One of the main barriers to effective climate change actions (mitigation and adaptation) is the lack of global cooperation, reflected in the lack of orchestrated coordination of efforts and global models. While global cooperation encompasses a multitude of social, economic, and geopolitical complexities; can there be a technological innovation that can help bridge gaps and drive joint global action?
I am not active in this domain. From distance, the problem in human-made and the solution is in changing the underlying operating principles of nations, communities and individuals. I don’t believe that there is a magical technology that will save us from ourselves. It is all about politics and sharing a common understanding of the threat.
Thank you @ymedan, and well said. I know you mentioned you are not active in this domain, but thinking of your last sentence, while there are no magic solutions, could we help increase the shared understanding of the threat?
The book “The Ministry for the Future” provides a very comprehensive viewpoint that may serve the cause of shared understanding.
TL:DR - Listen to an interview Azeem Azar had with the author, Kim Stanley Robinson, here.
One of the big challenges with technological innovation at global scales is ownership. Specifically, who owns data? who owns the responsibility of managing the technology? These are actually extremely complex questions.
To illustrate the complexity in my first question: for things like carbon markets, it doesn’t matter the technology if we can’t consistently measure the same carbon emissions from one location to another because markets require all to buy into the value. Put simply, the value is established when we can all agree. When we can’t agree, it’s an unstable investment. NASA and ESA have been working for decades to create consistent measurements across continent of carbon and it is extremely time consuming work because it requires enough influencing countries to agree that what is measured from space is how they measure it on the ground, and each on the ground has their own protocols. Long story short - data ownership is barrier because when too many people own data, we need standards, which takes buy-in; when not enough people own data (e.g., Amazon) you have monopolies and exploitation.
To illustrate the complexity of the second: think about wildfire, just within the United States. Land ownership is local, state, federal and private. Fire moves on the land, but is not contained by property lines and it’s smoke cross continents and oceans. Even if you could produce a technology of value, who is going to pay for the service? Arguably the federal government, but then they want to set their own requirements that may or may not align with owners’ ideas of what to do with their land. Furthermore, even within the federal government there are many agencies and for the topic of fire, at least 10 agencies own “pieces” of fire research and management, which means which one is responsible for keeping the line item? Which ever agency does, is only responsible for how they spend their money and not how the other agencies spend theirs. You could make this case about plastics in the ocean, loss of biodiversity, chemical/sound/light pollution, you name it. This ultimately means that even if a private company did produce a technology for public and Earth service, what would their business model be? We don’t even know how or agree on how to quantify the value of public and Earth services.
Shashi, A truly viable technology will proliferate with or without global cooperation. Should the ITER fusion reactor work successfully, there will be several global players that will look to market the technology. The problem comes when the technologies are not truly viable economically. Then we have the problem of government subsidies and finger pointing over which entities are not “doing enough” to tackle climate issues. Take the switch to natural gas as an example. Low cost gas made it possible for the US to substantially reduce its carbon emissions in the last two decades. It became economical to switch from coal or oil to natural gas and, in doing so, reduce carbon emissions. A real breakthrough would be something the equivalent of fracking for a major energy source.
I have a solution that I presented to the editor of a forthcoming encyclopedia "The international encyclopedia of Machine Learning and Data Science. It is not my idea (I am a collector of ideas, not an inventor).
I will lay out my suggetion in a moment. But first I want to emphasize what we should not do. We should not pit the forces of controlling climate change against the fossil fuel industry and consumers. That means we should not pursue such technologically feasible (but politically unappetizing choices ) as banning gas ovens and soves in favor of electric stoves. We should not eliminate natural gass fueled buses or trade n planes for zeppelins (except whre the zeppelins have a clear advantage on their merits).
