Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

The Post-Oil Megacity
Alex Steffen, 10 Feb 05

The kind of city we're building is a pivot point upon which prospects of a bright green future turn. As we come to the end of cheap oil and run up against evidence that carbon is changing our planet more suddenly than most would have thought, we're realizing that the pattern of suburban sprawl which for the last forty years has dominated North American cities (and influenced cities around the world) was a really dumb idea. Whatsmore, those suburbs themselves face real challenges, and may in their current incarnations be doomed.

On an urban planet, these sorts of dangers raise disturbing questions. Much hinges on the pace of innovation and the speed with which we embrace needed reforms. Can we replace an economy whose every fiber vibrates with the logic of cheap oil and careless pollution with one which runs on renewable energy, heals our surrounding ecosystems and creates no waste?

I think we can. James Howard Kunstler strongly disagrees. In a recent speech, Kunstler savagely (and in a strange way, somewhat joyfully) announces that we're screwed:

"The world - and of course the US - now faces an epochal predicament: the global oil production peak and the arc of depletion that follows. We are unprepared for this crisis of industrial civilization. We are sleepwalking into the future. ...

Right here I am compelled to inform you that the prospects for alternative fuels are poor. We suffer from a kind of Jiminy Cricket syndrome in this country. We believe that if you wish for something, it will come true. Right now a lot of people - including people who ought to know better - are wishing for some miracle technology to save our collective ass. ...

The future is therefore telling us very loudly that we will have to change the way we live in this country. The implications are clear: we will have to downscale and re-scale virtually everything we do. The downscaling of America is a tremendous and inescapable project. It is the master ecological project of our time. We will have to do it whether we like it or not. We are not prepared.

I think Kunstler's wrong, dead wrong, but I encourage you to read his remarks anyway, because some bits Kunstler's terriblisma are probably a fair representation of some of the disasters the developed world will face if cheap oil ends and we've done nothing to prepare ourselves. (Other bits are factually wrong, and others still are just plain silly, part of the weird anti-modern apocalypse dance that environmentalists find themselves so prone to these days.)

But I don't think we will, in fact , meet this crisis with inaction. I think we will meet it -- many are already rushing to meet it -- with guts, vision, intelligence and innovation. And one of our central tasks is the creation of the post-oil megacity.

(more...)

Given that we live on an urban planet, and given that the predominent urban form is (or is soon to be) the megacity, we need to figure out how to create the systems, technologies and practices which will make a bright green future work.

People like Kunstler don't believe that's possible. Or they believe it is possible, but think we aren't up to the job. Nonsense. We haven't created them all yet, true, but upgrading one's civilization isn't a job you finish overnight. I would argue, however, that we're developing some of the key pieces already:

smart growth and smart places, calming traffic and creating livably compact cities, like Vancouver;

Large-scale renewable energy projects combined with smart grids and distributed power;

Green buildings, especially homes and workplaces which are greatly more efficient, filled with bright green products and appliances;

Sustainable transportation systems;

New methods of industrial production, leading to a second industrial revolution where waste is food and lifecycle thinking is common;

Innovations in urban form, including the greening of the city by reweaving the natural and built.

The list could go on and on. The point being: this is all stuff we know how to do now. We can rebuild it. We have the technology... or at least the ability to create the technologies. There are hundreds of examples on this site alone. And what we can do today is only the beginning. Yes, the situation is serious and the consequences of failure grave, but we're also growing more and more able to deal with that situation.

What we lack is the vision and the will. The vision we're starting to get -- every day a new plan for rebuilding some key sector of the global economy on new, radically more sustainable lines crosses my desk (take, for instance, Lester Brown's vision of a gas-electric hybrid/ wind power economy). The will is taking a little longer. But I don't think we'll get that will by promoting apocalyptic scenarios.

I think we'll get it by imagining a future worth fighting for, and cities worth building.

Bookmark and Share


Comments

http://oilendgame.org/ - *profitable* - almost zero government capital cost - plan for getting America to *zero*oil*consumption* over 20 years.

