So you think the Universe is Expanding, what if it is actually collapsing?!
Try my this Unity powered Universe simulation that shows how an expanding Universe can look exactly the same as a shrinking or collapsing Universe to an observer within the Universe.
Have a look for yourself: http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/19148487/UniverseShrinking/Web.html
So I had the idea that the Universe could be shrinking, checked online and found that there has been at least one scientific paper that postulates that a shrinking Universe look like an expanding Universe to a shrinking inhabitant.
So I wrote a quick Unity Universe Simulation to show the perspectives of a shrinking Universe and an Expanding one. Try the above link (Made with Unity 4.6rc 3).
As you can see it looks the same!
We are entering an ongoing economic depression, well I think we are going to experience a sequence of stepped depressions over time.
These downward steps are caused as groups of people fall down below the rising poverty line.
The main underlying problem we have is that our hard or real economy (the part of our economy that moves food, clothing, builds housing), as opposed to the virtual economy (numbers in banks, shares, stocks, bonds, quantitative easing) depends upon fossil fuel for it's energy source.
In effect it is the basic cost of energy or power that set's the poverty line.
Now we are entering a post peak oil era, that means the age of abundant cheap easy to get at oil and gas is running out. So as we move to obtain more expensive, harder to extract fossil fuels the price goes up.
It's not clear how long we will have at each tier of the downward slope of post peak oil. Countries can go to war to obtain cheaper supplies, or use Quantitative easing (raising their national debt) to keep driving their economies.
But there is one thing I think we should be doing and fast, using the time we have on this first step down the post peak oil slope to massively invest in solar and renewable energy sources.
The problem is our governments are 'corrupted', they work for the big bloated oil and gas companies and when you live in a world powered by and dependent on oil and gas you tend not to see it as a problem.
So that leaves individuals feeling powerless and afraid that they too and their country, town or city will fall below the poverty line at some point.
And I have not even mentioned the compound negative economic and life threatening impacts of climate chaos driven by dirty fossil fuel emissions.
I think the solution needs to be from the grassroots, easy to take part in and have a fun element to it.
The Solar Lottery
The idea is simple everyone can buy into the fund with a lottery ticket costing £1 (or €1, $1) the ticket enters them into the solar lottery and purchases a single solar bond share.
The money generated is invested locally and regionally to build renewable energy systems and the whole thing is operated as a non profit company/co-operative/organisation. So even if you don't win the lottery you have made an investment that should return about 5-10% over 20 years (based on domestic solar panel installations).
The winner or winners (depending on fund size and revenue from renewable energy systems installed, or % of funds to prizes) will get a full home insulation and solar energy makeover with the aim to make them money as opposed to them paying money.
Now if you consider that the UK national lottery took in over £3,469.8 million so far this year (2014/2015 to sept 2014) that could have been a lot of investment in renewable energy systems that make money over time as they provide energy.
OK I don't expect the likes of Camelot to jump in and take up the sustainable/renewable energy banner or start a Solar Lottery Fund.
But people in towns, cities and villages can start renewable energy co-operatives with a funding/lottery model like this and if they grow, as they should given that their return on investment is expected to be at least 5%, then they will be a better investment than most saving accounts.
Think about it a lottery fund that saves the planet, makes you money and gives you the chance to never have to pay another energy bill, and hopefully to make money from the excess energy your home makes.
And ideally the lottery winners would also get an electric car, so they never have to pay for fuel again.
Now that I have thought of the idea I'm surprised that no one has implemented it. OK there are a lot of community renewable energy co-ops but the ones I've seen tend to have quite high entry fees and don't provide prizes.
I have attempted to e-mail this idea to parties that you think would love it Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Richard Branson's Virgin group.
But maybe, just maybe it needs a more grass roots approach so it's up to you, what are you waiting for get together with your friends and neighbors and start a renewable energy co-operative fund. Have fun and save the planet one house at a time. Good Luck.
Passive Easing the Economy.
So currently the nations banks use Quantitve Easing to (QE) Inject Cash into the Financial system. This is aimed at keeping the economy turning.
However in a post peak oil world QE does not address the coming challenges of climate change and the rising costs of energy due to a post peak oil economy and potential energy gaps where our ageing grid networks are unable to meet the rising energy demands of our population.
But what if we used that same QE money and injected it into the economy to create jobs, save people money and release money into the economy.
