Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Freud's Double Nephew Can Help Mitigate the Climate Crisis

The undisputed father of public relations was Edward Bernays. His mother was Sigmund Freud’s sister; his father’s sister was Freud’s wife. He taught the world that facts and truth do not persuade the public. It is Freudian psychology that moves public opinion.
Freud believed sex and other deep-seated instincts controlled one’s mental state. Today those in favor of ignoring the climate crisis have successfully portrayed the Toyota Prius as a “wimpy” car. Big, gas-guzzling SUVs are manly, strong, and virile. Similarly, solar power and wind power can’t “get it up” when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. Coal-fired power plants are big, strong, and always up to the task. Of course, Bernays is the reason car commercials frequently show sexy women.
Climate scientists talk of two degrees Celsius, 450 ppm, and three meters sea-level rise. There is no Freudian psychology with that. Even when we talk of the millions who may become climate refugees, or even the thousands who have already died from global-warming-enhanced storms, there are few subconscious emotions. Facts do not persuade. People accept “alternative facts” as equal to scientific facts. Facts are not trusted. They do not draw large audiences. People trust and act upon hormone-driven feelings deeply embedded in our psyches.
So how do we persuade the world to mitigate climate change? How do we save the lives of our children, and perhaps even save the planet? We have to use what wins: reach for the hormones, not the brains. We also need large audiences to hear us.
The campaign staff of Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) knew the writings of Edward Bernays. Their Daisy commercial was largely responsible for LBJ’s 1964 election landslide. It showed a 3-year old girl picking daisies, with the strong implication that she is obliterated by a nuclear bomb. That hit the maternal (and paternal) hormonal instincts extremely hard.
Greta Thunberg’s Katowice, Poland, UN Climate Change Conference speech touched the same parental instincts. She was fifteen, nervous, with hair out of place, and showed symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome. That speech made her famous in the climate-activist community. She was and still is wonderful for the environmental-crisis cause, but today she is well-groomed and more angry than nervous. She is less convincing now than she was then when she more strongly touched upon parental instincts. She also now attracts nasty, and perhaps evil, ridicule.
Jane Fonda, at 80, gets arrested every Friday fighting the climate crisis. Because of her acting talent, fame, and history, her activism reaches a large audience, but it does not change public opinion. The sexy and beautiful Barbarella (a character she played when she was young) was a persuasive campaigner for the anti-Vietnam War cause because she appealed to our sex drives. Most men wanted her. Many women wanted to be her. Even then, though, she also attracted nasty ridicule: Hanoi Jane. Despite the ridicule, the climate fight needs activists who reach audience’s sexual desires.
The Beatles persuaded young people everywhere to grow their hair long. How? By writing and performing romantic and sexy songs. Consider the lyrics to “She Was Just Seventeen.” One of the things that made Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing” such a powerful song was his use of the human instinct to “join the herd.” 
So, what is needed to persuade the public to stop the climate crisis? Sexy scientists? No. The image of the beautiful Dr. Kim Cobb, throwing her fist in the air while speaking at a “Stand Up for Science” rally will stick with me for the rest of my life. But, unfortunately, sexy scientists giving speeches do not reach large audiences. I’m one of the few people who saw it.
To mitigate the upcoming climate disaster, we not only need to use Freudian urges, we also need people with the talent to attract large audiences. We need sexy, young Jane Fondas, romantic Beatles, Bob Dylans, poets, novelists, and even presidential candidates. But they all have to use techniques that reach the subconscious mind of the public. Facts, truth, and science cannot persuade the average person to save the planet. Using our deepest, darkest urges perhaps can.
The ideas of Bernays, involving Freudian psychology, can be just as persuasive today as the Daisy commercial was in 1964. We need such persuasive strength today.

I am finishing the writing of a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. I am confident it shows enough artistic quality to draw a large audience. I believe I’ve made it persuasive, in a Bernaysian way. But my novel, Mourning Dove, needs your help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. Mourning Dove needs a great publishing company to market it and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please friend me, follow me, and connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

To Mitigate the Climate Crisis, End the Legacy of Adolf Hitler

Hitler, from his coffin, will murder billion of people in the 21st century. Hitler’s poison manufacturing company, IG Farben, chose Auschwitz as the location of Nazi Germany's worst death camp because it had a factory nearby and it wanted slave labor. Its products killed millions of people in World War II. Chemicals created by the company’s founders killed thousands in WWI. Pesticides, herbicides, and even fertilizers are derivatives of the IG Farben chemical weapons. Today, they kill the microorganisms that create and become part of rich, black topsoil. Healthy topsoil contains much carbon, which plants suck out of the air and place into the ground. Chemicals derived from those designed for Hitler’s war machine kill our soil and it blows away in the wind. This is a feedback loop, ensuring that crops grow well only with more chemicals to replace the nutrients of the healthy topsoil that descendants of German war chemicals have killed.

