June 12, 2023
10 min

The Renewable Energy Revolution Will Fail, Unless....

Without a rapid, collective rewiring of our behaviors and expectations as consumers, any rushed attempt at shifting our energy processes to one championed by renewables is likely to fail. This isn’t because renewables can’t eventually become a dominant and reliable energy source; they can. But rather it’s an issue of achieving and surpassing parity before it’s already way too late.

I say this with a heavy heart. I’m an idealist, down to my bones.

But barring some shock disclosure of alien tech that turns the laws of thermodynamics on its head (fingers crossed, am I right?), the math/physics of renewables vs. fossil fuels presents a sobering trajectory. Especially given the projected 12-year timeline before unstoppable eco-disasters become our reality.

Disclaimer: I am not a programmer, physicist nor am I culturally qualified to speak on behalf of indigenous values. A lot of what I espouse is an abstraction - broad-stroke conceptualizing to see where novelty may be discovered. That’s my A-zone —  meddling theorist, creative solutions evangelist, a smiley humanist with harmonic spiritual overtones, dogma-free. I walk the center path of opposing forces.

For those seeking validating data…the unfortunate truth is that myriad data sets exist that can frame any argument. Welcome to the internet. Where news and data skew to serve agendas. So it’s time to start honing our gut intellect. My appeal here is to identify and move beyond head (logical truth) and heart (emotional truth), and into the neurally-dense realm of autonomous ‘knowing’, aka —  intuition.

I’d love to take the freedom in this piece to play around with some ideas and see where they lead me this week. I’ll start concrete, and end up somewhere in outer space. As I often do.

I am always thinking about decentralization/distributed networks, and the socioeconomic opportunities that cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and the IoT present - if implemented creatively enough.  I’ve also been thinking recently about something called the seventh generation principle. Not the “green” marketing scheme of soap suds and paper towels, but a broader mode of consideration for sustainable practices. It is attributed to Native American culture, I believe the Iroquois (who also directly influenced our Constitution).

Let’s call it 7Gen. It’ll sound familiar.

The TL;DR of 7Gen is simple — to consider how all decisions you make and the actions you take will affect future generations a few hundred years down the road.

To embody this decision-making with precision, you can categorize it into four levels of impact: physical, economic, social and spiritual. All four aspects should be thoroughly reflected upon — looking at how each area will be affected by a decision, and how this impacts every other aspect. This  method of reflection would stand the best probability of creating long-lasting economic and social value, which is how Generation Seven defines the ‘double bottom line.’ Short term ROI meets Long term ROI. Both economic and social prosperity locked in harmonic cohesion, feeding back positively into one another.

The Western Dilemma

This can’t be tied down exclusively to the West anymore, but Westernization was the catalyst for rapid industrial growth. So, being in a time where our production and consumption levels are highly problematic for our ecosystem’s health and our general population’s wealth… how should we be looking at this?

Titans of Industry and skeptics of slow steady growth make some basic assumptions:

-the consequences of our actions are simply unknowable.

-because of this unknowability, we shouldn’t squander opportunities for maximizing growth in the present

-Resource-conscious living is restrictive to growth

-in order to maintain a parabolic growth trajectory, we must double down on current energy sources.

There is (and always will be) unpredictability and unknowability, but this concession to short term models strikes me as lazy thinking. Systems are both deterministic and emergent. To focus on the fact that emergent futures are unknowable is to disregard the power of probability. By focusing on deterministic first principles, we can sway the probability of mutually-desired outcomes into a much higher threshold for success (more on those first principles later). But only when we can agree on what those desired outcomes are, and decide on the most efficient way to get there.

Nature spent 500,000,000+ years building the efficiency shortcuts of our autonomic nervous system; we’re trying to streamline that same type of process in a matter of decades, while navigating a totally polarized socioeconomic culture. Yet we must.

While short-term profiteers are fixed on dismissing the unknowability of the future, short-term activists are fixed on radicalizing vulnerable data points. While well-intentioned, there is a supply of concerning math that works against the momentum of the Green Energy revolution, at least in its focus on renewables meeting demand in time. And I’m not even touching the U.S.’s Grid Infrastructure in this article. I’m also not really cracking open the food crisis, which is directly tethered to our energy problems. Rather than plowing ahead pretending like it doesn’t exist, let’s face the factual darkness together. There’s always light on the other end.

Sidenote: we should probably start agreeing on how to leverage New Nuclear Energy during our near-term energy transition. Alongside massive Carbon Sequestration innovation to compensate. And using renewables to build stronger, localized distributed network failsafes. Nuclear aversion is fear-based. I get it. My wife was a baby in Kiev when Chernobyl happened; an hour downwind. Her family’s harrowing story of escape in the days following is legit the stuff of milestone TV drama. Even so, I imagine they would agree on this point. And they lived firsthand through the worst-case scenario. But I digress.