The answer is Passive Easing or PE if the QE money is funnelled into the economy with the specific aim of building and retrofitting our housing and buildings up to the passive house standard with the addition of solar panel roofing.
On average in the UK people spend about £800 a year on home energy. A home built or retrofitted to the passive house standard and with the addition of solar panels would cost about 10% of this so about £80 a year.
That releases £720 per year for each house converted or built into the economy.
So if we assume that the UK injects £35 billion and we can refit or upgrade a build to PE standards for around £30,000 then around 1 million homes could be retrofitted a year.
That means that not only do you create a wealth of jobs in the building industry, but over 20 years the entire UK housing market can be refitted to use a tenth of the current annual energy bill they do now.
Now consider that 1 million homes a year have about £700 more to spend or the economy has about £700m more in the second year £1.4b in the third and in 20 years you have an economy with 16.8b more than it would have if you were to leave people open to energy poverty.
This alleviates the coming energy gap, increases jobs, eradicated fuel poverty and climate change. Of course more money can be injected for a quicker time-line, the energy generated from the solar panels also needs to be factored into the benefits of this project.
But if you were to combine this with an electrification of road and rail heavy vehicles, the introduction of offshore wind and wave power stations and we could end up with an economy with an engine powered by the sun and that would be a very efficient and economically stable economy.
I would suggest that an annual competition is set-up where companies and teams are challenged to make the lowest energy affordable passive house systems, with the reward of a very large government contract. In this way the UK will become a world leader in this industry sector.
In addition all government buildings, schools, hospitals and care homes should be retrofitted to this new standard as well as all new buildings.
Allan Rowntree BSc
Today Post Family Sunday Dinner, I've just been shouted down by my family for wanting to talk about the future, categorically my brothers have said they do not wish to talk about it.
Talk about surreal, to almost cause a mass evacuation of the dining area and the amount of anger and frustration generated by this was phenomenal.
But a bit of background, about 2006 I move out from my then wife and back to my mums house, since then I have had a holiday in New Zealand and Australia, these holidays were me looking into the option of emigrating from the UK.
Quite simply I found out about climate change and peak oil and started to realise how unsustainable our current system is. This combined with the total lack of media coverage regarding the issues and topics raised got me well scared, very scared.
Prior to my marriage breaking up I was very keen to move my family to somewhere more sustainable, e.g. lower population density to land area = more chance of a country being able to feed itself if the shit hits the fan (TSHTF).
If you look at the UK from a sustainability viewpoint, we are way overcrowded for our land area, you only have to go back to the second world war, where a population the fraction of our current lived on very limited rations due to restricted flow of goods.
Anyway in a nutshell I got into a prepper or doomer mindset, where running away would somehow solve the problem or avoid the impending issues. This mindset definitely contributed to my marriage breakdown and had me in my 30's at the time doing an impersonation of chicken little.
Long story short but, I've decided with a little help from various visionary pioneers and the general slow (fingers crossed) pace of this crisis to move from a pessimistic view of things to a more optimistic one. Combined with the fact that I'm 42 now and getting too old to run around.
Now back to todays problem, from my brothers perspectives, “crazy doomer” unemployed old brother says he wants to give a talk on the future of mankind. They initially grown and say no.
Newly optimistic, former doomer brother, puts up white board with reminder of topics to cover and says to family satiated after lunch, now I have a captive audience I can do my talk.
Tempers flare, like really my next sibling is standing up red faces saying there are children here otherwise he would tell me what he thinks of me.
I'm shocked and stunned, really the whole family are pointing out that I'm forcing them to listen to my talk.
As you can imagine over the years I have talked to them about these issues and they I suppose have created a group mentality regarding this.
But I think there is more to this, they are afraid as I was and have been but they don't want to face that fear.
So what was I going to talk about, well my pet topics of choice were:
The effects of climate change have the power to completely change our planet. Think of climate change as a clockwork monster toy, all the CO2 we add to it just winds the toy up further. It's already on it's slow ponderous march through our toy town, creating havoc with extreme weather events. So this is a big problem and an escalating but slow burning one, it's not insurmountable as we can change our ways and work towards mitigating the impacts.
The problem is we have to move from a unsustainable way of living and transition to a sustainable one, this could be very problematic as we think of the things we would have to give up e.g. moving from a nice air conditioned desk job to a job tilling the land by hand.
