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Sucker bet (a thought experiment)

Here is a thought experiment for our age.

You wake up to find your fairy godmother has overachieved: you're a new you, in a physically attractive, healthy body with no ailments and no older than 25 (giving you a reasonable propect of living to see the year 2100: making it to 2059 is pretty much a dead certainty).

The new you is also fabulously wealthy: you are the beneficial owner of a gigantic share portfolio which, your wealth management team assures you, is worth on the order of $100Bn, and sufficiently stable that even Trump's worst rage-tweeting never causes you to lose more than half a billion or so: even a repeat of the 2008 crisis will only cost you half an Apollo program.

Finally, you're outside the public eye. While your fellow multi-billionaires know you, your photo doesn't regularly appear in HELLO! magazine or Private Eye: you can walk the streets of Manhattan in reasonable safety without a bodyguard, if you so desire.

Now read on below the cut for the small print.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs takes on a whole new appearance from this angle.

Firstly: anthropogenic climate change will personally affect you in the years to come. (It may be the biggest threat to your survival.)

Secondly: the tensions generated by late-stage capitalism and rampant nationalist populism also affect you personally, insofar as billionaires as a class are getting the blame for all the world's ills whether or not they personally did anything blameworthy.

Let's add some more constraints.

Your wealth grows by 1% per annum, compounded, in the absence of Global Financial Crises.

Currently there is a 10% probability of another Global Financial Crisis in the next year, which will cut your wealth by 30%. For each year in which there is no GFC, the probability of a GFC in the next year rises by 2%. (So in a decade's time, if there's been no GFC, the probability is pushing 30%.) After a GFC the probability of a crash in the next yeear resets to 0% (before beginning to grow again after 5 years, as before). Meanwhile, your portfolio will recover at 2% per annum until it reaches its previous level, (or there's another GFC).

You can spend up to 1% of your portfolio per year on whatever you like, without consequences for the rest of the portfolio. Above that, for every additional dollar you liquidate, your investments lose another dollar. (Same recovery rules as for a GFC apply. If you try to liquidate all $100Bn overnight, you get at most $51Bn.)

(Note: I haven't made a spreadsheet model of this yet. Probably an omission one of you will address ...)

The head on a stick rule: in any year when your net wealth exceeds $5Bn, there is a 1% chance of a violent revolution that you cannot escape, and end up with your head on a stick. If there are two or more GFCs within a 10 year period, the probability of a revolution in the next year goes up to 2% per year. A third GFC doubles the probability of revolution, and so on: four GFCs within 40 years mean an 8% probability you'll be murdered.

Note: the planetary GNP is $75Tn or so. You're rich, but you're three orders of magnitude smaller than the global economy. You can't afford to go King Knut. You can't even afford to buy any one of Boeing, Airbus, BP, Shell, Exxon, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, or Google. Forget buying New Zealand: the annual GDP of even a relatively small island nation is around double your total capital, and you can't afford the mortgage. $100Bn does not make you omnipotent.

What is your optimum survival strategy?

Stuff I'm going to suggest is a really bad idea:

Paying Elon to build you a bolt-hole on Mars. Sure you can afford it within the next 20 years (if you live that long), but you will end up spending 75% of your extended life expectancy staring at the interior walls of a converted stainless steel fuel tank.

Paying faceless realtors to build you a bolt-hole in New Zealand. Sure you can afford a fully staffed bunker and a crew of gun-toting minions wearing collar bombs, but you will end up spending 75% of your extended life expectancy under house arrest, wondering when one of the minions is going to crack and decide torturing you to death is worth losing his head. And that's assuming the locals don't get irritated enough to pump carbon monoxide into your ventillation ducts.

Paying the US government to give you privileged status and carry on business as usual. Guillotines, tumbrils, you know the drill.

So it boils down to ... what is the best use of $100Bn over 80 years to mitigate the crisis situation we find ourselves in? (Your end goal should be to live to a ripe old age and die in bed, surrounded by your friends and family.)

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1:

I suppose the optimum strategy is staying unknown. But you can't rely on that indefinitely.

What you need to do is develop the portfolio into solutions to the climate problem and making the economy of your chosen state a bit more resilient in the face of a GFC.

The net billion you can trivially spend each year needs to go into really good local causes. The things that the local pitchfork wearing guillotine fanatics really love. You could position as a multimillionaire rather than centibillionaire. That'd get you the name recognition for the charitable stuff locally. Also for the climate solving technology.

2:

all the rich people I've met *care* about being seen to be rich. which is why *their* strategies are buying islands etc.

I'm going to suggest doing as much as you can to make life better for as many people - sorting out health and water supply issues probably a good start. & with people "on side" you'd be able to talk people into helping tackle the bigger issues.

Governments, currently tending towards authoritarianism like spreading fear about. - mitigating that would be a good move and help shift the tone of things.

I'd be aiming to end up with enough to live on and to be able to help out friends and loved ones (see Seanan Mcguires recents tweets on that topic)

( For fun I'd buy the Daily Mail and the Telegraph and make them publish toothless good news stories. I'm willing to bet that move in itself would make the UK a better place but mainly it would make me feel good)

3:

Okay — rough first stab:

* $25b for either purchasing the Murdoch media empire, or rebuilding one on the same scale. Because if the last 20-40 years has shown us anything propaganda is some powerful shit. Set a ten year timeline to turn the narrative from evil-commie-leftie-gun-stealing-scum as the baddies to evil-rentist-earth-killing-scrum. Not just the news — news + reality TV shows + premium drama + comedy + …

* $50b for a Softbank style Vision Fund for climate change management, renewables, energy storage, etc.. Partially because it will produce useful things. More because it will wrap climate change survival in the cloak of capitalism and more money will follow.

* $25b contingency to deal with random stuff that will pop out of the first two + whatever the current polite euphemism for bribing politicians and business leaders is.

4:

Invest 90% of your money into developing a sensible tokamak fusion reactor with modern magnets, as proposed by the MIT. Just buy out Commonwealth Fusion Systems and supercharge it. Try to get Elon Musk involved, to maximize recruitment of talent (and minimize their wages while maximizing their working hours).

5:

Move to a small town in the rural USA with plenty of water and nearby agriculture. Hire local builders to build you a big house. Locate a business there, spun off from however you get your money. Employ young people and pay them good wages. Support the Little League, church fundraisers, and the Lion’s club like a boss. Buy lots of things from local merchants. Fund cheap broadband internet for everybody in town.

When the revolution comes, it’ll have to get through a whole county of defenders before it can touch you.

6:

Oooh, interesting. Some initial thoughts:

There's a vast gulf between the amount of money you need for a ridiculously comfortable life and risking Head on a Stick. Spending all but a billion of your money keeps you below the murder threshold, while still living absurdly well.

In terms of addressing climate change... the big trick nowadays would be to deal with developing nations such as China and India. How, I haven't the foggiest idea.

That said, there are some useful things you can do. As pointed out above, destroying the Murdoch network and replacing it with a pro-environmental one, with a full-spectrum push for climate change mitigation, would be a very useful tactic. Likewise, in the United States at least, one can spend large gobs of money very tactically in down-ballot races (for that matter, even presidential campaigns have total funding at less than a billion, while senators and congressmen have campaigns in the single or at most double digit millions).

So I'd say, if you can functionally spend no more than 50 billion a year, send 23-ish billion to set up a massive news network (or ideally just buy the Murdoch network, or as large parts as possible), another 23-ish to make the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs, and most of the remainder on as self-sufficient a private yacht as one can craft (see if Billingdon has any for sale). Leave yourself a couple of billion, and toddle around in perpetuity.

7:

I'd support research and development institutions in the global South, in agronomy, water, energy and sustainable building; all funding predicated on the results being published Open Access.

To support that I'd also fund the journals to peer review and publish this work.

Third, buy into a few small enterprises in those industries, and switch them over to open source intellectual property models, connecting them up to the R&D institutions.

I'd get some spreadsheet nerd to work out the details of your constraints so that I can spend almost everything, getting out of the Guillotine Zone by the time the Domino Recessions really start to raise my chances of death by angry mob.

8:

I agree with other commenters that changing the media paradigm is a good way to go; I'm not sure the optimal way to go about it. For one thing, any media revamp that's not just changing the name of the evil boss is going to increase the chance of discovery, if the journalists I'm funding are doing their jobs right anyway.

A moral position (good or bad) is VASTLY easier to create and hold when someone's in charge, but the issue is it depends on the person in charge... fine if it's me (at least, *I* think so) but less so after Tumbril/Guillotine 2045 and my media empire ends up nationalised by the local Cromwell analogue.
So we need some kind of non-profit trust arrangement, to take ownership out of my personal hands. I'm not sure how that would look... but hopefully I can pay lots of clever people to find out.

Other than that, try to figure out the right balance of practical immediate-benefit "propping up the safety net" charitable works with more long-term societal change things (like educational and political support for under-represented minorities of all kinds)

9:

I have a general formula for handling windfalls (only lightly used) & it'd be interesting to see how well/poorly it scales.

50% Long-term investment: stable portfolio stuff, low-risk low-return stocks/bonds/etc. So, $50B into the economy with an eye to stability. With a lump that large I can afford to be picky, so no $ to the Waltons, Kochs, Zucherbergs, and the like; I'm thinking split between international shipping & big ag, with an eye towards shifting both to greener practices.

30% Short-term investment: this is the medium-high risk stuff with bigger potential rewards, preferably paying off in the near- or mid-term. In this case, let's look at $30B in R&D opportunities spread across short-term practical stuff like local green-economy projects and mid-term blue-sky stuff like low-carbon energy research. (Grid level storage, Gen4 reactors, improve PV production, etc.)

10% Charity: I'm not religious but for windfalls the idea of a tithe to share the good luck just feels right. $10B to establishing scholarship foundations around the world in all fields of study, to let more kids get higher education. (Distributed very broadly to avoid spiking tuition inflation in recipient areas.)

10% Mad money: cash to blow out in the first year on whatever I like. I think this is where the formula breaks down as it'd take swimming pools of Cristal levels of excess to blow $10B in a year on going nuts to get the spend-y out of my system. (Or I could become Batman, I guess.) That said, perhaps I could borrow a chapter from "Brewster's Millions" and use a big chunk of this for anti-"Citizens United" PAC money in the US.

It's an interesting thought experiment; I should probably ponder it further, and I'm not convinced my off-the-top-of-my-head-on-Sunday-before-brunch thinking above is the best approach.

-- Steve

10:

Oh… just realised I managed to skim over the "You can spend up to 1% of your portfolio per year on whatever you like, without consequences for the rest of the portfolio. Above that, for every additional dollar you liquidate, your investments lose another dollar" constraint.

If I have any control over what my wealth management team is doing with my portfolio — then I encourage them to go the route I want with big media buys + VC funding.

If I can't, I might see what the fair godmother's response to my trying to rule lawyer my way out of that problem would be (I imagined taking out $1b and using that to "persuade" my wealth management team to listen to me might go a long way to getting my way.

If that's a no-go then I think I'd still go $25b of media empire building first. That's gonna leave me with roughly $50b due to losing another $24b on the investments.

Pulling 1% out of that annually still gives me a new above average VC fund number each year for a decade at least. What I'd do after that first ten years would depend on how everything else went.

11:

I'm going to suggest doing as much as you can to make life better for as many people - sorting out health and water supply issues probably a good start. & with people "on side" you'd be able to talk people into helping tackle the bigger issues.

Governments, currently tending towards authoritarianism like spreading fear about. - mitigating that would be a good move and help shift the tone of things.

I'd just like to note that this is exactly what George Soros has been doing for the past 40 years:

Soros is a well-known supporter of progressive and liberal political causes, to which he dispenses donations through his foundation, the Open Society Foundations. Between 1979 and 2011, he donated more than $11 billion to various philanthropic causes; by 2017, his donations "on civil initiatives to reduce poverty and increase transparency, and on scholarships and universities around the world" totaled $12 billion.

(via wiki, footnoted.)

Being a good guy (Soros appears to be a Popperian and to have read Popper on the open society and its enemies) is not guaranteed to make you friends (although you make the right enemies).

12:

Wow, you're asking me to reveal a lot of story research here, but what the hell.

Aside: $100 billion makes you the richest person on the planet (known legally, people like Putin probably have more and/or control more). While you may be invisible to the average Joe, every major government in the world has their eyes on you. (See: Jeff Bezos and his hacked photos, suspected to be hacked by Saudis.) Large actions will be noticed.

We can also presume that I can't invent anything that radically changes the game: fusion energy, cure for cancer, etc.-- or at least on the time scale of my lifetime.

* Go after tax havens. (Not ones I'm using at the moment, or have removed my wealth from.) Start finding all the people who are using them illegally, and start taking them out. Hunt down corrupt officials, lawyers, etc. Get your own Panama papers team, and at the same time prepare to short companies conducting wrongdoing, so you can increase your portfolio-- without much effort, it pays for itself, but I don't mind operating at a loss. Even if it causes a GFC, I presume that a few other people's heads on pikes reduce the likelihood that MY head ends up on one.

* Go after companies like Fox News, OANN, National Enquirer, and look for illegal activity. (There will be lots. See above.)

* Push for wealth taxes in the US, with a modification that uses a situation that may be unique to the US: the owner appraises their own property. The catch is that the US uses that appraisal as the just compensation price under the 5th Amendment ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.") In other words, if the US government thinks you're undervaluing assets, they can just buy them at the stated price-- unless the owner immediately revalues the appraisal and pays three years of taxes as a penalty. This streamlines tax court proceedings immeasurably and reverses the trend of plummeting audit rates of the wealthy, as most tax court cases hinge on appraisal arguments. This also means hidden assets can be seized IMMEDIATELY, as they have an appraisal of $0 by the owner.

* Push for IRS and SEC "eat what you catch" rules: they get a percentage of what they claw back. Let them become better funded, with incentives. Expand "letters of marque" for outside short sellers, whistleblowers, etc.

* Push for federal and global tax harmonization, to try and minimize the run for havens. In our modern financial system, money travels where its owners like, but laws are still made at a local level. So money inevitably flows to the places where governments offer the lowest taxes and the highest security.

* Push for elimination of carbon-intensive fuel government subsidies: not just oil subsidies, but ethanol as well.

* Keep promoting rule of law/anti-corruption measures. The best bang for the buck is taking out corrupt governments, shady regulators, and so on. The "broken windows" hypothesis works just as well on Wall Street as Main Street.

* Push for federal law eliminating immortal trusts, limit the time frame to 95 years.

* Push for corporate death penalties and the like for recidivism. If corporations are people, let them be treated as such, including three strikes laws.

There's more, but this is a start.

13:

Easy.
1. 99%, and whatever goes over 1B$ goes into a trust. Therefore, no head onna stick.

2. Pick a wealthy nation in a region somewhat colder than optimum and not too close to the water. Build a second residence. (With shelter) The reality is that global warming is most impactful on people without resources. ?Oregon?

3. Live where you like.

Now, trust...

30% goes into promoting local climate resilience in your second home.

The other 70%, um, funds development of technologies making it cheaper to warm the climate less. (If you are good.). And funding some very local experiments on, probably, basic income and health provision. Pay smart people to set priorities.

If you are evil, aim for developing a nasty virus that doesn't target you or your loved ones and don't get caught. (If this isn't feasible, go-to the good plan.) Except for the don't get caught, this is much cheaper.

Media stuff?? Nah. It seems likely that the ROI on evil media is better than that on good media. Therefore, good luck with that.

14:

Possibly violating my own rule about inventing new tech, but one wonders if it's possible to create a benevolent version of Cambridge Analytica, to influence a lot of people at low cost.

Certainly worth a hundred million or so to find out.

(It very well may not be possible, and can only be used to foment conflict--in which case, I would then have to figure out where fomenting conflict would actually help disable groups. Causing a rift between different flavors of right-wingers, for example.)

15:

US-centric answer, but I suspect it can be translated elsewhere.

It turns out that the price of a politican is a remarkably small fraction of a billion-dollar per annum budget. A single million will grab the attention of basically anyone in a House or Senate seat; there are 538 of those total. You don't need all of them, they come up for re-election once every 2 years or once every 6 years; and let's throw in 50 governors as well, typically every 4 years. Your SuperPAC is, within six years, the largest influence on legislation and executive action.

(That's the above-board, completely legal method. If you can figure out a way to make payments directly to six hundred ish people, it's probably cheaper. But illegal infrastructure is harder to set up and needs concealment.)

Then you need to establish goals, policy, controls, and start operations. Let me suggest some initial goals:

- make cities better places to live in. Cities are more efficient than suburbs, dense cities are more efficient than sprawls; good public infrastructure makes cities happier places. As always, water, sewage and goods transport need to be reliable and high quality. Communications networks need to be at similar priorities.

- establish research projects on improving education. Current education systems are aimed at producing factory workers and their middle management.

- incentives for long-lasting products over planned obsolescence. Vimes' Boots applied to the entire economy.

- tax policies to reduce inequality while supporting general affluence. People who feel satisfied don't hang you from the streetlamps.

- anticorruption programs that target everyone but you. Get your activities defined out of scope.

- agricultural research to make future unproductive land productive. Greenhouses closer to the poles? Designed forest-farms with crop production under cooling canopies?

- a non-self-named set of charitable and political organizations that do three things: carry out your mission, allow other wealthy folk to contribute to it, and do PR to make your names shiny.

16:

Okay, I'm now going to chip in with my spending choices ....

(Note: do nothing in haste, everything gets studied to death by a think-tank I establish with my first $10M down-payment.)

1. Focus on making life better for as many people as possible. This means starting in the developing world, which effectively no longer includes China and India. (Hint: countries with a per-capita PPP-adjusted GDP around the level of Mexico and the ability to put space probes in orbit around Mars are not "third world" in any meaningful sense of the term.)

2. Objective should be empowerment, not exploitation after the 19th-20th century colonial model. (I.e. no resource extraction then sell finished shiny value-add back to the locals at gunpoint.)

3. End starvation, end disease.

The combination of the above makes it a no-brainer: you invest in research into alternative sources of vegetable protein that can be turned into meat substitutes.

Humans need protein in their diet. Agronomists are already going after vegetable and fruit crops -- see the Green revolution -- but alternatives to meat are still underdeveloped. Animal husbandry is a dismally inefficient way of turning sunlight, air, and water into protein, hence the interest in the west, but the developing world (the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is set to double) is in great need as well, and stuff like Quorn or those fake beefburgers are basically aimed at a western diet as lifestyle substitutes for the guilty vegetarians. What we need is something that can feed billions -- and also be rolled out to the rest of the world, because ...

We urgently need to end mass animal husbandry, on the same basis as we need to end coal and oil burning: it's killing us, directly.

Consider the current Chinese epidemic of African swine fever, or the tendency of flu strains to incubate, hybridise, and re-radiate from chickens. Consider the avian origins of SARS, or the postulated "bush meat" origin of human epidemics of Ebola, or the prevalence of tuberculosis in cities in the 19th century (which dropped through the floor when we stopped living with horses for urban transportation).

Virtually every plague that's hit humanity has emerged from animal reservoirs then jumped species. Use of antibiotics to bulk up farm animals is the reason we're now dying of sepsis -- which was 100% totally not a thing any more in the 1960s -- in hospitals.

My argument for abandoning animal farming as a meat source is not based on animal rights or veganism (although, disclaimer, my wife's vegan) but based on not wanting to die, either from a plague, or fulminating necrotising fasciitis that could have been cured with a shot of penicillin if we'd been wiser 60 years ago.

We will need: substitutes for dairy produce (milk and eggs) which are palatable and environmentally less damaging. (Nut and soya milks are arguably there, although I think the taste is deliberately a bit "off" so as not to freak out the largely vegan initial customer base; egg substitutes only really work as replacers in cooking that needs a binding agent.) We also need to promote a shift to organic and free range animal husbandry in the meantime -- i.e. keeping the herd healthy without over-use of antibiotics and growth hormones. (No reason not to keep sheep and goats on marginal upland or rugged pastures, but we need to end the factory farms before they give us another 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic.)

If we could shift everyone to a vegan but meat-equivalent diet within a couple of decades -- much like switching to electric vehicles in the same time frame -- we'd be in a much better place to feed everyone, both the population overshoot up to 11 billion mouths, and with environmental degradation.

... What else?

Forget buying a media empire to rival Murdoch; the first movers have the advantage. Instead, I'd buy Cambridge Analytica (or rather, their parent company, or rather, the expertise behind them). I'd buy Palantir. And then I'd turn them loose on the problem of shaping public opinions at a micro level -- promoting veganism (see above), promoting belief in climate change among the gullible disbelievers, promote vaccination by spreading measles horror stories ... turn the conspiracy theories back on the theorists currently driving them.

Yes, maybe owning a newspaper and a TV channel would be useful, but don't go overboard: it's main role should be to provide a vehicle for stories that the microtargeted propaganda on social media can leverage, and somewhere to park the annoying columnists/talking heads you've poached from the right wing platforms. (Sean Hannity? Don't shoot him -- stuff his mouth with money in return for exclusive rights to his stuff, then bury it, while using social media manipulation to show him an adoring echo chamber. He doesn't need to know he's a loss-leader.)

17:

Glenn: I like the way you think (although I suspect it's too small-scale and focussed on the problems of late-stage capitalism in the west: see my own thoughts in the preceding comment).

18:

Ok, the objective is to die old of something other than starvation or violence and to do it in a social context of respect and affection.

The minimum useful thing to do about climate change is to have all fossil carbon extraction cease in a very short time frame. You can't do that, especially as it may not matter much now and it surely won't matter much by 2030. A hundred billion to take out the United States, the Russian Federation, and the House of Saud isn't enough; no one with power wants this, because their emotional belief in the immediate economic consequences greatly exceeds their emotional belief in the more-long-term failure of habitability.

What can you do?

The goal is to retain machine civilization; I'm going to define machine civilization as "supports vaccine production and anesthetized dentistry with a million person economy and zero fossil carbon inputs". ("million person" because autarchy isn't desirable, but it isn't looking like it'll be optional, either.)

So what I need to do is four things.

I need a really good survey; I can get it for a few tens of millions. I need some kind of land tenure in what the survey identifies as the best candidate territory. I need more billionaires on board; I don't have enough money to do this by myself. (A million people is a thousand dollars each, is you spend a billion dollars.) I need time; twenty or thirty years in which to use university grants, hiring, and purchase existing developments is a lot slower than superpower full mobilization would be.

Problems; the Oil Empire isn't going to let this succeed, and some mix of financial machinations and murder will be used to make sure it doesn't succeed. (everybody who has tried politically since 1980 has gone down from causes that included extra-legal components.) There isn't time; the likelihood of getting to 2030 with working agriculture isn't one.

So, OK, no material solution.

Only possible solution is a political solution; how do I get superpower full national mobilization to get to a zero fossil carbon extraction economy in five years? (I don't think it's possible to go faster than that.) How do I do that so people recognize where the heat excursions will happen and that the solutions to agriculture failing involve a lot of very hippy things? (Much of US politics rests on an absolute fanatical determination to prove that the dirty fucking hippies were wrong. Since they weren't wrong, this is going badly.) How do I do that so people believe there will be an economy afterwards?

There is no non-collective solution. Any currently viable collective solution is going to make the Great Patriotic War look like going out for dinner at a five star restaurant.

19:

Charlie: "You're rich, but you're three orders of magnitude smaller than the global economy. You can't afford to go King Knut."

Clarification: In the original story, King Knut was making a point, namely that even a seemingly omnipotent king could not stop the tide from coming in (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Canute_and_the_tide). That meaning has largely been lost, transforming the tale into one of arrogance getting its comeuppance. A cautionary tale for writers: anything we write will eventually be misconstrued, no matter how carefully we hedge our description. Witness pretty much any Internet conversation...

At first glance, I like the suggestion of buying off politicians to do good things with their power, which would be a really good use of your $1 billion in interest. The implementation is at best problematic, even in a country with a political system as corrupt as the American system, and it would almost certainly lead to a bidding war in which The Bad Guys join forces to outbid you to achieve the opposite effects. In fact, that bidding war is already underway (cf. "think tanks"). Also, my misanthropy notwithstanding, some politicians do have a moral code and could not be bought cheaply or at all.

I think the Soros/Gates Foundation examples, mutatis mutandis, is the way to go. Hire some really bright people (including SF writers to provide the "thinking way outside the box" input) to come up with a plan for food, water, health, and climate security that is easily implementable at a community level, then spend a ton of money distributing this plan and providing the necessary support.

20:

The minimum useful thing to do about climate change is to have all fossil carbon extraction cease in a very short time frame. You can't do that, especially as it may not matter much now and it surely won't matter much by 2030.

I think you're erring on the side of pessimism. PV power is not only cheaper than new-build coal plant, it's on a curve to be cheaper than existing coal-fired power stations within 2-5 years (pessimistically). Offshore wind: currently forecast to be a $100Bn/year industry within 2 decades (if we don't lose agriculture). And people are making money out of the new industries -- enough money that there's a reason big oil and big coal are panicking right now.

Basically, all the oil and coal companies have balance sheets that suppose their oil fields and coal deposits are worth something. But that value is predicated on a market existing. I think we're going to see a sudden crash in the valuation of those companies, by over 90% within a decade, once the shift to EVs and renewables is perceived by the public (which includes the stockbrokers and commodities traders). This may well precipitate the next GFC -- Exxon was valued at roughly $1Tn not long ago, wasn't it? -- and reactive capital flight into renewables and green technologies, driving an economic bubble of infrastructure construction for a post-carbon world.

(Then see my comment about veganism, above.)

21:

Part of the problem is that having $100Bn changes the way you think. Your brain likes taking shortcuts. If everybody around you says "Good idea, sir!" to whatever you say, pretty soon you think that everything you say is a good idea.

The same goes for political power - those in power for a term or two have changes in how their brain works that, if comparable changes had happened to an ordinary citizen, would be described as brain damage.

So, receiving those kind of resources you might start out to do as good a job at fixing the world's problems as you could, but within a few years you might be be as dogmatic and self-centred as your bog-standard ultra-plutocrats.

Whoever fights with monsters should see to it that they do not become a monster in the process. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

Which is a complex way of saying "We have met the enemy and he is us."

22:

As first step, I would hire as consultant a certain science fiction author with a knack for futurology to use his small but well followed blog to start collecting promising ideas.
I'm sure he would be smart enough to not disclose our agreement.

23:

>>>PV power is not only cheaper than new-build coal plant, it's on a curve to be cheaper than existing coal-fired power stations within 2-5 years (pessimistically).

Except you can't store enough of it, so even if it was free you'd still have to burn fossil fuels. See also: Energiewende, LOL.

24:

If we could shift everyone to a vegan but meat-equivalent diet within a couple of decades

There isn't one. There are some approximations with insect protein (sometimes incidental insect protein) but a)they're not good approximations and b)eating insects anywhere there's been machine agriculture is not obviously a good plan. ("persistent and accumulating toxins"; there's surprising utility to feeding things through a herbivore.)

Two, this assumes agriculture keeps working; even the IPCC's best-case projections (the ones that top out at 2.5 C warming) acknowledge that agriculture does not keep working. (How do we eat? Difficult and urgent problem. Enclosed high density, high labour input food production is not a solved problem; it looks like it could be.)

Pastoralism is carbon negative; getting rid of feedlot meat production, which is not, is highly desirable, but also pretty trivial compared to the fossil carbon extraction problem. (In our present circumstances, 60% human dieback due to a greenfield plague is a net win.)

25:

1% chance of dying in any given year sounds like the very first thing I should optimize away. Take the first few years to turn my wealth into influence and corporations that nobody can extract value from by merely having my head on a stick.

Then I'd focus on humanity's survival (since that includes me), and quite honestly, I'd do much of the same stuff as Elon does. Though with more of a focus on long-term things since with that much more money, I can take higher personal risks. Which would be:
- Improving IA ("intelligence augmentation") so that it has a reasonable chance of standing up to AI. Why? It's my current best angle on the AI alignment problem because it keeps intelligence (and therefore effective use and growth of power) about as distributed as it currently is, meaning we can employ social/moral tech that already exists instead of ending up somewhere entirely outside of society's parameter space.
- Venus colonization (it's fairly practical as long as you stick to airships and has some other things going for it, see e.g. venuslabs.org/?p=settle)
- Generation ships. Readers of this blog will be well familiar with the long-term stability problems of both social sphere and biosphere in these, and solving these will vastly improve the "bolt hole on mars" outcome and unlock other things like subterranean hermetically sealed cities.
- Something about wider-scale societal stability and specifically complex-systems-modeling to further reduce the chance of revolution and therefore my head ending up on a spike. Though I'd suspect that my billionaire friends will be already on that one.

Things I'd pointedly not do:
- Help the poor by distributing my money. Way to blow a unique opportunity on what will effectively be a one-time drop in the ocean.
- Get into climate-chance adjacent stuff. Everybody else is already doing it, I'll only be able to add marginal value. Maybe I'd fund some of the more unconventional solutions if I thought it meaningfully added to humanity's collective runway.

26:

The storage thing depends on how smart your grid is, and how extensive your EV network is, and how you recycle "dead" EV batteries. (Hint: they don't die, it's just that nobody wants a car with less than 80% of its nominal range. So one proposal is to rack up the "old" batteries in farms and use them for grid backup. If you have a 10M vehicle EV fleet, then after about 5 years you'll have about 5-10M batteries with about 80% of their remaining capacity available for load balancing ... in addition to using the currently parked-up fleet as a reservoir.)

And that's before we even think about stuff like ion flow batteries. (Too bulky/heavy for vehicles, but effectively unlimited capacity as you can cycle fresh electrolyte through them whenever you need it.)

27:

You engage in creative use of a foundation and trusts.

Year One: Use $1 billion to set myself up in comfort - multiple homes, private plane, bolt-hole stocked with independent power and food storage for several years in a rural part of the western US. Liquidate $4 billion at the expense of another $4 billion, give a billion each to the four leading fusion startups so they can try to bootstrap up to a functional plant.

Year Two: Donate - don't liquidate, donate the assets themselves - $87 billion to three foundations, and specifically to what are called "Donor-Advised Funds". Those allow you to keep your privacy, don't require the foundation to spend 5% of the amount per year (which would run afoul of the liquidation penalty), and allow you to keep providing some say over it.

1. A copy-cat of the American Legislative Exchange Council (the Koch Bros' instrument of choice), but focused on climate change efforts when lobbying and pressuring US state politicians. There is a ton of room for state-by-state climate change efforts in the US, and state politicians are the low-hanging fruit - you can't donate to their campaigns directly, but you can aggressively lobby and court them with special retreats, etc. ($30 billion)

2. A fund for supporting research to ameliorate climate change. A big focus would be on carbon capture and storage research (especially air capture), but we'd also fund other efforts. That way, we're not just duplicating the research done by the big research money already. ($30 billion)

3. A fund for promoting space research and missions. $270 million/year isn't much, but if you do a robotic program focused on getting a high flight rate and maximum research at the cost of making any individual spacecraft more prone to failure (say, a 25% accepted failure rate vs 5%) you can get a lot done on that amount while also helping to make space launch cheaper (meaning easier for space solar startups, etc). ($27 billion).

Keep about $4 billion for myself. That puts me below the "head on a stick" threshold, and gives me $40 million a year to live off of. Unless I turn into an obsessive collector or home buyer (or accumulate a large parasitic entourage), that's more than enough to live a super-luxurious rich person life-style and occasionally splash around some extra political donations if I'm getting too close to the $5 billion level.

28:

Although to be honest, you could get much more money by liquidating immediately and re-investing the $51 billion at a much higher return, hoping that a GFC doesn't hit you in a decade's time. If you can get 10% a year for a decade in returns, then your $51 billion will be worth $129 billion - and you might have an easier time liquidating for various climate change fighting purposes after that.

29:

Continuing plans:

* Election machine reform. Again, restoring trust in the system-- voting machines are less regulated than slot machines.

* Moon shot plan, with existing technology:

** Carbon sequestration via bamboo growth. Fastest growing plant form available, and I'm going to need lots of wood pulp for part 2--

** Stabilize and rebuild the Antarctic ice shelf. Take as many discarded intermodal containers as you can find, there are tens of thousands of them all over the planet. Make them watertight, fill about 20% of them with the pulped bamboo. Bring to Antarctica. Fill the containers with about 85% seawater and 15% bamboo pulp, and let them freeze into pykrete-- then submerge them and place them like giant frozen Legos under the Thwaites ice shelf as support.

Also create pykrete slurries that can be used as spackle for the ice shelf, to help repair and prevent further cracking.