Yes, there are issues. But, realistically, this is not that big a problem. When gas gets up around $8 a gallon, people will actually start doing the things in this book, and it'll all work out fine.


Posted by: Vinay on 10 Feb 05

Terrific post, Alex, with important dimensions for people like my son, 14, who needs to see a brighter future, not a diminshed one, for his own sanity and tenacity in the face of the challenges ahead.


Posted by: Will Duggan on 10 Feb 05

The assertion that "we will meet [this crisis] with guts, vision, intelligence and innovation" is sort of true.

The "we" you're referring to is the highly paid, well educated, blog-reading types that browse Worldchanging. That "we" has plenty of disposable income, and enough transferable skills to weather any storm. They can afford the up-front investment in expensive lightbulbs, low-emission vehicles, etc. When push comes to shove, the readership of this blog is going to do pretty well, because they can afford to.

The people who are going to be hit by it are the poor suckers who run the economy: the single moms who spend an hour in their car getting to work so that they can afford to send their kids to daycare. You know, the folks who have more debt than annual income. It'll be like the Great Depression: most of us who are already well-off will have the resources to muddle through.

The portion of society that is living paycheque to paycheque will be hurt hard. They don't have savings, they have accumulated debt. When the price of gas goes to $8 a barrel, they won't be telecommuting; they're going to be hiding from the bailiff. And when all those yummy fertilizers that oil provides us start getting too expensive, they won't be moving out of the city to the cottage for a few months; or shipping out to stay with self-sufficient relatives in the country.


Their only hope is that by the time oil gets to $8 a barrel, oil will be yesterday's resource (like coal, or wood -- oh wait, most of the world still uses those resources). And that isn't going to happen through the creation of wonderful new technologies, it's only going to happen through legislative fiat.

So, by all means, invest in glittering gizmos that make you feel good about the world, but don't forget to vote. Vote for parties that will push our economies away from the oil rut towards something more sustainable. Not with slush-fund subsidies, but with taxes, regulation, and restriction.


Posted by: e on 10 Feb 05

"And that isn't going to happen through the creation of wonderful new technologies, it's only going to happen through legislative fiat."

Good luck with that.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 10 Feb 05

Well, there's a lot of truth in what poster "e" said: We need to move caring about the planet from a "rich people's pastime" (as some would say) to something that people from all economic backgrounds can contribute to (knowingly or not -- if we change the way the market system is framed with incentives, they'd just follow their monetary self-interest).


Posted by: Mikhail Capone on 10 Feb 05

The only problem I have with all this (and I love all this stuff) is the idea that conservation and emission control alone is going to be enough to assuage the coming climate onslaught. We are kidding ourselves, people! No way can we do enough within the next 10 years to prevent huge ice sheets causing a devastating rise in sea level. It's already happening folks! Face it, we've started too late.

In Europe we seem to be waking up to the fact (finally), with the media here in Britain outlining the collapse of ecostructure every other day (check out the bbc, guardian and independent for details). However I fear that America's state of denial cannot be faced, and the consequences come to terms with. We simply don't have time. If you think President Bush is ever going to admit the existence of global warming - even in the face many deaths - you are sadly deluded. This adminisatration is choosing to live in blind religious hope rather than deal with difficult issues (I'm not gloating, by the way, just trying to be realistic. On the contrary I fervently wish the U.S. was taking the lead on this - we Europeans aren't used too it and don't really have the self confidence necessary).

Sorry, I digress. My point is - we need some back up plans - and fast! We need to mitigate the effects of warming while coming to terme with the causes. So we need to somehow prevent the overheating of the planet via some artificial means and possibly combat the acidification of the oceans. The rightwingers are right on this - being climatically 'good' is not going to be enough (Carbon Neutral etc). I want to know if anyone is taking this challenge seriously (NASA etc). Does anyone have any information. If no-one else is going to do this we're going to have to ourselves, folks!


