Center for Planetary Culture: Technical Infrastructure

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The next section will look at the technical infrastructure that humanity has thus far developed, in areas such as industrial manufacturing, agriculture, energy, global resource management, urban planning, transportation, and communications. We will review the current state of our technics, and how it functions today. We will propose directions for transforming our infrastructure or redeveloping it within the context of a regenerative society, focused on ecological resilience and social harmony, with an immediate goal of rapidly reducing CO2 emissions and quickly transitioning to a carbon-negative civilization.

If we continue our present activity, we will soon disturb our ecology to the point that our world becomes unlivable for future generations. Recognizing this, we must be willing to make radical changes in our habits and social practices. For instance, it may be the case that all unnecessary industries need to be stopped, until cradle-to-cradle practices based on renewable energy sources can be established universally. In every field, there are strategies for adaptation, mitigation, conservation that can help re-route humanity from the current path in a positive direction.

The global industrial system is currently reliant, to a great degree, on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel drilling, shipping, refining and burning continues to cause destruction and toxicity to the environment of the planet and health of humankind. Recent examples include Exxon Valdez and the BP Gulf Oil Spill, which devastated complex ecosystems, but those are only the largest examples. The $3.2 trillion oil industry transports about 53 million barrels per day worldwide, most of which is used to support an inefficient supply chain of manufacturing, storage, transportation, distribution and selling of stuff we don’t need that ends up in landfill.

According to a recent study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, there are five known strategies for slowing climate change: cutting emissions, storing carbon through plants, weather modification (cloud seeding), storing carbon dioxide as a liquid underground, and solar reflection: "We have the technology, and we know how to do it. It's just that there doesn't seem to be political support for reducing emissions." - [1]

Nicholas Stern, Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003, outlines his perspective on climate change and the route to mitigation: " The challenge is to martial arguments and create political will. We need clear arguments and clear examples of what can be done. Those examples will drive political debate. We need research.” - [2] In fact, in many if not all areas, substantial research has already been done. Alternative models exist - they just require a substantial shift from our current lifestyle, and a change in social values and expectations.

Main Areas



Government Policy

Civil Society Movements


Action Items



To make a rapid transition to a regenerative society, human civilization must shift the underlying energy sources that powered the growth of industrial civilization until this point. As quickly as possible, we need to move from global reliance on CO2-emitting fossil fuels toward locally produced renewable energy sources. This is no longer a technical issue, but a matter of political and social will. Many studies have demonstrated that we could power our current global civilization, entirely, from renewable sources. At the same time, in an interim phase of transition, massive efficiencies could be achieved with simple conservation practices, such as mandatory car pooling. To accomplish this over the next decade or two will require a civil society movement to pressure governments, corporations, and other institutions efficiently, while building alternative support systems for a new society based on sharing and resilience.

At the moment, less than 1% of global energy is supplied by solar - but as batteries and distributed storage systems develop, along with an "Internet of energy" that allows for local energy producers to contribute excess supply to the power grid - a rapid scaling up is entirely possible, and perhaps inevitable. The technology already exists. The difficulty is diverting large investments and capital to support the developments underway, and distribute them rapidly [3] Data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that a transition to renewable energy relying on solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, wave energy, and biomass could provide our annual energy demand 128 times over. The potential exists, yet humanity has yet to make the necessary shift. [4]

According to current projections, Europe will run on 20% renewable energy by 2025, while America will produce 9% of its power from renewable sources. This is far too slow, considering the speed and future projections on climate change. Global citizens must demand a Marshall Plan style accelerated transition. This plan should approach energy from different levels, including home and individual, transportation, industrial, and communications purposes. Energy plans will adapt to specific local environments. Different climates and bioregional resources will determine the exact makeup of each locality’s energy sources to be as efficient as possible. For example, tropical areas will capture most energy using solar, while cloudier regions will rely on water on wind primarily. Localized energy plans should all include stringent measures for conservation as well as production.


current status

The U.S. Energy Information Association reported that, "Annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions fell by 419 million metric tons in 2009 (7.1 percent), to 5,447 million metric tons. The annual decrease—the largest over the 19-year period beginning with the 1990 baseline—puts 2009 emissions 608 million metric tons below the 2005 level, which is the Obama Administration's benchmark year for its goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 17 percent by 2020.

The key factors contributing to the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 included an economy in recession with a decrease in gross domestic product of 2.6 percent, a decrease in the energy intensity of the economy of 2.2 percent, and a decrease in the carbon intensity of energy supply of 2.4 percent.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions accounted for 98 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 (Table 6) when adjusted for bunker fuels and U.S. Territories. The predominant share of carbon dioxide emissions comes from fossil fuel combustion, with smaller amounts from the nonfuel use of energy and emissions from U.S. Territories and international bunker fuels. Other relatively small sources include emissions from industrial processes, such as cement and limestone production."[5]

Energy Consumed

According to the Energy Information Administration [6], these are the latest statistics (2011) for US energy consumption:

  • Petroleum: 19 million barrels/day, 1st in the world
  • Natural Gas: 26,000 billion cubic feet, 1st in the world
  • Coal: 900 million short tons, 2nd in the world
  • Electricity: 4,000 billion kilowatt hours, 1st in the world
Fossil Fuels

Coal still plays the primary role in the fuel mix, and the role of renewables at this point is growing, but negligible on the grander scale.

Nafeez Ahmed explains how the fossil fuel bubble is inevitably going to burst, and already shows signs of its initial break.[7]

Renewable Energy Sources

According to Richard Heinberg, in their current state, wind and solar are just fossil fuel extenders, as they rely on oil for production of the technology needed to capture energy. [8]


Algae Systems, a Nevada company that has "a pilot plant in Alabama that, it says, can turn a profit making diesel fuel from algae by simultaneously performing three other tasks: making clean water from municipal sewage (which it uses to fertilize the algae), using the carbon-heavy residue as fertilizer and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels." If they can prove this system works, it could part of the global solution to the CO2 and energy crisis, as it is a carbon-negative technology. To find out more visit:[9]

What are Algae?

Algae are part of a large group of non-flowering plants. The group includes seaweed and many other single-celled formations. Algae contain chlorophyll but unlike other plants they do not have stems, roots, leaves or vascular tissue. Algae is very common and diverse and can be found everywhere on the planet and are hugely important for many ecosystems. They provide about 70% of oxygen that we breathe and provide a foundation for aquatic food chains in the oceans and inland. [10]

How algae creates its energy?

Algae produce energy through the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process that plants use to convert light energy from the Sun into chemical energy that is later released to fuel the organism. The process of Photosynthesis takes Sunlight + Carbon dioxide + Water and converts it to sugars such as ethanol. A company called Algenol states that it can create 9000 Gallons of ethanol per acre/ per year.

How is the energy harvested from Algae?

Once the algae are harvested, the lipids or oils are extracted from the walls of the algae cells. The simplest method of extraction is through an oil press, where the oils are pressed out of the plant material in a similar fashion to how olive oil is collected. This method can extract up to 75% of the oils contained in the plant matter.

After the oil's extracted, it is refined using fatty acid chains in a process called transesterification. This process uses a catalyst such as sodium hydroxide which is mixed with an alcohol substance. This creates a biodiesel fuel combined with a glycerol. The glycerol is then removed which creates the end product of algae biodiesel fuel.

How is Algae grown?

There are two main methods used to commercially grow algae. The most popular is called open-pond growing. Using open ponds algae is grown in hot and sunny areas of the world in order to maximise production. This method is high risk as the temperature needs to be kept exact and there is also a high risk of contamination.

The latter and more productive method of growing algae is called vertical growth or closed loop production. This method is used to produce algae faster and more efficiently than open pond growth. In this method algae are placed in clear plastic bags where they are exposed to sunlight on both sides. This method increases the growth rate of the algae and also protects it from contamination.[11]

Benefits over other biofuels?

The benefits of Algae over other forms of biofuels are; that is can purify waste waters such as sewage by using the nutrients to grow its organism, also, in comparison to corn biofuel, algae systems only use 4% of the land coverage to produce the same amount of energy. The main advantage is that Algae systems are carbon neutral. This is because the carbon is taken from atmosphere, turned into ethanol, which is then burned and released as co2. This Co2 is then taken out of the atmosphere to grow more Algae, representing a system that is in constant balance.

What other companies use Algae systems?

Solazyme is a company based in San Francisco and they produce high performance oils in a sustainable fashion through the use of micro algae, to find out more visit:

Sapphire Energy has built a proprietary platform based on patented technologies to convert algae into a renewable, sustainable and scalable source of energy, also known as Green Crude. Sapphire energy has four facilities in California and New Mexico, to find out more visit:

Algenol is a global, industrial biotechnology company that is commercializing its patented algae technology platform for production of ethanol and other biofuels. Algenol is headquartered in Fort Myers in Florida, to find out more visit:


According to the Renewable Energy Network, “There is over ten times more solar photovoltaic, six times more concentrating solar thermal power and three times more wind power in the world than in 2007.”[12]

A recent report from International International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated, “Solar deployment needs to increase 12 times over by 2030 to avoid “climate catastrophe.” Jeremy Legget of Solar Century writes a brief overview of the most salient points from the report:

  • “Launched in New York last week, the report, ‘REmap 2013’, aims to show a 36% share of renewables in the energy mix by 2030 is feasible, affordable and will mitigate climate change risks – keeping carbon pollution below 450ppm to keep within a ‘safe’ 2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures.[36] Based on the IRENA model, wind energy needs to increase the most, by a factor of 15, and solar second, by a factor of 12. Geothermal needs to grow nine times over, hydro to double, biomass by a factor of 1.5 and tidal generation to increase by less than 0.1.
  • IRENA has calculated the switch to renewables also provides US$740 billion of savings each year on environmental costs from burning fossil fuels – canceling out the investments costs required to reach 36% renewables.
  • Out of the US$750 billion, US$200 billion could be saved in health costs, while 900,000 clean energy jobs would be created, IRENA said.
  • The REmap show by 2030 there would be a 15% decline in oil and natural gas, and 26% decline in coal, helping countries that import fossil fuels to be energy secure and to reduce air pollution. The REmap is based on the energy demand and consumption of 26 countries, or 75% of global energy consumption.
  • "….The key to deploying enough renewables quick enough said Gielen, is to focus on five points: “planning realistic but ambitious transition pathways; creating enabling business environments; managing knowledge of technology options and their deployment; ensuring smooth integration of renewables into the existing infrastructure; and unleashing innovation.”
  • ….The IPCC draft recommendation also said renewable energy has the potential to more than meet global energy demand, as renewables are now the third largest contributor to global energy supply – just behind coal and gas – with a good chance of being the second largest contributor by 2020. Since 2005 solar has increased deployment by a factor of 25, the report states.”[13]

“Analysts at McKinsey, AllianceBernstein and other such places say that the systemic cost reductions in manufacturing and installing solar amount to what they call a ‘terrordome’ for the business models of traditional energy utilities. These old-world companies are as a result in such trouble that they may even be in what analysts have started to call a ‘death spiral’. They say the solar cost-down trend will continue, increasingly being augmented by cost reductions in storage technology, to such an extent that that the business models of the oil and gas industry will soon begin to be undermined too … [thus] Every step carbon fuel abolitionists take forward is likely to become easier in the future. This is because carbon fuels, on the whole, will become more expensive to extract over time, and the increasingly enormous amounts of cash needed to access them become ever harder to justify.” [14]

China is the biggest market for solar power, outgrowing Europe. According to the European photovoltaic industry report, solar power is expected to grow 20% a year over the next few years.[15]

Earth Policy Institute data on solar: “PV remains the most rapidly growing energy technology by a wide margin. Indeed, global PV installations for 2014 should reach at least 40,000 megawatts, expanding world PV capacity by another 30 percent. As concerns about climate change grow, solar PV has firmly established itself as an integral player in the transition from fossil fuels.” [16]

Jeremy Leggett’s The Energy of Nations has many more resources on solar potential.


USU colleagues Chris McGinty, Jason Quinn, and Jeff Moody published findings from an unprecedented worldwide microalgae productivity assessment in the May 26, 2014, online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team's research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. “Algae, Moody says, yields about 2,500 gallons of biofuel per acre per year. In contrast, soybeans yield approximately 48 gallons; corn about 18 gallons.”[17] While they claim their findings were more conservative than found in other studies, the potential was impressive.

Projects from on future biofuel production show an increasing amount of reliance on renewable sources in the next 5 years. The U.S. Energy Department awarded 6.4 million to BioProcess to develop advanced biofuels from algae for U.S. military jets and ships. [18] They also funded announced during BETO’s Biomass 2013 conference up to $16.5 million in funding for new algae biofuels projects. Hawaii Bioenergy, Sapphire Energy, New Mexico State University, and California Polytechnic State University all received funding to demonstrate algal biofuel intermediate yields of greater than 2,500 gallons per acre by 2018.[19]

The U.S. Navy developed a program for turning seawater into fuel, which at current levels would be commercially viable in less than 10 years.[20]

Significant research has been put into commercializing advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, butylene and biodiesel. The majority of the 1.6 billion tons of waste already collected and buried is made of cellulose. Existing technologies can produce around 100 gallons of fuel per ton of waste, which equals about 160 billion gallons of liquid fuel per year. That number is almost our current liquid fuel consumption. Over one billion gallons of advanced bio-fuels was produced in 2013.[21]

In an August 2013 study, Sally Benson, Director of Stanford University's Global Climate and Energy Project, found lignin[22] derived from the grain of agricultural crops could be used for biofuel production. She writes, "This exciting, fundamental discovery provides an alternative pathway for altering lignin in plants and has the potential to greatly increase the efficiency of energy crop conversion for biofuels. We have been so pleased to support this team of world leaders in lignin research and to see the highly successful outcome of these projects."[23]

General Biodiesel[24]

Seattle-based company General Biodiesel recycles waste cooking oil and turns it into high-quality biofuel. This biodiesel has the lowest carbon footprint of any biofuel since the cooking oil is sourced locally, the fuel is made here, and then sold to local distributors and fleets. Burning this fuel, rather than petroleum-based diesel, also results in considerably less greenhouse gas emissions. General Biodiesel's closed-loop recycling system makes them a unique company that truly cares about the Earth and it's inhabitants.[25]


A report form the Sierra Club discusses the potential of Wave buoys, a technology that floats beneath the water, generating energy through the up and down motion of the waves. Generating 300 kW each, 1,000 of these devices along the tri-counties coast would generate about 2.4 billion kWh per year.[26]

Wave Energy

Waves are generated by wind passing over the surface of the sea. As long as the waves propagate slower than the wind speed just above the waves, there is an energy transfer from the wind to the waves. Both air pressure differences between the upwind and the lee side of a wave crest, as well as friction on the water surface by the wind, making the water to go into the shear stress causes the growth of the waves.[27]

Point absorber buoy This device floats on the surface of the water, held in place by cables connected to the seabed. Buoys use the rise and fall of swells to drive hydraulic pumps and generate electricity. [28]

Surface attenuator These devices act similarly to point absorber buoys, with multiple floating segments connected to one another and are oriented perpendicular to incoming waves. A flexing motion is created by swells that drive hydraulic pumps to generate electricity. [28]

Oscillating water column Oscillating water column devices can be located on shore or in deeper waters offshore. With an air chamber integrated into the device, swells compress air in the chambers forcing air through an air turbine to create electricity. [28]

Overtopping device Overtopping devices are long structures that use wave velocity to fill a reservoir to a greater water level than the surrounding ocean. The potential energy in the reservoir height is then captured with low-head turbines. Devices can be either on shore or floating offshore. [28]

Oscillating wave surge converter These devices typically have one end fixed to a structure or the seabed while the other end is free to move. Energy is collected from the relative motion of the body compared to the fixed point. Oscillating wave surge converters often come in the form of floats, flaps, or membranes. [28]

Pros Waves move constantly throughout the day, which provides a consistent stream of electricity generation capacity. By taking advantage of only the waves, wave power creates no greenhouse gas emissions or water pollutants. Once installed there are few ongoing operating costs or labor costs, unless there is a device breakdown. No material resources are used or changed in the production of wave power, making it a truly renewable power form. Most wave power devices are installed mostly or fully submerged in water. By installing the devices far enough from shore there is minimal “damage of water views” that has been associated with offshore wind turbines. Most wave power devices operate at optimal efficiency levels regardless of the direction of the waves. By capturing the kinetic energy of the tide there will be less power crashing into the shore, which should help prevent damage to the shoreline.[29]

Cons Strong ocean storms and salt water corrosion can damage the devices, which could increase the cost of construction to increase durability and/or cause frequent breakdowns. This especially holds true with the increased complexity of the devices. Sea life could be harmed or have habitats disrupted or displaced by the operation of the devices or the mooring of the devices. The high cost of device and associated power products could lengthen the payback period and be cost prohibitive based on the characteristics and size of each project. There are relatively few commercial installations as compared to other technologies, such as wind and solar farms. As such, additional difficulties implementing these devices could arise. The potentially larger footprint of ocean-dwelling device farms could reduce shipping channels and fishing and recreation areas. The movement of Attenuators or Point Absorbers or intake and movement of water in the OWC and Overtopping devices could produce a loud, constant noise. This noise is unlikely going to be significantly louder than the waves would make on their own.[30]


A report from the Sierra club discusses the potential of C-planes. This technology is essentially an aquatic version of a wind turbine that is being developed by Clipper Windpower, Inc. The C-plane would float offshore in strong currents, such as those found outside of the Channel Islands.[31]


Anaerobic digestion of animal manure or human waste to create methane for energy needs. The CVPS Cow Power program converts methane gas from manure on Vermont dairy farms into electricity. [54] Other microbe resources here.[32]

Dr Chu began a huge initiative developing microbes that would devour prairie grasses and convert them into methane -- prairie gas. DoE, under his direction, was embarked on doing this at scale.[33]

Large-scale production at Jasper Hill Farm could be copied and applied elsewhere with modifications for local conditions.[34]

Freshkills Park in Staten Island traps methane from a half-century of trash and uses it to heat homes.[35]

Newtown Creek Digester eggs trap methane from sewage and compost to convert into methane that powers the Greenpoint wastewater treatment plant.[36]

Untapped Potential Energy Sources

Quantum Gravity

Nassim Haramein, Director of Research at the Hawaii Institute for Unified Physics (HIUP), in “Quantum Gravity and the Holographic Mass,” finds a very specific fundamental mass ratio between the vacuum oscillations on the surface horizon and the vacuum oscillations within the volume of any black hole that directly expresses the gravitational field of the object.[48] According to the Resonance Project, Haramein’s approach could potentially unlock new discoveries in the areas of energy, transportation and even space travel.[37]

Cold Fusion

Cold fusion is a hypothetical type of nuclear reaction that would occur at, or near, room temperature, compared with temperatures in the millions of degrees that are required for "hot" fusion.

future projections

Regenerative Strategy


The potential for accelerated climate change - as well as the Sixth Great Extinction, ocean acidification, and other elements of the ecological crisis - require an immediate response from humanity on a planetary scale. We are already at a juncture where the climate system could flip at any time, leading to a far warmer world, potentially in just a few decades, or even a few years. In the United States, President Obama recently supported an EPA plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2030 - unfortunately this type of incremental approach is woefully inadequate, compared to the scale of the problems we face.

What we need is a hyper-accelerated transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energies and zero carbon emissions, combined with plans to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Technically, humanity could make such a transition in 10 years or less, if it became our single-minded focus, supported by a coalition of government, business, and a global citizen's movement. The world's entire fleet of 800 million cars could all be converted to run on water hydrolysis powered by solar energy within five or ten years. According to the Climate Plan, “The US must instead enact policies to reduce overall oil consumption, not simply net imports, in order to pursue the goal of energy independence while protecting consumers from global oil price shocks and mitigating global warming pollutants.” [38]

The situation is difficult to comprehend because of constant new information. For instance, until recently, "Peak Oil" was a major concern for many. Richard Heinberg, of the Post Carbon Institute, and many others feared that we would run out of cheap sources of fossil fuels within a few decades, before we made a transition. Recently, new technologies have evolved to extract energy from deeper wells, from tar sands, and through ecologically destructive practices like hydraulic fractioning[Hydraulic fracturing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] or "hydrofracking"[4]. Now, commentators like Jeremy Leggett are noting that the problem is not "peak oil" but "stranded assets": Much of the fossil fuel that remains underground can never be accessed, as extracting it will lead to massive spikes in CO2 and an unlivable planet. Ironically, Peak Oil might have been preferable to this scenario, where we have self-limit our use of fossil fuels quickly.

Mark Jacobson[5], professor of engineering at Stanford University has proposed that a rapid transition to renewable energy sources is plausible, on a global scale. In a 2008 paper, he wrote: "The intermittency of wind, solar, and wave power can be reduced in several ways: (1) interconnecting geographically-disperse intermittent sources through the transmission system, (2) combining different intermittent sources (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, and wave) to smooth out loads, using hydro to provide peaking and load balancing, (3) using smart meters to provide electric power to electric vehicles at optimal times, (4) storing wind energy in hydrogen, batteries, pumped hydroelectric power, compressed air, or a thermal storage medium, and (5) forecasting weather to improve grid planning."

His work on making a sustainable transition by 2030 was featured in a Scientific American 2009 cover story [6]. With Mark A. Delucchi, they sought "to determine how 100 percent of the world’s energy, for all purposes, could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources, by as early as 2030."Jacobson's work is now the inspiration for The Solutions Project [7], on how the United States can accomplish this turnaround for all fifty states, with actor Mark Ruffalo, filmmaker Josh Fox, and others.

