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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category: Page 184

Jan 8, 2008

Accelerating Greenland Melting “Shocks” Scientists

Posted by in categories: biological, sustainability

The New York Times is reporting today that continued acceleration of the rate at which the Greeland ice sheets are melting have scientists scrambling for answers. In particular, a combination of changes have the glaciologists particularly concerned. They say the accumulation of meltwater on the surface of the ice in the form of ponds and streams absorbs as much as four times more heat than the lighter colored ice thereby accelerating the rate at which the surface melts.

Additionally, this meltwater eventually finds its way to bedrock where it appears to ever so slightly lubcricate the surface between ice and rock thereby facilitating more rapid shifting of the ice towards the ocean. A third factor in the trifecta is the breakup of huge semi-submerged clots of ice that typically block narrow fjords. As these blockages are cleared that accelerates the flow of the frozen glacial rivers.

While there is still a tremendous amount about this cycle that remains unknown, what is clear is that the best estimates to date have fallen far short in terms of the speed at which these rare environments are changing. Although questions remain about how much of these changes are cyclical and how much are due specifically to man-originated global warming it is imperative that we gain a more complete understanding of these events so that we can take whatever steps we must to ameliorate any damage we’ve caused before the situation becomes so critical that massive changes come about as a result of our negligent handling of our environment.

Jan 3, 2008

Oil Surpasses $100 Per Barrel

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, sustainability

Peak OilIn an upward spurt that has been long predicted by the more realistic analysts, oil has finally broken through the triple digit threshold. While some experts maintain that this number is little more than a psychological barrier and has little real-world importance it is an inescapable fact that oil prices themselves have actually increased approximately 73% in the past year.

This price increase alone should be a call to action sufficient to bring us to a state of alert yet it appears that the general population remains relatively complacent in the face of this looming crisis. It should be noted by those of us more aware of the ramifications of peak oil and the impending oil supply shock that such a drastic reduction in oil availability represents one of the clearest and most present threats to the stability of a global peace and the longevity of mankind.

As with all threats of a global nature, the Lifeboat Foundation will continue to monitor news related to oil reserves, prices, supply and of course replacement technologies and continue to provide information, perspective and solutions.

Jan 2, 2008

The Enlightenment Strikes Back

Posted by in categories: complex systems, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, nanotechnology, open access, sustainability

In a recent conversation on our discussion list, Ben Goertzel, a rising star in artificial intelligence theory, expressed skepticism that we could keep a “modern large-scale capitalist representative democracy cum welfare state cum corporate oligopoly” going for much longer.

Indeed, our complex civilization currently does seem to be under a lot of stress.

Lifeboat Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member and best-selling author David Brin’s reply was quite interesting.

David writes:

Continue reading “The Enlightenment Strikes Back” »

Nov 19, 2007

Helphookup.com internet empowered volunteers against disasters

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat, open access, open source, sustainability

The inspiration of Help Hookup is actually a comic book called Global Frequency by Warren Ellis. My brother, Alvin Wang, took the idea to startup weekend and they launched the idea this past weekend for hooking up volunteers. It is similar to the concepts of David Brin’s “empowered citizens” and Glenn Reynolds “an army of Davids”. The concepts are compatible with the ideas and causes of the Lifeboat foundation.

Global Frequency was a network of 1,001 people that handled the jobs that the governments did not have the will to handle. I thought that it was a great idea and it would be more powerful with 1,000,001 people or 100,000,001 people. We would have to leave out the killing that was in the comic.

Typhoons, earthquakes, and improperly funded education could all be handled. If there is a disaster, doctors could volunteer. Airlines could provide tickets. Corporations could provide supples. Trucking companies could provide transportation. Etc. State a need, meet the need. No overhead. No waste.

The main site is here it is a way for volunteers to hookup

The helphookup blog is tracking the progress.

Oct 2, 2007

Geoengineering: A Cure for Global Warming

Posted by in categories: engineering, sustainability



Two of Britain’s leading environmental thinkers say it is time to develop a quick technical fix for climate change. Writing in the journal Nature, Science Museum head Chris Rapley and Gaia theorist James Lovelock suggest looking at boosting ocean take-up of CO2.

Floating pipes reaching down from the top of the ocean into colder water below move up and down with the swell.

As the pipe moves down, cold water flows up and out onto the ocean surface. A simple valve blocks any downward flow when the pipe is moving upwards.

Colder water is more “productive” — it contains more life, and so in principle can absorb more carbon.

