pOLITICAL ARTICLES: ECOLOGY and economics, CLIMATE emergency. letters

Ecology and Economics,  Global Warming, Climate Emergency.

[last revised, edited 3/2018, 12/2019, 12/2020]

Climate Emergency: in preventing going from an urgent situation to a catastrophic climate, it is not five till twelve, it is one in the morning. We cannot afford to take decades to reach carbon neutrality. We must start reversing some of the damage now. 

Summary: Addressing the climate emergency decisively, addressing ill-conceived economic developments – creating a more humane, sustainable civilization within a decade  [12/2017, revised 2/2019, 12/2020]
Food production and meat consumption; improved land management, returning land to natural state [1/2009, revisions 9/’16, 1/’18, 11/’20]
Transportation: Ideas and proposals (Train system, Long-distance and intercontinental transportation, Road traffic) [revised/added 3/2015, 12/’15, 4,9/’16, 9/’17, 1/’18]
Energy: renewable energy, and minimizing energy losses [added 2/2019]
Population density, improved housing and living culture [revised, expanded 1/2018]
Nuclear energy, CFC and HCFC refrigerants, carbon sequestration and other approaches [added 2/2019, revised 10/’19, 11/’20]
Pets – Sacred animals [revised 1/2018]
Reversing desertification, decreasing day-night temperature differences and need for irrigation, bringing rain to arid areas (unproven proposal) [added 3/2015, revised 3/’18]

Greta Thunberg inspired letter to politicians, organization leaders and scientists  [9/2019, edited 2 and 3/2020]
Open letter to politicians: reasonable response to economic problems due to the Covid-19 pandemic [added 3/2020]

Urgent message from Humane Civilization Worldwide (HCW) July-August 2021, minor revisions 10/2021

Summary: addressing the climate emergency decisively, addressing ill-conceived economic developments – creating a more humane, sustainable civilization

We can stop global warming and create more hospitable, humane conditions within a decade, but to redirect ill-conceived, untenable developments, economic systems must be reformed. Governments must create and allocate money in ways that effectively address our foremost problems, and laws must severely limit activities of financial institutions. Disastrous climate changes are progressing much faster than anticipated, affecting all continents. Vicious cycles speed up global warming. Immediate far-reaching actions must decrease greenhouse gases much more rapidly than proposed gradual approaches permit. The alternative, working with present business models, will almost certainly lead to inconceivable catastrophes, famines, mass migrations, much more violence, wars, and mass extinctions..
Perceptions about what people need are broadly changing in light of the climate emergency with worsening weather disasters, living through a pandemic, worldwide demonstrations concerning racism and economic inequalities, concerns about the abuse of artificial intelligence and the internet, escalating government debts, business failures, and a recession that is likely to become the worst since the Great Depression. These events not only offer a rare opportunity for politicians to realize major reforms, they COMMAND responsible actions by all governments and the U.N. NOW! To effectively address this crisis, we must reform the dysfunctional, profit-driven, bigoted, extremely unstable financial institutions. Then we can address the wasteful transportation infrastructures, problems in agriculture and food production, many other known factors that contribute to global warming and addressing urgent humanitarian crises.

Most important new ideas of Humane Civilization Worldwide:

– Legislatures must address the structure and organization of our economies: give governments and their national banks the power to create new money while strictly limiting the lending of financial institutions. Governments must assure that money is allocated to what is needed for our future, and the circulating money must belong to the people, enterprises and government agencies that work with it, not to banks. Governments must first issue newly created money to contract work that will save energy, minimize the release of greenhouse gases, and improve the lives of people. Government spending must not rely on taxation, and borrowing to do work that saves energy and resources and that increases beneficial productivity. A reformed economy, has to include a basic income for all. People are able to save and to buy goods with savings. During transitions, everybody can live temporarily with much decreased incomes – everybody feels economically secure.

– Since most people and policy makers do not recognize how serious the climate emergency is and that present plans are glaringly inadequate, a high-profile education campaign must inform everybody that:

  • We can redirect misguided developments and stop global warming much faster and more effectively than concerned politicians, activists, and scientists envision, even though the climate emergency appears much more severe than broadly portrayed. However, most important is addressing economic institutions.
  • Our response to the climate emergency must be as decisive as the US’ response to WWII and include sacrifices. We must do everything humanly possible to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, by ways of saving energy particularly in transportation systems, by moving to mostly plant-based diets, and by making other known, relevant factors first priorities. (Plans for energy savings in transportation systems are described below.) While continuing to provide for basic needs, our industries must dramatically change their production programs and their goals for research and development, leading to major changes in many aspects of people’s lives.
  • Present economic institutions must be reformed; present conditions prevent rapid, sweeping changes, and they are poorly adapted to what people and societies need. The present organization of our economy is dominated by for-profit corporations – profits, not people’s needs are their primary concern; and there is widespread reliance on credit. Without reforms, people will resist necessary changes; they understandably fear to lose income, housing, investments, and everything that has been bought with credit. Problems for small businesses are similar.
  • Corporations abuse the internet and applications of artificial intelligence. Particularly objectionable are cryptocurrencies and the gathering, storing, analyzing and selling of personal data. These activities are unethical and an incredible waste of resources; they must be outlawed.
  • Proposed changes, as Humane Civilization Worldwide promote, consider human nature and needs of societies; they are expected to improve people’s quality of life. Some proposed changes may be seen as returning to what was better in the past. This is to a large extent what humans naturally prefer: by nature, humans are very tradition-bound and suspicious of anything new, unless novelty symbolizes higher rank, is imminently enticing, and/or is addicting.
  • We know that people are very adaptable and readily change, if a critical number of people agree with the significance and meaning of necessary changes, and if essentially all people have to participate.
  • People must compel governments to act, disregarding industry and financial institution lobbyists. Lobbying by for-profit entities must be severely restricted.

Some novel ideas include1:

  • Stopping and reversing desertification by way of enlarging the surface of sun-exposed earth in deserts: building East-West running mounds or walls between ditches, several feet high/deep. This will lessen the soil’s heating up during daytime and decrease the updraft of hot air, allowing cloud formation and precipitation which does not evaporate before reaching the ground. Such efforts may be particularly valuable where there had been overgrazing, along rivers, around oasis, and at the edges of steppe and savanna.
  • Sequestering carbon by water-logging wood and sinking it into cold lakes or oceans, preventing decomposing and the release of CO2. Plant material may include dead wood removed from forests to decrease the danger of fires, wood from torn-down buildings and other waste wood, and rapidly grown vegetation that was planted to absorb CO2.
  • Transportation wastes much energy. We need, in addition to standard gauge freight and high-speed trains, a dense light-rail network mostly narrow-track, 100cm and less (60, 70, and/or 80cm) that can be cheaply built on present roads and in very inhospitable, mountainous areas. Trains must be aerodynamic and most lines should have regular trains (close to three times as wide as the track and similarly high, some with two levels), and also much smaller aerodynamic trains that run frequently on the same tracks during low-use times. These small trains’ cars may be the size of vans. Rail transportation is to be combined with human-powered and ultra-light electric vehicles. We also need small to mid-size, relatively slow and highly efficient cruise ships, which have tiny cabins, offer simple, healthy food and facilitate meditating, exercising, writing and drawing, discussing books, and other activities that enhance mental well-being and health and do not require much space and resources.

Addressing principle problems:

We can stop global warming and create more hospitable, humane conditions, if economic systems are reformed and there is a political will, a near-unanimity about the urgency..

Vicious cycles accelerate worsening greenhouse effects. Is it not irresponsible and dangerous to allow global warming to increase from 1.0ºC to an arbitrary 1.5ºC above pre-industrial times? In addition, present plans are unrealistic: there is not enough land to build the proposed solar and wind farms and also plant a trillion trees. It would also be very problematic to mine rare earth minerals and metals in quantities needed for the envisioned electric installations and vehicles, and the electronic devices. The mining would likely be ecologically disastrous and aggravate conflicts in poor, mineral-rich countries..
In today’s political environment, very few countries might be able to rapidly enact needed changes; institutions of Westerns and emerging economies need to be reformed and improved as a first priority. Presently a lack of agreement regarding the severity of the climate emergency2, divisiveness in politics, and the political power of banks and corporations prevent immediate, determined actions. Activists must set more rigorous, comprehensive goals and address people’s lack of understanding and concern. Additionally, education at all levels has to emphasize that progress is based on scientific approaches and must consider human nature. We must focus on sciences and do more research. Diverse traditions, conspiracy theories, religions, and ideologies mainly lead to divisiveness – they hardly contribute to valuable developments.

Much in economic developments is misdirected; in the process, industries destroy natural ecosystems and cause severe stress in people. Much has been greatly improved in recent decades, particularly medical treatments, safety and convenience of cars, and food supply chains. However, the goals that evolved in this civilization are dangerous and hardly make us happier. Naturally, people want to follow traditions of elders and are suspicious of novelty; exceptions are novelty that expresses higher rank, is imminently enticing, and/or addicting3. Greed-driven developments bring some progress but also harm people. We need thoughtful progress, improving traditions while preserving nature as feasible.

Economic activities must be better adapted to human nature and consider our natural inclinations. While rapidly moving towards a sustainable, greenhouse gas neutral economy, we must first focus on people being safe, their basic needs met; people must be able to save and avoid loans to buy what they need. Second, people must learn to promote what enhances mental well-being and health, particularly caring connectedness, beauty, meaning, and humor. Eventually everybody should have less work, less stress, moderate levels of consumption, more free time, more relaxed transportation, etc.
Lifting the material living standard of the very poor is a high priority as is a more equitable distribution of wealth and incomes. Being severely indebted leads to poor health, impaired mental functioning, and depression. Feeling very insecure when unemployed and destitute, harassed, or discriminated against has similar effects. Supportive communities, natural environments, meaningful activities, and humor improve people’s resilience and happiness.
We must redirect economic developments that are ill-conceived, wasteful and dangerous. Do we want sensors ‘watching’ us everywhere, our computers, TVs and cell phones analyzing our emotional responses to what we see on the screens, intimately private data about us being stored, analyzed and sold to marketing agencies and politicians? Do people want to speed in self-driving SUVs through very dense traffic, all traffic being guided by artificial intelligence and cloud-based computer-systems? Developers build one family houses with living-room-size kitchens and bath rooms and with gardens, swing sets and swimming pools. But instinctively, people are 

drawn to cozy alcoves, small spaces like booths in restaurants, natural park areas with swimming opportunities, and play grounds where people meet and form friendships. Good washing machines and cheap clothes must not mean that we always have to wear spotless, fashionable clothes. People greatly benefit from studying sciences. Obviously the internet and electronic media offer much that is valuable; however there is no proper supervision; consequently, with greed being a main driver of content, much that is broadly propagated is grossly unethical. We need to focus more on enjoying nature, arts, and healthy traditions.

