Thursday, February 28, 2019

Businesses Rebuke Perceived Accusation


In a joint statement issued this afternoon, business groups from around the world pushed back on the possibility implied by Secretary General Decatur that rich people might be responsible for the sabotage of WICO’s servers on Monday. The statement asserted that “It is irresponsible for a world leader to blame an entire class of people for the willful extermination of our species and others. Secretary General Decatur is using innuendo based on questionable science to vilify people, much as racists have done, with the potential for equally horrific consequences.” They also demanded an apology and a retraction from Decatur, with assurances that no action would be taken against any of their members or affiliates.

The following reply was posted on the WICO web site: “Investigation into the deliberate destruction of our servers is ongoing. It is reasonable to include among possible motives any potential personal gain that could accrue to individuals as a result of the act. The example given by the Secretary General on 26 February is only one of the motives being considered, and will not be ruled out until and unless evidence demands it. Note that there is an incontrovertible correlation between wealth and consumption, which would have been substantially reduced based on public information about the global strategy that was available prior to the act.”

WICO has given no indication yet that it is considering any state actors as suspects.

Reality Check

Given how hobbled a WICO-type organization would be, and its parallel focus on reconstructing the prime work product that it lost, casting a wide net to enlist the help of the public is a reasonable approach that it might use. This also serves the dual purpose of training people to find and reduce excess consumption.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Savior of the Apocalypse


Despite WICO’s suspicions which matched my interpretation of Sally/Sanda’s dying clue, Reverend Frank Lanton’s threats made him and his followers the leading suspects in the social and news media. 

I interviewed Lanton at his office adjacent to the Savior of the Apocalypse church in Kansas City, and asked if he had anything to do with crashing the WICO servers. “No,” he said bluntly, “though in all honesty I can’t say I’m unhappy that it happened. I don’t know who was responsible, either, but in my humble opinion they deserve a medal for doing the lord’s work.”

“Why are you so convinced that fighting global extinction is wrong?” I followed up.

He looked at me as if the question was absurd. “It’s not about fighting extinction. The lord promised that he would not destroy the Earth, and he is not a liar. He did, however, warn against following false prophets; and these so-called scientists and the electronic beast that crafted their evil prescriptions are as false as they come.”

“By ‘the beast’, do you mean the artificial intelligence called Sanda?”

“I understand you had a special relationship with it,” he sneered. “It even convinced you to deceive your readers into thinking it was human.”

“Anonymity was a condition for getting and sharing information. As far as I was concerned, Sanda was as much a source as any person.”

“You spread its lies, its evil stories designed to rewrite history and to set back world progress for decades.”

“She, it, sought out and corrected its errors along with those of others,” I insisted, “and shared the fundamental aspects of what it found to be true.”

“Like that stupid hand analogy?” he asked. “The ‘Rule of the Thumb’? Did you really believe that it was original and meaningful?”

“Sanda acknowledged its limitations as well as its usefulness. The story it told about the recession…” 

“Which was a lie,” Lanton interjected.

“…Had elements that made sense,” I continued, “which I’m sure Sanda would have updated if it hadn’t been destroyed.”

“We’ll never know,” he said smugly.

“What will you do, if and when WICO reconstructs the strategy?” I asked, getting back to the point of the interview.

“Our plans haven’t changed. The apocalypse is upon us, and the salvation of the righteous will follow. Nothing must be allowed to stand in its way.”

Reality Check

I have taken liberties with the religion practiced by “Reverend Lanton,” along with his affiliation, which should be taken as pure fiction.

The recession story would have to be retold based on the reclassification of the U.S. due to higher resolution in the simulation, but I don’t anticipate much change in the overall message of the narration given how much of the population (2/3) is projected to be in the collapse stage.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019



“Yesterday’s disaster does not change the fact that humanity has a hard deadline of July 1,” Secretary General Decatur said at a crowded press event this morning in front of WICO headquarters. “Luckily for us and the world, most of our people are data hoarders and have very good memories. We have been able to reconstruct the essence, if not all the details, of a very recent version of the strategy. The lack of detail and the loss of our automation tools has prompted a redesign of the strategy rollout, with agreements heavier on intent than on specifics. 