30:

The Bill Gates' route, slightly modified.
Public Philanthropy, specifically directed at Climate Change, with a side-order of disease control & shedloads of secular education
Indeed, you need to set up a plausibly-denaiable side operation, with cut-outs, specifically devoted to trashing & ridiculing religion(s) .....
Oh and lying right-wing publicity ( i.e. "press" ) nutters like you-know-who & faux .....
Also echoing James Kemp @ 1
needs to go into really good local causes. The things that the local pitchfork wearing guillotine fanatics really love.

Charlie @ 11
Soros collecxts an absolutely amazing amount of spewed vicious bile, doesn't he?
Being Jweish has helped the neo-Nazis pursuing him ......

Glen Hauman @ 12
BUT .. you CAN sepnd silly amounts on helping to fianance, say proper controlled fusion poer, can't you?
QUESTION: You quoted this: nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation
Can you now explain how US "civil forfeiture" works, then - as from that it appears to be flat-out "unconstitutional"
Um, err ...
eat what you catch rules NOOOO! That way leads to amazing coruption & rip-offs of innocent people ...

Charlie @ 20
If correct ( & I think you are ) then Graydon's pessimism @ 18, about Big Oil murdering any one/thing getting in their way may be rapidly approaching its sell-by date

31:

I think you're erring on the side of pessimism. PV power is not only cheaper than new-build coal plant, it's on a curve to be cheaper than existing coal-fired power stations within 2-5 years (pessimistically). Offshore wind: currently forecast to be a $100Bn/year industry within 2 decades (if we don't lose agriculture).

All obviously factual!

All too slow.[1]

Agriculture is being lost today. It hasn't been lost uniformly or universally, but if you pay attention to the Eastern Med or pan-European rainfall or East Africa or Lake Chad there's this obvious pattern. If you pay attention to when the hay comes off or the variability in the maize yield in Anglo NorAm it's medium terrifying.

Then we've got the ongoing authoritarian takeovers; people point to "money" in the sense of tax avoidance, which isn't entirely wrong, but not to "existing basis of power" (which is what keeps the money reliable); the basis of the Co-Do isn't turning out to be nuclear fear or keeping the iron hand of empire from rusting, it's turning out to be mutual self-interest in maintaining the pre-eminence of oil. We've got Australia, poster child for solar PV and also poster child for complete subordination of allegedly democratic politics to coal interests. There's fuck-all evidence economic rationality is going to get picked over maintaining income. (Since, if we're being Martians, anything interested in economic outcomes would be against white supremacy.) (There's fuck-all evidence there's a fix that doesn't involve Madame Guillotine, either.)

[1] all the IPCC projections are wrong; they're way optimistic. Are Hansen, et all wrong about the 40 year low end of the 40-to-200 year Antarctic ice cycle coupling with the events in the northern hemisphere? Is Wadhams wrong about the ice-free Arctic ocean and associated feedback cycles? We're going to find out. Wadhams in particular is looking correct today, which means the Arctic tipped around 2005. We're in a lifeboat construction race, not a keep-the-Holocene (or keep-the-Holocene-adjacency) race.

32:

I feel some of these plans have problems. The ones that involve media or political manipulation will result in such things suddenly becoming a problem and will provide a stick to beat anyone aligned with your opinion (see George Soros). I think it would actually be counterproductive and enable the unscrupulous to force people to do what they want so as to not appear to be funded by you.
I have been thinking about this issue (not the becoming magically rich bit!) for some time and have come to the conclusion that attempts at mitigation are pointless, unfortunately. I believe the way forward is to try to ensure the survival of human civilisation in a greenhouse world.
I believe what's needed is:
1: Technologically mediated food production:
vat grown food, vertical farming, algae
farming etc
2: Regional sustainability of the technological
base: local chip foundries (way behind cutting
edge), alternative manufacturing and materials
(3d printing, bioplastics, nanocrystalline
cellulose, pure carbon and carbon composites),
local sustainable power generation (or nuclear
with alot of fuel in storage)
3: Arcologies: a cliche but I think it's the
way to go (it's personally abhorrent, but...),
in some regions of the world it will be the
only way for large numbers of people to
survive. It will also be the only way to house
large numbers of climate refugees, especially
in the far north or even Antarctica.
This is just a start of course. Sorry for the long post, I'm a long time lurker who has been thinking about this for a while!

33:

keeping the herd healthy without over-use of antibiotics and growth hormones

The Dutch seem to have managed that. I saw a documentary last year that interviewed a Dutch farmer — no antibiotics, no growth hormones, and competitive in cost.

34:

$100 billion won't buy you a country, but a fraction of it will buy you many governments.

The really startling thing about campaign, think tank, and other propaganda spending in democracies is not how much there is, but how little. It's a fabulous investment. The billionaire/corporate donor class is sowing mere millions to reap billions in tax cuts, govt. contracts, regulatory relief, extractive rights etc.. Oh, and doing trillions in externalised social, economic, and environmental damage.

Most of the risks Charlie lists are policy failures driven by that corruption. Charitable responses* are a finger in a crumbling dyke. Much better to donate to left/green parties and civil society campaigns which want to rebuild the dyke in a sustainable way.

Most billionaires are grudgingly cheap about about their influence buying. Big spenders like the Kochs and Soros are the exception, rather than the rule. Even the Murdochs hate losing money on unprofitable papers. They only keep ploughing money into broadsheets like The Australian because it's a little money for a lot of influence, but the kids will likely shutter it when Rupert goes to meet Cthulu.

$100 billion would go a loooong way. Although, as Soros is finding, the sans cullotes won't necessarily thank you for it come the revolution.

*As others have noted, charitable giving is an excellent means for robber barons to launder their reputation or buy popularity. But a few tens of millions a year, carefully publicised, should do the trick. So long as you aren't silly enough to get yourself elected President, you can even donate the money to yourself.

35:

I’d go after three lines of attack
1: plan A: preserving global civilization
2: plan B: preserving a regional civilization in the event Plan A fails
3: preserving my own power base while working toward A and B

Plan A would need to involve a series of economic , political, agricultural and e
energy infrastructure reforms. My fortune is still too small to carry this out solo so it would mean a series of alliances and compromises

Plan B means pick a place and make sure it doesn’t crash even if there is a global crash. The Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes region, New Zealand all seem good candidates with their own pros and cons. I’d probably go for Oregon, it seems the best compromise of biddable government, a climate that hopefully will sustain agriculture and a degree of isolation from major population centers. Invest heavily in future proofing that area

Preserving your power base means an economy and a political environment where great wealth can remain in private hand.

36:

Exactly - renewable energy storage becomes a solved problem as soon as electric cars become wide-spread. It's ironic how often one reads "renewables don't work, as we can't store it!!" and "electric vehicles are bogus, if you run them on the current coal-heavy energy mix!!" (particularly in the car-obsessed german press...).

I read a paper once that calculated that Australia could easily go to 80% renewables if 10% of cars are electric, and some of their capacity is used for grid storage (something along those numbers, from vague memory). A typical EV battery has enough energy to power a household for several days, up to a week. Cars need a looot of energy.

I think the way to do it is to copy the success of the renewable feed-in tariff as it was done in Germany: make it financially interesting for the average citizen to invest their money in it, and give them a guaranteed ROI (the feed-in tariff was calculated to give 7% ROI over 20 years, based on current costs). So, for storage, it could be as easy as passing laws that force energy companies to allow individuals to trade their stored electricity back into the grid at a price coupled to market prices. There'd be an instant market for smart meters that get to play with the top 10-20% of your car's battery, and other non-car storage technologies (recycled batteries, smart hybrid heating/cooling/compressed air energy storage systems, flywheels, hydrogen, ...).
To get a rapid transition, a bottom-up approach is better - there is power in the masses, but the large established players will always drag their feet and rather spend a few million in stopping reform, than putting it in new tech. So, as a multi-billionaire, that's where I'd put the lever - lobby, influence and push for enabling bottom-up, "grass-roots" movements, and find ways how to make it attractive for "non-believers", e.g. by making it financially interesting.

37:

When I look at the nutrients panel, nut and soy milks are remarkably low in protein. And there's nothing about balance of amino acids.

There's been work towards making some grains (corn [maize]) more nutritionally balanced, but I think this is a mistake. What you want is two foods, preferably grains, that complement each other in amino acid balance, but are each extremely incomplete alone. I think this lack of balance is a defense against plant diseases.

Next. Overpopulation is a real problem. It's not just too much pollution. The insects are dying out because we have been eating their share of the food (and to do that we've been poisoning them). This is causing a chain of deaths all the way up the "chain of eating". Every tech level is overpopulated for it's resource use. The humane way to solve this is birth control. If it's not solved, expect a severe ecological collapse within the next century. (It's already in process. Most species deaths are not due to climate change, though that's an additional strain, but by lack of food and a place to live.)

I don't think there's any direct way that this problem can be addressed quickly enough with the meager resources you are postulating. (Birth control was the right answer, but we may have already waited too long for that to work.)

So the problem is to keep civilization from collapsing, even though the ecology it depends on is collapsing via global warming, resource overuse, pollution, etc. If you're expecting to live for a century, you're expecting to live long enough for this to become extremely serious. (If you observe the trends, it's in process, and has been speeding up during my entire lifetime. Global warming is only a small fraction of the problem, even though it's got most of the PR recently.)

The only thing I can think of that would solve the problem without causing something worse is a fatal disease that killed quickly, was hard to detect, had a long latency [months, at least], was highly infectious, and didn't keep people from working until the last week or so. Ideally it would be painless. Killing off, say, a random 3/4 of humanity would probably do the job. (That said, it may be too late. Many of the trends have a long lag time. Coral isn't the only sea life that's got problems, so does the plankton that generate most of the Earth's free Oxygen.)

As for the Mars colony solution...what's the chance it would become totally self-supporting within a few decades? If it depends on support from home, it would fail at the same time.

So given how I see the problem, I'd put everything I could manage behind two efforts:
1) a SuperHuman AI with a decent goal structure.
2) a nearly closed ecosystem.

If my head went up on a stick, at least I would have tried. And that would be just a little bit ahead of everyone else, and probably less painful.

38:

Forget buying New Zealand: the annual GDP of even a relatively small island nation is around double your total capital, and you can't afford the mortgage.

You just picked a too-pricey nation. Several of the Caribbean Antilles only bring in ~$1B in annual GDP. I suspect many of them would be happy to grant me lifelong protection in exchange for a $95B sovereign wealth fund.

39:

This is a science-fiction blog right?

I'm going for the Lich Philactery Strategy.

1) Investment #1: cloning technology (should be cheap, we're close for humans)
2) Investment #2a: brain/memory sync (probably easier on a brain that shares your DNA development basis) so that my memories and current personality is always synced with a set of brains in redundant locations
3) Investment #2b: World-wide networking that's always on for that synch. I can share my tech with Elon, we just partner on that 20k-satellite networking. His Braid technology is already a good idea for 2a above.
(it's going to be damn hard to destroy, which makes me a good backup network system)
4) Investment #3: now that I have a way to restart myself after every murder/execution, it's time to build defenses. I pay huge sums to Japanese geneticians so they develop amazon catgirls that are fanatically protective of anyone exuding my DNA-engineered pheromones and use them to staff all but 1 of my hideouts.
5) ...
6) PROFIT!

40:

I think most of us have very good ideas, particularly where control of the media and enacting political change is concerned. I'll note some additional which I think would also be useful:

The first is a system of self-driving electric vehicles. The thing is, they would not be independently owned, (unless you were a billionaire with weird security needs, like most of us rich folks ;-) ) Instead, you'd time-share on the self-driving electric cars and they'd be independently routed from place-to-place for maximized usage. The idea would be to avoid the fact that even during rush-hour 3/4 of the cars are sitting idle. Alternately, a much better public transportation system. Also alternately, a much better infrastructure for working from home or decentralizing offices. (If you work at a big bank, why not just go into your local branch to log into their computers and do your work? Why drive to the big, far-away building the bank owns which requires a 3-hour commute.) Bringing the commute under control is a big deal, both for quality of life and for controlling Climate Change.)

Second, bring members of other, useful cultures here to the U.S. where their survival would be assured. I'm talking about the Balinese Hindu system of rice-cultivation, the book-lovers of Timbuktu, any cultures who are good at farming in high mountain valleys, etc. People we can learn something from...

Third, in the event that we can't get our climate under control, take political control of ideally situated towns and establish the modern equivalent of monasteries there; places where art and science could be preserved for the future. Be prepared to move into one of these. This the the "Go to hell" plan.

Fourth, make sure we retain the ability to ship goods and services internationally. This probably means developing some kind of port infrastructure which is immune to the rising seas.

Fifth, begin the process of removing housing, industry, infrastructure, etc. from our coasts. If we're going to continue eating, we will need to exploit the sea in a fairly big way; let's not screw the ocean up any further. Same for getting rid of plastics and not-useful paper goods. Change the law so you can bring your own containers when you go to buy fast-food.

Sixth, finance the planting of a shitload of trees. Ideally fast-growing hardwoods like Eucalyptus, but the particular kind of tree would be optimized for various climates. I recently read a study which said that trees do a great job of sucking carbon from the air. That sounds great!

Seventh, make the politicians establish a military (or militia) in which people would serve a month each year to work on ameliorating Climate Change. Someone's got to do the work in Number Five, and that's the Climate Army!

Eighth, find some way for oil/coal companies to go out of business without causing problems. Maybe break them up, sell the good parts (real estate, etc.) and put the bad parts under government stewardship so the Climate Army can deal with them. The idea goes something like this: "Hey Mr. Oil/Coal executive. If you've broken up your company and sold it off by 2030, and given the carbon-ish bits to the government, you can do so without liability, you'll keep your golden parachute, and nobody will put you in jail.

Ninth, a mechanism for people to trade in their gasoline-using cars for electric and thereby get a tax-credit.

41:

Charlies experiment could be gamed out in a purely sociopathic way, altruistic only out of enlightened self interest, otherwise maximising for wealth, power and control freakery.

That likely describes most billionaires. Flipping this about a bit, if most of them go for the New Zealand estate + lightly greenwashed business as usual approach, that's disastrous for the rest of us.

The real question then is how to render the billionaires sufficiently afeared or constrained that altruism becomes their best option.

It's also worth noting that the stereotypical 19th century mill owner fat cat doesn't really control most capital these days. It's the professional managerial class, the bonus earning class, who have a lot of the power over where the money goes.

42:

Plan B: Fortress Cascadia

Ok so the world is going to shit from climate change , you may be a mega billionaire but you can’t save the entire thing. However you want to pull a Harry Seldon and make sure civilization survives the coming dark age. You can’t save it all but you need to save some of it

The piece you have picked is the Pacific Northwest

You have come significant advantages
- hydroelectricity power is plentiful, you have the Columbia River Valley which generates 40% of the nations hydrompower, a whopping 22 gigawatts. f you can maintain your generation and distribution network that alone can probably get you through, though you will probably want to supplement with some nuke plants and solar
- Agriculture is plentiful here, the winters are mild and you are hopefully on the winning side of climate change. you have the Willamette Valley and several smaller river fed valley systems that should be a good base for sustainable agriculture and sustaining your people
- Your population is reasonable, coming in at around 11 million all in, which is enough to sustain a technology base
- Geography helps you, you are reasonably well isolated
- Transportation is sustainable, river systems help you here , sea transport is an option and you also have the remnants of a decent rail network you can revive
- Culturally there is a strong isolationist mentality already I play among parts of your population which you can use to your advantage

You have some significant disadvantages asl well
- militarily you are weak
- California to the south of you is going to starve and collapse you need to be prepared for that
- You don’t have much in the way of petroleum generation.
- Your eastern border is porous, though at least there is nothing high population for a thousand miles. Hopully the refugees from the collapsing states in the Great Plains will head for the Midwest

Actions
- critical to being able to make your move is creation of a military arm that is far and away more powerful then what the Oregon and Washington national guard can provide. Fortunately private militaries are becoming more of an option as the overseas wars take a greater toll on the US military. You need to control one of the these and you need s crash plan to relocate its military assets back home.
- You need to strongly secure your southern border and prevent those California refugees from swamping you. The Siskiyou mountains can only be crossed in a few places, lock those up. You should also practice a defense in depth into Northern California to disrupt the refugee flow. Blow some bridges along the I5 and the 101.
- For your eastern border you have no defensible perminter at least unless you fall back on the cascades and cede a lot of pretty important territory. However if you annex Boise there really isn’t much to worry about here
- In the north things get interesting. Clearly Victoria and Vancouver should be part of Cascadia but then you’ve picked up another million people that need to be fed. But the real question is do you want to directly control all that Alaskan oil or can you live with an alliance

And oh yeah you’ve got a major natural disaster aimed straight at your major population centers that is gonna land anytime from now to 200 years from now

Good luck!

44:

The real question then is how to render the billionaires sufficiently afeared or constrained that altruism becomes their best option.

Or, y'know, taxed until they're no longer billionaires.

45:

100B$n is definitely enough to eradicate nuclear weapons; see To Howard Hughes: A Modest Proposal by Joe Haldeman.

46:

It's a loaded premise. We have to go to space sooner or later and yeah it's obvious we're fucked, us here and now, as far as seeing green Mars, peaceful Earth, yadda yadda.

So even though it probably isn't in the "spirit" of the rules, I would say if the goal isn't selfish survival and Musk is not credible then the obvious best bet is getting a control freak type of investment into SENS, George Church's efforts, etc.

Because that's the other absurdly stupid loaded premise that the world is currently entranced in, refusing to come out of its platonic cave and deal with the growing pains of living for real VS living this bullshit rigged game of 80 years involuntary death and taxes, which among myriad other things produces depressing gallows humor blogposts like this one.

47:

Troutwaxer noted: "Sixth, finance the planting of a shitload of trees. Ideally fast-growing hardwoods like Eucalyptus, but the particular kind of tree would be optimized for various climates."

Yes and no; the latter part of your suggestion is the crucial part. I've been working with reforestation scientists for ca. 30 years, so that's the basis for this response: First and foremost, you need to choose trees that can survive and even flourish based on the available rainfall. If you extract more water than that, you draw down the water table and kill not only the surface vegetation (which can no longer reach soil water) but also, eventually, the trees. China has begun discovering this after implementing the largest afforestation program in history. Eucalypts are particularly problematic, since many of them are highly inefficient at using water. And others create firetrap conditions due to the volatiles they release that can lead to disastrous wildfires.

In practice, in many cases you'll do better using shrubs with high water-use efficiency and non-woody vegetation such as grasslands. They can sequester more carbon than forests under appropriate conditions. But it's always going to depend on the interaction between climate and vegetation. And what works today may fail disastrously if ongoing climate change changes the climate beyond what the vegetation can cope with.

48:

In practice, in many cases you'll do better using shrubs with high water-use efficiency and non-woody vegetation such as grasslands.

How do you keep shrubs and grasses from breaking down quickly and releasing their carbon? To me the advantage of a big, hardwood tree trunk is that even if it's dead, it can last a very long time, sequestering carbon for as long as it lasts (considerably longer than a stem of grass.)

49:

Probably in the nickle-and-dime range of what's being discussed here, but I'd put some hundreds of millions/yr into pushing research on such things as biogenetic techniques (like CRISPR currently), maturing artificial womb technology, what's inelegantly called "brain science" (how brains work and produce intelligence and similar phenomena) and, of course, a bit of AI that would support the above.

Those wouldn't address immediate problems but, if advances were made, might change the terms of the conversation significantly.

50:

it's obvious we're fucked, us here and now, as far as seeing green Mars, peaceful Earth, yadda yadda

Even Elon Musk thinks building a city on Mars will take a couple of decades and cost multiple trillions of dollars. And compared to me, he's an optimist (I think he vastly underestimates the biological and sociological difficulties and over-estimates the efficiency of market economics as an organizing principle: societies in extremely hostile environments tend not to survive unless they're highly socially-integrated, which his likely source of colonists is anything but).

My actual money is on the next 10-15 years being critical. If the flaming Nazi trashfire of our politics -- thank you, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg -- triumphs, then we can probably say goodbye to 50-99% of the planetary human population plus any hope for a human-friendly biosphere. (Our possibilities range from "the living will envy the dead" to near extinction.) And if we body-swerve climate change being deliberately accelerated by Nazis as a tool of genocide against their objects of hate (side-effects: collapse of global supply chains, collapse of major agricultural zones, and wars), then we get into merely having to live in a Thousand Year Reich with shitty weather. (Ahem. Those of you with no Jewish -- or non-white -- ancestors.)

The other possibility is a global cultural body-swerve which is going to have to involve rapid decarbonization of industry, massive investment in zero-carbon technologies, big cultural shifts, and a degree of global integration that's currently inconceivable. Think President Xi as planetary dictator, and social scoring not on how faithful you are to Xi Thought and Chinese nationalism but on how many trees you've planted this month (or equivalent).

Longevity extends the agony of the population overhang (outside our planetary carrying capacity). Mind uploading is probably chimerical, at least on a non-invasive/tolerable level. I'd like to be proven wrong on both, but I'm not holding my breath -- and I'm guessing it'll become increasingly hard to justify spending resources spent on either as the climate worsens.

51:

Taxed, hell; Zelda Wallet.

(Various Zelda-franchise video games handle the character's inventory so that money is a special category with an upper limit; it is simply impossible to have more money than that. I would view 500 times the lower of the mean or median income as an appropriate upper limit on net worth.)

52:

Allowing 1% spending on blue sky projects in hope of serendipitous outcomes is always a good idea, as long as the spending isn't governed by the sort of bean counters currently in a position to veto academic research at our universities -- who want blue sky research with guaranteed deliverable outcomes on a schedule.

Hell. Maybe make it a lottery for researchers? Publish X papers in peer-reviewed/approved outlets that get at least Y citations, get a free lottery ticket. Lottery tickets accumulate, and if you win, you get a paid-for sabbatical plus some amount of funding for some project that isn't one you're already working on ...?

53:

How do you keep shrubs and grasses from breaking down quickly and releasing their carbon?

Grasses have massive root systems; in many biomes, grasses are a much better sequestration system than trees because the root mat involves much more carbon than the grass stems on the surface. They're also better at checking erosion and retaining water.

On the time scale involved, the speed of rotting isn't relevant; great baulks of timber do rot, and unless you have an anaerobic hole to hurl them into, removing that carbon from the circulating carbon budget and entering it into the sequestered carbon budget (tough to do!), the rate of rotting isn't especially relevant.

The utility of actual reforestation -- diverse, multi-species, trophically dense ecosystem restoration -- is not that it sequesters carbon in the trees (though that is not to be disdained); it's that to do it at all on a large scale you're going to have to tear out capitalism's still-beating heart and ritually eat it.

54:

I am going to dissent from the majority, here (surprise! surprise!)

Firstly, the problem is NOT just the billionaires, oligarchs and media moguls, and probably never was. Yes, they have been a major driver, but the unthinking masses has been pushing for consumerism for as long as I have been alive. What's more, many of the solutions proposed are merely lipstick on a pig, because we need a change of direction, not just an amelioration of our unsustainable lifestyles.

Electric vehicles are NOT a solution, though a solution would involve electrifying our fossil-oil-based transport. One problem is the way that we shift 1-5 tonnes at high speed (in bursts) when we need only shift 0.1 tonne at a sustained low speed - that's the commuting etc. issue. Another problem is that transport is too cheap in monetary terms, and that feeds into a large number of the other problems being described, including feedlot meat/diary.

As Graydon mentioned, locally pastured meat and dairy (and hunted meat) should be part of a solution - the UK is particularly well-suited to this - but imported feedlot products should be eliminated. Inter alia, converting pasture to arable would be ecologically catastrophic in many places (e.g. bye-bye our remaining downland, and the need for extra water in drier climes). Yes, we in 'the west' should eat a lot less, but that doesn't mean none.

But we also need to stop our consumerism and throw-away culture, as well as use much more sustainable materials. For example, in the UK, clothes should be good quality ones made of hard wool (from hill sheep, eventually desined for mutton and haggis) and flax - both durable and effective. And we should go back to darning such things, using them for gardening etc. when tatty, and through away only when irreparable.

Now, how the hell you get there I don't know. I have run such though experiments many times over the past half-century, and used to have ideas that might even have worked. But the clock has started striking midnight, and it needs someone brighter (or more ruthless) than me to do that now.

55:

I've got to agree with you. The capacity for my family to switch to all-electric, gardening/tree planting, etc., comes close to being non-existant. Between budget woes and the fact that we live in rental housing this is all terribly difficult.

56:

But we also need to stop our consumerism and throw-away culture, as well as use much more sustainable materials.

  • Fossil carbon extraction stops. After a certain date, it stops on pain of robust and lavish application of nuclear weapons. (Try economic death penalties first. But it will stop. Maybe we take the existing nuclear waste stocks and pump them down into the oilfields.)
  • If you sell it, it has to be observed to rot or it has to be observed to be recycled. There is no upper limit on liability, liability extends to everyone who could in theory have profited from the enterprise, there is nothing that removes this liability; it is as the mark of Cain.
  • Hard limits on net worth; this ought to naturally produce "pay people more" but even if it doesn't, pay people more.
  • That's enough for a systemic fix. Implementing it quick enough would challenge the Lord Protector, but it'd do the job.

    57:

    What I should say is that those changes are not something we can do alone.

    58:

    Maybe that's something else a Billionaire can do.

    59:

    I know I've posted similar before, but the first task of any billionaire is to destroy the Republican Party in the U.S., plus their supporters. They are the primary reason we're not addressing global warming.

    60:

    The basis for any answers really has, to my thinking, based on the reality that this has all been a long time in the making and as such there is no quick and easy fix to suddenly reverse things.

    Even if we somehow managed to stop burning carbon by the end of this year things are going to get very bad given the climate has effectively become the equivalent of a runaway train, with the IPCC on others be found to be hopelessly optimistic in even their most pessimistic forecasts. But we aren't going to stop, and after at least another 5 years of burning oil it is going to be much worse.

    And driving most of this is the rather simple fact that there are far too many humans on this planet.

    Pretty much every aspect of modern life is environmentally destroying to a greater or lesser extent. Moving to electric cars will still require mining and process huge amounts of materials, as will moving to other non-oil based replacements for things like clothing, roads, and any number of other things that all are based off of our current petro based economy. Then add in the damage caused by concrete, etc. and there really doesn't appear to be any way to make our existing society expectations green. We may reduce the damage, but the damage will still be significant.

    So your $100 billion is a good news/bad news situation.

    The bad news is that you effectively can't change the trajectory that society is currently on. Yes, you could spend some money on a variety of things as has been suggested, but the time delay in those ideas taking hold and the resulting societal upheaval isn't going to keep your head off the stick.

    But the good news is with a portion of that money you can arrange for survival in a manner that is more middle class than the "sitting in a bunker in New Zealand".

    My feeling is that a couple of the suggestions for creating a smaller society than can survive the changes is the right way.

    A Caribbean island, while certainly affordable, is going to be a bad choice. Most of the Caribbean isn't self-sufficient and with the likely collapse of fisheries this is going to get worse, add in the rising temperatures and sea level and generally going to be a bad idea.

    Ideally you should be looking for somewhere more northern, using your money to find somewhere that not only currently has fresh water but is expected to continue having fresh water. Sufficient falling water to allow for hydro power would be a welcome bonus, particularly if you don't need to build a damaging dam.

    But wherever you choose also needs to be remote, hard to get to, and thus naturally defended. This rules out much of the US and southern Canada. The idea about Washington State was interesting, but ignores that the people of California would simply go around via boat (and that pesky US military, as DC is unlikely to allow you to simply break away.

    Far better would be to look into say Northern Ontario, Northern Quebec or Labrador. All reasonably isolated, snow and cold much of the year acting as a natural defense. Create a self-sustainable town of a couple of thousand to say maybe ten thousand (think M. Night Shyamalan's The Village but without the total cut off from the outside world).

    Use a relatively small amount of your money to invest in mineral extraction, and build a railway to get the minerals out to the wider world. This acts as a camouflage for your "town" to the wider world, and a railway line as only access over a large distance makes access controllable and somewhat defensible.

    Build some excess capacity into your town, so if things do suddenly go bad you can "bribe" people to look the other way for solutions with the carrot that they and their family can escape to your haven.

    Build your town so that the people who come to live create a sustainable town that can survive without external inputs (and one of the advantages of a rail access is that large amounts of long term(ish) stable things like grain, steel, can be brought in easily and stored.

    External to this, invest in some technological things. Invest in some open source software, so that Linux becomes entirely viable for doing anything like CAD, etc. which are only partially doable today. By having a fully open source ecosystem you can not only bypass the growing trend for subscription software, but it makes moving to a simpler architecture like RISC-V possible. Invest in 3D printing and small scale production of semi-conductors so with an appropriate stock pile of raw materials you could maintain technology for while even if society fully collapses.

    I wouldn't invest in space, I suspect that space will remain the domain of science fiction.

    And then hope for the best, given that over a decade or more something unexpected could come and throw all your assumptions out the window.


    61:

    Nice one Charlie: "Where does one throw the money, to solve the problem of extreme inequality ?" :-)

    Long term survival requires treating the planet as the single-point-of-failure inter-generational space ship it is.

    There is not going to be any 2nd amendment on that space ship, and if you ruin the atmosphere or the water, you either remedy that entirely post haste, or the molecules you consist of, or at least any of your internal organs in demand, gets recycled, and essentially private ownership will be limited to what you can carry yourself, everything
    else will be something you are assigned, borrow or rent from "the ship".

    I suspect the most efficient way to get from A to B then, is to get involved in Chinese Politics.

    China are clearly ahead of everybody else in this particular game, from with their "social credit system", over forcefully 'reeducating' religious minorities, to using the death penalty to stock transplantation pipelines.

    I'm not sure who much influence you can get as an outsider, unlike western politics, flashing $100B in "investments" is not going to make you their instant-friend and political advisor.

    So a combination of Glenn's "sweep the stairs from above", a heavy political push for "If the rich have done nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear from transparency" for an ever lower threshold of "rich", and strategic investments to make it easier for the Chinese to spread their "Well functioning democracy", via Africa and South America to the rest of the world.

    The pivot is probably going to come when, within a decade or two, the massive investment in medical research in China leads to a "must have" drugs, which China will only sell to "Good People" - according to their definition.

    62:

    Since I already have an underground laboratory in the rain forest on a Pacific island, I guess the first thing would be a white Persian cat.
    And since I’m thereby doomed to be the mad Blofeld in the narrative, I think I’d start the serious work by arranging for precipitate inhumation of a depressingly long list of blatantly appalling people.

    63:

    Yes, the Republican Party is a barrier to dealing with global warming, if you definition of dealing with it involves moving people out of the way of rising sea levels and other measures.

    But if you are talking about actually stopping global warming, then really the barrier isn't so much the Republican Party but the people of the world.

    The yellow vest protests in France, the new upheaval in Iran, numerous polls, etc. all clearly show that the public is not willing to pay to move away from our current oil usage and the society we have built on it.

    All the proof you need is the fact that essentially no major government around the world has done anything significant to reduce let alone stop their carbon emissions. They simply can't without the voters exacting revenge.

    64:

    I think you are missing an important bit of nuance there...

    As long as the proffered "solutions" makes 99% of peoples lives worse, while retaining the lavish luxury for the 1%'ers, yes, that will not fly in any democracy.

    And that is as it should be.

    What is needed is politicians who offer solutions with involve better quality of life *and* lower pollution, and that is perfectly possible, all you have to do is claw the money and greed out of the

    See also: How the 1%'ers in USA freak out over Warren.

    65:

    Troutwaxer wondered: "How do you keep shrubs and grasses from breaking down quickly and releasing their carbon? To me the advantage of a big, hardwood tree trunk is that even if it's dead, it can last a very long time, sequestering carbon for as long as it lasts (considerably longer than a stem of grass.)"

    As Graydon noted, you have to look at the whole ecosystem, not just the aboveground parts, to see where the carbon is sequestered. For grasslands, most of it is underground. For shrublands, it's a mixture of above and below the surface. Shrubs can live as long as trees, and sometimes longer; depends on the specific two species you're comparing and the specific two ecosystems. Ecological comparisons are never simple.

    But really, sequestering carbon is a fool's bet. We're not going to survive as a species if we don't start radically lowering greenhouse-gas *production*. Now, not in 10 years. Sequestration will also be important, but you have to work on both ends of the equation: reduce inputs to the atmosphere and increase outputs.