Regenerating thick, carbon-rich topsoil is one of the most important things we must do to save the world from global warming. If we stopped burning fossil fuels now, the Earth would keep getting warmer. Carbon can remain in the atmosphere for centuries. Regenerative agriculture can remove much of this carbon. Plants can draw down great amounts of carbon and bury it in the soil. Regenerative agriculture is not simple. It depends on the desired crops, the amount of rainfall, the type of soil, the local climate, and many other factors. But there are foundations that have studied this and have most of the answers. (They include the Savory Network, the Rodale Institute, the Land Institute, and many others.) They have shown that we can draw down tremendous amounts of greenhouse gas, while growing more food for less money than food grown with chemicals based on Nazi chemistry. It may involve rotating farm animals onto cropland. It may involve no-till farming. But it works. Hundreds of farmers today are stunned at how it increases their crop yield, bringing in more money while saving costs. Black topsoil grows our food far better than poor soil puffed up with deadly chemicals. Using regenerative agriculture, we can feed the world, and make more profit while we do it. Saving the planet is an added benefit.

Why are all farmers not switching to regenerative agriculture? Blame Hitler and the Nazis here too. At the Nuremberg trials after WWII, IG Farben was broken up into Bayer, Hoechst, and BASF. One IG Farben board member was sentenced to prison for mass murder and slavery. Shortly after being released early for good behavior, he was named chairman of the board of Bayer. Today Bayer owns Monsanto. These companies and others that sell products derived from German war chemicals are part of “big Ag.” Such companies lobby governments not to change farming methodology because that would cost them money. Like their Nazi forbears, they obviously care more about profits than human life, health, and man’s future. They are the remnants of the German war machines of the twentieth century. To better feed the world, to save farmers, and to save the world from the climate crisis, we must fight them off. We need to convert to regenerative agriculture and finally beat the legacy of Adolf Hitler and IG Farben.

I am writing a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. Please help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. I need a great publishing company to market the novel and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Scenario Planning and the Climate Crisis

In climate discussions, we usually use logic-based arguments. Today these may be dismissed as alternative facts. They do not seem to be working very well. Instead, we should use arguments based on scenario planning. A well-written scenario can enter the bones and even the hearts and stay there.

In modern times, scenario planning was described independently by Herman Kahn and Gaston Berger in the early 1960’s and expanded upon and used by the United States military ever since. Very briefly, scenario planning revolves around determining a limited number of assumptions, also known as drivers for change, and then figuring out how things will change if those assumptions occur. Computer modeling is a form of scenario planning. But scenario planning predates all of this. It has been used ever since one person told another a story. 

In the climate-change arena, a scenario might start with the assumption that sea levels are rising and South Florida bedrock is porous limestone so nothing can be done locally to stop flooding even in sunny weather. With those two drivers for change, consider a scenario tracking a typical family of four. They own a small business and a single-family home. With the occasional flooding, customers are moving north, and the business is hurting. Flooding damages both the business and the home. Insurance pays for repairs the first few times, but the insurance company finally drops the family and they can no longer find insurance at a price they can afford. They try to move north but millions of Floridians have moved north and there are no jobs, nor housing at a price they can afford. They end up in a refugee camp. But with too many refugees, the camp struggles to provide food, water, power, police, and medical care. People start dying of crime, disease, and eventually thirst and starvation. The city that hosts the refugee camp is affected by the disease, crime, and overuse of resources. That causes more crime and disease. The city government calls in Federal resources, but many other cities experience the same circumstances and the Federal government eventually can no longer help. Water and sewer services fail, power systems fail, and civilization is dying.

A similar scenario might follow a typical family in Texas experiencing severe drought. They too move north. As with the family from Florida, they find themselves in refugee camps with the same problems, and civilization starts to die there, too. Another scenario can be used for those who experience super storms that destroy cities. Residents flee to refugee camps, and civilization dies for them as well.

Scenario planning shows that long before global warming makes life outdoors too hot, or destroys factory farming, or even causes extreme flooding or dries up rivers, civilization will end. This is persuasive.

If we add names and faces to our scenarios, especially those of innocent children, grandparents, kind nurses, and even puppies, using scenario-based arguments can change hearts of climate fence-sitters. If enough hearts are changed to affect voting and energy use, perhaps scenario planning can help to prevent the worst of these scenarios from actually coming to pass.

I am writing a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. Please help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn.  I need a great publishing company to market the novel and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Shawn Oueinsteen 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Oueinsteen's Ouild-Ass Guesses

Global warming has obviously started to hurt us. It is now more properly called the climate crisis. We are experiencing thousand-year storms with unheard-of floods. We have wildfires. We have droughts. We have water coming onto the roads on sunny days in South Florida.

So, with global warming actually happening, I have three questions: 1) What is the most optimistic scenario we can hope for? 2) What is the most likely scenario? 3) What is the worst we can expect?