Black gold is our addiction and curse, as a global society it is our smoking habit, it pollutes our atmosphere and gives us health and climate change problems, some of which will only occur in the future. In return we have had an industrial and transportation revolution, on cheap abundant energy drilled from the dead remains of a previous millennia. Or to put it another way we are digging up ancient sunlight.
The problem with Peak Oil is not that we will run out of the stuff, there is enough fossil fuel reserves to irrevocably change the climate beyond anything we can hope to survive. Peak Oil is more about the cost of things, it's the cost of energy that impacts the cost of living. If we continue to be dependent on fossil fuels we end up with massive inflation as the cost to obtain these fuels goes up due to the fact that the remaining reserves are harder/more expensive to extract.
We have already opening up and depleted the easy to get at oil fields.
So this in a way goes hand in hand with climate change and the central issue of energy, we need to transition to greener energy sources and fast. Oil will not last to the end of this century, it can't continue as a 'cheap' fuel source for more than a few more decades and even then we will be taking our economy down a set of steps or plateaus as the price of it goes up and more and more people are pushed further down the poverty ladder. Look at 2008 as the first step down the ladder.
Now if you combine this with the fact that we are willing to go to war for this depleting resource to maintain or standard of living and the future could be a dark combination of war, climate change and energy depletion. But lets not go there, I have spent far too long thinking along these lines and it would be simply stupid of us to go this route.
The Sun and the Stars
But if we don't cling to the past, if we look to the future. I believe it is bright.
If you want a dream power source, free abundant and lasts forever, look no further than the Sun.
Scientist have worked out that if we spread out solar panels over a few chunks of the Earth, quite big chunks mind you we could easily power the entire planet. And the Earth has nice big deserts that would be ideal for just such a set of power plants.
Now the next issue is resources, it's not just fossil fuel where we have depleted the easy to get at chunks, it's other metals and minerals that we need to keep our technology running.
For this you have to go a bit further afield you need to head out to the asteroid belt. Out there in space there are millions of chunks of rock and debris from the early stages of our solar systems creation, they have within them the very minerals we have to dig down into the Earth’s crust to refine. And it's just sitting there floating about doing nothing but spinning about the sun.
To get it we need to get out there and find them then mine them and get the resources back here.
We have the technology to do this we had it when we went to the moon 40 years ago.
But we built it onto single use systems, we took existing missile systems and built them up to take a few men to our nearest celestial neighbour.
We improved on that a bit with the space shuttle but we still need a re-usable system that just needs to be services and refuelled between missions. The most notable system to date is the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne, which won the Xprize a few years ago.
So I'm thinking we could have a future where we “Mine the Stars” for resources and energy.
In space there is no day/night cycle so solar panels or mirror arrays can be setup allowing us to obtain the suns energy 24/7.
Imagine a world where 100% of our energy needs are met from clean renewable sources where fossil fuels are not burned for their energy but used in production and manufacturing.
I'm an optimist so I see a future with abundant cheap, clean energy that solves our very big problems and allows us to expand into the final frontier.
A slight aside but a very important note is the emergence of the Memristor or ReRam, this technology was theorised about as the missing electrical component. And remained that until recently when a spate of technology companies have started to develop this new circuit based on scientific breakthroughs.
The amazing thing about the Memristor is it remembers it's state without needing more power to refresh it's memory. All current RAM systems need an energy supply to keep things in memory. If you turn a computer off it, forgets whatever you were doing and you lose any work.
Now imagine what it would be like using a Memristor based computer/smartphone, it would need a fraction of the energy a standard system needs and you would be able to switch it off and back on again without losing any work.
Also a Memristor is a single element within a chip, whereas RAM uses a number of elements to store a single bit, so we have the combined reduction in size and power.
Due to a Memristor being very similar to a neuron in the brain, this should also lead to some massive leaps in the development of Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence.
The end result your smart phone will get smarter and last longer on a charge and/or be lighter as it needs less energy.
But don't try and talk to your family about this, especially if you have been labelled the "Crazy Doomer", already.
01 Dec 2014 - Job Vacancy - #NVD12345-3D
Role: Pizza Delivery Rocketeer
Requirements: Must have own mobile phone/tablet (iPhone 6 or better) and Oculus Rift.
How to apply: Download the app and pass the tests to get off to a flying start.
Salary: Basic £12 per hour + Bonuses.