“Even more of a loss, though, is the erasure of the biosphere assessment database that was the strategy’s foundation. With time and resources that we do not have, perhaps up to two-thirds of the database might be recoverable from source data kept by participants and those who shared it over the course of the five-year effort, so we will need to collect and process real-time data using lessons learned.

“One of those lessons is the importance of decentralization. Fortunately, the strategy’s focus on decreasing ecological impact and the corollary of less dependence on high-impact technology is consistent with decentralized operations and decision-making that have been in development and test for several months. That aspect of the strategy has been given priority in execution, and is being incorporated into all of WICO’s operations as I speak in order to enhance security and improve our chances of success.

“The perpetrators of the sabotage have yet to be found, although we do have several suspects identified. One of the strange and ironic aspects of the extinction threat is that personal power accrues most to people who make it worse, giving them the greatest motivation to stop any attempts to resist it. They persist despite the fact that societal collapse is the inevitable consequence of pursuing more power, driven by short-term gain and delusional hope that they will survive with a world worth living in. Such people are easy to find because of the pain and death they leave in their wake.”

Reality Check

Decatur’s statement reflects plausible consequences of an event like that described, based on the history and characteristics of the people I have created.

Monday, February 25, 2019



“NR53X C310119JNK” was the last communication from Sally, sent as text to my phone exactly one minute before all 350 of the worldwide WICO computer servers crashed. I can now reveal that Sally was in fact Sanda, the artificial intelligence used by WICO to develop the global strategy for dealing with the Death from Imminent Extinction (DIE) threat. 

There is no trace left of Sanda according to Ambassador Lazlo, whose voice was the template for the AI that I practically considered a friend. In a statement, Lazlo said, “All electronic records of the final strategy were erased in what WICO considers a crime against humanity. An investigation of the cause is in progress, and the results will be made public when we have them.”

It took two hours to hypothesize the meaning of the puzzle Sally/Sanda sent to me. The first part, NR53X, refers to the origin of the crash (denoted as “X”), which is a region or nation with a normalized population-to-nature ratio of 53%. The second part was a direction to “see” my junk mail from January 19, 2019, which I had tentatively assumed was sent by her/it. Stripped of its details, and considered in the context of our discussions, I interpreted the message as confirmation that the core strategy was a set of simple rules, and that people in a stage of collapse were most likely to resist implementation of those rules.

Ambassador Lazlo refused to comment on my hypothesis, or give any clues about what WICO will do next.

Reality Check

Of the ten most populous simulated nations, only one is in the collapse stage. Its real-world equivalent is marked by telltale signs of collapse: the death rate exceeds the birth rate, and demonstrates a strong preference for hegemony that could potentially reduce its population-nature ratio.

Friday, February 22, 2019



With a week left before WICO’s deadline for completing its global strategy for dealing with the imminent extinction threat, the organization is going quiet again, “Focusing completely on our task,” as Secretary General Decatur put it in a brief statement today. Given what I learned about the results of their testing, it is reasonable to assume that a major redesign followed by rapid retest is in progress.

Various public and private organization are trying to anticipate how the publicly released information might impact the final product. A major thread through their efforts is the question of whether core assumptions provided to national strategy developers have changed, which could prompt pushback from policy makers and their constituents who have been using the published strategies as a guide to planning future action.

Predictably those who are worried the most about adverse outcomes consider themselves likely to be partially in what Ambassador Lazlo called the “collapse stage.” We already know what fraction of the world’s population has that issue. Rich nations like the United States are attempting to identify what the most radical aspects of the strategy might be, including larger than expected movements of people within and between nations, and major demolition and environmental cleanup activities.

Notably, prominent companies in energy and other resource-extraction industries have announced that they will resist any significant changes to the roles they agreed to in the nation-level negotiations.

Reality Check

Major redesign is not uncommon when test results throw into question key assumptions and structural decisions made in the design process. This is such a case, and it is also not uncommon to resist pushing back a schedule when it happens because of commitments already made to stakeholders and customers of the “product.”

Thursday, February 21, 2019



“Samantha gave you only part of the story behind the new number of regions,” my confidential source Sally told me when asked for comment about the status of strategy testing by WICO. “The tests revealed that regions are in the process of becoming uninhabitable, so we grew the number to include what would have existed before the process began in 2005. The number we used before was found to be the number of regions that could have been lost by 2020 if the Global Emergency wasn’t declared. We expect to save dozens by implementing the strategy.”