    Even then, the arctic methane stores are likely what's going to kill us. I fear that we're past the tipping point when it becomes impossible to stop those emissions from continuing. We'll see soon enough, won't we?

    66:

    If you want to sequester carbon for real, what you do is pyrolyse wood to charcoal and then bury the charcoal where the sun does not shine.

    The off-gas can be burned in a gas-turbine to produce electricity and the waste heat from the exhaust be used to dry the raw wood at the start of the process.

    67:

    I'm not a gamer, but I assume Zelda players tend to splurge as they approach their wallet limit? Extravagant consumption isn't what we want to encourage. . .

    Something like Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax would have much the same extreme wealth limiting effect though. Done right only a very talented or lucky investor would get and stay much richer than the threshold at which a high rate kicked in.

    68:

    Better yet: the local public library and the public schools - fund scholarships for every kid who wants to go to college, full ride for the entire time if they choose medicine or teaching and work in smaller towns/cities/rural areas. (The local ag extension would probably appreciate having more support, too. And all the small local businesses.)

    69:

    My brother was doing studies with a guy in Barcelona, on more efficient water use, things like shrubs as well as crops. (Much of California is, in some ways, drier even than northeastern Spain.)

    70:

    I wouldn't have multiple houses and vehicles: no conspicuous consumption. Conspicuous gets you attention you don't want.
    I'd consider something like an earth-sheltered house (I've seen one): it allows for living without taking land out of use permanently.
    Ideally, you use public/mass transit, but realistically, you'll need a vehicle.
    Plant fruit trees, if you have space and the climate for them. (Even arid climates may support some fruits.) You may be able to grow some in containers, which would lower water use. Vegetables, if you have space; some are easier than others, and there are seasonal versions, so you can have some growing in winter and some in summer.

    71:

    One of the major factors regarding climate change that will cause stress to human populations is its effects on the continuing medieval practice of growing food under raw sunlight in dirt. What we need, and it's something $100 billion can buy, is NuFood. Lab-grown, chemically synthesised whatever but a basic dole food produced from raw materials in a factory, nutritionally complete requiring less energy and effort than dirt-farming and all the ancillary processes it entails. The factories are more easily protected from flooding, heat stroke, drought, insect and bacterial pests, fungal infections etc. than dirt. It probably works out cheaper than dirt-based agricautlure in the long run once economies of scale are achieved.

    ObSF: Grimbledon Down.

    72:

    Poul-Henning Kamp noted: "If you want to sequester carbon for real, what you do is pyrolyse wood to charcoal and then bury the charcoal where the sun does not shine."

    It's one option for sequestration, but it won't work on the scale we need to achieve globally. Two big problems: The energy required to harvest all that wood isn't trivial. (I worked with forestry operations guys for much of my career.) Second, where's the energy going to come from to pyrolyze all that wood once you do bring it to a pyrolysis facility? We're talking close to 40 Gt of CO2 produced annually, and probably half that, if not more, needs to be captured.

    PHK: "The off-gas can be burned in a gas-turbine to produce electricity and the waste heat from the exhaust be used to dry the raw wood at the start of the process."

    What are the emissions of CO2 produced by burning the off gas? That is, what's the net energy balance? There's no free lunch.

    73:

    You will be OK until one Saturday night when Clem and Cletus get cranked up on Meth and Moonshine and decide to clean out your safe and party with the upstairs maids. Or Sheriff RayBan and Deputy Barney decide to investigate your crib.

    Revolution begins at home. You show more wealth than the locals, you are a target.

    74:

    The energy balance actually has the right sign and it is documented to work, we have found charcoal from stone age bonfires.

    The crucial thing is that the Co2 released is not fossil, so as long as you bury more carbon than you emit, you're pulling in the right direction.

    You're right that it would need to be a massive undertaking, and unfortunately the trees are not right next to the holes from the fossil coalmines.

    But as sequestration technologies go, this one has the advantage of a) working, b) immediately available, c) very scalable, even down to household level.

    But you're right, it ain't going to save our asses, but it could help.

    75:

    So I wrote up a small python script to do Monte Carlo simulations of various strategies. There's a little fuzziness in the description about how things reset after a GFC, and the exact behaviour of "head on a pike" (ie. does it reset after long enough without a chain of GFC?). But I don't think they affect the out comes much:

    So people have a baseline, the do nothing strategy gives the following results:

    • ~58% of the time your head ends up on a pike. This isn't going to change if the amount of wealth you have is over 5 billion for most of your life.
    • life expectancy is a bit less than 80 years (assuming a start at 25 years and dying at 105 years no matter what)
    • if you survive the repeated GFCs mean that you'll lose nearly 80% of your fortune, no matter what (this assumes 5 years after a GFC that the chance resets to 10%; if you assume that it starts at 0 after 5 years then you expect to lose ~60% of your fortune)
    • as long as your net worth is over 5 billion, you have a roughly a 10% chance of dying each decade (it rises sligtly mid-century

    So if you want to maximize your lifespan with these rules, the obvious strategy is to spend down the 95 billion ASAP (certainly before the first GFC hits and you lose 30% of it) and then weather the rest of the century as a mere multibillionaire, probably finishing with around a billion or so at the end of your life.

    But maybe divesting everything isn't the best option if it leaves you (comparatively) powerless against some unforseen events in 30-40 years time.

    There's probably some Pareto curve which gives a trade-off of maximizing useful expenditure vs. minimizing chance of dying. And there is certainly an interesting question of what is the optimal amount to spend each year to maximize the expected amount that goes towards your preferred causes.

    But to some extent this discussion question is just "what would you spend ~50 billion on right now that would do the most good," perhaps vs. "what would you spend a few billion/year on, accepting that your head will more than likely end up on a stick."

    I'm not sure what my choices would be, but for comparison it's worth noting that DARPA's budget is ~3.5 billion/year. So for that amount of expenditure on basic research you're likely to get at least one "totally change society in 30 years time" technology as a side-effect.

    76:

    One necessary step in the short term would be to mandate minimum parts-and-labour-included warranty periods for consumer goods. Take washing machines (I bought a new washer-drier a couple of months ago after the old one died after 16 years) ... prices have fallen by about 40% in the past two decades, but average lifespan has also fallen, and is now just 3-4 years, which is ridiculous. Mandate a 20 year minimum life, onus on the manufacturer to keep it running -- yes, it'll cost more: you factor that into the price when you buy one, or we see a return to the rental model (anyone else remember Radio Rentals in the UK?).

    Similarly ... part of the reason people buy Apple phones and tablets is that Apple commit to a 5 year after-sale support life (even if you can only buy a maintenance contract good for 3 years at time of sale); while an iPhone 5S will not run iOS 13, Apple are still releasing security patches for it (it was discontinued in 2014). Compare and contrast with the average Android device, where even Samsung (a premium device manufacturer) drops support after 2 years, and the cheap end of the market get no security updates, ever, after launch.

    There's no reason for us to accept that our phones (personal computers) are obsolete after 5 years. Again: mandatory 10 year support provided for at time of sale -- if necessary by garnishing part of the sale price and having it held in escrow to pay for aftermarket repairs. Needs to be mandated by law, will kill a lot of bottom-feeding fly-by-night small players, boo hoo: I'm only willing to accept as little as a 10 year life because phones are still developing fairly rapidly.

    TLDR: consumer protection law should enforce this, and C-suite execs/owners of manufacturers who refuse to back the warranty -- or who allow their firms to go bust without making provision for their customers -- should do serious jail time for wilful environmental damage.

    (IIRC we already factor in disposal costs in the price of sale of some WEEE products; it's clearly the way forward.)

    As for electric cars ... they're mechanically so much simpler than internal combustion cars that there's no reason not to shoot for the same sort of maintenance life as an electric locomotive; provided the batteries are swapped out regularly and the brakes are maintained (but they also have regenerative/engine braking) there's no reason they shouldn't be sold with a 30 year limited warranty.

    So I'm proposing to cut the number of white goods sold by 75%, phones by 80-90%, and cars by at least 60%, while maintaining current availability -- and to do it via consumer protection law.

    77:

    Then add in the damage caused by concrete, etc.

    Oh, I forgot concrete. Concrete production is a huge carbon emitter, and most of it is intended for relatively short lifespan temporary structures.

    We badly need a biopolymer that can be farmed like lignin (i.e. produced by tree-like photoautotrophs) but that has different qualities: needs to be relatively easy to bind into large slabs without net carbon emissions, needs to be resistant to rot, needs to be very strong in compression and very hard, and possible to pre-stress or reinforce with carbon fiber or steel rebar if necessary. Ideally it'd be pourable and subject to polymerization by the addition of an enzyme cofactor to the mixture. In other words, a biological replacement for concrete, not wood.

    Now that is a field to pump a couple of billion into R&D into. As ready-mix concrete is estimated to hit a market value of $950Bn by 2024 (if this goes on) it might even be profitable ...

    78:

    The chance of head-on-a-stick is sufficiently far ahead of my current medical prognosis that I'd be comfortable ignoring it, and going full-speed-ahead on trying to make the world a better place. That being said, I'm pretty sure I could get all the toys I can imagine wanting for less than a billion dollars, so a lot of it goes into foundations providing scholarships, endowments for public libraries, and research into ocean deacidification. (And possibly other good ideas found upthread.) There would also be a lot of investment into non-fossil energy sources, media empires, and politicians.

    (And last mile fiber networks for the US, but that's a personal issue.)

    Risk being that the capitalist investments pay off and make me even richer, which I guess means more grist for the foundations.

    The key thing is to set up things organizations that might survive my onna-stick problem. (I'd even keep a stick handy so that no one would be inconvenienced.)

    79:

    I love this idea. Excellent! Solve Vime's Boots once and for all!

    80:

    If I actually had that kind of money, I'd be trying to develop "we have done with messing about" recycling; arc furnace, accelerator, mass-spec sortation, deceleration with energy recovery. In principle, it can be quite efficient; you still have to deal with the oxygen and the chlorine and the fluorine but I have this sneaking suspicion that a bunch of chemists with a budget could figure out a way to get mostly storable salts. (It did all start out that way!)

    81:

    (And last mile fiber networks for the US, but that's a personal issue.)

    And none of that damn asynchronous crap! I want tops-speed both ways!

    82:

    Ask and it shall be granted. Or at least a viable subset thereof.

    83:

    Let's consider Vimes' Boots.

    The point to the parable is that the poor cannot shop for value; they have a spending cap (what with being poor) and are required to select on the basis of cost.

    The rich can and do shop for value; by shopping for value, you spend more up front but have lower overall costs because higher value means (by definition!) less cost per unit time or unit activity.

    (Value is the ratio of benefit to cost; the higher the value, the less things actually cost you, irrespective of the sticker price.)

    (I own a pair of five hundred dollar boots; I expect to get a decade out of them, so at fifty bucks a year, that's considerable less than cheap boots that last at best 18 months but cost something more than a hundred dollars.)

    The point is not the mandated value; that's the socialism half of the problem, setting constraints on the system. "Whatever you sell, it must meet this minimum standard of performance" is a constraint.

    The point is that your society doesn't benefit from a mandate for value unless and until people generally are shopping for value instead of price. If people are still shopping for price -- and the profit-maximizing greed-heads will do anything to make sure people shop for price, because profit-maximization only works when you can destroy value[0] -- you'll get some horrible stereotypical socialist dystopia where the phone lasts forever but it's not worth having as the only way to maximize profit is to increase the cost per delivered feature. (Which definitionally runs the value down again.)

    So, yes, those are useful constraints. Anything that starts to break the corporate limited liability get-out-of-jail-free card is progress. A full systemic fix can't stop at the constraints; it has to include "pay people more" until any necessary good is being bought on the basis of value.

    A quick search tells me I can get a high-sided "cast iron" pre-seasoned pan for 30 CAD; a de Buyer "Mineral B" ductile iron high-sided pan for 100 CAD; or 350 CAD for a high-sided stainless pan with a non-stick coating.

    The reviews tell me the 30 dollar pan is not reliably flat-bottomed (the middle is higher) and that it's prone to cracking, but if I'm sharply price constrained, that's what I'm going to get. The 350 dollar pan has that non-stick -- that is, actively toxic -- coating. If I didn't know that, I might think it was fancy and worth the money. (It's the "signal value with price" option; it is not worth any money, what with being poisonous.)

    The de Buyer pans are excellent and trivially recyclable. (Post-apocalyptic blacksmith recyclable.) But despite being only about three times the price of the cheap option, they're a weird fancy-store-only thing. You have to know they exist and go looking; otherwise there you are, with a choice between cheap defects and expensive toxic convenience.

    Even robust laws need you to have the budget to treat a hundred bucks as a reasonable price for a pan.

    [0] denim jeans. The 1980s production jean, union labour throughout, cannot be equalled today because the greed-heads straight up destroyed the ability to produce it. It upped their margin but it destroyed a lot of value in the process.

    84:

    I agree that society has become too disposable, and that things should last longer - and obviously a good first step towards that is making things fixable.

    But the side effect (and it seems it is always those nasty side effects) is that you are putting a lot of people out of work. You half the number of cars sold, it means you have cut in half the (remaining) people in the factories, in the delivery to dealers, dealerships, etc. [and yes, to an extent this is coming anyway perhaps with electric cars]

    Same thing for every other thing that no longer needs to be purchased every x years.

    And this is the fundamental problem that every government is terrified of, and why they aren't working harder to deal with climate change.

    Our society is built on a foundation of exploiting the resources of this planet (oil, coal, and the long list of other minerals and elements, even down to gravel and sand). This all provide good paying jobs.

    Building houses/retail/offices/etc for growing populations provides good paying jobs.

    And the rest of our consumer culture, while not paying good wages, does pay wages.

    It's a house of cards that essentially every politician after every election hopes doesn't collapse until they are either out of office, or at the least until after the next election...

    But the bottom line is it certainly appears that you can't make the fundamental, necessary changes to our society to try and deal with global warming without putting a lot of people out of work and creating a lot of unrest.

    Yes, the inequality is a problem that needs to be fixed. Yes, we need to tax the rich more (if for no other reason that somebody will need to pay for a basic income).

    But taxing the rich and reducing inequality at best will delay what is coming, not prevent it.

    Hence the reason why anyone wanting to plan (as per the framework of this though experiment) needs to plan on that unrest happening and hence dealing with it, likely through making yourself and any project as inaccessible as possible.

    85:

    The people who are out of work form the nucleus of the Climate Army.

    86:

    But the bottom line is it certainly appears that you can't make the fundamental, necessary changes to our society to try and deal with global warming without putting a lot of people out of work and creating a lot of unrest.

    There's a nigh-infinite amount of ecological remediation work to be done.

    The entire transportation infrastructure everywhere and nigh-all the housing infrastructure needs to be replaced, often somewhere else.

    The problem isn't "lack of work" -- there are several long shedloads of work needing doing -- it's arranging things to pay for it.

    Oh look, another reason to make sausage from the beating heart of capitalism!

    87:

    My parents got a washer-dryer set in 1954 (maybe 1953). The dryer lasted until 1993. The washer had been replaced at least once, maybe twice, during that period. (Washers don't last as long, because pumps and motors.) So it's doable. (They had gas dryers. Cheaper then.)

    88:

    "putting a lot of people out of work" is such a protestant way of thinking.

    The question is not if they work or not, the question is if the can have a decent or better quality of life.

    Work used to be how people got that, but automation is rapidly eating that model from the bottom up, which is why there are almost no typographers left in the world.

    We can reduce both greenhouse-gas and other polutions a LOT by simply by stopping people commuting to bull-shit jobs which add no net or even adds negative societal value.

    The world would literally be a better place if we paid all the marketing people to stay home and not think about ways to create more pollution faster than ever before.

    I most metropolises, taking 1% of the cars of the road during congestion reduces polution by more than 1% because the remaining cars suffer less gridlock.

    But yeah, not very "western capitalist" that, is it ?

    I guess that's one way to spend the $100B: Hire all the worlds best marketing people on exclusive contracts, insist they work from home and focus entirely on reducing our self-destructive socieatal behaviours.

    They may not come up with anything useful, but at least they do not invent a new color of fire while not doing so.

    89:

    Well, first off, the head-on-the-stick option means you've only got around a 55% or less chance of making it to 2100, irrelevant of your health (that's the compound chance of not getting killed every year for 80 years. It adds up).

    In the short term:
    The key thing about extreme wealth is that it's about control, not ownership. If no one knows you have all that money, the first thing to do is to obfuscate your control of it. And if they do know you have the money, getting it into assets you control rather than own will extend your lifespan considerably.
    --Put your wealth in a very interesting control system (I'd suggest a STAR trust). E.G. get rid of *all* of it.
    --Assuming you're going for Gray Man camouflage, have a non-profit within the trust hire you on as the executive director (you're a hidden beneficiary, but that can also be taken care of). The real thing is to make sure you have an obvious excuse for why your health care is taken care of, and to camouflage the reason you are gallivanting around the world and talking to a lot of people. Also, if someone sues you or kidnaps your kids, your only obvious cash is the $100k you're making as an executive, not the trust that you control with its billions.

    In the middle term: start a big family. Actually presuming you're male, start two of them. Apparently this is actually so normal for billionaires to have the official family and the mistress and kids that taking care of mistress(es) is one of the primary functions and drivers of innovation in the wealth management industry. The big point here is that you really don't have as good a chance as you think you do of surviving to 2100. Even if you do, things will continue to get worse for centuries. Your survival strategy has to be one for the clan of your descendants, not for personal immortality. This, incidentally, is what STAR trusts are designed to accomplish.

    Also in the middle term: invest heavily in companies involved in scaling up sustainable agriculture and carbon sequestration. If they fail, you're dead anyway, so you might as well make money trying to help good ideas succeed.

    For a bolt hole: Buy an entire watershed in the mountains, if possible, somewhere where the stream flows year-round and doesn't depend on snowmelt. Mountains act as aboveground aquifers, even in the absence of a snowpack at high elevation. This is probably impossible (because all the good springs were found thousands of years ago) but it's worth a try. In short term, this can be used as a test-bed for those technologies you invested in. If civilization crashes, it's your bolt hole, and if your fortune crashes, it's collateral for a loan.

    Long term: you're going to get pecked hard by a pack of black swans. Try not to become bird food too easily.

    Let's see, what else....Train your legitimate family in the arts of wealth, land, and people management. Help your illegitimate family train in the arts of survival. That way you've got two ways your genes are getting passed on, although probably all your biological kids will end up hating you at some point. Don't be afraid to switch training if the kids show an inclination in an odd direction. The truly huge problem is that your kids and especially your grandkids are almost certainly going to be more ordinary than you are, so expecting them to be brilliant and driven means you are doomed to disappointment. Trying to live up to your standard is going to probably destroy cripple their ambitions too, especially since you'll have had so many kids that none of them get much of your affection, even if you do love them. Sucks to be a patriarch.

    Actually, this is probably worthless advice, because I'm not so sure how well the Gray Man Camouflage stunt actually works for the super-rich. That may be testimony for how well it does work, but it may be that having the legitimate reputation for wealth outweighs the advantages of anonymity.

    Now the interesting question: gender swap the question and be a woman billionaire. How does that change things?

    90:

    Okay, here's the extraordinarily sarcastic version of what to do with US$100 Bn.

    --Move to Scotland and buy one of those huge highland estates. Take it out of hunting and put it into serious reforestation experimentation and experiments with sustainable small-farming. This is your bolt-hole and also your experimental area for new forms of agriculture and carbon sequestration. If some technique (maize that produces north of the Great Glen?) scales up and makes money and livelihoods, all the better.

    --Meanwhile, use your wealth and power to try and get a hard Brexit. What you want is for little England to end up as an offshore financial center, and Scotland to remain in the EU so you have the advantages of free trade Since, unlike most OFCs, which are, with the exception of Switzerland and Mauritius, on low-lying islands, a goodly chunk of England will not go under the waves ever, even though London certainly will. Your goal is to get the legal structures necessary to run something like a STAR trust enshrined in Post-Brexit English Law (currently, only the Cayman Islands do STAR Trusts). Also, you want to develop some other town (Wolverhampton?) to become the hot new OFC financial center for the newly, erm, independent England.

    Meanwhile, you practice becoming a highland laird, while helping your wealth managers in England run your interests around the world. Practice your droit du seigneur, figure out who your tanist is, grow your clan, and get on with preparing for the climate apocalypse.

    91:

    The truly huge problem is that your kids and especially your grandkids are almost certainly going to be more ordinary than you are, so expecting them to be brilliant and driven means you are doomed to disappointment.

    The original premise has the fairy godmother being the overachiever, not the recipient of her largesse, so the biggest difference between "you" and the descendants might well be that the descendants grew up wealthy, with all the viewpoint shifts that that implies.

    Now the interesting question: gender swap the question and be a woman billionaire. How does that change things?

    Other than making the illegitimate family harder*? :-)

    It probably makes accomplishing your goals harder. I've watched female colleagues have a harder time being taken seriously by both male and female bosses — I doubt the dynamics are much different at the upper levels.


    *I daresay it could be done, donated eggs, surrogate mothers, and so on.

    92:

    Being a good guy (Soros appears to be a Popperian and to have read Popper on the open society and its enemies) is not guaranteed to make you friends (although you make the right enemies).

    Not an accident, but a successful propaganda campaign. Interesting how the alt-right (and the American Republican Party) have swallowed Kremlin propaganda whole.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/explaining-rights-obsession-george-soros/572401/

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/melikkaylan/2018/03/01/why-populists-hate-george-soros-and-how-it-started/#2632aba313d0

    93:

    So all the problems you have being the normal recipient of extraordinary largesse come home to roost immediately. That's even more fun!

    What I'm thinking about is the old saying of "shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves in three generations." (aka one generation makes the fortune, one generation keeps the fortune, one generation loses the fortune). Basically, this scenario starts in, at best, generation two of three....

    94:

    Actually, this is probably worthless advice, because I'm not so sure how well the Gray Man Camouflage stunt actually works for the super-rich. That may be testimony for how well it does work, but it may be that having the legitimate reputation for wealth outweighs the advantages of anonymity.
    I have had several recent long and enlightening conversations with a Chinese national. (Female, PhD computer science, young as allowed by a PhD)
    The gist is that many rich people in China who are not tight with the ruling party keep a surprisingly low profile. Ostentatious consumption attracts members of the ruling class, which can be bad.

    I'm with you 100 percent on the camouflage. These following items are IMO critical; without them, attempting to doing anything game-changing other than typical selfish billionaire stuff will attract attention and probably get you neutralized somehow. I think one would need to risk the above 5 billion threshold for a decade or two to most efficiently leverage the starter wealth. (Re above discussion.)
    (0) Basics - several 10s of millions per year of ongoing dollars
    - Assemble an interdisciplinary small team with extremely good bullshit-detection skills, with a focus on polymath-types. One focus would be on evaluating funding pitches and R&D agendas for some of the other items. There would be attrition due to other opportunities, which would be fine; keep hiring/cultivating. You want these people around to keep things real(er) and to stave off delusional thinking. You want to listen to them. (ref Epstein's BS.)
    - Invest in mapping out power structures globally and in detail. Make these maps generally available and navigable, and maintain them. Expect some ... surprises.
    - Craft and maintain very strong opsec/comsec, and discipline, for operations/activities that may attract dangerous attention.
    - Probably something else related to the survival of one's favorite brain meat(s?), e.g. the small town suggestion above.

    I have more but the numbered list is not baked yet. One is that a considerable amount needs to be spent on high-leverage influence operations and on shifting the news media, and on defenses against hostile manipulation at all scales including individuals. This would break consumer capitalism if successful, oh well. :-)

    As Graydon keeps correctly noting, time to decarbonization is of the essence, so drastic measures will be tempting, to many parties.

    95:

    Another way to look at it is that we're stuck on a generation ship, and we've decided that screws from the generation ship walls are the only viable wealth exchange tokens--this is a stupidly simple form of extractive capitalism.

    Anyway, now we're worried that if we unscrew the few remaining screws, the ship will explosively depressurize. Indeed, wisdom dictates we screw the station back together as rapidly as possible.

    Unfortunately, our entire social structure on who has the most screws. Getting rid of this system (we could call it an economy, but it really is stupid to trade screws for life support that already was being provided) will collapse our social structure. But all the currently extracted screws are owned, and the only source of new screws is...the ship walls.

    That's an over-simplified version of the problem we're facing, but it is crudely accurate. A lot of capitalism is predicated on extracting value from outside the system. You can see that most readily with carbon sequestration. It's only valid if someone pays to plant a tree. Paying to protect an existing forest is considered valueless because the trees are already there, and the default assumption is that they'll keep doing whatever they do no matter who owns them, therefore their only value is as either land or as lumber. What's the value of a tree not planted, not cut down or even slated for cutting, but only sitting there being a tree?

    So crashing capitalism as we know it is a good idea. A better idea is to crash the system we have, call the crash an improvement of capitalism, and call whatever comes after it capitalism. That way, even if it's wildly different than what we have now, people won't freak out and society won't collapse. This may sound stupid, but in the 19th Century slavery went from being at the heart of capitalism to mostly illegal, and civilization didn't crash in that process. We to make it financially sustainable for the screws to stay in the walls of the ship.

    96:

    This may sound stupid, but in the 19th Century slavery went from being at the heart of capitalism to mostly illegal,

    Slavery became much less official; it's not gone, and indeed it's increasing in its present socialized forms.

    and later
    to make it financially sustainable for the screws to stay in the walls of the ship

    Capitalism is the idea that whatever you did to get the money, you get to keep it; the proper function of society is to guarantee the persistence of heritable wealth. (I note in passing that the House of Hohenzollern are still there, still wealthy, and still own castles. Hohenzollern, Brandenburg, Prussia, the German Empire, and Romania as various members of the house ruled them are not. Capitalism is supremely indifferent to means and laws.)

    Calling the replacement capitalism presents four serious challenges; one is that everyone now alive knows what capitalism means (you get to keep the loot); two is that the degree of structural change is very great (about like going from pre-Christian germanic tribal joint land tenure to modern concepts of private land ownership), so that a confusion of names is not going to help; three is that the required rate of change is comparable to the rise of Islam (it has to be very fast, and it has to be complete); four is that the reason we have capitalism now is not how well it works but because it wins wars. That's the only thing capitalism has going for it, but it doesn't actually matter what quality of life your system delivers if the system its in competition with wins the war of conquest.

    (It doesn't matter how stupid taking all the screws out of the walls is, either; it matters if it's possible to stop the determined persons who view the paucity of screws remaining as motivation to make sure they get all of them. They won't agree to be poor on their own.)

    "Financially sustainable" is entirely the wrong frame, because the presumed context is profit. Finance needs to be firmly constrained to the category of means and the fate of those attempting to maintain it as an end made an adequate deterrent.

    97:

    Note that buying media is not as easy as it's made out to be - you can't just apply money and get control. The useful media are generally not for sale, so you end up with step 1: assassinate Murdoch et al; step 2: gain control of their heirs. Or as Gina Rinehart found out in Australia, you can buy shares but you don't get control until you own an awful of of them.

    $100B is kind of an annoying number in that regard, you have a certain amount of power but it's largely the power to do what everyone else with that sort of money is doing. You too can have a bizjet, yacht, influence some politicians and yadda yadda. But if you try to buck the tide you quickly find that lots of other people each have as much money as you and are willing to spend it in opposition.

    98:

    I note a complaint in The Guardian this morning from some association of British manufacturers to the effect that their past ability to influence the Conservatives has finally dropped to zero, or perhaps has become negative in the sense that a bunch of stuff they very loudly want to have not happen is very much going to happen.

    My feeling is that I would be spending a goodly chunk of my $1B/year on politics, both in the completely normal and above-board giving money to the ones I like, and in the completely normal and secret influencing voters via new media. If I could as part of that buy out some of the CA type orgs and repurpose/destroy them that would also be handy, but I suspect it would be far more effective to hack them and let the bought media render them less useful. I'm not saying anyone has done that, just that it does seem to be happening.

    99:

    Two options.
    1. Do an Adrian Veidt: engineer a fake crisis that demands global response to the world's real problems. Giant mutant alien pyscho-squid FTW!
    2. Turn the Kardashians into a rolling presidential dynasty doing your bidding. Kim's already at law school. Uncle Rupert has shown it only takes 20 years of propaganda to subvert truth and turn it into policy. Use that technique to tap millennial angst into government warped in the service of AGW address.

    100:

    This is just about perfect! I think you win the Internet today!

    101:

    Calling the replacement capitalism presents four serious challenges

    Seriously, most people who call themselves Christians have no idea what Jesus wrote, and still fewer make a serious attempt to follow his teachings. Ditto Buddhists and Muslims.

    Similarly, China and Vietnam are still communist countries, but there's little indication of communal ownership of much of anything there.

    The point here is that Capitalism is a label whose referent changes over time. Ditto Financial Sustainability is a buzzword, whose meaning is currently oxymoronic. If a transformation that fixes both of these also fails to ignite the "capitalism is under threat by communists, ignite mindless and lethal defense!" systems, that's what we're after.

    Don't set yourself up for failure by letting a name get in the way.

    102:

    Unfortunately, given the limited resources involved and the time frame, you can't really do anything useful on climate change. At the outside, we have about 30 years to get to cut our CO2 emissions by about 2/3rds globally. Currently, these emissions are continuing to rise.

    Given the time frame and the life of infrastructure and cost of replacement, we have to do most of this with current technology. Thus, spending money on researching cool new tech, while potentially helpful at the margins is unlikely to make a difference here, given the time frame to conduct research, discover something and make it commercially useful. (Incremental improvement can be useful, but that is probably harder for a random billionaire to incrementally finance. )

    The good news is that a we probably can pull this off with our current technology. The bad news is that do to a combination of cost and lack of consumer/voter citizen desire, we aren't going to. Generating this desire is also beyond the capacity of our billionaire.

    The best bet is probably moving to New Zealand and supporting resiliency to help New Zealand survive. Whether that works depends on how bad climate change gets.

    103:

    As one of the Kiwis here, I can say that we're welcoming to immigrants, but if you're a billionaire who's running away from the crisis that you yourself have created, then that's not going to go down well here.

    As for building a back-country hide-away... sure there's plenty of under-populated areas, but the few people that live there know each other very well. You're not going to get something built without everyone knowing. Case in point - a friend lives out the back of the Marlborough Sounds where there's some very scenic islands for sale. There's also one mail boat for delivering your building materials, run by one guy, from the one harbour. Everybody's going to know what you're up to.

    104:

    WreRite @ 34
    The really startling thing about campaign, think tank, and other propaganda spending in democracies is not how much there is, but how little.
    Excepting the uSA of course, but that's an Oligarchy

    EC @ 54
    ocally pastured meat and dairy (and hunted meat) should be part of a solution - the UK is particularly well-suited to this - but imported feedlot products should be eliminated. Inter alia, converting pasture to arable would be ecologically catastrophic in many places (e.g. bye-bye our remaining downland, and the need for extra water in drier climes). Yes, we in 'the west' should eat a lot less, but that doesn't mean none.

    But we also need to stop our consumerism and throw-away culture, as well as use much more sustainable materials. For example, in the UK, clothes should be good quality ones made of hard wool (from hill sheep, eventually desined for mutton and haggis) and flax - both durable and effective. And we should go back to darning such things, using them for gardening etc. when tatty, and through away only when irreparable.
    Been doing all of that for the past 30 years ......

    PHK @ 61
    China are clearly ahead of everybody else in this particular game, from with their "social credit system", over forcefully 'reeducating' religious minorities, to using the death penalty to stock transplantation pipelines.
    NO
    NOT ACCEPTABLE - just more fascism

    Charlie @ 76
    Ah the exact OPPOSITE of what arsehole Khan is doing in London, in fact ......

    105:

    @Charlie

    Your model is flawed. The entrenched oil companies or military-industrial complex are more likely to murder a do-gooder than a popular revolution a billionaire. Their interests are more concentrated, which solves the coordination problem, and they already have extensive experience in this.

    106:

    "NOT ACCEPTABLE - just more fascism"

    I'm sure it would be perfectly acceptable and pleasant for Charlies posited centobillionaire.

    The fact that the rest of us wouldn't like it much is besides the point for this game.

    107:

    By the middle of the century fully one third of the global population is going to live in places which, as of now, are being dealt the very shitty end of the stick economically.

    Then the turd-flavoured icing on the cake is that the same places are likely to be most affected by the changing climate.

    So while the 20th century's powers will have become "old people, in cities, afraid of the sky" there's going to be vast change happening in the new powers, one way or another.

