Escape into the Age of Abundance
The third press briefing or how humanity will end
I recently watched the “Third press briefing of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) held on Dec. 6, 2014 at the 20th annual Conference of the Parties (COP 20) for the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Lima, Peru.” Sorry, for just copying and pasting this in here, but it is so typical that announcing the doom of humanity would have such a boring title.
Watch it! It will blow your mind.
Basically, we are toast! Humanity is a goner! We are already dead; we just don’t know it yet.
Well … I mean, now you know.
To summarize: Global warming melted the shelf ice in a huge area in north Russia and now that the permafrost is thawing it releases Methane in approximated 10-100 fold of the quantity of Methane in the entire atmosphere. And yes, it is an only roughly 80x more potent greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. What can go wrong?
This whole thing is a feed forward process of doom, because Methane release will lead to global warming, will lead to thawing of the shelf ice, will lead to more Methane release and repeat!
Everybody is talking about the CO2 levels and the urgent need to control their emissions, however, even if we would stop right now the emissions of carbon dioxide completely, the sign stating, “You are now entering the danger zone” will be still in the rearview mirror.
2° Celsius (or Kelvin for that matter) of overall global temperature increase is usually where this sign resides. Beyond that point it is usually thought that the change in the weather would be so dramatic that it will become unsustainable for humanity to live the way we are at the moment.
Even without the upcoming changes in weather phenomenon, the population is rising and probably will bring humanity to the brink of earth’s capacity to support us food wise.
Now with the Methane release we are looking at ~6-8° Celsius increase. What that means no one really knows. One thing is sure, with the increase in temperature weather phenomenon will get stronger, more severe and more erratic. All this will hinder a predictable steady food supply and bam! there will be turmoil and war etc. You name it.
So. What to do?
Are we actually doomed? Is there a way out and when how would it look like?
Doom or do …
It’s basically an alteration of our planet, now hopefully in the desired direction. Not like removing the ozone layer or creating acid rain or heating up the planet these were all byproducts of global scale industries.
Climate engineering, however, is hoping to counter act global wide industrialization going on for 250 years.
So. Bury the head in the sand?
First things first: Because the industrialization and the impact of the industry growth exponentially the impact of our counter measure will also be so much stronger. Meaning if we put our minds to it we probably could solve the problem quicker than we think.
Which brings us to the question: How to actually solve the problem?
One proposal is to spray sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. This would create a reduction in temperature as seen multiple times by very strong volcanic outbreaks. Together with dust particles the sulfur dioxide in the upper atmosphere reflects the sunlight away from earth and act like a shield.
In principle that should work but it has kind a Matrix like feel to it. Covering the sun, fighting pollution with more pollution, it doesn’t feel right.
Other proposals go the route of extracting the greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. One way is as the company Sunfire has shown the possibility to create fuel from just water, CO2 and electricity. So it is possible to extract CO2 and Methane from the atmosphere and stow it away. (One could even grow diamonds from the carbon if one so chooses and build quantum computer out of them, which then would help to calculate the best solution which inexplicably would be to build more quantum super computers and AIs take over the world – Hail to our artificial overlords!) The major problem, however, is power.
Sunfire: Alternative fuels from air, water and renewable energy
Diamonds are a quantum computer’s best friend
(Added bonus: Growing diamonds out of Methane with a microwave oven)
For any of the extraction solutions to be feasible one needs electricity so cheap that we could waste it quiet literally. We would need to use energy to transform carbon into a dense depositable form that is not capable of releasing it again (Diamonds are forever – tamtetatam tata tamtetatam tata didaa didadum – just saying.) and then dump it and not use it. We need to basically pump the carbon neutral fuel back into the earth as a researcher suggested at the end of the “we all gone die” press release.
This however brings us to the problem how do we get electricity for free?
Escape into the future – brough to you by technology
This now brings me to the title of this post, the age of abundance. I think I first heard of the idea of “The age of abundance” from the video of a discussion session called “Are we ready for the coming age of abundance?”
The idea is very compelling and easy to understand. If we could harness all the energy coming from the sun that is hitting earth we for one would have finally made it onto level 1 on the Kardashev scale and on the other hand would have more than enough energy to transform the planet.
Basically energy is the limiting factor that would free up all sorts of other shortages like water and food and so on.
On a side note, life can be seen as a structure that is dispersing energy from higher level of energy (like chemical energy) to lower level of energy (heat). A life form is more evolved if it disperses more energy per time. That means we evolve onto higher and higher levels the more energy we have at our disposal and we are actually make use of. Note that it doesn’t matter what we use it for ;-).
I have to research where this idea is coming from.
Credit where credit is due.
From the wikipedia article “Entropy and life” it should be Kaila, Ville R. I. and Annila, Arto. “Natural selection for least action.” Proceedings of The Royal Society A.
A nice explanation of the article can be found by Lisa Zyga at PhysOrg.com.
The age of abundance would save us from many perils that would haunt us especially it would not stifle our progress as would reduction in energy consumption. As I have pointed out in the intermission, reduction in energy consumption is equivalent with stopping our evolution. It would demolish our way of living and would decrease living standards. Reaching the age of abundance can circumvent all this.
How do we get there? The technology is actually already here. There are plus-energy houses, meaning the house produces more power than the inhabitants are consuming. Now everybody on the planet only needs to move into such a home.
As the Tesla Powerwall launch event has shown in the future it will become easier and more affordable to create and manage ones own energy consumption. The prices of solar cells and batteries will drop further. By using more abundant metals like Aluminum in batteries prices might drop even faster. If energy solutions become widely affordable one can easily see how with the excess energy the planet could be transformed.
New aluminium-ion battery from Stanford
Arriving in the age of abundance as fast as possible will probably determine if humanity will survive in the future. Solving the energy problem will probably be one of the main problems humanity has to solve within century.
Hopefully seeing you alive and well in the future and with a very low if not non existing energy bill.