A Path to Sustainable Energy

In 2009, Stanford Engineering Professor Mark Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, wrote a cover story for Scientific American, proposing a plan to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030. Jacobson has continued his efforts with The Solutions Project, proposing a transition strategy for all 50 states in the US. Their report is as follows:

Our plan calls for millions of wind turbines, water machines and solar installations. The numbers are large, but the scale is not an insurmountable hurdle; society has achieved massive transformations before. During World War II, the U.S. retooled automobile factories to produce 300,000 aircraft, and other countries produced 486,000 more. In 1956 the U.S. began building the Interstate Highway System, which after 35 years extended for 47,000 miles, changing commerce and society. Is it feasible to transform the world’s energy systems? Could it be accomplished in two decades? The answers depend on the technologies chosen, the availability of critical materials, and economic and political factors.

Clean Technologies Only

Renewable energy comes from enticing sources: wind, which also produces waves; water, which includes hydroelectric, tidal and geothermal energy (water heated by hot underground rock); and sun, which includes photovoltaics and solar pow- er plants that focus sunlight to heat a fluid that drives a turbine to generate electricity. Our plan includes only technologies that work or are close to working today on a large scale, rather than those that may exist 20 or 30 years from now.

To ensure that our system remains clean, we consider only technologies that have near-zero emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants over their entire life cycle, including construction, operation and decommissioning. For ex- ample, when burned in vehicles, even the most ecologically acceptable sources of ethanol create air pollution that will cause the same mortality level as when gasoline is burned. Nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, when reactor construction and uranium refining and transport are considered. Carbon capture and sequestration technology can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants but will increase air pollutants and will extend all the other deleterious effects of coal mining, transport and processing, because more coal must be burned to power the capture and storage steps. Similarly, we consider only technologies that do not present significant waste disposal or terrorism risks.

In our plan, WWS will supply electric power for heating and transportation—industries that will have to revamp if the world has any hope of slowing climate change. We have assumed that most fossil-fuel heating (as well as ovens and stoves) can be replaced by electric systems and that most fossil-fuel transportation can be re- placed by battery and fuel-cell vehicles. Hydrogen, produced by using WWS electricity to split water (electrolysis), would power fuel cells and be burned in airplanes and by industry.

"The Plan: Power Plants Required

Clearly, enough renewable energy exists. How, then, would we transition to a new infrastructure to provide the world with 11.5 TW? We have chosen a mix of technologies emphasizing wind and solar, with about 9 percent of demand met by mature water-related methods. (Other combinations of wind and solar could be as successful.)

Wind supplies 51 percent of the demand, pro- vided by 3.8 million large wind turbines (each rated at five megawatts) worldwide. Although that quantity may sound enormous, it is interest- ing to note that the world manufactures 73 mil- lion cars and light trucks every year. Another 40 percent of the power comes from photovoltaics and concentrated solar plants, with about 30 percent of the photovoltaic output from roof- top panels on homes and commercial buildings. About 89,000 photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants, averaging 300 megawatts apiece, would be needed. Our mix also includes 900 hydroelectric stations worldwide, 70 per- cent of which are already in place.

Only about 0.8 percent of the wind base is in- stalled today. The worldwide footprint of the 3.8 million turbines would be less than 50 square kilometers (smaller than Manhattan). When the needed spacing between them is figured, they would occupy about 1 percent of the earth’s land, but the empty space among turbines could be used for agriculture or ranching or as open land or ocean. The nonrooftop photovoltaics and concentrated solar plants would occupy about 0.33 percent of the planet’s land. Building such an extensive infrastructure will take time. But so did the current power plant network. And remember that if we stick with fossil fuels, demand by 2030 will rise to 16.9 TW, requiring about 13,000 large new coal plants, which them- selves would occupy a lot more land, as would the mining to supply them.

The Materials Hurdle

The scale of the WWS infrastructure is not a barrier. But a few materials needed to build it could be scarce or subject to price manipulation.

Enough concrete and steel exist for the millions of wind turbines, and both those commodities are fully recyclable. The most problematic materials may be rare-earth metals such as neo- dymium used in turbine gearboxes. Although the metals are not in short supply, the low-cost sources are concentrated in China, so countries such as the U.S. could be trading dependence on Middle Eastern oil for dependence on Far Eastern metals. Manufacturers are moving toward gearless turbines, however, so that limitation may become moot.

Photovoltaic cells rely on amorphous or crystalline silicon, cadmium telluride, or copper indium selenide and sulfide. Limited supplies of tellurium and indium could reduce the prospects for some types of thin-film solar cells, though not for all; the other types might be able to take up the slack. Large-scale production could be re- stricted by the silver that cells require, but finding ways to reduce the silver content could tackle that hurdle. Recycling parts from old cells could ameliorate material difficulties as well.

Three components could pose challenges for building millions of electric vehicles: rare-earth metals for electric motors, lithium for lithium-ion batteries and platinum for fuel cells. More than half the world’s lithium reserves lie in Bolivia and Chile. That concentration, combined with rapidly growing demand, could raise prices significantly. More problematic is the claim by Meridian International Research that not enough economically recoverable lithium exists to build anywhere near the number of batteries needed in a global electric-vehicle economy. Recycling could change the equation, but the economics of recycling depend in part on whether batteries are made with easy recyclability in mind, an issue the industry is aware of. The long-term use of platinum also depends on recycling; current available reserves would sustain annual production of 20 million fuel-cell vehicles, along with existing industrial uses, for fewer than 100 years.

Smart Mix for Reliability

A new infrastructure must provide energy on demand at least as reliably as the existing infra- structure. WWS technologies generally suffer less downtime than traditional sources. The average U.S. coal plant is offline 12.5 percent of the year for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Modern wind turbines have a down time of less than 2 percent on land and less than 5 per- cent at sea. Photovoltaic systems are also at less than 2 percent. Moreover, when an individual wind, solar or wave device is down, only a small fraction of production is affected; when a coal, nuclear or natural gas plant goes offline, a large chunk of generation is lost.

The main WWS challenge is that the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine in a given location. Intermittency problems can be mitigated by a smart balance of sources, such as generating a base supply from steady geothermal or tidal power, relying on wind at night when it is often plentiful, using solar by day and turning to a reliable source such as hydroelectric that can be turned on and off quickly to smooth out supply or meet peak demand. For example, interconnecting wind farms that are only 100 to 200 miles apart can compensate for hours of zero power at any one farm should the wind not be blowing there. Also help- ful is interconnecting geographically dispersed sources so they can back up one another, installing smart electric meters in homes that automatically recharge electric vehicles when demand is low and building facilities that store power for later use.

Because the wind often blows during stormy conditions when the sun does not shine and the sun often shines on calm days with little wind, combining wind and solar can go a long way toward meeting demand, especially when geothermal provides a steady base and hydroelectric can be called on to fill in the gaps.

Political Will

Our analyses strongly suggest that the costs of WWS will become competitive with traditional sources. In the interim, however, certain forms of WWS power will be significantly more costly than fossil power. Some combination of WWS subsidies and carbon taxes would thus be needed for a time. A feed-in tariff (FIT) program to cover the difference between generation cost and wholesale electricity prices is especially effective at scaling-up new technologies. Combining FITs with a so-called declining clock auction, in which the right to sell power to the grid goes to the lowest bidders, provides continuing incentive for WWS developers to lower costs. As that happens, FITs can be phased out. FITs have been implemented in a number of European countries and a few U.S. states and have been quite successful in stimulating solar power in Germany.

Taxing fossil fuels or their use to reflect their environmental damages also makes sense. But at a minimum, existing subsidies for fossil energy, such as tax benefits for exploration and extraction, should be eliminated to level the playing field. Misguided promotion of alternatives that are less desirable than WWS power, such as farm and production subsidies for biofuels, should also be ended, because it delays deployment of cleaner systems. For their part, legislators craft- ing policy must find ways to resist lobbying by the entrenched energy industries.

Finally, each nation needs to be willing to invest in a robust, long-distance transmission system that can carry large quantities of WWS power from remote regions where it is often greatest — such as the Great Plains for wind and the desert Southwest for solar in the U.S.— to centers of consumption, typically cities. Reducing consumer demand during peak usage periods also requires a smart grid that gives generators and consumers much more control over electricity usage hour by hour.

A large-scale wind, water and solar energy system can reliably supply the world’s needs, significantly benefiting climate, air quality, water quality, ecology and energy security. As we have shown, the obstacles are primarily political, not technical. A combination of feed-in tariffs plus incentives for providers to reduce costs, elimination of fossil subsidies and an intelligently expanded grid could be enough to ensure rapid deployment. Of course, changes in the real-world power and transportation industries will have to overcome sunk investments in existing infrastructure. But with sensible policies, nations could set a goal of generating 25 percent of their new energy supply with WWS sources in 10 to 15 years and almost 100 percent of new supply in 20 to 30 years. With extremely aggressive policies, all existing fossil-fuel capacity could theo- retically be retired and replaced in the same period, but with more modest and likely policies full replacement may take 40 to 50 years. Either way, clear leadership is needed, or else nations will keep trying technologies promoted by in-dustries rather than vetted by scientists.

A decade ago it was not clear that a global WWS system would be technically or economically feasible. Having shown that it is, we hope global leaders can figure out how to make WWS power politically feasible as well. They can start by committing to meaningful climate and renewable energy goals now."[39]

Deep Decarbonization

A plan to transition to 100% renewables - or what Jeffrey Sachs calls "deep decarbonization" - will require breaking through the current political and economic obstacles. This means that a movement of global citizens is necessary. In the last section, Rapid Transition Strategy, we will seek to define some strategic ways such a transformation could be orchestrated. It requires a coalition of interests, between the public and private sector, between local and federal governments, between supranational organizations, and also the direct engagement of corporations and private wealth holders.

Necessary Government / Public Sector Initiatives

We must envision and implement models for global renewable energy systems to be put in place. Create public-private partnerships to invest in climate resilience. Federal and state governments and private institutions should work together to identify resources and invest in technologies and other measures that make the electricity sector more resilient while helping to curb further climate change.

Incorporate climate adaptation and mitigation measures into utility resource planning. The Union of Concerned Scientists outlines resilient measures that could be implemented to adapt and mitigate in response to climate change.[40]

State and local governments should require utilities to consider the costs of adapting to climate change in their long-term resource planning. Utilities should also consider the costs and benefits of investing in technologies that significantly reduce emissions and future climate effects.

Upgrade the electricity infrastructure in ways that strengthen its resilience and reduce outages. Power plant owners should install technologies that use less water—such as dry and wet-dry hybrid cooling systems or new wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects—to ensure that our electricity system is more resilient in the face of heat and drought. Utilities and grid operators should also pursue approaches that make the grid more flexible and allow it to integrate renewable and distributed energy resources. These include expanding transmission capacity and energy storage, adopting demand-response programs, developing microgrids (which can better isolate outages), and improving forecasting and scheduling.

Globally we must develop strong state and federal clean energy policies. Policy makers should adopt proven policies and programs to ensure the timely expansion of renewables and energy efficiency, such as renewable electricity standards, energy efficiency standards, tax incentives, financing mechanisms, and funding for research and development. By encouraging innovation and reducing costs, these approaches will help overcome market barriers that are inhibiting the development of clean energy technologies.

Part of the policies must enact strong federal carbon standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should finalize and implement strong standards to reduce heat-trapping emissions from new and existing power plants, to help mitigate further climate change and its costs. The EPA should allow states to use renewables and efficiency investments to comply with these standards. The federal government should also set limits that will reduce the nation’s carbon emissions at least 80 percent by 2050. (insert infographic here)

We should encourage homeowners and businesses to do their part by investing in energy efficiency and renewables. Investing in more efficient buildings and appliances— as well as clean technologies such as rooftop solar PV panels, solar heating and daylighting, and efficient bioenergy heating and geothermal heating and cooling systems—can greatly reduce electricity bills and global warming emissions. Those investments will also keep buildings more comfortable during extreme weather events and power outages. Awareness and motivation to act can be generated through social media and other technologies.

Until we develop bioregional infrastructures for renewable energy, civilians should voluntarily adopt conservation measures. [European examples of energy conservation to be adopted] This study and accompanying infrographic show how much energy can be saved through conservation methods applied in all areas.[41] Global civic action campaigns around conservation should utilize this information to inspire others to conserve. A reward system for conservation could be developed with the aid of a social network or media tool, similar to rewards systems for credit cards and airlines. Community organizers and activists should work with technology companies to facilitate this transition.

The Future of Energy: How to Transition to a Renewable Economy

This is the third in a series on the Future of Energy. Part I is here and II here.

If we are to be successful in mitigating climate change and achieving a sustainable and independent energy system, we need to ride the waves already coming our way and do our best to start new waves where we have the power to do so.

The biggest wave, by far, which is already underneath us and swelling, is solar power. We need to ride this wave as far as it will go—and it will go far. The cost of solar power has plummeted in the last few years by over 50% and we are seeing solar power costs at or below the cost of utility power in an increasing number of jurisdictions already; this is generally known as “grid parity.” A recent report (see p. 7) found that Germany, Italy and Spain are now at grid parity for solar PV and many other countries are close.

We may as well call the point at which solar power reaches grid parity in a majority of jurisdictions around the world the “solar singularity.” When this moment is reached, solar power will take off and become the dominant power source relatively quickly. My feeling is that we’ll see solar reach half or more of our power supply in the US sometime in the 2030s. That’s still a ways off but still pretty soon in terms of energy transitions.

I argued recently that we are already effectively at the halfway point to solar ubiquity because we reached 1% of new power plant installations from solar in 2013. As strange as it sounds at first blush, 1% is halfway in terms of the doublings required to get from nothing to 1% and from 1% to 100%. So in terms of the time required we may indeed be halfway to solar dominance. This is an example of Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns. Time will tell if I’m right.

The next big wave is energy storage. It’s nowhere near as certain as the solar wave and its swell is only being dimly felt for now. But with the right policy support, and an army of smart entrepreneurs, this energy storage wave will be just as rideable as the solar wave. Germany is leading the way (again) on installations, with over 4,000 residential PV+battery systems installed in the first year of their new storage rebate program. California is arguably leading the way on the utility-scale side. Energy storage will be key for integrating variable renewables like solar and wind into our grids as penetration increases. The sun don’t shine all the time and the wind don’t blow every day—so we will need either a lot of flexible generation like modern natural gas plants to back up an increasing penetration of variable renewables, and/or we’ll need a growing fleet of energy storage.

Energy storage is more useful for the grid than natural gas backup power because energy storage devices can go both ways: they can absorb and dispatch power to the grid whereas natural gas plants can only dispatch. So it’s two for the price of one when it comes to energy storage. The price, however, is the catch for now: even though good research suggests that energy storage may already be cost-effective when we properly account for the benefits to the grid, most observers would agree that there’s still a lot of room for energy storage costs to come down. My feeling, admittedly tinged with hope, is that we’ll see the same trend in the energy storage business that we’ve seen in solar in the last five years, with strong demand prompting a huge ramp in production and thus big drops in price. We’ll see.

The last wave I’ll mention here is the energy efficiency wave. We use energy very wastefully because, frankly, energy is still really cheap—even here in California where I live. We in the US waste well over half of all the energy that is actually available in our system (Figure 1). And when we consider the potential for conservation—behavior change—to reduce energy use even further, we could, it seems, be just as productive as we are today on an energy budget half or more of what we currently use.

For the western half of the US, a grid consisting of large amounts of solar and wind, hydro and biomass, and backed up with energy storage and flexible natural gas plants, could readily provide all or a large part of the power we need to maintain and grow a modern economy. Other parts of the US, particularly the south, don’t have quite the renewable energy endowment that the western US has, or even the Northeast. However, high voltage DC power lines are an option for areas without an abundance of renewable energy. While distributed energy and localized grids are to be preferred, I’d rather see renewables supply the South from power lines from Texas and the Midwest, or from large offshore wind farms in the Atlantic, than see the South continue with its coal-dominated power mix in perpetuity.

Now for some numbers

Ok, now let’s talk numbers. I’m going to describe a plausible pathway for the US to become a predominantly renewable energy economy by 2035 to 2040. I stress “plausible” because of course this kind of forecasting is generally an exercise in futility due to so many unpredictable variables. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying. I’ll describe what the US currently uses for electricity, transportation and other types of energy today and then project forward to 2040. Then I’m going to show in broad terms how we could reasonably make the transition to a predominantly renewable energy system by 2035-2040.

I’m going to use “quads” as my common unit, which is short for quadrillion btus (British thermal units; for some reason the acronym is not capitalized). Quads are commonly used when talking about large-scale energy use, such as in the context of entire nations’ energy budget. For example, the US used about 97 quads of energy in 2013 (Figure 1).

We can group the various uses of energy into three categories, which we’ll tackle below: 1) transportation; 2) electricity; 3) heating, cooling and industrial processes from natural gas. This three-part breakdown includes almost all energy consumption in the US.

We see that petroleum is the single largest energy source in the US, followed by natural gas and then coal. Renewable energy is still a relatively tiny share of the whole, even if we include large hydro, which isn’t even considered renewable in some jurisdictions, like California.

Another major take-home from this chart—often called a “spaghetti chart” or, officially, a Sankey diagram—is the pronounced inefficiency in our energy use. 59 quads is “rejected,” that is, wasted. Only 38.4 quads are used productively. This poses a big opportunity to use energy more efficiently.

Looking ahead, the Energy Information Administration projects a thirty percent increase in vehicle miles traveled by 2040 (EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2014). However, projected increases in fuel economy more than offset this increase in driving and the net result in EIA’s forecast is actually a decline in transportation fuel demand by 2040, from 26.7 quads in 2012 to 25.5 in 2040.

EIA projects that electricity consumption will grow 0.9% per year through 2040 in its Reference Case, and natural gas consumption grows by about 0.8% per year through 2040.

In sum, EIA expects US energy consumption to increase to about 106 quads by 2040, from 97 quads in 2013, an increase of 9%.

I’m going to define a “predominantly renewable energy economy” as 80% or more renewable energy, which includes renewable electricity, biogas and biofuels. No, it doesn’t include nuclear. This makes the magic number to reach by 2040 or sooner about 85 quads (80% of 106 quads).

So how do we get to 85 quads from renewables?

Price-induced conservation and energy efficiency

First, we disagree with EIA about the likely trajectory of US petroleum production and demand. Based on the arguments I set forth in part I of this series, I believe there is a very good case for lower US oil production than EIA projects, consequently higher prices, and a significantly lower energy content of produced barrels. The main points I made in Part I concerned 1) much higher than normal decline rates for unconventional oil wells; 2) a failure to consider the lower energy content of unconventional oil, which reduces the available energy EIA projects by as much as 30%; 3) a failure to consider the global impact of dramatically declining net oil exports as major oil exporters use ever larger portions of oil that they produce while their oil production declines over time.

EIA already includes an increasingly efficient economy because this has been the long-term trend. EIA projects a 2% decline in energy intensity per year through 2040. This means that our economy will produce the same goods and services each year with 2% less energy.

However, due to the factors mentioned above it seems likely to me that we’re going to see substantially more price-induced energy conservation than EIA projects by 2040. Moreover, as we shift to electricity as a major transportation fuel a large increase in efficiency is achieved because electric vehicles are 2-3 times more efficient in converting energy into motion. I’m going to, accordingly, assume that 25% of the 85 quads will be met by additional conservation and efficiency that is not included in EIA’s current forecast. This brings us to 63.75 quads as the magic number to achieve by 2040.

Transportation energy

Let’s start with the hard part first. Shifting to a predominantly renewable electricity sector seems almost inevitable at this point. The transportation sector is a tougher nut to crack because we’re still so dependent on petroleum. Electrification is the key, however, to weaning us from petroleum as well as coal and natural gas. There are a ton of other ways to reduce petroleum demand—hybrid cars, smaller and more efficient cars, biking, walking more, carpooling, increasing busing and train routes, smarter urban planning, etc.—but to actually get us off petroleum we should look primarily to electrification of vehicles. I won’t re-hash the arguments here, but I covered the debate over electric vehicles vs. fuel cell vehicles here and here. In sum, I don’t see fuel cell vehicles as a significant player in our future.

EIA, as mentioned, projects 25.5 quads for transportation energy by 2040, but this includes only a small amount of electrification. Based on the logic described above for increased price-induced conservation and improved efficiency, I reduce this figure by 25% to 19.1 quads. This means that higher petroleum prices will induce a stronger shift away from traditional vehicles, and away from driving more generally, than EIA currently projects.

While biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel are far from perfect solutions, we can’t ignore that they have in fact grown rapidly in recent years and are probably here to stay. Ethanol now provides about one million barrels of fuel per day in the US, which after adjusting for energy content, is equivalent to about 700,000 barrels per day of oil, or about 3.7% of US consumption. Subtracting this amount from 19.1 gives 18.4 quads for transportation energy needs by 2040.

Since I’ve defined a renewable energy economy as one that gets 80% or more of its power from renewables, we can reduce this 18.4 quads to 14.7 quads, which assumes that 20% of transportation will still come from fossil fuels by 2040. Since this column is an outline I’m going to simply assume at this point that this 14.7 quads will come from electricity due to relatively rapid electrification of transportation through various types of electric vehicles. This is, of course, highly debatable and uncertain, but, again, I think it’s plausible given the trends we’re seeing today. We have 26 years to get there.

Electrifying our transportation sector allows us to focus in on how we produce electricity in our country as the key task for transitioning off fossil fuels economy-wide, which we discuss next.

Our renewable energy future

We currently produce a plurality of our electricity from coal, but an increasing share comes from natural gas and renewables. Nuclear power’s share is significant but slowly shrinking. In 2013, EIA states that the US obtained 41% electricity from coal (down from over 50% just a few years ago), 26% from natural gas, 19% from nuclear, 13% from renewables (which includes large hydro), and 1% from petroleum.

By 2040, EIA projects that the mix will change to 32% coal, 35% natural gas, and 16% each for nuclear and renewables. I think these projections are way off, due largely to the within-reach “solar singularity” mentioned above.