    All your electric cars, vegan protein and media empires, these means to an end, your measly $100bn isn't going to keep them yours once they become successful. Capitalism will buy you out, it will turn your radical change into just another product, having eaten you it will regenerate itself again, and although the crisis has passed the next one will be on its way. (and what will it be? some unforeseen effect of your car batteries' lithium on brain or tree health? maybe what happened to bananas happens to OGH's treecrete?)

    Which is to say that whatever you do, I think one of the key drivers of these interlinked crises is intellectual property. As long as the knowledge to create the modern wonders that can feed, clothe, house and heal all eleven billion of us is jealously held in companies and universities, as long as the material expression of our common knowledge is curled out at the optimum profit, it will not serve our common good.

    So that's what I think I would try to fix, with my approximately 1 Apollo worth of funding.

    108:

    Vimes Boots: it's a good metaphor, but it misses an angle that's become increasingly obvious in the past couple of decades (since Terry came up with it).

    We live in an age of consumer purchases driven by marketing. Actual basic levels of provision are assured, so to boost demand artificially it's necessary to create artificial scarcity, and an easy way to do that is to associate products with social signaling.

    So in addition to the cheap $50 boots and the durable $250 boots, we now get the preposterous $5000 boots. Where the purchaser is paying $4950 for the social signal ("I'm wealthy! I can afford this!") and $50 for the frankly badly-made disposa-boots (because they're going to need another pair of $5000 look-at-me-I'm-rich boots in six months or people will think, gasp, they can't afford new boots.)

    A look around your nearest department store at the ladies' hand bags will make this clearer. Especially once you realize that the reason the high end brands, from Louis Vuitton on up, have such a counterfeiting problem is because the cheap knock-offs on ebay come from the very same factories as the real thing (the owners outsourced manufacturing because paying the actual craftspeople their reputation for quality products was built on ate into their profit margin).

    Sumptuary laws and luxury taxes are both flawed, inadequate ways of tackling this problem. We might do better to tax trademarks instead, and if that doesn't work, shoot the marketing corporation executives.

    109:

    Our society is built on a foundation of exploiting the resources of this planet (oil, coal, and the long list of other minerals and elements, even down to gravel and sand). This all provide good paying jobs.

    In the developed world, we're at or past the point of shrinking population. A side-effect of this is that our age profile is changing, and getting older. Old people need carers. It's a field that is resistant to automation, and desperately short-staffed and underpaid at present.

    We need there to be fewer people, to reduce the damage to our planet (which currently exceeds carrying capacity). This means a lower birth rate, which means ageing population, which means fewer working-age people per capita overall, and more carers. It also means structural deflation over a period of decades to centuries, combined with shrinking demand for residential real estate -- although not as much less as you might expect: aged people don't cope well with staircases, need corridors and doorways that can accommodate wheelchairs and wheeled beds, and need supervised/sheltered housing.

    Bluntly, the 20th century indicators of a "healthy" economy are already obsolete, not only due to environmental damage but because the demographic curve has shifted.

    110:

    YES!!! Back in the later 1960s, when private customers were deserting the UK car manufacturers on the grounds that they produced complete crap (some even failed roadworthiness tests due to rust etc. before they were shipped to the forecourts), I thought of a trivial solution.

    The UK government (its biggest customer) would buy ONLY on the basis of a 5-year, 50K mile warrantied car - and ALL maintenance and repair would need to be included for that time. And it would require the vendors to quote such a price for the public for all vehicles it sold to the government. Maintenance could be paid for by a voucher system with proper oversight. No more. No restraint on trade. It could quote dozens of times its simple sale price if it liked, which would tell its customers something.

    If that had happened, it MIGHT have sorted out its quality enough and in time to not be demolished by European imports when we relaxed the rules. But the same should be true today, only for different reasons, for longer periods and more generally.

    And I fully agree about excessive concrete use. But it's damn hard to get even simple building work done without.

    Greg Tingey (#104): "Been doing all of that for the past 30 years ......"

    Only 30 years? :-) As is obvious, we have a lot in common - I have two very worn jersies waiting for me to darn them right now.

    111:

    "20th century indicators of a "healthy" economy are already obsolete"

    One of the interesting shifts here is that all of the "indicators" are obsolete, from the BNP over the US-census to the annual "${scandinavian_country} is the happiest in the world" fluff-stories.

    These are all proxy measurements, because in those unenlightened days, the real thing could not be measured.

    Today FaceBook's advertisers can pay to know in real time what the mood is in $target_market and adapt their pitch in real time.

    PayPal knows more about the mood of the global economy than anybody in any reserve bank or investment fund.

    Google and Apple know the US demographics an order of a magnitude more precisely than the US Census and they do so in real time.

    The biggest challenge to keep the wheels on civilized society is dealing with the Information-Apartheid which means that only the "bad guys" have access to the "good inforation".

    112:

    A bit off topic, but... this wealth growth rate is unrealistically low.

    Today $100 billion turns into $200 billion in about 14 years. The rich really are growing richer - and quickly. Because we’ve totally messed up the tax system and rigged things in their favour.

    Our system is so screwed that even “Extreme” anti-wealth taxes like Warren & Sanders propose would leave Bill Gates still earning more than the profits Charlie suggests here ( even including GFCs).

    Sorry to niggle, but the fact that the numbers are currently rigged to favour the Uber-rich *matters*.

    113:

    I got a bit confused by all the rules.

    In the end I saw I can siphon off a billion a year.

    Ok, my premises are, it's all going to shit. 100 billion actually isn't enough to save us (there are signs that there are people in the background trying to save us with about that amount of money and it's not working). I'm going to try for personal survival in a pleasant situation. I'm going to try to set things in motion that may extract some others from the shit. By "shit" I mean 10-12 degrees of warming.

    I'd buy Australia to start. Stuff buying New Zealand, they know what they're worth. Buying Australia is cheap. There's probably 20 people in Australia you'd need to buy or rent, and they'd be like a million a year each, tops and even that is probably 10 times what they're being paid by their current masters. They have demonstrated that they can control the rest. They're the experts, let them do it.

    Next I'd borrow against the billion a year income. Borrow maybe 35 billion. I'd buy a big chunk of worthless desert in Northern Western Australia. That's only a few million. It's pretty inhospitable now, and less inviting in a 10 degree warmer world. Uninvited guests are unlikely. I'd tell my minions in Canberra to arrange a tax exempt zone for it. 5 billion on building a solar panel gigafactory. (I actually think Elon's biggest contribution was the idea of designing factories like scaled up VLS integrated circuits.) There a factory in Florida that cost 50 million and it produces 400 MW of panels annually. Even if you didn't get the 2-10 times economy of scale that you'd expect, that's still 40 000 MW of panels annually if you just built 100 of those factories. If you got say a factor of 4 economy of scale, that's 160 000 MW pa. (40 GW or 10 Hinkley Point C per year in continuous power) Most industry runs during the day and the whole town shuts at night.

    Then a port, say 3 billion. A desalination plant, 2 billion. A cement production plant say 2 billion (electric rather than coal fired, with the driven off CO2 captured, which is easyish with the pure gas stream. The cement will capture more as it cures). A combined steel and hydrogen production plant (both electric), say 10 billion. The steel and cement initially goes to building a city that is intended/designed from the start to survive 65C days (and no cars, obviously). Probably mostly underground with underground road/cycleway/malls. Then to export once local demand is satisfied. Hydrogen goes to export or is bought by companies that are encouraged to start up by the tax breaks and practically free daytime electricity. Hydroponic farms next. They're fed from water and minerals extracted from the sea or the local rocks. That provides food for the locals and employment for anyone who wants it. (not just the "meritorious"). That would expand to become an export industry. This is a proven tech that's already supplying about half the supermarket tomatoes in Australia. 0.2 billion would cover that easily. That's what the South Australian farm cost with its own solar and desalination. You could grow fish and yabbies as well as vine crops.

    That's most of the 35 billion spent. You end up with a small town. Most of whom you employ directly. Most are smart, motivated and they literally owe you one. (hopefully this keeps your head away from sticks) They have an energy supply that increases by 40 GW every year for the next 30 years that's all paid for. You could start selling zero carbon electricity to other countries. Full employment, nice housing, lots of money, no taxes. Sounds like a nice place. It also makes invasion a poor idea. Invasions fuck up infrastructure and without the infrastructure all your invasion gets you is hot desert and a lot of unhappy prisoners to look after. (for any value of 'look after')

    A bit of subtle "we want to vertically integrate" and "we'd rather not leave critical infrastructure to outside suppliers" push means that you end up with a near self sufficient lifeboat. Anything that you lose due to civilisation collapse elsewhere, well you've got a tonne of smart people who are used to improvisation and all the raw materials and energy you could possibly want.

    The next step would be to start replicating that elsewhere using the profits from selling zero carbon cement, steel, electricity, hydrogen and food. A bit of seed capital, a desert, an ocean and it would work anywhere. If there's some bauxite, iron ore or limestone, so much the better.

    You'd need to have it all up and running before things went to shit.

    114:

    I'd been thinking about this sort of thing on my walk to work recently.

    I think two very important factors that will influence whether the world turns out to be an okay place to live or not are

    1) economic development in Africa

    2) the quality of democracy in South America.

    The biggest factors are the twin issues of climate change and trying to accomdate 10 billion people on the planet.

    Then, looking at the particular criteria and wanting to avoid being murdered by a hangry mob I have a three-strand plan.

    Plan X - Africa & South America

    Use the income from the fund to "invest" in African infrastructure projects. There is good money to be made capitalising Africa and the quicker Africa has better infrastructure the better for Africa and the better for everyone else.

    I would invest in the form of Not-For-Profit Institute or charity. The Institute would own the investments in Africa ports, airports, railways, power-stations etc. Part of the requirements for investing in the projects would be good labour relations and the provision of health care and education to the families of the workers. Compulsory but free vaccination for everyone in the family of anyone who works in the supply chain for example.

    Profits would be spent on rounding out health care and education in Africa and funding campaigns in South America towards building democratic participation, strong democratic institutions and deliberative and participative democracy.

    I would intend to control the Institute with a succession plan of handing control over to a more democratic structure (not tied to the governments of nation-states) after my peaceful death. (If I meet a violent death then the Institute spends a generation being run by a close relative with more of a focus on justice / revenge.)

    Plan Y - Plan Y Prizes

    I would very loudly and very publically offer large prizes in the form of an X-Prizes for "solving" a number of problems that impact on climate change directly or which impact on the mitigation or accomodation strategies for dealing with climate change and lots of people. The aim would be find technologies that made the provision of Y benefit in a sustainable way signifcantly cheaper than the current way of doing it.

    Examples include

    vat-grown meat (to reduce the environmental damage of animal husbandry and deforestation)

    palm oil substitute from aqua-culture or desert based hydroponics

    automated deep water aqua-culture

    hydroponics or aeroponics

    I'd probably steer clear of things like reducing the cost of wind turbines, reducing the cost of solar PV, energy storage, vechicle autonomy as I think transformative breakthroughs in those areas are already in the procss of being worked on.

    What I would hope to achieve is a) increased R&D effort pointed at these problems and b) a clear signal to the current incumbents (including their host governments) that the game is up. I'd hope that Brazil and Indonesia would look at their future deforestation plans, realise that there will be no market for beef or palm oil soon and shift focus.

    Plan Z - Host Country - Shifting from Parasite to Symbyotic Relationship

    I'd pick a small country who I think has a progressive ethos and then spend some of the fund income boltering them for the coming difficulties in a way that lets me put my name on a lot of things.

    Scotland looks like a decent bet - given that I'm already here.

    So investments in research institutes at universities, focused on technology to mitigate climate change and lots of people, with lots of scholorships for kids from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds, libraries in primary schools, pavilions in community grassroots sports clubs, refuges for people in abusive relationships, drug rehabilitation centres, museums, heritage sites and art galleries in small towns, skills programmes for disadvantaged older people.

    I'd be looking for four outcomes, 1 - things that position Scotland to have the right technology to keep economically wealthy during the climate and population transition, 2) things that bring people together, and build community cohesion and 3) things that reduce the gap between rich and poor , 4) something that makes it more likely that Scotland would be willing and able to accept climate change refugees.

    All with my name on them.

    I'd be hoping that that makes Scotland more likely to not be destabilised by climate change and population crises and also buy me enough good will that I'm not a target for mob violence.

    I would, of course, build a secret super-villan lair in the north west of Australia for me and few thousand of my closest friends but that is only for if things go really badly wrong.

    115:

    At the outside, we have about 30 years to get to cut our CO2 emissions by about 2/3rds globally.

    That was roughly what the signatories of the Kyoto Protocols said back in 1990, about thirty years ago when atmospheric CO2 had soared to the unsustainable level of 360ppm. The Great and Good all agreed to a maximum effort to curtail the increases in CO2 and aimed to reduce the level to something more reasonable then they went home and encouraged oil and gas and coal production since extractive industries are one of the simplest ways to increase the wealth of any nation and that's what gets them re-elected, not hairshirt do-without policies which, absent the rollout of a lot of nuclear power plants is what the Green Revolution promises.

    Today at the Mauna Loa observatory the measured CO2 level is about 410ppm. Saying "we have to do something in the next (however long it takes to make me feel okay about not doing something right now) years" isn't actually going to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It's not going to stop the increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It's not even going to stop the increasing rate at which we add CO2 to the atmosphere (about double the rate of increase of the 1960s).

    116:

    Trying to track down the reference, but I recently read that in the 1950s/60s, back when the US was experimenting with nuclear fracking, a big reason given by the AEC for nuclear power plants was that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at then-current rates would lead to unacceptable levels of warming, so fossil fuel plants needed to be replaced with nuclear plants.

    Sound familiar?

    We've had 2-3 generations where it was a known problem. Nothing was done. Doesn't bode well for actually doing anything about it.

    117:

    "On the Feasibility of Coal-Driven Power Stations" Frisch, Otto 1955.

    https://www.mpoweruk.com/coal.htm

    Some of the places where coal has been found indeed show signs of previous exploitation by prehistoric men, who, however, probably used it for jewels and to blacken their faces at religious ceremonies.

    118:

    A very good investment would be sponsoring real, in-depth investigating journalism in UK and USA, both in newspapers and TV. Reduced corruption will benefit everyone, including yourself.
    .
    Set up an Anti-Fox News network in USA, providing the plebes with the unvarnished reality. You will not cover all costs by advertising, but the long-term effects will result in a superpower that is populated by actual, well-informed citizens, instead of indoctrinated sheep. That is worth a total loss of ten billion -you will get most of it back by a reduced risk of another bank crisis.
    .
    Use a belts-and braces strategy for basic energy research. Donate money for many different projects -you do not know beforehand what will be the optimal path.
    .
    Sponsor Greg Benford's idea of a Noah's Freezer -preserve whole specimen of as many as possible of the endangered species, from vertebrates to soil bacteria. save the whole specimen in cryogenic temperatures - this way you even get the commensal microbes. In a Century it may be feasible to re-create the species, but you need many unrrelated individuals from every species for genetic diversity. A preserved biosphere will be more stable, and benefit you and your offspring.
    .
    Fund a geological CO2-injection scheme to prove the concept works.
    Fund GM for organisms that will make "biorefineries" competitive with petroleum products. Especially organisms that help convert lignin to more useful Products.

    119:

    How much for a global assassination & sabotage programme? The systematic murder of oil and big ag executives would have a fairly major chilling effect on those within the industry. Obviously taking out politicians and the ultra rich would be more difficult, but I figure you could probably eliminate several thousand people who are doing the most to prevent climate action and damage enough infrastructure to accelerate the collapse of the carbon bubble. Plus, at the very least, when things go to shit, there'll be some small comfort knowing that the f*ckers got their just desserts.

    120:

    IIRC the greenhouse effect from atmospheric CO2, and the likely effect of burning too much coal were known to the Victorians. (Can't provide exact citation right now, but: I learned this stuff in Georgraphy lessons in school circa the mid-1970s as received ancient lore.)

    121:

    How much for a global assassination & sabotage programme?

    I don't want to come over all conspiracy-theoretical, but it's quite possible that it's been tried, brutally suppressed, and covered up several times under the rubric "terrorism".

    Remember all those burning oil wells in Kuwait in 1992, or the PNAC rhetoric about invading Iraq and taking all their oil, or -- hell -- the US Embassy hostages in Iran in 1978-79? If you view the Shah of Iran as an early victim of anti-petrochemical political activism turned violent, then the whole antipathy of the US establishment towards the Iranian Republic takes on a new demeanour.

    (No, I don't really believe it. But the repressive anti-terrorism machinery that's been rolled out globally since 2002, using 9/11 as a pretext, is suggestive of something.)

    122:

    Charles H noted: “The insects are dying out because we have been eating their share of the food”

    Not from the evidence I’ve seen, though I’d need to do some serious digging to provide you with hard data; it’s not something I’ve kept files on. It’s certainly not true where I live, in the burbs, where we’re in an established community that has long since reached equilibrium. Despite that, suburban insect populations are plunging -- with the annoying exception of mosquitoes and blackflies. The real problem is climate change, which is creating huge stresses on insect ecology, and when you combine that with pollutants and other stresses (e.g., off-target pesticides), you see the expected population decline.

    Anecdata: Several colleagues around the world have told me that informal insect surveys (what we call “windshield surveys” = how often we have to clean dead bugs off the windshield of our car) show rapidly declining insect populations. I’ve seen some published studies, but would have to go hunting before I could cite them. Anecdata: My local spider population has taken a severe hit, which is problematic, because spiders are near the top of one of the insect food chains, and if they can’t find food... This is worrisome on a whole lot of levels, since simplification of the overall food web by weakening or eliminating one of the chains is not a good thing.

    Poul-Henning Kamp noted “The energy balance actually has the right sign and it is documented to work, we have found charcoal from stone age bonfires.”

    Thanks for the thermodynamic update. Good to know the process would be better than carbon-neutral. But the problem of scaling up to a global level is what concerns me.

    Charlie noted: “Concrete production is a huge carbon emitter, and most of it is intended for relatively short lifespan temporary structures.”

    Not sure about “most”, which will depend on your definition of “short lifespan” (50 years? 500 years), but the overall point is correct. We’ll soon see a decrease in CO2 emission by huge polluters like China just from the fact that their building construction rates are slowing. But even though they’re running as fast as they can to implement renewable and nuclear sources, it’s going to be a while yet before their emissions decrease.

    Charlie: “We badly need a biopolymer that can be farmed like lignin (i.e. produced by tree-like photoautotrophs)... In other words, a biological replacement for concrete, not wood.”

    Agreed, but with a caveat (biomass production can require large amounts of water, fertilizers, and other resources, making it problematic) and a suggestion to change the assumption (i.e., not necessarily a biopolymer.) When you’re extracting tons of biomass from (say) a forest, you’re also extracting tons of critical nutrients sequestered in the wood; it can take generations for a forest soil to fully recover from major harvesting. (Depends on soil, species, climate, etc. etc.)

    The problem is how to remove CO2 from the air, not how to turn it into a biological material. Given the chemical similarities between carbon and silicon, I suspect there must be a way to combine the flexibility of carbon and non-silicate silicon with the strength of carbon to produce a strong and durable material. But I’m not a chemist, so I’m not sure how you’d even start investigating that. And there are issues of energy consumption to produce such materials. But throw a billion dollars in research funding at the problem...

    Note that with appropriate engineering, wood is a suitable replacement for concrete in many applications. You can build ginormous structures out of wood (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4100.html), particularly with modern techniques for analyzing wood to detect structural flaws before you build something with the flawed wood, computer-assisted design, creation of structured composites, and so on. And these structures can sequester carbon for centuries. Even if the sequestration isn’t permanent, it might at least give us time to find a better solution.

    123:

    Im not sure I can envisage any historical actors who would have had the motivation to try something like that, and I reckon the growth in security infrastructure is down more to the basic instincts of power.

    However, I think its only matter of time before this does happen. I was reading an interesting paper on eco-terrorism recently which basically said that it was a major threat in the near term and that existing anti-terror strategies wont work, at least partly because the cause is, essentially just and, as such, liable to gain widespread popular support.

    If we can all agree on killing baby Hitler (ignoring the causality issues), then surely killing those who would be happy to commit crimes that are in orders of magnitude worse is eminently justifiable, and those who go down that path would be applauded by future historians.

    124:

    Charlie @ 108
    Which is because Vuitton sold out to "cheapskates" ( for certain values of ... ) whereas Hermes didn't ...
    Still got the fakes problem, but they are ridiculously easy to spot ...

    125:

    First case I know about is an article by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius 1898. I think this is the oldest article to commonly appear in references in "Nature" and "Science". But the the oil business catamites in Congress and elsewhere still say the science is not settled.

    126:

    1% wealth increase a year is offset by 2% inflation. Add to that the crash probabilities and you are much more limited than most here suppose.

    You are probably best off going to a northern inland midwest American state and quietly taking it over. Indiana is you like Texas climate (and politics), Minnesota is probably better and easier politically, though it has limits on campaign donations that other states do not. Illinois has an entrenched political machine that will be a hassle to beat and is a finance center meaning more competition. Point is you want plenty of fresh water, away from the coast, and an amenable political system.

    Drop ~50 million a year on organizing funding, just hiring boots on the ground to do the community based work. If this had been pitched a year ago before municipal elections it would have been better; take it as a given that nothing will be done on climate change and you will need to adapt local cities to accommodate a mass influx of people from the coasts.

    Some R&D investment in a low carbon concrete substitute, targeted infrastructure projects, and have your control of the state legislature go aggressive on integrating refugees (again, Minnesota is ahead of the game here, they send them to Congress) and preserving the natural preserves there. Expand fish farming. Hole up and hope for the best.

    127:

    BTW, Australia needs a whole new newspaper empire to compete with the Rupert Murdoch monopoly. The first 5-10 years it would inevitably operate at a net loss, but it is essential if Australia is going to break out of the cycle of mismanagement and corruption that also manifests as refusal to deal with the climate crisis...

    128:

    OT, but related to the need to replace the entrenced elite of ignorant parasites: "Prince Andrew used N-Word"
    Nuke the place from orbit. It is the only way to be certain.
    .
    Re. fresh water: Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are capable of providing water even from desert air by using the ambient temperature variations over 24 hours. This could help with preventing desertification.

    129:

    First time I have heard that Amazon is a "weird fancy-store" given that your de Buyer pans are available on Amazon.

    130:

    ...and this is just in: An example of how not everyone is motivated by greed.
    "'Call me Robin Hood': mystery patron pays debts of Istanbul's poor
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/18/call-me-robin-hood-mystery-patron-pays-debts-of-istanbul-poorest

    131:

    The western world may well be at a point of shrinking population based on the existing population, but that is why pretty much every country is accepting immigrants - to enable the growth to continue and thus punt the problem down the road.

    132:

    Today $100 billion turns into $200 billion in about 14 years.

    Since my net worth is currently somewhat less than $1e11, I'm not sure how one would go about investing that amount if the object were to make more money. But 2^(1/14) => 5% a year, say 7% or a bit more to take inflation into account.

    Boringly conservative index funds have been outperforming that for a while: https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VFIAX/performance/

    133:

    IIRC the greenhouse effect from atmospheric CO2, and the likely effect of burning too much coal were known to the Victorians. (Can't provide exact citation right now, but: I learned this stuff in Georgraphy lessons in school circa the mid-1970s as received ancient lore.)

    The Wikipedia article on the greenhouse effect is your friend here. The basic equation used in climate change models was created by Svante Arrhenius back in 1896, but the fundamental idea goes back to Fourier in 1824.

    Arrhenius' paper is pretty cool, actually and readily available online. He piggybacked on observations of moonlight to get numbers for how CO2 was interacting with light, and went from there. The reason they were taking early spectroscopes to moonlight was that they wanted to figure out what the moon was made of. One of the complexities was that they had to factor in the effect of Earth's atmosphere on moonlight. rom the numbers generated by that work, Arrhenius worked out what CO2 was doing.

    134:

    Exactly right - nobody wants to deal with climate change because nobody wants to deal with the side effects of such a massive change to society.

    It's all great for those on here to say capitalism needs to die, or that work is such an artificial Protestant thing, but it is all so ingrained into society that change is going to be very difficult. The resulting turmoil will make the existing issues facing democracies around the world look like a walk in the park.

    And the decades, if not centuries, it would take mean that climate change will get worse (and thus indirectly force the issue).

    Thus any attempts to somehow save the world aren't really viable survival strategies in the context of this though experiment because we simply do not have the time (nor is $100 billion anywhere near enough) to get results from them before things get really bad.

    To go back to the other thread, the only way to create the necessary change in a short time period would be to invoke a terrible outside influence, like say nuclear war between India / Pakistan, that would dramatically reduce the population in a short time period and provide the chaos that may allow a better system to arise (it would of necessity also require a different set of survival planning than based on global warming).

    135:

    My priorities:1. a foundation to facilitate free open-source education for everyone. Not only will it destroy the republican voters' base and right-wing populism, but also be the most efficient way to limit childbirth. Focus on getting that education to where it is most needed, like Afghanistan, Syria and the midWest.
    2. Destabilize any government that is below average on following the Paris-agreement.
    3. Putting together a thinktank to develop strategies for a low-resource using fashion industry. Limited series of highquality goods are still fashion items, like Omega watches. Convincing high profile celebs to wear longlasting products where you cant fake their age (think handcrafted leather boots or similar) to increase product status.
    4. Fund AI-projects to facilitate automation of 2 & 3 through social media.
    5. Lobby for Citizen's income, and focus primarily on one country where it's more likely to happen (better to make it happen somewhere than maybe happen in several places, probable focus on somewhere in Northern Europe ).

    The combination of 1 & 5 will in a generation breed a whole lot of people with both the time and the means to improve our civilization further.
    Donating enough money to the above to get below the risky superrich threshhold and then spend my time thinking about what else needs to be done :)

    136:

    Open source education won't achieve much.

    Right-wing populism is increasing even in Europe, where I assume education is in a much better shape than many parts of the world, so it isn't an education issue.

    While there are a lot of symptoms, a lot of it is likely the simple fact that things aren't improving for people anymore given the inequality. And given that has been roughly 40 years in the making, it will take decades to fix and thanks to climate change we likely don't have the decades.

    137:

    mark williamson @ 2: all the rich people I've met *care* about being seen to be rich. which is why *their* strategies are buying islands etc.

    There are many "rich" people who live quiet lives and don't flaunt their wealth, that's why the only "rich" people you meet DO care about people knowing they're rich. The ones who don't care are invisible.

    IF I understand the math, that gives me a billion dollars a year to "donate" or whatever?

    I'm going to suggest doing as much as you can to make life better for as many people - sorting out health and water supply issues probably a good start. & with people "on side" you'd be able to talk people into helping tackle the bigger issues.

    I think that's the key for "surviving the revolution". Build up the community around you. You don't want to be totally anonymous, because when crunch time comes there wouldn't be anyone who knows to defend you. But you don't want to make a big splash either.

    My priorities would be local public schools (in the U.S. "public" schools are the ones supported by tax dollars, and I'm going to define "local" at the regional & state level), Habitat for Humanity and food banks. Educated people who have adequate shelter & enough to eat are less likely to want to burn it all down and eat the rich. Plus, I think they're the ones most likely to find answers to other pressing problems (climate change, etc).

    ... and jobs; create good jobs that pay a living wage and would still be employing people & paying the a living wage after I'm gone. Do the ground rules allow me to convert more than that 1% per annum of the portfolio into trusts or some kind of foundations that could carry on after I'm gone?

    I would spend a little on myself. I'd tear this house down and replace it with a highly energy efficient one that doesn't have a leaky roof & I'd get my old MGB restored. But I think I could do all that & live a life of comparative ease on less than 0.01%, leaving the other 0.99% to do good works. My main concern would be how to set it up so it keeps on doing good works after I'm gone.

    138:

    Keep in mind that

    Finally, you're outside the public eye. While your fellow multi-billionaires know you, your photo doesn't regularly appear in HELLO! magazine or Private Eye: you can walk the streets of Manhattan in reasonable safety without a bodyguard, if you so desire.

    Is something of a loaded gun. Yes, you are safe from the proles. But the predators know who you are. And history has made it very very clear that they prefer their immediate power to any amount of profit or stability. Michael Kalecki spelled it out in 1943 in Political Aspects of Full Employment or you can look at the recent coup in Bolivia.

    The people who guard the rainbow don't like those who get in the way of the sun.

    139:

    " foundation to facilitate free open-source education for everyone. Not only will it destroy the republican voters' base and right-wing populism"

    This is a misunderstanding of the situation.

    While it is true that the Republican base corresponds with a lower educational attainment, it is not the case that they are a bunch of dumb slack jawed yokals who just need to be edumacated to grow out of it.

    The Republican base is low educational attainment/high income. It's not Cletus voting R, Cletus doesn't vote. It is the guy who owns 3 car dealerships, of owns a plumbing business with a half dozen guys working for him, or owns a general contracting business, or their "homemaker" wives. These people live in McMansions and run the local chamber of commerce, and while they may not have a piece of paper and 6 figures of debt, they have a lot of money that they plow into the local Republican apparatus to make sure the hierarchy is kept, and they are getting more and more anxious about being at the top of their local hill as society gets more and more permissive.

    Charlottesville saw those neo-Nazis come from around the country. The poor and uneducated cannot afford to fly across the country to have a torch rally about a statue, they are busy trying to cover their bills. It is the rich kids who can't stand that the people they were brought up as their inferiors are not keeping in their place.

    This shit is coming from the suburbs.

    140:

    Arrhennius, IIRC.

    I meant known to the US Government, not just some foreign scientist bloke.


    Oddly, there was nothing in the Saskatchewan school curriculum about the effects of CO2 when I was in school. Or of there was it wasn't taught — 1/4 of the Ontario grade 10 science curriculum is supposed to be climate science, and yet at many schools it's not taught at all, or covered for 3-5 lessons (out of 80-90 lessons for the whole course).

    In Alberta it may shortly be a subject that's worth your job if you teach it — Kenney is getting ready to slam teachers hard. (Among other things, passing a law to move the assets of the independent mention plan into the government's investment corporation — which makes politically*-motivated investment decisions rather than seeking the best return. (In other words, teachers' pensions will likely shortly be propping up the fossil fuel industry.)


    *And personally-motivated, as in if you know the right people… Alberta politics sounds like it hasn't got any less corrupt since I lived there.

    141:

    I'm with Joe 6pack here. It's simple, and it's what I'd want to do, anyway.

    142:

    mdive @ 131
    Which explains the "Keep the horrible immgrants out" dialogue of Brexit - not
    Which reminds me: Evil lying slimeball

    And @ 136
    Right-wing populism is increasing even in Europe ... Like this do you mean?

    143:
    1% chance of dying in any given year sounds like the very first thing I should optimize away. Take the first few years to turn my wealth into influence and corporations that nobody can extract value from by merely having my head on a stick.
    You misunderstand; no-one's looking to mount your head on a pike as a way to steal your stuff (except at the margin), it's a serial defector in society's iterated prisoner's dilemma finally being punished.
    144:

    Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I could be. We have 30 years to achieve this level of reduction which (a) may not be enough; (b) gives us a probability but not a guarantee we will keep the effects of climate change to a manageable level on a global scale and (c) still has extremely bad results in a number of places.

    This doesn't mean that we have 30 years to take action; to achieve even these goals in the next thirty years we have to be taking serious actions globally in the next five to ten years at most. If fossil fuel power plants and infrastructure are still being built after 2025 to 2030 we just aren't going to be able to do this.

    So I am not saying we can wait 30 years to take action. I'm saying to achieve our goals in 30 years we have to take action now.

    However, for much the same reason nothing was done after Kyoto, I don't expect anything to be done now.

    145:
    Possibly violating my own rule about inventing new tech, but one wonders if it's possible to create a benevolent version of Cambridge Analytica, to influence a lot of people at low cost.
    I'd suggest there's a category error here, in that "a version of Cambridge Analytica whose ultimate goals I agree with" != "benevolent."
    146:

    There's stuff like Ferrock out there right now, which while not a magic bullet is better CO2-wise than cement; the problem is that it's a new entrant in a risk-averse market against an extremely well understood competitor, so it needs a raft of (expensive) certified lab testing to give the engineers the book of comforting figures they need. :-)

    147:

    ...have you never lived or worked in an area with a Big House/Big Employer/local equivalent? The loyalty engendered can be baffling.

    (The example that comes to mind was a big employer that went bankrupt, was convicted of attempting to hide assets from his creditors, and people protested his being sent to jail.)