Posted by: Daniel Johnston on 11 Feb 05

In Brazil, before oil was found in front of the coast of the state of Rio, cars fuelled by alcohol, produced out of sugar cane, were common place. Since oil was found the number of alcohol driven cars has reduced drastically. Alcohol fuelled cars are rare nowadays and most cars are petrol driven.

There seems to be a logical sequence in exploring the available oil first, and look for alternatives after. Apparently oil is easy money. Also, country’s economies depend on it and oil related institutes and lobbies are powerful. There is no advantage in looking for alternatives – yet, though it seems some oil companies are already researching alternatives (fuel based on seeds). But as it points out - there is no urgency.

Another interesting issue is our dependency on fuel. Why is there such a great need for individual mobility? Usually we don’t live where we work, so we need transportation. Transportation in its turn constipates our cities and intoxicates the air we breathe. It would therefore be interesting to focus on the infrastructure and planning of our cities. The traditional city is an organism based on one historic core. Maybe we should focus on organising our cities around several cores, to reduce distances. Of course, a good public transport system is a necessity too. And internet can enhance the possibility to work at home.

After all it is a struggle with space and time. If we can reduce their influence in our lives we also reduce their consequences.


Posted by: Maurits on 11 Feb 05

Generally I agree with the theme that the future is going to be an urban future, and that those cities will look very strange to our present-day eyes.

However, I must challenge the Expensive Oil/ Peak Oil assumption. It's just wrong.

The proven oil reserves of the Canadian and Venezualan tar sands is 3.5 Trillion - yes, with a 'T' - barrells of oil. Cost to extract is $15/ bbl. Most of that cost is technology & capital costs, which means it's only going down. That's enough oil to support the entire Western Hemisphere at American standards of living for a hundred years. The only reason there isn't more investment in these sectors is because to cost of oil in the Middle East is $5/ bbl, and Africa and Central Asia about $10/ bbl. Oil is cheap. Period, end of story.

If there's a Green future waiting for us (and I hope there is too), don't rely on a rising price of oil to force our hand. It's not going to happen.

And Daniel - get a grip. The world is NOT going to end tomorrow. We're talking about small changes over hundreds of years. Sure, we don't want to wreck our planet, but Earth is really, really big, and very, very resilient. We couldn't wreck the place in mere decades even if we wanted to.


Posted by: Brock on 11 Feb 05

Your figures are way off, Brock. The process of extraction from tar sands isn't so simple. One of the issues, for example, is the need to use natural gas for extraction. The price of natural gas has tripled the past few years alone. Also, there's a high carbon output in the extraction process, so Canada, which ratified the Kyoto Protocol, would have a very tough time meeting its standards if the reserves were fully exploited.

This is not even mentioning the toxicity and waste of the strip mining and processing.

Here's the latest data available from the DOE.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/reserves.html

You can see the difference between the "World Oil" estimates and those of the "Oil and Gas Journal" and the "BP Statistical Review". The difference in estimates for Canadian oil reserves is the estimated recoverable amount from the tar sands - around 170 billion barrels. There seems to be about a 25 billion barrel difference for Venezuela, bringing the estimated tar sand reserves at about 200 billion barrels. Your number is 17-18 times that amount.

I'm curious as to the source of your numbers, as the sources I found all seem to refer to a "Wall Street Journal" opinion piece from a couple weeks ago.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110006228
http://www.google.com/search?q=%223.5+trillion+barrels%22+sand&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

And here's the bios for the authors of that piece:

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/huber.htm
http://www.digitalpowergroup.com/bios.htm


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 11 Feb 05


Oil isnt a problem we use middle east oil simply because with all the other costs onboard its still cheap to buy. We also use it because its always best to use up someone elses stock of fuel before you tap your own as long as you can afford to wait.

As for the future.. america can hold on for 40 years or more easy extracting fuel from heavy crude and tars and coal. By then we will have the tech needed to convert over to hydrogen cheaply or at least a hell of alot cheaper then right now. Hell hydrogen production is part of the process of using inferior oils in making less polluting gas!