EIA has been chronically wrong when it comes to projecting renewable energy growth. And also chronically wrong when it comes to projecting fossil fuel production. In the case of renewables, they’ve almost always been too pessimistic (here’s a study re the Int’l Energy Agency’s projections, which generally mirror closely the EIA’s projections and vice versa since they’re both US-dominated organizations) and in the case of fossil fuels generally too optimistic.

Anyway, using quads, our common unit, we convert EIA’s numbers and get a revised forecast of 12.6 quads of electricity consumption in the US by 2040, which includes my standard 25% reduction due to additional price-induced conservation and efficiency. Further reducing by 20%, allowing for our 80% definition of a “predominantly renewable energy economy” brings that down to 10 quads. But we need to add in our shifted transportation electricity demand (14.7 quads) and this brings our total renewable electricity goal to 24.7 quads.

I’m going to be bold and project, based on today’s growth rates of solar and the almost-here grid parity for solar around the country, that we’ll see solar grow to 50% of all electricity supply by 2035-2040, including our shifted transportation energy demand. This isn’t just a wild guess. It’s based on a projected growth rate of 30% per year from 2013 onward. Solar power would, under this growth rate, provide over 20 quads of electricity by 2040, which is quite a bit higher than 50%. 30% is actually a significantly lower growth rate than we’ve seen in the last five years (average 54% growth rate in solar electricity produced) but we should expect the rate to slow down over time since this is an almost universal pattern for the diffusion of new technology.

The 30% growth figure is admittedly a guess, but it’s an educated guess based on the many positive trends in the solar industry and the fact that solar is so scalable and modular. Some areas of Australia have reached 25% or higher residential penetration rates for solar in just a few years—the highest in the world—and there’s no reason to think that we can’t in the US achieve similarly fast penetration once the tipping point has been reached. The US only has about 0.3% solar penetration in 2014, but with relatively high growth rates this small base grows rapidly and by 2031 comprises almost 10% of total projected electricity consumption—including the additional electricity demand we’ve shifted over from transportation.

A particularly interesting possibility for substantial solar growth and related societal changes is the large-scale development of “solar roadways.” This technology is still extremely nascent, so we have no idea how it will be deployed. But there are credible people working to develop road tiles that include solar panels, heating elements and LEDs. If this technology takes off, it could be truly transformative in many ways.

Wind power growth is less certain, for a variety of reasons, including less widespread wind resources than for solar, and additional permitting hurdles for wind turbines when compared to flat solar panels. Also, the annual growth rate in recent years has been highly variable. Average growth for wind power in the US over the last five years has been 25%. If we project only half that annual growth from 2013 onward (12.5%), we get to about 10 quads of wind power by the late 2030s. This translates to 16% of all electricity demand (including the shifted transportation energy demand) by 2031, 28% by 2036 and 45% by 2040).

So under these projected growth rates, wind and solar could bring us to about 80% of all electricity consumed by 2035 to 2040, leaving 20% to be provided by other renewables and/or natural gas. The 24.7 quads of electricity demand, including the shifted transportation energy, could, then, come from wind and solar backed up with battery storage, baseload renewables and natural gas.

Biomass and geothermal are important renewable energy technologies, particularly because they’re generally baseload sources, i.e., they can produce power when needed. Biomass, geothermal and small hydro could provide the 20% remaining electricity needs by 2040, which would allow elimination of all fossil fuels in the electricity sector. Additional incentives will likely be needed for these technologies because they’re currently not growing very fast, for a variety of reasons. Given the technical potential, however, for these resources, and given the many examples around the world of how smart incentives can bring new technologies to scale, there is a good argument for additional incentives for these baseload renewables.

Will we really eliminate fossil fuels in electricity generation by 2040? Almost certainly not. But that’s not my point here. My point is to show that we could if we decide we want to, based on plausible growth rates for renewables.

Maintaining grid reliability Grid reliability is a major issue when it comes to high penetration of renewables. As discussed briefly in my introduction, we will need large amounts of energy storage to balance a renewable energy grid. For present purposes, I’m simply going to assume that the nascent energy storage wave I discussed above swells fast enough to allow integration of renewables at the levels I project in this article. This is a very big assumption and time will tell if I’m way off. Keep in mind, however, that I have allowed 20% of electricity to come from non-renewable sources and this allows some padding to help balance a high renewables grid, along with tons of energy storage and interconnected grids for further balancing.

Substituting for natural gas

So far we’ve covered the transportation and electricity sectors. This leaves heating, cooling and industrial use of natural gas. EIA calculates about 20.8 quads of natural gas use for heating, cooling and industrial processes by 2040. Reducing by 20% due to our definition of “predominantly renewable” we get 16.6 quads that we need to source from additional renewables to get to our goal.

Solar PV’s poor cousin is solar water heating technology. In fact, solar water heating may be more prevalent in the world today than solar PV; it’s just not as sexy. China solar water heating rivals the rest of the world’s installed PV capacity, with about 118 gigawatts equivalent of solar thermal installed in China by 2010 and significant growth since then.

Solar water heating is growing in the US, but not as fast as solar PV. California has had a rebate program for solar water heating for a number of years.

A 2007 NREL study found only 0.5 quads of technical potential for SWH in the US. This leaves 16.1 quads to make up still. This is a tough sector to source from renewables, but for present purposes I’m going to project that a mix of SWH and biogas can meet these 16.1 quads. This is probably the weakest part of my analysis, but so be it.

Cross-checking with others

Mark Jacobson and his team at Stanford have completed a huge amount of work in this area. Their draft 2014 paper looking at achieving a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050 provides good support for my projections here, though they don’t see things changing quite as quickly as I do.

Jacobson’s work has been incorporated into a very useful website with nice infographics showing how each state can achieve the transition. Here’s the graphic for California, showing about 50% solar and about 35% wind by 2050, which includes a 44% improvement in energy efficiency.

I haven’t discussed costs at all here. However, it is clear already that transitioning to a fully renewable economy will save tons of money on a net basis. This is counter-intuitive to most. Aren’t renewables more expensive? Well, historically they often have been, but that’s changed a lot and the costs of renewables continue to fall while the cost of fossil fuels generally continues to climb. This means that after the costs of installation and maintenance are accounted for, the savings from zero fuel costs (for most renewables) and a far more efficient economy more than outweigh the costs. Jacobson has crunched the numbers and he and his team project a net savings of $3,400 per year per person in the US. When you factor in health benefits from far less pollution the savings almost double.

Final thoughts

It is worth reminding readers that the scenario I’ve sketched here should be considered a high petroleum price scenario, based on the factors I’ve outlined above that relate to global oil production, net exports and net energy content. As such, if for whatever reason oil prices remain at current levels or lower it’s very likely that my projections will be off. As with all things, I could be entirely wrong.

Tam Hunt, J.D., is owner of Community Renewable Solutions LLC, a renewable energy project development and policy advocacy firm based in Santa Barbara, California and Hilo, Hawaii.

Mandatory efficiency measures should be implemented in manufacturing and in policy, such as switching all light to LED, higher energy standards for houses (both warming and cooling), machinery, and other tools. These standards should also be incorporated into the pricing structure of energy. Electricity should be priced worldwide at a scale: first x KwH very low price, next step more, highest steps, basically unaffordable. The list can we worked out by specialists.[42]

Pathways to Deep Decarbonization

The Pathways to Deep Decarbonization Interim 2014 Report[43], published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), is a collaborative effort between 15 Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) Country Research Teams to come up with different methodologies in order to remain below a 2°C global temperature increase. It was presented to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on July 8, 2014, in anticipation of the UN Climate Summit taking place in New York in September 2014, prior to which the complete 2014 DDPP Report will be issued. A more detailed version will be delivered to the French government in early 2015, for the 21st Conference of the Parties at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris December of 2015.


This report uses the “backcasting” approach, where a target is set for a future date and steps toward a solution are found by looking back in time. In setting long-term goals and referencing historical data, the authors emphasize the importance of not getting caught up with with meticulously dividing up numbers between countries, but instead focusing on big picture actions that all countries can take, albeit to different extents. In the actual process of goal-setting, the level of per capita emissions should also be seen as benchmarks rather than targets, since the current 50% chance of staying within the 2°C threshold could increase with further developed decarbonization technologies. The sectoral performance indicators should be seen in the same light as well: despite the fact that they are a good way to distinguish structural differences between countries, combined with the per capita emissions, crucial limitations still exist.

On the other end of the spectrum, the findings in this report caution against taking the “business-as-usual” stance on climate change mitigation, in which individuals and corporations (especially from the oil and gas industry) assume a baseline of a 4°C global temperature increase, ultimately allowing for an increase up to 7.8°C. Even the 2°C scenario is on the upper limit of safety: it is a condition that, when reached, could cause the Amazon rainforest to die from drought, a sea level rise of 6 m (20 ft), and large quantities of ancient methane and CO2 buried in the tundra to be released into the air.

In the specific process of developing potential solutions, the Country Research Teams took a bottom-up approach and assumed maximum deployment of existing technologies, and that down the line the public and private sectors will invest heavily in the development of more advanced technology.

Potential Outcomes

As of right now, there are three potential outcomes in terms of how much the planet will increase in temperature:

  • 6DS (6°C Scenario): If current trends continue and efforts are not made to significantly decrease GHG emissions, the planet is projected to warm by 6°C.
  • 4DS (4°C Scenario): This scenario takes into account recent pledges by individual countries, and if they are sustained. It reaches the primary benchmark outlined by the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2014.
  • 2DS (2°C Scenario): If drastic measures, such as the ones outlined in this report, are taken, climate researchers predict a 50% chance of being able to limit the temperature increase to 2°C. It is the long term goal of ETP 2014.

These preliminary DDPs will cause the carbon emissions to lower to 12.3 Gt by 2050, down from 22.3 Gt in 2010. They still do not satisfy the criteria to the 2DS, but further strategies are to be developed in the 2015 report.

The 3 Pillars of Deep Decarbonization

All 3 pillars must be implemented in order to be able to make significant progress in deep decarbonization. No single pillar is able to stand alone, given the urgency and magnitude of the issue, but they can be implemented to different extents, depending on the internal infrastructure of each country.

  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation - “Greatly improved energy efficiency in all energy end-use sectors including passenger and goods transportation, through improved vehicle technologies, smart urban design, and optimized value chains; residential and commercial buildings, through improved end-use equipment, architectural design, building practices, and construction materials; and industry, through improved equipment, production processes, material efficiency, and reuse of waste heat.”
  • Low-Carbon Electricity - “Decarbonization of electricity generation through the replacement of existing fossil-fuel-based generation with renewable energy (e.g. hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal), nuclear power, and/or fossil fuels (coal, gas) with carbon capture and storage (CCS).”
  • Fuel Switching - “Switching end-use energy supplies from highly carbon-intensive fossil fuels in transportation, buildings, and industry to lower carbon fuels, including low-carbon electricity, other low-carbon energy carriers synthesized from electricity generation of sustainable biomass, or lower-carbon fossil fuels.”

Recommendations & Solutions

Different solutions are put forth by taking the following equation and dependencies into account:

CO2 Emissions = Population x (GDP/Population) x (Energy/GDP) x (CO2/Energy)

where GDP/Population represents GDP per capita, Energy/GDP represents energy intensity, and CO2/Energy represents carbon intensity. The individual recommendations are as follows:

  • Follow the energy budget in order to make the 2DS a reality
    • Set as 950 Gt for 2011-2100, 825 Gt of which accounts for the remaining first half of the century (2011-2050). By the second half of the century, systems that lead to net negative emissions will have been implemented. However, these numbers only cover emissions from land use, fossil fuels, and industrial processes, so lots of assumptions have to be made.
    • According to climate researchers, this plan creates a 50% likelihood of staying within the 2°C threshold.
  • Countries need to strand resources and account for potential income loss:
    • “Total reserves and resources exceed the CO2-energy budget by some 35-60 times. The conclusion is stark: there are vastly more reserves and resources than the world can use safely” (10).
  • Further areas for RDD&D:
    • CCS: Individual components of CCS are being implemented on a small scale, and bigger projects are in the stages of development. The largest opportunity for CCS will be in the electric power market, where it can be used to offset the large carbon footprint of coal-burning plants. Challenges will lie in scale, cost, and verification.
    • Energy Storage & Grid Management: Focusing on systems that prioritize demand response/flexible load, as well as methods for short term and long term storage.
    • Advanced Nuclear Power: There is concern that there will be a repeat of Fukishima, but a fourth generation of nuclear focuses on increased simplicity and less vulnerability. It will implement technological advances that involve modularity of production systems, smaller scale units, alternative systems for fuel reprocessing, alternative fuels (eg. thorium), and better (automatic, passive) safety systems.
    • Vehicles & Advanced Biofuels: More complex battery systems are required in order to successfully implement electric vehicles on a large scale. Another option is to substitute diesel for biofuels. **Current biofuels, such as ethanol, raise the issue of land use, but by bioengineering organisms (algae, bacteria) that can make fuel out of sun, water, and CO2, advanced biofuels will overcome competition between biofuels, food, and the ecosystem.
    • Industrial Processes: Efficiency can be increased through directed heating technology by electrifying processes or using fuel cells. This is an area that requires more research.
    • Negative Emissions Technologies: A couple of ideas include BECCS (merging biomass energy with CCS), as well as direct air capture of CO2. Both need to be investigated in more depth.


  • The success of the DDPP requires a global technology push involving business, academia, and government. The situation from country to country differs, and while basic technologies exist, there needs to be a rapid movement towards systems of higher complexity.
  • Main challenges pertain to freight and industry, where situations differ on a case-by-case basis and many assumptions have to be made. Potential solutions will be included in more detail in 2015 version.

For Further Inquiry

Refer to the The Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5), in particular Working Group 3, the IEA World Energy Outlook, and the IIASA Global Energy Assessment.

reduction of use
Third Industrial Revolution

From Jeremy Rifkin's website[44]:

The price of energy and food is climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to take us into the future.

Here, Jeremy Rifkin explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful "Third Industrial Revolution." He asks us to imagine hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing it with each other in an "energy internet," just like we now create and share information online.

The Five Pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution

Rifkin describes how the five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution will create thousands of businesses and millions of jobs, and usher in a fundamental reordering of human relationships, from hierarchical to lateral power, that will impact the way we conduct business, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life. The five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution are (1) shifting to renewable energy; (2) transforming the building stock of every continent into green micro–power plants to collect renewable energies on-site; (3) deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building and throughout the infrastructure to store intermittent energies; (4) using Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy internet that acts just like the Internet (when millions of buildings are generating a small amount of renewable energy locally, on-site, they can sell surplus green electricity back to the grid and share it with their continental neighbors); and (5) transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell green electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid.

The creation of a renewable energy regime, loaded by buildings, partially stored in the form of hydrogen, distributed via a green electricity Internet, and connected to plug-in, zero-emission transport, opens the door to a Third Industrial Revolution. The entire system is interactive, integrated, and seamless. When these five pillars come together, they make up an indivisible technological platform—an emergent system whose properties and functions are qualitatively different from the sum of its parts. In other words, the synergies between the pillars create a new economic paradigm that can transform the world.

Big Data and the Third Industrial Revolution

The intelligent TIR infrastructure—the Internet of Things—will connect everyone and everything in a seamless network. People, machines, natural resources, production lines, logistics networks, consumption habits, recycling flows, and virtually every other aspect of economic and social life will be connected via sensors and software to the TIR platform, continually feeding Big Data to every node—businesses, homes, vehicles, etc.—moment to moment in real time. The Big Data, in turn, will be analyzed with advanced analytics, transformed into predictive algorithms, and programmed into automated systems, to improve thermodynamic efficiencies, dramatically increase productivity, and reduce the marginal cost of producing and delivering a full range of goods and services to near zero across the entire economy.

Some of the leading IT companies in the world are already busy at work on the build-out of the Internet of Things infrastructure for a Third Industrial Revolution. GE’s “Industrial Internet,” Cisco’s “Internet of Things,” IBM's "Smarter Planet," and Siemen's "Sustainable Cities" are among the many initiatves currently underway to bring online an intelligent infrastructure that can connect neighbourhoods, cities, regions, continents and the global economy, in what industry observers call a global "neural network." The network is designed to be open, distributive and collaborative, allowing anyone, anywhere, and at any time, the opportunity to access it an use the Big Data to create new apps for managing their daily lives.

The increased energy efficiency and accompanying productivity gains that come with the shift into a Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure, prepares the way for a sustainable circular economy. Using less of the earth’s resources more efficiently and productively and making the transition from carbon based fuels to renewable energies, is a defining feature of the Collaborative Age.

3D Printing and the Third Industrial Revolution

While the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) economy allows millions of people to produce their own virtual information and energy, a new digital manufacturing revolution now opens up the possibility of following suit in the production of durable goods. In the new era, everyone can potentially be their own manufacturer as well as their own internet site and power company. The process is called 3D printing.

3-D Printers run off a three dimensional product using computer aided design. Software directs the 3-D printer to build successive layers of the product using powder, molten plastic, or metals to create the material scaffolding. The 3-D printer can produce multiple copies just like a photocopy machine. All sorts of goods, from jewelry to mobile phones, auto and aircraft parts, medical implants, and batteries are being “printed out” in what is being termed “additive manufacturing,” distinguishing it from the “subtractive manufacturing,” which involves cutting down and pairing off materials and then attaching them together. 3-D entrepreneurs are particularly bullish about additive manufacturing, because the process requires as little as 10 percent of the raw material expended in traditional manufacturing and uses less energy than conventional factory production, thus greatly reducing the cost.

The energy saved at every step of the digital manufacturing process, from reduction in materials used, to less energy expended in making the product, when applied across the global economy, adds up to a qualitative increase in energy efficiency beyond anything imaginable in the First and Second Industrial Revolutions.

The democratization of manufacturing is being accompanied by the tumbling costs of marketing. Because of the centralized nature of the communication technologies of the first and second industrial revolutions—newspapers, magazines, radio, and television—marketing costs were high and favored giant firms who could afford to devote substantial funds to market their products and services. The internet has transformed marketing from a significant expense to a negligible cost, allowing start ups and small and medium size enterprises to market their goods and services on internet sites that stretch over virtual space, enabling them to compete and even out compete many of the giant business enterprises of the 21st century.

As the new 3-D technology becomes more widespread, on site, just in time customized manufacturing of products will also reduce logistics costs with the possibility of huge energy savings. The cost of transporting products will plummet in the coming decades because an increasing array of goods will be produced locally in thousands of micro-manufacturing plants and transported regionally by trucks powered by green electricity and hydrogen generated on site.

The lateral scaling of the Third Industrial Revolution allows small and medium size enterprises to flourish. Still, global companies will not disappear. Rather, they will increasingly metamorphose from primary producers and distributors to aggregators. In the new economic era, their role will be to coordinate and manage the multiple networks that move commerce and trade across the value chain.

Rifkin's vision is already gaining traction in the international community. The European Union Parliament has issued a formal declaration calling for its implementation, and other nations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, are quickly preparing their own initiatives for transitioning into the new economic paradigm.

Internet of Energy
From a German/European Perspective

The “Internet of Energy: The Energy Industry on the Way to the Internet Age”[45] report was published by the Federation of German Industries (BDI) in 2010 to shape a new energy future for Germany, at a time where there is historical opportunity for revolutionary development. It is a concept that has been mentioned by Jeremy Rifkin in his discussion of the Third Industrial Revolution, and is a concept for an integrated, decentralized smart grid system in which energy efficiency will be maximized and transmission losses minimized. The assessment of the system and suggestions for future development is specifically pertinent to Germany and the EU, but is a plan that the rest of the world can also draw from.

Historical Opportunity

In the Executive Summary of the report, it was highlighted why this point in time is the optimal timing for pushing forward such a project in Germany:

“In light of this investment potential, we have a unique opportunity to promote a transition from the current energy system to an Internet of Energy, which will generate optimal energy efficiency from scarce energy resources through intelligent coordination from generation to consumption. Most of the necessary technologies for the intelligent and efficient renewal of the energy system are already available today” (2).

There are three main factors that play into this circumstance:

  • There is a decrease in global fossil fuel resources, and the carbon intensity of these emissions is rapidly speeding up climate change.
  • There has been a large-scale movement towards decentralization of the German energy system, which means that there are now more components to deal with, and new standardization rules, and therefore an increase in data. Efficient, automated systems are needed to accommodate this.
  • Because of technical developments and rise in energy prices, more energy and system flexibility is required.

What the Internet of Energy Will Look Like

So far the Internet of Energy has been tested in 6 model regions of Germany since 2008, in the context of the project “E-Energy: ICT-Based Energy System of the Future”. It will be consisted of building automation and smart homes, and these intelligent residential buildings will increasingly be found with decentralized energy management systems (DEMS). As of 2010 in Germany, electricity and gas, as well as the metering system, has been completely liberalized and unbundled. This means that customers have the choice of who their energy provider is, the metering point operator, and metering service provider.

Progress to Date

  • Metering devices are required in new buildings and old meters should be renovated. These should include real-time energy consumption as well as usage time so consumers can immediately see the cost-benefit relationship.
  • Customers are able to receive monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual electricity bills upon request, in order to raise awareness and decrease consumption.
  • Energy suppliers have to offer more flexible electricity rates and incentivize energy conservation.

Further Steps

  • Research & Development
    • Carbon Capture & Sequestration Technologies
    • Business & ICT processes have to be automated
    • Need more flexible grid systems to coordinate supply with demand.
    • It takes 12 years to plan, approve and build new high voltage line, which is why work needs to start as soon as possible.
    • Need to ensure reliability & quality of system.
    • Need additional coordination if the current heating systems are replaced on large scale with devices that make power with heat.
  • Existing Technologies That Need to be Commercialized:
    • Technologies for home automation & decentralized energy generation
    • Intelligent grid management systems on the transmission and distribution levels
    • Installed smart metering tech
    • ICT as link between Internet of Energy and technical infrastructure
    • Applications and services implementing the coordination of the energy grid on the economic level
New Energy Technologies

In this section we compile information about new and emergent energy technologies, analyzing their viability, and comparing their costs and benefits.