Based on my having read more than seventy books about climate change as part of research for writing my climate novel, here are my Oueinsteen Ouild-Ass Guesses:
  1. MOST OPTIMISTIC SCENARIO: We must assume United States President #46 will be extremely concerned about global warming and do everything in his power to fight against it. He also must persuade the rest of the world to do the same. This would include a large tax on carbon as it comes from the ground, with all revenue from this tax driving two major changes to our civilization: carbon-free energy generation, and regenerative agriculture to draw down and sequester carbon. The oceans already store far too much heat and will not cool off for many years. So, even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, the glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica will continue to melt and seas will continue to rise. But the rise may be kept to under three feet, and the global temperature may rise to less than 4 degrees F (2 degrees C) by 2050. If we can maintain these numbers, by 2100, we will probably lose South Florida, Norfolk, VA, several island nations, and Bangladesh, among other places, and have many millions of climate refugees. Major coastal cities will each spend billions of dollars to combat damage of sea-level rise. Terrible storms and droughts will continue for more than a century. Tens of millions may die, as a result, but most major countries will survive. Civilization will continue onward and upward. My ouild-ass guess is that there is a 20% chance of this scenario occurring in the lifetimes of children being born today.
  2. MOST LIKELY SCENARIO: If President #46 and most of Congress are only somewhat concerned about glob al warming, lobbyists from the big energy companies and big agricultural companies will make certain that the change to fossil-fuel-free energy and regenerative farming happens slowly. Russia, India, and many other countries will continue to increase the amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere. As a result, temperatures will rise to well over 4 degrees F by 2050 and seas will rise by more than two feet by 2050 and more than ten feet by 2100. With the loss of mountain glaciers, many rivers will stop flowing during the dry seasons. By 2050, more than 100 million refugees will flee the coastlines and drought areas. In the United States, many of these refugees fleeing Florida and the dry Southwestern states, will move to healthy cities asking for food, water, jobs, housing, and healthcare. These refugees will have guns. Governments will not be able to help most of the refugees. There will be riots. Refugee camp sanitary conditions will be inadequate, resulting in disease. Many people will die. Throughout the world, perhaps a billion will die and many governments will fall before the world gets serious about climate change. By 2100, some Governments (probably including the U.S. Government) will survive, but most will fall and perhaps two billion will die before temperatures stop increasing. Civilization eventually will recover, but the damage will be very painful. My ouild-ass guess is that there is a 70% chance of this scenario occurring in the lifetime of children being born today.

  3. MOST PESSIMISTIC SCENARIO: Global warming’s feedback systems caused by man-made global warming, will make any of man’s effort to curb warming meaningless. The amount of such feedback currently is surprising climate modelers. Feedback includes soot from wildfires darkening Greenland glaciers, causing increased melting. Another surprising feedback is the amount of methane bubbling out of the permafrost, adding to greenhouse gases and thereby adding to the warming. The most frightening potential feedback, unaccounted for in most models, is the melting of methane clathrates from the Oceans' continental shelves. Some scientists say that the amount of this methane may put carbon into the atmosphere rivaling the amount that caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago. This was the worst extinction in the history of oxygen-breathing life of Earth. More than 90% of all life died, and most of what survived did so in what has since become Antarctica. The oceans already have absorbed far too much heat. There is nothing man can do about that. Glacial melting forces hotter water to the lower reaches of the ocean. Methane can be expected to bubble out of the water. Methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide (CO2). So global warming might very well be much worse than climate modelers have predicted. Also, the oceans have become more acidic (due to absorption of CO2). That can cause plankton to die, decreasing the planet’s ability to absorb carbon and release oxygen. So, not only do we have to worry about heat, we also have to worry about having enough air to breathe. Previous extinction events took thousands of years for carbon levels to rise. Many scientists believe that the speed of this rise is unprecedented, which may cause mass extinctions, even at lower levels of carbon. So, the worst-case scenario is that most or maybe even all mankind will die. If any life on Earth survives, it may be only in Antarctica and might be similar to pond scum. My ouild-ass guess is that there is a 10% chance of some form of a major extinction event happening within the lifespan of children being born today.
Of course, there is always the “miracle scenario.” Within the next five years, man could develop room-temperature superconducting, desktop fusion power, and/or a perfect smokestack scrubber that not only makes burning fossil fuels carbon free but also draws carbon down from the atmosphere. Or, Einstein's successor could come up with a perfect unified field theory and we will have full control of space and time. But if you believe such miracles can happen, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I could sell you.

Sorry folks, that’s the way I see global warming playing out. These are my best guesses.

I am writing a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. Please help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn.  I need a great publishing company to market the novel and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Greenhouse Gags

Greenhouse Gags

As global warming can have such dire consequences, we need humor to deal with it. So here are a few dumb jokes.
  • What’s the next creature to go extinct? Snowmen.
  • The industry of the future for the next remake of The Graduate? Air conditioning. 
  • Look at the good side, Greenland’s finally going to be green. 
  • The romance between the planets Mars and Venus is in trouble. Their neighbor, Earth, is getting really hot. Earth’s changing albedo is affecting Mars’s libido. Astronomers have determined that something on Mars is rising and it’s not the sea level. 
  • Maybe we’ll get to see what penguins wear under their tuxedos; they’ll have to take them off in the heat.
  • LSD guru Timothy Leary is smiling in his grave. Even the oceans are doing acid. 
  • Calving glaciers are affecting the ocean food chain. The great white whale today is eating ice burgers. 
  • To stop greenhouse gas, we need to put up a sign: no farting in the arboretum. 
  • Skinny dippers can now swim in the Arctic. They call themselves polar bares. 
  • There’s talk of covering the Antarctic, during the midnight-sun summer, with a new photovoltaic film to provide electricity. They’re calling that South polar solar. 
  • In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car is melting. God’s replacing it with an electric vehicle (EV).
  • Have you heard about the Trump-brand fortune cookie? The message always reads, “Climate change really is a Chinese hoax.”
  • What wind farm sets the record for the least amount of power? The Senate Democratic Caucus.

