The Need For the Development
Global Multi-Win Economic Model:
Key Questions For A New Global Economic System:
1 How can Fossil Fuel Dependency be replaced with an "All of the Above Alternatives To Fossil Fuels” Energy Development Scenario as a way of mitigating the undeniable changes that are being observed in the global climate?
2 How can an “End Game” development of Space-Based Solar Power and other space based Resources for A Sustainable Earth be organized and implemented as a Feasible and Rational Global Solution For Global Energy Demand when we know that only space-based resources can provide an adequate sustainable of supply for total demand?
3 How to deal with the Global Elite Companies that own and control the fossil fuel reserves, the political leaders of the advanced industrial nations of world and many of the political leaders of the less developed world?
The energy economy is the oxygenated blood supply of the global economy. Cheap energy from fossil fuels has supplied the rapid growth of the global economy since the mid-1800s.
The “proven reserves” of fossil fuels; the oil, natural gas, and coal stocks represent much
of the global total of what can be accounted for as wealth.
These fossil fuel companies valuation is based in large part on the amount of the “proven reserves” they control. The proven reserves represent a numerical value for the amount of future business they can conduct in potential production and sales.
350.org’s strategy is to shut down the fossil fuel industry. They plan to do this by choking off new investment and with a divestment campaign by universities, governments, and private investors. They view this as a more effective tactic than shareholder lawsuits .
350.org says they have no long-term strategic plan but plan to remain flexible as to their tactics.
They also plan to force governments through political activism to end the $.5 to $1Trillion subsidies which fossil fuel companies receive “to look for more proven reserves.”
The point of 350.org is that these proven reserves hold 5 times more carbon than the global environmental system can absorb if the atmospheric C02 levels are at a level where the temperature range increase expected can be limited to 2 degrees centigrade.
Yet 350.org is a strong proponent of redirection of these subsidies to alternative energy supplies.
Yet there is only a win/lose scenario for those with the greatest power and wealth if 350.org’s campaign succeeds. Their hold on power and wealth will be lost.
If 350.org succeeds these proven carbon assets will become stranded assets with lost value. In the US oil companies have received under the US Tax Code “Oil Depreciation Allowances”
which gives them a tax break to recover the reserves diminished by oil production by investing in more exploration.
350.org claims to have no long-term strategy.
This leaves a glaring vacuum for pragmatic and rational economic action which accomplishes the goals of carbon use limitation and alternative energy supply development. A strategy based on forced political and economic conflict with no publicly explicit long-term plan is no guarantee that their campaign can be successful. It provides few metrics with which anyone can gauge their effectiveness other than to count rallies that measure good intentions by the large number of people who are scared about the future.
The Need For Multi-Win Clean Energy Investment Strategy
A critical look at a reinvestment strategy that is based on a mechanism which does not destroy the book value of these carbon reserves as stranded assets is needed. These assets will be of use and necessary to a global civilization in need of carbon resources for thousands of years. Their value must be maintained as a scarce resource which must be carefully husbanded as highly valued and carefully controlled. Rather than having their value driven down effectively to zero on the balance sheets their paper net value need not be diminished. They provide a current economic measure of “accumulated wealth” which can also be used as a way of gauging the diversion of former oil depletion allowance to new investments tapping the “proven reserves of the Sun” in the context of an All of the Above Fossil Fuel Alternatives Investment Strategy including:
1 Global terrestrial solar power,
2 Smart grid investments to level out the distribution of alternate energy sources that are intermittent due to wind, tides, and weather conditions affecting solar electric production.
3 Investment in new energy storage technologies which can also revolutionize alternative energy use. (Peter Schubert’s silicon energy storage system which has ten times the energy density of the batteries used in Elon Musk’s Tesla automobiles.)
4 Investment in space-based infrastructure to:
A Capture solar power in space via solar power satellites
B Harvest Helium 3 as a fusion fuel when commercial fusion technology becomes mature.