In the meantime hybrids are the perfect transition to fuel cell use and its only a matter of time before we can store enough to go 300 or more miles on a "tank". Right now its realy a matter of cost cutting and tech improvements not anything realy earthshaking.

And besides with alot of countries trying different tactics one of us is sure to hit the mark soon enough.

An important point tho is we are in far better shape for the comming chaos then most countries because we DO have coal and domestic oil and LOTS of land and nuke fuel and places to put solar and wind and wave and and and... oh and MOOLA some countries unlike us are in deep poop.


Posted by: wintermane on 11 Feb 05

Why does Alex believe the end of the megacity would be such a tragedy? Why would a decentralized, smaller scale society be so bad? Kunstler doesn't think civilization will end. He thinks that we will have to downscale our institutions. He doesn't think that urban life will end. He believes that it will be downscaled. And, he believes that we will employ a number of known and as yet unknown measures technical and governmental (that is, the way we govern our states and cities) to adapt to the new lower energy regime. I don't think his vision is at all apocalyptic. He does, however, point to some very difficult times ahead if an oil peak is near. There may, in fact, be lots of oil. The question will be how fast and how cheaply we can increase production of it to keep the global transportation network moving. Without cheap fuels, the global economy and the megacities and long logistical lines that go with it will become very tenuous. That means that smaller scale urban areas with excellent water supplies and available farmland around them will do much better and actually provide a model for what can work.


Posted by: Kurt Cobb on 11 Feb 05

Brock - Hate to say it but I HAVE a grip - it's you who needs to gain a realistic view of things. I dearly wish you were right, but I attended a talk by one of Aberdeen University's top climate scientists a few weeks ago and we are NOT talikng about small changes over hundreds of years. We are talking about relatively large rises in temperature within the next few decades. Most independent climate scientists (i.e. not paid off by industry) estimate that the crucial period is over the next ten years. When I say 'relatively' I mean 2 degrees Celsius at least, which may not seem much but is more than the planet has ever seen in such a relatively tiny space of time. Without action now we are all going to suffer the consequences. Have a look at realclimate.org if you don't beleive me. Of course there is always room for error but even accounting for that things look bleak.

This is what I mean about the difference between America and Europe. I assure you that over here there is a real sense of urgency about the issue. It makes our headlines that the protective glacier preventing countless tons of ice from melting into the sea in Antartica has recently broken off. America's media is so self absorbed and so unwilling to accept the consequences that it gives the impression that global warming has still to be proven as a phenomenon, when the terrifying truth is that serious things are starting to happen NOW.

I tell you what, Brock - I challenge you to find independent, reliable figures outlining why the issue is not important and will take many decades to have any effect. Because you may just find you are wrong and that it is me who already has a grip and you who should get one! I mean no offence to you personally, by the way, I just want you to understand the severity of the situation.

Actually, I dearly hope you are right and all the figures and graphs and sources I have seen and read are wildly innacurate and scaremongering and the world will go on as it has always done, without having to take responsibility for the climate. Because the consequences of it all otherwise are more far-reaching and fundamental than we have even begun to admit. Good luck out there!


Posted by: Daniel Johnston on 11 Feb 05

"Other bits are factually wrong, and others still are just plain silly"

Which ones, please?


Posted by: monkeygrinder on 11 Feb 05

Wintermane, and others who think likewise, I'm sorry.

I'm optimistic, don't get me wrong. I don't share Kunstler's pessimism, but I do share his sense of caution when it comes to so-called 'magic fuels.' 2040 may resemble "1840 with the Internet" more than the Jetsons.

North Americans are not the only ones competing for dwindling oil reserves. If China and India decide they want a bigger piece of what's left...

First off, the science. There literally is nothing that can replace oil in terms of energy density per volume, and no other chemical fuel that is as stable at room temperature.