And why waste so much resources on “defense” while neglecting efforts to create worldwide peace and cooperation? Wars are disastrous for everybody involved, almost any negotiated outcome is preferable to war. The inflicted emotional traumas lead to impaired intellectual functioning and severe, chronic mental disturbances, poor health, and family violence.
To prevent violent conflicts, we must fight us-versus-them thinking, and treat people with addictions to wealth and power and to conspiracy theorizing. Political leaders who suffer from these disorders must be sidelined and treated as rogue politicians, as political pariahs, until they accept treatment. People should treat them in friendly ways but without allowing them to travel freely, their bank assets being frozen, and always being clear that they are no longer recognized as legitimate politicians.
We also must rein in religious and ideological teachings that promote unethical beliefs and traditions, divisiveness, and violence. Conspiracy mongering must be addressed as similarly dangerous.

So far hardly addressed but most important are:

  • A world-wide high-profile education campaign, and setting much more rigorous, comprehensive goals, as described above.
  • New laws must address the economic systems. Democratically elected leaders must control the creation and allocation of the money supply, and resources must be primarily steered to the most efficient nonprofit enterprises that will pursue goals of society, not profits for investors. Activities of private financial institutions must be severely curtailed. Unearned income must be highly taxed. Trade of securities must carry sales taxes. Nonprofit enterprises should be main competitors for government contracts; they need to specialize in projects that will greatly decrease and reverse global warming. These enterprises may cooperate or, individually or as groups, compete to be leaders in their niches. See below.
  • Broad education must promote an understanding of research-based ways to improves quality of life in place of mainly pursuing materially higher living standards much above meeting basic needs. Efforts must focus on promoting research and realizing much of what has been shown to enhance meaning in life, health, resilience, and happiness.
  • Following reforms of economies, governments, cooperating with scientists, must create comprehensive plans and contract work that will immediately and dramatically decrease greenhouse gas releases. Education campaigns and taxation must powerfully decrease energy use and greenhouse gas releases, by individuals and businesses. Consumerism must decrease. Changes should make life safer, less stressful, more natural and meaningful,
  • Transportation systems must start using much less energy: We cannot afford to commute in electric SUVs and transport people and massive amounts of goods in electric buses and trucks: they use far too much energy. We need freight, and high-speed trains and additionally a network of aerodynamic light trains, mostly narrow track light-rail (0.71 meter gauge), connecting all neighborhoods, settlements and points of interest. Most lines need regular-size trains for rush hours, and for in-between times much smaller ones that run frequently on the same tracks. We must develop and promote human-powered and ultralight electric vehicles of different sizes for shorter commutes.
  • Major known factors that contribute to global warming have to be effectively addressed, and goals must be reached within years, not decades. Example are: methane releases; change diets and agricultural techniques, limiting population growth through family planning (avoiding undesired pregnancies and making safe abortions 
  • everywhere available), and the use of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants which must be replaced with safe refrigerants and be discarded safely with no delay.
  • Data gathering, storing, and analyzing, and cryptocurrencies must be prohibited; these are extremely wasteful in their use of electricity, computing devices, and human resources. Equally important: they are ethically-legally very problematic. Particularly objectionable is the analyzing of people’s facial expressions and inferred emotions when they watch screens. We must also assume that, sooner or later not only marketing agencies but also hostile governments will get collected data.
  • Along with many projects to improve land management and agriculture with a rapid shift to mostly plant-based diets, we believe that we found a worthwhile way of halting and reversing desertification by increasing the surface of dry land, preventing it from becoming very hot during daytime. Creating East-West running mounds or walls and ditches, several feet high/deep, will prevent intense heat build-up and the updraft of hot air during daytime. Consequently, there should be more cloud formation that may lead to precipitation that reaches the ground. Additionally, efforts should not only remove dead wood from forests to decrease the danger of fires, such dead wood and other discarded wood should be waterlogged and sunk into cold lakes and oceans, rather than being allowed to decompose.
  •  Many plans and ideas have been collected by the project Drawdown.4. See also Political article: ecology, climate change of this website

Summary of important actions to reduce and reverse global warming:

  • It is most important that, by way of a world-wide high-level educational campaign, addressing most important points described above.
  • It is not too late to halt misdirected developments, and quickly enact developments that improve people’s quality of life and economic safety while creating an eco-friendly economy.
  • However, this is an emergency as serious as WWII was; it demands an equally decisive response which includes sacrifices.
    The climate emergency is worsening much more rapidly than anticipated. Tragic consequences of climate
    change
    are already occurring on all continents, and the intensity and frequency of disastrous climate events are increasing. At the present rate of progress, large densely populated areas will become unlivable and the present mass extinction will worsen.
  • Present plans and progressive proposals are inadequate and unrealistic. It will not be possible to have enough electricity for electric SUVs and trucks, massive data storage and processing, heating and cooling large dwellings, etc. Planners must be mindful regarding harm caused by the mining of minerals: mined from ocean floor, mined in conflict zones and/or mined in ways which create much pollution that is dangerous for local populations. We must immediately start doing everything humanly possible to decrease energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • While continuing to provide for basic needs, our industries must dramatically change their production programs and their goals for research and development. People must accept major changes in many aspects of their lives, however, positive aspects of changes are expected to outweigh negative ones. Some changes are essentially returning what was good in the past. This is to a large extent what humans naturally prefer: by nature, humans are very tradition-bound and suspicious of anything new, unless novelty symbolizes higher rank, is imminently enticing, and/or is addicting.
  • Saving energy, and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, as addressed by measures listed below, also includes discouraging consumerism and transportation of goods: producing less, producing goods more locally. The emphasis on moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy must not overshadow the more urgent need to save energy, particularly in transportation systems, in agriculture, heating and cooling buildings, and by over-producing goods that are readily bought but wasted or hardly used.
  • Humans are very adaptable and they readily accept changes, if a critical number of people agree with the significance and meaning of necessary measures, and if essentially all people are compelled to participate.
  • We need clear, comprehensive goals and broad plans to simultaneously start undertaking many projects and make many changes; populations must oblige governments to realize plans without delay, particularly:
  • Laws that govern economic institutions prevent an adequate response, they obstruct necessary rapid changes. Economic systems and institutions must be reformed – this must be a first priority.
    Our financial institutions and corporations primarily pursue profits; the well-being of people and our future are not high priorities. Another problem is our economies’ widespread reliance on credit. People fear major changes in the economy, to lose income, housing, investments, and everything that was bought with credit. A sense of profound uncertainty and being indebted cause major emotional, physical and cognitive problems.
  • Needed pertinent laws of Western and emerging economies include: governments must take full responsibility for the circulating money supply. They must severely restrict financial institutions’ activities, create new money, and introduce a basic income for all. While many enterprises must make major changes, providing for basic needs must always stay a first priority; governments must pay workers to study and learn new job skills. The structure of taxation, incentives, and investments by governments must powerfully influencing enterprises.
    While planning major changes during the 2020-2021 pandemic and recession, deep-rooted racism, other forms of discrimination, and unjustifiable income inequalities must be addressed. However, it is not discrimination to address ethical issues concerning intolerant religions with inhumane traditions and unethical teachings; dogmatic ideologies and conspiracy theorizing is to be addressed similarly.
    With humane comprehensive planning, it should also be possible to address the needs of the neglected: to build tiny shelters for the homeless and establish schools for persons who are challenged because of deprived homes or other factors, humane residential facilities for patients with chronic mental illness, with or without abuse-addiction disorders and/or propensity to criminal behaviors, etc. – such humane pursuits often save more than they cost.. see below.
  • International agencies must address and safely dispose CFC and HCFC refrigerants that are still widely used in poor countries.
  • Industries must be compelled to stop all methane and other fossil fuel releases into the environment.
  • A powerful movement must promote primarily plant-based diets and systematic approaches to minimize food waste.
  • Improving vegetation cover of land must include converting much land that is presently used for cattle and to grow animal feed to a natural state, mostly forests. Many approaches to improve agricultural techniques must be further developed and promoted. We also must work to prevent wetlands destruction and reversing desertification. Carbon sequestration may include water-logging unusable wood and sinking it into cold oceans, or making charcoal (biochar production) that can be buried or added to soil.
  • Maybe most important is reestablishing the northern ‘mammoth steppe’ to protect northern regions’ permafrost by removing brush and trees and reintroducing herds of herbivores (such as Yakut [Siberian horse], musk oxen, elk, bison, and reindeer).
  • Transportation system restructuring: minimal use of air planes and quick move from conventional cars, buses and trucks to:
    1. Mostly human powered and ultralight hybrid and electric vehicles, 2-, 3-, and 4-wheeled, with or without protective, aerodynamic bodies (mostly for shorter commutes).
    2. Rail lines, high-speed and freight trains, and light-rail narrow track trains, mostly 0.7-1 meter gauge, reaching all city neighborhoods, towns and settlements, and places of interest. Trains should be aerodynamic. Most train lines need standard and small trains, which run on the same tracks, for times of low-use. Highly efficient hyperloop transportation may be developed.
    3. Use of barges and ships for freight and passengers, including slow moving high-efficiency ocean liners with tiny cabins, offering basic services, spaces for exercise and meditation, and healthy nutrition.
  • Further work on saving energy: better insulating buildings, heating and cooling buildings less, building small apartments and houses, applying passive solar principles as feasible, heating and cooling mainly some alcoves where people work, eat and relax. Building should, as feasible, use recycled materials and lumber and less cement. No longer needed containers may be used for buildings.
  • Extreme white paint and ‘cooling paper’ must be use on roofs and sun-exposed walls in hot areas to minimize need for air conditioning.
  • Hot water and ice may be stored in insulated underground tanks for heating and cooling; ice may be manufactured in cold areas and stored there, then shipped to hot areas in summer
  • In some areas people may need to start sleeping during the hottest parts of the day in cool basement rooms, work at night and socialize in mornings. Further developing renewable energy installations and technologies, for instance vortex-type wind generators.
  • International agencies should further develop and build small, safe nuclear power plants, and work further on the safe disposal of nuclear waste.
  • Abuses of the internet and of artificial intelligence must be addressed. Laws must outlaw cryptocurrencies and severely restrict data collecting, storing, analyzing, and selling. These activities waste huge amounts of energy. Most are unethical and dangerous. They are often designed to transgress laws and individuals’ rights. Their data may become accessible to unethical politicians and foreign dictators.
  • To minimize population growth, contraception, pregnancy tests, and abortions must be readily available to all women; reasonable family planning, science-based information, and moral values concerning human sexuality must not be distorted by ideologies and religious teachings.
  • Generally, activities of religious organizations, groups representing an ideology, and conspiracy theorizing groups should be restricted with peer- and self-monitoring: their teachings must not support any beliefs that overrule sciences, science-based ethics, and human rights.Faith’ or specific beliefs, are by definition intolerant: a religious person cannot believe that others’ ‘faiths’ are equally true as his professed faith; similarly, ideologues and participants in conspiracy theorizing groups reject any scrutiny of their beliefs and may become hostile towards ‘nonbelievers.’ All media must participate in monitoring ethical principles, not distributing religious, ideological and conspiracy beliefs as truths or as opinions with scientific validity. It is criminal, not “free speech” to spread such beliefs and ‘opinions’ with the intention to sway people’s behaviors and political orientation. Prosecuting such abuses must be considered a matter of public interests. (An opinion in science is a reasonable conclusion that is not [yet] considered proven or evidence-based.)