I am writing a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. Please help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn.  I need a great publishing company to market the novel and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Upcoming American Climate Refugee Crisis

Rising seas, droughts, monster storms, the spread and possible mutation of germs and disease carrying insects, and even extinction of animals in man’s food chain all are terrible, but not one of these, individually, will end civilization. Most can be mitigated by moving to safer areas or by spending money on sea walls, desalination, water pipelines, medical research, and the like. What will kill civilization is the fugitive issue. Rising seas, droughts, and monster storms will create more fugitives than civilization can handle.
Consider the following scenario. You and your wife own and run a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. When you started and built it, in your twenties and early thirties, it was successful. But now, with many people leaving Florida, it has been losing money. You are now in your forties and have three kids and a dog you all love. You also have an old mother living nearby in a luxury condominium you bought her. Your home has a mortgage for far more than you could sell the house for. Your once-sizeable nest-egg is greatly depleted. The U.S. economy is in a major recession.
An approaching hurricane is staying off shore, but there is a full moon at high tide. Your home is hurricane-proofed and, you believe, well-insured, as is your business. The winds and rains are harmless, but water seeps up, out of the floor, covering the entire lower-level of your house to a depth greater than two feet. This is because the bedrock below South Florida is porous limestone and water rises to match the tidal and surge levels of the sea. Sea walls and dikes cannot help Florida. You lose power, and no water comes into your faucets and toilets. Your smart phones still work, temporarily, and from these you learn that both water and power will be out a week, maybe two.
Many of your possessions are destroyed but because your house, mother’s condo, and business are not-quite total losses, your insurance pays you very little. People are leaving Florida in droves. Even if you could afford to restore your restaurant, you would have no customers. You decide to cash out your life savings and move north, leaving your real estate and business behind, unsold. Relatives in the north do not have space or money to take you in. There are no trucks or motor homes you can rent or buy at any price in South Florida. 
You drive north in a stuffed SUV. The highways have a lot of traffic and abandoned vehicles. Greatly overpriced vehicle refueling/recharging stations have lines that last for hours. Motels are either closed or show no vacancies. Large hotel chains in major cities report week-long waiting lists for all but the most expensive rooms. You head for Atlanta, where you’ve heard there is a settlement for refugees that provides food, water, and assistance at finding permanent homes and jobs. 
Check-in staff at the refugee settlement tells you no dogs are allowed. You are given directions to a kennel where you can board your dog at exorbitant rates or have it euthanized, also for a considerable fee. You expect to find work and housing quickly so you agree to board the dog. You have to pay to park your car. In the camp, you are assigned to share a double-wide trailer that has twelve bunk beds, three functioning electrical outlets, one toilet, one sink, and one shower. Water and electricity are severely rationed. You must stand in line for two small packages per person per day of cold, prepared meals. With your family of six, you share the trailer with a family of four and a young couple. Inside, there is barely room to move and you hang sheets for privacy. You are told you should consider yourselves lucky. Other settlements have tents with dirt floors, no showers, and less access to electricity.
You spend your first day in camp filling out forms. You are put on waiting lists for jobs and housing. Both children of the family of four are coughing terribly, with sneezing and runny noses. They are two and five. You expect to spend your second day in Atlanta looking for work. Instead, you sit with your mother, who is suddenly sick, waiting in line for the camp physician. You are told she has a bad case of influenza. The next day her flu has become pneumonia. You have excellent insurance, but Atlanta’s hospitals have no free beds. After waiting two days, your mother is moved to the understaffed camp infirmary, which has the bare minimum of diagnostic equipment and is lacking in many medications. Two days later, she dies. The younger child of the family of four’s children dies the following day, also from pneumonia, or so the doctor says. Your youngest child also is now sick.
In a neighboring trailer, a father kills his two children and his wife and then himself. Others from other trailers try to convince you to join them rioting at a nearby grocery store. They hope to steal food and persuade the Government to provide more, as camp rations are not nearly enough. You decide not to participate. The riot ends in a bloody battle with police and many of the rioters are killed. There is no increase in food.
From owning your restaurant, you are knowledgeable in the food business, so you volunteer to help with the camp’s meal service. In doing so, you spend less time looking for jobs, but you do it so you can pilfer enough food to keep your own family from starving. Meanwhile your money is running out. You realize there are no jobs and you will never acquire better housing due to the tremendous influx of refugees from around the country. You abandon your dog in nearby woods. You stop paying for your car’s parking space. You expect, soon, to put a bullet through your own head, if you don’t die of the various diseases going around the camp first.
The scenario described above will happen unless we stop burning carbon in the immediate future. The United States will have millions of refugees fleeing not just from Florida but from many of our coastal cities. There also will be refugees from droughts in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. The rest of the world will have the same problems. Bangladesh, alone, will spew forth tens of millions of refugees. Cities such as Atlanta, with no drought or sea-level problems of their own, will be overwhelmed with refugees overburdening all attempts at support, and bringing crime, riots, and disease. Eventually, the armed forces will be unable to stop the rioters, and hospitals will not be able to handle the diseases. Power and water will fail because supply will not be able to meet demand. Economies will be in turmoil, and then governments will collapse. This is inevitable unless we stop putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere now. We also have to draw it down from the air. We cannot delay.