Rooftop solar panels
Cool roof projects

Reflective materials on rooftops, reducing the need for air conditioning. (A 2011 study by researchers at Stanford University suggested that although reflective roofs decrease temperatures in buildings and mitigate the "urban heat island effect," they may actually increase global temperature. The study noted that it did not account for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that results from building energy conservation (annual cooling energy savings less annual heating energy penalty) associated with cool roofs (meaning that you will need to use more energy to heat the living space due to reduction in heat from sunlight in winter. However this applies only to those areas with low winter temperature but not in tropical areas.

Green roofs/rooftop gardening

Low Carbon Plan for UK, Zero Carbon Britain

  • Hourly modeling of the UK energy system in our scenario using ten years of weather data to simulate our renewable electricity supply (wind speed, sunlight, etc.); and the demand for electricity during, for example, periods of cold and warm weather (temperature).
  • In order to manage times of surplus/shortage, implement demand management techniques, short-term energy storage, and small amount of back-up generation (not nuclear power, leads to furhter overproduction of energy at times when not needed)
  • healthier diets that lead to less carbon production in atmosphere, wide scale
Nano-vent Skin Wind Turbines

A wind turbine made up of nanotubes; they call it Nano-vent skin in Mexico. This ‘skin’ is fixed to the façade of the house, and turns your home into a wind turbine. The skin can also be applied to the walls of subway tunnels. The wind energy created by passing trains is converted into usable energy. Images:

Solar Foil

Delft University of Technology has developed a solar foil – the successor of the expensive solar panels – that needs only 35 m2 to provide a home with enough energy for an entire year. And it only requires a €3,000 investment.

Concentrated Solar Plants (Desertec)


global infrastructure


Climate Plan

The Climate Plan calls on the President and congress to take action by:

  • adopting a Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Fee that puts a price on emissions of greenhouse gases to account for the costs of pollution and drive our market towards more efficient outcomes
  • Creating a National Green Bank to provide financing for GHG-reducing intiatives to individuals, the private sector, and municipalities
  • Managing our resources with Supply-Side Fossil Fuel Regulations to ensure valuation at their true costs and better weigh the impacts of extraction
  • Establishing a Presidential Commission on the Unfolding Climate Crisis and America’s Energy Future
  • Implementing the additional administrative actions outlined in our critique

True Energy Security Must tackle three key areas inadequately addressed by the status quo:

  • Current Account Deficits (when imports of goods and services exceeds exports) and Reliance on Foreign Services of Energy
  • Vulnerability to Global Oil Price Spikes
  • Global Warming Pollution

Reductions can occur in 2 non-mutally exclusive ways

  • adopting a Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Fee that puts a price on emissions of greenhouse gases to account for the costs of pollution and drive our market towards more efficient outcomes
    • incentive industry to profit from methane capture
    • most effective at point of extraction, where there are fewer sources of escape for methane emissions and leaks can be easily monitored/controlled
  • EPC exercises authority from congres to create technology standards for natural gas systems and regulating fugitive methane emissions under Section 111 of the Clean Air Ac

Thought Leaders

Jeremy Leggett

Jeremy Leggett is one of Britain's most respected green energy entrepreneurs. He is the founder and chairman of SolarCentury, the UK's largest solar company, as well as SolarAid, an African charity set up in conjunction with SolarCentury's profits. He is also the author of four books: The Energy of Nations (2013), The Solar Century (2009), Half Gone: Oil, Gas Hot Air and the Global Energy Crisis (2005), and The Carbon War: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era (1999). He started in the energy industry as an oil consultant and later a Greenpeace campaigner when he realized the need to shift toward renewables.

He is a regular contributor to The Guardian and an avid campaigner for a shift toward solar and other renewables through business. As of 2014, Leggett believes that there is an incoming energy crisis in a few years that will be even worse than the financial crisis. In an interview, he states that the oil and gas industries are overselling what they can deliver on, and the plan is unsustainable, in all senses of the word. The building blocks for an energy renaissance are already there, he says, and it is up to business and the general public to realize that and put together a new infrastructure.

Jeremy Rifkin

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of 20 books on the impact of technology and science on the economy, workforce, society, and the environment. Some of his most recent titles include The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014), The Third Industrial Revolution (2011), and The Empathetic Civilization (2009). He is also a senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business Executive Education Program, and is the president of both TIR Consulting Group LLC and The Foundation of Economic Trends.

Rifkin's most well-known ideas include the Internet of Energy and the Third Industrial Revolution. The former is another name for an advanced smart grid system, where energy production and consumption will be matched in a system where communication between the different components is highly efficient, and ideally each household or business will be self-reliant. Excess production for one household can then be sent back to the grid to share with others. The Third Industrial Revolution is what Rifkin believes is the result of renewable energy and technological developments. It will incorporate the Internet of Energy, and he places a stress on corporations to move away from the vertical integration model. The five pillars of this Third Industrial Revolution will include: "(1) shifting to renewable energy; (2) transforming the building stock of every continent into green micro–power plants to collect renewable energies on-site; (3) deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building and throughout the infrastructure to store intermittent energies; (4) using Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy internet that acts just like the Internet (when millions of buildings are generating a small amount of renewable energy locally, on-site, they can sell surplus green electricity back to the grid and share it with their continental neighbors); and (5) transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell green electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid."

Amory Lovins

Amory Lovins wears many hats, but most notably he is the cofounder, chief scientist, and chairman emeritus of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent non-profit think tank. He is also a consultant physicist and 1993 MacArthur Fellow. He has advised leaders of major corporations, including Accenture, JP Morgan, and the World Economic Forum. He also authored Reinventing Fire (2011), a roadmap on how private enterprise, what he believes is the most effective social entity, can go about reforming the fuel mix, save money, and move away from an unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a South-African born, Canadian American serial entrepreneur, investor, and inventor. He is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, a space transport services company, CEO and Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors (see more below under Prototypes), co-founder of PayPal, Zip2, and has envisioned future technologies such as airplanes with vertical takeoff and the Hyperloop. [46]

Models / Prototypes


Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. Tesla has delivered more than 2,300 Roadsters, the world’s first electric sports car, to customers world-wide. Model S, the first premium sedan to be built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, began deliveries in June 2012. [47]


Nest, founded by Carnegie Mellon alum Matt Rogers, manufactures and installs "smart" and energy-efficient thermostats that learn the user's schedule, self-programs, and can be controlled from a mobile device. If the device is programmed well, Nest claims that it can lower HVAC bills by up to 20%. Made available in 2011, it is now also available in Canada and the UK. Shortly after it first debuted, it also won the CES Best of Innovations Award in Eco-Design and Sustainable Technology.



The economics of grid Defection, from Rocky Mountain Institute

  • A considerable number of utility customers will likely see favorable defection economics within 10 years
  • Utilities will likely experience significant revenue decay before defection
  • The likelihood of favorable long-term customer defection signals the eventual demise of traditional utility regulatory models
  • Goals for 2025:
Irena Global Renewable Energy Re-Map

A recent report from International International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated, “Solar deployment needs to increase 12 times over by 2030 to avoid “climate catastrophe.”

Jeremy Leggett of Solar Century writes a brief overview of the most salient points from the report:

“Launched in New York last week, the report, ‘REmap 2013’, aims to show a 36% share of renewables in the energy mix by 2030 is feasible, affordable and will mitigate climate change risks – keeping carbon pollution below 450ppm to keep within a ‘safe’ 2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures. Based on the IRENA model, wind energy needs to increase the most, by a factor of 15, and solar second, by a factor of 12. Geothermal needs to grow nine times over, hydro to double, biomass by a factor of 1.5 and tidal generation to increase by less than 0.1."

IRENA has calculated the switch to renewables also provides US$740 billion of savings each year on environmental costs from burning fossil fuels – cancelling out the investments costs required to reach 36% renewables.

Out of the US$750 billion, US$200 billion could be saved in health costs, while 900,000 clean energy jobs would be created.

The REmap show by 2030 there would be a 15% decline in oil and natural gas, and 26% decline in coal, helping countries that import fossil fuels to be energy secure and to reduce air pollution.

The REmap is based on the energy demand and consumption of 26 countries, or 75% of global energy consumption.

The key to deploying enough renewables quick enough said Gielen, is to focus on five points: “planning realistic but ambitious transition pathways; creating enabling business environments; managing knowledge of technology options and their deployment; ensuring smooth integration of renewables into the existing infrastructure; and unleashing innovation.”[48]

High-Energy Innovation 2014 Report

The High-Energy Innovation 2014 Report identifies promising international efforts to advance four low-carbon technologies – shale gas, nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and solar – and makes the case for more collaborations between nations.

The report argues that most of the innovation in clean energy technologies needed to combat climate change will occur mainly in rapidly industrializing rather than developed nations.

Technological innovation often occurs where demand is rising the fastest, which is the case of poor and developing countries which are expected to have a 90% increase in energy consumption by midcentury. For example, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, China, and South Africa) spend more on energy innovation (i.e., research, development, and deployment) than all 29 member nations of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In contrast, developed countries have energy demand projections that are flat or decreasing. Also, with energy infrastructure and transitions lasting several decades at least, it makes little economic sense for developed nations to make large investments in clean energy innovation. With this arguments the report makes the case that wealthy economies are unlikely to offer either the motivation or context in which rapid clean energy innovation might occur.

Because of the immense amount of energy necessary to power economic and social growth, developing countries have been compelled to invest in a wide range of technologies. In recent years, these countries have pioneered innovation of next-generation energy technologies, and are beginning to market those technologies internationally.

However, in the developing world, energy innovation efforts must be grounded in and contribute to broader development agendas of socioeconomic advancement to guarantee the nation’s capacity to innovate and deliver abundant, cheap energy across its economy. This means that the priorities of energy system expansion must be consistent with objectives that include agricultural modernization, the creation of domestic industrial capacity, and meeting the needs of rapidly growing cities – all of which require large quantities of cheap, baseload power and liquid fuels.

The relative lack of preexisting infrastructure in these countries means that energy innovation can explore new and diverse technologies and development pathways. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge: On the one hand, developing countries are less invested in the prevailing fossil fuel regime; On the other, developing countries will continue to exploit fossil fuels as the most efficient path to modernization.

In addition, substantial research, commercial, trade, and investment potentials already exist in these countries. Coupled with growing demand for essentially everything, especially energy, it is in industrializing countries that policy makers should target interventions aimed at advancing and accelerating clean energy innovation.

While emerging economies will do the heavy lifting, advanced industrial economies still play important roles in accelerating the global transition towards low-carbon technologies. Governments, industry, and philanthropies all have important roles to play in coordinating and contributing to accelerated low-carbon technology innovation within and among nations.

Energy innovation must be understood as a global public good. The benefits of creating cheaper and cleaner energy sources are to be shared by all – not monopolized by individual nations. The broader picture is one of shared economic and environmental interests benefiting from creating cheap and clean energy. Embracing high-energy innovation is the best way to address our shared energy and climate challenges.

Case Studies

The report evaluates energy innovation progress on four technologies with the potential to provide cheap, clean, and reliable baseload power. The intention is to illustrate the distinct challenges facing these different technologies, including their innovation and diffusion in different national contexts.

Shale Gas

The recent boom in natural gas production in the US has helped lower electricity costs and benefitted the petrochemical and manufacturing industries. Even more significantly, it has contributed to a drop in US carbon dioxide emissions to their lowest levels in two decades.

The version of fracking that came to dominate was the one that took advantage of resources available to US companies, particularly the abundant water supplies that made it feasible to inject millions of gallons of water into underground rock formations. Fracking’s economic success also depended on external factors such as the continuous improvements to the country’s energy infrastructure, especially its natural gas pipelines.

The possibility of cheaper and cleaner energy from shale gas has prompted interest from governments around the world. However, caution is necessary. The large deployment of fracking technology faces significant obstacles outside of the US context. Unlike in the US, European landowners do not automatically own the rights to extract the resources from the ground beneath their property, making the building of new extraction plants filled with political difficulties.

Most countries have tried to produce shale gas energy by attracting the expertise of US firms.

Main lessons:

  • Incremental innovation within an existing and powerful segment of the energy sector has lowered carbon emissions and generated substantial benefits to the economy;
  • The diffusion of energy technologies beyond the techno-economic system from which they emerge is filled with challenges;
  • The transfer of expertise and technical knowledge is critical to accelerating diffusion.


Nuclear power is energy dense, provides reliable baseload power, and offers a range of highly advantageous end uses, such as the ability to generate large quantities of process heat for desalination and other industrial uses. Rising capital costs and systemic barriers to nuclear innovation over the past four decades have limited its ability to make a significant reduction in fossil fuels’ dominance.

The dominant rich world markets for nuclear power – including the United States, France, Sweden, and Japan – have either dramatically slowed their nuclear build-out or pursued a path of accelerated decommissioning.

Nuclear is unlikely to be an option in poor nations that lack strong scientific, technical, and regulatory establishments. Rapidly developing countries, such as Russia and China, are leading the way on advanced reactor designs.

The report argues that the US government could do more to facilitate international cooperation, governance and safety, and knowledge spillover. American leadership in reforming international governance regimes and coordinating other areas of research and demonstration would likely generate benefits not just to the countries actively involved in such projects, but also to future consumers of advanced nuclear technologies.

Carbon Capture And Storage

Despite enormous political efforts to the contrary, the world is becoming more, not less, dependent on its most carbon-intensive power source. However, this represents an opportunity for creating new models of international collaboration on energy innovation.

Partnerships that build on knowledge exchanges, such as the series of recent US-China energy pacts, and the potential financing offered by the New Development Bank (or BRICS bank), lower technology costs and speed deployment. Such efforts are also vital for bridging cultural and communication divides between nations.

The report argues that the climate and development communities have for the most part refused to acknowledge that the world is irrevocably committed to fossil energy, including coal, for the foreseeable future. It also stated that this state of denial is self-defeating and continues to hamper efforts to drive down the costs of CCS through demonstration and operation.

Regardless of the merits of any particular plan, the report points out that a soft-energy framework restricted to nonfossil energy impedes progress in CCS, despite the fact that the world will depend on coal for decades to come.

Solar Photovoltaics

The last several decades have witnessed a remarkable reduction in the cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) cells and modules, which is, according to the report, the result of international technology interaction: Western deployment regimes paired with aggressive Chinese industrial policy and the pursuit of solar PV manufacturing dominance.

More and more emerging economies are taking advantage of the price decline in PV by fostering solar markets of their own. Solar PV’s progress is substantial and ongoing. However, the technology remains too expensive compared to existing electricity sources. To date, the increasingly globalized deployment of solar PV still depends largely on concerted government efforts. The International Energy Agency expects that solar PV will contribute a relatively minor portion of global electricity production in 2050 without major improvements made to a range of technologies, including storage and transmission, as well as to business models and policy.

Fortunately, there are encouraging efforts and investments being made toward innovation in advanced and next-generation solar PV technologies, including organic PV and thin-film. Several countries are pursuing a brand of solar industrial policy via public-private partnerships in advanced solar PV innovation.


Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY @ Omega Institute

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) demonstrates and teaches what is possible through regenerative design. Their building Eco Machine, and innovative educational programs offer visitors and students a path toward a sustainable, just, resilient, and regenerative future where people and nature work side-by-side to build a better life for all.

The OCSL offers educational opportunities for students, teachers, activists, contractors, architects, elected officials, and many others. At the OCSL, you can observe the Eco Machine treating wastewater without chemicals and get a close-up look at the solar and geothermal systems that provide energy, heating, and cooling for the building. Come take a tour or register for one of our sustainable living programs today.

John Todd Ecological Design

In 1989 Dr. John Todd, an internationally recognized inventor and a pioneer in the design and construction of ecological wastewater treatment systems, decided it was time to offer a cost-effective, renewable or what is now commonly referred to as “green” solution to the growing global wastewater crisis. Today, headed by Jonathan Todd, John Todd Ecological Design commercializes Dr. Todd’s discoveries with an approach that is well suited for reuse applications in municipal and a variety of commercial wastewater environments including commercial residential designs. Many of our installed systems are zero discharge systems; all the treated water is reused on site.

Their services include comprehensive construction design, consulting, and facility operations services to public and private clients throughout the world. They provide clients with cost-effective aesthetic solutions to wastewater and storm water treatment, aquatic environment management, and bio-solids conversion. John Todd Ecological Design is a pioneer in the use of natural systems for the removal of chemicals, petroleum hydrocarbons, endocrine disruptors, and other detrimental water pollutants. They envision the remediation of impaired natural water bodies and soils as a major part of our future work.


R. Buckminster Fuller was a 20th century inventor and visionary who did not limit himself to one field but worked as a 'comprehensive anticipatory design scientist' to solve global problems. Fuller's ideas and work continue to influence new generations of designers, architects, scientists and artists working to create a sustainable planet.

BFI are committed to continued research into the practice and fundamental principles of comprehensive anticipatory design science and its relevance to contemporary global issues and design practice. For 30 years, BFI has supported a growing international network of Fuller-inspired innovators through the maintenance of a comprehensive Information Clearinghouse on R.B Fuller, including a detailed inventory of the practices and principles informing Fuller's approach to design.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute consists of a dedicated Board of Directors, an international network of cross-disciplinary thinkers and doers, motivated volunteers and a small but multi-faceted staff working within our Brooklyn, NY office. Their programs combine unique insight into global trends and local needs with a comprehensive approach to design. BFI encourage participants to conceive and apply transformative strategies based on a crucial synthesis of whole systems thinking, Nature's fundamental principles, and an ethically driven worldview.

The Solutions Project

Professor Jacobson and his team have created 50 state plans for 50 states to transition to 100% renewable energy. Each plan identifies a custom mix of wind, water and solar (WWS) to power energy for all purposes (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling and industry). The plans will stabilize energy prices, create jobs, minimize air pollution, and begin to eliminate global warming. They create enormous investment opportunities for clean energy, transportation and energy efficiency. For more information about the plans or to see additional research from Professor Jacobson, visit his Stanford University website. [49]

The Solutions Project focuses on market-based solutions and identifies opportunities that make economic sense for consumers, businesses, communities, and states. The solutions project work with clean energy business leaders, policy experts, NGOs, and other organizations to remove the barriers facing the future of clean, renewable energy. This transition makes economic sense for all of us, and solutions project show you the economic proof. Ultimately, this is a green issue - the additional green that will find its way into your pocket.

Solutions project aim to “connect people with their power” by showing how clean, renewable energy from wind, water and solar (WWS) benefits all of us, and through giving people the tools they need to make positive economic and environmental change. The Solutions Project’s celebrity supporters and cultural influencers will spread the word about the economic, environmental and health benefits of clean, renewable energy. And most importantly, they connect people and communities with actionable renewable energy solutions.

Energy Action Coalition

The Energy Action Coalition is a North American non-profit organization made up of 50 partner organizations in the U.S. and Canada that runs campaigns to build the youth and student clean energy movement and advocate for tangible changes on local, state, national and international levels in North America. Energy Action focuses its campaigns on campuses, communities, corporate practices, and politics. It is part of the Global Youth Climate Movement. [50]

The Energy Action Coalition was founded in June 2004 at a meeting of representatives from almost 20 environmental groups in Washington, D.C. The founding of Energy Action was a result of the coordination of many local and national environmental networks in a day of action on April 1, 2004 called Fossil Fools Day which advocated for reducing dependence for energy on fossil fuels with more than 125 registered actions.[51][52][53]

On its official website, Energy Action Coalition defines its vision as the following: The Energy Action coalition unites a diversity of organizations in an alliance that supports and strengthens the student and youth clean energy movement in North America. The partners of Energy Action work together to leverage our collective power and create change for a clean, efficient, just and renewable energy future. The work of Energy Action is focused on four strategic areas: campuses, communities, corporate practices, and politics.[54]

Renewable Energy World started in 1998 by a group of Renewable Energy professionals who wanted their work to relate to their passion for renewable energy. With this passion and the desire to create a long term sustainable business, they created a trusted source for Renewable Energy News and Information on the Internet. provides access to Renewable Energy-focused services, including: daily renewable energy news; renewable energy products; renewable energy technology overview; comprehensive renewable energy events calendar; extensive renewable energy job opportunities; comprehensive internet brand building for your renewable energy business.

By offering services via the Internet, their foremost mission is to inform readers about the use of Renewable Energy worldwide and, in the process, assist with decision making when it comes to anything related to Renewable Energy including: finding a company or product; learning the technology basics or finding a job; or discovering news and events from around the world.

Green Schools Alliance

The Green Schools Alliance (GSA) is an effort by primary and secondary schools worldwide to address climate change and conservation challenges by creating a peer-to-peer network of member schools committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating the implementation of sustainable solutions.

GSA member schools share and implement sustainability best practices and promote connections between schools, communities, and the environments that sustain them. GSA does this by creating peer-to-peer forums, exchanging resources, offering original programs and curriculum, and connecting youth to nature. The sustainability coordinators that participate in the network are composed of faculty, staff, students, administrators, and other school decision makers.

The GSA, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, now connects more than 3,000 public, private, independent and charter schools worldwide and engages more than 2 million students in 43 U.S. states, 37 countries. Schools are joining individually and as entire school districts to share sustainability best practices.

Membership to the GSA is free and is based on the Sustainability Commitment where schools pledge to take action by following any (or all) of three tracks: I) Reduce Our Ecological & Climate Impact, II) Educate & Engage Our Community, and III) Connect to Nature & Place.

GSA programs integrate education and action and aggregate and quantify progress. Using the building and campus as a teaching tool, students work alongside faculty and staff on projects from recycling, weatherizing, conducting energy audits, changing lights and replacing old boilers to improving science and technology education, restoring wetlands and planting green roofs. Best practices ripple outward from schools to families, to the workplace. GSA programs include:


disseminate new models


Urban Design

Regenerative Strategy


Reinventing cities for a post-growth world could lead to tremendous savings on greenhouse gas emissions, while radically improving the average quality of life. The most sensible model combines the concept of “eco-city design” with the model of “shareable cities,” where communities make collective use of tools and resources. Increasingly, automation leads to loss of jobs. Many European countries struggle with 50% unemployment rates among the young. The reality is we must transition from the current model of employment to conceiving of a post-work world, where human existence is valued in and of for itself, and resources of knowledge and education are liberated for all.