    148:

    Anonemouse: Thanks for the ferrock link. Very cool!

    My concern is about the quantities of raw material available. I proposed silicon as my moon shot project because silicates amount to ca. 90% of crustal rock, so the supply is (for all practical purposes) unlimited. And there's a well known weathering of silicate rock into carbonate rock that suggests the possibility of finding ways to accelerate the reaction or finding alternative reactions that produce a more useful material (e.g., a relative of silicon carbide). The former is practical; the latter is highly speculative.

    149:

    Why do I need to be a billionaire to play this game?

    I'm a healthy 36 year old. I look young for my age. It took me a long time and a lot of weight loss to accept that I'm fairly attractive, but there you have it.

    By family genetics, my wife and I stand an excellent chance to see 2059, and our two year old daughter, who we love, stands a very good chance to see 2100.

    While I'm not rich, I did work in software for the last ten years. I’ve long since stopped worrying about the basics and started worrying about impact. Like the billionaires, my wealth is many many orders of magnitude below the world economy, which just goes to show that personal wealth alone won't make an impact; it has to be used as a lever for something else.

    The world blames me for the world's ills, but to a reasonable approximation, I agree with them! In my career I've worked on Microsoft Hotmail (gag), Google News (useless now that I believe daily news consumption is toxic), and Amazon Search (actively detrimental to the world because rampant consumerism is evil). I'd understand if someone put my head on a spike during, for instance, a Maoist style redistributionist revolution.

    Climate change is a threat to me and my family. But it's so much more than that. Humans living big, wasteful lives and growing our numbers is a threat to me and my family and you and yours.

    Critically for my strategy, I have two core beliefs: First, that humans are geared to process life in story form, whether life obeys story mechanics or impersonal material mechanics or somehow both. Second, that it's possible to be very happy and satisfied while living a smaller life. To me, sustainable living is deeply intertwined with both happiness and moral goodness. It’s very hard to be happy OR good if you’re living large and wasteful.

    Survival is for chumps. We're all going to die someday anyway. So I have a thriving strategy instead. My thriving strategy is to try to be the good cop to Greta Thunberg's bad cop.

    In the twilight of the religious era, most people feel fairly purposeless. In the last few decades, a lot of people have also come to realize that they’re contributing to an existential threat.

    Along comes this harsh teenager who tells us it’s our damn job to fix this problem, and she’s right. But people receive it as a joyless message. They mostly feel like they’ve been assigned a hard chore. It doesn’t connect to people’s need for meaning and purpose. It’s not a good story. It’s not well sold.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. There are other people in the public space who believe in the intertwined nature of responsible living, being a good person, and being happy, and who tell it as a good story. In their own ways, and with reservations, I think Mister Money Mustache, the brothers John and Hank Green, and even Jordan Peterson, are selling the *good story* of being a better, more responsible person, in order to feel fulfilled.

    But this story is so different from the global norm in 2019.

    What do you do if it’s 1870, and you're Indian under British rule? What do you do if your beliefs are so out of whack with the norm that you can’t possibly change the world in your lifetime?

    I think you try to be a precursor. I think you hope to inspire or shape the people who lead the movement that changes the world. People had to write the books that Gandhi grew up reading. People had to teach Gandhi the things that lead him to build a movement. Gandhi's movement didn't spring from nothing; a lot of people had to work to establish the Indian National Congress.

    My strategy is to try to join the crowd of precursors. I think there will be a big human movement towards this joyful story of being your best, and living responsibly, and being happy *because* it gives you such purpose. I think these people will see themselves as saving humanity from the worst of itself, and they’ll be happy for it.

    My implementation, so far, is this: I left a careerist tech city to live in a more relaxed and more well rounded city. I live somewhat sustainably (reasonable size living quarters, one or maybe two children, bike most places, careful not to consume too much), and am trying to improve (better energy consumption, more reasonable eating habits) as a fun personal challenge, like one might try to improve one's fitness. Around Christmas, I'm going to be able to leave corporate work behind, to spend more time as a parent, and a baker, and to work for less pay, on causes that align with this view. I’m going to have the privilege to set a personal moral standard for my work.

    My plan, going forward, is this: As I gain more time away from that work, I can use it to write more, to make games with good messages, to make teaching videos with my mentors, and to work with local organizations that align with my beliefs. I can use whatever charm or personal qualities I have to try to draw people into the good aspects of this life. I can advertise, I can be an ambassador for a good, happy, responsible life.

    My hope is in ten or fifteen more years, I will start to have a public presence that works as a lever to advertise good living at scale. If an angry teenager can do it, a joyful 36 year old has at least a shot.

    150:

    Only read the first 20 comments - apologies if this already mentioned.

    I'm assuming that your billionaire is an ethical, humane, well-educated person vs. some narcissistic, power-hungry despot in waiting.

    Buy-back student debt - a lot of it has been discounted already therefore lots of leverage possible. Unshackling this demo could pay-off faster and much more than helping any of the other demographics. (Not sure how long it takes the average US uni grad to pay off their student loans these days.) Also - offer these folks a chance to work at one of your firms at current market salaries and reasonable work hours. Self-selection would work to your benefit here since mostly those with well-developed ethics would probably want to if only because they'd felt a moral obligation to 'repay' or 'pay forward'.

    Collect corporate back-taxes.

    End corporate welfare - no more free gov't services/assets.

    Do a better analysis of what pharma is writing off as R&D. Maybe even institute a new tiered tax system based on GP as % of gross sales. (Pharma is famous for its 90%+ GP even while R&D spending has dropped.) Collect back-taxes - anything outstanding to be payable at the same rate as consumer credit card debt.

    Push for universal healthcare. Meanwhile, sue medical insurers who do not deliver on medical coverage - plus interest, plus legal costs, plus harms done during the waiting period.

    Public disclosure of the ownership details of every corporation and the identities of all Boards of Directors, execs. Ownership has gone bitcoinish for quite a few corps - wonder how much of this is in order to hide wealth/evade taxes and avoid legal liability. This would probably need a team to track/identify and then publicly post the info. Also need to hire a bunch of lawyers.

    Buy back big-agro arable land and resell to smaller farming groups/co-ops.

    Invest in that medicine in a suitcase idea, and 3-D printing tech.

    BTW - the Walton family is estimated to have a current worth of about $150B. They'd probably act as one if their wealth were threatened. Not particularly known for playing nice.


    Start a new religion - best way to (legally in the US) hide money/assets and evade taxes.

    151:

    Since my net worth is currently somewhat less than $1e11, I'm not sure how one would go about investing that amount if the object were to make more money. But 2^(1/14) => 5% a year, say 7% or a bit more to take inflation into account.

    Boringly conservative index funds have been outperforming that for a while: https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VFIAX/performance/

    Piketty estimates that the mean real return to capital is about 5%. And he points out that gazillionaires can usually do better than that by hiring experts.

    152:

    (Your end goal should be to live to a ripe old age and die in bed, surrounded by your friends and family.)

    I'm unable to stop myself from thinking outside of this box. Why is that my goal? I'm not interested in that goal.

    It's more interesting to me to suppose that perhaps reincarnation is a thing, in which case my goal is to use this life to ensure that my next thousand lives beyond the Rawlsian veil of ignorance will be as healthy and wealthy and stimulating and productive as possible. If that involves this life ending with my head on a stick, well, shit, that sounds ouchy, but I guess it's a worthwhile trade-off.

    So, how best to invest in the next thousand versions of me? Well, sure, third world infrastructure, sanitation, education, clean-tech research, blah blah... but the biggest problem that immediately comes to mind is that the other zottarich don't seem to believe in reincarnation and are making a death-bet that they can live as selfishly as possible and not suffer any consequences afterward... and they'll actively undermine everything I do that threatens them now.

    At this point, I take notice another aspect of the scenario you've laid out: "your fellow multi-billionaires know you".

    Oh, do they now? Do we socialize together? Do we have big yacht parties? Do I have access to polonium?

    153:

    Oddly, there was nothing in the Saskatchewan school curriculum about the effects of CO2 when I was in school.

    I learned about CO2 as a greenhouse gas in elementary school in New Hampshire in the 60's. (Not that it was regarded as anything to worry about at the time.)

    154:

    When I was a kid the greenhouse effect was considered worth worrying about but we were definitely going to run out of oil and get our power grids all nuclear first.

    155:

    I agree that Australia is a better bet, I'm just not entirely sure buying bits will be easy.

    The trouble with buying big chunks of outback Australia is that it's not currently for sale. If you look at land tenure maps there's just not a lot of freehold, and definitely not big areas of contiguous freehold. So the process for buying is slow because it's political. First you extinguish native title, then you remove various grades of world heritage protection, then void the mining and pastoral leases, then you arrange the land sale, then you buy it.

    Here's the Pilbara, for example. Yellow is freehold, so can be purchased if you get agreement from the owner. Buying BHP would be one way to get that agreement from them.

    https://researchlibrary.agric.wa.gov.au/gis_maps/4/

    There's also, and I keep saying this, the problem that that land is all dual ownership. The traditional owners still exist, and often still live in the area. All of it. Just because *you* can't live there easily doesn't mean no-one can. And "buying Pilbara" is like "buying Bosnia" or "buying Montana"... people will notice and they will be unhappy, especially if you succeed. And the definition of buying will likely be the same - you have appointed a sufficiently corrupt leader of the country that you can have a ceremony, now all you have to do is dispose of the (angry, armed) people who live there and take up your ceremonial ownership.

    Note that in this case you would likely also be dealing with the skips, who also don't like foreign billionaires much. It would be worse if you were young and inexplicably rich, because we are also used to that (Lauchlan Murdoch for example). The more you treat them like abos with your political machinations in Canberra and your land clearances and so on, the more they will be little grumpy buggers.

    Buying political control has similar issues - you're trying to outbid the incumbent and he's not going to like that. Sure, he's only 'worth' $13B so in theory you can outbid him. But he's not just going to sell up and piss off, so at every step you will be facing the full force of his empire and allies opposing you.

    156:

    This is your regular scheduled reminder that Polonium-210, Novichok-B, or even your common or garden binary VX, are not viable assassination weapons: they're propaganda tools.

    A "viable assassination weapon" is one that lets you get away free without risk of identification, or, if you're the person who ordered the hit, without you being on the receiving end of an Interpol red notice or sanctions.

    The "Polonium-210 in the soup" incident used something ridiculous like 3 months' world production in the only reactor manufacturing the stuff (in Russia). So it's basically deniable-with-a-wink macho chest-beating by someone very high up in the Russian government: "look at the gigantic resources I can splurge on wiping out an enemy of the state". The Salisbury Novichok incident -- well, there's a fig-leaf: allegedly some lab samples of the stuff was sold to local gangsters in the 1990s. However, CW agents tend to have exacting storage requirements and small samples go off faster than large ones, so it's basically the exact same message all over again: state-level actor with access to high-end Russian CW agents.

    The Kim uncle assassination using VX and some Malaysian youtube hopefuls as patsies (who could easily have been killed in the process because they were basically disposable) is similarly the North Korean government saying "ooh look! We've got VX too! And we can rub out our enemies wherever they flee!"

    Reader, even if you have $100Bn in assets, you are not a state level actor (unless those assets come attached to an language and an army), and if you start bumping off billionaires in spectacularly rare and unusual ways people will notice. Far better to use something boringly mundane; MPPP contamination in the synthetic heroin, sugar (or water contamination) in the bizjet's second fuel tank, or just supply AK47s to some desperate, angry proles looking for someone to blame.

    157:

    "Yes, maybe owning a newspaper and a TV channel would be useful, but don't go overboard: it's main role should be to provide a vehicle for stories that the microtargeted propaganda on social media can leverage, and somewhere to park the annoying columnists/talking heads you've poached from the right wing platforms."

    You don't have to go overboard with spending a lot of money. Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post as a rounding error, only paid $250 million. Breitbart was paid for with Mercer tip money, $10 million+ or so. I could have bought USA Today owner Gannett Co. for $1.4 billion this year, giving me more than 260 daily papers in the U.S. along with more than 300 weeklies.

    I could easily buy/fund a newsroom in every state and province capital, lose $50 million a year for a decade, and still have enough to fund alt-weeklies in the top 50 media markets remaining on the low compounding interest. Funding two thousand muckrakers across the land would go a long way to cleaning up the country.

    158:

    "BUT .. you CAN sepnd silly amounts on helping to fianance, say proper controlled fusion poer, can't you?"

    Yes, but there's no guarantee fusion will work. In planning, you plan for what you know you can accomplish, not "and then a miracle occurs".

    "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation
    Can you now explain how US "civil forfeiture" works, then - as from that it appears to be flat-out "unconstitutional"

    You're not wrong about that. Civil forfeiture involves a dispute between law enforcement and property, such that the thing is suspected of being involved in a crime. Easy to do with guns, not so much in the case of a pile of cash or a house or a boat. Cases challenging the process are all over the place.

    "Um, err ...
    eat what you catch rules NOOOO! That way leads to amazing coruption & rip-offs of innocent people ..."

    Yes, I'm familiar with the current police seizure scandals in America, as mentioned above.

    Financial and tax evasion crimes, however, are very different. And under the structure I mention, generally avoided as the material is self reported, except in cases of evasion. The point is that internal revenue and securities enforcement services are chronically underfunded in the US, and this helps address that. As far as "eat what you catch" goes, think of a property that was valued at $5 million by the owner, but it's worth about $10 million on the open market. The government buys it for $5MM and sells it for $10MM, and uses the difference to pay for more auditors.

    159:

    For those of you still thinking that "global warming" might be inconvenient in the future, this is the sunrise on my ride to work this morning. Note that Blacktown is ~20km from the edge of the city and a lot further than that from the actual fires.

    bigger image: https://i.imgur.com/ShKNJFU.png

    160:

    "I'd suggest there's a category error here, in that "a version of Cambridge Analytica whose ultimate goals I agree with" != "benevolent.""

    I was referring to promoting unity and collegiality, instead of stoking division and playing on hatred and distrust between people.

    Don't worry. You'll agree with me by the time I'm done with you. :-)

    161:

    Sure, I know, I was just using polonium as a flippant rhetorical short-hand. Feel free to choose a more practical method or methods, so long as it's effective enough to leave the victims' heirs with a bone-deep fear of following in Daddy's footsteps and a powerful motivation to divest as quickly as possible from extraction industries, right-wing propaganda outlets, etc, because those sorts of billionaires tend to have Very Bad Luck.

    162:

    There's seizure and forfeiture of criminals' assets in the UK -- but the key difference is, it has to follow a criminal conviction and due process, and it's limited specifically to the proceeds of crime. There've also been cases where criminals got banged up for a seriously lucrative offense, refused to cough to the location of the proceeds, and got handed an additional (consecutive) sentence.

    US-style seizure of vehicles and cash is just a disgusting abuse of process, aimed at the poor (who tend to do things in cash rather than having bank accounts).

    163:

    One thing: work to promote the education of women worldwide.

    (Are all the commentators here men?)

    164:

    And for those wanting to know just how bad the numbers are, here's some pictures of the graphs: https://imgur.com/a/Ro2MT7b

    Sources:
    outside https://www.uradmonitor.com/tools/dashboard-04/?open=82000117

    inside https://www.uradmonitor.com/tools/dashboard-04/?open=82000090

    165:

    One thing: work to promote the education of women worldwide.

    (Are all the commentators here men?)

    I'll support that, even though I'm one of those afflicted with a Y-chromosome.

    166:

    bugsbycarlin @ 149
    You have picked up on Pterry's idea that we are misnamed, huh? We are Pan narrans The Story-Telling Ape.

    SF Reader
    Buy-Back student debt ONLY for some courses though.
    ANYTHNG STEM - done- SOME major artistic subjects - Music, Theatre, perfomance art generally.
    The sociologists & the MBA's & the Media Studies & all the other drones can simply fuck right off.
    SOME of us already have Universal Halthcare - solution - shoot every US Rethuglilizard you can find ....
    Public DIsclosure .... YOU DO REALISE that this is the driver for Brexit amongst the super-rich, don't you?

    Charlie @ 156
    You Ddo, also, realise that "sleepingroutine" will be along in a few minutes to call you a liar on your own blog, don't you?
    @& @ 162
    AND because of the unbelievably crude US wanking banking system, where it's EASIER to transport cash ...
    Not just abuse of process, flat-out illegal - IF the US "constitution" actually means anything.
    Question: Does it?
    ( Work that one out for yourselves )

    The Raven
    Almost all, but see my earlier point which goes back to Voltaire baout Hanging All the Priests, I think

    167:

    "After the third oil baron was found hog-tied and drowned in a bucket of gasoline, their heirs mutually agreed to ..."

    168:

    the MBA's ... & all the other drones can simply fuck right off

    I learned some good stuff in biz school. Got to know some people for whom I had, and still have, a great deal of respect.

    169:

    Too bad paying a team of idiot virologist/synthetic biologists to recreate and release Variola major probably is not off the table for a billionaire. I can just see someone trying to make the world safer by getting rid of a billion people rapidly, by releasing smallpox in major metropolitan centers right before major travel holidays.

    Anyway, the more interesting caper is to go after the wealth managers, who are not exceedingly well-paid and are therefore potentially vulnerable, even in non-lethal ways.

    After all, being a billionaire is not about ownership of assets, since ownership is taxable. Instead, it's about control of assets. Therefore, messing with the control of assets (leaking, hacking, document destruction, etc.) is a far more devious attack on the super-rich than simply killing them is. After all, in reality, many of them are exceedingly poor, which is why they can't pay their taxes. Robbing them of control of all those other assets will quickly make them poor in fact.

    But we're all getting too violent too fast. The more interesting question is that if you have US $100 billion and want to make the world a better place, is there anything terribly useful you *can* do?

    170:

    Known to the Victorians scientists, but probably didn't reach the popular press until Georgian times. Here's a filler from 1912.


    "COAL CONSUMPTION AFFECT-
    ING CLIMATE.
    The furnaces of the world are now
    burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of
    coal a year. When this is burned,
    uniting with oxygen, it adds about
    7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide
    to the atmosphere yearly. This tends
    to make the air a more effective blan-
    ket for the earth and to raise its
    temperature. The effect may be con-
    siderable in a few centuries."

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/100645214

    Still, common knowledge by the time the people who taught our current leaders were first year university students themselves.

    171:

    Actually, common knowledge by the time the lecturers who taught the people who were our leaders when the Kyoto Protocol was bashed out were first year students. That's a terrible sentence.

    Most of the world leaders at the time of the Kyoto Agreement in 1992 went to university. They would have been students about 40 years before 1992. Say 1952. Their oldest lecturers would have been first year students perhaps 40 years before, in about 1912.

    By 1912 climate change due to global warming knowledge had already made its way from the ivory towers to fillers in the local newspapers.

    No one can say "we didn't know". By the year 2000 no one alive had left university before this was mainstream knowledge.

    172:

    Yes, but don't forget that they can also be used in other ways for propaganda. Choose a weapon whose use points at your target, but which is within your secret capabilities, and use it at the right moment to get your target blamed. That's not exactly a new technique, though it seems unlikely it was used in the cases you mentioned.

    But, whichever way they are used, I agree that their use is for propaganda.

    173:

    Let's shoot everyone who advocates the use of violence to solve their problems.

    174:

    I have to admit I'm thinking outside my usual D&D alignment, but there are in fact some very serious problems that are much harder to solve if violence is off the table as a tactic... especially when people who don't want them solved are allowed to use violence all the livelong day.

    175:

    Don't worry, the smoke and haze is making us dumber. Can someone read this and explain it in simple words that I can understand...

    Substantial declines in short-term cognitive performance after short-term exposure to moderate (median 27.0 µg/m³) PM2.5 pollution https://patrickcollison.com/pollution

    Inside my house is ~120 µg/m³ at the moment. Outside it's over 700 µg/m³.

    Oh well, back to the code mines...

    176:

    It is just barely possible that my suggestion was ever so slightly less than 100% serious.

    177:

    I should hold off replying. I barely make sense at the best of times.

    Currently it's 170 inside with the filter going flat out and towels under all the doors. I haven't measured outside but it's visibly smoky in the garage.

    I just put on a twin cartridge mask. I look like I'm a Hong Kong protester.

    178:

    Yeah, may be not that easy. Though giant iron ore mines, LNG terminals etc don't seem to find it insurmountably hard.

    Not a lot of area is needed. Anna Plains Station for example is a near invisible dot on that map, but it's 3600 sq km. Enough for a port, town, some industry and 350 GW of solar. You'd need to convert it from a pastoral lease to an industrial one, but all the other titles are extinguished. That particular one has a wetland with birds of some significance and there may be objections to a port on 80 mile Beach, but they're are others.

    179:

    GT @ 30: As a practicing Quaker, I'll be trying to convince you to approach religion with more nuance.

    180:

    It's not insurmountably hard, not at all, until the area you want starts to get quite large. For a few square kilometres with a basic setup you can just buy one station. It's the longer term that's tricky, where you want a bit of geographic diversity and a good height range. You really want something like Cubbie Station but without the ease of access and political problems - but I suspect those follow from the size and activity level rather than being independent. Viz, it might serve as an example of what will happen if you do that.

    My thought was that you would work in slow time. Have your thinktank research likely locations, tour round until they find some people that seem reasonable. Then buy a thing and start your job creation program, while simultaneously building out your research outstations in Sydney/Melbun and Darwin/Derby etc so that as you grow you are also learning about the conditions you're likely to encounter in the future. But most importantly, you're showing people that you are there for the long term and you're building the relationships that will allow you to do that.

    I would be tempted to build thermal updraft tower just to see if it works, but not build it anywhere I particularly cared about (on the minigrid in Karratha, say) just to avoid drawing too much attention. But be aware that everyone in WA will know about you, what you're doing, where you're doing it and why very, very quickly. The MWA team found that out (many expected it), wherever they go people say "oh, you're the telescope people" because scientists who are not mining geologists or landcare type are rare and unusual. CANC experienced the same, within a week every single place we went we were greeted with "oh you're the naked cyclists".

    181:

    Mods: sorry but I screwed that up royally. The MWA link should have been this one.

    https://www.atnf.csiro.au/projects/askap/site.html

    And wikipedia is possibly better? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murchison_Widefield_Array

    Please just delete the href (and forgive me :)

    182:

    Brown air. Seen that too many times already, including last month. (First question when I see or smell smoke: where is it?)

    183:

    "media studies" do have uses. Where do you think people get ideas about How It Should Be? Games, TV, and movies matter.

    184:

    Yeah, exactly. Build a town, provide jobs, make the local area better, schools, hospital, employment, high quality affordable housing, be a good neighbor "because good neighbours become good friends" and friends don't put friend's heads on pikes. (you hope)

    The concept of the secret lair is very 60's because today everyone has instant access to spysat data that would have made 1960 military weep with envy. You can't build a solar array bigger than about 2 kW without everyone in the world knowing. It has to be out in the open.

    185:

    Perhaps trashing and ridiculing religions that emphasize the smiting bit rather than the positive things.

    186:

    What, no one wants to take advantage of the scenario to selfishly pursue their own self-interest? Saving the planet is for chumps, my friends, and so therefore I humbly present you with:

    THE EVIL BILLIONAIRE PLAN

    The point of this plan is to maximize your wealth as the world burns from global warming. Therefore, you want to look for investments that are going to increase in ROI as the world suffers from the effects of climate change. The key strategy to achieve this is to change your wealth from financial securities to resources that people are going to need more of as conditions worsen. That way, you are buffered from the effects of economic downturns, and you end up controlling resources people need to survive (and are therefore willing to pay for). Resources, in other words, that are going to become more expensive as they become scarce. That provides an opportunity for consolidation so that you can maximize your control over the supply of the resource in question. I see four main opportunities:

    • Privatize and buy public water utilities- water is everywhere, but fortunately the capacity to process and distribute it is expensive and more easily controlled. Water distribution is mostly currently controlled by a large number of local municipal utilities (at least in the US), therefore consolidation under private ownership would provide opportunities for profit even if global warming didnt make fresh water more scarce, and when it does… Buying up patents for water purification technology provides a nice way to hedge your bets.

    • Privatize and buy public energy grids- much the same considerations as regards water utilities. As energy becomes more expensive, whoever controls it will be able to exploit the higher prices. As with water, most electrical grids are locally controlled, so the same consolidation opportunities exist. Buy up the renewable energy patents.

    • Privatize and buy public port facilities: This is a little trickier, since the actual physical facilities are going to end up under water within the timeframe. But that’s also an opportunity: if you own it, it’s likely you can leverage opportunities to get someone else to pay for moving and rebuilding it- esp. local taxpayers, because it’s not like they have any choice since their economy was built on the presence of a nearby port in the first place. And the same opportunities for consolidation exist here also- so losing most of them wont matter anyway. It’s a lot like a kind of venture capital- we cant know ahead of time which ports will survive, but we only need to own and control a few of the surviving ones to make huge profits. As for regional and world trade- as food becomes more expensive and difficult to grow, the supply chains are likely to grow longer, not shorter. The remaining transportation infrastructure will become more profitable, not less. A nice way to hedge all this is to privatize and buy up the airports in the same region, that way you only end up competing with yourself.

    • Buy the largest fertilizer companies: In general, food production is a bad bet—no way to know for sure which regions will end up producing the most food. But no matter where they end up, it’s a sure bet that nitrogen fertilizer will become a highly desired resource- because the new regions with the best temperature and moisture conditions are not going to be as fertile as the old breadbaskets were (they dont have the same type of soil), so artificial fertilizer will become more necessary in order to maximize food production under more difficult circumstances.

    Regional Investment Strategy: We only have a 100 bill to go around, so we want to spend it in a way that spreads our risk, yet doesn’t dissipate our controlling interest in regional resources. An island is easy to control but also too small and isolated, while the US/EU/China/Russia as nation-states are too powerful for one billionaire to control, the developing world is too poor to pay the prices you intend to charge, and too close to the equator anyway. You want a developed region, split between two or more national governments, with plenty of opportunities to buy the kind of investment opportunities listed above, and a population with enough wealth to make it profitable. Also far north enough to escape the worst effects of the warming. The Great Lakes drainage basin is probably ideal, although I may be biased in that regard because I happen to live there.

    That leaves one remaining problem: the Global Financial Crisis/Head on a stick issue. This may not be as much of a problem as Charlie made it out to be--you’re going to be the guy people can still depend on to provide the necessities of a comfortable life (at least for those populations who can afford it), not one of those crazy speculators who caused the whole mess (or so your marketing people can spin it). So you should be able to purchase a degree of local popularity. But just in case--buy a private security contractor. Your own personal army will be a convenient insurance policy if things get even more dicey than you plan.

    NOTE: while I developed the above mostly in jest, writing it up was illuminating in the sense that now I look at recent headlines in a new way. I wonder if anyone else is thinking along these lines...

    187:

    My construction of self-interest precludes buying things from Amazon.

    I would tend to argue that if you're not that Jeff Bezos, your construction of self-interest ought to also include this particular preclusion.

    188:

    too close to the equator anyway

    Charlie ran the time frame out to 2100.

    The IPCC's published predictions put the prevalence of lethal heat days at 20 per year up to about 40 North everywhere east of the Mississippi by 2100 for the 2.5 C warming scenario

    (lethal heat day = wet bulb temperature exceeds 35 C.)

    Now, I suppose I can't insist that the Culture showing up to save us is flat out impossible, but that's about what's required to stick to the 2.5 C prediction.

    Absent the Culture, everybody who doesn't have a hole to hide in everywhere in the eastern half the US is dead.

    And, sure, it's a long-range prediction. It's work that hasn't necessarily been done in appropriate detail for a lot of places.

    This is still not a "oh maybe a revolution!" "oh a durable oligarchy!" problem even under the crazy-optimist projections. This is a "decreasing food production capacity consumed by conflict because the productive capacity is going to get reduced faster than the dieback" scenario.

    You can get the means of a shipyard on a boat if it's a wooden boat; you won't be able to get appropriate timber anywhere, probably, and you've got the same paucity of food problem everyone else has, but that level of "we can make an adze and sailcloth" (and we do it somewhere you must sail to reach) might not fail entirely.

    189:

    Re: #186
    And once you've bought your private security force, what means are you going to use to ensure their loyalty? After all, they're the ones with the guns.
    IIRC David Brin (jokingly?) pointed out explosive collars were mentioned at the event he was paid to attend/speak at on the general matter. Clearly the only real solution is to buy Boston Dynamics and push them in the right direction. Probably not with a broomstick.

    190:

    You wake up to find your fairy godmother has overachieved:
    To me one of the most interesting parts of this scenario is that the subject has woken up with a solid existence proof of magic (at least fairy godmother magic) working. They know, unless their memories have been adjusted with a thoroughly convincing backstory supported by enough reality to survive investigation.

    So one item of interest would be attempting to reverse-engineer this magic. e.g. with a (mildly selfish) goal of repeating the youthfulness aspect (at least) every few decades.
    This is a low-budget item probably (how would one spend the money?), but potentially very high payoff. Perhaps even an OCP, if you will, since it was so blatant. And perhaps it could be used for other purposes, like, say, stopping most of the impending mass extinction and saving most of humanity. Worth trying.

    ---
    New, slippery toilet coating provides cleaner flushing, saves water (November 18, 2019)
    Every day, more than 141 billion liters of water are used solely to flush toilets. With millions of global citizens experiencing water scarcity, what if that amount could be reduced by 50%?
    ...
    "When we put that coating on a toilet in the lab and dump synthetic fecal matter on it, it (the synthetic fecal matter) just completely slides down and nothing sticks to it (the toilet)," Wang said.

    but only good for 500 flushes:
    The researchers also predict the coating could last for about 500 flushes in a conventional toilet before a reapplication of the lubricant layer is needed.

    191:

    This is horrible, but I agree with the launch-biological-weapon or assassination style approaches.
    I... would advocate for a multiple tier program of genocide/eugenics.

    > A 2009 study of the relationship between population growth and global warming determined that the “carbon legacy” of just one child can produce 20 times more greenhouse gas than a person will save by driving a high-mileage car, recycling, using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, etc. Each child born in the United States will add about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent. The study concludes, “Clearly, the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle.”


    Initially, strong investment in decreasing birth rates - every fewer child had is a lot of emissions avoided.
    This is already a trend in western civilisations, where birthrates stablise and even move down.
    In the west, I would do this via purchasing large media/IT assets, ie; just buying tinder and massively promoting permanent infertility measures.
    I would massively fund healthcare, womens education and more. I would purchase a number of smaller pharmacutical companies and pirate patented medications, dumping them into the US market.


    After a decade or two, I would up the ante. China did this with their one child policy - I would buy off politicians around the world to implement versions of this suitable to their country/political landscape.
    Ideally, this gives me some distance - politicians take the heat, while I appear benign. My companies would mass produce birth control, anxiety medications, arousal drugs too such as viagra.
    I would likely hire a number of cat's paws to be the public face of anything nefarious. Potentially, funding people aligned with my views without overtly controlling them or connecting to them; keeping as anonymous as possible.


    I would publically focus on automation and more evenly distributing the basics of life to everyone, while privately encouraging conflict between groups that resulted in dention camps, sterilisation programs, etc.
    It's ugly, but again if China can harvest organs from politic prisoners; potentially this can work. I would do this via bought politicians again as much as possible, leveraging the racial tensions and fear of climate change, refugees, and more; to avoid exposure.

    I would start publically 'good' institutions to 'save' via lottery a small portion of migrants, refugees, etc and portray myself as a fierce advocate for the morally right things in trying times.

    I would control or intimidate the media through propaganda, editorial influence, potentially assassination and violence ala Russia.

    As the climate situation worsens and panic increases, I would begin to produce euthanasia aids; promote the generational gap between Baby Boomers and everyone else - make the argument that the elderly, the weak, the invalid have no place - and they are burning YOUR future carbon allowances; it is THEIR fault we are here.

    I would strive to purchase large fossil fuel distributors and manipulate prices to artificially raise them as subtley as possible, recreating the cultural change of the 1970s oil shocks. I would use this as a hedge; attempt to engineer in a dead man's switch to these pipelines - if an angry nation tries to assassinates me, or tries to compell me to stop; I would be want to be able to destroy an economy practically overnight.
    Something scary enough my bought and paid for politicians don't dare. Something that would start rioting and panic in the streets; regardless of if people like me or not.

    I would attempt to control the education systems; to promote anti population increase ideology of future generations.

    Ideally by this time, we're 20 years in and global population is below the 7 billion mark, trending down.