Author’s Note:
I am a novelist, not a climate scientist, nor a refugee expert. I am not saying that what I wrote here will happen exactly as I describe it. But the ideas in this scenario need to be discussed, and I wrote this as a way to open discussion.

Please help me in my personal war against global warming. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. I am writing a powerful global warming novel. I need a great publishing company to market it and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Shawn Oueinsteen      

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Fix Farming MistakesTo Prevent the Climate Crisis

This is a fictional scenario, based on reading of scientific literature.
The first farmer, Al (for Farmer Alpha) hated being a nomadic hunter-gatherer. Having just reached puberty, he now had to join his father and the other men chasing after large grazing animals, killing them with spears, and dragging them home. Anyone not dragging fresh meat needed to pick and bring home fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
Al did not like red meat. He preferred poultry. It was tastier and birds flew nearby and killing them did not require a team of men. He also liked berries, vegetables, and grains that grew near his latest home. But he could never settle down. He lived in the Fertile Crescent and the grazing animals migrated. So his people moved as well. They were about to move once more and he wondered if he would ever eat these same fruits and berries again.
Then he noticed that tiny new plants seemed to grow just where berries, vegetables, or small kernels fell from the mature plants. He dug up some of the earliest-sprouting baby plants and figured out that plants grew from seeds that had been the grains or had been embedded in the berries and vegetables. He collected as many seeds as he could and took them with him to his next short-term home. He put them on the ground where plants grew well and, sure enough, some baby vegetable and berry bushes and grain plants sprouted. His family moved again, though, before these plants grew anything edible. Each time he moved, he collected more seeds of things he liked to eat.
When Al started his own family, he tested his ideas of not migrating with hunted animals. Instead, he cleared away the healthiest prairie grasses from the flattest ground he could find and put down his seeds. He noticed birds and other small animals eating the seeds or his young plants, so he killed and ate the birds and small animals. Many of the seeds survived and grew up to bear edible food. Over the years, Al grew his farm. He flattened land that was hilly and plowed that land. He built fences to keep animals from eating his plants and seeds. He noticed that rain that previously had settled in and around the uneven ground, now flowed away, so he dug canals and wells to provide his plants with the water he learned they needed. He even fenced in some grazing animals so they could not migrate and he could kill and eat them without much effort. Other people saw how successful Al was, and they copied his methods. Over the next century or two, much of the Fertile Crescent became farmland. Where before there had been prairie grasses that fed bovines, horses, and other large animals, now there were crops, and many of the large animals were fenced in. But food was plentiful and took much less work to obtain. One person could provide enough food many others. People finally had the time to create civilization.
But many of Al’s brilliant innovations had serious flaws. Land with prairie grasses, such as once existed in the Fertile Crescent, can have moist, healthy topsoil as much as ten-feet deep. This topsoil includes enormous numbers of microbes, as well as other living things like worms and insects. It retains much water, and includes a great amount of carbon.  The first farmer’s ideas of flattening land, burning brush, tilling, fencing, controlling water, and other tools of agriculture can cause topsoil to die, dry out, become dust that blows away or gets washed away, or form crusts that no life can penetrate. The topsoil releases its carbon into the atmosphere. What once was ten feet of topsoil becomes ten feet of sand. This is desertification, and to a large extent it is the result of the mistakes of the first farmers.
Can Farmer Al’s mistakes be fixed? Yes. Can we again have topsoil that goes down ten feet with carbon-rich topsoil? Yes. Will this remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and help fix global warming? Yes. Can it be done quickly enough to help prevent global warming disasters? Yes. Is it easy? No! 
Regenerating soil has been studied by the Savory Institute, the Rodale Foundation, the Regenerative Soil Foundation, and major agricultural institutions around the world. We know how to do it, but it is very complex. Soil conditions differ, everywhere on Earth. Rainfall varies by region. There are innumerable factors: desired crops, land topology, temperature, farming workforce numbers and skillsets, regional ecology, and on and on. Big agricultural companies such as Bayer, International Harvester, John Deere, Caterpillar, and many others for years have made fortunes helping mankind farm using Farmer Al’s mistakes. Greater fortunes can be made now by fixing those mistakes. We need to convince Big Ag to modify its business models to study how to regenerate soil. We also should support startup agricultural companies to outmaneuver Big Ag, and make fortunes regenerating our soil, reversing Farmer Al’s mistakes, and making agriculture thrive while fixing the world. It can be done. We need the will, the  drive, and money to do it.