Inevitably, we must make a transition from a social paradigm based on incessant growth and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to one based on qualitative aspects of being and experiencing, prioritizing community values and cultural expression. New and redesigned urban centers will no longer focus on maximizing opportunities for businesses and corporations, but on facilitating the highest quality of life for all residents. Cities will become what Richard Register calls “scaffoldings for living systems,” as well as “learning machines,” designed to support residents in attaining knowledge and expertise in all fields of human endeavor.

As sea levels rise over the next decades, urban areas will be redesigned. New city centers may need to be built inland, at higher elevations. In theory, these new constructions could be built entirely on ecological principles, with food, renewable energy, and manufacturing all produced on site. As part of this change, we could see a managed transition from privatized to cooperative ownership of businesses and residences.


An ecovillage is an intentional or traditional community using local participatory processes to holistically integrate ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability in order to regenerate social and natural environments.[8]

The motivation for ecovillages is the choice and commitment to reverse the gradual disintegration of supportive social/cultural structures and the upsurge of destructive environmental practices on our planet.

For millenia, people have lived in communities close to nature, and with supportive social structures. Many of these communities, or "ecovillages", exist to this day and are struggling for survival.

Ecovillages are now being created intentionally, so people can once more live in communities that are connected to the Earth in a way that ensures the well-being of all life-forms into the indefinite future.

Ecovillages are one solution to the major problems of our time - the planet is experiencing the limits to growth, and our lives are often lacking meaningful content. According to increasing numbers of scientists, we have to learn to live sustainably if we are to survive as a species. The United nations launched its Global Environment Outlook 2000 report, based on reports from UN agencies, 850 individuals and over 30 environmental institutes, concluding that "the present course is unsustainable and postponing action is no longer an option."

Ecovillages, by endeavoring for lifestyles which are "successfully continuable into the indefinite future", are living models of sustainability, and examples of how action can be taken immediately. They represent an effective, accessible way to combat the degradation of our social, ecological and spiritual environments. They show us how we can move toward sustainability in the 21st century (Agenda 21).

In 1998, ecovillages were first officially named among the United Nations' top 100 listing of Best Practices, as excellent models of sustainable living.

A book by environmental political theorist Karin Liftin compares Ecovillages from all around the world:

Shareable Cities


In Shareable Cities, citizens are invited to take much more control over their economic and social destiny. Here are some principles to support this kind of development. Neal Gorenflo, of the Internet platform, is one proponent.

  • Designated, discounted, or free parking for car sharing: Easy, plentiful parking is consistently one of the most cited incentives by folks who share cars.
  • Incentivize ride-sharing: To overcome the presupposed inconveniences of the practice, economic incentives could be implemented, including high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, discounted parking and reduced tolls.
  • Adopt a citywide public bike sharing program: Quite a few cities have hopped on the bike sharing bandwagon in recent years, and pretty much all of the other cities should, too.

  • Financial incentives to encourage urban agriculture on vacant lots, disused backyard gardens, and rooftops. Local agriculture can reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
  • Create food-gleaning centers and programs: The amount of food wasted from farm to grocer to table adds up to about 40 percent of the total.
  • Mobile food vending: Can reduce waste and increase food variety.
  • Cooperative housing development: Housing cooperatives can lower housing costs in a variety of ways including restrictions on profit from resale, self-management, nonprofit status, shared facilities, and subsidies.
  • Encourage the development of small apartments and ‘tiny’ homes: Municipal codes often include size restrictions for housing units that prohibit things like micro-apartments, tiny houses, yurts and container homes.

  • Factor sharing into the design review of new developments: Forward-thinking urban planning is vital to creating a shareable city. Housing that encourages resident interaction and properties that include mixed-use units.

  • Expand allowable home occupations to include sharing economy enterprise: The zoning codes that separate home life from commercial life — thereby making it illegal for many people to generate income at home — needs to be relaxed intelligently.

  • Use idle commercial spaces for community benefit: Facilitate the use of empty commercial spaces by start-ups in order to test products and services without the big upfront costs and long-term commitments associated with commercial real estate.
  • Assist cooperatives through city economic development departments. Cooperatives create local jobs and also keep money flowing within local communities. Every city should provide support staff and resources to help folks who want to set up a co-op.

Eco-city Design

Ecocity development is a whole systems approach integrating administration, ecologically efficient industry, people’s needs and aspirations, harmonious culture, and landscapes where nature, agriculture and the built environment are functionally integrated.

Ecocity development requires:

  • Ecological security: clean air, and safe, reliable water supplies, food, healthy housing and workplaces, municipal services and protection against disasters for all people.
  • Ecological sanitation: efficient, cost-effective eco-engineering for treating and recycling human waste, gray water, and all wastes.
  • Ecological industrial metabolism: resource conservation and environmental protection through industrial transition, emphasizing materials re-use, life-cycle production, renewable energy, efficient transportation, and meeting human needs.
  • Ecological infrastructure integrity: arranging built structures, open spaces such as parks and plazas, connectors such as streets and bridges, and natural features such as waterways and ridgelines, to maximize accessibility of the city for all citizens while conserving energy and resources and alleviating such problems as automobile accidents, air pollution, hydrological deterioration, heat island effects and global warming.
  • Ecological awareness: help people understand their place in nature, cultural identity, responsibility for the environment, and help them change their consumption behavior and enhance their ability to contribute to maintaining high quality urban ecosystems.

— Guidelines adopted by the 5th International Ecocity Conference delegation, Shenzhen China, 2002 - From Ecocity Builders [9]


Thought Leaders

Richard Register (Eco-City Builders)

Richard Register, Founder and President of Ecocity Builders, is one of the world’s great theorists and authors in ecological city design and planning. He is also a practitioner with four decades of experience activating local projects, pushing establishment buttons and working with environmentalists and developers to get a better city built and running. Among his many “firsts,” he convened the first of the Ecocity International Conference Series in Berkeley, California.

Richard Register first coined the term "ecocity" in his 1987 book, Ecocity Berkeley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future. [55] The concept of the “eco-city” was born out of one of the first organizations focused on eco-city development, “Urban Ecology.” The group was founded by Richard Register in Berkeley, California in 1975,[56] and was founded with the idea of reconstructing cities to be in balance with nature.[57] They worked to plant trees along the main streets, built solar greenhouses, and worked within the Berkeley legal system to pass environmentally friendly policies and encourage public transportation. Urban Ecology then took the movement another step further with the creation of The Urban Ecologist, a journal they started publishing in 1987.

James Ehrlich

James Ehrlich at Stanford University is developing models for regenerative villages that could serve as blueprints for communities worldwide.

He helps to design software for charitable giving, fundraiser support and engaging alumni. He came to Stanford as a serial entrepreneur with over 22-years experience building and managing successful companies in entertainment media technology. James is a national Public Television producer and published author, focusing on organic food and environmental clean-tech case studies. James has a degree in Psychology from New York University and is a Senior Fellow at Opus Novum, a university consortium of technologists based at NASA Ames.

Dickson Despommier (Vertical Farms)

Dickson D. Despommier (born June 5, 1940[58]) is a microbiologist, ecologist and Professor of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University. He conducts research on intracellular parasitism and teaches courses on Parasitic Diseases, Medical Ecology and Ecology. In recent years, Despommier has received considerable media coverage for his ideas on vertical farming.[59][60] He developed his concept of vertical farming with graduate students in a medical ecology class in 1999, with work continued by Ontarian eco-architects like Gordon Graff [61][62] from the University of Waterloo's School of Architecture.

Despommier is also co-host of two popular podcasts along with Vincent Racaniello, namely TWIV (This Week in Virology) and TWIP (This Week in Parasitism).

Charles Fourier (Utopian socialism)

François Marie Charles Fourier (7 April 1772 – 10 October 1837) was a French philosopher and an important early socialist thinker later associated with "utopian socialism". An influential thinker, some of Fourier's social and moral views, held to be radical in his lifetime, have become mainstream thinking in modern society. Fourier is, for instance, credited with having originated the word feminism in 1837.[63]

Fourier's social views and proposals inspired a whole movement of intentional communities and among those include the founding of the community of Utopia, Ohio; La Reunion near present-day Dallas, Texas; the North American Phalanx in Red Bank, New Jersey; Brook Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts (where Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the founders); the Community Place and Sodus Bay Phalanx in New York State, and several other communities in the United States. Later Fourier inspired a diverse array of revolutionary thinkers and writers.

Fourier declared that concern and cooperation were the secrets of social success. He believed that a society that cooperated would see an immense improvement in their productivity levels. Workers would be recompensed for their labors according to their contribution. Fourier saw such cooperation occurring in communities he called "phalanxes," based around structures called Phalanstères or "grand hotels." These buildings were four-level apartment complexes where the richest had the uppermost apartments and the poorest enjoyed a ground-floor residence. Wealth was determined by one's job; jobs were assigned based on the interests and desires of the individual. There were incentives: jobs people might not enjoy doing would receive higher pay. Fourier considered trade, to be the "source of all evil".[64]

Fourier characterized poverty (not inequality) as the principal cause of disorder in society, and he proposed to eradicate it by sufficiently high wages and by a "decent minimum" for those who were not able to work. [65] Fourier used the word civilization in a negative sense and as such "Fourier´s contempt for the respectable thinkers and ideologies of his age was so intense that he always used the terms philosopher and civilization in a pejorative sense. In his lexicon civilization was a depraved order, a synonym for perfidy and constraint...Fourier´s attack on civilization had qualities not to be found in the writing of any other social critic of his time." [66]

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Jane Jacobs OC OOnt (born Jane Butzner May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist best known for her influence on urban studies. Her influential book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of most city-dwellers. The book also introduced sociology concepts such as "eyes on the street" and "social capital".

Jacobs was well known for organizing grassroots efforts to protect existing neighborhoods from "slum clearance" – and particularly for her opposition to Robert Moses in his plans to overhaul her neighborhood, Greenwich Village. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have passed directly through Washington Square Park,[citation needed] and was arrested in 1968 for inciting a crowd at a public hearing on the project. After moving to Canada in 1968, she joined the opposition to the Spadina Expressway and the associated network of expressways in Toronto planned and under construction.

As a mother and a female writer who criticized experts in the male-dominated field of urban planning, Jacobs endured scorn from established figures, who called her a "housewife" and a "crazy dame." She did not have a college degree in urban planning, and was also criticized for being unscholarly and imprecise. She was accused of inattention to racial inequality, and her concept of "unslumming" has been compared with gentrification.


Puerto Alegre

A feature of public administration Porto Alegre is the adoption of a system of popular participation in the definition of public investment, called the Participatory Budget. The first full participatory budgeting process was developed in the city starting in 1989. Participatory budgeting in its most meaningful form took place in the city from 1991 to 2004.[67] Participatory budgeting was part of a number of innovative reform programs to overcome severe inequality in living standards amongst city residents. One third of the city's residents lived in isolated slums at the city outskirts, lacking access to public amenities (water, sanitation, health care facilities, and schools).[68]

Participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre occurred annually, starting with a series of neighborhood, regional, and citywide assemblies, where residents and elected budget delegates identify spending priorities and vote on which priorities to implement. Porto Alegre spent about 200 million dollars per year on construction and services, this money is subject to participatory budgeting. Annual spending on fixed expenses such as debt service and pensions, is not subject to public participation. Around fifty thousand residents of Porto Alegre took part at the peak of the participatory budgeting process (compared to 1.5 million city inhabitants), with the number of participants having grown year on year since 1989. Participants are from diverse economic and political backgrounds.[69][70] Although participatory budgeting appears to continue in the city today, two prominent scholars on the process have stated that "after the defeat of the Workers' Party in late 2004, a politically conservative coalition maintained the surface features of PB while returning the actual functioning of the administration to more traditional modes of favor-trading and the favoring of local elites."[67]

The participatory budgeting cycle started in January and ran along the year in many assemblies in each of the city's 16 districts, dealing with many areas of interest to urban life. The meetings elect delegates to represent specific neighborhoods. The mayor and staff attend to respond to citizen concerns. In the following month's delegates meet to review technical project criteria and district needs.[69]

Palace of Justice. City department staff may participate according to their area of expertise. At a second regional plenary, regional delegates prioritize the district's demands and elect 42 councillors representing all districts and thematic areas to serve on the Municipal Council of the Budget. The main function of the Municipal Council of the Budget is to reconcile the demands of each district with available resources, and to propose and approve an overall municipal budget. The resulting budget is binding, though the city council can suggest, but not require changes. Only the Mayor may veto the budget, or remand it back to the Municipal Council of the Budget (this has never happened).[69]

A World Bank paper suggests that participatory budgeting has led to direct improvements in facilities in Porto Alegre. For example, sewer and water connections increased from 75% of households in 1988 to 98% in 1997. The number of schools quadrupled since 1986.[68] According to Fedozzi and Costa, this system has been recognized as a successful experience of interaction between people and the official administrative spheres in public administration and, as such, has gained a broad impact on the political scene nationally and internationally, being interpreted as a strategy for the establishment of an active citizenship in Brazil. The distribution of investment resources planning that follows a part of the statement of priorities for regional or thematic meetings, culminating with the approval of an investment plan that works and activities program broken down by investment sector, by region and around the city. [71][72]

The high number of participants, after more than a decade, suggests that participatory budgeting encourages increasing citizen involvement, according to the paper. Also, Porto Alegre's health and education budget increased from 13% (1985) to almost 40% (1996), and the share of the participatory budget in the total budget increased from 17% (1992) to 21% (1999).[68]


During 2002 the party Aktivdemokrati ran for the Swedish parliament, offering its members the power to decide the actions of the party over all or some areas of decision, or alternatively to use a proxy with immediate recall for one or several areas. Their program is one example of electronic direct democracy (EDD), also known as direct digital democracy (DDD).[73] It is a form of direct democracy which utilizes telecommunications to facilitate public participation. Electronic direct democracy is sometimes referred to by other names, such as open source governance and collaborative governance.[74]

Since early 2011 EDD parties are working together on the Participedia wiki E2D.

Dockside Green

Dockside Green is a 1,300,000-square-foot (120,000 m2) mixed-use community in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada owned by Vancity Credit Union and noted for its strict adherence to the principles of sustainable architecture or green building.

The development sits on 15 acres (6.1 ha) of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, and was a brownfield site used by light industry for more than a century. Cleanup cost estimates were up to $12 million, from spilled petrochemicals, toxic heavy metal and the site's landfill (garbage and hazardous factory materials).[75]

The project's first and second phases, completed by 2011, have achieved globally significant ratings for sustainability.[76]

Dockside Green has a centralized biomass gasification plant that converts waste wood into a heating gas for hot water and heat, with peak period support from natural gas boilers. Biomass generation makes Dockside carbon neutral in greenhouse gas production, with some energy sales to surrounding communities. The development treats its sewage, using treated water for its toilets, irrigation, creeks and ponds system. High-efficiency shower heads, faucets, urinals, dishwashers and clothes-washing machines are standard.

Each Dockside accommodation can meter its own cold and hot water, space heating and electricity. Internet connection allows residents remote heating control when they are away. Dockside Green has a car sharing program, a planned dock for the harbour ferries, bicycle racks and showers for people commuting to the development’s commercial areas. Bike access is linked into the region's Galloping Goose regional cycling trail.

Dockside Green is committed to using the “LEED for Neighborhood Development”,[77] similar to the LEED environmental rating system. Overall design aligns with the principles of New Urbanism, favouring mid-to-high density neighborhoods, a focus on community and a walkable range for most of its residents' daily needs. As a genuinely “mixed use” community Dockside hopes for a mix of suites, a thriving retail and office culture and residents of varying ages, ethnicity and socio-economic levels. The development's team has worked with the municipality of Victoria on a Housing Affordability Strategy to create “affordable housing” (or families in the $30,000 to $60,000 income range). Dockside Green stands on land originally home to the First Nations Songhees people. Developers have included them in on-site celebrations and by including First Nations art and history throughout the site.

Dockside has also supported local and Canadian business wherever possible: innovative technology companies involved from British Columbia companies include Nexterra (the biomass gasification plant) and Sol-Air Systems (ultraviolet air decontamination for the sewage facility), and the Canadian company Zenon (sewage treatment process).

Dockside Green is Victoria, BC's most sustainable neighborhood profiled in The Atlantic in 2011.


The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city's vision is to be a thriving city which is socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient.

It is a flagship cooperation project between the governments of Singapore and China.

When completed around 2020, it will have an estimated 350,000 residents.

Singapore Cleantech

Singapore Cleantech

Xiasha, China

San Francisco architecture studio Woods Bagot developed a smart growth plow for a vacant waterfront site in Xiasha, China. The plan creates a “better workplace community urban framework by preserving and enhancing the current wetlands and providing an open space strategy and public realm that is compatible for the working community and the adjacent residential community. [78]

Woods Bagot describes the plan below, which won the 2013 AIACC Award for Urban Design.

"As China’s high-speed rail system reduces travel time between cities, smaller cities are seeking new planning strategies to capitalize on anticipated growth. With Xiasha, a district of Hangzhou, now located just one-hour southwest of Shanghai by HSR, city officials sought to create a dynamic, walkable community designed to strengthen opportunities for local companies by establishing a world class, brand-enhancing address.

This master plan provides a highly sustainable, flexible framework that integrates buildings and open space to foster collaboration, innovation and a healthy work-life environment. Five nested zones defined by conference, commercial, R&D, and lifestyle development is connected by a sixth zone, a pedestrian corridor lined with small exhibition spaces.

Open space drives the plan’s implementation strategy. The first two phases will include a major wetland restoration and new constructed wetland loop, which will wind through the city. This loop will enhance pedestrian mobility and real estate values while contributing to a district wide storm water management system."[79] is an application for developing climate-resilient and ecologically sustainable designs for Manhattan Island in New York City, based on the Mannahatta and Welikia Projects and the effects of green infrastructure like green roofs, photovoltaic panels, and stream daylighting; biomimicry; and landscape architecture and ecology. provides users metrics of carbon, water, biodiversity, and population based on ecosystem well-being. [80]

Developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (Eric W. Sanderson, lead scientist; Kim Fisher, lead developer), M2409 allows the public to develop and share climate-resilient and sustainable designs for Manhattan based on rapid model estimates of the water cycle, carbon cycle, biodiversity and population. Users can vary the ecosystems, lifestyles, and climate of the city in an effort to find and publish sustainable and resilient visions of the city of the future

Version 1.0 focuses on Manhattan, and follows on from the Mannahatta Project and Welikia Project and the best-selling book by Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: The Natural History of New York City (2009). The modern aspects of the project are based in part on investigations described in Sanderson’s Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs (2013).

Future versions will cover the other four boroughs of New York City and eventually other cities and localities where people live and care about their environment.

New Earth Nation

New Earth Nation’s project is forming templates for alternative community construction that could widely distributed. Read more in our intentional communities section. [81]

Sudan’s Eco-Peace Project

Sudan’s Eco-Peace Project is a pilot project that addresses issues of unequal resource access, political instability, and climate change with the development of eco-village models. [82]

The Eco peace programme aims at promoting eco peace (pro active) culture and advocate for environmental rights to have access to land and to attain rational use of natural resources and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Eco peace advocates to achieving the MDGs targeting poverty eradication and ensuring environmental sustainable development. Specific Objectives

  • To advocate at the state and national levels among stakeholders for equitable sharing of the resources with emphasis on land rights.
  • To influence and accelerate the ongoing process of land use planning in the state of North Kordofan.
  • Improve the indigenous adaptation of the local communities to climate change through improving sustainable livelihoods.
  • To form alliances to enhance participation of all stakeholders and partners and communities to strengthen the Eco peace initiative

Location: Sudan in two areas: Northern Kordofan State & Gadarrif State Project components:

  1. Awareness Raising and Advocacy

The outreach program in the second phase focused on the importance role of native administration in promotion the concept of eco-peace and conflict resolution on natural resources through theater and music that have been implemented in each three localities. The awareness campaigns targeted local markets were presence of large concentration of tribes and local communities especially in autumn season.

  1. Eco Peace Training

The capacity-building program started with training workshop on lobbying and advocacy for violations that occur towards the natural resources by focusing on the analytical approach to the problems and find possible solutions to the problems at all levels (local and federal).

  1. Research and study

Research and Study is performed under the title: Effectiveness of the Natural resources management and its impact on livelihood and peaceful coexistence of local communities, especially farmers and pastoralists in North Kordofan state with focusing on climate change adaptation.

  1. Pilot community intervention

small projects to alleviation poverty start by selecting a village in the three localities to become a village centre for services is to provide all the basic services through small income-generating, to increase the income of poor families in the village.