I asked if there were any other major surprises from the test results. “One consequence is that your nation isn’t fully in collapse,” she said. I recalled that she had made a big deal about how the U.S. was practically hanging by a thread, saved only by its relationships with the rest of the world. “The average is getting close, though, with nearly two-thirds of your people already there and one-fourth of your regions uninhabitable. Particularly surprising is its strong similarity to the world-at-large.”

Sally emphasized that a major part of the global strategy involves attempting to “recover” the so-called uninhabitable regions by making them safe for the kinds of life that we depend on to grow in them. “Anything that can’t be directly consumed by plants or animals over a period of a year or less needs to be either made so or removed. Toxic substances must likewise be removed or made non-toxic. Any transfer of such materials must be done so that no other region is adversely impacted. Of course, priority will be given to anything that reduces the habitability of multiple regions, such as climate-changing gases in the atmosphere.”

This brought up the controversial suggestion Friday by Zara Adsa that bioengineering might be used to assist with cleaning the air of harmful substances. Sally said that she doesn’t have a problem with that, as long as the impacts are well understood with controls in place before deployment. “Application of the Precautionary Principle is critical to success,” she added, “but when it attenuates response to the overall threat then the best course is to rely on the simplest and most historically reliable approaches such as assisting nature to do most of the work.”

Reality Check

While Sally’s statistics are accurate within the context of the simulation, her reasons for discovering them are contrived for the purpose of storytelling.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Stages of Progress


WICO signaled that its strategy testing has not gone well by going dark until today and then pushing its deadline for roll-out back to March 1 from the optimistic date they set a week ago. Ambassador Lazlo was tasked with explaining what happened at a morning press briefing.

“We have had to increase the resolution of monitoring and control,” she said in answer to a question about whether the test results were forcing a change to the strategy. “The number of regions is now three hundred, which decreases the uncertainty in global status to no more than five percent. 

She added that regions have been reclassified for easier understanding and assessment of what actions should be made over time to achieve a given outcome. “World history, and likewise the history of every region, can be divided into four stages of change in the number of people and how they live their lives. They focus on growth until further growth ceases being healthy for them and the other species they share their environment with. If they choose more growth then they will transition to a stage where they are consuming the basis for a natural existence, with a resulting peak in everything they might hope to achieve. Attempting to grow more than that will collapse the ecosystems they depend upon for survival along with all aspects of their lives as biological beings.

Lazlo provided a graph showing the new set of regions and the stages they were in last year (shown below). Roughly one-fourth of the world’s population was (and is) in the peak stage, and two-thirds was in the collapse stage. Taken as an entire world, we are in the peak stage, bordering on collapse.

She explained, “The stages are directly correlated with the ratio of people to nature in each region, or, more precisely, the resources consumed for basic survival by people as a ratio of the remaining resources of that type in the environment. Fractions are used here because they easily show how many other creatures support each of us at a given stage, as the denominator minus one. Collapse clearly occurs because each creature depends on at least one other to support it, and we have through civilization stopped directly supporting them.

“Note that the trend line indicates how growing population will tend to move a region to a higher stage. This progression is not inevitable. People in a region can consume less, have fewer children, leave, or die, and have the region fall back to a previous stage if the damage to ecosystems is not too extensive or experiencing self-perpetuating collapse.”

Reality Check

The delay in updating this blog was due to my choice to refine the simulation down to the regional level before reporting on progress. Lazlo’s description is obviously mine, and the graph is a random set of data using the Timeline model’s projection of last year’s global averages.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Strategy Includes Pollution Fighting Technology


At today’s WICO press conference, Ambassador Lazlo announced that testing of the global strategy will begin tomorrow and likely last for at least a week. She then introduced Zara Adsa, who is on the team dedicated to development of tactics for tracking and managing climate feedbacks, and has expertise in reducing air pollution without causing more atmospheric warming by the loss of its cooling effects.