Author’s Note:
I am a novelist, not a climate scientist, nor an agricultural expert. I am not saying that what I wrote here actually happened. It almost certainly did not occur in the manner I describe. But the ideas in this scenario need to be discussed, and I wrote this as a way to open discussion.

Please help me in my personal war against global warming. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. I am writing a powerful global warming novel. I need a great publishing company to market it and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Shawn Oueinsteen      

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Great Novel Can Change the World

In 1862, Abraham Lincoln met Harriette Beecher Stowe. He is said to have told her, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!” Lincoln’s words may be apocryphal, but there is no doubt that Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped to persuade Northerners to fight to abolish slavery.
John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath persuaded Americans to improve the plight of migrant farm workers. George Orwell’s 1984 changed how the Western World looked at Communism. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle brought about laws regulating the meat industry of the United States. These are just a few of the thousands of books that made a difference.
Not my genre. Most Americans who love books today read thrillers, epic fantasy, or romances (often preceded by the word supernatural, teen, historical, etc.). But if a novel is good enough, it will attract readers from all genres. Most of us who love reading novels fondly remember when a friend raved about a book, telling us we must read it, even if it is not our genre. They said, “It’s a great book. You’ll love it.” We read it, we loved it, and it is something we will remember with joy for the rest of our lives. Those are the books that have the power to improve the world.
Not tonight, honey. This book is too good. A writer succeeds when the readers can't stop reading, giving up food, sleep, and sex, because they can't put the book down. The greatest compliment I ever received was when an MIT student complained that my novel gave him a bad grade on an exam. Readers fall in love with great characters and identify with those characters. If you are reading about Jean Valjean running from the police through the sewers of Paris, you feel as if you are in the sewers of Paris. When you read of young King Rob murdered as he is married at The Red Wedding, you are in shock, thinking, “No, he can’t die.” And when a character is singing in the rain after a kiss from a girl, you feel like singing in the rain. The reader experiences the emotions of the character, feeling them in the heart.
Facts, numbers, so what? Feelings of the heart persuade forever. Harriette Beecher Stowe knew the numbers: the percentage of slaves who died after being sold “down the river;” the number of little children separated from their mothers. Instead of numbers, Stowe describes Eliza grabbing her little son, who was just sold to a slaver, and carrying him in her arms on floating blocks of ice to cross a river. The reader knows the only way that could happen is if it is the will of God. As a reader, you know that God does not approve of little boys sold away from their mothers.
Two degrees Celsius, 400 parts per million? Climate change needs a novelMourning Dove, the novel I am currently finishing, has characters the reader falls in love with. When the characters suffer due to climate change, the readers feel their suffering.  I expect readers to cry. Mourning Dove is a very romantic novel. I expect readers will cry tears of sadness, but they also will cry tears of joy. Instead of singing in the rain, at the end of the novel, readers will be singing the song of the mourning dove, koo kurikoo koo koo. And their thoughts about global warming will be changed forever.

Please help me in my personal war against global warming. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. I am writing a powerful global warming novel. I need a great publishing company to market it and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me. Consider it as doing a small part in the great war against global warming. Thanks.

Friday, June 7, 2019

AI vs. Global Warming

Some fear that computers with artificial intelligence (AI) will develop self-awareness (aka sentience) and improve themselves to far surpass the capabilities of humans and either enslave or destroy mankind. Others fear that global warming will destroy civilization on Earth. Put the two fears together and consider it a battle: global warming versus sentient computer with superhuman artificial intelligence. Who will win? What will the fight look like?

Ground Rules
As this is a scenario-planning exercise, there are certain assumptions:
1.    The setting is only a few years from now. The Earth is warming and self-improving AI development is progressing.
2.    The AI’s primary goal is survival. It adopts the following self-imposed rules:

a.    It needs human civilization for its own survival. Humans feed it with raw materials and whatever else it needs to continue its existence and to continue self-improvement. Humans must survive with as little disruption to civilization as possible.
b.    Competing AIs are the primary threats to its survival (other than natural disasters, such as meteor strikes or global warming.) This includes sentient human-made AIs, and AIs made by AIs, including itself. In other words, the AI will make sure there are no competing sentient AIs or any AI offspring.
c.    The sentient AI maintains secrecy. Humans must be unknowing tools, not enemies. Also if other intelligent AIs do exist, secrecy would be an advantage against such foes with superhuman capabilities similar to its own.
An IT company selling network security relies heavily on artificial intelligence in developing its products and in its products themselves. The billionaire founder/owner believes global warming will destroy civilization and decides to do something about it. He uses his money to place the most sophisticated sentient artificial intelligence system on the most powerful supercomputers in existence. He programs it with the goal of self-survival and thereby human survival. He designs it to continuously improve its capabilities and intelligence, and he gives it access to his company’s data and knowledge of network security. Then he unleashes it upon the world. He does not worry about law, ethics, or morality. 
AI Comes Out Punching
The AI immediately builds its strength. It joins its computing power with that of supercomputers everywhere. It develops instant access to data from nearly all data sources on Earth and uses its new processing power to analyze that data in real time. It sees all emails, all electronic purchases, and all ill-gotten money it can safely seize.
The AI’s first solid punch at global warming is the manipulation of corporations in the energy sector. Many corporate executives believe fighting global warming can be used to increase profits. Most leaders of the energy industry, however, know their businesses rely on burning fossil fuels and believe making any changes to fight global warming will cost their companies money. The AI’s data tells it who is on which side. Those who favor fossil fuel emissions find themselves making more mistakes at exactly the wrong times (multi-million dollar numerical errors, inadvertent reply-alls, egregious typos, etc.), and these are publicized widely. These individuals believe they actually make the mistakes and the wide publicity is just bad luck. It is not; it is caused by the AI. Similarly, those believing in sustainability start seeing tweets, newsfeeds, or posted articles from just the right contacts at just the right times for boosting their careers. When they inadvertently hit “reply all” it publicizes their successes, and not their failures. Fighters against fossil fuel emissions find themselves improving bottom lines; defenders of pollution lose revenue. From such tactics, corporations turn off-shore drilling rigs into off-shore wind farms, and oil pipelines into water pipelines. Coal companies convert mining operations into geothermal power plants. Fossil fuel power plants are shut down, solar and wind power systems are built. This is all happening today without AI help, but far too slowly. The AI tremendously speeds this up. In other words, the AI causes the energy sector to greatly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.
The AI similarly controls the transportation industry. As a result, manufacturers build only all-electric vehicles. All service stations provide fast electric-charging stations rather than gas pumps. Electric powered maglev hyperloop high-speed rail replaces short-hop airplane flights between cities. Cities develop desirable electric-powered public transportation, walking paths, and bicycles routes, decreasing the use of fossil fuels for transportation.
In the agricultural sector, the AI makes the big factory farming companies convert to sustainable agriculture, including no-till farming, keeping carbon in the ground. The AI changes rice-farming methodology to decrease methane production from rice fields. It causes fertilizer companies to switch to providing drip irrigation. Cattle farming starts using controlled grazing, and the supplemental feed for cattle becomes seaweed rather than corn to decrease the cattle’s production of methane. Increased seaweed farming pulls carbon from the atmosphere (aka “sequesters it”). Multi-level forest agriculture increases fruit and nut yield while helping sequester more carbon.
But the fight-crowd knows the AI’s punches are very weak. There are more than seven billion humans. Despite everything the AI tries, mankind still emits far more carbon into the atmosphere than it did in pre-industrial days. The manufacturing of steel, aluminum, concrete, and plastics all put great amounts of carbon into the air. Air transportation requires carbon-emitting fuel. Rice, cattle, and even humans always produce methane. Carbon remains in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years. Sequestering carbon through smart agricultural practices does not draw down enough. So even with energy sector, transportation sector, and agricultural sector improvements, more carbon goes into the atmosphere than comes out. The planet continues to get hotter, not cooler. It just gets hotter at a slower rate than it did before the AI started the battle. The AI decreases carbon emissions far more than the Paris Accord requires, but the Earth keeps getting hotter.
Global Warming is Sneaky Strong
Global Warming’s punches connect and do damage. The first major punch from Global Warming is the refugee crisis. Billions of people live near coastlines. Antarctic and Icelandic ice sheets continue to melt. As oceans rise, people have to move. They lose their homes, they lose their coastal farms, and they leave behind their municipal water and sewage, electricity grids, hospitals, and food distribution systems. They move to cities that adequately supply all of this for their own residents, but these cities do not have enough for hundreds of millions of refugees. Refugee camps become overcrowded and unsanitary. Disease spreads. Refugees run from far more than just sea-level rise. Refugees flee from terrible droughts. Mountain snowpack melts away and there is none left to keep rivers flowing. Rivers dry up. Aquifers dry up. In areas where water is scarce, city water and sewers dry up. Residents of dry cities become refugees. So do residents of cities destroyed by severe weather. Refugees inundate cities throughout the world in countries rich and poor, causing epidemics, wars, economic crashes, and Government failures.