Pollution-Capturing Towers

Proposed plans to build pollution-capturing towers in China by 2017 in 2018 re-think urban design. [83]

An article in Fast Company interviewed the architects and designers behind the project. "When the world's tallest tower is built in Wuhan, China, it will also be one of the most environmentally friendly skyscrapers anywhere. The building, paired with another slightly shorter tower, goes beyond the usual sustainable design features to try to help restore the surrounding environment. Set on an island within a lake, the towers will help suck pollution out of both the air and water. The larger tower pulls water up from the lake, cleans it, and then puts it back. “The water goes up through a series of filters,” explains Laurie Chetwood, chairman of U.K.-based Chetwoods, the architects on the project. “We don’t use power to pull the water up, we’re using passive energy. As it goes through the filters and back, we’re also putting air back into the lake to make it healthier.”[84]


Fujisawa is a sustainable smart town located on the site of an old Panasonic plant in Japan. “The mega neighborhood will be comprised of 1,000 homes as well as a few stores, healthcare facilities, a nursing home and public green spaces and parks. Each home would be equipped with the means to generate much of the electricity its members need to live, and the goal for the entire community is to reduce CO2 emissions by 70% and cut household water usage by 30%. … Each home in Fujisawa SST would be equipped with a solar array that he feels could provide about 70% of a household’s energy needs. In addition the the standard PV setup, owners could also opt for a fuel cell cogeneration system to provide additional power when the sun is not shining.” [85]

While several notable attempts have been made, no city fully meets the standards of an eco-city according to Richard Register. He comments that while Tianjin, China and Curitiba, Brazil have integrated many components of an eco-city design, they are not fully eco-cities yet. [86]


Smart Cities & Sustainable Progress

Smart Cities & Sustainable Progress is a report published in 2012 by IESE Cities in Motion, an initiative of IESE Business School’s Center for Globalization and Strategy. IESE Cities in Motion is a knowledge center that develops models for a sustainable, equitable, connected and innovative urban future. Their goal is to divulgate, showcase, share, and provide local administrations, city managers, and partners with practical and innovative information on urban solutions and tools.

Why is it important to rethink our urban model?

According to the United Nations the world’s urban population will grow by 75% by 2050. As a consequence of this mass migration to the cities there will be an increase in the number of densely populated areas, further complicating urban mobility and public services. The McKinsey Global Institute confirms and points out that 65% of global GDP growth soon will be concentrated in the world’s 600 largest cities, which will attenuate problems such as income inequality, mass unemployment, illiteracy, social conflict and ghettos will be exacerbated.

In addiction, while cities occupy only 2% of the planet, they already account for 60% to 80% of energy consumption, and 75% of CO2 emissions. Increased traffic, pollution, waste and energy costs will no doubt continue to present a growing threat to human health and sustainability. The major challenge for urban authorities is to build cities that can function as habitable and sustainable ecosystems. A city’s vitality depend on a whole host of factors, including communications technology, disaster and waste management, access to clean drinking water, green areas, public transportation, health, education and public safety. The key to developing smart cities is to integrate all of these components in one holistic vision, improving management efficiency.

What is Smart City?

Being a smart city means using all available technology and resources in an intelligent and coordinated manner to develop urban centers that are at integrated, habitable and sustainable. There are five types of capital that contribute toward a city’s intelligence and that can be nurtured through innovation, social cohesion, sustainability and connectivity:

  1. Economic (GDP, sector strength, international transactions, foreign investment);

  2. Human (talent, innovation, creativity, education);

  3. Social (traditions, habits, religions, families);

  4. Environmental (energy policies, waste and water management, landscape);

  5. Institutional (civic engagement, administrative authority, elections).

How to build a Smart City & Sustainable Progress?

Each city must forge its own development model that tackles the unique set of challenges and opportunities that it faces – which presupposes fundamental changes in the way city authorities operate.

Cities will only became sustainable places, with long-term strategic projects developed in partnership with the private sector and local citizens, by making greater use of innovation to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their services. To do that, cities need to develop smart governance systems that take all these factors into account. IESE Business School proposes a three-step process: diagnosing the situation
; developing a strategic plan
; and taking action.

The key areas to analyze should have an indicator, an international benchmark and a particular improvement opportunity that must be assigned a priority level. The key areas are:

  • Economics: This includes all the factors that contribute to a city’s economic development, such as local development frameworks, transition plans, business strategies, formation of industrial clusters, and the presence of innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Environment: By tackling pollution, managing water efficiently, and supporting green buildings and alternative energy, cities can become cleaner, more pleasant places to live, while at the same time drastically reducing their energy bills.
  • Social Cohesion: Improving a city’s social environment requires extensive research and action in areas such as immigration, community development, elder care, health care and public safety.
  • Urban Planning: New urban planning methods should focus on creating compact, well-connected cities, with easily accessible public services.
  • Public Management: Many cities are trying to improve the efficiency of local government institutions, focusing in particular on the design of new organizational and management models. This area presents major opportunities for the private sector, whose experience of optimizing efficiencies is invaluable.
  • Governance and Civic Participation: Citizens are the key for solving the challenges facing cities today. As such, consideration should be given to levels of participation, the ability of authorities to engage business leaders and local residents, and the implementation of electronic government plans.
  • Mobility and Transportation: Making it easier for people to get around town and access public services will be among the major urban challenges of the future.
  • International Presence: Building international presence means attracting tourism and foreign investment, which, in turn, requires bold initiatives to boost the city’s overseas representation and global positioning.

After analyzing the key areas, city authorities need to review the main levers that will drive the city’s progress. These are: strategic and scenario planning; collaboration and communication; public private partnerships; funding strategies; capacity management; and techno logical infrastructure. They will have to identify ways of improving communication with local citizens, as well as how to get local actors on board. They must devise strategies for drawing in private-sector support and involvement, and spell out how such partnerships will benefit the city. Above all, they need to develop ways of delivering greater value to citizens, which, may involve identifying which technology is needed to improve the city’s infrastructure.

The next step is to develop a set of indicators to identify your city’s strengths and weaknesses, and compare them with international best practices. When design the city model priorities should be clear but at the same time flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. Local experts are the ones who should be responsible for designing the key strategic measures. City authorities must involve local residents, particularly those who will be most affected by any plans. The consultation process must be as thorough and open as possible.

The process of defining strategic actions and developing operational plans should include a timetable with specific goals, tools, resources and responsibilities covering the primary objectives, as well as giving a detailed description of the tasks involved. In this phase, a supervisory body should also be established for coordinating, monitoring and adapting the various plans.




A rapid global transition to smaller-scale, organic agriculture and permaculture is necessary to establish a globally resilient food system that helps to sequester excess carbon in the soil. Industrial farming, over the last century, has had destructive effects on soil. The benefits of the "Green Revolution" of the 1960s - the application of scientific management techniques to farming - continue to be debated. A new revolution in agricultural practices would turn back the clock in certain respects, as more of the populace contributed to growing their own food, as well as supporting local farms and gardens.

Currently, major questions hover over the value of genetically engineered strains - continuing the Green Revolution on the level of plant DNA. Technologists argue that GE could produce drought-resistant crops and vegetables that can fix their own nitrogen in the soil, as some species of legumes do, reducing nitrogen pollution. Critics argue that, up until now, the benefits of GE are debatable, while the long-term risks to health and biodiversity remain unknown. Critics note that we have fallen into a "progress trap," where the negative impacts of technological progress lead to riskier technologies designed to mitigate past mistakes. Also, it seems that organic and ecological techniques of agriculture could feed the global populace, particularly if meat-eating is reduced globally.

Regenerative Strategy

Organic agriculture is, in itself, a powerful adaptation strategy for climate change.

The link between agriculture and climate change is undeniable: the food industry as a whole generates 30% of the worlds greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [87], while the agricultural sector singularly accounts for 14% of total global emissions [88], most of which stem from the meat production industry alone (Scherr and Sthapit 2009, 5). Research has found that a move to organic agriculture successfully sequesters more carbon than industrial agriculture, but the exact rate of this is widely disputed and is based on extrapolations from site-specific data. [89] Most studies only make estimations from certain sectors or geographical areas of agriculture (Hepperly). A Pew Study found that organic agriculture had the possibility to sequester 11% of the 2007 global emissions if put into practice globally [90]

The organic techniques that allow for the sequestration of carbon include integrated pest management using non-synthetics, crop rotation, cover crops, and increased soil microbial activity that allows agricultural fields to become carbon “sinks”. Biochar, a charcoal soil additive produced by burning biomass in an oxygen weak environment, can be infused into soil to sequester additional carbon. Mark Herstaard in his book Hot: Living Through The Next Fifty Years of Climate Change states that, “If biochar were added to 10 percent of global cropland… it would store 20 billion tons of CO2 equivalent—roughly equal to humanity’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.” [91]

Permaculture and agroforestry farming practices are organic by default, and offer the most integrated, resilient, functional, and spiritually rewarding forms of agriculture. Permaculture, a term coined by Bill Mollison and David Holgren in the late 70s, stands for “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture”. Its success lies in proper design and integration with the landscape, from landforms to water sources; and whose “ratio of output to input is about 5 times as good as that achieved by the benchmark US farm,” [92]. Penny Livingston, a visionary permaculture pioneer, highlights the importance of centrifugally designing water sources into a permaculture system: “every single culture that was based on irrigation of dry lands has failed. Every single one." [93]

Agroforestry has been used in traditional agriculturalist societies for thousands of years, and aims to grow crops mimicking the layers of an interacting forest. Examples can still be seen in the Western Ghats of rural India, on small-scale farms in Indonesia, and throughout the tropics. Eric Toensmeier, among others, is currently designing these thriving system with amazing results in the tropics with his organization Perennial Solution. While agroforestry does not sequester as much carbon as old-growth forests, it aids in preserving forests by creating a buffer around them, and caries the benefits of diverse, no-till agriculture. The mechanization of both permaculture and agroforestry is little if any, cutting the cord to fossil fuel reliance and emissions.

Designing agricultural systems that are decentralized and specialized will help in maintaining ecological and genetic diversity, which is inherent to the healthy functioning and resilience of an ecosystem. Current industrial mega-farms can be fragmented into smaller, specially designed permacutlture and agroforestry projects that are built around the contours, demands, water availability, and environmental quality of the site. Smaller plots can be structured into larger farming co-operatives, where social support, hardware, and labor can be shared and supplemented across farms where necessary. This inlays a greater social fabric over a highly complex and high-functioning system, allowing for several layers of support: ecological, biological, social, and spiritual. There is a current poverty in agricultural labor force, requiring current subsidies structured on paying for the production of excess corn, soy, and grain to be restructured to pay for aspiring agriculturalists to learn permaculture design and organic farming practices. By reinstating more farmers back onto the landscape, we rekindle our weakened relationship to the earth.

Re-integrating livestock back onto the farm is also necessary. Feedlots often produce as much waste as small cities. Reintegrating livestock back onto farms allows for compost to be made from manure onsite. The GHG produced by livestock is the largest agricultural contributor to GHG emissions. [94] Biodigestors can be installed onsite to harness the methane from fermenting cow wastes, turning it into electricity, fuel, and hot water heaters. Excess electricity can be sold back to the grid. Compost from manure can be laid on grazing land to sequester carbon. A ½ inch thick layer of compost lain on half of the current cattle grazing land in California is estimated to mitigate carbon at a rate equivalent to the commercial and residential emissions from energy use (Marin Carbon Project, 2013). Furthermore, it is imperative that global diet deemphasize meat in favor of a more plant-based diet, as 83% of food industry emissions come from production and the majority of this stems from the meat industry[95]; while the current food system has the capacity to feed the entire worlds’ population on a plant-based diet only.[96]

Biotechnology is heeded by some as the solution to feeding a population of 9 million, and easing the amount of synthetics applied to crops by integrating insect-resilient genes into the plant. The argument for GMOs relies heavily on the science of furthering evolution, faster. Staple crops engineered to have higher nutrient content is often on the top of the proponents’ lists, exhibiting the heartfelt intent of GMOs to soothe the worlds malnutrition problems. [97] Oponents of GMOs recognize that humans do not harness omnipotent knowledge of natural forces. The laboratory is not the gentle and wise passage of time, instead being a haven for assumption. There is a lack of transparency in scientific research, with corporate agribusinesses funding and censoring scientific findings almost exclusively. [98] The drawbacks are possibly severe, resulting in “frankenfoods” which our bodies do not correctly assimilate as nutritious or helpful. Many assert that it is an intellectual property rights issue: those that own the genes make the rules. While wild varieties of crops have more diverse nutrition [99], they cannot be patented and owned and are thus not as profitable, and not as coveted by large agribusinesses.

While the transport of food from its source to its point of sale only accounts for 4% of the emissions from the food industry [100], fossil fuels have created a food system which requires ancient sunlight to foster gastronomic variety. The thousands of miles that much produce travels to find a market is not a quality of a resilient, post-carbon food system. While local food movements have been burgeoning, community and urban gardens can further instate the physical and philosophical nourishment derived from harvesting food from the home. Vacant lots, suitable rooftops, parks, and greenways can be transformed into community gardens, food forests, and medicinal plant habitats. Old sports fields can be converted into small farms, such as the 2-acre plot at Paul Quinn College which produced approximately 2,200 pounds of produce in a year in a food desert.[101]

The practices of organic agriculture have the possibility of sequester carbon already present in the atmosphere, while permaculture and agroforestry design mitigate future emissions by stifling the reliance on fossil fuel for mechanization in agriculture, and tilling techniques which release GHG emissions into the atmosphere. Agroforestry seeks to buffer existing old-growth and rainforest resources, valuable in a post-carbon future as deep carbon sinks. With the biggest emissions from the food industry stemming from meat production, it is imperative that global diets deemphasize meat, sequester carbon on grazing lands with livestock-derived compost, biogas be utilized on all livestock production facilities, and animals be reintegrated onto farms in order to instate integrative compost and fertilizer from their waste products. While GMOs require more transparency in research to deem their safety, wild foods remain more diverse, nutritious and resilient to change than “frankenfoods”. The importance of integrating community and home gardens and farms into the urban landscape is crucial for a philosophical and survival-oriented relationship to the food shed.

According to an article in Agriculture Journal, “Organic farming has an inherent potential to both reduce GHG emissions and to enhance carbon sequestration in the soil. However, the adaptation aspects of organic agricultural practices must be the focus of public policies and research. One of the main effects of climate change is an increase of uncertainties, both for weather events and global food markets. Organic agriculture has a strong potential for building resilience in the face of climate variability.” Benefits of organic agriculture include: Building up soil organic matter, minimizing tillage, reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers, containing carbon in the soil as much as possible.” A global movement of civil society to address climate change must include a demand for a comprehensive return to organic agriculture, and a de-industrialization of the food system. [102]

Anna Lappe, a well-known food expert and founding principal of the Small Planet Institute advocates for a reduction in food waste as one of the single most important strategies. She writes, “We know how to grow food in ways that cuts emissions, creates more resilient landscapes, and ensures ample yields, all while reducing the use of non-renewable resources, fossil fuels, and land.” She notes that reducing food waste would have an immediate impact: “Globally, we’re wasting as much as 30 percent of all food that could be eaten. In the United States, Dana Gunders at the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates the figure is as high as 40 percent. Food waste is often the single largest component of municipal solid waste, making it a major source of methane emission.”[103]

The Methane produced from livestock farms accounts for 14% of greenhouse gases warming the planet.[104] The Worldwatch Institute, along with many other sources, recommends a transition a vegetarian diet is a major way to reduce greenhouse gas production. The Worldwatch Institute report states, “Serious action on climate change will almost certainly require reductions in the global consumption of meat and dairy by today’s major consumers in industrial countries, as well as slowing the growth of demand in developing countries. As with other sources of agricultural emissions, no such major shift seems likely without putting a price on livestock-related greenhouse gases, so that producers treat them as a business cost and thus have a direct incentive to reduce them.” [105]

Certain agricultural developments could replace the needed for industrial agriculture.

Research has shown several crops could feed the world's population most efficiently, considering warming and droughts, including quinoa and alfalfa leaf. Pro Natura developed and extract that can fulfill people's nutritional needs for pennies a day. Alfalfa leaf extract can feed 1 child for $3/year according to a Pro-Natura study. According to their study, after more than 10 years of research and development, ALE has a proven track record in combating malnutrition. Investment in local production is required to build manufacturing plants in areas affected by malnutrition in order to reach all sufferers, especially children." At the moment Pro-Natura is working with the local economy in France to fund production on an industrial scale.[106]

Joel Salatin’s polyface agriculture system models a non-industrial food production oasis. The farm’s mission is to develop emotionally, economically, environmentally by enhancing agricultural enterprises and facilitate their duplication throughout the world. The Salatins continue to refine their models to push environmentally-friendly farming practices toward new levels of expertise.

Geoff Lawton applied permaculture principles to innovate an Advanced Cell Grazing plan. His techniques demonstrate how to build abundance and diversity in an ecosystem on his 66 acre plot[107] An article in the Permaculture Research Institute explains his Zaytuna Grazing Method (ZGM) as a hybridization of " a multitude of different animal management systems from Allan Savory to Joel Salatin and Regen Ag. The ZGM then incorporates a permaculture twist that will regenerate landscape and grow both productive food, crops, and even vegetation for other uses such as timber, nutrient accumulation, and wildlife habitat." The system allows for multiple income streams, gaining the best possible yields while improving the soil structure and resale value of the land.[108]

Some research has shown potential that a rapid global shift to natural farming methods in 3 years could restore carbon to soil in mass quantities, mitigating the effects of global warming. Research still needs to explore this topic, and if there would be any benefit for drought-resistant strains or for strains that fix their own nitrogen in soil.

The Biocongress shows how our nation would be divided if political boundaries took into consideration topography, geology and watersheds.[109]


Using technology, like FarmHack, an open source community for resilient agriculture, to provide scalable models for non-industrial agriculture.

Cuba's recent transition to a more regenerative agricultural model in the face of crisis provides a model for other national and local transitions. A recent report published in the Monthly Review states: "The agricultural revolution in Cuba has ignited the imaginations of people all over the world. Cuba’s model serves as a foundation for self-sufficiency, resistance to neocolonialist development projects, innovations in agroecology, alternatives to monoculture, and a more environmentally sustainable society. Instead of turning towards austerity measures and making concessions to large international powers during a severe economic downturn, Cubans reorganized food production and worked to gain food sovereignty as a means of subsistence, environmental protection, and national security.1 While these efforts may have been born of economic necessity, they are impressive as they have been developed in opposition to a corporate global food regime."[110]

Stone Barns Farming Education

The mission of Stone Barns Center is to create a healthy and sustainable food system that benefits us all. Located 25 miles north of Manhattan, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit institution. We operate an 80-acre farm and work to:

  • Increase public awareness of healthy, seasonal and sustainable food.
  • Train farmers in resilient, restorative farming techniques.
  • Educate children about the sources of their food, and prepare them to steward the land that provides it.


FAO Metrics to measure food security






Regenerative Strategy




Saving Oil in a Hurry

Commissioned by The International Energy Agency (IEA). IEA is an autonomous body which was established in November 1974 within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to implement an international energy programme. The Organisation provides a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and work to co-ordinate domestic and international policies.

Saving oil in a hurry provides clear methodologies that individual countries can use to make their own estimates. IEA and non-IEA countries alike are encouraged to engage in such analysis and consider which policies would be best adapted to their national circumstances. Oil demand in transport is indeed very “inelastic” in the short run, but the set of measures outlined here gives countries a tool box they can draw on to help lower the duration and costs of petroleum supply disruptions.

VERY LARGE More than one million barrels per day Car-pooling: large programme to designate emergency car-pool lanes along all motorways, designate park-and-ride lots, inform public and match riders.

Driving ban: odd/even licence plate scheme. Provide police enforcement, appropriate information and signage.

LARGE More than 500 thousand barrels per day Speed limits: reduce highway speed limits to 90 kph. Provide police enforcement or speed cameras, appropriate information and signage.

Transit: free public transit (set fares to zero).

Telecommuting: large programme, including active participation of businesses, public information on benefits of telecommuting, minor investments in needed infrastructure to facilitate.

Compressed work week (fewer but longer workdays): programme with employer participation and public information campaign.

Driving ban: 1 in 10 days based on licence plate, with police enforcement and signage.

“Ecodriving” (efficient driving styles and vehicle maintenance steps): intensive public information programme.

MODERATE More than 100 thousand barrels per day

Transit fare reduction: 50% reduction in current public transit fares.

Transit service increase: increase weekend and off-peak transit service and increase peak service frequency by 10%.

Car-pooling: small programme to inform public, match riders

SMALL Less than 100 thousand barrels per day Bus priority: convert all existing car-pool and bus lanes to 24-hour bus priority usage and convert some other lanes to bus-only lanes.

Conclusion An important conclusion is that measures that rely on altruistic behaviour and provide information to consumers may be able to provide substantial reductions in fuel consumption at very low cost. This includes car-pooling, flexible work schedules, telecommuting and ecodriving campaigns. Conversely, those policies that involve large upfront investments, especially in terms of adding infrastructure, are not very cost-effective for reducing fuel consumption (although there may be other reasons to implement them). Those policies that are more restrictive appear capable of providing large reductions in fuel consumption. For example, odd/even day driving bans give the largest estimated reductions in fuel consumption. However, such restrictive policies may be unpopular and may impose substantial “hidden” costs on society in terms of lost mobility.

The results presented in the report provide fairly rough estimates of effectiveness. We have used real data disaggregated to individual countries, where possible. The main source of uncertainty in our results is the extent to which people will respond to the measures in emergency situations, especially those measures based on providing information. We expect that in most cases, people will naturally seek alternative transport options during a fuel emergency due to both the increase in the price of fuel and actual supply constraints. In such a situation, most people will welcome, and respond to, additional information and mobility options provided by governments. Previous short-term emergency conditions suggest that some altruistic behaviour will occur, whether prodded by price or actual concern about helping society weather an emergency.


EcoSystemsic Approaches




Regenerative Strategy


  • Bioremediation
  • preserve and enhance biodiversity
  • reforestation
  • agroforestry
  • build wilderness corridors
  • remove dams

Living Technologies


The Rainmaker concept is a system wherein a stand-alone wind turbine is placed in rain lacking regions. This system is especially suited for such environments without proper infrastructure and access to water sources. The Dutch Rainmaker system, literally, makes fresh water from air! The system’s wind turbine drives a heat pump, which is directly powered by the wind turbine’s blades. With the heat pump, the water vapor in the air is condensed and collected for domestic or irrigation purposes. Depending on local ambient temperatures and humidity conditions, air always contains a certain amount of water. This makes it possible to make water from air almost anywhere in the world.