    I would consider pure evil moves - mass poisonings or sterilisation of people - if it were difficult to connect overtly to me. An example of this happening - James Hardy Group with asbestos (which kills 237,000/year). Perhaps engineering less safe cars (1.25 million people die in road crashes each year).
    If there were more scalable ways of doing that, and being right there with euthanasia solutions to provide the merciful way out. I would probably fund heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease causes.

    Any exposure of my evil; I would immediately justify by the greater good; while striving to keep pushing population downwards.

    It's a gamble, but if it works it is hard for groups to overcome the divides I have sewn and come after me; as the reduction of 1-2 billion people from the face of the earth *will* have measurable positive climate effects.

    192:

    I would consider pure evil moves...

    Maybe this is why there's such a focus on preventing gun control in the US, and political destabilisation pretty much everywhere? Not to mention the law'n'order campaigns which also have the side benefit of tying into the privatisation push (profit now *and* later!). I wonder if it's also why some people are so vigorously opposed to abortion. The latter not because it directly reduces the population per se, but because it immiserates people and thus prevents them being active members of society.

    193:

    I think at least some faction of the "ruling class" subscribes to your plan.

    Disgusting, isn't it?

    194:

    “ Absent the Culture, everybody who doesn't have a hole to hide in everywhere in the eastern half the US is dead.”

    That’s actually not what the IPCC report said. The way the define “lethal heat” is less extreme then full wet bulb and will not kill everyone or even most everyone. They way they define it, Ive actually experienced and it wasn’t all that bad. It’ll be bad for the elderly though, and repeat exposure will probably have it’s IQ
    own negative effect, especially if air conditioning isn’t an option

    195:

    IPCC ... define “lethal heat” ... I've actually experienced and it wasn’t all that bad. But ... especially if air conditioning isn’t an option

    I suspect you're defining air conditioning as "mains powered heat pump" not "technology to lower the temperature", though. The IPPC definition is pretty much "without shelter you *will* die", and I'm inclined to agree with them. Were you outside exercising all day or just going outside, saying "it's hot" then going back inside?

    My experience, such as it is, is that being outside in the shade at 45 degrees or so is actively unpleasant, even with some breeze and lots to drink. At that level even "better shade" or moving into a dry watercourse and erecting proper shade helps a lot, primarily by lowering the actual temperature. But that was me, cycle touring out in the wilds. The same temperature in Karratha was unreal, it was very much dashing between air conditioned buildings. That sort of built up environment where there's little vegetation and lots of paved areas, plus of course the exhaust from everyone else's air conditioners, will quickly kill people who don't have A/C and for whatever reason can't get it. It's largely microclimate - it's easy to get 10 degree variations around buildings, so at 45 degrees you're going to get 55 degrees on the sunny side of the street.

    Northern India saw that with their 50 degree days, even though those areas have relatively sensible architecture and are used to hot weather. A lot of people who were too poor to shut down and sit in the cool interior of buildings died.

    196:

    LAvery @ 168
    When I was doing my late ( aged over 40 ) MSc, I met lots of MBA students, every single one of whom was an arrogant shit.
    There's also the underlying assumption behind MBA: That the actual "product" or "service" a company provides is irrelevant & one can industry/product/service "hop" bringing your supposed "expertise" with you.
    Which has been proven utter dangerous bollocks, many, many times. But still they do it, why I know not.

    Ada @ 179
    There are always extremely tiny exceptions to the genaral rule(s) as regards people's behaviour.
    However, given the mountainous pile of skulls attributable to religions ( including communism, of course ) ... forget it.
    See also Tim H @ 155

    D Mark Key @ 186
    Unfortunately, that is exactly what's happening/has happened here & even more so in the USA.
    DON'T get me started on privatised Water Cos ... I've been dealing with one set of arrogant, incompetent, bullying crooks recently & my head hurts every time they pop up ...

    Bill Arnold @ 190
    Unfortunately this sentence: The researchers also predict the coating could last for about 500 flushes in a conventional toilet before a reapplication of the lubricant layer is needed. ... got me thinking of erm .. other areas where a long-losting friction lubricant could be ... fun.
    Remembering also the point that you are physically 25 again & in search of nice, nubile people ....
    * cough *

    Daniel @ 191
    strong investment in decreasing birth rates
    Like I said - HANG all the priests, yes?
    After all, they are the arseholes pusing women's subservience & use as breeding pods.

    197:

    Destablisation, perhaps - lack of gun control, maybe it's an incompetent implementation of this.

    Ie I want net benefits to society as a whole through hard short term, nasty choices.

    I dont think pro gun lobbyists want the same thing.

    In day to day life, I am an idealist, centre left, reasonably informed. I dont know what the right wing version of me looks like. That... worries me.

    198:

    I'm a woman. Educating girls is number six on Project Drawdown's list.

    Still working on my answer to the challenge... but part of it will be establishing good relations with First Nation elders in Nunavet.

    199:

    The Phrase that sums this up is "IMplausable deniability"

    200:

    If we're getting Bond Villain on it, a couple of small nuclear devices planted at strategic points on Greenland's bedrock would probably be enough to completely destabilise the ice sheet, prompting an AMOC shutdown due to the influx of fresh water. This happened before in the younger Dyas when large outbursts of freshwater from ice-dammed lakes in North America, entered the North Atlantic resulting in the last ice age. It's been theorised that rapid AMOC shutdown could result in a repeat of this in less than a decade.

    So in one fell swoop, you shutdown industrial society in Europe, Canada and the Eastern Seaboard of the US, precipitating a huge drop in CO2 emissions, and the Albedo increase from the massive ice sheets now covering much of the Northern hemisphere result in a significant drop in global temperatures.

    As long as you have your NZ/AUS bolthole prepped in advance, you've won.

    201:

    "The sociologists & the MBA's & the Media Studies & all the other drones can simply fuck right off."

    You are sometimes appallingly neo-libertarian. That was Thatcher's policy, and has been continued by that bunch. Despite the propaganda, and undeniable bullshit, sociology and related areas are arguably as scientific as', and is IMMEASURABLY more important to society to, many branches of the 'hard sciences - cosmology being an obvious example. Business and media studies I will give you.

    In particular, sociology has pointed out how we could massively reduce crime, improve productivity, improve the quality of life etc. But, because it points out that those are CAUSED by political dogmas, it is deprecated and the problems get worse. And, regrettably, even relatively liberal people who share your viewpoint continue to support the shits who want to maintain the damage.

    202:

    NOT in the least bit neo-libertarian ( If you mean the current US-right-libertarian ) simply concerned with STEM, which produces, you know, results.
    I have both read & heard nothing but utter drivelling nonsesnse from these people, I'm afraid.
    The one that sticks in my mind was someone going on about how "braodcasting" was in some way automatically authoritarian, particularly in the past, without taking into any account or even the slightest smidegin of understanding that it was technology-limites at that time & you could only use so many (very limited number of ) wavebands & "slots". Coupled with liguistic pssuedo-bullshit about the etymolgy of the word itself - which I shot down by telling him that the word for radio in German at that time was "Rundfunk".
    Other examples are now dim in the memory, but all through the `1970;s & 80's this twadddle was everywhere.
    Are you telling me that this has now changed?

    203:

    > Sociology is bad

    Sociology is a valuable field. Of course there is a fair chunk of more or less useless work, but I've known quite a few "hard science" academics who also definitely produce junk science.

    It is unreasonable to compare the best of STEM research with a few bits of bad social science research you vaguely remember.

    Sociologists produce research that shows how bad our current society is and for whom. Sociologists do serious work into ways to make our society better. If you want to be taken seriously on this topic, open your eyes and do a bit more reading.

    204:

    On topic, I think I might go for political change by example. Companies I control would cut exec pay dramatically and introduce meaningful workplace democracy and high wages to demonstrate that it can be done. This would be followed down the supply chain with an international minimum wage.

    I think that could be done while retaining most of the value of the companies.

    I would seriously consider then immediately liquidating all my assets for use in poverty reduction. Could well be that the benefit of starting poverty reduction immediately has a greater utility payoff than spending more total money over a longer time.

    I would also consider making huge Soros-type donations to poverty reduction and education and highlight the return on investment for the state. If possible, I would do this for-profit with loans or to stimulate a customer base for my businesses to show that education and training is economically profitable as well as a moral imperative.

    Obviously I would spend some time getting a good staff to advise, strategise, and execute.

    If I had more time, perhaps I would go for a slower-burn campaign, but I think the situation is grim enough that a huge low-probability of success campaign to bring about socialist politics, poverty reduction and rational climate policies may be the best option.

    205:

    *much deleted swearing and death threats*

    There's earworming, there's musical crimes against humanity, and then there's what you just pulled.
    (:-P, just in tone doen't carry.)

    206:

    is IMMEASURABLY more important to society to, many branches of the 'hard sciences - cosmology being an obvious example

    Disagree: cosmology is immensely important, not only because it has delivered tangible applications (hint: where did the idea of nuclear fusion first get traction?) but because it gives us a gigantic pointy stick to poke at the young-Earth theocrats when they try to use their beliefs to justify encroachment on the management of civil society. (If you wonder why STEM education correlates with agnosticism and why agnosticism correlates with lack of credence in religious dogma: cosmology is the missing link. Nothing nukes fundamentalist doctrine like a collision with the underlying real universe.)

    207:

    IMHO as someone who lives in a country, where rampant, government enabled and supported racism/fascism/oligarchs are a thing for the last 10 years, here is your list for the aspiring billionaire:

    Get rid of Nazis and extreme right wing:

    This is a no brainer, climate migration will be a thing and as the heat goes up, so will the numbers of climate refugees. This will be a global problem on all continents, and you will need all the humanity our species can muster to deal with it. Having extreme right wing loonies in the mix will be explosive and will relegate the masses into an "us vs them" situation (see Eastern Europe's leaders and their playbooks), that topped off with late stage capitalism is a potent mix for large scale conflict.

    Centralise pollution:

    Electric cars are good for many reasons, but for some reason there is little talk about how they enable focusing pollution into particular places. Power Plants generating electricity (any type) "focus" pollution for n+1 electric cars. While oil based fuel industries pollute during extraction, refinement, transport and subsequently in cities destroying air quality, electric vehicles use electricity generated by power plants.

    This enables humanity to focus on de-polluting power plants, instead the entire oil-to-fuel cycle dispersing effort AND as a side effect solve car pollution in cities & everywhere. With electric cars only you could focus (mostly) all the effort of oil based fuel pollution mitigation (from extraction to dealing with smog) to the plants that produce electricity. Its possibly easier to invent carbon mitigating tech for regular power plants, and deal with nuclear waste than solve the ENTIRE Oil-to-Smog cycle at every step of its way.


    Replace Profitability with Sustainability:


    Wall Street and its equivalents need to understand that "infinite growth" is over, or we all go down together. You need to educate the word about that, and thru public opinion change should be forced somehow.

    As an aspiring Billionaire thats where I would invest money, but the problems above require magnitudes higher funding. Therefore the only way is education and the marketing for survival of the species, or you can drop a giant quid on NY as someone said above.

    208:

    Yes, I do mean that lot - and, whether you realise it or not, you ARE supporting an important part of their agenda. As Colin (#203) says, you have been fed the more egregious examples of the junk they produce, but have not looked at the valuable results (which do NOT get media publicity), and have swalled the resulting propaganda hook, line and sinker. As he also says, the same is true of the so-called hard sciences - one of the reasons we gave up taking Nature was that I was disgusted at the bullshit it published. Yes, Nature. I could give you some examples which I believe are STILL 'accepted wisdom'.

    I am unusual in that I could give a reasonably well-informed and balanced assessment of the STEM subjects, from sociology to physics, because I am fairly neutral (mathematics/statistics) and spent my career advising and supporting most of them (not just a few). And my view is that there is no more bullshit per paper in sociology than in a good half of the hard science areas, though I will accept that it achieves levels of outrageousness that they rarely do.

    209:

    I am making a distinction between astronomy and cosmology that you may not be doing, where the former is based on observation and deductions from it, and the latter on deductions based on its own hypotheses. I agree that the former was and may still be important, but the latter is a very different matter. I have looked through its journals on occasion, and my view is shared by a lot of heavyweight scientists.

    One of the arguments AGAINST it, incidentally, is that it is an incredibly weak and worm-eaten stick to use on the young earthers; geology and (direct) astronomy are FAR better, because they are solid.

    210:

    If you wonder why STEM education correlates with agnosticism and why agnosticism correlates with lack of credence in religious dogma: cosmology is the missing link. Nothing nukes fundamentalist doctrine like a collision with the underlying real universe.

    (Emphasis added.)

    I believe evolutionary biology is more important.

    211:

    Permit me to recommend https://www.pnas.org/content/107/21/9552

    as well as https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3322 (where you will likely need to Google Scholar it).

    35 C wet bulb takes a couple hours to kill you, but it will.

    212:

    I have known science-minded folks to reject Big Bang cosmology because to them it looked too much like a creation myth. These people always point out that the L of FLRW was a Roman Catholic priest.

    213:

    Paleontology, particularly carbon dating is the big stick "fundie hitting" stick in my book. I noticed that someone else said "Evolutionary Biology" and that's a good one too.

    The other approach I might take is to ask - and I've never had the chance to try this one - "What, exactly does The Bible say about science? Does it mention the scientific method? The existence of atoms or molecules? Anything about cells? C'mon dude, all God would have had to do if he wanted The Bible to be scientifically credible is to say, "This be my proof of accuracy in all things; that water is composed of two lesser substances, one which burns everywhere, from ordinary fires to the insides of stars, the other of which inspires breath, and without which you would die." - Boom! Instant science credibility. But it's not there, is it?" (Continue argument with other, similar examples.)

    214:

    where did the idea of nuclear fusion first get traction?

    I would have said from working out how the Sun produces energy. And anyway, the only important current (I don't count vaporware) application of nuclear fusion that comes to mind is making Really Big Bombs.

    215:

    Either the earworm went completely over my head, or the above referenced comment linked to a different comment than intended.

    216:

    Charlie @ 206
    Yeah, I mean knowing about raidoactive decay-times is the other one ... time-dating of rocks & remains also keeps the theocrats back ( a bit )
    Or, what us could something as esoteric as spectroscopy be ( back in the day ) or Faraday's remark about electricity to a visiting politician "Sir, one day you will be able to tax it" (Or words to that effect )

    Absolutely Not @ 207
    Brazil - not 10 years, ditto USA - though they are both catching-up fast ...
    Russia? Hungary? Somewhere else?

    EC @ 208
    well, I sincerely hope not, actually.
    My judgement is based on the personal & public examples I have seen heard & which have been faithfully reported ( i.e. the perpetrators have cheerfully admitted to the bullshit )
    HOW ELSE am I supposed to make a judgement, please?

    LAvery @210
    I agree that evoluitionary biology is better, too, but the amount of utter shit the cretinists spout is ...
    They simply WILL NOT ACCEPT proven evidence ....

    Generally, it is very noticeable that both the bible & the recital are based in a geocentric universe & there's no getting away from that little problem ......

    217:

    Eugenics is so ugly, what you want is a birth control drug that is habit forming and mildly euphoric and looks attractive in advertising.

    218:

    One would think the chimp-like behavior of humans with self control issues would clinch that argument.

    219:

    I don't think evolutionary biology is a good club to beat religious fundamentalists with. Its main importance is that it demolishes the Argument from Design (i.e., the argument that biological things are clearly designed to accomplish useful functions, and that "design" implies a "designer"), which is among the best arguments a reasonable person might have to believe in a creator God. A religious scientist may find this argument persuasive, and therefore understanding evolutionary biology might help such a person to change his/her mind. I think, therefore, that it contributes to the phenomenon Charlie noted, i.e. that "STEM education correlates with agnosticism and ... agnosticism correlates with lack of credence in religious dogma".

    221:

    I encountered this article earlier today regarding a different means of getting the heat needed for concreate and steel.

    https://www.geekwire.com/2019/company-backed-bill-gates-claims-breakthrough-concentrated-solar-energy-promising-replace-fossil-fuels-industrial-plants/

    It's worth noticing that the investor is Bill Gates but I'm not sure how practical the mirrors are in Northern Europe.

    222:

    Graydon@188: "Absent the Culture, everybody who doesn't have a hole to hide in everywhere in the eastern half the US is dead."

    Who gives a shit? (Remember, I'm being an evil billionaire). So I don't take over the Eastern Seaboard--I take over someplace livable, like Alaska. At the level of 100's of billions of dollars, business isn't about absolute wealth anymore, it's about staying in control of society--leveraging money for power. I don't care if half the world dies, or whether ships are made out of wood or spit and cardboard--so long as I control what remains, I'll be satisfied (actually, the obvious ideal scenario is to divide the world into autonomous regions, and divvy them out among myself and the world's other multibillionaires. That way, I can know that my neighbors will be people I can come to an understanding with). Corporate feudalism is the end-game here. Can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

    As someone else might have said--it's a mirror.

    @timrowledge @189: "And once you've bought your private security force, what means are you going to use to ensure their loyalty?" The same way Jean Lafitte did, or Charlemagne. You provide the leadership, and share the booty. Warlordism has worked for basically all of human history.

    TheRaven @193: (as myself now)--yes, it is.

    Greg Tingey @196: I didn't generate my list at random, dude. Sadly, it's based on the headlines I've been seeing.

    BTW--on a different topic, I will say that your view of the social sciences is so narrow minded, you could slip it under a bank vault door. Nothing against STEM, I like all the toys, but speaking as someone with a psych degree, without the SS's we wouldn't have the slightest clue what mental health is, or what sort of living conditions cause emotional harm.

    223:

    “Forget buying New Zealand: the annual GDP of even a relatively small island nation is around double your total capital, ”

    The pacific nations are smaller than you think. NZ is by far the largest of the Polynesia/Oceania nations.

    Fiji is big for South Pacific island nation, with a GDP of $5 billion. Tonga is larger than most and has a GDP of about half a billion.

    The real problem there is sea level rise and ocean acidification.

    224:

    Oh, come Now ..can this growing plants thingy in the dirt be so Very difficult? " Corn was one of the creations of Yavanna.[2] Corn grew in Aman which had in it the strong life of the Blessed Realms. This corn grew swiftly and needed only a little sunlight to ripen, and if it was sown at any season (save in frost), it soon sprouted. This corn was brought to Middle-earth although it did not thrive and would not endure northern winds that came from Angband. None were permitted to handle this grain, save the elven-maidens of Yavanna, the Yavannildi, who also knew the art of making lembas.[3]

    According to Treebeard, Men learned the cultivation of corn by the Entwives of the Brown Lands, and they were greatly praised for it. That information, however, passed into legend.[4]

    Corn was also introduced to Númenor, who learned to cultivate it. During the Ban of the Valar, the Númenóreans spread their knowledge of corn and agriculture throughout Middle-earth, and so, this crop was introduced to the Middle Men.[5]

    The area that would later be known as the Shire was known for its fertility. The Kings of Arnor made many farmlands there, and aside from wine, corn was the main produce. Though the land was deserted by the time they came to live there, the Hobbits continued used their land for similar crop.[6] In T.A. 3018 as he prepared to leave the Shire, Frodo noticed that due to the fine weather in the summer and autumn "the corn was tall and full".[7] " http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Corn

    225:

    Note? " "Modern Slavery Act 2015 " in the UK? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Slavery_Act_2015 Over here, in the UK, large scale marijuana farms - that often resemble 'pop up shops ',of the 'wack a mole kind ? '- are most often farmed by Vietnamese illegal, slave, labourers. Their owners are rarely caught and punished to the extent that the Law might demand. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/24/huge-cannabis-farm-staffed-trafficked-vietnamese-teenagers

    226:

    I regret to say that I stand by my remarks, and they have been supported by a fair number of other scientists who have looked into it.

    You have to find out such things by looking beyond and below the drivel that the media promotes, especially when it has an agenda. Some of the sociologists who comment on current affairs talk a great deal of sense, and there are some good programs on the topic. But they are heavily outnumbered by the drivel and propaganda. And then, when you see something that looks noteworthy, it is best to check up with the original references (or data, if you can find it).

    But the very first thing you have to do is to stop viewing everything through your, er, conclusions.

    227:

    Well ..that depends on what you mean by " Fascism" or "Socialism" or " Communism" , or indeed any kind of Totalitarianism that favours your own particular social class in its ever upwards mobility ..this so that your children and grandchildren will climb to the top of the social ruling class of your own station in the "middle" class ? https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/08/fascism-must-be-resisted-wherever-it-raises-its-head

    228:

    Our loathesome ruling politicians and bloody Whitehall (mainly the sodding Home Office) tacitly supports the abuse of illegal immigrants by ensuring that little to no attempt is made to jump on such abuse, and that abused immigrants get treated harshly. This has (not surprisingly) encouraged modern slavery in the UK.

    229:

    Not. They would be effective for only 3-4 months a year, and only some of the time during those.

    230:

    EC @ 226
    Ah, you are saying I have to contend with Sturgeon's Revelation, yes?
    [ 90% of everything is crap ]

    231:

    anonemouse @ 145:

    Possibly violating my own rule about inventing new tech, but one wonders if it's possible to create a benevolent version of Cambridge Analytica, to influence a lot of people at low cost.

    I'd suggest there's a category error here, in that "a version of Cambridge Analytica whose ultimate goals I agree with" != "benevolent."

    I believe Cambridge Analytica started out with benevolent intentions, identifying fake news on social media and figuring out why it worked.

    Then the company was bought out by a right-wingnut billionaire who figured if it could identify fake news and how it worked, it could be used to manufacture fake news that would work.

    232:

    It varies somewhat, but yes. The failure mode of peer review and publish-or-die is that a dominant theory can get into a state where all the 'experts' hold a single view, total crap that supports it gets published, but solid rebuttals don't. Plus FAR too many scientists are grossly ignorant of skills from other fields they need to do their work properly - often statistics, numerical analysis or just plain logic.

    233:

    <grumble>You know, this is making me sad. How did we get to the point where everyone is figuring out how to do the most evil to everyone else on earth, while at the same time loudly proclaiming their prejudices about the worthlessness of fellow humans?</grumble>

    234:

    Well... If you assume that you are healthy with no sicknesses and no need for spectacles or similar tools or modern medicine, then you just go to some northern country like Sweden. Buy some land and start being a farmer. Get a loyal workforce for the farming and start a small church. Remember to stockpile some weapons like AK-47s with ammunition.

    You are likely to survive and have more girls you can bang. That is after the crisis really hits. Before the crisis hits you just run your farm, buy more land and expand your church.

    After that you will end up with a couple of hundred children and a large tribe in the area previously known as middle Sweden. Of course you might lose all the fancy technology, but make that up by producing more children with the immigrants coming from the previous Africa or Middle-East.

    I just cannot see this as a survival situation. That is more like "back to the basics of being a warlord"-game.

    Honestly, I think that the situation is more like "losing most of the numbers, but not the power". You would end up being bloody rich anyway.

    235:

    Remember that lot's all talking about a situation where evolution is not observed and the global ecosystem can survive dormant but unchanged through thousands of years of no light at all to pick up happily where it left off when the lights come back on. It's not clear that such conditions apply to our own present environment.

    236:

    You are likely to survive and have more girls you can bang... After that you will end up with a couple of hundred children...

    We're only considering answers for straight males, I guess?

    237:

    Of course. Are there any other alternatives in a science fiction oriented scheme? (Sorry to OGH, but I could not resist.)

    In the case that you happen to be a female, then you have to plan a bit differently. But aim for the little religious warlord regime anyway.

    But if you are not straight, then you are quite likely in bad problems. In the event of severe problems the human race tends to go back to basics.

    238:

    OGH?

    Urban Dictionary failed me...

    239:

    "I believe evolutionary biology is more important."

    Not so much evolutionary biology itself as the popular reaction to its development ("you callin' me a monkey?") and co-opting religion to serve as a rebuttal, leading to Wilberforce vs Huxley and all that crap. That was the main thing that led us to the state where the situation described in your quote of Charlie became assumed to be the natural order of things. Which is rather naturally a locally stable state and one which requires rather more perturbation than can be achieved through occasional comments by the relatively few people who see the state itself as the problem to bump us out of it.

    240:

    OGH = "Our Good Host" i.e Charlie.

    241:

    EC @ 232
    I can think (easily) of two examples in the supposedly-"hard" sciences.
    Aquatic Ape - terminally rubbished, in spite of the interesting questions it raised .... followed by v recent discoveries of v early humanity in what was a vast swamp/lake/river region in Southern Africa ... ops.
    And, of course the ongoing smoke-&-mirrors of "string theory".
    I don't buy the "copenhagen interpretation" either, but, um, err ....

    242:

    Not so much evolutionary biology itself as the popular reaction to its development ("you callin' me a monkey?") and co-opting religion to serve as a rebuttal, leading to Wilberforce vs Huxley and all that crap.

    Not what I had in mind, actually.

    243:

    Note for US readers - not the US corn, AKA maize, but wheat or oats.

    244:

    I read Science News to keep up at least a little bit.

    245:

    I see your dictionary and raise you a different one:
    https://www.abbreviations.com/term/1838114

    "Our Gracious Host"

    That's the one I'm familiar with, and I found the above by searching for it :)

    246:

    Speaking broadly: Nah.

    Eduction: takes years.

    Controlling the media: doesn't reach the low-information voters, who are the majority when they bother to vote. Besides, all politics is local, and the electorates suffer from "Hey, a squirrel!".

    In general, any reaching out to politicians or people runs up against there being too many of them, and too many others wooing them.

    Communities grow slowly.

    Getting people to stop putting CO2 in the air is like pulling teeth.

    I prefer to point out that technology is non-zero-sum. And, companies that are operationally profitable (ie don't have to pay back the R&D costs) can spread virally. IE fast.

    So, instead, our billionaire should look to three area. DARPA, which had success getting technologies invented. Seed investors, which turns innovations into small companies. And the Carbon X-Prize. And from those models, start getting CO2 back out of the air.

    It looks like atmospheric CO2 can be concentrated for 1 Gj (270 KWh)/ton, which will be about $11/ton right now in sunny Arizona, and half that in a decade or so if I read the PV tea leaves right.

    What to do with it? Um, turn it into particulates and put them in concrete? Grow (and sell) nanotubes ? Lots of things ! Check out Forbes for just some of the ideas floating around - I've seen others. Let's fund more ideas ! And, even better, get actual plants built and running and making an operational profit.

    Nothing like a profit to make something spread. Preferably like wildfire, we don't have forever to do this.

    247:

    Some idiot is suggesting that part of the solution to bushfires destroying homes is to not build homes in bushfires. Useless out-of-touch academics who don't understand the real world {eyeroll}. What matters is money, and specifically how much you can buy the land for vs how much you can sell the houses for. What happens after that, to quote Von Braun, is not our problem. Caveat Emptor, or caveat-next-of-kin-tor, or whatever.

    https://theconversation.com/putting-homes-in-high-risk-areas-is-asking-too-much-of-firefighters-127126

    248:

    Where would I live?

    Reykjavík, Iceland; Vancouver, Canada; and Wellington, New Zealand: I would start buying apartment buildings and turn them into co-operative housing, retrofitted with renewable energy and sustainable gardening.

    What would I invest in?

    Wind and solar farms: Georgetown, Texas, a city of 50,000, north of Austin is powered entirely by wind and solar energy. Also, Burlington, Vermont; Aspen, Colorado; Rock Port, Missouri; Greensburg, Kansas; Kodiak Island, Alaska, are towns in the U.S. powered entirely by renewable energy. Creating smart grids with every home and building retrofitted with solar and batteries.

    EV charging stations company (using renewables). Most of the major auto companies are expanding their EV manufacturing.

    Purchase farm and ranch land and start farm co-operatives around the world: Growing organic indigenous crops and orchards for human consumption. Also combined with renewables.

    Buy up farms and ranches in the Amazon: Under the guise of a sustainable lumber company replant indigenous trees that were burned during the recent Amazon rainforest fires in Brazil. The lungs of the Earth. I know, a feeble attempt.

    Start a Sustainable Living Institute: Educating and training for sustainable living in technology, real state, energy, and agriculture.

    249:

    But if you are not straight, then you are quite likely in bad problems. In the event of severe problems the human race tends to go back to basics.

    Parthenogenesis!

    250:

    I just cannot see this as a survival situation. That is more like "back to the basics of being a warlord"-game.

    Absolutely everyone studying the subject expresses concerns for a hard loss of agriculture; nowhere that can be reliably farmed. We know we're already into the the range where there's some loss of agriculture -- that's been happening for decades! -- and we have no reason to believe we know with narrow confidence where the entire agricultural failure warming point is, or if we are still able to avoid it.

    We do know those things with some confidence, if not narrow confidence; "another degree and a half" and "this is not looking especially likely".

    (If the Arctic Amplification Hypothesis is right, we're in for another eight to twelve degrees even if all human activity stops tomorrow.)

    251:

    Wellington, New Zealand

    Can I suggest no. More accurately HELL NO!!!

    Wellington is infested with politicians and beset by earthquakes. The building choices are between unstable hillsides and low-lying reclaimed land... both are likely to end up in the harbour after an earthquake. There's only one road/rail path out of the area, and the harbour is prone to changing depth unevenly after earthquakes (you can see recent terraces as you enter the harbour on the Picton Ferry).

    The Wairarapa is better, an hour north by train, but it's still not great. Most of Te Wai Pounamu is better, Atawhai is nice but similar issues to Wellington, the Waimea Plains would be a better choice IMO. Or Murderer's Bay, it's improved a lot since it was first named by a white guy.

    Also, all you pakeha billionaires will find that your libertarian fantasies about the sanctity of contract are taken very seriously by Maori and indeed by many pakeha. So culturally you have to get used to "New Zealand English" involving a lot of Maori words, but legally you will probably be excited to find out that New Zealand was founded by contract and that contract is still legally important today.

    252:

    Agriculture was the worst thing that humanity ever did to itself.

    253:

    Charlie noted: "Disagree: cosmology is immensely important, not only because it has delivered tangible applications (hint: where did the idea of nuclear fusion first get traction?)"

    Depends on your context. In the sense that such knowledge is of immense theoretical importance and improves our understanding of who we are and why we are here, we agree 110%.

    But in the context of surviving the next 100 years (i.e., the context of this blog post) it's not relevant. For example, how's that fusion reactor working out for you? (And the audience choruses: "Ask me in 20 years.") If you're talking survival through the climate change singularity, cosmology is a luxury we can do without.

    254:

    Yeah sorry about that.

    I wanted to imply a very convincing sort of faux sincerity to the neighborlyness that I think is captured perfectly by that revolting tune and indeed, by the appalling dross for which it's the theme.

    Like: "I'm only friends with you so you don't put my head on a stick".

    I may have over achieved.

    255:

    While I draft my "altruistic centibillionaire", here's a short evil plan. I did some worldbuilding about 20 years ago for a story called "The Stupidity Virus", where a very virulent disease killed off the dumbest 50% of humans. I would refine it in this case, I don't care about dumb as much as pig-headed. So I dump $95 billion into R&D and then distribution. Everyone in the research team and myself gets the vaccine if possible.

    256:

    The Stupidity Virus

    We have that already, it's called measles. Or perhaps polio.

    Sadly it selects for the particular symptom of stupidity known as antivaxx rather than generally acting on the stupid.

    One fun trick would be to make it altitude-sensitive in a way that means those genetically adapted to altitude aren't affected. That way you can wipe out a large group of climate emergency accellerationists.

    257:

    One of the problems in the western US is that the areas where land is less expensive tend to be either desert (undesirable for most people) or on the sides of mountains (access problems, as seen with Paradise last year, and in all the urban-interface fires).

    258:

    Where would I live?

    I'd think twice about Vancouver. Overdue for a big earthquake/tsunami. Not really ready for it, either, because there hasn't been one in so long that people think it won't happen.

    259:

    I think both are better than Iceland (anywhere in Iceland) though. Something about the highly productive soils you get a few decades after volcanic events having to be balanced against the ongoing arrival of new proto-soil...

    260:

    Hey Greg, you'll love this latest trick by the Strayn's... imprisoned for a secret crime after a secret trial, with all details legally suppressed for secret reasons. I say again, nothing to see here, move along.

    261:

    "This means starting in the developing world, which effectively no longer includes China and India. (Hint: countries with a per-capita PPP-adjusted GDP around the level of Mexico and the ability to put space probes in orbit around Mars are not "third world" in any meaningful sense of the term.)"

    Wow Charlie! You have some misconceptions about modern development. Allow me to play along and see where you would put the threshold

    GDP (PPP) $18k: This means that ~45% of human population would be ineligible for aid. Major countries in this list would be China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Thailand, and Mexico/the Southern Cone.

    GDP (PPP) $14k: This means that an extra ~15% of human population would be ineligible for aid. Major countries taken out include Indonesia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil (which could even be included in the first group), heck most of South America and large parts of North America would be ineligible, as would the rest of non-EU E. Europe (except Ukraine and Moldova). The bulk of the Middle East would become ineligible here.

    GDP (PPP) $8k: This would take out an extra 20% of human population. India is the largest, but don't forget the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Uzbekistan. At this level, almost all of Europe and the Americas would be ineligible for aid, so would the Middle East. It would have some symmetry, since this is the level China was at in 2008 when it banned foreign aid to its people. Also, the Philippines is almost a net aid donor.

    Roughly you'd be left with the LDC's
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Least_Developed_Countries

    My opinion: It makes sense to ban foreign aid to countries with a GDP (PPP) of $18k and above. I would disagree with India, though. It makes no more sense to restrict foreign aid based on the existence of a Mars program than it does based large smartphone market penetration. Furthermore, your interpretation as to the need of foreign aid "mainly for countries with unpaved roads" is only advocated by white supremacists in the US, so fair warning, it's a huge dog whistle here.

    262:

    While I remember, my new local library has an acceptable collection of books... https://imgur.com/ZaBAFVm

    (it took me a disturbing couple of seconds to realise that the official author name is Charles not Charlie or OGH.. I was looking at STROSS going 'but where's Charlie')

    263:

    You don’t have to imagine what would happen to the continental US with high heat indexes it actually happens fairly frequently (though not as frequently as it’s going to)

    And example is the 1995 Chicago heat wave which had heat indexes of 148F (65C)

    I remember that one it was bloody hot

    And some people died. But it was on the order of a few thousand. It was not a mass slaughter. Note that a lot of people did not have air conditioning

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995_Chicago_heat_wave

    264:

    Moz,

    It's not the 1990s any more. The film industry's done Wellington a lot of good.

    Though having said that, my in-laws are geologists so there are large parts of Wellington that I am not allowed to buy a house in.

    Any land in Wellington that's really flat and not even slightly hilly is probably on good soil that goes down to a reasonable depth, and so you should *not* buy a house there.

    (Why not deep soil? Well, put some jelly on a plate and wiggle the plate a little. That's an earthquake. The plate is the bedrock, the jelly that's flopping about all over the place is the deep soil.)

    265:

    I love the smell of management in the morning. The "heat index" of 65°C with an actual temperature of 41°C... they should use relevant units rather than deliberately confusing ones. But I guess that would defeat the point. At 65 actual degrees I suspect survival time would be a small number of hours and the death rate over a city would be devastating regardless of air conditioning (if you ever want a fun time look at the effectiveness rating of air conditioners as external temperature changes).

    > The high of 106 °F (41°C) on July 13 was the second warmest July temperature (warmest being 110 °F (43 °C) set on July 23, 1934)

    > even the insides of homes became ovens, with indoor temperature exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) at night

    During the 2009 Melbourne heat wave we got 3 days over 45°C where I was (away from the coast, the official record says over 43°C) and by day 3 our double brick house was holding 35-38°C overnight (we had a window mounted air conditioner cooling one room, but heat leakage within the house meant you could feel the heat gradient as you moved round). It did not feel like the outside lows were 25°C, opening the windows definitely was not cooling the house as much as we'd expect from a 10 degree difference and that low was quite early in the morning - when it's still 35°C at midnight things get pretty ugly.

    Interestingly the heat stress calculators I'm finding won't give an "effective temperature" over 48°C, I suspect that is their "you don't work if it's even close to that hot" end of study data. Quora offers some PhD opining that people can survive indefinitely at 70°C in dry air based on that giving a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C "with access to cool water". I'm just to to opine that they really do mean "just barely survive" and that the second caveat is "while doing nothing other than surviving".

    https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-exposures/heat-stress
    https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-exposures/heat-stress/managing-exposure
    https://fswqap.worksafe.qld.gov.au/etools/etool/heat-stress-basic-calculator-test/

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-highest-temperature-a-human-being-can-survive
    https://www.quora.com/At-what-highest-outside-temperature-will-the-air-conditioners-work-during-summers-in-India-Is-there-any-threshold-point-after-which-it-wont-work

    266:

    Measles and polio do not have a sufficiently high fatality rate. For instance, my mother says she thinks she had all three major sorts of measles.

    Not sure why climate emergency accelerationists are defined as being mutually exclusive with those who are adapted for high altitude.

    267:

    I'm willing to believe you, but not to the point of moving back there. I just can't believe that the narrow roads being driven by important people have gone away. Sure, there are better cycle facilities and more of them, but the core problem is still lack of space.

    And the more I think about the above scenario, the more I am inclined to fire up my pitchfork or start building a guillotine in my shed.

    268:

    “Heat index” is the same metric the IPCC report used. It’s a combination of heat and humidity which is exactly the point of the report . It’s not a deliberately confusing unit it’s a bog standard unit

    269:

    Oh, I was more meaning that there are lots of people who live at high altitude but are poor, and very few habitual aeroplane users who are adapted to high altitude. So a disease that wiped out most people when they went to high altitude should ideally not wipe out people who live there all the time. But like the flyers, I'm willing to sacrifice the few thousand people who live about 5000m if it solves the other problem.

    Maybe you could start with measles and work up the fatality rate a bit?

    270:

    It doesn't seem to be meaningful, though. "while stationary in shade with ample cool water" isn't relevant to most people's experience of heat. Wikipedia suggests

    The heat index and its counterpart the humidex both take into account only two variables, shade temperature and atmospheric moisture (humidity), thus providing only a limited estimate of thermal comfort. ... There have been attempts to create a universal apparent temperature, such as the wet-bulb globe temperature, "relative outdoor temperature"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_index

    271:

    I’ve noticed when it’s that bloody hot out humans have this crazy tendency to avoid activity, stay in the damn shade and drink lots of water. I’ve noticed this about them but evidently your experiences differ

    So clearly you have an amazing career ahead of you disrupting the way the world measures temperature and humidity to bring more meaningful metrics the masses.

    Hopefully they will include things like “the jumping jack index” which accurately measures the heat feeling of doing jumping jacks at a medium rate in full sunlight with less the adequate amounts of water

    Or possibly the “strolling lazily with a parasol index” or the “running madly whilst being chased by a rabid giraffe” index. Have at it

    I mean seriously, wtf does this have to do with the original bullshit assertion that everyone in the eastern US is gonna drop dead of heat stroke by 2100

    272:

    Oh, puh-leeze. I hope that was a joke. Cosmology is useless, in that they can't tell us what 96% of their universe is.

    If you want to see what fundamentalists are truly scared, what really warps people's beliefs, to the point where journalism has something like 18 separate euphemisms for it, it's evolution.

    That's what messes with pretty much every religion. After all, when journalists have to say bacteria became antibiotic resistant because they can't evolve it, that's power. What polite euphemisms are used in cosmology, to avoid talking about controversial subjects?

    Heck, the Bible thumpers give a complete pass to physicists about not agreeing with the very first two verses of Genesis, but they all knicker-twisted about the thought that humans evolve in any way, shape or form.

    273:

    I’d think thrice about Vancouver - you’ve only got the one hundred billion to spend, after all. Could you manage in a mere 2000 sq.ft. apartment ?

    274:

    I don't know what this is about. There's no fact that can shake a belief. Find someone who maintains that the Bible is the literal word of God and is the unvarnished and perfect truth. Point out to them that the Bible sets pi as 3.0 exactly. See how their faith is completely unshaken.

    275:

    Moz @ 251
    For all the OTHER pakeha who don't know ...
    That "contract" is called the Treaty of Waitangi celebrated/remembered on its signing day, 6th of February ( 1840 )

    @ 260
    THANKS - shudder ...
    Y'all may wish to note this, though:
    Police raid of the home of the officials’ brother, looking for the manuscript of an alternative history novel Witness
    FIRST, both Stalin & Hitler went for the Literati - or almost-first.
    Puts people like Charlie in the firing-line doesn't it?
    I also note the comment that it's not his fellow-workers but the (mis)"Management" in AUS: Unfortunately there is a rotten core, evident in a stagnant leadership which won’t learn its lessons.

    Ioan @ 261
    The problem, in this context, with India is that its internal wealth distribution is that of Britain in about 1832, if not worse - what's it's Gini coefficient? ( 35.2 )
    For comparison: USA - 45 [ THAT high! ] UK 32.4 - which is a lot worse than it used to be.
    I would have put India @ over 40, but that's what the published statistics say ....

    Heteromeles
    Incidentally, NOT JUST the xtains ... the muslim loonies are on this fucking "no-evolution" bandwagon as well ...
    It's not just fascist-wannabee-Erdogan either.
    & gasdive too
    The SIMPLEST way to show any xtian that the "bible" is shit is to compare Gen I.1 - II.3 with Gen II.4 ->23 ... Which are simply completely & utterly different & incompatible.
    You might or might not be amazed at the lying bullshit they then come out with.

    276:

    when it’s that bloody hot out humans have this crazy tendency to avoid activity, stay in the damn shade and drink lots of water.

    Sorry, do you mean when it's actually 65°C or when the "heat index" says it's 65°C? I've dipped my hand in 65°C water (very briefly!). I have *never* felt that hot, ever, anywhere else.

    Also, I know it's kind of off topic here, but I'm talking about ordinary people not Charlie's imaginary billionaire. Sure, if I had a billion a year in passive income *I* would be all about avoiding activity, staying in the shade and drinking lots of water.

    But sadly, like all too many other people, I have to get up, go to work, then go home at the end of the day. Luckily the work is inside an air-conditioned office, but ... ok, actually, I probably could stay there, but I don't *want* to. Even at 40°C I know that riding my bike 40 minutes is a bloody ordeal but it beats the alternative. Doing that at "feels like 65°C" seems suicidal... hence my difficulty believing that "feels like 65°C" is plausible or realistic.

    Just for reference, the *average* day in Darwin has a heat index for January of 45°C (32°C average daily high, 82% humidity) but Marble Bar is only 43°C (41°C, 26%). That's not a hot day, let alone an unusually hot day, that's an *average* day... I just struggle to believe that Darwin *feels* hotter, having been to both. IME once you go coastal even in the wet season it's bloody unpleasant but there's no feeling that you're about to keel over any second. Go out in the sun at 3pm when it's actually hot and it really does feel like death. Your eyeballs dry out without needing a breeze, inhaling is unpleasant, and sure you're sweating but you can't see that, you just feel your skin getting crusty - the sweat doesn't last long enough to do more than leave salt on your skin. Riding a bike your back stays dry, and I once even remembered to take photos of my fingers where I had short "fingerless" gloves on and got heat blisters from my skin touching the black plastic brake hoods. That was about 40°C.

    277:

    I like that idea, its like the SP02 charts or heart rate charts. The heat index numbers are kind of useless without the context of age and activity (until some upper limit).
    @37c
     sitting typing in my indoor/outdoor office - fine,
     walking to buy beer - fine
     doing a 5km run - not fine
     doing 100 jumping jacks - may be fatal.

    @-37c
     sitting typing in my indoor/outdoor office - may be fatal
     walking to buy beer - may be fatal
     doing a 5km run - not fine
     doing 100 jumping jacks - fine.

    :-)

    278:

    When I was younger and had a few weeks to recover my adaptation, I used to positively like 40 Celsius and low humidity for exercising in - and might still do, in similar conditions, though I haven't tried in many years - and walking in hilly going is hotter than cycling. I have also walked over sand under a hot sun at 65 Celsius. It's not a problem for many people, given enough water at a drinkable temperature (NOT iced, purleeze! 10-40 Celsius). But metal, even in the shade, is untouchable and there are other such problems.

    On the other hand, lots of people can't take it even with adaptation - my wife and daughter flake out at 30 Celsius. I saw a reference to some Australian military research that indicated that the causes of heat tolerance were genetic, early post-natal exposure and recent adaptation, about equally.

    279:

    Or barley - the traditional English staple.

    280:

    Sorry, do you mean when it's actually 65°C or when the "heat index" says it's 65°C? I've dipped my hand in 65°C water (very briefly!). I have *never* felt that hot, ever, anywhere else.

    For me, something like 65-70°C air temperature is like a cool sauna temperature. Perfectly usable at the upper range (as a sauna) even if I prefer something like 80-95°C myself.

    However, that situation is very artificial - usually people are naked there and do not exercise. The air is not that humid in the stable situation, so it's bearable, and I have spent something like an hour in a 70°C sauna. When throwing water on the rocks, even though the actual temperature goes down a bit, the feeling of heat is much more intense, so the humidity matters a lot.

    So, it's not as bad as putting your hand into 65°C water, mostly because air is a much better insulator than water. It's bad in a sense that you really can't do physical stuff in that temperature even if it was dry air, and spending something like 10-12 hours (or even 4-5) there would be very dangerrous.

    Usually when in a sauna in my culture, it's preferable to cool off between bouts to the sauna room proper.

    281:

    There is not a lot more of evidence that most billionaires are better investors than the average person. So mostly they make about 5% a year over the long term, like anyone else.

    I know, that sounds wierd. You think they must be super good at investing. A few are. But mostly, no.

    Almost all either inherited their wealth, or were clever, lucky and in the right place at the right time. Gates with Microsoft, Thiel with PayPal, Bezos with Amazon, etc. The skill of running a startup tech company really well and profiting vastly from it does not magically make you a super-canny investor after that - it’s a different skill set. The skill of picking the right parents, likewise. And a billionaire is no better (or worse) at hiring good investment managers than any imvestment fund, hedge fund or pension fund with a billion dollars.

    But the average rate of 5% on capital turns a billion into 4 billion in 28 years. Billionaires don’t need to beat the averages for inequality to grow and grow.

    282:

    We were camping in Kalgoorlie when they hit a heat record of 47C. It was the breeze that made it worse - like standing in a blow dryer.

    I believe the world record is about 54C.

    65C is the internal temperature of a Medium Steak. Sous Vide cooking is done at that temperature - it would take time but you honestly will *cook* at 65C.

    283:

    OK, here is my totally practical, not at all extreme plan.

    To address the World's problems, you need to get rid of the root cause: men.

    One of the dirty little secrets of biology is that males are unnecessary. A female has all the hardware necessary for reproduction. The requirement for a male is just a software limitation that can easily be lifted. In fact, in many species of animals, females reproduce without benefit of males.

    There are two main ways to do this: parthenogenesis and hermaphroditism. (OK, I see some of you raising your hands to protest that a hermaphrodite is not a female. This will be clarified below when I get into details.)

    I will begin by stealing Ada's idea (@255) of a Doomsday Virus. My virus, however, will be simpler, and even practical with today's technology. It will infect and persist in everyone. It will have no effect on women. It will make men unable to make functional sperm. (They will still be able to have sex -- it will be functionally as if every man on the planet got a vasectomy. So guys can hang around for a while as boy toys.)

    Now the women have full reproductive autonomy. Parthenogenesis or hermphroditism?

    In parthenogenesis, an oocyte is induced to proceeed directly to cleavage without going through meiosis (do not pass Go, do not collect $200). There are various tricks for doing this. In animals that do it naturally, it is accomplished genetically, but it can also be done, for instance, by mechanical or chemical manipulation. The problem with parthenogenesis is that it's a genetic dead end. A woman's parthenogenetic daughter is her clone -- her identical twin. There is no way for genes from two people to meet up in new combinations. (Some of you may also be aware that in mammals, there's a problem with differential gene methylation. That is a second reason not to favor parthenogenesis.)

    A hermaphrodite is an organism that produces both ova and sperm. What I propose is technological hermaphroditism -- that women make sperm by manipulation in culture of their cells. Specifically, we induce an oocyte to initiate parthenogeneis, but only allow its development to proceed to the blastocyst stage. Then we isolate embryonic stem (ES) cells. The ES cells are cultured and frozen for later use. (It may eventually be possible to use induced pluripotent stem cells, but at this point I think that would be dangerous for the baby.)

    Then some of the ES cells are induced to form a testis (or at least testis tissue) in culture. The spermatocytes in this testis undergo meiosis to produce sperm. Note that since the cells come from a woman, all the spermatocytes are XX, all the sperm produced bear X chromosomes, and there are no Y-bearing sperm.

    Now, if two women, Alice and Betty, want to have a baby, they first have to decide who will be the father and who will be the mother. Let's say Alice is the father. Then we produce sperm from her parthenogenetic stem cells and use them to artificially inseminate Betty. Since all the sperm are X-bearing, the baby will be female.

    Over time men will fade away, alleviating some problems caused by overweening aggression and competition. There will, of course, be other problems. It's a start.

    284:

    There is not a lot more of evidence that most billionaires are better investors than the average person. So mostly they make about 5% a year over the long term, like anyone else.

    Very rich investors can hire people who are better than average at investing. Piketty produces evidence that this quite noticeably elevates returns. (His evidence comes mostly from the analysis of the management of university endowments, suitably adjusted for taxes.)

    285:

    And very useful it is, too.

    I grew up in Saskatchewan, which is always dry. Tennis at 35°? No problem. Daytime high -20°? No problem. Then I moved to Ontario. Much more moderate temperatures — and I got heat prostration and frostbite for the first time in my life. Humidity makes a huge difference.

    286:

    Very rich investors can hire people who are better than average at investing.

    Poor (or at least not-well-off) people can do this too. I, for example, pay a pension fund management team a small amount each year (1% of my portfolio value) to handle my modest investment portfolio. I'm seeing about 5% a year growth on average -- some years it's not as good, some years it has been as much as 30% (in one particular fund, due to post-recession growth).

    287:

    Poor (or at least not-well-off) people can do this too.

    Not to the same extent. I won't argue with you: argue with Piketty, if you feel like it.

    I'm seeing about 5% a year growth on average.

    That is (according to Piketty, again) the mean real rate of return to capital. If you're getting 5%, you're doing average, not better than average.

    288:

    I'd just like to note here that a huge chunk of "development aid" is under-the-covers military spending, and the vast majority of all aid spending has to go on purchases in the donor country; it's local pork-barrel stuff for the donor, with the unstated secondary goal of encouraging dependency on the part of the recipients, who then provide a captive market for the "donor" nation's industries.

    Gradually changing as predatory corporate capitalism goes multinational, and there are significant exceptions, but do we really want to defend a historic institution that covered such perversions as the curriculum taught at the School of the Americas?

    289:

    AAARGH!!! Brain fart. NOT 65, 49. Sorry about that.

    290:

    I was in a wealth management portfolio program for a while. I would say it benefited me once. It happened, by coincidence, that I liquidated all my investments just before 11-Sep-2001 and moved them into the managed portfolio. The markets reopened the following Monday and promptly crashed. My broker jumped in and began "snapping up bargains". My portfolio rose about 100% over the next few months.

    So, I am well aware of the existence of portfolio managers...

    291:

    Already done by John Wyndham (Consider Her Ways) and Charles Eric Maine (World without men, IIRC).
    What about a virus-carried genengineering to reduce testosterone and increase oxytocin in males? Ain't it more humane?

    292:

    This is a very good idea in principle, but in practice the hangover would be horrendous. Only existing banked sperm would be viable, so the price goes through the roof, meaning that the majority of women now entering fertility won't have an opportunity to reproduce if they want to. Generating sperm via stem cell manipulation as suggested ... if it's not already available off the shelf then in the middle of a demographic collapse crisis (hint: no more kindergartens, then no more schools, fewer carers for the elderly, ratio of workers to dependents initially tilts towards workers then rapidly skews the other way) there's a risk of it never being developed. In which case: species extinction in one generation.

    Has anyone conclusively demonstrated that the differential gene methylation in mammalian parthenogenesis isn't an artifact of the laboratory cloning process? (I note the existence of natural parthenogenesis in reptiles and fish.) Because if it could be controlled, that'd definitely be a better way forward. Ideally parthenogenesis would triggered by an external co-factor under the woman's control, i.e. "if you want to get pregnant, you need to eat at least 100 grams of [foodstuff rich in some cofactor] each day: you than have a 30% chance per ovulation".

    Identical twins aren't as identical as most people seem to think -- epigenetic modulation being a thing -- and I suspect a parthenogenetic female-only human civilization would have time to look into other means of fostering genetic diversity.

    293:

    Has anyone conclusively demonstrated that the differential gene methylation in mammalian parthenogenesis isn't an artifact of the laboratory cloning process? (I note the existence of natural parthenogenesis in reptiles and fish.)

    Not that I know of. But there is an evolutionary explanation for the existence of differential methylation -- if that is correct (which seems likely to me), it has nothing to do with the lab process.

    Identical twins aren't as identical as most people seem to think -- epigenetic modulation being a thing

    True. The real problem, though, is that in the absence of sex there is no (natural) mechanism for mixing and matching existing genetic diversity. So, like, if resistance to New Pandemic 1 evolves in Europe and resistance to New Pandemic 2 in Africa, how do we make a person who is resistant to both? (Of course, you can come up with ways to solve that specific problem, but generalize...)

    @291:
    Already done by John Wyndham (Consider Her Ways) and Charles Eric Maine (World without men, IIRC).

    Someone (I tried to google the quote, but failed) once said something like

    Curse those people who had my ideas before me!

    Possibly from Arrowsmith.

    294:

    That 5% average is skewed high by the megafunds owned by billionaires and other 0.0001% rich folks who are getting 10% or better on their own cash -- of course the measured wealth of a lot of billionaires isn't totally solvent, they have valuable holdings in property and stocks in assorted companies like MicroSoft and Oracle that can't be liquidated to cash without serious economic damage to said companies plus possible legal actions.

    I can get about 0.5% interest by letting my money sit in a bank account, I can't get better than that without it being "managed" by someone who's paid to be good at getting a return of 5% on average over a period of years. I only have to put in a small amount of effort to monitor what's happening with my pension and be prepared to take a long-term view of how that fund is growing while ignoring the "Day traders make millions! Learn how!" spams that frequently hit my email box.

    295:

    I can't get better than that without it being "managed" by someone who's paid to be good at getting a return of 5% on average over a period of years.

    Index funds, man!

    296:

    It also gets re-done every so often, and generally I find the worlds-without-men (or with very few men) novels written by women to be more interesting, e.g. "The Stars are Legion" by Kameron Hurley, or "A Brother's Price" by Wen Spencer. (For too many male authors it boils down to an exercise in "you'll miss us when we're gone". For my opinion of which, see also "Saturn's Children".)

    297:

    Alice Sheldon's and Sheri Tepper's treatment of "worlds without men" tended to be more dystopian. The male equivalent... Amazon Planet by Poul Anderson, perhaps? Even then the "girls" seemed to be making a decent hand of their existence before the ManlyMen turned up to teach them about this thing called "lurve".

    298:

    And cue my sadly-well-practiced "remember, trans people exist" routine: no Y chromosomes doesn't mean no men.

    OTOH, it does mean a lot *fewer* men, so let's not reject it prematurely...

    299:

    The classic is, of course, "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ. (Novelette, not full-length, but packs a punch.)

    300:

    And there are also non-trans XX males and XY females.

    Humans are too Goddamn complicated.

    301:

    Index funds, man!

    Indeed, studies tend to indicate that over longer time spans actively managed funds don't do as well as passively managed index funds that are pegged to broad market baskets like the S&P 500. Of course, active fund managers will dispute that point vigorously.

    https://www.thebalance.com/index-funds-vs-actively-managed-funds-2466445

    302:

    Okay, I'll play...

    Common Weal just published their costed Green New Deal plan, looking for £170bn to decarbonise Scotland, which is to say about £1100 per head per year for 25 years. My cynical view is that for all we hear about having ten years to avert the climate emergency, that is only the case if we go to total emergency footing in every country and spend that money NOW, not over 25 years. But anyway.

    Quite a lot of this GND involves changes in public spending and attempts to change international trade and eventually public mores towards cutting the length of supply chains and cutting out fast fashion. A lot more of it involves public investment, e.g. £40bn in insulating every home to 70-90% of passivhaus standard and mandating new builds to be 100% that standard.

    This is not going to be popular with the home-heating section of the oil and gas industry. It's going to be even less popular with oil and gas shareholders as their asset values tank.

    So, survival strategy -

    (Per the ground rules and without doing complicated-interest spreadsheets, I'll say that if I move investments at £3bn per year it'll cost me £5bn and leave me with about the £1bn income each year to play with, decreasing gradually as it's all moved in 20 years to my target investments, and will cost overall £40bn for the exercise.)

    Move everything into a trust based in Edinburgh, leaving me with maybe £100M of my own to keep me comfortable. Rules of the trust are - we pay our taxes. That cuts my mad money to £750-£800M, decreasing to about £500M over the length of the plan, and hopefully reduces my annual percentage chance of head-onna-stick.

    Move investment to businesses that support the GND - e.g. forestry and wood building products, developers for city heating ring mains, tidal / offshore wind developments, power smoothing / storage substations, retraining workers from gas to district heating systems, train lots more workers in glazing and insulation fitting, etc. Provide the skills and industrial backbone for this economic change.

    As part of that process, invest in land and land use. In small packets, so as to site heating stations etc.; in large packets to take large areas of land away from wasteful use such as grouse moors and supermarket land banks, and support diversification, rewilding, and sustainable timber / agro.

    Also invest in upgrading the deep-water ports against storm surges and general sea level rise, and the new-build housing and as much of the town developments as I can against weather changes, particularly heavy rainfall - remember winter is coming no matter what.

    With my £750M a year mad money, buy politicians. That's a lot more than Shell, BP and Heathrow Airport are giving the SNP / Scottish Government for greenwashing. The process would not be as blatant as that, I would put millions and tens of millions per year into sponsorships of social improvements, educational grants, artistic projects, all supporting the notion of community and society and undermining the neoliberal consensus.

    I'd also lobby for legislation to regulate banking and limit tax evasion and other kinds of asshole capitalism, for a national welfare measure to replace GDP, and for sweeping changes to land management and land ownership rules to prevent billionaires like me from buying up the country and spoiling my efforts, and to break a lot of the power that landowners still have, especially absentees.

    Then I'd push for the national infrastructure upgrade to happen as per the GND, insulate every home, and build all the district heating mains, work done by my workers and companies and paid for by the government through the national investment bank at a community-interest-company level of profit, i.e. not profiteering like PPI's have done in the past. This is where my mad money will eventually be coming from.

    What I'd hopefully have constructed within 20 years would be a region, or possibly a nation depending on constitutional fights, that is prosperous, stable, and resilient, in which the wellbeing of the population and the stability of the regional government owe significant amounts to me. By that time the oil and gas oligarchs would be on their way out due to international public pressure and disinvestment by the major markets, and be powerless to stop me (Muahahaha....!!!). That neatly gets rid of both the guillotine threat and the assassination threat from narked rivals,

    I'd then retire my investments in land and infrastructure development etc. by handing the companies and rights to local councils or suitable co-ops, until I was comfortably below the overall £5bn head-onna-stick level, and devote my last billion or so to enjoying the other half of my lifetime in some nice coastline castle that has been suitably reinforced to withstand the 20-meter storm waves.

    303:

    Even assuming that fund managers available to billionaires are no more competent than those available to little people the billionaire still wins.

    Having a fund manager on payroll works out significantly cheaper than losing a percentage of your profits in fees once you are rich enough.

    304:

    I suspect that the testosterone poisoning problem has a simpler solution--we need to perfect the sexbot technology. Set up a Sexbot City where any male can enter in their teens, and stay as long as they like. I suspect most males will get it out of their system in a couple of years, and when they leave, they will be ready to engage females as real human beings. As for the ones that don't, maybe better to just leave them there.

    Note this works as a eugenics program: it's the ones who eventually leave that experience reproductive success.

    305:

    My plan: do whatever it takes to introduce a siesta throughout the world. If more people are sleeping through the heat of the day perhaps there won't be so many people angry at billionaires and I'll live longer.

    306:

    ... Lets see. I do not really believe in long-term grid storage see: Many previous postings.
    But a hundred billion is enough to get a reactor design into series production and to the point where cost savings should materialize.

    Also. Not to put too fine a point on it, but a reactor is a socially acceptable reason to build an enormously well fortified facility, with staffing that is right and proper well motivated to defend it against all comers.

    So. I am putting everything into molten-salt-fast-spectrum reactors at the highest pace that I can spend it without just burning money to no good end, with a key design criteria being the inclusion of a good-sized molten salt heat buffer to do full-service grid supply - Screw the distinction between peak and base, Pluto Energy is going to be doing loadfollowing.
    All profits go into more reactors, all patents are open source. Initial rollout in a nation with competent construction sector and inhospital to green-peace wrecking efforts.. Poland? Poland has a stupidly high-carbon energy sector anyway, so... Poland it is.

    307:

    Having a fund manager on payroll works out significantly cheaper than losing a percentage of your profits in fees once you are rich enough.

    Er, nope.

    What you do is, you use a cut-out to anonymously buy a controlling stake in no less than four wealth-management consultancies. You then park tranches of your assets with each of them, with a performance-related bonus scheme. Meanwhile, your three wholly-owned accountancy firms audit the hell out of them, and out of each other. Overheads: somewhere in the range £1M to £10M/year for management, plus those bonuses. 10% of ROI over 2.5% (on top of actual fees/salaries) should be an adequate motivator. You provide guidelines on what not to invest in at arm's length, e.g. no arms dealers or coal mines: breaking these guidelines loses them the account.

    (A 5% annual return on $100Bn gives $5Bn a year in growth; $5M in admin/oversight fees plus a 0.25% cut -- good for another $1.25M in bonuses -- is peanuts. Even if you have to pay $100M for administration per year, it's peanuts.)

    Money on this scale doesn't behave the way money behaves on a smaller scale (although we're not quite into "manufacturing credit bubbles to order" territory).

    308:

    How do you propose to deal with the U233 proliferation problem in your thorium reactors?

    (Yes, the presence of U232 in the salts makes it kinda problematic as bomb fuel unless you also run an ultracentrifuge line to get rid of the gamma-emitting crud, or take measures to reduce the ratio of U232 to U233 ... but your reactor design is inherently a proliferation risk for gun-type A-bombs using U233 as their bang-juice.)

    309:

    If you've got an ultracentrifuge line capable of separating out U233 from a thorium breeder fuel stream then you can more usefully enrich regular U235 from, say, granite chippings if you want to make some bang-juice.

    Besides Thomas is suggesting fast-spectrum reactors cooled by molten salt, not TEDtalks LFTRs. I presume he could buy up a few tonnes of Pu239 as fuel since fast-spectrum reactors are greedy buggers and really benefit from hot salty neutrons, lots of them and concentrated in a small volume. The metallic fuel stays in pins though, it's not the "let's pipe a mixture of incredibly hot and intensely radioactive fuel and fission products around in a corrosive molten salt substrate and call it Green" LFTR so beloved of the Youtube generation.

    There are other possible coolants such as sodium and lead-bismuth -- the Soviets and now the Russians have been campaigning sodium-cooled fast-spectrum reactors for a few decades now with only a few fires, reportedly.

    310:

    Ummmmmmm,

    Wealth managers, in their own words (see Harrington's Capital Without Borders, view their relationship with their clients as a modern version of knightly fealty to their lords.

    Trust and discretion are what the key to their professional reputations, more than skill. After all, they know where all the family money and property is, often who the rich dudes' mistress(es) are and what's being done to take care of them, and many, many other things. They also EXPECT to have their discretion and trust severely tested before they're accepted into the intimate roles they take on. Effectively, they become paid members of the family.

    You can read Harrington for how and why they do this, but I'd suggest you do read it, because they're fascinating characters.

    Anyway, the setup you're suggesting has a bunch of problems:
    --it's overly expensive. A few of the uber-rich own their own wealth-management firm, just because they've got enough wealth management issues going on to make it worth the trouble. For someone who's got $100 billion, this is probably a reasonable step.

    --You don't want four of them, because each person knows all your secrets. You want as few as can manage the work, because effectively they're members of your family.

    --Audit? Oh hell yeah. But setting up a situation of massive mutual distrust, with seven separate firms (not people, firms) knowing all your secrets, is a recipe for a leaking disaster. This can be seen in the case of on DT Trump currently playing out on national TV.