C Provide Space launch, fuel depots, fuel production, in situ resources utilization for metals and solar production facilities, and supporting infrastructure for crews, communications, and other associated industrial and commercial support activities.
5 Investments in facilities either on Earth or in space which utilize optimum design standards for energy production and self-sufficiency so that both terrestrial development and space development will share a standard favoring self-sufficiency and sustainability.
6 These clean energy investment revolution will promote the rapid replacement of fossil fuel production and consumption strategies on Earth but also the expansion of humanity in space.
7 Space debris remediation and prevention demonstrations with new international conventions developed for all space-faring nations.
8 Planetary Protection measures that ensure prior detection and intervention for prospective Earth impactors.
We have to change the way we do the energy business; the way that energy is produced and consumed around the world.
A multi-win Clean Energy Investment Strategy should also look for collaborative international government research and development to buy down the uncertainties and risks associated with
commercial and public-private partnerships so that the neglect of adequate capital investment in sustainable energy systems today documented by the OECD can be quickly changed.
We must save those facilities which we have that are relevant to the future, modify and improve the structures we have which are pertinent to a new infrastructure, and make new investments to capture the alternatives to fossil fuels which are sustainable for the foreseeable future.
So preserving capital and reinvesting capital rather than destroying capital is the first requirement of a rational economic plan that can mobilize the abilities of both the existing “elites” and “the establishment” of fossil fuel corporations and governments which now run and frequently mismanage the world.
Inertia and inaction are unacceptable to a global public that is being educated about the grim prospects for the future if no climate change action is forthcoming from governments and most corporations. It is not enough to say “Turn Off and Turn On”. A credible campaign for a future energy economy must meet the tests of transparency and skeptical examination. It must provide pragmatic strategies which build coalitions of Government and Corporate resources as well as public support and mass public rallies. It must address the technological challenges and the investment challenges that are needed to mobilized new resources.
350.org places their faith in climate models produced by the global scientific community and a system of systems of Earth observation satellites which has revolutionized the knowledge of the energy flows of Earth’s climate systems.
Public awareness and political pressure are important tactics to mobilize support for strategic changes but they are not a substitute for clear thinking and testable propositions which can be openly analyzed and discussed.
If we place faith in climate models it is equally important to develop transparent economic models which can also be tested against existing economic realities and performance. These models can be used to make predictions and develop effective policies which are consistent with sustainable economic existence and development.
A Modern Extinction Threat
Much Greater and Coming Much Sooner
Than Has Previously Been Suspected
1 The Extinction Threat is most often focused on the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is actually more complex than that. Current levels of C02 are about 350 Parts per million. Previous geologic eras have seen ten times that concentration. During the Jurassic Era dinosaurs were alive and levels were 3500 to 3600 hundred parts per million. The Earth’s climate was much warmer, and tropical vegetation dominated the land areas of the Earth’s surface. Increased volcanism injected Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere also during earlier eras and the Earth has large volcanic provinces in the Northwest US, the Deccan traps in India, and the Siberian Traps in Russia. There are also large igneous provinces under the ocean, and in the volcanic tectonic plates boundaries where there are today’s subsea volcanic events.
2 New knowledge of the deep climate history of the Earth has provided a context for those skeptical of the changes in the Earth’s Anthropocene induced C02 increase and of the rationale to limit the fossil fuel infrastructure and economy and to question the recent conclusions of the InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations. After all, enormous amounts of money and investment are at stake in the existing energy infrastructure. Those that are invested in oil, gas, and coal production seem to have much to lose in this discussion of Humanity’s impact on the atmosphere and of the need to change quickly away from fossil fuel infrastructure and production which overwhelmingly dominates the Earth’s multi-trillion dollar energy economy.
These economic interests also dominate the geo-politics of control of fossil fuel supplies and therefore of the pernicious nature of “oil wars” and the struggle for additional carbon fuel resources including natural gas and the recent success in unlocking natural gas reserve by fracking technologies. The “climate debate” has been fueled by a disinformation campaign from the fossil fuel industry about the quality of the science behind the measurements of CO2 increases in the atmosphere, whether they are a by-product natural environment sources or really a function of the rapidly expanded global fossil fuel economy. This has avoided rational discussion of creating another energy revolution and what economic incentives and capital investments are needed. We must save fossil fuel resources for future non-fuel use, and to change to a mixture of alternative energy production technologies which are needed to address both growth in global demand but also to address the unquestionable environmental devastation impacts that climate change scientists have been warning us about.
3. The H2S Extinction Threat must now move this debate as a global mobilization campaign for both survival and growth in sustainable energy resources and include the construction of a much expanded space economy to enable the acquisition of enormous energy requirements that survival of the Earth’s biosphere from this most pressing H2S Extinction Threat requires.
4 But while CO2 is very important there are a variety of other greenhouse gases in play that begin to play a greater role in climate change as climate warming shifts continue. As the Northern Hemisphere warms there is much methane that is locked into the permafrost lands of Canada, the US, and Russia and that will also be released. In the warming oceans there are reservoirs of methane hydrates that will also be released.
5 A warmer Earth also increases the amount of water in the atmosphere which is also a greenhouse gas. and we can plot the increase of ocean surface warming and warm air released as we see the increase in the number of annual servere hurricanes of recent years.
6 But another historical climate change phenomena has gone under the radar that involves ocean circulation and the flows of oxygen from the surface to the deep ocean. We have increased our understanding of these shifts in relation to the Pleistocene glaciations for example and their association with the Earth’s Milankovich orbital cycle and changes in the ice cover or lack thereof and the Earth’s albedo change in reflecting sunlight back into space.
7 All these indicators of deep climate history have been studied with regard to the Earth’s history of extinction events. Most alarming is the phenomenon that occurs when anoxic bacteria in the deep ocean can multiply when oxygen is cut-off by interruptions of recirculating ocean currents.These anoxic bacteria increase and begin to dominate the deep ocean ecology. They produce large volumes of Hydrogen Sulfide gas which is more toxic than the hydrogen cyanide gas used in Hitler’s holocaust.
8 We have some current high risk areas for deadly gas release events at present.
1 Gases trapped in the large fresh water Lake Nyos in Cameroon in West Africa released a deadly cloud in 1986 killing many people sleeping in nearby villages .
2 Lake Kivo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is some 2,000 times larger than Lake Nyos, is also supersaturated and this lake is adjacent to the City of Goma which has a population of two million.
3 The bottom of the Black Sea is anoxic and lifeless because of trapped gases. There are other ocean hotspots:
4 In the Baltic,
5 Off the cost of African coast of Namibia,
6 Off the West coast of Oregon in the United States
7 In the Chesapeake Bay region of the US East Coast.
Scientists now estimate that massive hydrogen sulfide releases can begin poisoning our Oxygen atmosphere in as little as 40 years and this rise of hydrogen sulfide gases is fed in part by agricultural run-off of fertilizers flowing off agricultural lands into the rivers and down into the oceans.
So the un-sustainability of our Earth’s current industrial civilization would seem to be producing a global extinction threat much faster than has generally been estimated. Some have argued
that we have perhaps 100 years to turn back the climate effects that humanity is inducing by the very success of our industrial culture and civilization. But now it seems the clock is running much faster and that there are no winners versus losers in this climate disaster scenario. There will be just losers or perhaps with an intense global effort a global multi-win survival campaign to escape a credible threat of modern massive extinction beginning in as little as 40 years.
In this threat we have met the enemy and he is us! All of us. All the major industrial and economic competitive powers must swim or sink together. A Global Survival campaign must mobilize the industrial and economic resources of the nations to address this threat and a program of Sustainable Development Goals must also include addressing this global survival requirement.
The National Space Society has long felt that humanity’s future is already tied to the development and use of space based resources and space based energy which vastly exceed the resources available on the Earth. NSS has advocated at the United Nations that the Development of the Space based economy should be considered an 18th Sustainable Development Goal because that will enable all the other 17 accepted goals.