Hydrogen is not a direct replacement for gasoline: it can only ever be an energy carrier, it's not "burnable" per se. The laws of physics run up against us: it's too small a molecule to contain very effectively, and it makes chemical bonds with other materials very easy -- so you lose a lot of it, and it makes metals brittle.

In the quantities we'd need to run an average car the way we do today, you'd need to take up the entire trunk of a station wagon to store it, even as supercooled liquid (requiring even more energy to compress).

Metal hydrides are an interesting solution for storage in a fuel cell, but I don't think they'll ever reach the densities we would need to "replace" gasoline at our present (and increasing) rates of consumption. Overall, hydrogen requires more energy input to obtain than we would ever get "out" of using it, so the Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROEI) is extremely poor.

- Without petroleum and natural-gas derived fertilizers and pesticides, "industrial agriculture" as we know it will cease. (Don't get me started on the irrigation-salinization issue. Without adequate planning to replace that with organic farming (including rehabilitating the soil, itself a massive task), food production worldwide will see a massive drop.

- On top of that, without cheap oil, there's no way the current practice of flying and trucking foodstuffs thousands of miles from origin to destination can continue. All agriculture will have to be local (read: within 100 miles). This is another reason sprawl is bad, because it eats up viable farmland.

Further, the idea that there is "lots of land" is a fallacy - if it were all viable, it would all be farmed already. In truth, viable, rich farmland for staple crops is normally restricted to places like valleys, where there are glacial deposits of rich loam soils. The prairies are only as productive as they are thanks to industrial methods. And as aquifers dry up and rivers become choked with runoff, those places too will become unviable.

Domestic oil in the lower 48 states peaked in 1970 and has tailed off ever since. It's an odd footnote to President Bush's legacy that in his earlier career, he was an unsuccessful oil and gas prospector; that's mostly because the lower 48 states are largely tapped out.

There is coal. Sure. If you like acid rain and atmospheric mercury, even from so-called 'clean coal' plants. We can go right back to the bad old days of "coal smogs" choking our cities. And converting that coal into something else? As with hydrogen, more energy goes in than what you get out.

Natural gas is pretty much close to a cliff now.

Worldwide, the prospects aren't much better. 2003, I believe, was the first year in a century that literally no significant new oil fields were discovered. That means we're sipping away at all the fields discovered to date. After that -- no more.

I only state the above to reiterate that the West has to face some very harsh truths. We can't live in denial, we can't think this is going to happen long after we're dead. It is starting now (iraq) and will continue to get worse.

Now, all that brings me to my point - namely, the idea that "the market" or "individual consumer choice" is going to save us is, frankly, pathetic. "the market" could have produced clean, efficient cars 20 years ago. They did not. Today, we worriers cannot assuage our consciences by buying hybrid cars when all about us are buying SUVs.

Governments can use market forces, however, to influence a desired outcome, to mitigate the things that markets and consumers cannot or will not address.

Currently, rural development tax credits spur sprawl. Swap those for urban development credits. Today, we have loopholes and write-offs for SUVs. Eliminate them, and give them to hybrid cars, carpoolers, cyclists, and allow people to 100% write off the cost of public transit passes. Instead of building more highways, why not build high-speed rail?

Energy efficiency is a desirable goal but it doesn't go far enough. A tax on energy-inefficiency is what provides the spur to get things going. A point scale could encompass everything from good insulation to non-toxic material use, to energy recapture, to kilowatt-hours used, to whether there is a green roof or not -- more points you get, the more tax writeoff. Go below a limit, and you should be fined. That's the sort of thing that spurs creative solutions: when people's wallets are at risk.

Oh yeah - on the issue of being rich: China OWNS the United States, quite literally. That is the "other shoe waiting to drop," a country so overleveraged, so overextended, it cannot but crash if something happens to tip the system.

On a positive note -- Cuba went through its simultaneous oil and economic crash back in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. And they went through very hard times, but made a surprisingly fast recovery.