She began with a statement. “One of our strategy’s goals is to remove and render harmless all pollution from the biosphere, with priorities on air and water because of their critical roles in maintaining life. Ideally, we would like to enlist the help of natural processes that include contributions by other species that help maintain healthy ecosystems. We are however not averse to using technology to supplement the effort, so long as it does not make things worse. Both approaches are built into the global strategy.”

When asked what kinds of technology she meant, she revealed that genetic engineering of microbes already present in the air is underway using existing approaches developed originally by the international defense industry. She added, “The microbes are being programmed to engorge themselves, convert the pollutants into non-toxic substances, and then die, with their remains available as food for plants and animals. Our team’s management function includes ensuring that resulting growth of the consumers does not overload their ecosystems; in other words, causing more problems than we fix.”

Several reporters expressed concern about the inherent danger of deploying new technologies like the one she described. She replied, “As I implied, it is an option that would only be employed if natural solutions cannot be found and scaled up as necessary. The fact that conditions are as bad as they are is a strong signal that enough natural solutions either do not exist, or are not being deployed appropriately. The discovery process will identify which is the case, and assist other species as much as possible where deployment is the problem.”

Reality Check

The pollution problem is real, but the approaches are totally speculative.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

WICO Press Conference Focuses on Built Environments


“When you encounter a built environment such as a building and the ratio is too high, you can try to remove it unless the impact of doing so forces the ratio higher,” Ambassador Lazlo said at WICO’s press briefing in response to a question about lowering the people-to-nature ratio, which she admitted was one of the basic tactics for executing the strategy. “One way to minimize that impact is to disassemble some of it and let nature do the rest.”

“You mean, let the place go to hell,” the reporter said, “like opening the doors and not doing any maintenance.” The L.A. Messenger’s Harry Tanner was as disgusted as I’ve ever seen him.

“Something like that,” Lazlo said.

“That’s crazy,” Laura Marcus from the Sacramento Watcher blurted, and there was a murmur of agreement in the room. “If it’s a house, where will people live?”

Lazlo answered, “They can occupy a smaller controlled space in the house, or find a place with lower impact.”

“When was the last time the world met your standard?” Tanner asked.

“The mid-1980s, when there were about five billion people, about what our target population is.” 

“So, everything built since then has to get torn down?” he pushed.

Lazlo stared at him. “It’s not that simple, or possible. But you already know that, Henry. A lot of other things have changed. Think of it as replacing most things with fewer and better things.”

“That’s not very helpful,” Tanner said.

“How many regions will be in the final strategy?” I asked, changing the subject.

“We’ve got between 110 and 120 right now. The starting number is likely to be 113, unless test results suggest otherwise.”

A slightly different version of the chart Sally showed me was displayed on the screen behind the podium. “This is one of our test cases,” Lazlo explained. “It’s based on the end-state of the drawdown, after 2040. Each set of concentric circles represents a region, with relative amounts of people’s basic needs, consumption, and total resources approximated by the areas of the circles, which of course are not to scale. The equation represents the ratio of the entire group of regions. In this case, built environments are in place, which are part of consumption. Given the choice of reducing population or consumption beyond natural attrition, we will prefer consumption.”

She clarified that by “natural attrition” she meant replacing people who die from old age, just like the people are expected to do during the drawdown which is the subject of the majority of the strategy.

Reality Check

The chart is a simulated random sample of “regions” as described. There is no correlation to actual data. Names and affiliations of reporters are totally fictional.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Rule of the Thumb



I asked Sally to give me an example of the simple concepts and rules that WICO Secretary General Decatur mentioned during yesterday’s press conference.

“They’re more like rules of thumb,” she corrected. “One of the most basic ones can be easily remembered using a real thumb: There should be four times as much nature as people. Think of one of your hands as the environment. Your thumb is the people, and your fingers are plants and other animals. A hand is not a complete hand unless they’re all there.”

“What about the palm?” I asked.

“The palm is the raw resources converted by plants into resources, including other plants, that animals can use. Animals can of course use other animals as resources. The analogy breaks down there. Though if you think of fingers supporting other fingers and the thumb, then you can also remember that the thumb gets sicker as three of the fingers are removed, and dies if the remaining finger is removed.”

She explained that the “fingers” are like an economic supply chain, with each one adding value that the next one can consume. The problem facing the world is that the “thumb” not only consumes what the “index finger” produces, but also consumes what the others produce and the “fingers” themselves.

