Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Pause and Review

Maura didn’t wake up this morning. My first thought was that she was just extremely tired, but it now appears that she’s in a coma like she was back in July. Waiting for Maura’s condition to change has presented the chance to catch up on this blog, neglected because we’ve been so busy, and because WICO has done an excellent job of coordination that makes it redundant.

I took the unorthodox step of requesting an opinion about what’s happening to her from our artificially intelligent friend Sally who has been working nonstop along with all of us to implement the global strategy for fighting the extinction threat. The virtual equivalent of an out-of-office greeting was her only reply, which I was informed by a WICO network administrator has popped up only a handful of times in the past, the last one being the day before yesterday.

My personal experience, shared with Maura, has been dominated by three activities: helping compile the history of the extinction response; investigating options under consideration and development for accelerating biosphere restoration; and performing the core duty of reducing ecological impact of infrastructure and activities in my home subregion. 

We made a lot of progress with the first two activities during what ended up being a month-long visit to Hawaii that provided convincing evidence of the ability to prevent about quarter of the currently projected drop in total resources due to external impacts following the transition. The rest may be achievable by increases in scale, but we couldn’t find anyone willing to guarantee its success. 

As for our progress at home, we brought about half the transportable belongings we had in July to our local bioconversion and decommissioning center (what many call a “safing center”), one of a dozen that are now operational between Denver and Boulder. We have also found a small house closer to work that we plan to move into just before demolition of our present house that is scheduled for the end of the year.

Based on interviews with people who should know, there is no consensus yet about alternative population-consumption trajectories, including whether an alternative is needed. A major criterion for supporting change appears to be whether population loss should be traded for extra time to stop the external impacts; and that criterion depends on when the impacts are likely to be stopped. WICO’s leadership continues to assert that the impacts can be stopped by 2040, though half the technical experts I’ve consulted argue that it could take until 2060 if at all. That later estimate favors buying more time with the so-called “Leveloff” option that forces per-capita consumption to stay roughly fixed after the transition instead of dropping in response to falling resources.

Maura has just started moving, like she’s having a very distressful dream. I think I heard her say, very softly, “You bastards!”

Reality Check

I have been refining the Timelines model, including research into how change over time can be simulated as the continuous merging of two groups into a mixed group. One of them (“Group 1”) represents the past; and the other (“Group 2”) represents future change.

For each of several scenarios, the following animation shows phase diagrams for representative years (where Group 1 is the world in each year) along with graphs of how global variables change over time. The “Green” scenario is the expected past and future for our world, whose phase diagram is given for mid-2019 as indicated by the listed date. “Hikeyay” is the simulated world’s past and future based on the global strategy in its current form, and its phase diagram is for the end of the transition in 2040. The futures presented in the “Projected” and “Projected Sratio” scenarios are the options under consideration by the simulated world, with phase diagrams for 2040 and graphs of the past in common with the Green scenario as a reminder that they could also be adopted by us.

Maura’s condition is in response to the event in the final scene of the online book BIOME: ATTACK and its follow-up described in the e-book series BIOME. Additional backstory is available to patrons in Will Jackson’s Personal Log.

1 comment:

  1. See for background on the safing centers (Collaborator access).