The whole country has become one gigantic organic farm. It's not a glamourous life by any stretch of the imagination, but it is thriving, and a glimpse of what might await us.

For more on that, check out The First US Conference on Peak Oil transcripts, particularly Pat Murphy's presentation on Cuba (linked in the right-hand column:) http://www.communitysolution.org/pconf1.html


Posted by: aj on 11 Feb 05

Actauly that was back when fuel taks were only a few k psi now that they have reached 5-7.5 k psi the ammount of space needed is MUCH easyer to handle. Also hydrogen ice and hydrogen fuel cell systems have improved MASSIVELY.

As for generating hydrogen we can force it out of coal/ methane generate it from wind and solar and wave power as well as nuke and its mainly a way to keep the pollution abatement needs at a few generating sources instead of every tailpipe... makes emissions control alot easyer to tackle that way. Also the fuel companies themsevles fdeel they can manage it in the long run and with thier money I wouldnt doubt em.

As for oil itself even if we do fairly little oil will still be pumping 150 years from now the issue is how spendy it will be and what alternatives we will resort to to fill in the gaps.

biofuels only cost so much but with climate changes ag is not soo stable a bet;/

Direct synthetic fuels made from coal only cost so much and we have enough coal to fuel the nations cars/factories/cities for prolly 100 years all by itself.

We have domestic sources of oil we never tapped.. they combine to give us many years extra time.

We have enough spare land to plant fairly large biofuel crops.

We have enough landarea to set up HUGE solar farms as soon as solar cells gain those last precious bits of cost cutting and effiency increases.

We have enough places to plant windfarms both on and off land.

We have relatively low pop growth.

We will get through this its not if its HOW and in what shape we come out the other side.

Some other countries are terrified because they have the very real prospect of NOT comming out the other side at all.


Posted by: wintermane on 11 Feb 05

I agree that sprawling is a blight on the landscape, but at the same time it is precisely these alternative energy sources that will allow anyone to live virtually anywhere on the planet. For example, here in Nevada, most of the state is wasteland as far as the eye can see. Because it is such a vast desert with out arable farm land, or readily available water, it remains a wasteland. With cheap solar power, and regenerative waste and hydroponic systems, anyone could set up a fully off-the-grid habitat anywhere out here.

Mega-cities in turn tend to exert greater social and psychological pressures on people, and unless they are radically re-designed to be more friendly to the human spirit, people will increasing move out of them, as alternative energy systems make it easier to do so, regardless of how ecologically incorrect such sprawling would be.


Posted by: Paul Hughes on 13 Feb 05

Came by way of the TomPaine.com 'blog of blogs' excerpting this post; will return regularly.

A small suggestion: make the final, changed world in your banner look not so much like the BP/Shell logo.


Posted by: Nell Lancaster on 17 Feb 05

Why are so many scientists, politicians and activists getting climate issues and municipal planning issues wrong?

1. High energy, low entropy solar and geothermal energy inputs to the biosphere do not heat the atmosphere. They pump the whole biosphere, including the atmosphere, away from thermodynamic stasis (global warming scenarios) according to the statistical interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics.

2. In a dynamic analysis there are a myriad of mechanisms that achieve this pumping. Many are not even known. To single out greenhouse gases as the only dynamic predictor of future GLOBAL temperatures is nonsense.

3. The magnitude of human waste heat and pollution, including greenhouse gases, is insignificant compared to the amount of high grade, low entropy heat from solar and geothermal sources. Human waste heat cannot alter the magnitude of the world's temperatures or cause global warming. It can alter the direction of large global energy circuits. These circuits are attracted to human oceanic waste streams in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics and according to the principle of least action. Instead of heat from deserts and tropical oceans proceding to polar regions, their direction (not magnitude) is modified by anthropogenic, oceanic, high entropy sinks off our coastal habitations.
Current municipal dwelling trends can work provided we can learn to create thermodynamic equilibriua between all landfalls and oceans, rivers and seas. Millions of strategically placed Engineered Wetlands (EWs) throughout our habitations in riverine catchments can achieve these thermodynamic equilibria.