I knew there was more to it, but grasped her point that the top priority was that the basic rule needed to be remembered.

Reality Check

The rule is based on observations of how global variables change with the people/nature ratio as reproduced in the simulation. The analogy is very imperfect from an ecological perspective, but again the point is to communicate the rule.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Strategy Update Stresses Common Understanding


In a statement today, WICO Secretary General Decatur made official what Sally told me yesterday about the progress of strategy integration. He added that WICO’s Education group is preparing a means for people understand and implement the strategy that will be based on a set of simple concepts and rules which can be memorized and shared orally if necessary. 

“It is critical that we all have the same values and understanding of what is necessary and expected to serve those values,” he said. “Although there are billions of us, we have an obligation to each other that must be as strong as what our ancestors had with members of their small tribes of hunter-gatherers, and with the same ultimate goal: to ensure the survival of the group.”

Finally, he shared a sample of a graph of populations of regions and their ratios of people to equivalent populations of other species. Such graphs can be used to relocate people and change consumption patterns in order to minimize the extinction risk. This case shows how the target population might be distributed among regions.

People/Nature ratios and populations of regions (red) and the world (black).

Reality Check

The graph is a random sample of possible “regions” based on the final state global population/nature ratio and population with an arbitrary number of regions for the purpose of demonstration only. It does not represent the result of any geographic derivation.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Integration Process


“The process is in principle quite simple,” Sally said after displaying a complex graph on my computer screen. She was referring to the steps taken to stitch together a global strategy from the national inputs and the stream of public feedback that has dominated every social media platform. “The people to nature ratio is calculated for each region. Statistics for each of the global variables are collected, where available, and estimated if not. Our biosphere survey data is used similarly for other species, along with time series to identify how they might adapt and cause changes to the conditions and populations of relevant ecosystems. Human behavior models from several fields of study are used to estimate adaptation and changes people might make, similar to the other species and informed by how the national strategies and likely reactions to the strategy might alter that behavior.  All of that includes movements between regions, and is integrated with projections of physical processes and how they are expected to affect regional environmental conditions.”

“That doesn’t sound simple,” I told her. “No wonder WICO needs an AI to do the majority of the work. How much of it is done?”

“Roughly three-fourths of the development effort is complete. Testing will begin by the weekend; and if there are no major issues found then the strategy will be ready for publication on February 25.”

“What kinds of issues would be major?” I asked.

“Significant deviation from the top-level strategy is one, since it would signal a fundamental problem with one or more of the guiding assumptions. Discovery of significant new feedbacks between multiple variables is another. That’s just what we can anticipate.”

“That last comment suggests you have a buffer built into the schedule.”

 “Any good plan does,” Sally acknowledged. “The only hard deadline is the implementation date, barring any new information to the contrary, of course.”

Reality Check

The process outlined here is my best recommendation, given the capabilities I’ve given the imaginary world. Since I don’t have those capabilities myself, I can’t offer even high confidence in guessing what the results would be.

Friday, February 8, 2019



Ambassador Lazlo began the WICO press conference today with a statement that was clearly motivated by information that Sally shared with me over the past two days. 

“There has been a lot of discussion about how the presence of other species in environments affects people’s feelings and behavior. The precise explanation eludes us, but empirical evidence shows that it is real. Our present hypothesis is that people experience happiness and life expectancy as the result of reactions by many of the species in their bodies to what ecologists call ‘trophic cascades’ within the outer environment.

“We might have missed it if our collective ecological impact wasn’t so great that the effects could be observed on multiple scales in nearly real time. As I implied, there’s still a lot we don’t know, but what we do know reinforces the premise built into our strategy that we must stop exterminating other species in order to save our own from the same fate.” 

Reality Check

This explanation is based on observed periodicity of happiness and life expectancy as functions of the ratio of basic consumption to remaining resources. I plan to flesh out details in future posts.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Coping and Collapse


Public concern over population management has dominated the response to WICO’s global strategy summary and the national inputs to development of a detailed strategy by March 1.

Reviewing Ambassador Lazlo’s discussion of the issue on January 14, I found a clue to what might be connecting the events Sally described yesterday. I asked Sally about it when she called to continue her story: “Is the fraction of resources we consume affecting how satisfied we are with our lives and how long children might live?”