Reality For the Profiteers

  • agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s transport combined
  • 1/4 of the earth’s arable land is no longer productive
  • 1/3 of all food produced is wasted. Nearly $200B annual loss in the U.S. alone. Trillions wasted in global capital, time and labor
  • we won’t be able to feed even our current and next generation at present conditions.

unsustainable. period.

But how to turn a profit, conserve/restore resources, and still meet exponentially growing demand?

Reality For the Activists

  • Efficiency increases energy demand by making products & services cheaper: since 1990, global energy efficiency improved 33%, the economy grew 80% and global energy use is up 40%.
  • Renewable energy would have to expand 90x to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand 10x.
  • No 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) is a max conversion of about 33% of photons into electrons; commercial cells today are at 26%.
  • No 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) is a max capture of 60% of energy in moving air; commercial turbines achieve 45%.
  • No 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500% greater than max theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals. Eek.
  • When the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to 1/3 of Europe’s per capita level, global demand rises by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.
  • The two-percentage-point decline in the hydrocarbon share of world energy use entailed over $2 trillion in cumulative global spending on alternatives over that period; solar and wind today supply less than 2% of the global energy.
  • To make enough batteries to store two day's worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).

-Manhattan Institute

So…with barely any time left to pivot our behavior and incentives, where the hell does this lead us?

My initial conclusion: we’re obviously going to have to make some near-term concessions. But we have to make them right. And we have to get radical where it counts. Timed hits, maximizing the impulse of force.

Back to Basics

  • less than 5% of the world’s population, indigenous people protect 80% of global biodiversity.

  • governments and resource-hungry corporations still see indigenous peoples as obstacles to growth. This is a terminal problem, and we must solve for it. Soon.

  • While mainstream publications, NGOs and activists now cite many imperatives to better acknowledge indigenous roles in conservation, this doesn’t provide an actionable array of solutions that can pour accelerant on the fires of sustainability (pardon the fuel pun).

  • Indigenous groups and tribal councils need to become directly integrated with governance and advisory boards of emerging tech companies in a big way.

Future Forward

We are obviously going to need to think outside the box. Way outside the box. We need to do it fast. Really fast.

Money and profit are the juggernauts of driving growth. Not enough people are going to alter their patterns of behavior dramatically enough in time to adequately prepare for catastrophic events on our horizon. Therefore we must find a way to turbocharge the current ‘game’ responsibly while building a new long-term sustainable one.

Game B, if you will. Requiring a level of creative hyper-dimensionality, and incredible levels of mental/physical/spiritual flexibility and resilience.

Leveraging Distractions for Disruption

What are some profit trends that will crest and accelerate with the 65% (population born after 1980)? The inheritors of what will be the biggest wealth transfer in the history of mankind? In addition to our energy power sources, what can we leverage to close the gap between energy and information, where the physics are seemingly irreconcilable?

Gaming. Multimedia/VR/AR. Music. Content Creation. AI/Automation. Cryptocurrencies. Digital Asset Investing. Real ESG initiatives. A cocktail of virtual actions and distractions, looking for real-world outlets to ground themselves in.

All of the leverage in our current economy revolves around derivatives, repackaged debt, essentially monopoly money…that at some point in the chain is tied back to real assets. Kind of. Sometimes. Well, that has proven very effective for growth, but it has completely run out of headroom and laid the groundwork for power consolidation, inefficiency, and corruption. So what do the next-gen derivatives look like?

Using these next-gen derivatives of real-world assets, what kinds of radical creative solutions can we invent to help protect and assist the indigenous gatekeepers to guard and responsibly outsource and distribute potential reserves of vital resources from our planet’s remaining biodiversity to avert calamity? (IoT Sensors, Agro-tech, monetizing qualities over volume/quantity etc)

How might we develop new socioeconomic incentive methods to make it undeniably profitable and easily accessible to invest in land reclamation and sustainable harvests for every citizen on the planet with a phone? (micro muni-bonds, tokenized land resources, connecting real-world stewardship with gamification, etc)

Can we leverage emerging tech to not only reward our indigenous stewards and their billions of potential shareholders, but also give their councils influence of Equity, protect them from bad actors with decentralized Global Witness surveillance of protected lands (negative public image and shame avoidance is a powerful deterrent), and provide secure digital identification?

Personally, I absolutely think so.  Looking at how much mankind has converted from potential to actual, I’m fairly convinced that we can do just about anything.

But it won’t be easy. Nothing good ever is.

And there’s a reason for this, at the foundation of everything. Our intuition trades in the currency of quantum computation and entanglement —  ultimate energy/information efficiency for a biological meat suit with only 60 watts max of electricity to spare.

Now…my intro disclaimer is about to become painfully obvious.

For the less intrepid, you could be satisfied enough to end here, reflecting on the above tech-meets-indigenous-stewardship thought experiment. There’s more than enough to think about.

But I invite you to explore this final meta-abstraction with me —  I promise I’ll tie it back to the matter at hand! Kind of. Sometimes. Apologies to any high-level physicists.