Regarding the economy:.
   E
conomic activities must be better adapted to human nature and our natural inclinations, focusing on what is beautiful, meaningful, and healthy rather than primarily lifting the material living standard. 

While adjusting to a sustainable, greenhouse gas neutral economy, people should generally live with their basic needs met, without debts, without harassment or any form of discrimination. People should be able to live with less stress and more free time. Feeling very insecure and stressed and being severely indebted lead to poor health, impaired mental functioning, and depression. Being part of supportive communities, contact with nature, and meaningful activities relieve stress and improve resilience, mental well-being, and happiness, A high material standard of living adds little to people’s happiness.
To reform economic systems, we propose:

  • Governments reclaim control of the money supply, creating and allocating new money and moving from a largely debt-based economy to an economy in which people, enterprises and government agencies own the money they work with.
  • Bank lending and other activities of financial institutions that create money-like accounts are severely limited; checking accounts cannot be used for loans; reserves are increased. There are sales taxes on trade of securities.
  • Money for a minimum basic income may come from taxation income. Projects related to minimizing global warming should be paid for with newly created money.
  • A newly introduced international currency should pay for many or most investments that directly lead to a decrease in global warming. An international committee would have to certify what can be paid for with that new currency.
  • High taxation are charged for all forms of greenhouse gas production and emission. Taxation is broadly used as an effective disincentive to waste and to environmentally damaging activities.
  • Governments encourage production of goods and services by nonprofit enterprises: enterprises that are obliged to invest all profits in research and development, education, and/or to support other non-profit enterprises, such as plants that manufacture needed parts, offer for the enterprise valuable services, improve infrastructure, or do unrelated valuable and charitable work.
  • Research and developments should be transparent. Research groups should always be ready to accept new teams to participate. (Many or most researchers, engineers, and inventors prefer working cooperatively, with multiple organizations driving progress forward together, rather than competing with few gaining big profits and others working in companies that may not survive.) As in much of the healing professions, the incentive to establish nonprofit productive enterprises is creating interesting, gratifying work, staying in a leadership position in one’s niche or within a leading group of enterprises, and gaining acknowledgment and possibly awards.
  • Patents are abolished except in a limited market of luxury items. Enterprises should generally cooperate rather than compete.
  • Regarding taxation: we propose consumption or sales taxes rather than income taxes; a basic sales tax is raised on all products; enterprises also pay value added taxes; services are not taxed. Charging significant sales taxes on basic goods discourages waste. More important are dyseconomy taxes (dyseconomy referring to economic activities that are harmful for societies) and luxury taxes. Dyseconomy taxes are raised on products and production process that are worsening global warming, cause pollution including noxious noise, are very dangerous, and/or are harmful to environments and people’s health. For example, dyseconomy taxes on fuels may be raised due to greenhouse gas production and local pollution. Luxury taxes discourage wasteful possessions.
  • Imported goods are taxed as if produced locally. Additional dyseconomy taxes may be raised if the area that 

    produces the goods is known to ignore international standards of safety.

  • A basic income that is paid to everybody is in part a return for sales taxes on staple food items and other basic goods.
  • Levels of dyseconomy and luxury taxes for categories of products and industrial production processes may be determined by a group of democratically chosen representatives that must be very heterogeneous and works like a jury. These representatives are to receive information from relevant scientists and may discuss issues before voting. The median of by representatives given tax rates will determine the tax level for a given time until reevaluated.

_________

In natural environments such as prairies or tropical rain forests, trains other than slow light-rail lines, should run in tunnels or several meters above ground in areas where fenced-in tracks on the ground would disturb free movements of animals and local, indigenous people.
Engineering idea: Rather than building tunnels underneath waterways, “tunnels” may be built that look like garden hoses or the steel reinforced concrete ‘lining’ of mountain and under-water tunnels, except that they would be built on ships and then lowered to loosely rest on the bottom of a river or lake, or to float in the sea, their bottom filled with rock and gravel to a level where they approximate the specific gravity of water. In order not to interfere with ship traffic and avoid disturbances of intense waves, they would be ‘hung’ from rows of small floating islands with lighthouses at an internationally agreed upon depth. To withstand ocean currents, floating 
islands and rail lines have to be moored to the bottom of the river, lake or sea. Pressure from ocean currents may be minimized by running lines, as feasible, in the direction of the currents: in the North Atlantic essentially following and very gradually crossing the Gulf Stream between New England and Ireland.

Considering the possible catastrophic developments in this and the next few decades, it appears wise to do everything humanly possible to work on immediately stopping greenhouse gas production, rather than give ourselves another couple of decades to reach carbon neutrality, allowing the global temperature to rise another 1/2ºC.
H
owever, some people are still skeptical about the severity, significance, and human contributions to the climate change we are experiencing. It is true that we do not know how much the present global warming is due to human activities versus unknown factors. However, sciences predict that human activities cause a planet-warming greenhouse effects. It should be obvious that it is wise not contribute to unknown factors that drive global temperatures up. When the earth has a fever, we should not put blankets on her. Also, the earth’s eco-systems appear today very sensitive to climate change as many other human activities drive many animal species towards extinction.

Historically, the last 11,000 years had an unusually stable climate while global temperatures have been relatively low. This may be the reason that homo sapiens, after existing for about 200,000 years, eventually started to develop agriculture, settlements, architecture, and arts in many separate regions. Eventually modern sciences and technologies were developed.
Global temperatures were much higher prior to the ice ages and inter-glacial periods. While during the last 50 million years modern animals evolved, the small mammals had to be nocturnal and had to live mostly underground during day time. Dinosaurs apparently had to be large in order to avoid ‘overheating during day time. In large animals, the low skin to mass ratio helps to keep the body temperature relatively stable, but during hot seasons, dinosaurs probably needed to cool their bodies by exposing blood-rich skin to the cool night air. In much of the plantet’s history, weather conditions included frequent storms, floods, and fires, which modern humans would consider unimatinably catastrophic. However, weather events were not widespread entoughto lead to mass extinctions. While often large numbers of animals and plants perished, the species usually rebounded.
Even recent cultures did not value individual lives – until very recently people were considered dispensable. Violent deaths, particularly homicides, were frequent. However today, we make efforts to value every human individual. We no longer accept frequent natural events that kill thousands or millions of people. In addition, most people are understandably concerned about an unprecedented mass extinction that is due, at least to a large extent, to human activities, rather than to natural events that may occur once every few hundred million years.
Another reason for the lax attitude of people has been that many expect some inventions to ameliorate the crisis of global warming. The present crisis has been compared with progress in agriculture preventing predicted famines: at critical times, yields were greatly increase by the introduction of fertilizers and later by new varieties of crop plants. However, the problem of the greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, methane, and CFC refrigerants, has been known for three decades, and we keep observing worsening effects of global warming, yet there are no prospects of having technologies that can compensate for greenhouse gas effects.

3 Naturally, primates, including humans, are not curious, hardly inventive, and suspicious of any novelty. To any good idea, the typical first response is: “that will not work.” This is why people usually think that the past was better than the present. And this is why developments have been, for hundreds of millions of years, extremely slow. Even after people developed agriculture and started to build towns, developments were painfully slow for thousands of years, and accomplishments were mostly based on the exploitation of the least powerful. Violent deaths decreased, but the quality of life was miserable for most people: powerful people were inventive in ways of suppressing, terrorizing, and torturing the powerless. Today, developments are mostly driven by profits, enticing people to buy whatever can be profitably produced and marketed. Occasionally, corporate leaders have a desire to improve people’s quality of life, for instance, Volvo engineers appeared to have had a genuinely interested in improving the safety of affordable cars and to encourage others to follow.

4 Many excellent ideas have been collected and proposed, notably in Drawdown – The Most Comprehensive Plans Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (by researchers, scientists and policy makers), edited by Paul Hawken, 2017 [drawdown.org]. However, all plans are based on gradual changes over decades, to be executed, to a large extent, by for-profit enterprises with some government incentives.

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***BELOW OLD SUMMARY    SKIP TO  Food production and meat consumption; improved land management, returning land to natural state 

The present plans and proposals, such as the ‘Green New Deal’ plan of action, appear inadequate, vague and unrealistic: there is not enough land to build the solar and wind farms and also plant a trillion trees; mining for rare earth minerals and needed metals for the envisioned electric devices and vehicles would likely be ecologically disastrous and aggravate conflicts.

The climate emergency is worsening much more rapidly than anticipated; but laws that govern economic institutions prevent an adequate response, they obstruct necessary rapid changes. A main factor is our economies’ widespread reliance on credit. People’s worst fear is major changes in the economy, to lose income, housing, investments, and everything that was bought with credit. Financial institutions and corporations primarily pursue profits – preventing future tragedies is not a high priority.

We need a high-profile education campaign concerning the climate emergency, our dysfunctional economic system, and needed actions, followed by a broad campaign to get governments to act. People need to learn and acknowledge:

  • Tragic consequences of climate change are already occurring on all continents; the intensity and frequency of disastrous climate events are increasing. Present plans and progressive proposals are grossly inadequate. To prevent worst case catastrophes, we must immediately start doing everything humanly possible to decrease greenhouse gases.
  • Since present economic institutions would not allow rapid change, economic systems and institutions must be reformed. While continuing to provide for basic needs, our industries must dramatically change their production programs and their goals for research and development, leading to major changes in many aspects of people’s lives.
  • We know that people are very adaptable and readily change if a critical number of people agree with the significance and meaning of necessary changes, and if essentially all people are compelled to participate.