(1) My technology suggestion is to fold: (1) remove methane from the atmosphere by such simple steps as plugging leaks coming out of oil wells and/or pipes and not burning methane off as flares. That idea has been floating around for a while now. (2) Use peridotite to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Peridotite is a mineral common in the earth’s mantle. But the mantle generally is hidden under a rather thick layer of other rock. However, in many places for reasons geologists can explain the mantle actually is at the surface. In particular this occurs in the desert nation of Oman. Douglas Fox in a recent article in Scientific American claims that Oman, a country with significant fossil fuel reserves, could make billions of dollars using peridotite to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. I would like to elaborate of his suggestion. The Sahara is a vast desert in America encompasing a number of countries such as Mauretania. I propose that Oman export a very large amount of its peidotite to Muretania, vast stretches of which are inhospitable desert, and spread it over the surface to suck in carbon dioxide. Mauretania is not the only such possibility since desert nations include countries such as Niger. Fox makes the startlong claim that peridotite could potentially suck up ten times the abount of carbon dioxide that has been added by ankind to the atmosphere since the mid nineteenth century. And he believes the potential may even be greater than that. So what would be the role of XPrize? If peridotite is a magic bullet then we simply need ideas of how and where to put the periodtite. Can it be used as roofing in desert areas? Can we pave roads with it? How about tennis courts? I am no chemist but surely someone wold be interested in figuring out ingenious ways to use peridotite if XPrize incentivized them.
Thanks @boblf029 for sharing these insights. Good points.
I was thinking about the first Xprize and how it required fully private funding with no government assistance. I agree with other posts on this thread that this is a problem not easily solved with technology, but can xprize rules help? Can you require a collaborative effort in prizes related to climate change, say requiring teams from multiple countries, on multiple continents, to come together and show contributions in order to win the prize?
Probably easy to get someone to come on board and claim involvement, so there would need to be tangible proof of contribution, and I’m not sure how to do that, but maybe worth thinking about?
Thank you, @kvancamp. While we encourage global and diverse participation from any walk of life in our competitions, thinking of your suggestion to take it to the next level is very interesting! Do you have suggestions on how to drive collaboration between “unusual suspects”?
Base reality agreements
I believe in GRAVITY. I call myself gravitarian.
- Climate change is a hoax
- Climate change is a natural phenomenon
- Climate change is good (Northwest passage, easier to drill for more oil, CO2 makes plants grow more)
Democracy was the best system in ancient Greece
Now we have internet, blockchain, real-time data.
(information travelling at a speed of a horse)
UN were created in 1945 after WW2
…mission accomplished. You did great job preventing fully blown WW3.
Now I’m suggesting a successor:
(one of the key differences is partnership with Big Tech that are way more powerful than many small island states)
- blockchain first
- multiplanetary first
- post-COVID first
- metaverse first
New definition of value
One of the first challenges is a new definition of value.
PEOPLE + PLANET + PROFIT
These are 3 metrics. Or we can go directly to 17 (UN SDG)
In the current system old dying people are good for GDP.
A tree has $0 value. Lumber is good for GDP
“Manhattan Project” of global governance
- better consensus (single veto does is paralysing)
- better enforcement
Super interested in working on this XPRIZE.
We got super good at solving problems, while constantly creating bigger problems.
This XPRIZE has potential to change the game-theory of civilisation and stop making new problems
ETH and blockchain community is forward-thinking when comes to governance
I’m catching up with this thread because it is close to my heart…
100% agree with @ymedan
One of my micro-websites focused on climate crisis: https://tellthetruth.media - TELL THE TRUTH - presenting the facts as they are.
If I gave you $1 billion to change the world, what would you do with it?
I genuinely believe that it is possible to get the Big Tech FAANG.
It was possible to change the media narrative, news cycle, homepage for COVID, it should be possible to do the same with the climate. Literally, we can change consciousness of the planet in a day - it’s just a matter of political will.
To be fair,. I don’t think there are any major breakthroughs on the technical level.
The breakthrough would be on the level of politics / perception / media / wetware.
My bet is on a new definition of value
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_bottom_line - people, planet, profit
Not just GDP., otherwise old dying people are good (17% of GDP in the US)
A new definition of value changes the game theory and generator functions.
Think along these lines:
- World: Visa, Mastercard. China: WeChat Alipay
- DVD vs CD vs VHS
- Cassette vs Vinyl
We can establish a new standard, a new definition of value
Bitcoin and Ethereum and some other blockchain projects are already changing the world of finance. Money makes the world go round. I can totally imagine that some forward-thinking countries will opt-out from the Bretton Woods towards…
(Salvador making Bitcoin legal tender, using abundant energy from volcanoes)