I Given the recent greater clarity in understanding the modern extinction threat we face today this transition to utilization of space base clean energy sources and material resources which is within the collective grasp of humanity is no longer a “nice option”, it is critical to humanity’s survival and the survival evolutionary heritage of terrestrial life.
II If humanity is to survive on Earth it must also become a sustainable space faring civilization using the vast resources available to meet the survival requirements of Earth where our human population is already exceeding the carrying capacity of our Earth and destroying the habitats needed to sustain the evolutionary heritage and other creatures on which we are co-dependent.
III We must learn to live in work in space together and we must open the Dual Frontiers with a Moon First Path to Mars and create a sustainable biosphere in those locations.
IV We must expand the Earth’s Economy to include the volume of cislunar space including the surface of the Moon and also utilize accessible asteroidal resources in this expanded economy.
V Our common Survival on Earth and survival as a space faring species are of one piece.
VI We must marshal the support of all nations and in particular those with the industrial and financial resources to reshape a sustainable economic system and create the financial and political mechanisms for a global multi-win survival campaign. Each country should be encourage to align and optimize it’s economy with this global campaign so that no nation is excluded.
The economic growth potential offers both economic hope and growth based on radical improvement in reducing humanity’s footprint on the Earth through advanced design and engineering systems which can provide dramatic benefits for humanity and the terrestrial environment and the addition of space based energy and material resources also including the hope of continued investment in commercial fusion technology.
VII The United Nations evolved from the Chinese, British, French Russian, and US victorious alliance over the Axis Powers and was intended to prevent another World War. The UN has achieved the goal of preventing another world war and reducing the strategic threat of nuclear arms proliferation thus far but has not erased the competitive ambitions involved in a multi-polar economic world. Nothing like a Global Campaign for Survival mobilized by the Great Majority of Nations represented in the UN was envisioned at that time, but that must be achieved now as a new requirement for humanity’s survival both on Earth and beyond the Earth. This challenge represents our collective species intelligence test one that we must not fail, and one where we work to succeed together as a species whose ultimate potential is as yet unrealized both on our home planet and in
extension within our home solar system.
National Space Society
H2S EXTINCTION EVENT
PAUL WERBOS -
Dr. Peter Ward noted that the current trends on earth appear very similar to those he saw in the past, and that it is his gut feeling that if CO2 reaches 1000 ppm, as seems likely given the limited effectiveness of current world policies, we will probably all die.
I found it amazing that everyone I met in that audience fell into one of two groups: (1) those with a kind of religious or quasi-religious conviction that no scientific research about climate could possibly be worth studying further, that “God promised us in the Bible that the world will never be destroyed by fire and brimstone.
(2) politically correct and proud people who mainly concluded that they should continue voting for existing policies and research on global warming. But there should not be a systematic world effort to do something new, to get a more precise understanding of this threat; to call for new efforts bringing together paleo-geo-biologists like him and physical scientists who understand the crucial thermohaline (temperature-salt content) ocean currents which will decide how soon we fall into “stratified ocean,” one of the key triggers for the H2S event?
The kind of event Ward has observed is called “euxinia,” and it results from the proliferation of a kind of archaea which grow wild very quickly when and where two conditions are met: (1) low oxygen in the ocean, as in the “stratified ocean” and (2) a supply of the nutrients that archaea use.
Google “stinky aquarium,” and learn of parents who confronted problems in their children’s rooms much worse than they had imagined possible.
The Arctic ocean is near (10 years?) the critical temperature where, at the prevailing level of salinity, the northern “lungs of the planet” might cut off. The Arctic thermohaline current will cut off rather precisely when the temperature of minimum water density is reached at the surface.
In the past, H2S production in just the North Atlantic was already enough to produce the “eocene extinction’, which was enough to kill off all mammals larger than a mouse, but not enough to kill off the mouse.
Professor Marty Hoffert of Columbia, a leading oceanographer, shifts attention to the Antarctic currents, the more important by far of the “lungs of the planet.” The Antarctic THC is the one large and serious source of oxygen to the Pacific Ocean, and others.