We need clear, comprehensive goals and broad plans to simultaneously start undertaking many projects and changes; populations must oblige governments to realize plans without delay, particularly:

  • Our economic system, pertinent laws of Western and emerging economies, must be reformed: the government must take control of the money supply, severely restricting financial institutions, create new money, and introduce a basic income for all. Providing for basic needs must always stay a first priority. Since many enterprises must make major changes, governments must pay workers to study and learn new job skills. The structure of taxation, incentives, and investments by governments must powerfully influencing enterprises. While planning major changes during this pandemic and recession, deep-rooted racism and unjustifiable income inequalities must be considered. see below.
  • Many approaches are needed to save energy, and minimize greenhouse gas emissions, greatly decreasing consumerism and transportation of goods, producing less, producing goods more locally. There has been too much of a focus on moving from fossil fuel to renewable electric energy and not enough on saving energy, particularly in transportation systems:
  • Address and safely dispose CFC and HCFC refrigerants that are still widely used in poor countries.
  • Stop all methane release and fossil fuels leaking into environment.
  • Rapid move to primarily plant-based diets and systematic approaches to minimize food waste.
  • Improving vegetation cover of land; including. converting much land that is presently used for cattle and to grow animal feed to a natural state, mostly forests, and many approaches to improve agricultural techniques.
  • Maybe most important is reestablishing the northern ‘mammoth steppe’ to protect northern regions’ permafrost by removing brush and trees and reintroducing herds of herbivores (such as Yakut [Siberian horse], musk oxen, elk, bison, and reindeer).
  • Transportation system restructuring: minimal use of air planes and quick move from conventional cars, buses and trucks to
  1.  Mostly human powered and ultralight hybrid and electric vehicles, 2-, 3-, and 4-wheeled with or without protective, aerodynamic bodies (mostly for shorter commutes).
  2.  Rail lines from high-speed intercity, freight lines, to light-rail narrow track trains, 1 meter gauge and less, reaching all city neighborhoods, towns and settlements, and places of interest. Also use of barges and ships, including slow moving high-efficiency ocean liners with tiny cabins, offering basic services, spaces for exercise and meditation, and healthy nutrition. Development of highly efficient hyperloop transportation.
  • Further work on saving energy, particularly better insulating buildings, heating and cooling buildings less, building more densely with smaller apartments and houses; building more with recycled materials and lumber, using less cement, Further developing renewable energy installations and technologies, for instance vortex-type wind generators, turbines driven by ocean currents, solar collectors that produce electricity and heat water.
  • Developing more forms of carbon sequestration; ideas: removing dead trees and brush from forests to decrease danger of forest fires, producing charcoal from dead plant material and trash lumber by slow pyrolysis, or water-logging such wood and sinking it in oceans or deep lakes
  • Being mindful regarding use of minerals that are mined from ocean floor, mined in conflict zones and/or in ways creating much pollution that is dangerous for local populations.
  • Further developing and building small, safe nuclear power stations and continued work on safe disposal of nuclear waste.
  • Severely restrict data collecting, storing, analyzing, etc. and outlaw cryptocurrencies. These waste huge amounts of energy and are ethically questionable and dangerous, often designed to transgress laws and individuals’ rights.
  • To minimize population growth, contraception, pregnancy tests, and abortions must be readily available to all women; reasonable family planning, science-based information, and moral values concerning human sexuality must not be distorted by religious teachings.
  • Generally, activities of religions, ideologies of groups, and conspiracy theories should be restricted with peer- and self-monitoring: they must not include teachings that support any beliefs that overrules sciences, science-based ethics, and human rights; ‘faith’ or specific beliefs, are by definition intolerant: a religious person cannot believe that others’ ‘faiths’ are equally true as his professed faith; similarly, ideologues and participants in conspiracy theorizing groups reject any scrutiny of their beliefs and may become hostile towards ‘nonbelievers’). All media must participate in monitoring ethical principles, not distributing religious, ideological and conspiracy materials as truths or as opinions with scientific validity.

Regarding the economy:

Economic activities must be better adapted to human nature and our natural inclinations, focusing on what is beautiful, meaningful, and healthy rather than primarily lifting the material living standard. While adjusting to a sustainable, greenhouse gas neutral economy, people should generally live without any form of discrimination, with less stress and more free time and vacations,
To reform economic systems, we propose:

  • Governments must reclaim control of the money supply, creating and allocating new money and moving from a largely debt-based economy to an economy in which people, enterprises and government agencies own the money they work with.
  • Bank lending and other activities of financial institutions that create money-like accounts are severely limited; checking accounts cannot be used for loans; reserves are *increased. There are sales taxes on trade of securities.
  • Money for a minimum basic income may come from taxation income. Projects related to minimizing global warming should be paid by newly created money. A newly introduced international currency should pay for investments directly leading to mitigating climate change. An international committee would have to certify what can be paid for with that new currency.
  • High taxation are charged for all forms of greenhouse gas production and emission. Taxation is broadly used as an effective disincentive to waste and environmentally damaging activities.
  • Governments encourage production of goods and services by nonprofit enterprises: enterprises that are obliged to invest all profits in research and development, education, and/or to support other non-profit enterprises (such as plants that manufacture needed parts, offer for the enterprise valuable services, improve infrastructure, or do unrelated valuable and charitable work). Many or most researchers, engineers, and inventors prefer working cooperatively, with multiple organizations driving progress forward together, rather than competing with few gaining big profits and others working in companies that may not survive. Research and developments should be transparent and always ready to accept new groups to participate. As in much of the healing professions, the incentive to establish nonprofit productive enterprises is creating interesting, gratifying work, staying in a leadership position in one’s niche or within a leading group of enterprises, and gaining acknowledgment and possibly awards.
  • Abolishing patents except in a limited market of luxury items. Enterprises should cooperate much more rather than compete.
  • Regarding taxation: we propose consumption or sales taxes rather than income taxes; a basic sales tax is raised on all products; enterprises also pay value added taxes; services are not taxed. More important are dyseconomy taxes (dyseconomy referring to economic activities that are harmful for societies) and luxury taxes. Dyseconomy taxes are raised on products and production process that are worsening global warming, cause pollution including noxious noise, are very dangerous, and/or are harmful to environments and people’s health. Luxury taxes discourage wasteful possessions. Charging significant sales taxes on basic goods discourages waste. A basic income that is paid to everybody is in part a return for sales taxes on staple food items and other basic goods. (Levels of dyseconomy and luxury taxes for categories of products and industrial production processes may be determined by a group of democratically chosen representatives that must be very heterogeneous and works like a jury. These representatives are to receive information from relevant scientists and may discuss issues before voting. The median of by representatives given tax rates will determine the tax level for a given time until reevaluated.z

Food production and meat consumption; improved land management; returning land to natural state

Radically reducing meat consumption and returning much arable and grazing land to natural state appear to be the quickest way of decreasing greenhouse gases and protecting ecosystems. Estimates of greenhouse effects of cattle’s methane production vary, but it is substantial (lamb meat production leads to about ½, pork <1/5 the greenhouse effect of beef production). Deforestation to increase cattle grazing land adds to the problem of climate change. (In addition, degrading highly developed animals to commercial goods and disregarding their suffering is a serious ethical problem.)

Slower changes in improving the vegetation cover of land include many approaches to improve agricultural techniques and better land management, as described in Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken, 2017 2 Maybe most important is returning the northern tundra and coniferous boreal forests into steppe, with herds of Arctic herbivors (the area of permafrost is almost ¼ of the northern hemisphere; restoring it to the steppe that it was until about 11,700 years ago, when homo sapiens hunted the large herbivore herds. Other examples: we need to protect forests, peat lands, and wetlands, improve technologies of rice farming to avoid methane release from rice paddies, practice tree intercropping, plant bamboo on marginal lands for many uses, and maintain and revive many techniques used by indigenous people. In addition, we should practice more ‘vertical farming’ (gardening on ledges of building walls or stacked planters for crops that do not need much direct sunlight; possible in metropolitan areas) and broad use of hydroponic food production should be pursued. These approaches will greatly benefit the environment, improve the general health of people and create a much safer food supply for Third World countries.

As Edward O. Wilson states, it should be a goal that approximately half of the world’s land is left or returned to a natural state. Allowing corridors for animals to roam over large areas is important to greatly slow the loss of animal and plant species. Research indicates that it would also have a cooling effect and partly reverse climate change.

The U.N. and wealthy countries must start paying poorer countries to maintain and restore rain forest and return other land to natural state.
Consumption of red meat should be unusual and mainly consist in eating animals, such as deer, that have to be culled, and animals that were accidently hit by cars and immediately processed. Most land used to raise and grow feed for cattle and other mammals should be returned to a natural state. The modern industrial egg and poultry meat production is highly unethical. Animals may be raised without abuse; and male calves, old milk cows and old laying hens may be humanely slaughtered for additional meat production. Fishing methods appear generally inhumane, overfishing has done much damage to ecosystems and in many places there are problems with fish containing hazardous substances due to pollution.

Today >1/3 of cropland is used for livestock feed production and about 9% for production of fuel. About 26% of the planet’s ice-free land (60% of agricultural land) is used for livestock grazing (this includes land for milk cattle and marginal lands). Paradoxically crops used for livestock feed have been heavily subsidized in the USA.
Regarding carbon ‘footprint’ and land use, milk, eggs and chickens are least problematic land animal products with high protein content; vegetarian diets containing legumes (pulses, such as beans, peas, lentils) are by far best.1

People must understand that a largely vegetarian diet can taste great, is ethically and ecologically the best form of nutrition, and is generally much healthier than diets high in animal products. Also, if people would know about common cruelties towards farm animals, that large quantities of chicken manure are fed to beef cattle, and that much meat, practically all ground beef eaten in the United States contains fecal material, many might find beef production to be disgusting. Inhumane treatment of sentient animas must be broadly addressed as a serious ethical problem.

Regarding ethics: it is hard to imagine how much and how many farm animals suffer in very unnatural, restrictive environments and frequently life-long abuses (described by Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind, 2011). According to Harari:
the mass of humans (weight of all individuals) is approx. 300,000,000 t (1 metric ton = 1,000kg or 2204.62lb),
the mass of all farm animals (cows, sheep, pigs, chicken, etc.) is approx. 700,000,000 t
the mass of all other larger land animals (penguins to elephants) and whales is less than 100,000,000 t
(While there are some 200,000 wolfs left in the world, there are over 400,000,000 domestic dogs. In the U.S. alone, there about 80,000,000 dogs and a similar number of house cats, in the U.K, there are about 10 times less.)
Promoting vegetarian products and discouraging animal food products is possible in much less time than improving public transportation, converting to solar, wind, tide/ocean current generated and geothermal energy, improving and applying energy conservation technologies, etc.

Governments need to introduce increasing taxation of meat products according to greenhouse gas production and use of limited resources, including land, energy and water, while subsidizing and widely promoting alternative foods based on legumes (inclucing soybeans), etc.; similar to needed taxation of fossil fuels according to greenhouse gas production and pollution of land where there is drilling and fracking. Laws to protect farm animals from inhumane treatment and conditions need to be improved and enforced.

Recent data of annual world production2:
Land animal meat: >300 million t;
Approximate number of animals: 1,500 million cattle, 1,200 million sheep, 1,000 million pigs and 1,000 million goats.
Approx. world average meat consumed (kg/person,year) [1 kg = 2.2 lb]: pig 16, poultry 14, beef 9, mutton + goat 2.
Milk production, world, annual: 750 mio t.
Seafood production, world, annual: 150 mio t.
Comparison (estimated average values): 1. land use in m2 for 1g protein/year – 2. greenhouse gases as g carbon dioxide equivalent/g protein – 3. greenhouse gases per kilocalorie:  [m2 (square meter)=1.2 square yard or 10.76 square foot; g (gram)=0.035ounce, (weight of a U.S. dollar bill); 1 ounce=28.35g]
beef 1 – 222 – 22
pork 0.13 – 36 – 3.5
fresh produce 0.1 – 37 – 0.81
poultry . 0.8 – 32 – 4
egg 0.05 – 24 – 2
dairy 0.04 -35 – 2
wheat 0.04 – 5 – 2)
rice 0.02 – 21 – 0.4
maize (corn) 0.01 – 4 – 0 .1
pulses (legumes) 0.01 – 0.6 – 0.05.
[To obtain 40g protein/d, a person needs approx. 15,000g (=15kg, 33lb) protein/year; 1 m2 equals about 1/40 acre, 1.2 sq yards, 10.8 sq ft. To produce 40g beef protein daily, about 15,000m2 = 375 acre land would be needed]
Regarding efficiency of meat production: Some grazing land is also used for milk production, which is relatively efficient. In many Third World countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, marginal land that would hardly be useful for crops is used for grazing (cows, goats, sheep, camels); however, yields of milk and meat are low in these areas and much land is overgrazed. Crops for animal feed are used more for poultry and pigs than cattle. Some meat (about 1/7 of produced beef) and much chicken manure are used as feed for beef cattle.

Seafood is a limited resource; still 1/3 of the world’s fish catch is used for animal feed. Overfishing has been a major problem in all major fishing areas. Much damage has been done to ocean floor habitats. There are ethical questions regarding sentience in sea animals other than mammals and regarding humane ways of fishing.
One of the most serious ethics violation is the slaughter of wales and dolphins who have very highly developed brains and can be assumed to be at least as sensitive as humans.
Insects are eaten in some areas and appreciated as high-quality food; a much wider use of insects as food source may be considered. Regarding ethics: it is likely that animals such as insects, crabs and lobsters are hardly or minimally sentient, that is, perceptions of pain or even pleasure may be impossible or of very low intensity. The fact that they show preferences and reflective responses to adverse stimuli is hardly related to sentience.
The Netherlands appears to be leading in efficient food production. Although, small (16,000 sq miles, about 1/3 of New York, 1/10 of California) and densely populated (17,000,000 inhabitants), it has become one of the world’s foremost food exporters. In the Netherlands, there are also experiments growing meat in laboratories outside the bodies of sentient animals.

Re. deforestation, thinning forests, reducing prairie to grassland, and otherwise reducing natural vegetation: Karl-Heinz Erb (Klagenfurt, Austria, lead researcher) wrote a paper published in the journal Nature, 2017, indicating that land use led to a decrease by about 50% of carbon in plants. Humans changed land vegetation by deforestation, ‘managing’ forests by thinning and cutting out underbrush, grazing instead of leaving larger denser leafy plants and brush, etc. If half of the earth’s land would be returned to a natural state, a significant part of the carbon dioxide that was released into the atmosphere in recent decades would be removed from the atmosphere and built into vegetation, partly reversing global warming of recent decades4.
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1 http://timeforchange.org/are-cows-cause-of-global-warming-meat-methane-CO2
http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/ar591e/ar591e.pdf
https://ourworldindata.org/yields-and-land-use-in-agriculture/
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/06/green_egg/
2 Drawdown – the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse gloabl warming, edited by Paul Hawken
3 https://ourworldindata.org/meat-and-seafood-production-consumption/
4 Reported in the Austin American Statesman 12/24/2017 and in the Washington Post, by Chris Mooney
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/12/20/scientists-present-
a-sweeping-new-estimate-of-how-much-humans-have-altered-the-planet/?utm_term=.db5c399ef59b

Transportation: Ideas and proposals

Fossil fuel use for transportation is a major source of greenhouse gases. Due to low costs of fuels, there has been little incentive to avoid unnecessarily wasteful means of transportation and to avoid transportation of goods, when local production would be barely more expensive. The production and use of fossil fuels should be discouraged internationally by high taxation. Transportation by ships and barges are most efficient (particularly if large ships move slow speed), rail transportation is second in efficiency.
Diesel and waist oil use is very energy efficient. However diesel fuel technologies need to be improved with innovation for clean-burning diesel worldwide applied to minimize toxic substances and greenhouse gases. This is particularly important because of the wide use of large diesel engines in trains, trucks and ships.

Rail systems should include very small and light narrow gauge trains, 1000mm and standard gauge (1435mm) light rail, heavy freight trains, and high-speed intercity trains. Trains should connect all towns, neighborhoods, cities and places of interest; they should become an integral part of all countries’ infrastructure, the primary way of people commuting and traveling and transporting goods, including mail. Small narrow track trains (600-1,000mm) that connect small towns, villages and city neighborhoods have great advantages, particularly low construction and operating costs, safety and low environmental impact, compared to building and maintaining roads and utilizing trucks, buses and private cars).

Railways foster the development of neighborhood and community centers and increase people’s social interactions; this is important since lack of personal interactions becomes a major problem with increasing electronic communication, etc. Public transportation also promotes walking as a natural part of daily life (people generally enjoy walking more when it is meaningful and has a goal rather than primarily for health.

Improved bus networks may serve as interim solution where there are roads, but buses have few advantages compared with light-rail systems, and they should use advanced technology to minimize their impact on the environment. For local and vacation use, electric or clean electric-diesel hybrid cars, minivans and buses for group travel should be readily available for rent or in vehicle share programs. Trains may offer the service of transporting street vehicles particularly in mountainous areas or through train tunnels, and ferry services may be expanded.

Road systems should be reduced since road building only encourages road use, particularly wasteful commuting in individual cars. Safer, self-driving, and more fuel-efficient cars will soon be available but can hardly compete with the advantages of rail transportation.

Many roads should be designated exclusively for bicycles and other human-powered, hybrid electric-human powered vehicles of different types, and ultra-light electric vehicles (that are mechanically largely based on bicycle technology): tandem bicycles, bicycles with safe child seats and or much cargo space, vehicles for 1-4 (or more) people with lightweight-reinforced aerodynamic bodies with option of recumbent positions, etc. Electric engines should charge batteries while braking and slowing vehicle when driving downhill; batteries may additionally be charged by pedaling when going downhill, going slow and while standing.

Robotics will replace many workers. Rather than adding unskilled service jobs in food industries, many of these workers should be employed for large public programs of rail construction and other infrastructure projects.
Railways, more specific ideas:

Railway systems, using recent and presently available technologies, and ideas for trains crossing oceans in floating tubes or tunnels, are described.
Transportation technologies should be continuously updated but for psychosocial reasons, individual self-driving cars for regular commuting should be discouraged, even if safer and more fuel efficient than present cars.

      • Very sparsely populated and mountainous regions greatly benefit from inexpensively, easy to build train lines of 800 or 600mm, rarely even 500mm track gauge. Routes may include cogwheel and funicular trains, aerial tramways, gondola lift connections and ferry boats.
      •  More important lines may utilize 1000mm and standard gauge light-rail lines and heavy freight lines where needed. (Generally, light-rail lines can be used for virtually all types of freight transportation but requires more cars and are less efficient.)
      •  In more densely populated and highly industrialized regions, standard gauge, including high speed trains are appropriate; much used lines may have three double track lines: for frequently stopping trains, for intercity connections and for freight trains.
      •  Within metropolitan areas, 1,000mm and/or standard gauge streetcars (trams), funicular trains or gondolas in very hilly areas, gondolas crossing wide rivers and lakes, subways (underground trains) and above ground train lines, etc. should interconnect with suburban and long-distance trains, etc. Buses should become much less important.
      •  High-speed trains, possibly running in tunnels or above ground ‘tubes,’ on tracks or with magnetic levitation, may replace most airplane connections.
      •  All trains must be equipped with safety features, electronically preventing them to go above set speed limits or passing red lights; safe self-driving technologies should be much simpler for trains than cars. To improve safety, a with rail wheels fitted small car that is able to stop like road traffic may drive ahead of trains in some lines.

Narrow track trains in poor, sparsely populated areas may use cars partly built with local material: wood, bamboo, etc., and engines fueled partly by local organic matters such as methane, waste food oil, etc. Generally, trains should operate with electricity; they may use roof solar panels and battery packs or possibly hydrogen cells that convert hydrogen into electricity (battery packs or hydrogen cells could be exchanged at stations rather than re-charged while train is waiting). In all areas, small light-rail double track (one-way) trains that connect all communities and city neighborhoods are preferable to larger trains on single track lines, running infrequently with few stations and excluding many communities.

For transportation of commercial goods and luggage of passengers, all forms of transportation should be designed for few standardized sizes and shapes of suitcases and trunks; personal luggage compartments should be essentially the same in mountain narrow track and high-speed trains, with uniform compartments to keep trunks, backpacks, etc.

Today there are many 1000mm mountain and light rail trains; examples include the streetcars of Zürich and most Swiss mountain trains. Seating in these train cars is as in standard trains except narrower; and they can climb grades of up to >10% without cogwheels. [Switzerland’s mountain trains climb grades of 7-7.9%, most are 1000mm gauge with range of 800mm to standard (1435mm)]. Much narrower trains may have an aisle with two and one, one and one seats on each side or two seats on one side of aisle; smallest short distance connecting trains may have cars without aisles.
Much engineering work is needed to optimally adapt systems to places, levels of industrialization, geography, etc.; to help utilize local resources as feasible; and to optimize efficiency. Systems should incorporate funicular railways and aerial lifts that may transport small light rail cars across valleys and up to higher levels. Gondola lifts may be incorporated in city and mountainous rural light rail systems; if no cars are transported, gondolas may be preferable to ferryboats. Engineering tasks include connecting different railways into one system that is also connected with airports, with ports for barges and ships, and building stations that consider convenience and local culture.