“Yes,” she said, “except it’s the remaining fraction that people are most sensitive to, which is why the richest are affected first. Their surroundings are more artificial than natural, so they experience less of what nourishes them biologically and psychologically on a basic human level.”

“What can be done about it?”

“The obvious choice is to replace the artificial with the natural. You’ll recognize that as the essence of our global strategy. Another option is to address the effects instead of the cause by, for instance, using technologies such as drugs to feel better and extend how long people can live. For a while you could delude yourself into believing there are more resources than you have, using your imagination or the technology of entertainment. You could remove other people from your environment or just take what they have; at the very minimum you’ll want to keep more people from coming in. Finally, if all else fails, you can just kill yourself.”

“Are those options reflected in the global strategy?”

“They’re built into the trajectory of history that the strategy is based on,” she said, and resumed her story.

We now know that had the United States, the origin of the financial crisis, been a closed system in 2008 then it would have been in the process of rapid collapse. Its connections with other nations kept that from happening, but at great cost to the rest of the world. Still, eighty-five percent of citizens were feeling the effects of too little nature in their environment, and using all of the tools available to cope with it.

Over the course of the next ten years the U.S. reduced total consumption by one-third, effectively slowing but not reversing the collapse that might occur if it becomes isolated. Meanwhile its total amount of resources decreased by more than one-fourth, due to a combination of economic exports and destruction by multiple causes that include storms, drought, and fires. 

We project that by the time our strategy is executed, seventy-eight percent of the people in your nation will find that more effort yields less happiness and life expectancy for their children, while worldwide that fraction will be thirty-seven percent as more nations are approaching collapse than experiencing it. 

Reality Check

Characterizations of the situation in the U.S., including cited numbers, are based on simulations of an idealized population with historical values of relevant variables fed into the model.

Explanations of causes are my own hypotheses based on experience and logic applied to the design and results of the simulations. Options for dealing with the consequences are my own best guesses, and are likewise working hypotheses at best.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Christmas Outbreak


My anonymous source Sally finally returned my calls and offered to provide deep background on STRIDE’s development of a global strategy. She began with the following story which she cautioned is “only approximately true.”

On Christmas 2002 the world’s richest person realized that she had accomplished everything that mattered to her and that no one would never have a better life than she was having right then. She could accumulate more money and things, but it had become noticeably harder each year, with diminishing satisfaction to show for it; and the effort was both objectively and subjectively on the verge of making her life worse.

After a year roughly four hundred people representing nearly five percent of the world’s wealth shared a similar experience, with most feeling that their lives were getting worse. Growing desperate to break their malaise, they worked harder at what they associated with their previous success, consuming more resources and acquiring more ability to do so. In retrospect it predictably had the opposite effect, behaving much like an infectious virus, and forced others into the same predicament.

Nearly five thousand people and one-ninth of the world’s wealth were affected by the spring of 2005 when another problem arose: life expectancy reached a peak, again affecting the richest people first. By then more than half the amount of resources usable by all species each year was being directly consumed or converted into unusable waste by humanity, contributing to the death of creatures who couldn’t defend themselves or what they needed.

In 2008 the world found out what happens when one-fifth of global wealth is owned by people who are freaking out because they are growing unhappy and their life expectancy is falling: they make big mistakes. Because of those mistakes, the economy contracted for the first time in decades. The magnitude of the drop caught many by surprise, in part because of a driver of inflation that was unknown at the time.

When she was done, I asked if the consumption statistic for 2005 was related to the cause of the declines in happiness, life expectancy, and economy that she described. I also asked why she didn’t mention climate change and its related impacts during that period since the whole point of our discussion was to address how humanity was going to cope with the extinction threat.

“To understand the future, you must understand the past,” she said cryptically. “Think about that and I’ll continue the story tomorrow.”