4. The diplomatic effort and good will in the current Kyoto protocol need not be wasted. It could quite easily be transformed into A KYOTO ALTERNATIVE ENERGY PROTOCOL or KAEP where .5% world GDP is allocated to research and development of alternative energy strategies within the framework of a world running with its fuel guage on 'low':

MPAL- Unlimited Space based solar electric power.

DRG- Dry rock geothermal electric power to gradually replace coal fired power stations.

QSX- Nanotechnology (Quantum Size Effects technology) to research portable power for local or transport requirements.

EW- Engineered Wetland technology to harness the concentrated hydrological entropy in riverine catchments and prevent it from being dumped in coastal waters, thus invoking dangerous (cyclones, drought) collisional events between land and ocean based energy cycles.


Posted by: Fred Moore on 17 Feb 05

Why are so many scientists, politicians and activists getting climate issues and municipal planning issues wrong?

1. High energy, low entropy solar and geothermal energy inputs to the biosphere do not heat the atmosphere. They pump the whole biosphere, including the atmosphere, away from thermodynamic stasis (global warming scenarios) according to the statistical interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics.

2. In a dynamic analysis there are a myriad of mechanisms that achieve this pumping. Many are not even known. To single out greenhouse gases as the only dynamic predictor of future GLOBAL temperatures is nonsense.

3. The magnitude of human waste heat and pollution, including greenhouse gases, is insignificant compared to the amount of high grade, low entropy heat from solar and geothermal sources. Human waste heat cannot alter the magnitude of the world's temperatures or cause global warming. It can alter the direction of large global energy circuits. These circuits are attracted to human oceanic waste streams in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics and according to the principle of least action. Instead of heat from deserts and tropical oceans proceding to polar regions, their direction (not magnitude) is modified by anthropogenic, oceanic, high entropy sinks off our coastal habitations.
Current municipal dwelling trends can work provided we can learn to create thermodynamic equilibriua between all landfalls and oceans, rivers and seas. Millions of strategically placed Engineered Wetlands (EWs) throughout our habitations in riverine catchments can achieve these thermodynamic equilibria.

4. The diplomatic effort and good will in the current Kyoto protocol need not be wasted. It could quite easily be transformed into A KYOTO ALTERNATIVE ENERGY PROTOCOL or KAEP where .5% world GDP is allocated to research and development of alternative energy strategies within the framework of a world running with its fuel guage on 'low':

MPAL- Unlimited Space based solar electric power.

DRG- Dry rock geothermal electric power to gradually replace coal fired power stations.

QSX- Nanotechnology (Quantum Size Effects technology) to research portable power for local or transport requirements.

EW- Engineered Wetland technology to harness the concentrated hydrological entropy in riverine catchments and prevent it from being dumped in coastal waters, thus invoking dangerous (cyclones, drought) collisional events between land and ocean based energy cycles.


Posted by: Fred Moore on 17 Feb 05

"The Negative Outcome of Economics" can be found at http://www.indycymru.org.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=393
It was written 1991, things are much worse now, and there is only a small chance that an immediate economic crash deeper than 1932 that lasts for at least fifty years will be enough to ensure the survival of life on Earth at any level above a microbe.


Posted by: Ilyan on 18 Feb 05

What worries me (as a non scientist) is that other non-scientists in positions of power believe they can game climate change to profit from suddenly productive land in suddenly-farmable northern zones...as if they can predict the way the other factors will play out. Are inside players using the government's computer models to anticipate changes for their own profit? Cornering futures in commodities that will become scarce? Filing claims on newly-thawed real estate? Nothing will surprise me. Nor would it surprise me if, a week and a half before the oil runs out, ExxonMobil scientists roll out a new technology to run cars on seawater.


Posted by: pasquino on 22 Feb 05



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg