

We think we are going to need robots and AI to use the ocean to capture CO2 on a large scale. The first itteration of floating farms should be build right now. If anyone is interested we have thought about this and it would make sense to talk about it. This is not the economic development of oceans, because we look to grow biomass and dump it. Of course, as a side effect, economically valuable resouces are created, but the moment you open this up to the economy ALL the resources you create will be consumed. This has to happen ‘extraeconomically’ outside the economy, but in a robust and selfsustaining way, so self sustaining that it can last for a thousand years or more! Want to do this? send an email to