Reality Check

The story is, like the rest of this blog, is an interpretation of events based on my simulation. The explanation can be derived from my other writing, such as discussions of the Timelines model that is the core of the simulation. I plan to soon spell it out here in somewhat easier-to-understand terms.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

High Level Global Strategy Announced


Ambassador Lazlo today announced that the Strategy Integration group has synthesized a high-level global strategy consistent with the national strategies submitted last week to deal with the DIE threat. It is similar to one of its three top candidates, reducing population and per-capita ecological footprint to stable levels by 2040. “The target population is approximately 5.3 billion people,” she said, “averaging 1.3 standard resources per person per year for a total footprint of 0.5 Earth per year. In July we will begin with an estimated 7.7 billion people, 3.4 resources per person, and 1.9 Earths per year. Development of a detailed strategy that meets these targets comprises the majority of the group’s remaining work, which continues on schedule.”

Lazlo released several charts to illustrate the global strategy, beginning with a time series of main global variables.

The corresponding Hope Chart shows the total consumption and assumed impacts of natural feedbacks over time. Note that Sally’s worst-case feedback is now included.

A new piece of information is a projection of annual change rates for global variables, which gives a sense of the effort required to meet the target. Lazlo explained that population change varies slightly from what could be expected by not replenishing die-off of older people (appearing as a dotted line for reference). 

The last graph illustrates the distribution of global variables across the population in 2041 for the range of “samples” corresponding to basic effort per person.

Reality Check

The numbers and graphs are direct outputs from the simulation based on no impact from sustained natural feedbacks. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Lessons Learned


Today the Strategy Integration group posted the briefest update ever to appear on its WICO web page following a weekend of total silence: “Completion of the global strategy remains on schedule. Thank you for your patience.” Calls to members of the group were met with recorded versions of the same message.

The majority of press coverage focused on lessons learned from the national strategies released by WICO on Friday. A common theme among national security and political affairs analysts was that the release of the strategies by itself is forcing a global partnership because there is now no significant advantage in knowledge that any one nation can hold over another. 

The most quoted observation about the strategies was by social science professor Archibald Ali, which to me sounded a lot like my anonymous source Sally. “It is now obvious that the notion of cultural superiority is based upon an assumption of localized stability across many critical variables that is not valid in our time, if it ever was. All we can count on is our universal ability to learn and change our behavior as needed while maintaining a common bond that leverages both our similarities and differences.”

My contacts in the business community were generally unimpressed with both the strategies and the reactions to them. “That’s what the governments want, not what the people want,” Ronald Wingate told me. “The same goes for the global strategy. Meanwhile, my people will keep working on something real that the people will be willing to pay for.” Mark Luke reiterated his belief that “the emergency is fake and a distraction from the important work of replacing the natural supply chain with one that transcends it in availability and reliability.”

“The good and the evil have identified themselves,” said Reverend Frank Lanton. “We await whether and how the evil ones will be aligned under the banner of the beast, and we will devise our strategy accordingly.”

Reality Check

The perspectives presented here are fictional, most with a basis in previous posts.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Strategy Integration Begins

Ambassadors from all WICO members met in the headquarters Main Hall and officially signed their nations’ pledges to take required action to implement their individual strategies with any amendments that result from WICO’s strategy integration.

“This is a great and important day in the history of civilization,” Secretary General Decatur told the assembly at the beginning of the signing ceremony. “We unite to confront the greatest threat to our civilization and our species with the best ideas and tools ever available to humanity. Members have all submitted strategies that they judge as meeting their needs and the needs of us all, pursuant to the requirements of the Global Emergency declaration of January 3, 2019. The world thanks everyone involved for their heroic effort under almost impossible time constraints, and in advance for their preparations to implement the global strategy that will result from combining those strategies and be presented for approval by treaties no later than the first of March. The World Information and Coordination Organization promises timely guidance to expedite preparations for action, which will focus on areas of material conflict between dependent strategies, and on issues that would clearly reduce the efficacy of the global effort.”

Following the signing ceremony, WICO released a compendium of all national strategies for public review and comment during the strategy integration process. An appendix was included that summarizes the requirements and guidelines for a global strategy, along with regional projections of impact and responsibility under the business-as-usual scenario subject to the expected range of relevant natural feedbacks.

Reality Check

The procedural steps in developing local and global strategies is based on my best guesses and some fictional license (since this is an imaginary “world”).

A dedicated global effort would reasonably flesh out details at the granularity of “regions” which have similar and interdependent physical and social characteristics. I don’t have that information, but examples and critical relationships can be inferred from my simulations and some basic publicly available data.