Thought Leaders

Bob Holmgren, permaculture
John Todd, water

John Todd (born 1939) is a biologist working in what is sometimes considered the general field of ecological design, in that his ideas often involve applications that become the basis of alternative technologies. His principal professional interests have included solving problems of food production and waste-water processing. As an author, he has presented the outcome of the work that he and colleagues have undertaken in a series of books, as well as in the requisite scientific papers.

Todd and colleagues developed what they called "living machines". The system they developed is an ecologically engineered technology developed to restore, conserve, or remediate sewage or other polluted water, by replicating and accelerating the natural purification processes of streams, ponds and marshes. In practical application, a living machine is a self-contained treatment system designed to treat a specific waste stream using the principles of ecological engineering. It does this by using diverse communities of bacteria and other microorganisms, algae, plants, trees, snails, fish and other living creatures.

His firm John Todd Ecological Design envisions the remediation of impaired natural water bodies and soils as a major part of our future work.

Paul Stamets, mycelia

Paul E. Stamets (born July 17, 1955) is an American mycologist, author, and advocate of bioremediation and medicinal mushrooms.[111] He is active in researching the medicinal properties of mushrooms,[112] and is involved in two NIH-funded clinical studies on cancer and HIV treatments using mushrooms as adjunct therapies. Having received 9 patents on the antiviral, pesticidal, and remediative properties of mushroom mycelia, his work has been called pioneering and visionary.[113] A strong advocate of preserving biodiversity, Stamets supports research into the role of mushrooms for ecological restoration.

The author of numerous books and papers on the subject of mushroom identification and cultivation, Stamets has discovered four new species of mushrooms. He is an advocate of the permaculture system of growing, and considers fungiculture a valuable but underutilized aspect of permaculture. He is also a leading researcher into the use of mushrooms in bioremediation, processes he terms mycoremediation and mycofiltration.

David Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous

David Abram (born June 24, 1957) is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues.[114][115] He is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmologyref>Template:Cite web</ref> (2010) and The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (1996), for which he received, among other prizes, the international Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. Abram is founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE); his essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared often in such journals as Orion, Environmental Ethics, Parabola, Tikkun, and The Ecologist, as well as numerous anthologies.

The Spell of the Sensuous is a major work of ecological philosophy, one that startles the senses out of habitual ways of seeing and hearing, awakening us to our immersion in a living world. An accomplished sleight-of-hand magician as well as a gifted philosopher, David Abram has lived and traded magic with indigenous sorcerers on several continents. Starting from the intimate relation between these traditional magicians and the animals, plants, and natural elements that surround them, The Spell of the Sensuous draws us into a remarkable series of investigations regarding the fluid, participatory nature of perception, and the reciprocity between our senses and the sensuous earth.

David Orr, Ecological Literacy

David W. Orr (born in Des Moines, Iowa) is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College[116] and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont. He is a well known environmentalist and is active in many areas of environmental studies, including environmental education and environmental design.

He holds a B.A. from Westminster College (1965), an M.A. from Michigan State University (1966), and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania (1973). He serves as a trustee for several organizations including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.[117]

In 1996, he organized the construction of one of the greenest buildings in North America, the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College.

Ecological literacy (also referred to as ecoliteracy) is the ability to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible. To be ecoliterate means understanding the principles of organization of ecological communities (i.e. ecosystems) and using those principles for creating sustainable human communities. The term was coined by American educator David W. Orr and physicist Fritjof Capra in the 1990s [118][119]- thereby a new value entered education; the “well-being of the earth”. An ecologically literate society would be a sustainable society which did not destroy the natural environment on which they depend. Ecological literacy is a powerful concept as it creates a foundation for an integrated approach to environmental problems. Advocates champion eco-literacy as a new educational paradigm emerging around the poles of holism, systems thinking, sustainability, and complexity.

Ecoliteracy concerns understanding the principles of organisation of ecosystems and their potential application to understanding how to build a sustainable human society.[120] It combines the sciences of systems and ecology in drawing together elements required to foster learning processes toward a deep appreciation of nature and our role in it. Systems thinking is the recognition of the world as an integrated whole rather than a collection of individual elements. Within systems thinking, basic principles of organization become more important than the analysis of various components of the system in isolation. Ecological literacy and systems thinking implies a recognition of the manner in which all phenomenon are part of networks that define the way that element functions. Systems thinking is necessary to understand complex interdependence of ecological systems, social systems and other systems on all levels.

According to Fritjof Capra, “In the coming decades, the survival of humanity will depend on our ecological literacy – our ability to understand the basic principles of ecology and to live accordingly. This means that ecoliteracy must become a critical skill for politicians, business leaders, and professionals in all spheres, and should be the most important part of education at all levels – from primary and secondary schools to colleges, universities, and the continuing education and training of professionals.”[5] David W. Orr has stated that the goal of ecological literacy is “built on the recognition that the disorder of ecosystems reflects a prior disorder of mind, making it a central concern to those institutions that purport to improve minds. In other words, the ecological crisis is in every way a crisis of education.... All education is environmental education… by what is included or excluded we teach the young that they are part of or apart from the natural world.” He also emphasizes that ecoliteracy does not only require mastery of subject matter, but the creation of meaningful connections between head, hands, and heart as well.[121]

Others have reiterated the urgent importance of ecological literacy in today's world, where young people are faced with escalating environmental challenges, including climate change, depletion of resources, and environmentally linked illnesses. "This generation will require leaders and citizens who can think ecologically, understand the interconnectedness of human and natural systems, and have the will, ability, and courage to act." [122]

With an understanding of ecological literacy, perceptions naturally shift. The need to protect the ecosystems is not simply a belief held by environmentalists; it is a biological imperative for survival over the time. This value will become a basic principle for prioritizing thought and action in a sustainable society. In the face of the increasing capacity of industrial systems to destroy habitats and the climate system, the explicit declaration of the principles of ecological literacy – and the resulting awareness of the importance of living within the ecological carrying capacity of the earth, is increasingly necessary. Whether ecoliteracy can address the infamous value-action gap is unclear.

Vandana Shiva, Monocultures of the Mind

Vandana Shiva (Hindi: वंदना शिवा: born 5 November 1952) is an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author.[123] Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books.[124] She was trained as a philosopher and received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in 1978 with the doctoral dissertation "Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory."[125][126]

She is one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization, (along with Jerry Mander, Edward Goldsmith, Ralph Nader, Jeremy Rifkin, et al.), and a figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalization movement. She has argued for the wisdom of many traditional practices, as is evident from her interview in the book Vedic Ecology (by Ranchor Prime) that draws upon India's Vedic heritage. She is a member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS, Spain's Socialist Party's think tank. She is also a member of the International Organization for a Participatory Society. [127] She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1993, and numerous other prizes.

Monocultures of the Mind Monocultures of the Mind is a collection of essays representing such a vital perspective of the a scientist from the Global South. Shiva makes provocative contributions in the ever expanding debate around what (and who) will feed future generations of humans in the developing world. She argues that a mono-agriculture society - where trees are seen as nothing more than timber and crop yield is the only measure for economic value of cereals - reflects a mental and political system that will lack in vision and complexity in general. However, diverse knowledge systems are necessary to address the challenges ahead of us. For example, in traditional societies, trees have multiple purposes, from food, water reservoir and shelter to nutrients of the soil around them. Timber value is only one (small) part of the whole. Traditional knowledge systems contribute in major ways to the understanding of biodiversity, ecological sustainability and cultural, including agri-cultural, diversity.[128]

While Shiva called GM seeds "seeds of slavery", Indian farmers desperately stole those seeds (Bt cotton).[129] Seven years later they already used it on 2,5 million hectares. Bt cotton allows them to avoid the dangers and costs of using pesticides.[130]

According to Dr. Shiva, as mentioned on the Al Jazeera web site (opinion): "Soaring seed prices in India have resulted in many farmers being mired in debt and turning to suicide". [Reuters] The creation of seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides, and agrarian distress. According to data from the Indian government, nearly 75 percent rural debt is due to purchased inputs. Farmers’ debt grows as GMO corporation's profits grow. It is in this systemic sense that GM seeds are those of suicide. An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton growing states in India: “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”"[131]

However, farmer suicides had begun to grow before the introduction of the GM seeds, and the growth decreased when GM seeds were introduced. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) analyzed twice academic articles and government data and concluded the decrease and that there was no evidence on "resurgence" of farmer suicides, GM cotton technology has been very effective in India and there have been many other reasons for the suicides.[132][133][134]

Dr. Shiva replied to these assertions and stood by her claims, refusing to back down.[135]

Allan Savory, Reversing Desertification through crop rotation

(Clifford) Allan Redin Savory (born 15 September 1935) is a Zimbabwean biologist, farmer, soldier, exile, environmentalist, and winner of the 2003 Banksia International Award[136] and the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.[137] He is the originator of holistic management.[138] Savory has said, "only livestock can save us." Through reversing desertification, he claims that rangeland soil has the ability to sequester vast amounts of CO2. These claims are supported by experimental evidence,[139] but are also under fierce dispute.[140][141][142]

Savory worked from the Cayman Islands into the Americas introducing a plan to reverse desertification of 'brittle' grasslands by carefully planning movements of large herds of livestock to mimic those found in nature. Savory immigrated to the US and with his wife Jody Butterfield founded the Center for Holistic Management in 1984, later becoming the Savory Center and finally Holistic Management International. It launched the Africa Centre for Holistic Management, based in Zimbabwe in 1992 which has 2,520 hectares (6,200 acres) of land. Savory left Holistic Management International in 2009 to form the Savory Institute.[143][144]

Various organisations have worked globally with individuals, government agencies, NGOs, and corporations to restore grasslands through the teaching and practice of holistic management and holistic decision making. This includes conservation projects in the US, Africa, Canada, and Australia, where holistic management is being implemented with the goal of reversing desertification through holistic management techniques, using livestock and planned grazing as the main agent of change.[145]

Although Savory's approach to the problem of desertification has met resistance from the scientific mainstream (see below), some peer-reviewed studies have documented soil improvement as measured by soil carbon, soil biota, water retention, nutrient holding capacity, and ground litter on land grazed according to Savory's methods compared with continuously grazed and non-grazed land.[146][147][148] In 2010, Savory and the Africa Center for Holistic Management won The Buckminster Fuller Challenge,[137] an annual international design competition awarding $100,000 "to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity's most pressing problems."[149] In a 2012 address to the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, on the urgent need to bring agriculture and conservation back together, Prince Charles lauded Savory's nature based approach: "I have been particularly fascinated, for example, by the work of a remarkable man called Allan Savory, in Zimbabwe and other semiarid areas, who has argued for years against the prevailing expert view that it is the simple numbers of cattle that drive overgrazing and cause fertile land to become desert. On the contrary, as he has since shown so graphically, the land needs the presence of feeding animals and their droppings for the cycle to be complete, so that soils and grassland areas stay productive. Such that, if you take grazers off the land and lock them away in vast feedlots, the land dies."[150]

An assessment of multiple research studies, published by the United States Department of Agriculture, concluded that "these results refute prior claims that animal trampling associated with high stocking rates or grazing pressures in rotational grazing systems enhance soil properties and promote hydrological function".[151] Similarly, a survey article by Briske et al. (the same author) that examined rotational grazing systems found "few, if any, consistent benefits over continuous grazing." [152] These confirm earlier research[153] that compared short duration grazing (SDG) and Savory Grazing Method (SGM) in southern Africa and found no evidence of range improvement, a slight economic improvement of a seven-unit intensive system with more animals but with individual weight loss. That study found no evidence for soil improvement, but instead that increased trampling had led to soil compaction.




Millenium Ecosystems Assessment


Pro Natura - biodiversity project
Regenesis Group




The current industrial system was built for an age of "conspicuous consumption" and "planned obsolescence". The debt-based economic system requires constant growth to maintain itself. Industrial products must be made so they are disposable and replaceable. The transition to a regenerative society will require a rapid shift in economic, industrial, and manufacturing paradigm. The underlying economic model must change to allow for true sustainability and responsibility.

While many corporations now actively discuss sustainability and corporate responsibility, promoting initiatives aimed at sustainable practices - recycling, conservation, and other environmental practices - these improvements fall far short of what is necessary for long-term resilience. Publicly traded corporations must maximize profit to satisfy shareholder value, as their prime directive. They are programmed to generate waste and externalize true environmental costs.

Over the last decades, vast areas of the developing world, such as China and India, adopted the Western model of industrial growth. These mass societies have begun to reach the limit of their resources. It is incumbent upon the highly industrial societies - who have been largely responsible for CO2 emissions - to develop a new model of industrial production and regenerative economics. A transformation of current industrial practices in every arena must be accompanied by a change in social, political, and economic paradigm.

Industrial sectors

Industries can be classified in a variety of ways. At the top level, industry is often classified into sectors: Primary or extractive, secondary or manufacturing, and tertiary or services. Some authors add quaternary (knowledge) or even quinary (culture and research) sectors.


Manufacturing is the production of merchandise for use or sale using labor and machines, tools, chemical and biological processing, or formulation. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale. Such finished goods may be used for manufacturing other, more complex products, such as aircraft, household appliances or automobiles, or sold to wholesalers, who in turn sell them to retailers, who then sell them to end users – the "consumers".

Manufacturing takes turns under all types of economic systems. In a free market economy, manufacturing is usually directed toward the mass production of products for sale to consumers at a profit. In a collectivist economy, manufacturing is more frequently directed by the state to supply a centrally planned economy. In mixed market economies, manufacturing occurs under some degree of government regulation.

Modern manufacturing includes all intermediate processes required for the production and integration of a product's components. Some industries, such as semiconductor and steel manufacturers use the term fabrication instead.

The manufacturing sector is closely connected with engineering and industrial design. Examples of major manufacturers in North America include General Motors Corporation, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Pfizer. Examples in Europe include Volkswagen Group, Siemens, and Michelin. Examples in Asia include Toyota, Samsung, and Bridgestone.[154]


The chemical industry comprises the companies that produce industrial chemicals. Central to the modern world economy, it converts raw materials (oil, natural gas, air, water, metals, and minerals) into more than 70,000 different products.

Polymers and plastics, especially polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalate, polystyrene and polycarbonate comprise about 80% of the industry’s output worldwide. Chemicals are used to make a wide variety of consumer goods, as well as thousands of inputs to agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and service industries. The chemical industry itself consumes 26 percent of its own output. Major industrial customers include rubber and plastic products, textiles, apparel, petroleum refining, pulp and paper, and primary metals. Chemicals are nearly a $3 trillion global enterprise, and the EU and U.S. chemical companies are the world's largest producers.[155]

Sales of the chemical business can be divided into a few broad categories, including basic chemicals (about 35 to 37 percent of the dollar output), life sciences (30 percent), specialty chemicals (20 to 25 percent) and consumer products (about 10 percent).[156]

Health Care

The health care industry, or medical industry, is an aggregation of sectors within the economic system that provides goods and services to treat patients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care. The modern health care industry is divided into many sectors and depends on interdisciplinary teams of trained professionals and paraprofessionals to meet health needs of individuals and populations.[157][158]

The health care industry is one of the world's largest and fastest-growing industries.[159] Consuming over 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) of most developed nations, health care can form an enormous part of a country's economy.[160]


The mass media are diversified media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place varies. Broadcast media such as radio, recorded music, film and television transmit their information electronically. Print media use a physical object such as a newspaper, book, pamphlet or comics,[1] to distribute their information. Outdoor media is a form of mass media that comprises billboards, signs or placards placed inside and outside of commercial buildings, sports stadiums, shops and buses. Other outdoor media include flying billboards (signs in tow of airplanes), blimps, and skywriting.[2] Public speaking and event organising can also be considered as forms of mass media.[3] The digital media comprises both Internet and mobile mass communication. Internet media provides many mass media services, such as email, websites, blogs, and internet based radio and television. Many other mass media outlets have a presence on the web, by such things as having TV ads that link to a website, or distributing a QR Code in print or outdoor media to direct a mobile user to a website. In this way, they can utilise the easy accessibility that the Internet has, and the outreach that Internet affords, as information can easily be broadcast to many different regions of the world simultaneously and cost-efficiently.

The organizations that control these technologies, such as television stations or publishing companies, are also known as the mass media.[4][5][need quotation to verify]


Telecommunication is communication at a distance by technological means, particularly through electrical signals or electromagnetic waves.[161][162][163][164][165][166] Due to the many different technologies involved, the word is often used in a plural form, as telecommunications.

Early means of communication over a distance included visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs.[167] Other examples of pre-modern long-distance communication included audio messages such as coded drumbeats, lung-blown horns, and loud whistles. Modern technologies for long-distance communication usually involve electrical and electromagnetic technologies, such as telegraph, telephone, and teleprinter, networks, radio, microwave transmission, fiber optics, and communications satellites.[168]


Construction is the process of preparing for and forming buildings[169] and building systems.[170] Construction starts with planning, design, and financing and continues until the structure is ready for occupancy.

Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking. Normally, the job is managed by a project manager, and supervised by a construction manager, design engineer, construction engineer or project architect. For the successful execution of a project, effective planning is essential. Those involved with the design and execution of the infrastructure in question must consider the environmental impact of the job, the successful scheduling, budgeting, construction site safety, availability and transportation of building materials, logistics, inconvenience to the public caused by construction delays and bidding, etc.

Building construction is the process of adding structure to real property or construction of buildings. The vast majority of building construction jobs are small renovations, such as addition of a room, or renovation of a bathroom. Often, the owner of the property acts as laborer, paymaster, and design team for the entire project. However, all building construction projects include some elements in common – design, financial, estimating and legal considerations. Many projects of varying sizes reach undesirable end results, such as structural collapse, cost overruns, and/or litigation. For this reason, those with experience in the field make detailed plans and maintain careful oversight during the project to ensure a positive outcome.

Commercial building construction is procured privately or publicly utilizing various delivery methodologies, including cost estimating, hard bid, negotiated price, traditional, management contracting, construction management-at-risk, design & build and design-build bridging.

Residential construction practices, technologies, and resources must conform to local building authority regulations and codes of practice. Materials readily available in the area generally dictate the construction materials used (e.g. brick versus stone, versus timber). Cost of construction on a per square meter (or per square foot) basis for houses can vary dramatically based on site conditions, local regulations, economies of scale (custom designed homes are often more expensive to build) and the availability of skilled tradespeople. As residential construction (as well as all other types of construction) can generate a lot of waste, careful planning again is needed here.[171]


The military is an arm of government authorised to use lethal force, and weapons, to support the interests of the state and some or all of its citizens. The task of the military is usually defined as defence of the state and its citizens, and the prosecution of war against another state. The military may also have additional sanctioned and non-sanctioned functions within a society, including, the promotion of a political agenda, protecting corporate economic interests, internal population control, construction, emergency services, social ceremonies, and guarding important areas. The military can also function as a discrete sub-culture within a larger civil society, through the development of separate infrastructures, which may include housing, schools, utilities, food production and banking.

In the whole history of humanity, every nation had different needs for military forces. How these needs are determined forms the basis of their composition, equipment and use of facilities. It also determines what military does in terms of peacetime and wartime activities.

All militaries, whether large or small, are military organizations that have official state and world recognition as such. Organizations with similar features are paramilitary, civil defense, militia or other which are not military. These commonalities of the state's military define them.[172]


Geoengineering, geological engineering, engineering geology, or geotechnical engineering deals with the discovery, development, and production and use of subsurface earth resources, as well as the design and construction of earth works. Geoengineering is the application of geosciences, where mechanics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and geology are used to understand and shape our interaction with the earth. Geoengineers work in areas of (1) mining, including surface and subsurface excavations, and rock burst mitigation; (2) energy, including hydraulic fracturing and drilling for exploration and production of water, oil, or gas; (3) infrastructure, including underground transportation systems and isolation of nuclear and hazardous wastes; and (4) environment, including groundwater flow, contaminant transport and remediation, and hydraulic structures.

Professional geoscience organizations such as the American Rock Mechanics Association or the Geo-Institute and academic degrees such as the bachelor of geoengineering accredited by ABET acknowledge the broad scope of work practiced by geoengineers and stress fundamentals of science and engineering methods for the solution of complex problems. Geoengineers study the mechanics of rock, soil, and fluids to improve the sustainable use of earth’s finite resources, where problems appear with competing interests, for example, groundwater and waste isolation, off-shore oil drilling and risk of spills, natural gas production and induced seismicity.[173]

Climate engineering, also referred to as geoengineering, is the deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climatic system with the aim of reducing global warming.[174][175][176] Climate engineering has two categories of technologies- carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management. Carbon dioxide removal addresses a cause of climate change by removing one of the greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Solar radiation management attempts to offset effects of greenhouse gases by causing the Earth to absorb less solar radiation.

