Don't Drink Wine
Last week, three years’ worth of rain fell on Central Greece in two days, potentially creating new permanent lakes and wiping out a lot of the country’s farm land. According to some theories, anthropogenic climate change may be partly responsible for the increase in devastating earthquakes, such as the one that just hit Morocco, killing over 2,000. While writing this, I learned about the devastating flood in Libya, with 10,000 feared dead.
A recent in-depth New York Times report focused on the rapid draining of the nation’s aquifers. “Many of the aquifers that supply 90 percent of the nation’s water systems, and which have transformed vast stretches of America into some of the world’s most bountiful farmland, are being severely depleted,” The Times notes. “These declines are threatening irreversible harm to the American economy and society as a whole.”
Among the factors driving a surge in global water consumption is our new buddy, generative AI. According to digwatch, “The cooling of data centers relies on water, and this demand has surged in tandem with the increasing popularity of generative AI.” Every question asked of ChatGPT consumes an estimated 500 milliliters of water. This is freaking out the citizens of Des Moines, Iowa, where Microsoft locates some of its water-hungry data centers.
Meanwhile, G20 leaders, meeting in New Delhi, were jazzed to announce a massive new industrial infrastructure project, an “economic corridor linking India, the Middle East and Europe via rail and sea.” This will make trade between India and Europe 40% faster. Our leaders obviously intend to keep feeding the techno-industrial-economic engine even as it renders the planet uninhabitable for future humans.
According to a new UNICEF report, basically every child on Earth is endangered by intensifying climate change — particularly a billion children living in the most threatened countries across the Global South.
I suppose many of us would agree that the world keeps getting more insane. We seem to be attaining ever-new thresholds of insanity. The world situation feels like the intensifying steam-pressure before some kind of massive eruption takes place.
I don’t understand why there isn’t a unifying social movement to confront the climate emergency at this point. But I do understand it:
Many of us know what is going on but don’t feel we can do anything useful about it.
Many of us feel it is too late and we may as well just continue our normal lives until they are permanently disrupted.
Some people don’t understand the full ramifications of what’s happening.
A few of us prepare for collapse by building off the grid communities, believing that governments and corporations will not change their policies.
Extinction Rebellion is great but too polarizing for the mainstream.
Mainstream environmental nonprofits get corrupted by the “philanthropy industrial complex.”
Many people are utterly detached and completely lost.
Islamic, Christian, and Jewish fundamentalists believe we are in the Apocalypse and await the messiah.
Billionaires think they will move to Mars and/or live forever through biotech and AI.
Many people have been deluded by conspiracy theories and multi-level propaganda disseminated by the fossil fuel companies: They still somehow believe that anthropogenic climate change isn’t happening or isn’t a big thing — despite the evidence all around us.
Many people place their hope in miraculous hyper-advanced technologies, such as nuclear fusion, that will come together to save our situation at the very last minute, as in every Hollywood film.
One friend coaches CEOs in Silicon Valley. He sent me this article about a new company, Spiritus, attempting to create “orchards” of lung-like material — artificial trees — able to absorb CO2 directly from air, more efficiently than actual trees, without requiring a lot of energy or heat:
Spiritus has built a novel approach to direct air carbon capture that relies on a material that absorbs carbon dioxide passively. Critically, Spiritus has developed a particular architecture that mimics the alveoli in the lungs in order to maximize the surface area for carbon dioxide to make contact with the material.
This lung-like material, technically called a "sorbent," will be shaped in round balls and laid out like artificial fruits in a carbon-capture orchard, CEO Charles Cadieu and CTO Matt Lee told CNBC in a phone interview on Tuesday.
If it can be scaled exponentially, they believe we could return CO2 levels to what they were in the 1990s, back when climate change was only mildly frightening and not utterly terrifying. This is hard to imagine as we put more than 40 billion tons of excess CO2 into the atmosphere every year.
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