Long-distance and intercontinental transportation:

      • Global rail lines across rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, engineering ideas: “Tunnels” may be built that look like tubes or the steel reinforced concrete ‘lining’ of mountain and under-water tunnels, except that they would be built on ships and then lowered to loosely rest on the bottom of a river or lake, or to float in the sea, their bottom filled with rock and gravel to a level where they approximate the specific gravity of water. In order not to interfere with ship traffic and avoid disturbances of intense waves, they would be ‘hung’ from rows of small floating islands with lighthouses at an internationally agreed upon depth. To withstand ocean currents, floating islands and rail lines have to be anchored or moored to the bottom of the sea. Pressure from ocan currents may be minimized by running lines along gulf stream, very gradually crossing it between New England and Ireland, or a line may run between the equatorial streams between the Natal, Brazil and Freetown, Sierra Leone.
      • Fast trains may run in partly evacuated tubes with magnetic levitation.
        Compare Swissmetro magnetic levitation train project, first proposed 1974, projected to run at approx. 600km/h or 360mph (it has not been considered financially feasible); and ultra-fast ‘hyperloop’ trains as envisioned by Elon Musk.
      • In natural environments such as prairies or tropical rainforests, trains should run in tunnels or several meters above ground where trains on the ground would disturb free movements of animals and local, indigenous people.

A ‘far-off idea’ is building floating land corridors across the Atlantic and Pacific, utilizing lightweight materials such as autoclaved aerated concrete (Ytong) [drawback: present way of producing cement creates much greenhouse gases] and/or pumice (air-containing volcanic rock). Incorporating fast-growing wood that can be treated to resists water-logging when exposed to seawater would have the advantage of permanently binding much carbon, thus decreasing atmospheric greenhouse gases. Such land corridors may be partly used for agriculture with trains running in the center.

Airplanes, trucks and buses are expected to continue to fulfill a minor role in the transportation infrastructure, and all airports should include train stations connected suburban and subway systems; but with fuels taxed according to their damaging effect on climate and other forms of pollution taxation, they are strongly discouraged as compared with ship and rail traffic.

Ships: Ship traffic is valuable and efficient, but it is important that ships are built or refurbished to operate following high standards concerning safety, pollution and efficiency. Oil spills must be prevented in much more methodical ways. Particularly modern luxury cruise ships have been reported to be very polluting. Also, traveling slower (about 18 knots/hour or 33 km/h) greatly increases fuel efficiency, and usually there is no need to go at usual speeds of 24 knots/hour [45 km/h].1
Barges used for transportation of goods and people may be pulled by cables low in the air following routes along coasts, in rivers, and in canals, comparable to ski lifts. This system will avoid the need for diesel engines with propellers and help guide the vessels.

Road traffic (immediate short-term actions): [added 4/2016]

The overall goal is to greatly reduce private ownership and use of cars and later also car sharing. Until adequate public transportation with rail systems are in place, governments must legislate rational interim goals, addressing efficiency, safety, strongly discourage SUVs and trucks for commuting, etc.

All new cars should have aerodynamic bodies (as Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ionic hybrid cars today (2017) with body reinforcements for safety. All cars but particularly larger vehicles, should be partly self-driving (holding lanes and keeping safe but short distance from cars ahead and stopping automatically for pedestrians and larger animals), allowing much denser traffic on limited roads. In addition, all cars and trucks should have cameras in the back and stop automatically when backing towards an obstacle, such as a child or any larger object; and all streets and roads should have well painted and logical lines and markings that guide car and bicycle traffic in their lanes.

The present trend to have mostly electric cars that are recharged every evening is problematic; electric grids may not tolerate such draws of energy. If electricity is still produced with fossil fuels, there is no advantage, if solar panels are a main source of electricity, more batteries are needed to store electricity from sunny daytime to time of people charging their cars after work. Expensive infrastructure adaptations would be needed.

If or when fuel cells and fuel cell vehicles are widely available, vehicles using fossil fuels will no longer be needed. It is surprising how slow the development towards wide use of fuel cells has been.

Proposal for present: Cars have a small gas, diesel or natural gas engine in front driving front wheels, with option of independent small electric engines (small engines for city driving, more powerful engines in places where out-of-town driving in mountainous areas is needed) with choices of battery pack sizes in back of car, driving rear wheels. The electric motors are used to brake and slow car down while driving downhill; and they allow short-distance, particularly city driving with the electric motor only and four-wheel drive mode with more power when needed. Batteries can also be charged by slightly ‘braking’ rear wheels while front wheels are driven. More efforts may be needed to build small, clean diesel engines; diesel engines are basically more efficient than gasoline (petrol) engines and have the advantage that diesel oil is not explosive and diesel engines can use waste food oil.

Present fuel-efficient front wheel drive cars may be retrofitted with electric engines with batteries driving back wheels.
In addition, all cars should have optimal safety features, self-driving technology for accident avoidance, possibly external pedestrian protecting airbags (as Volvo has installed in some models), etc. – government incentives and savings in insurance fees should cover these costs.

Screens are overused and potentially dangerous. E.g. radios, heating and ventilation should be operated by feel without looking at a screen.

While, following the lead of the USA, car manufacturers and buyers worldwide have been reinforcing each other in replacing cars with SUVs that are less safe and use more fuel.

For safety reasons, SUVs and trucks should at least have low bumpers of uniform height to match car bumpers and hit pedestrians and cyclists below the center of gravity, throwing them forward rather than causing deadly hits in vital organs and pushing person to the ground.

The U.S. government should take a leadership role in taking action.  SUVs are undesirable because:
1. SUVs have, compared with same-size station wagons and minivans, poor fuel efficiency.
2. Compared with sedans and station wagons, SUVs are, in accidents, much more dangerous to pedestrians, bicyclists and also drivers/passengers of small vehicles.
3. SUVs are expensive and many buyers who believe they ‘need’ an SUV cannot afford them, leading to debts and neglect of other priorities.

SUVs are perceived as safe vehicles because they have become primary child transport vehicles and parents with children drive usually very cautiously. However SUVs and pick-up trucks are inferior in emergency handling and are very dangerous in impacts; and, even if an SUV handles well, high-seated drivers are less likely to do quick avoidance maneuvers.

Psychologically, utility vehicle drivers feel more removed from the ground and perceive a passive safety that may make them less responsive to pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. In the USA and some other countries, the rights of pedestrians on indicated pedestrian street crossings are largely ignored with complete impunity.

Statistics comparing cars with SUVs and with pick-up trucks show that pick-up trucks are by far most dangerous, particularly in accidents involving pedestrians – the similarly built SUVs seem safer because of defensive drivers (often women with children). While other vehicle accident deaths have generally been decreasing in the last few years, pedestrian deaths increased.

SUVs are relatively expensive to buy and to run; people spend too much money on them and are thus more likely to neglect other priorities and/or become desperately indebted, which is a major mental health issue: unmanageable debts are a main reason for depression and suicides; heavily indebted people discount their future and are more likely to commit crimes, abuse substances and become addicted.

PROPOSAL: To improve safety and fuel efficiency, utility vehicles (SUVs, crossover SUVs and all types of trucks) must have lower speed limits than cars (sedans, sports cars, station wagons, minivans) and traffic fines must be more severe (also, drivers licenses should be more readily removed). There may be a distinction between crossover SUVs and small pick-up trucks versus large vehicles, considering height of cabin floor, height of hood, and vehicle weight, e.g. crossover SUVs must always drive up to, never at or slightly above speed limit as is otherwise tolerated today, and large/heavy SUVs and trucks must drive 5 mph below speed limits up to limits of 40 mph, 10mph below higher speed limits.
There should be a nationwide speed limit of 70mph, 60mph for large utility vehicles and trucks.

All cars and trucks must have bumpers on standard height in front and the back of the vehicle’s body (so that a pedestrian or cyclist cannot be pushed under vehicle and colliding vehicles’ bumpers meet); also the side of trucks must have protective covers that prevent other vehicles or pedestrians from getting caught under the floor of the truck; for large trucks, bumpers may be telescopically lifted when going through a trough or ditch.
Sweden is studying and experimenting with and implementing systematic approaches to make road and city traffic much safer; Stockholm has goal of zero pedestrian and other traffic fatalities within a few years. All other countries should follow such approaches with no delay.
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1 According to Hofstra University research at 18 knots [33 km/h], the fuel consumption/mile is approx. half. Compared with 24 knots [45 km/h] [https://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch8en/…/fuel_consumption_containerships.html]

Renewable energy, and minimizing energy losses

Many forms of renewable energy should be further researched, developed and applied; ways of saving energy by innovative approaches to keeping buildings temperature within reasonable range:.

      • Solar panels have the drawback that they create heat-absorbing surfaces that heat the air above them, rather than reflecting much of the sun light. Covering the panels with a thin layer of water, so that panels can serve to heat water as well as producing electricity, heating greenhouses in cold climates and other ways of utilizing the heat should be considered. To heat greenhouses, air may be blown over commercial solar panels.
      •  Further work may include developing more wind farms, hydropower, power from tides, geothermal power, etc.
      •  Small to midsize vertical axis sail mills, central poles being held in place by three or more guy wires, may serve thinly populated areas. Sea/ocean currents may be used to drive turbines.

Minimizing energy losses:  Energy saving requires improving buildings: isolation of walls, basements/concrete slabs, attics and roofs, and decreased air leaks, high quality windows, window covers, etc.
Proper climate adapted clothing and less heating in winter, less cooling in summer is healthy and efficient.

Experimental approaches in energy efficient buildings and climate control:

      • It is important to minimize heating areas, particularly densely populated areas, by producing electricity with solar collectors, conventional, or nuclear powerplants and by any excess use of electricity. Cooling water at powerplants and raising locally air temperature with black solare collectos may lead to increased humidity (water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas); clouds that could reflect solar radiations during the day may give way to blue sky, and cloud formation during cooler nights may trap the warmth that otherwise would radiate into the night sky.
      • In times of excess electricity production, production of hydrogen and production and storage of ice for later use to cool buildings and facilities (reducing load on electric grids). Enzymes of specific bacteria can turn hydrogen into liquid biofuel.
      • Buildings should have large, isolated underground tanks to store heat and cold water/ice for cold and hot seasons.
      • Ice could be produced in very cold areas and shipped to populated areas in subtropics and tropics. Designing-building systems for storing ice produced in winter for summer.
      • Water may be cooled when heating with heat pumps. Waste heat should be stored for heating in winter and for hot water in households; particularly the heat produced by air conditioners should heat well isolated underground water tanks.
      • Water may be cooled by running at night through ‘reverse solar collectors’ and from heating with heat pumps.
      • Solar hot water installations for heating; possibly storage of water heated in summer for heating in winter. Same installations used to cool water at night to cool houses during daytime.
      • Roofs covered with mini-blind-like panels with a white-reflecting side, turned up during daytime (in hot season), keeps roof cool, and black-radiating side, turned up during nights, radiates warmth into the cold night sky. Water running over the roof may additionally cool through evaporation. Water running over it at night will become considerably colder than the ambient air temperature and can then be stored in an attic tank that cools that building during daytime. During cold times, the cycles may be reversed: the white roof during the night avoids heat radiation into the night sky, and the black roof during daytime heats water that is collected in a basement tank that keeps the temperature of the building fairly constant; the efficiency of heat trapping is much increased if there is a cover with greenhouse glass or polyethylene (such a cover has to be removed in the hot season).
      • Alcohol from alcoholic beverages may be partly removed, decreasing the alcohol contennt of often abuse beverages and creating biofuel. The alcohol content does not influence the taste of wine or beer – generally people consume far too much alcohol.

Population density, improved housing and living culture

Obviously, family planning (with ready access to reliable contraception and emergency abortions) is most important. The goal is to decrease the world population.

For social reasons and to minimize energy consumption, population density in towns and cities should generally be high, with people living in multistory or terraced condominiums rather than freestanding one family or town houses, using all roofing, sun-exposed walls and shade covers either as gardens or solar panels. Underground floors may serve as communally used spaces, stores, movie theaters, parking space for bicycles and human-powered, human-powered-electric and/or hybrid vehicles and rental cars, etc. Community centers may be built in close proximity to railway stops and fulfill social functions.

Many traditional towns and villages seemd to be more livable with more spontaneous interactions between people than modern cities with large suburbs. The “car culture” is not conducive to contact even among people within neighborhoods.

Generally, living culture in modern societies should be reevaluated and improved. Dwellings may be more conducive to social wellbeing if quite small and feeling ‘cozy’; people may benefit from living densely without everybody having own bedroom and bathrooms. Energy conservation should always be considered when building and remodeling houses, using excellent insulation, and by practicing simple living and heating and cooling houses considerably less than is common in highly industrialized countries. People, as their animal relatives, are quite adaptable and can feel comfortable in a wide range of environments; discomfort in relatively cold or hot temperatures is largely due to being accustomed to and expecting much heating and air conditioning. Physiologically stressing systems, e.g. swimming in cold water and sweating intensely when outdoors in hot weather, staying very active for extended times without eating, etc. is probably very healthy for body and mind.

Nuclear energy, CFC and HCFC refrigerants, carbon sequestration, other approaches

Governments and international organizations may have to renew the options of developing much nuclear power. Safer systems of harnessing nuclear power and disposing of large quantities of nuclear waste, including the option of fusion energy, must be reviewed by the European Union and the USA, possibly in cooperation with China, India and other rapidly developing countries.

CFC and HCFC refrigerants are still in use in many areas and must be phased out with no delay.

To reduce global warming, there are few relevant factors humans may influence:
Greenhouse effect, meaning sunlight that reaches the earth and is absorbed by a dark surface is not mostly reflected back as visible light but as infrared, which is partly trapped by the CO2-rich atmosphere (methane and some other gases are adding to the greenhouse effect).
– We can and must greatly decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
– The greenhouse effect effect can be diminished by sequestering carbon, which indirectly decreases the CO2 in the air. CO2 is used by growing plants, however most CO2 is released back into the atmosphere when the plant burns or rots with exposure to oxygen. Carbon, bound in plants, can be prevented from becoming atmospheric CO2 (sequestered) if 1. plant material (such as wood and bamboo) are used in buildings and vehicles, where it is preserved for long times, 2. if plant material is turned into charcoal (by pyrolysis, heating without oxygen), 3. if wood is waterlogged and sunk into lakes or the sea, or 4. if dead plant material naturally stays in the ground without significant exposure to oxygen, increasing the carbon content of soils. There are some rock formations that firmly bind CO2.
How land is managed influences the carbon content of soils; soils contain much more carbon than the atmosphere. Land with natural vegetation and wet lands generally contain much carbon; plowing and most commercial forms of farming decreases the soil’s carbon content, because carbon-containing biomass is more exposed to the air’s oxygen and to microorganisms that consume the organic matter. Seaweed farming may bind much carbon with dead seaweed sinking to the ground like water-logged .
The much propagated carbon capture at fossil fueled power plants is inefficient and polluting, and sequestration by pumping CO2 into the ground at old oil, gas, or coal production areas is not safe; it may be temporary and leaks are lethal to humans and animals (CO2 is invisible, odorless, and heavier than air; leaking CO2 can form ‘lakes’ with no oxygen).
­- The color of the earth’s surface as seen from space is a good indication of how much light is reflected back into space rather than being transformed into infrared that will be partly trapped. Water and thin ice appears black, plant cover, earth, and rock vary in color. Forests where as many trees rot as grow, may add to global warming by their absorption of sunlight. The surface of the earth may be shielded from sun light by low clouds; high clouds may have a paradoxical effect. Sulfur particles as released in volcanic eruptions partly shield the world from sunlight but they destroy the ozone layer. So far there is no technology of increasing the protection of the earth from sun radiation. But we may influence the reflection of sun light some: increase sun reflection of bare land and vegetation and protect thin ice with snow, made by snow-making machines, use very light-colored materials for roadways and roofs, and plant mostly light green plants. Wind farms appear preferable to solar farms since solar panels are black with an energy-producing efficiency of less than  30%.

Rather than creating biofuels, carbon may be sequestered as has naturally occurred in the formation of lignite, coal and other fossil fuels. Rapidly growing trees, brush that should be removed to decrease the danger of forest fires and other vegetation may be collected and used, by slow pyrolysis, to produce charcoal, which then can be buried or added to soil; or plant material may otherwise be buried in ways that do not lead to rotting, e.g waterlogging it and sinking it in lakes or  ocean.s

Other forms of removing greenhouse gases and carbon from the environment must be pursued. However, so far, no approach can readily be scaled up to compensate for present CO2 production.

Ways of partly shielding the world from solar radiation and increasing reflection of radiation may be pursued.

Pets and Sacred animals

While pets often are a great asset to children and adults, pets, particularly large dogs, are often a major burden for our ecology, increasing greenhouse gases, polluting and competing for limited resources. Pets often create ethical problems as people who acquire (adopt) them end up neglecting them and do not know their social and other needs, etc.; people often have multiple large dogs but do not interact with them much. Particularly large, spoiled pets compete with food resources with poor people. The number of dogs and cats in suburban area is often much higher than in natural habitats of comparable predators. To provide humane conditions for pets and get optimal benefits from their company, people should only be allowed to have (adopt) a pet after learning about their needs, how to treat them, committing to taking good care of them and preventing unwanted offspring. Only animals that are suited by their nature to make good pets should be permitted. Euthanizing unwanted ‘rescue’ animals is ethically the right solution. Hazards of rescue dogs and dangerous breeds to children and strangers is often underestimated. Occasionally dogs severely injure and kill children, delivery persons, and, particularly in rural areas, pedestrians and joggers. Outdoor cats disturb ecological balances. Even if not hungry, they hunt many small animals at dawn, dusk and night, usually without the pet owners’ knowledge. Many cats and dogs have become feral, without an owner caring about them, and they harm local wildlife.
Religions must be recognized as part of people’s private culture. Religions should encompass communal activities for people of all ages, including meditative and spiritual practices, rituals, maybe forms of artistic expression; however, religious teachings must not interfere with ethical ways of dealing with the vast problems of the modern world.
In the USA, dogs are often treated as if having quasi-religious or ‘human’ rights, while other highly evolved animals are horribly exploited and abused. India and other countries must find ways of respecting cattle and other animals but they must also seek pragmatic solutions to avoid religious conflicts with minorities who do not share Hindus’ beliefs, and to control animal populations that directly compete with malnourished people and contribute to climate change. All sentient animals should be treated humanely and, if ethically killing an animal is justified, the way of killing animals should be the most humane way that is feasible.

Reversing desertification, decreasing need for irrigation, bringing rain to dry areas

(untested idea according to anecdotal observations and physics):

Summary:
If the surface of the ground is increased, there is much less heat gain during the day. In hot, arid land, building W-E running ridges and ditches will immediately cool the area; more vegetation may grow for grazing animals, less irrigation is needed for horticulture, etc. Perennial plants/crops may hold topsoil of the steep slopes of ridges-ditches.
With the destruction of vegetation at the edges of deserts, primarily due to cutting woody vegetation and overgrazing, the exposed soil and rocks and the air close to the ground become much hotter compared with land covered by vegetation (grass, brush, trees). This hot air rises, causing low barometric pressure and a sea breeze-like effect; however, even if air moving into the newly arid area contains moisture, the heat greatly reduces the possibility of cloud formation. Rains diminish and semiarid areas become part of adjacent deserts.

To reestablish previous rain patterns, the ground temperature can be decreased by increasing its surface area. Rock walls of ruins and dead trees in arid areas cool the ground: a much larger area is exposed to sun rays and much more mass is heated by the sun, resulting in much smaller morning-afternoon temperature increases. Different possibilities of increasing the ground surface are described ; a simple way is digging ditches or narrow channels and building walls or mound ridges or banks (a few feet wide, deep, high); running East-West is most beneficial. Temperatures may also be lowered by painting sun-exposed surfaces with reflective white (whitewash, white stucco).
Reducing the heat gain of low layers of air and preventing the updraft of hot air during daytime may reverse desertification, allowing the growth of drought-resistant plants and decreasing the need for irrigation if crops are planted.

Introductory remarks, anecdotes and observation:

When driving West from Saltillo in Northern Mexico through the desert area toward Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila, the sky was blue – no cloud. Then we saw first a dark cloud, then, under the cloud the green of the oasis. My grandmother said that forests attract rain; most climatologists believe rain leads to much vegetation, allowing forests to grow. There is no contradiction between the two observations; both appear true.
On researching the issue, there is a 2009 paper in BioScience by Douglas Sheil and Daniel Murdiyarso: How Forests Attract Rain: An Examination of a New Hypothesis.
[Under this hypothesis, high rainfall occurs in continental interiors such as the Amazon and Congo river basins only because of near-continuous forest cover from interior to coast. The underlying mechanism emphasizes the role of evaporation and condensation in generating atmospheric pressure differences, and accounts for several phenomena neglected by existing models.]

The authors interpret the rain attracting effect of the great tropical rainforests in a complex model that does not consider how desertification, which we would like to reverse, occurs. I believe that observations concerning the deserts’ spreading and cloud formation over lush vegetation, are relevant.