Geoengineering has been proposed as a potential third option for tackling global warming, alongside mitigation and adaptation.[177] Scientists do not typically suggest geoengineering the climate as an alternative to emissions control, but rather an accompanying strategy.[178] Reviews of geoengineering techniques for climate control have emphasised that they are not substitutes for emission controls and have identified potentially stronger and weaker schemes.[179][180][181] The costs, benefits, and risks of many geoengineering approaches to climate change are not well understood.[182][183] However, a study from 2014 concluded that the most common climate engineering methods are either relatively ineffective or have potentially severe side effects and cannot be stopped without causing rapid climate change.[184]

There are no known large-scale climate engineering projects except one conducted outside the scientific mainstream by Russ George. Almost all research has consisted of computer modelling or laboratory tests, and attempts to move to real-world experimentation have proved controversial. Some limited tree planting[185] and cool roof[186] projects are already underway. Ocean iron fertilization has been given small-scale research trials.[187] Field research into sulfur aerosols has also started.[188]

Voices of caution against viewing geoengineered interventions as a simple solution to climate change are largely due to the risks and partially unknown side-effects of the technologies in question. Given the vastly insufficient action on emissions reductions in climate policy to date some have argued though that the risks of such interventions are to be seen in the context of risks of dangerous climate change.[189] As a rule of thumb it would appear that the scale of risks and costs of each climate engineering option appear to be somewhat inverse: The lower the costs, the greater the risks.[190][unbalanced opinion] Some have suggested that the concept of geoengineering the climate presents a moral hazard because it could reduce political and public pressure for emissions reduction.[191] Groups such as ETC Group[192] and individuals such as Raymond Pierrehumbert have called for a moratorium on deployment and out-of-doors testing of geoengineering techniques for climate control.[193][194][195]

Regenerative Strategy


  • Reinvent industry through cradle-to-cradle practices
  • Open-source patents and innovations to accelerate efficiency (Tesla)
  • Globally scalable technologies like Biochar made freely available
  • Reduce unneeded chemicals and polluting substances
  • Global Thermostat : new tech to remove CO2 from atmosphere
  • Temporarily eliminate non-essential industries to reduce CO2
  • Permanently eliminate destructive industries (military)
  • Local production; 3 D printers
  • Nondestructive geoengineering - sea foam project, more?
  • Scale up new industries for regenerative society:
  • Carbon capture technologies
  • Sustainable technologies
    • rainwater harvesting
    • Biochar, gasifiers


Thought Leaders

Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays, and the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death. In the latter half of the 20th century he became a gay icon.[196]

Wilde's parents were successful Anglo-Irish Dublin intellectuals. Their son became fluent in French and German early in life. At university, Wilde read Greats; he proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. He became known for his involvement in the rising philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art", and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversation, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day.

The Soul of Man under Socialism is an 1891 essay by Oscar Wilde in which he expounds a libertarian socialist (social anarchist) worldview and a critique of charity.[197] The writing of The Soul of Man followed Wilde's conversion to anarchist philosophy, following his reading of the works of Peter Kropotkin.[198]

In The Soul of Man Wilde argues that, under capitalism, "the majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism—are forced, indeed, so to spoil them": instead of realising their true talents, they waste their time solving the social problems caused by capitalism, without taking their common cause away. Thus, caring people "seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see in poverty but their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it" because, as Wilde puts it, "the proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible."

John Foster Bellamy

John Bellamy Foster (born August 19, 1953) is a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and also editor of Monthly Review. His writings focus on the political economy of capitalism and economic crisis, ecology and ecological crisis, and Marxist theory. He has published over one hundred magazine articles and dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles, written and edited over a dozen books, given over one hundred conference papers and invited lectures all around the world, and received numerous awards and honors. His work is published in at least twenty-five languages. Since the Great Financial Crisis hit in 2008, Foster has been sought out by academics, activists, the media, and the general public as a result of his earlier and continued writings on the current and coming crises.[199] He has given numerous interviews, talks, and invited lectures, as well as written invited commentary, articles, and books on the subject.

Foster often collaborates with Robert W. McChesney. Most recently, Foster and McChesney co-authored The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China,.

Other recent books include: The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences and What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism (both with Fred Magdoff), The Ecological Rift and Critique of Intelligent Design|Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present (both with Brett Clark (sociologist)|Brett Clark and Richard York), and The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet.

Paul Hawken, Natural Capitalism

Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author. Starting at age 20, he dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy.[200]

In Natural Capitalism the authors describe the global economy as being dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services that nature provides. Natural Capitalism is a critique of traditional "Industrial Capitalism", saying that the traditional system of capitalism "does not fully conform to its own accounting principles. It liquidates its capital and calls it income. It neglects to assign any value to the largest stocks of capital it employs - the natural resources and living systems, as well as the social and cultural systems that are the basis of human capital."

Natural capitalism recognizes the critical interdependency between the production and use of human-made capital and the maintenance and supply of natural capital. The authors argue that only through recognizing this essential relationship with the Earth's valuable resources can businesses, and the people they support, continue to exist.

Their fundamental questions are: What would an economy look like if it fully valued all forms of capital? What if an economy were organized not around the abstractions of neoclassical economics and accountancy but around the biological realities of nature? What if Generally Accepted Accounting Principles recognized natural and human capital not as a free amenity in inexhaustible supply but as a finite and integrally valuable factor of production? What if in the absence of a rigorous way to practice such accounting, companies started to act as if such principles were in force.[201]

Andrew Winston, The Big Pivot

Andrew, founder of Winston Eco-Strategies, is a globally recognized expert on green business strategy, appearing regularly in major media such as The Wall Street Journal, Time, BusinessWeek, New York Times, and CNBC. He has advised some of the world's leading companies, including Bank of America, Bayer, Boeing, Bridgestone, HP, Johnson & Johnson, and Pepsi.

He also sits on Sustainability Advisory Boards for the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Unilever, and serves as a Sustainability Advisor to PwC.

Andrew bases his work on significant in-company business experience. His earlier career included advising companies on corporate strategy while at Boston Consulting Group and management positions in strategy and marketing at Time Warner and MTV.

The Big Pivot, out in early 2014, explores how companies can manage the profound challenges of a hotter, scarcer, more open world. The Big Pivot provides a new roadmap, helping executives create a more prosperous business, economy, and world.[202]

Amory Lowins

Amory Bloch Lovins (born November 13, 1947)[203] is an American physicist, environmental scientist, writer, and Chairman/Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He has worked in the field of energy policy and related areas for four decades. He was named by Time magazine one of the World's 100 most influential people in 2009.

Lovins worked professionally as an environmentalist in the 1970s and since then as an analyst of a "soft energy path" for the United States and other nations. He has promoted energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy sources, and the generation of energy at or near the site where the energy is actually used. Lovins has also advocated a "negawatt revolution" arguing that utility customers don’t want kilowatt-hours of electricity; they want energy services. In the 1990s, his work with Rocky Mountain Institute included the design of an ultra-efficient automobile, the Hypercar.

Lovins has received ten honorary doctorates and won many awards. He has provided expert testimony in eight countries, briefed 19 heads of state, and published 29 books. These books include Reinventing Fire, Winning the Oil Endgame, Small is Profitable, Brittle Power, and Natural Capitalism.


Maker’s Fairs
University of Sheffield: World's First Air Cleansing Poem




Global Carbon Project

The Global Carbon Project (GCP) was established in 2001 in recognition of the large scientific challenges and critical nature of the carbon cycle for Earth's sustainability. The scientific goal of the project is to develop a complete picture of the global carbon cycle, including both its biophysical and human dimensions together with the interactions and feedback's between them.

The scientific goal of the Global Carbon Project is to develop a complete picture of the global carbon cycle, including both its biophysical and human dimensions together with the interactions and feedbacks between them. This will be: Patterns and Variability: What are the current geographical and temporal distributions of the major pools and fluxes in the global carbon cycle? Processes and Interactions: What are the control and feedback mechanisms - both anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic - that determine the dynamics of the carbon cycle? Carbon Management: What are the dynamics of the carbon-climate-human system into the future, and what points of intervention and windows of opportunity exist for human societies to manage this system?


GE, Ecoimagineering

General Electric (GE) is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut.[205][206] The company operates through the following segments: Energy [2013 inactive], Technology Infrastructure, Capital Finance as well as Consumer and Industrial.[207][208]

In 2011, GE ranked among the Fortune 500 as the 26th-largest firm in the U.S. by gross revenue,[209] as well as the 14th most profitable.[210] However, the company is listed the fourth-largest in the world among the Forbes Global 2000, further metrics being taken into account.[211] Other rankings for 2011/2012 include No. 7 company for leaders (Fortune), No. 5 best global brand (Interbrand), No. 63 green company (Newsweek), No. 15 most admired company (Fortune), and No. 19 most innovative company (Fast Company).[212]

Ecomagination is GE's commitment to build innovative solutions for today's environmental challenges while driving economic growth.[213]

CSR Wire

CSRWire is a news distribution service specializing in corporate social responsibility, founded in 1999 and based in Springfield, Massachusetts.

CSRwire's products include blogs, social media campaigns, videos and branded content, grouping press releases into 25 categories including environment, human rights, sustainability, corporate governance and socially responsible investing. Visitors to the site can upload their own videos, audio, and research.

CSRwire partners with Marketwire and NASDAQ and has more than 60 syndication partners. CSRwire's releases are used regularly by newspapers and radio stations in the United States and internationally.

CSRwire is a digital media platform for the latest news, views and reports in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. Founded in 1999 to advance the movement toward a more economically just and environmentally sustainable society and away from single bottom line capitalism, CSRwire has paved the way for new standards of corporate citizenship, earning the international respect of thought leaders, business leaders, academics, researchers, activists and the media.[214]

Greenpeace Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Greenpeace states its goal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity" and focuses its campaigning on world wide issues such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues. It uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals. The global organization does not accept funding from governments, corporations or political parties, relying on 2.9 million individual supporters and foundation grants. Greenpeace has a general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is a founding member of the INGO Accountability Charter; an international non-governmental organization that intends to foster accountability and transparency of non-governmental organizations.

Greenpeace is known for its direct actions and has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Greenpeace has raised environmental issues to public knowledge, and influenced both the private and the public sector. Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy; its motives and methods have received criticism and the organization's direct actions have sparked legal actions against Greenpeace activists, such as fines and suspended sentences for destroying a test plot of GMO wheat. [215]


Technological Development



Current Status

  • techno-utopianism
  • dark ecology
    • Collapse is inevitable
    • Best we can do is manage the collapse
    • Potential return to agrarian or neotribal existence
    • Critique
  • neo-environmentalism/philanthro-capitalism/singularity
    • apply more advanced technologies to keep growing
    • GMOs
    • Dense urbanization
    • Nuclear power
    • Geoengineering
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Biotechnology
    • Nanotechnology
    • Maintain centralized political control
    • Accelerate technological progress to break barriers
    • Continue current economic system
    • Critique
  • design science/social ecology
    • Humanity will rebound over the next century
    • Redesign social systems to mesh with planetary ecology
    • De-grow, deindustrialize, transition to sustainable
  • technologies
    • Permaculture; bioremediation; reforestation
    • Self-sufficiency, autonomy, resilience
    • Decentralized energy; microgrids
    • Political power decentralized via participatory
  • democracy
    • Empowerment of women decreases birth rate and aggression: studies on testosterone
    • Slow down, don’t reject technology, but make inquiry into the value of technological progress.
    • Redesign economic system for resilience and universal abundance / subsidize humanity’s basic needs
    • Adapt Indigenous design principles
    • Critique


Regenerative Strategy




A community driven operating system. Ubuntu is made for sharing; everyone can use it, change it and improve it.



Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy

Commisioned by The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), the business and economics research arm of McKinsey & Company. Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy;[216] assesses the potential reach and scope, as well as the potential economic impact and disruption of major rapidly advancing technology areas. Through extensive research, they sort through the noise to identify 12 technology areas with the potential for massive impact on how people live and work, and on industries and economies.

Mobile Internet In a few years, Internet-enabled portable devices have gone from a luxury for a few to a way of life for more than 1 billion people who own smartphones and tablets. In the United States, an estimated 30 percent of Web browsing and 40 percent of social media use is done on mobile devices; by 2015, wireless Web use is expected to exceed wired use. Ubiquitous connectivity and an explosive proliferation of apps are enabling users to go about their daily routines with new ways of knowing, perceiving, and even interacting with the physical world. The mobile Internet also has applications across businesses and the public sector, enabling more efficient delivery of many services and creating opportunities to increase workforce productivity. In developing economies, the mobile Internet could bring billions of people into the connected world.

Automation of knowledge work Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural user interfaces (e.g., voice recognition) are making it possible to automate many knowledge worker tasks that have long been regarded as impossible or impractical for machines to perform. For instance, some computers can answer “unstructured” questions (i.e., those posed in ordinary language, rather than precisely written as software queries), so employees or customers without specialized training can get information on their own. This opens up possibilities for sweeping change in how knowledge work is organized and performed. Sophisticated analytics tools can be used to augment the talents of highly skilled employees, and as more knowledge worker tasks can be done by machine, it is also possible that some types of jobs could become fully automated.

Internet of Things The Internet of Things—embedding sensors and actuators in machines and other physical objects to bring them into the connected world—is spreading rapidly. From monitoring the flow of products through a factory to measuring the moisture in a field of crops to tracking the flow of water through utility pipes, the Internet of Things allows businesses and public-sector organizations to manage assets, optimize performance, and create new business models. With remote monitoring, the Internet of Things also has great potential to improve the health of patients with chronic illnesses and attack a major cause of rising health-care costs.

Cloud With cloud technology, any computer application or service can be delivered over a network or the Internet, with minimal or no local software or processing power required. In order to do this, IT resources (such as computation and storage) are made available on an as-needed basis—when extra capacity is needed it is seamlessly added, without requiring up-front investment in new hardware or programming. The cloud is enabling the explosive growth of Internet-based services, from search to streaming media to offline storage of personal data (photos, books, music), as well as the background processing capabilities that enable mobile Internet devices to do things like respond to spoken commands to ask for directions.

Advanced robotics Advanced robots are gaining enhanced senses, dexterity, and intelligence, thanks to accelerating advancements in machine vision, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication, sensors, and actuators. These robots can be easier for workers to program and interact with. They can be more compact and adaptable, making it possible to deploy them safely alongside workers. These advances could make it practical to substitute robots for human labor in more manufacturing tasks, as well as in a growing number of service jobs, such as cleaning and maintenance. This technology could also enable new types of surgical robots, robotic prosthetics, and “exoskeleton” braces that can help people with limited mobility to function more normally, helping to improve and extend lives.

Next-generation genomics Next-generation genomics marries advances in the science of sequencing and modifying genetic material with the latest big data analytics capabilities. Today, a human genome can be sequenced in a few hours and for a few thousand dollars, a task that took 13 years and $2.7 billion to accomplish during the Human Genome Project. With rapid sequencing and advanced computing power, scientists can systematically test how genetic variations can bring about specific traits and diseases, rather than using trial and error. Relatively low-cost desktop sequencing machines could be used in routine diagnostics, potentially significantly improving treatments by matching treatments to patients. The next step is synthetic biology—the ability to precisely customize organisms by “writing” DNA. These advances in the power and availability of genetic science could have profound impact on medicine, agriculture, and even the production of high-value substances such as biofuels—as well as speed up the process of drug discovery.

Autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles Over the coming decade, low-cost, commercially available drones and submersibles could be used for a range of applications. Autonomous cars and trucks could enable a revolution in ground transportation—regulations and public acceptance permitting. Short of that, there is also substantial value in systems that assist drivers in steering, braking, and collision avoidance. The potential benefits of autonomous cars and trucks include increased safety, reduced CO2 emissions, more leisure or work time for motorists (with hands-off driving), and increased productivity in the trucking industry.

Energy storage Energy storage technology includes batteries and other systems that store energy for later use. Lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells are already powering electric and hybrid vehicles, along with billions of portable consumer electronics devices. Li-ion batteries in particular have seen consistent increases in performance and reductions in price, with cost per unit of storage capacity declining dramatically over the past decade. Over the next decade, advances in energy storage technology could make electric vehicles (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electrics) cost competitive with vehicles based on internal-combustion engines. On the power grid, advanced battery storage systems can help with the integration of solar and wind power, improve quality by controlling frequency variations, handle peak loads, and reduce costs by enabling utilities to postpone infrastructure expansion.

3D printing Until now, 3D printing has largely been used by product designers and hobbyists and for a few select manufacturing applications. However, the performance of additive manufacturing machinery is improving, the range of materials is expanding, and prices (for both printers and materials) are declining rapidly— bringing 3D printing to a point where it could see rapid adoption by consumers and even for more manufacturing uses. 3D printing enables on-demand production, which has interesting implications for supply chains and for stocking spare parts—a major cost for manufacturers. 3D printing can also reduce the amount of material wasted in manufacturing and create objects that are difficult or impossible to produce with traditional techniques. Scientists have even “bioprinted” organs, using an inkjet printing technique to layer human stem cells along with supporting scaffolding.

Advanced materials Over the past few decades, scientists have discovered ways to produce materials with incredible attributes—smart materials that are self-healing or self-cleaning; memory metals that can revert to their original shapes; piezoelectric ceramics and crystals that turn pressure into energy; and nanomaterials. Nanomaterials in particular stand out in terms of their high rate of improvement, broad potential applicability, and long-term potential to drive massive economic impact. At nanoscale (less than 100 nanometers), ordinary substances take on new properties that can enable new types of medicine, super-slick coatings, stronger composites, and other improvements.

Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery The ability to extract so-called unconventional oil and gas reserves from shale rock formations is a technology revolution that has been gathering force for nearly four decades. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to reach oil and gas deposits that were known to exist in the United States and other places but that were not economically accessible by conventional drilling methods. The potential impact of this technology has received enormous attention. With continued improvements, this technology could significantly increase the availability of fossil fuels for decades and produce an immediate boon for energy-intensive industries such as petrochemicals manufacturing. Eventually, improving technology for oil and gas exploration and recovery could even unlock new types of reserves, including coalbed methane, tight sandstones, and methane clathrates (also known as methane hydrates), potentially ushering in another energy “revolution.”

Renewable energy Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro-electric, and ocean wave hold the promise of an endless source of power without stripping resources, contributing to climate change, or worrying about competition for fossil fuels. In the past two decades, the cost of power produced by solar cells has dropped from nearly $8 per watt of capacity to one tenth of that amount. Meanwhile, wind power constitutes a rapidly growing proportion of renewable electricity generation. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are increasingly being adopted at scale in advanced economies like the United States and the European Union. Even more importantly, China, India, and other emerging economies have aggressive plans for solar and wind adoption that could enable further rapid economic growth while mitigating growing concerns about pollution.

Conclusion Adopting disruptive technologies entails risks, and managing these risks will be critically important. Internally, organizational effectiveness and cohesion could suffer as some jobs are transformed—or eliminated—by technology. By working with employees a and redesigning jobs to focus on higher-value skills—and by investing in workforce development—companies can minimize these risks. External risks include reputational risk and consumer resistance, as well as safety and regulatory issues. For example, new materials may have unforeseen health effects and may pose environmental risks. Autonomous vehicles might not deliver the potential impact we estimate unless the safety of driverless vehicles can be established, consumers accept the idea, and regulators come up with the necessary rules and standards to put these cars and trucks on the road. Business leaders need to strike a careful balance as they adopt new technologies; they must be thoughtful about risk, but they should also manage these risks without stifling potential.

Policy makers also will have opportunities to employ emerging technologies to address the challenges of 2025. The mobile Internet and advances in the automation of knowledge work, for example, could make it possible to bring customized, interactive training to students and workers anywhere. Emerging technologies can also be used by government to deliver services more effectively and responsively. They can help societies address grand challenges such as poverty and climate change.

For Full Report Click here: [217]

The Global Cyber Report

This report was published by the UK Ministry of Defence. The Defence Academy Cyber Inquiry was set up to provide a strategic overview and assessment of the new nature of security in a world that is increasingly enabled by and dependent on networked digital computers.

In a world that has become increasingly connected through the immense popularity of the Internet, security is being transformed. The Cyber Inquiry takes the widest possible view of the value of the ‘global information sphere’ and from this point works back to discover what security issues are raised. This perspective provides a foundation for assessing the overall significance of the cyber challenge, for determining how well-adapted we are to the emerging conditions, for considering the implications for national security, and ultimately for deciding how cyber capability should be used.

The Internet has been a huge factor in linking the world together into one connected communication space. But, as the Internet was designed to solve the military problem of allowing soldiers to communicate without letting the enemy know their location, not for the ways it is used today, it is quite insecure. Individual computers are susceptible to attack, as messages can be intercepted, and information can be manipulated. Such attacks have been increasing rapidly, both by criminals and by governments.

As the Internet was never subdivided along national lines, there is a global struggle underway for its control. A useful analogy that describes what is happening internationally on the Internet is the “Global Cyber Game,” which essentially is a “worldwide effort to achieve information-enabled advantage.” It can be considered a ‘competition,’ although there are many types that range from new forms of interstate war to new forms of constructive civil society interaction. There are many different players, whether they be nation states, ordinary citizens, or businesses, all with their own motives. This analogy additionally allows the possibility of striking a balance between competition and cooperation.

This report outlines three different types of power:

  • Destructive power: military and coercive power
  • Productive power: economic power, including production and exchange
  • Integrative power: social power, especially the power to create identification with a social grouping to which people voluntarily give their loyalty

This categorization of power is important especially because it “extends beyond the concept of power as necessarily coercive and allows for the power of social solidarity,” which is crucial when a shared global information infrastructure is at stake.

Information has become dynamic, interactive, and very accessible by virtue of the digital environment of the Internet. Computers and digital communications are behaving as powerful amplifiers and multipliers of information. This ‘information revolution’ is additionally shifting the use of power from destructive to integrative power. Knowledge itself is becoming the source of power. In the industrial economy, for example, power was derived from factors of production, but knowledge is now “achieving the effects of industrial-era power while simultaneously reducing the actual amount of industrial power required.”

The possible future path of the game is depicted by two scenarios, N-topia and N-crash. N-topia represents the possibility in which the full value of a globally connected knowledge society is realized. N-crash represents the scenario in which militarization and fragmentation of the Internet destroys its value. The outcome depends upon how the game is played, especially by nation states, who have the most power.

To create the best outcome possible, the report proposes recommends such as:

  • Creating a single coordinating unit with topsight responsibility for cyber strategy. Such a unit would work to maintain national Cyber Game play in a cooperative rather than an adversarial mode, continually looking for opportunities to maximize integrative power at the top level of the Cyber Gameboard.
  • Enhancing, protecting, and keeping open global knowledge commons.
  • Defending the civil Internet in depth and hardening it by re-architecting, restricting potential for espionage and surveillance by states.
  • Being transparent with all policy and strategy, as if they will become public knowledge.
  • Avoid developing malware that directly or indirectly impairs or endangers the functioning of the entire information infrastructure.
  • Develop cyber defense and deterrence that is designed in a way that demonstrably poses no threat of pre-emptive attack.



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