Finally some practical solutions are being introduced to mitigate global warming. The BBC article mention the US company, Atmocean, that is already testing such a system.

Continue reading “Geoengineering: A Cure for Global Warming” »

Aug 7, 2007

Power The Future, Through Cow Manure?

Posted by in category: sustainability

(via IsraGood)

With many governments pursuing new ways to power their cities via green energy, it looks like they soon may have another option to add to their list.

While most people think of cows as a “unconverted” forms of lunch and dinner, these harmless beasts may be able to energize our communities through the smelly presents that they often leave behind.

(Globes Online) GES said that the Hefer Valley plant is the first large-scale plant of its kind in Israel, and one of the first in the world. The plant utilizes 600 tons of manure a day. The manure is sterilized, and the solid and liquid waste are then processed to produce methane, which drives the generators to make electricity.

Continue reading “Power The Future, Through Cow Manure?” »

Jul 17, 2007

Preserving other species with whom we share the planet

Posted by in category: sustainability

Dear Lifeboat Readers,

I am a member of the Neuroscience Scientific Advisory Board at the Lifeboat Foundation and have recently posted to the BioPreserver Program page (please read the page replicated below).

I would like to initiate a conversation about expending more effort on preserving other species and their habitats. We are all understandably concerned about humanity’s survival and the Lifeboat Foundation is a testament to the numerous technologically advanced ways we can ensure our species’ survival in the future. However, I would like to hear from others who may be concerned that in our focus on our own survival we may not be doing enough for the myriad of other species with whom we share the planet. I would argue that there is less attention paid to the survival of our species’ moral integrity than there ought to be. Would it speak well of our species if we survived while everyone else (other species) disappeared? To put it bluntly, in the future, after having escaped numerous threats to survival, will we be able to look in the mirror as a species and like what we see?

For instance, with the current rate of losses, our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, will be extinct in the wild in 50 years. The causes are indisputably anthropogenic. If we let this happen, what will it do to the morale and the psychological fiber of our species? The question of survival is not only a question of physical and psychological survival, but also survival of our integrity.

Continue reading “Preserving other species with whom we share the planet” »

Apr 11, 2007

Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, sustainability

The Oxford Research Group has published “Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World”. The report focus on the disproportionate attention given to terrorism compared to the imminent threat from environmental degradation. The report looks at climate change, competition over resources, “marginalisation of the majority world” and global militarisation.

Read the entire report here.

Feb 17, 2007

Open Source Terraforming

Posted by in categories: engineering, open source, sustainability

Whether we like it or not, geoengineering — a process I’ve taken to calling “(re)terraforming the Earth” — is now on the table as a strategy for dealing with onrushing climate disaster. This isn’t because it’s a particularly good idea; as far as we presently know, the potential negative impacts of geoengineering projects seem to significantly outweigh any benefits. Nonetheless, (re)terraforming has drawn an increasing amount of attention over the past few months. One key reason is that, if it could be made to work, it wouldn’t just moderate climate change — i.e., slow it or stop it — it would actually serve as a climate change remediation method, reversing global warming.

The cynical and the insipid apparently believe that pursuing the geoengineering option would allow us to avoid making any changes in technology or behavior intended to reduce greenhouse gas output. This sort of logic is wrong, utterly wrong. For any plausible geoengineering project to succeed, we’d have to have already stabilized the climate. As it turns out, the brilliant and clearly-needed advances in technology and changes in behavior supported by those of us who proudly wear the label “bright green” will do exactly this, reducing, even eventually eliminating, anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. We need to do this as quickly as possible. As the saying goes, if you want to get out of the hole you’re in, the first thing to do is stop digging.

But none of the bright green solutions — ultra-efficient buildings and vehicles, top-to-bottom urban redesigns, local foods, renewable energy systems, and the like — will do anything to reduce the anthropogenic greenhouse gases that have already been emitted. The best result we get is stabilizing at an already high greenhouse gas level. And because of ocean thermal inertia and other big, slow climate effects, the Earth will continue to warm for a couple of decades even after we stop all greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming our civilization into a bright green wonderland won’t be easy, and under even the most optimistic estimates will take at least a decade; by the time we finally stop putting out additional greenhouse gases, we could well have gone past a point where globally disastrous results are inevitable. In fact, given the complexity of climate feedback systems, we may already have passed such a tipping point, even if we stopped all emissions today.

In other words, while stopping digging is absolutely necessary, it won’t actually refill the hole.

Continue reading “Open Source Terraforming” »