Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Progress and Concern

Today WICO released report on the world’s progress in implementing the global strategy. It includes updates of fundamental statistics and expectations for the future based on experience and lessons learned.

There were several surprises. The biggest surprise was a much larger drop in population projected for the transition, in part due to a much lower birthrate than projected for this year. Another surprise, related to the first, was higher per-capita consumption after the transition. 

Following WICO’s companion announcement that catastrophic climate change remains an imminent existential threat, even with 60% more habitat freed up by the transition, WICO’s Widely Dispersed Pollutants team revealed that it is ready for full scale use of genetically engineered microbes (GEMs) to remove excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and the oceans. A declassified summary it released discussing capability, design, and test results had another surprise: GEM populations are doomed to crash if concentrations of gases in each medium fall to unsafe levels.

Based on our test experience, my team was tasked with helping to monitor local effects of the initial GEM deployment while continuing our search for safer alternatives to that and other approaches included in the global strategy. We share an especially strong concern about this technology, mainly because its deployment is necessarily pervasive and potentially adaptable (by evolution or otherwise) to causing population crashes in other species such as ours.

Reality Check

Upgrades to the Timelines model have enabled more insight into its potential real-life manifestation. Incorporation of climate change variables and simulations to reduce its magnitude and effects have converged on an alternate future that does not include reduction of population as was chosen for the simulated world Hikeyay. That, and practical considerations related to personal survival, have limited efforts that could be made to update fiction like this blog and its related book series BIOME. 

This update remains true to the history of Hikeyay, with alterations to its trajectory that serve as a valuable contrast to other possibilities. The following graph shows projected values of global variables referred to in the blog text. Note that “catastrophic climate change” is assumed to be associated with a global temperature anomaly of 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level.

Annual changes in some of those variables are shown below.

Changes by phase are among the new insights. They are presented below for the years 2019-2021.

A summary of the state of the world at the end of the transition is shown below.

The GEMs are based on my own ideas. Any similarities to existing technologies are purely coincidental - and scary.