I was startled to learn that the southern THC has already shut down. Fresh water and water ice ringing the Antarctic has already cut off this current, resulting in a steady drop in the thickness of the deep water containing oxygen which supplies the Pacific.
The thickness of the deep oxygen bearing layer on the Pacific side is down to about 500 meters now on average (much worse than the Atlantic), and it is decreasing at 114 meters per decade.
Clearly this calls for more sophisticated modeling, but by reasonable eyeball it looks like 40 years left, more or less. Picture a man who is already underwater, whose lungs are not getting more oxygen, but has 40 years of oxygen left in those lungs.
But what about the second trigger required for massive H2S production in the Pacific – the supply of nutrients? In fact, the earth already experienced a cutoff of the southern THC, and stratified ocean, relatively recently – just 50,000 years ago. The subject of Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZ) in the ocean is an area of research, offering us many important clues.
Unfortunately, the situation today is far riskier than it was in those years, because of another massive change which we humans have created – agricultural runoff. We have not yet seen really huge consequences from agricultural runoff pouring into the oceans because the high levels of oxygen were enough to prevent proliferation of archaea. But this runoff is truly massive, by historical standards.
Humans now manage more than half the plant life of earth, and the productivity of that plant life has been doubled by a massive application of fertilizers, accompanied by an equally massive discharge into the oceans, unprecedented in the history of this planet. Agriculture in China, California and Japan, for example, inserts huge amounts of runoff into the Pacific. This needs to be studied in more detail, and perhaps there is even some hope of controlling it, but for now the best guess is that we are cooked.
There is one natural thing which might intervene to save us: limits to upwelling, to the release of poison gasses from the ocean to the atmosphere. The Black Sea already has become vast reservoir of H2S poison, but, due to quiet seas it has not yet led to outbreaks of mass death of black clouds in the night (as has happened in a few small villages in Africa near euxinic lakes). What is the situation with upwelling from the Pacific?
Upwelling is clearly substantial by northern Chile, Peru and Mexico especially, but also California. Because the water is not as deep in the Arctic Ocean and areas like the Baltic, they may actually see some of these kinds of effects sooner than Peru does, due to euxinia in the North. H2S-producing archaea are probably active already in many areas with environmental problems, but when low oxygen hits most of the Pacific and the Arctic, things will immediately become very much worse.
H2S is actually more poisonous than hydrogen cyanide, but from the historical literature it would take something like two thousand years for it to build up to fatal levels. However, even at much lower concentrations, the global effects would be severe.
Within a decade or two from the start of H2S upwelling, the world would smell so bad that reproductive behavior of most mammals would be severely curtailed, except for a few species like nasty rats which might be stimulated. Initially, H2S would mostly break down to other gasses, causing acid rain and a new “ozone hole” leading to fatal radiation sooner than outright H2S poisoning. Effects would appear sooner and faster in the upwelling zones.
All of this is a reasonable best guess, but again more research is needed, not to reassure us, but to give us a more precise understanding of the worst case and best case, the range of uncertainties, and a better understanding of what might help inreducing the probability of human extinction.
Renewable energy would not be enough by itself to save us, but it would be a major help in making the possibility of survival more plausible. A greater, faster expansion of renewable electricity may be even more essential to other serious threats of extinction of the human species.
Paul J. Werbos is a scientist best known for his 1974 Harvard University Ph.D. thesis, which first described the process of training artificial neural networks through backpropagation of errors. The thesis, and some supplementary information, can be found in his book, The Roots of Backpropagation (ISBN 0-471-59897-6). He also was a pioneer of recurrent neural networks.
Werbos was one of the original three two-year Presidents of the International Neural Network Society (INNS). In 1995, he was awarded the IEEE Neural Network Pioneer Award for the discovery of backpropagation and other basic neural network learning frameworks such as Adaptive Dynamic Programming. He served as program director in the National Science Foundation for several years.
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Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change
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