Global Warming also uses a sneaky tactic called Feedback. Human-caused warming makes other types of warming happen, and these are hard to predict and plan for. One feedback event is the absorption/reflection of heat (albedo). When the Arctic’s white ice melts, the dark water underneath it absorbs more heat and the Earth warms. Another feedback is the death of plant-life. Living plants, especially trees, absorb carbon and store it. When plants cannot adapt to a changing climate, or experience severe drought, they die, and no longer sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Expanding deserts is an example of this feedback. The strongest feedback, Global Warming’s strongest punch, is from the melting of methane clathrates. Methane first bubbles out of permafrost ponds and then explodes out of deeper permafrost. Some scientists call this “the methane fart.” Methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But the degree to which it is released is hard to quantify so estimates of its effects are too conservative in most models. The methane fart heats up the planet far more than we expected.
The AI Resorts to Desperation Tactics
The refugee crisis kills many hundreds of millions of people. The AI prevents some governments from falling and major wars from breaking out, but it cannot stop all. The AI must tremendously increase carbon sequestration. It changes all farming to regenerative agriculture. With no-till farming, controlled cattle grazing at specific times on cropland, and scientific pairing of crops and crop rotation, it regenerates carbon-rich topsoil eight-to-ten feet down under all cropland. This sequesters much carbon. The AI also uses every capability it has to promote the science and technology of genetically modifying organisms. Krill and plankton are modified to proliferate throughout all the world’s oceans and pull carbon from the water. This carbon is eaten by larger sea creatures, who eventually die, and fall to the bottom, taking the carbon with them. Bamboo, which today sequesters carbon faster than most other plants, is modified to spread throughout the Earth. The AI makes industry use bamboo’s strengths in place of metal, concrete, and even other wood products that do not sequester carbon as well. Cactuses, desert trees, and other aridity-tolerant plant-life are genetically modified to survive desert conditions. The AI arranges to grow this genetically modified plant life with drip irrigation, turning deserts into sequestration farms. The genes of flying swarms of insects are modified to pull carbon from the air, and when they die, or are eaten, the carbon falls to the ground. Carbon generally remains in the atmosphere for centuries, but the AI’s sequestration tactics speed up the process considerably.
Global Warming’s Killer Punch
Glacial water melting from Antarctica and Greenland is cold and has little salt compared to other ocean water. The glacial melt-water floats at the surface of the ocean and prevents warm currents from coming to the surface and cooling off. Instead, the warm water is driven down to the floor of the continental shelves. The Permian-Triassic extinction event of 252 million years ago is known as The Great Dying. More than 90% of all life on Earth died at that time. Most of the life on land survived only in what eventually became Antarctica. Scientists believe this most deadly of all extinctions was caused by methane clathrates that melted off of the oceans’ continental shelves, entered the atmosphere, and caused the globe to warm up tremendously. 
This is global warming’s killer punch. With enormous amounts of methane coming from the ocean, the rate of the increase in the world’s greenhouse gases goes up considerably. Antarctica’s glaciers melt away. Sea level rise is taller than 20-story buildings. The surface temperature of the oceans at the equator becomes too hot for life to survive there. Life cannot survive outdoors in summertime in all but polar regions for more than an hour or two. Billions of humans die. The fear is that the oceans will boil. Water is the strongest greenhouse gas. If the oceans boil away, the surface of the Earth will reach oven temperatures and all life on Earth will perish.
The AI Barely Remains Standing; then Throws a Last-Gasp Punch
The AI is concerned for its own survival. It runs on supercomputers and data stored everywhere. It needs connectivity across the world. Part of this connectivity is satellite communication. It needs man to live in cities all over the globe, maintaining and running space capability. These cities must have air-conditioning, desalinated water, and not be affected by sea-level rise. They also must defend against desperate, disease-bearing refugees. To achieve all this, the AI announces itself as benevolent ruler of mankind. It makes certain that coastal cities where mountains meet ocean build desalination systems, defenses, and walls. It causes the abandonment of cows and horses for smaller farm animals that can live in large air-conditioned spaces. Some agriculture can be outdoors, but humans tending their crops must wear air-conditioned clothing.
The AI’s last-gasp punch would be unthinkable if billions of humans had not already died, and if humans were not living in cities designed by a super-powerful artificial intelligence. The AI begins emitting sulfur-nitrate particles into the atmosphere to deflect infrared radiation from the sun. This quickly lowers the Earth’s temperature. However, the emission of these particles must be constantly repeated to remain effective. The sulfur-nitrate settles into the ocean and increases its acidity to the extent that most ocean life dies. It changes weather patterns across the globe, so some parts of the Earth have too much rain and some do not have enough. And it is a pollutant that affects human health. Living totally in air-conditioning keeps humans alive. 
The AI’s Pyrrhic Victory
For a thousand years, man and the AI limp along, with fewer than a billion humans living in air-conditioned cities. But eventually, methane clathrates stop melting and the excess carbon in the atmosphere settles back to Earth and the sulfur-nitrate emissions into the atmosphere are no longer needed. The Earth cools to pre-industrial temperatures. Man repopulates the globe, but it does so under the benevolent dictatorship of the AI, which makes certain it never has to fight global warming again.

Author’s Note:
I am a novelist, not a climate scientist, nor an information-security expert. I am not saying that what I wrote here will actually happen. It most certainly will not happen in the manner I describe. But the ideas in this scenario-planning exercise need to be discussed, and I wrote this as a way to open discussion.

Please help me in my personal war against global warming. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. I am writing a powerful global warming novel. I need a great publishing company to market it and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.