*Deep Breath* So…

There’s a “secret circle” at the center of every point in spacetime.

From these Planck-scale circles, spin particles (electrons, quarks, neutrinos..) somehow rotate 720 degrees in and out of material existence. These spinor particles sort of ‘deliver instructions’ to the force particles constrained by our perceivable 360 degrees. In a very abstract way, this represents a profound truth about our world…how a reflection, a ‘shadow image’ of one singular thing (a self-same symmetry), can somehow spur a rotational asymmetry that is responsible for every little bit of complexity within our bedrock reality.

Well, Shit. So that One-ness, the “Unity” everybody talks about may have a serious backbone, after all!

All of Life is a series of taking measurements…and the mere act of measurement (or observation) creates an ‘awareness’ of distance, however vague. We experience this as time. This awareness of distance and perception of an endpoint, a destination, creates feedback.

This feedback is a continuum; a (r)evolving door of inputs and outputs, constantly evaluating and updating itself. It is at the root of all dynamics within a system. This manifests first I suppose as polarity; arbitrarily assigned opposing charges.

Basically, the continuum facilitates a rotational self-same symmetry, a oneness, that measures itself through introducing distance and measuring the resulting reflection afforded by that magical extra 360 degrees…you could say, creating a duality(so wtf is self-same symmetry?! Watch this for a primer, or for the deep weeds listen to polymathic savant Eric Weinstein rap about 248 dimensions of the E8 lattice). By the mere act of that reflection and measurement, it creates the motion that enables polar energy, which feeds back and creates more motion, which creates more energy. On and on. Force and Spin, the two ingredients of bedrock reality, ever dancing through the fields (electromagnetic, quantum…poppy?).

<< Weinstein raps on Spinors, Gauge Symmetry & Hopf Vibrations >>

This distance-measurement-polarity and subsequent arising of awareness is at the root of human suffering, as it introduces the concept of an end, a death, an unavoidable dissolution of energy back to the continuum. The original fear. The feedback manifests as our ability to reflect on the implications of that endpoint. It also builds to a heightened awareness of “other”.

It is deterministic in protocol, yet emergent in its manifestation. Meaning that from a very basic set of fundamental ‘rules’, an emergent universe of infinite probabilities/possibilities is continually expressed. Structures are continually created, expanded, contracted and dissolved. Yet the continuum hums on.

The measurements are horizontal, vertical, and everything in-between, filling all space. Imagine an X-Y-Z planar grid with signal frequency patterns shooting off in every which direction, leading to larger XYZ grids within larger XYZ grids within...well you get it. Orderly frequency patterns create coherence and stability, while erratic frequency patterns ultimately fizzle out or crescendo in bad feedback loops (distortion) and knock down the grid, so to speak.

Fast forward to The Interconnected Universe, Fractal symmetry, Holography, the Science of Sound and Light…all that fun quantum field theory jazz that we hungrily gravitate toward in order to make sense of what seems to be a fundamental paradox. There’s a reason we yearn to understand. It’s baked into our prime directive.

This must abstract to every conceivable level of covariance. In life-death, good-evil, chaos-order, ego-id, part-whole, objective-subjective, individual-collective, hot-cold, left-right, liberal-conservative, contraction-expansion, here-there, doing-being, happiness-suffering, etc etc. All inextricably tied to the same ‘source signal’, constantly hard-forking (like a blockchain consensus! Ah snap..), creating its own ever-evolving subfields of dynamic interplay. Dynamics are all about volatility — too powerful and the dynamics will blow the house down. Too subtle and the dynamics cannot force motion, or induce distance to convert enough energy, accelerating entropy.

Equilibrium is the soil of life, and these dynamics are our Miracle-grow. But like any fertilizer, we need to check the ingredients to assure the best probability of long-term soil health.(Organic fertilizer is always the best long-term option!).

On every level, we rely on the challenges provided by instability, and on the damage done by volatile dynamics to open new paths toward a stronger organism. Like breaking down and rebuilding muscle fiber with a good workout.

I explore this weirdness here because I believe that in order to move forward into an era of ABSOLUTE interconnectivity, we need to be even more than Seven Generational in our thinking. We need to be Eight-Dimensional.

We need to be looking forward, backward, inward, outward, inversely, transversely, longitudinally. You get the point. Just as we seek to understand and integrate childhood traumas that determine the feedback patterns in which our lives manifest, we need to collectively get a grip on the first principles of our energetic origins before charging headfirst into radical solutions.

The great thing is…our intuition’s already done the hard work. It’s all there in our baseline protocol. And we are gifted/cursed with incredible levels of reflection and adaptation. We don’t need to learn quantum physics to put this to use (well, some of us do. Please. All hands on deck). Leveling up our individual and collective intuition will greatly increase the probability of a better outcome.

As a society firmly locked in the polarization of logic (head) vs. emotion (heart), imploring our councils of elders for their intuition (center) is how we will regain equilibrium and evolve.

And with the coming instability, it’s evolve or die.