Climatic principles (also used in passive solar design):

      • Temperatures vary most at the surface that is heated directly by sunshine and from where heat radiates into the night sky: the unprotected ground, roofs and plants (leaves, stems, etc.); differences in temperature vary greatly depending on surface materials: metal or rock surfaces heat up and cool down far more than surfaces covered by plants (leaves, stems, etc.). The air above and the ground or materials below are heated and cooled by these surfaces. This is why, even if the air temperature is above freezing, car roofs and windows and even the pavement on bridges may freeze at night, and why sun exposed cars, roofs and pavements become very hot.
      •  If the surface area that receives a certain amount of sunshine is relatively small (about at right angle to the sun rays) and the material that is hit by sun light has little specific heat (so that relatively little energy is needed to increase its temperature), the surface will get very hot during son exposure and get very cold in a clear nights (examples: flat, directly sun-exposed metal sheet; conventional roofing; stone or sand particularly if flat on sun-exposed slope or horizontal in tropical area).
      •  While day-night temperature differences are large at ground level and close to the ground, air at higher levels changes much less in temperature. Thus during day time the hot air rises, cooling off some as the air pressure drops with height. However, the cold night air close to the ground does not rise and the temperature at higher levels decreases much less than on the ground.
        – In a loose pile of rocks, the rocks on top have large day-night temperature differences but lower, shaded rocks cool down at night and stay cool during the day since the hot air does not sink down between the rocks.
      •  The color and surface characteristics of an area that is struck by sunlight is important: white stucco is very reflective and a good radiator; it stays almost as cool if sun exposed as if shaded; most dark surfaces absorb much heat during the day (become hot) but also radiate much during the night (cooling off rapidly); shiny metal reflects well but radiates little, thus, even though reflecting much sun light, it becomes very hot during the day; ‘selective black’ surfaces, as used for solar water heaters, gather much heat and radiate little.
      •  The heat conductivity, specific heat and specific gravity of surface materials are important: if superficial heat easily warms up deeper layers and if it takes much energy to warm up material, there are less temperature variations at the surface, e.g. water absorbs heat well but has high specific heat and heat conduction is fair leading to relatively small temperature differences between day and night; additionally more or less evaporation (depending on air humidity and wind)cools the water surface during day time. Dry sand, gravel or earth do not conduct heat well, have relatively lower specific heat but specific gravity approx. 2 x that of water; heat transfer in 12 hours (day-night difference) reach about one foot (12cm): due to this heat transfer delay, desert sand one foot below the surface is coldest before sunset but warmest before sunrise); consequently diurnal and seasonal ground and air temperature differences are large in desert areas. Caves and deep wells have fairly constant temperatures (average of year temperature; more where in winter snow cover isolates ground from extreme cold).
      •  Surfaces at steep grades and interrupted surfaces with light filtering through multiple layers (for instance of leaves) lead to less varying temperature on and close to the ground, particularly if there is considerable mass in layers, e.g. layers of water containing leaves, tree trunks, and particularly in rainforests, multiple canopies of thick foliage. In ruins of buildings without remaining roofs, the daytime temperatures remain much lower than in surroundings, comparable to temperatures where there is good shading by trees. (East and West oriented slopes have at times significant sun exposure but only during mornings or evening; South exposure is in tropical areas always at a significant angle, thus less intense; very hilly areas have less day-night temperature differences than open planes.)

Characteristics of deserts:

      •  Sun-exposed stone or sand surfaces become very hot when exposed to sunlight, much hotter than the air above them.
      • Above the ground forms a layer of hot and dry air; raindrops, if any, may dry before they reach the ground.
      •  During daytime, the updraft of hot air lowers the barometric pressure, dries up clouds, prevents cloud formation or drives clouds away.
      •  The daytime sea breeze results from air over land warming more than over the sea, rising and drawing in air from the sea. Similarly, when desert air heats up and rises, cooler air is drawn in from shaded cooler areas or water surfaces close to desert (if there are any), but this cooler air rapidly dries, heats up and rises. Thus in oasis and along rivers in desert areas, the air is drier than in larger vegetated areas. At night, this air movement essentially stops and is reversed at much lesser intensity; cold air does not rise and warmer air at higher levels does not mix with the cool air close to the ground.
      •  With radiation of surface warmth into the clear night sky, air close to the ground becomes very cold but cold air does not rise; higher layers of air that may contain some humidity stay relatively warmer; there is no vertical air movement and even at night there is hardly cloud formation.
      •  The larger the area of desert and overgrazed semi-desert with exposed rock, earth and sand, the less cooler, moist air is in surrounding areas that could be drawn into the central desert where hot ground air rises most. This leads to continuous dryness and extreme temperature differences between day and night, winter and summer (comparable to ‘continental climates’ in the relatively dry central parts of large land areas, as in central Asia and the central plains of North America.

Proposed action plan (untested; somewhat labor intensive but otherwise inexpensive):

There are ways to decrease day-time heat, decrease need for water use when irrigating land and possibly reverse desertification. Places to start may include areas where deserts have been expanding, apparently due to deforestation, cutting brush and trees for fire wood or to increase grazing land, and where land was overgrazed, where animals denuded ground and leave small trees without leaves, and/or around irrigated areas, close to rivers and large oasis.

      •  People may create wide area of narrow channels or ditches and mound ridges or walls (that are thin on top) running about West to East (W-E), several feet high or deep and 2-3 feet wide. W-E orientation allows the low sun in morning and evening to deeply penetrate between steep sides of channels and walls; around noon, the sun is high in sky and reaches most surfaces at a flat angle. Sun-exposed ground surface may also be increased by building a dense array of high mounds, towers or piles of irregular seize rocks and/or adobe bricks (cairns or stone columns). Trash for land fill may be used to form W-E running steep mounds, and roofs should have pitched roofs with gables running W-E. These measures will greatly enlarge surfaces where the sun strikes the earth that has contact with air (“diluting” the heating effect), enlarging the mass that is warmed by sunshine and decreasing daytime temperatures close to the ground, particularly in the afternoon.
      • For the region appropriate perennial crop plants, which do not grow submerged in water, may be planted on steep slopes of ridges-ditches, holding the topsoil in place as soon as rots are well established.
        When digging, earth/sand/rocks about one foot deep are much colder than surface material, and when building ditches and ridges, the heat gain of the ground in sunny afternoons is immediately decreased, making at least working and travel more comfortable.
        Obviously, land that is not flat is more difficult to use agriculturally but at the edge of deserts, it may encourage much more drought-resistant brush growing, which may feed some camels, goats, etc. It is also likely that limited horticulture and the planting of agriculturally valuable bushes and trees will be possible with little irrigation.
      •  Particularly around oasis and irrigated land, in places where it is hard to dig channels and/or where there are not enough lose rocks, people may create strips of land (with walkways or narrow roads in-between), where they shade the ground with thick layers of dry brush interspersed with loosely placed small horizontal flat materials: flat rocks, broken tiles, sheets of waste paper and small cardboard pieces, and other essentially worthless materials that can form horizontal, interrupted layers (threadbare cloth, rotting wood board, rusted sheet metal and other building material pieces), several yards (meters) high. Horizontal layers of paper, cloth, metal and other materials must be loosely covered with dirt, sand or small rocks and dry branches, holding them down and absorbing/storing heat. This enlarges the area and mass that absorb sunlight and the surface-to-air contact areas with consequently smaller temperature increases. The process of building up these mounds of dead branches and waste materials at the edge of agricultural land may be very gradual, as peasants can collect suitable materials; it has the result of enlarging cooler areas, reversing desertification and leading to cooler areas that may be large enough to result in cloud formation and increased rain.
      •  There may be combinations of ditches-mounds/walls and layered dry materials.
      •  In addition, to minimize heat gain in settlements during days, roofs that are not used for roof gardens or solar collectors may be kept cool using white wash and/or white stucco to increase reflection, decreasing heat absorption.
      •  Particularly in more remote areas at the edge of deserts, large desert areas may be ‘painted’ with a thin layer of highly reflective white material (may be a layer of white sand, use of whitewash). With high reflectivity, the surface temperature of the white ground remains similarly low as if shaded, e.g. by cloud cover or vegetation. The ‘painted’ surface must be permeable or interrupted by adequate groves to allow moisture (condensation in cold mornings or rain) to seep into the ground and plants to grow. However, for travelers and animals, bright white ground surfaces may be bad for the eyes if not dangerous; good eye protection glasses and generally increased sun protection would be needed. Since whitewash has antibacterial properties, other effects on the environment need to be studied. If an area is adequately large and close to areas with high humidity, e.g. desert close to the Mediterranean Sea, cloud formation and rain are likely to occur.
      •  If only small areas of soil, underneath brush or between walls and in ditches is exposed, humidity will collect in small areas of soil, making it more likely that it is adequate for plants to start growing. Some humidity may form condensation droplets in the early mornings. If there are large reflective areas and there is a possibility that plants start growing, having much of the surface non-porous with perforations may also help to collect limited water to small spots of sand and earth.
        Expected result:
      •  More mass is heated much less intensely, temperatures rise less during daytime and close to the ground, the expanded surfaces warm a thicker layer of air with low intensity. There will be much less temperature differences between air close to the ground versus air several meters (yards) above, and between day and night.
      •  As in forested areas, with a cool ground and with cooler air temperature close to the ground and at higher levels, there should be much less updraft of warm/hot air.
      •  As before overgrazing and desertification in the region, cooler moist air moving over the area is more likely to form clouds and bring rain. In mornings there may be enough humidity to form condensation.
      •  When rain occurs, it readily drips down between horizontal sheet materials or between walls / mounds, reaches the ground, moistens topsoil and may seep into aquifers. Where the desert surface is covered with a layer of reflective white (if not water-permeable, with perforations), rain or condensation water should be rapidly absorbed by the ground.
      •  Fast and high-growing vegetation may grow where water accumulates and later replace dead brush, grow between rocks and walls or in perforations of white reflective layers, followed by desired, agriculturally useful planted bushy plants and trees.
      •  Plants in ditches between walls or mounds may grow adequately to feed some grazing animals, such as camels and goats (condensaltion water in early mornings and/or minimal rain is likely to collect in bottoms of ditches and moisten top soil, rather than quickly evaporate).
      •  With limited irrigation, limited horticulture may be possible, with drought-resistant plants growing in lowest places. Shade trees and agriculturally valubale bushes and trees should need relatively little irrigation. (There is valuable research concerning sustainable agriculture in the tropics that includes trees that produce nutritious and marketable products.)
      •  Once vegetation is established and shading ground effectively, rock piles, trash materials that did not disintegrate, etc. can be removed and irregular earth surfaces can be adjusted as desired.
        Final goals are:
      •  Relatively dense vegetation that needs little water, if possible including agriculturally valuable vegetation with multiple stories of foliage, will lead to temperature layering (warmer at top of higher trees, cool in very shaded ground level).
      •  If area is relatively large, we may expectat normal rainy season as in vegetated areas of the same latitude (before deforestation, overgrazing and desertification) – global warming should not interfere with growth of dense vegetation and normal tropical rainfall.

Regarding improved governance, see 4.5

 

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