    What you want instead is:
    --Really, really, really get to know the wealth management team your Fairy Godmother set up for you when you got the money. If you don't trust them, you need to develop your own team ASAP. Note that, depending on the system your Fairy Godmother set up for you, you may not be able to get rid of them (cf: multigenerational STAR Trust).
    --Do your own due diligence, which in this case means the equivalent of getting a university degree in finance and/or law relevant to dealing with the structure you've inherited. The degree is optional, the knowledge and skills are mandatory. How you develop them is up to you. What Kim Kardashian is doing right now in going to law school is pretty smart, if she's studying business law. The thing is, the more you know, the more chance you have of both doing due diligence on the people who know your secrets, and also working effectively with them.
    --Develop a discrete and trustworthy team who can keep your fortune moving to stay up with the times and laws. What they do is to arbitrage both national laws but especially the interplay between international laws, to keep your money safe and growing. This isn't a job for one person, but it's also not the job for just a kept crew, because things change too fast. The crew you developed that was really good at exploiting, say, Mauritius law to route your money around South Asia and the Emirates may need to be replaced by experts on Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, or, if Brexit has its expected effect, England. It's necessary to be able to switch, and also to make sure that each of these experts only has as little of your total financial system as possible. They're hirelings, not consiglieres.
    --Work hard to make sure your heirs are competent. This is usually where the fortunes are lost, because the heirs don't have the skills or the interest to become financiers along with whatever else they're passionate about (partying, art history...).

    311:

    Yes, that is true. But still the problem is quite unlikely to be the survival of the human species. It is most likely that human species survives, but our economic and political systems do not survive. The transition is likely to kill a very significant part of the human race.

    Even without the global warming the situation is not very nice. Our economic system is based on destroying resources and producing waste. In addition, recent research has shown that the more successful a firm is, the more likely it is to do something immoral. Therefore the equation is not sustainable.

    An interesting flavour has been provided by the inherent tendency of private firms not to invest in new technologies. There have been surprisingly few significant productivity improvements or new technologies created by private firms after the WW II. Hence it is not likely that new technological innovations will save the situation. Current political climate does not favour HUGE public investments in (applied) science (we would need an alien threat from the outer space for that).

    In general I would expect a very interesting failure modes of our economic system in the coming decades. Unfortunately I am young enough to see some of them.

    312:

    Proliferation is not a technological problem, it is a political one. IAEA safeguards and guards with guns work fine for CANDU reactors (which are aproximately the platonic ideal of a reactor with dual-purpose potential). They will work fine for any reactor type.

    RE: Nojay: I was in fact thinking of the molten-chlorides design Gates is poking with a research team currently, or The fluroides one samosafer is working on. Both of which adress the "pumping is a problem" issue by not doing that - they are pool-of-molten-salt-with-heat-exchanger-on-top designs. The coolant loops are also salt, but.. not radioactive. Fuel salts are really attractive from the point of view of burnup/breeding, and since I am aiming at taking over the entirety of the energy sector here, that is a bit more of a priority to me than to most reactor designers. (Fast-chlorides is the best neutron-economy design on anyones drawing board. 3 tonnes of plutonium inventory a piece, though.)

    313:

    or take measures to reduce the ratio of U232 to U233

    This was discussed by George William Herbert in this very blog some years ago. The measure necessary is to extract the desired isotope from the fuel after very low burn-up, rather like how a Pu-239 production reactor differs from a uranium power reactor. And a molten salt reactor can be very well adapted to continuous-flow chemical extraction of the isotope. No centrifuges needed.

    Short form: you can make thorium-cycle power production very proliferation-resistant, or you can make it very proliferation-friendly. And you could hide the latter alongside the former unless there were an aggressive inspection regime in place.

    314:

    Late response to the "Pure Evil" strategies, but I really must point out that one rich kid by the name of Osama Bin Laden actually implemented that strategy. His family got rich helping the suits build up the oil industry in Saudi Arabia, and so he got to see the dark underbelly of it firsthand. When he went on his jihad, he really targeted the corporate beast.

    Now, I'm not justifying what he did, but pointing out what happened to him as a case study. Based on this one data point, I don't think that a pure evil strategy leads to an outcome of long-term survival for yourself or your family, nor does it accomplish your goals of making the world a better place by removing the great satan, whatever you conceive that to be.

    315:

    Now that we're back from a week and a half of driving to (Philly) Philcon, se Indiana, and (Chicago) Windycon....

    First, you take your $100G, and split it up to multiple trusts. I understand that the Orange Idiot has over 700 companies, holding each other. Then there was the property in NYC where the ownership is so complicated nobody "owns" it, and so can't be fined for lack of maintenance.

    Then set yourself up to *look* like you only have, say, $1G or $2G.

    Some folks here have suggested small towns. *sigh* Well more than the majority of the population of a *lot* of countries are in metro areas, because THERE ARE NO FUCKING JOBS in small towns. And agribusiness has made it close to impossible for family farming. Datum: as of the 1990 US Census, "family farmer" was no longer a recognized occupation, as it was

    So, I've thought that when I win $1G in the lottery (if I go back to buying tickets), I'd do this, for about a third of it:
    1. Buy cotton from small farms in the US South.
    2. Rebuild the mills there, and spin it there.
    3. Ship by rail to the northeast, and weave, cut and sew it there.
    4. Make all clothes to 1960's specs. (Hint: jeans then were around 16 threads, now you're lucky to get 9).
    5. Pay myself, as CEO, less than the President of the US (

    Now, to continue on Charlie's premise:
    1. Buy media control (Gannet, for example), and go all-out anti-right wing... by pointing out the truth (where's the jobs the "job creators" created?, calling politicians and preachers LIARS, and show proof; Have trial lawyers on staff...). This is a 15 yr project.
    2. Find someone to use so as to "have standing", to sue and stop the US gov't from preventing abortion, condom and other birth control method distribution around the world, and in the US.
    3. Buy and support industry conversion to renewable energy sources (like the report about the Gates' AI&mirrors), hydropower, etc.
    4. It's possible to buy enough industry to allow you to seriously impact the small companies that do the petrochemical exploration. This would really cut into oil company profits.
    5. About reducing the population of wealthy...I understand that an old, high power microwave oven could be disassembled and modified... then all you need is relatively near visual access. Alternatively, I am somewhat surprised at folks who've lost someone important to them, or everything, have not "gone postal" at CEOs, etc, rather than random victims.
    6. There need to be new laws mandating quality. Last year, after three malls and about 8 stores, the *only* corduroy pants I could find were "on half price sale" at what I would have expected to pay as full price... and they're suitable for wear in, say, California, or maybe Vietnam, not a midwest or northeastern winter. No Other Cords. Phones are made to die in a year or two... at the prices you pay. Cars, ditto. We need to get CEOs and all their damn MBAs on selling defective goods.

    And the MBA is one of the things that destroyed the US... and if you want to argue it, I can go on for a looong time.

    316:

    Totally off-subject: at Philcon, I started referring to myself as an "almost-published writer", because a) I've been out of the slushpile for a year, year and a half, and b) maybe half the rejections come with comments from editors, not just forms.

    That changed this past Friday. I have just had a short novelette (under 9k words) accepted for publication in the Grantville Gazette, by Eric Flint (it was one of his special characters, so he had the say).

    317:

    I have just had a short novelette (under 9k words) accepted for publication in the Grantville Gazette, by Eric Flint (it was one of his special characters, so he had the say).

    May I say "Congratulations", even though you have never met me and haven't the slightest idea who the Hell I am?

    318:

    An interesting flavour has been provided by the inherent tendency of private firms not to invest in new technologies.

    For more on this, may I suggest Marianna Mazzucato's book The Entrepreneurial State?

    319:

    Long as I'm recommending books,

    Jane Jacobs' Systems of Survival and the 'sequel', The Nature of Economies. Short, insightful treatises on ethics written as a Socratic dialogue.

    Deborah Blum's The Poison Squad about the founding of the FDA (and why 'the market' demonstrably can't regulate safety).

    320:

    Elderly Cynic notes: "When I was younger and had a few weeks to recover my adaptation, I used to positively like 40 Celsius and low humidity... On the other hand, lots of people can't take it even with adaptation - my wife and daughter flake out at 30 Celsius."

    It me. I become nonfunctional at 30°C with even moderate humidity. 40°C would kill me fairly quickly. (And I'm in reasonably good physical condition. My body just doesn't shed heat. On the plus side, that let me walk comfortably at -40°C when I was younger.)

    dpb notes: "Even assuming that fund managers available to billionaires are no more competent than those available to little people the billionaire still wins."

    Emphatically yes, and see Piketty for some of the ugly details. Doing a gross injustice to Piketty's argument, the billionaire can also invest 90% of their money to earn a return on investment and still live in decadent luxury; the "little people" at the other end of the spectrum probably spend 90% of their money just surviving. It's easy to see how their relative fortunes diverge rapidly in favor of the billionnaire, even for really clever little people investors. And that doesn't even include regulatory capture and other forms of institutionalized corruption.

    321:

    Disagree but I need to think about it to be able to articulate why. Buried in work.

    322:

    I've been out walking at 45C, for 15-20 minutes (the time it takes to walk home from the train station). It's not pleasant. I can tolerate up to 30C indoors, with fan running, before I need to turn on AC. (I can sleep - barely - if it's less than 30C indoors.)

    I suspect much of the US would be improved if we got Indians, Iraqis, and Kurds to help design structures for the higher temperatures we'll be getting.

    323:

    We're over 300 so..

    Elons star hopper prototype mk 1 just suffered a rapid unscheduled disassembly.

    No fire. The top popped off, some hundred metres or more into the air. A lot of cryogenic liquid (I think oxygen) came out. https://youtu.be/3nTSubYzQOM

    324:

    $100 Blillion turns out not to be a lot to save the world but it is a pretty large amount if you decided to go into money laundering in a big way. Large enough that one might be able to undercut current providers.

    A money launderer must also be an accountant, and although your accountant doesn't know all your secrets, they do have some idea of what those secrets might be.

    Anyway five years down the line one might suggest that current orgnaised criminal leaders might decide to retire. Or alternatively, having some idea of their pipeline from start to finish, might undercut the current providers of controlled substances at a loss (the plan of Mr Big in Live and Let Die or, perhaps stretching the analogy, the loss-making, cost-externalising Uber).

    A kinder more ethical drug trade (fair trade, female-run co-operatives in colombia and afghanistan?) are of course a pleasant side effect, but what we're really getting our hands on are the officials corrupted, corruptable and extorted by organised crime. And at this point we have them come out in favour of [insert prefered techno-political agenda here].

    (This impractical suggestion has, I hope, at least some novelty to it)

    325:

    LAvery @ 233: You know, this is making me sad. How did we get to the point where everyone is figuring out how to do the most evil to everyone else on earth, while at the same time loudly proclaiming their prejudices about the worthlessness of fellow humans?

    I dunno. Maybe they didn't understand the part about

    "Stuff I'm going to suggest is a really bad idea:"
    326:

    You're facing some stiff competition in the world of large scale money laundering.

    https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/westpac-money-laundering-allegations,-child-exploitation-links/11722536

    The bank is accused of 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws, including cases that may have facilitated child exploitation.

    The penalties could, at least technically, run to some $400 trillion.

    Now that is 23 million *breaches* not 23 million dollars or euro.

    327:

    P J Evans @ 243: Note for US readers - not the US corn, AKA maize, but wheat or oats.

    The "Biblical" corn as it were ...

    However, a couple of addenda:
    1. It's not technically U.S. "corn", it developed in Central America and spread both north & south before being discovered by Europeans.
    2. The Europeans spread its cultivation all over the world.

    When you say "corn" in the U.S. most will think of the industrial agriculture product used for livestock feed, ethanol fuel additives & Thanksgiving Day dinners, but some of us do know the original meaning of the word.

    328:

    _Moz_ @ 256:

    The Stupidity Virus

    We have that already, it's called measles. Or perhaps polio.

    Oh, I thought it was "Fox News" (or whatever the local variant of the Murdoch media empire is called in your country.

    329:

    You're facing some stiff competition in the world of large scale money laundering.

    I was thinking heavily armed rather than stiff, but far be it from me to kink-shame anyone.

    These criminals are not operating at the street thug level, they operate at the internationally recognised sovereign state level. You're not gunning down "Bill the Snake" in an alleyway, you're persuading the international financial governance systems that they should clamp down on major trading operations between global players and at the same time recognise you (or your reverse buyout target) as a preferred replacement.

    The idea that you could transition from Jo Random citizen to billionaire and somehow compete with people who've been billionaires all their lives is, I think, foolish. They are better at it than you, by definition, but some of them have also been doing it successfully for generations. Queen Elizabeth II makes a good case study, just because she's lost most of her assets and is now doing to her last hundred billion or so, but is still ridiculously powerful. Imagine deciding for some reason that you wanted to muscle in on her turf, replacing some minor corner like, I dunno, the Isle Of Man with the new Republic of Nauru. What *exactly* do you think would happen if you succeeded?

    Maybe look at Vanuatu, for both money/tax and passports if you want some ideas.

    330:

    I thought it was "Fox News" (or whatever the local variant of the Murdoch media empire is called in your country.

    We call it "the government" or if we're feeling generous "The COALition". But realistically the nominally left wing ish party is also subservient to Our Rupert who art in Heaven (US division).

    331:

    But still the problem is quite unlikely to be the survival of the human species.

    I really don't understand why people think this.

    Humans are a large animal with long generations. We're completely dependent on prolonged infant care and cultural transmission.

    There's pretty good evidence from the PETM that being large is bad in a temperature spike; you want to be small and have a relatively high body temperature, so your wet-bulb death temperature is that few degrees higher and square-cube might be on your side.

    We're currently in an ecological overhang condition; the thing that's propping us up is fossil carbon. That's going to stop, one way or another. The tools of the war of armageddon developed for the Cold War are still there. (Some idiot who can't count might decide a nuclear winter is a good idea in a decade or two. The odds that nothing nasty will get loose from a biowarfare lab don't seem high.)

    No one now alive has the least idea what the correct toolkit or cultural transmission is for 2050, 2100, 2200 … and we can be reasonably confident that these aren't going to be the same toolkits. (Just like no one under 30 or so has any memory of the Holocene.)

    People have to eat every day.

    I get that there's a general optimism people have about the future, but it's really not especially warranted under the circumstances.

    332:

    About the PETM. To clarify, since I've been digging around that one fairly extensively, two things happened:

    1. The general size of a range of animals (a very common mammal, worm borrow diameters, and IIRC crayfish burrow diameters) dropped at the beginning of the PETM and returned to previous levels at the end of the PETM. This was actually the first sign that something serious had happened, and it could be associated with increased temperature, decreased nutritional density of vegetation (both are correlated), and/or increased disease (selecting for earlier age of maturity, which correlates with high body size). The range of unrelated creatures showing the evidence suggests an environmental cause, rather than something else. Disease may be a factor since infections tend to spike in hotter temperatures with poorer body conditions.

    2. Large-bodied species, notably pantodonts (tapir to bear sized) as well as Gastrornithids (large "terror birds" that were vegetarian according to bone isotopic analysis) made it through the PETM and into the Eocene.

    This is in contrast with the true mass extinctions, where everything that couldn't survive on islands far away from the impact (K-Pg) or in burrows (P-T) basically died off.

    I happen to agree that the survival of the human species is not guaranteed through the 21st Century. I also agree that petroleum-based civilization is on its way out. What that means is unclear, because radical technological change does not necessarily imply radical social change.

    The thing to remember is that the Maya survived similar crises and lasted until the Conquistadors wiped out their last city. Collapse is a complex issue.

    Closer to home, our grandparents and great grandparents went through a fairly radical change when petroleum culture took over, and our distant ancestors went through some pretty radical crises in the 17th Century, and we don't talk about civilization collapsing in either of these situations. This is the best case scenario, where we change radically bur retain some sort of continuity of civilization in terms of languages, laws, and so on.

    So there's a wide range possibilities, from miraculously shifting to widespread sustainability to a P-T Dune-style toasted planet wipeout, where the gophers inherit the Earth. Another big issue is that optimism tends to merge with do-nothing complacency, and we really do need to make an effort to disentagle the two. A sense of emergency right now to get to the better possible outcomes. Otherwise, our descendants will be making like pantodonts in the PETM, and that probably isn't the greatest possible outcome.

    333:

    Not just Sweden, but Germany where the AfD continues to gain and the existing "main" parties are showing signs of decline and falling apart - with things getting so bad that some people in the CDU are saying they should consider making pacts with the AfD.

    Suspect it is also happening elsewhere in Europe but simply not making it into mainstream English-language media.

    334:

    The rise of the MBA, and its associated problems, seems to coincide with the rise of the HR department and their requirement for pieces of paper that indicate you are "qualified" for a job. This automatically places anyone with real experience in the field the company deals with at a disadvantage.

    Then there is the reality that the MBA is just another version of the "old boy network".

    335:

    LAvery @300:

    And there are also non-trans XX males and XY females. Humans are too Goddamn complicated.

    And that's just scratching the surface, on that subject.

    336:

    That was fascinating. Thanks.

    337:

    gasdive: Yr. very welcome.

    Back when 'marriage protection' was a hot issue in 2008, I decided to see if I could pull off author John McPhee's rhetorical hat-trick in his stunning 1989 collection of three long essays, The Control of Nature, each essay being about a situation where humanity is unavoidably stuck having to try to control and manage implacable natural processes: McPhee has a knack of piling on details and telling anecdotes about the described situations that are extremely persuasive without him even once outright expressing an opinion. (In that, he's like Thucydides, except maybe even more so.)

    Without McPhee saying so, you get the clear impression that the US Army Corps of Engineers is utterly doomed to catastrophic failure, sooner or later, in preventing the lower Mississippi River from switching to the lower-altitude Atchafalaya Basin.

    Without McPhee saying so, you get the clear impression he's impressed as all hell at the Icelandic farmer who tried to stop the advance of a volcanic lava flow with a garden hose, garnering embarrassed laughter until watchers realised it was working and just needed to be scaled up.

    Without McPhee saying so, you get the clear impression he thinks residents of the Los Angeles hillsides on the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains are stark raving crazy in their denial of the recurring huge landslides that take out entire neighbourhoods as a consequence of hill topography and chaparral life cycle.

    I wanted to see if I could pull off the same non-rhetoric rhetoric trick. And the result has been my most respected bit of writing to date, so apparently I didn't miss too badly.

    Since the piece was pitched particularly at readers who are socially conservative Americans, I made a rare effort to Americanise (er, Americanize) my spelling and diction so as to not be dismissible as an apparent dodgy foreigner. (Having grown up using Commonwealth usage all my life, this was more difficult than I thought it would be. Friends had to point out Briticisms I couldn't spot unaided.)

    By the way, McPhee's three essays can still be read in their origninal forum at The New Yorker, and I highly recommend them: Atchafalaya, Cooling the Lava, and Los Angeles against the Mountains.

    338:

    Was a good discussion well put, I thought.

    I still can't decide whether I'm shocked or disappointed that the homophobic marriage people aren't bigger fans of sex tests. I mean, it's the core of what they think marriage is *and* it's really important to them that only the right sexes get to marry. But then... nah, don't care whether people really are the sex they say they are. Well, in this context at least, they'd be offended at the suggestion they support any kind of right to identify as the sex you feel like.

    The whole surgical gender reassignment surgery on infants thing still boggles my mind, BTW. How the fuck is that even a thing, let alone legal?

    339:

    I'll definitely have the R&D team look into measles as well as other options, e.g. Ebola, zika, etc.

    340:

    _Moz_ @338:

    The whole surgical gender reassignment surgery on infants thing still boggles my mind, BTW. How the fuck is that even a thing, let alone legal?

    Inertia plus physician hubris, would be my surmise. There's slow progress in enacting legal bans against the practice, in various places around the world.

    (A pedantic note: As I mention in footnote #1 of my essay, biological matters such as those you speak of are properly described by the term 'sex', i.e., sex reassignment surgery (SRS) on infants -- not 'gender', which properly describes psychological/sociological categories. I.e., my step-brother Tony wrote in 1994 a fascinating scholarly work about the early history of changing concepts of manhood/masculinity throughout the 19th Century in the USA. That was a work about gender. Surgeons attempting SRS on infants are fooling around with sexual categories, not gender ones.

    This traditional distinction is getting overwhelmed by Internet popular usage, I'll freely admit.)

    341:

    Rick, I suspect that's a definitional quibble rather than a misunderstanding. Until someone is using crispr or other DNA-level hacking I'm reluctant to claim that that's changing the sex of an organism. That surgery is all about the presentation which to me is gender confirmation surgery. Sure, it's confirming the *parent's* ideas of gender, which is pretty much my objection. I've been told quite firmly that SRS is an inappropriate term and I trust the reasons for that are obvious?

    342:

    Also, Amazon is now using anti-bot barriers to stop me even looking at their wares. I guess that answers the question of whether I'm (in)human enough to buy through Amazon.

    343:

    _Moz_: The term 'gender' traditionally has referred to concepts such as masculinity/femininity, and not to 'what sex (if any) you identify as'. The latter sense, which appears to be the sense in which you're using the term, is a fairly recent popular neologism, that seems to have arrived from the Internet.

    I mentioned that fact in footnote #1, that a language shift to establish that meaning as accepted appears to be underway. My point in the footnote is not to oppose creation of a word for said concept (arguably the English language has needed a word for that), but solely to point out that using 'gender' for that concept creates some confusion with established usage of that word, such as is reflected in my cousin Tony's academic study, and FWIW in my essay.

    344:

    ""[Jar]But still the problem is quite unlikely to be the survival of the human species."

    I really don't understand why people think this."

    It seems quite reasonable to me, because survival of the human species is a much easier target than survival of any specific currently widespread human lifestyle, and I consider that difference significant whereas it appears that many commentators think they're basically the same thing.

    Most of the commentators on this blog who have made it clear where they live and/or posted local temperature excursions are accustomed to living in places which are more or less reasonably clement for a reasonable proportion of the year, with technological mitigations for the excursions towards and beyond the margins of clemency. But there are also small populations living in places that are well beyond those margins all the time and that would immediately be discarded as obviously uninhabitable if it wasn't for the fact that people do live there (and often are anyway). They have been living there for thousands of years without any technology beyond the basic "stone age" kind of level, and the biggest threat to their existence is simply that they have come to be surrounded by other people who have mobile phones and guns and really dig this smelly black shit from under the ground. Not many species have a global range as naturally comprehensive as humans do, and even fewer when you exclude those whose range depends on hanging on humans' coat-tails.

    The probability of the human species returning to its original condition of a low global population living in small groups in mindbuggeringly shitty conditions is considerably higher than that of it not even managing to hold on to that much anywhere.

    345:

    That's happened to me with Google for ages. I can't just keep clicking through to the next page when the current one doesn't have any useful results on it, or else after a few iterations every page gets replaced by this crap about "Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your network" and it takes several hours for it to stop happening. I have to break off in between each page and pour another cup of tea and roll a ciggie and generally scratch my arse until the thought "oh yeah, I was doing a search, wasn't I?" is able to cross my mind and prompt me to click for the next page.

    The depressing thing about it is that obviously far too many people do not bother to sanitise Google's crap, since it remains viable for them to shit on people who do.

    346:

    Congratulations. And if your posting style is any indication, I suspect I will find it both a better read and a more interesting take on the situation than a lot of the things from that corpus I've read.

    Re microwaves, the problem is that 2.45GHz is too low a frequency to make a decent beam with. You need an antenna which is Large Compared With the wavelength to get the divergence down, and then you end up with a beam diameter too large to achieve a decent power concentration anyway. So the effective range is far too short if you're after shifting more charge density than is needed to flip a few microscopic MOSFETs. You'd do better to seek out the guts of a military aircraft radar or something operating on a much higher frequency (and quite likely more power too).

    (Aside: In Britain in the 90s there was a fashion for breaking into disused factories, farmers' fields and the like, and using electronic equipment to manufacture a thoroughly industrial level and quality of racket for the delectation of people who had consumed enough phenethylamines that they thought it was music. One weekend they did this a few miles down the road from Malvern, which made its name as a genteel Victorian spa town and still more or less is like that, made such a noise that you could hear it all over the town all weekend and thoroughly pissed everyone off. But Malvern is also the location of the UK's principal governmental radar research outfit, with all sorts of big kit, and I find it depressing that nobody working there did what I would have done...)

    347:

    Please try to accept that I understand what you're saying and where you're coming from, and I'm trying to say something other than just "I disagree with the traditional view". Remember that it's very hard to escape the dominant view, but easy for those agreeing with it to avoid learning about alternatives.

    Also, it's ok to just say that you don't know why SRS is the wrong term and refuse to research the topic. Otherwise I'm left guessing, but it does seem to be the charitable explanation (viz, the alternatives are stupidity and bigotry). If you want to claim that it's field-specific jargon that I'm mis-using, can I point out that this is not a field-specific discussion and I'm not qualified to participate in one if it was.

    The term 'gender' traditionally has referred to concepts such as masculinity/femininity,

    Sure, and enforcing them with non-consensual "surgery"* is also a longstanding tradition. But in much of the non-English-speaking world there have long been more than two gender roles (and they're often less rigidly enforced than they are in the US today). Demanding that we use 1950's "traditional gender roles" is a particularly nasty form of time-specific pedantry. Traditionally fa'afaine were an important part of society, for example, but you don't see a lot of pedants deriding English for not even having a word for them.

    If you define "sex" as a biological expression of genes and environment, as I suspect you do, mutilating a baby so its genitals look the way adults think baby genitals should look is perhaps sex (re)assignment surgery rather than gender confirmation, but that term is widely used for adults as well so lacks the connotations of both lack of consent and disregard of gender that are key parts of what is done to babies. AFAIK it's also limited, it's cosmetic surgery** rather than any kind of sex change.

    To return to the blunt "I disagree with you" stuff, I think you can no more determine the gender of a baby than of a toilet, or a ship. I recall reading an essay very recently that explained that we also can't determine sex and for many of the same reasons.

    * in the same sense as autocrats are removed "surgically"
    ** excluding castration, which I think is outlawed just about everywhere now

    348:

    "The probability of the human species returning to its original condition of a low global population living in small groups in mindbuggeringly shitty conditions is considerably higher than that of it not even managing to hold on to that much anywhere."

    I actually think that without a full-scale nuclear war the possibility of the extinction of the human species is very low. Climate change only is not, IMHO, likely to kill the human species. The current lifestyle will definitely disappear, but not the species.

    The distance from our modern Western societies to previous lifestyles is not that long either. My grandfather had not been in a room with electric light or traveled by car before being conscripted to the WWII. After the war he lived decades in a way that had been practically unchanged for a few thousand years. My mother was born in a winter-cottage without electricity and without any hint of modern medical facilities. Even now I have some young relatives who could easily shed all of the modern lifestyle and live in the old ways. The thing they would miss most are modern rifles and ammunition.

    I wouldn't personally survive the change. But sufficient number of people would.

    And this is in Europe. I think that the same holds in several places in Europe and all around the world.

    Losing you Facebook account, your mobile phone, your SUV, your yearly flights for holidays, losing modern farming, losing food supply to cities, losing most of the transportation etc does not mean the extinction of the human species. The collapse of the modern human lifestyles and modern societies and global economy yes, but not the extinction of human species. Not even in the worst case scenarios. It is true that the worldwide number of human may be only a few millions in the worst case, but that is not extinction.

    349:

    "...your reactor design is inherently a proliferation risk for gun-type A-bombs using U233 as their bang-juice."

    That article is full of holes, and one of them appears to be the assumption that a terrorist group seeking to build such a bomb will (exist at all and will) find that the government has conveniently mandated that the parameters of their implementation of the thorium fuel cycle should be set to produce fuel sufficiently low in gamma emitters that terrorists actually can pinch some and make a bomb with it, even though for power production it's easier not to.

    If it's the government themselves who are after making bombs while doing the "nah, 's all for power plants, honest guv" thing, then they already can, and trying to force them to use designs that make it more difficult (which is as far as any of them do or can go) is kind of pointless. If you succeed it still doesn't stop them, and it's also been shown to work to not even bother trying to be subtle about it, insist that you are going to have a reactor it's easy to make plutonium with plus all the other kit to go with it, and just tell everyone who objects to fuck off.

    If you're a government that just wants to build bombs that you can be sure of working without testing them and aren't interested in nuclear power, then you don't have to bother with reactors at all, you just do a South Africa.

    If you're a terrorist trying to make a nuke, then your biggest problem is going to be getting hold of fissile material, and the more you have to get hold of the more of a problem it is. If you know what you're doing well enough to be setting about it at all, there's not a lot of reason not to address that problem by using an implosion design. This was the case with the Manhattan project, and the terrorist is approaching the same situation with a far greater imbalance between physical and informational resources, towards the informational side - you could clone Fat Man from stuff on the net, and you can torrent software capable of simulating the implosion on your PC... And unlike the military you're not so worried about how well it works; you might not get 20kT, but you'd probably get something, and any nuclear yield at all is more than likely enough.

    350:

    _Moz_:

    Also, it's ok to just say that you don't know why SRS is the wrong term and refuse to research the topic.

    I honestly have no idea on what grounds you were 'told quite firmly' that SRS is the wrong term, and it seems an odd position to take, since each of the three terms including 'sex' is flatly descriptive and seems to be used in an entirely non-polemical, non-advocacy sense. I haven't gotten around to 'researching' why you were told this, or why sundry unspecified persons hold that view. It's been rather a long day for me with other priorities, alas, and I've had a busy time on other matters. Perhaps you could save some time by pointing to some details of what you're talking about.

    But in much of the non-English-speaking world there have long been more than two gender roles

    Without objection, I note that by throwing in the additional word 'roles' you're reiterating that same neologistic recasting of the meaning of 'gender', apparently (my surmise) to mean 'what sex (if any) you identify as'. (Please note that this makes no claim whatsoever about what and how many sexes exist. I assume it's a positive integer.) Basically, you are taking for granted the very recasting of the term that I mildly decried as creating (some) confusion with established usage.

    But worse, are you now also attributing to me rather regrettable views I simply don't hold and didn't anywhere express? It would appear so:

    Demanding that we use 1950's "traditional gender roles" is a particularly nasty form of time-specific pedantry.

    I hope you're not imagining that I hold such a view. Nothing in what I wrote so implies. If you think otherwise, kindly read again.

    If you define "sex" as a biological expression of genes and environment, as I suspect you do, mutilating a baby so its genitals look the way adults think baby genitals should look is perhaps sex (re)assignment surgery rather than gender confirmation, but that term is widely used for adults as well so lacks the connotations of both lack of consent and disregard of gender that are key parts of what is done to babies.

    Consent is indeed the key horror in it, when done to the young. I thought that would be understood implicitly, and I wouldn't need to dwell on that. (I actually am not able to guess what you mean by the phrase 'disregard of gender', here. Taking a wild guess, if you mean infants born intersex should as a basic matter of societal morality be left intersex until they are able to decide their own destinies, then I certainly agree, but I didn't think that was a point under discussion.)

    easy for those agreeing with it to avoid learning about alternatives

    You read my essay, right? In order to write it, even though my expertise is in Internet Operations / system administration and my prior profession before that was in accounting and finance, I had to learn a great deal about sexual anomalies and developmental biology, to the point that some of my physicians who've read the essay wonder how on earth I was able to learn all of that and get it right. (I've had critiques from experts on the subject, and the only flaw they found was that my initial explanation of Müllerian Inhibiting Factor and gonadal dysgenesis was a bit wrong. I gratefully corrected that passage and thanked the helping expert in footnote #2.)

    So, in that context, your armchair suggestion from across the Internet that I am out to avoid learning seems... rather remarkable. And extremely convenient.

    Anyway, if you wish to enthusiastically adopt the aforementioned neologism (as evidently you do), I in no way stand in your way. Attributing to me 70-year-old retrograde social mores because I didn't do likewise seems, er, more than a bit unhinged.

    351:

    "Point out to them that the Bible sets pi as 3.0 exactly."

    See, there is a reason why only a very few specially-trained people are allowed to go into the bit in the middle. The ancient Hebrew words which are usually translated as "high priest" actually mean something more like "Senior Postman".

    352:

    No, but that was kind of my point ;)

    353:

    "But still they do it, why I know not."

    Because the assumption that the "actual" (by your definition) product/service the company provides is irrelevant is fundamental. What the company actually actually is all about is making money, and the "actual" product/service with quotes is an inconvenience to be put up with to enable the actual actual objective. This explains many things, such as why the "actual" with quotes thing is so often shit.

    354:

    Suspect it is also happening elsewhere in Europe but simply not making it into mainstream English-language media.

    Yes. In Finland we had parliamentary elections last spring, and got a left-greenish government. (The Greens here are quite a bit over the map but apparently more right-wing than many European Green parties.) Currently in the opinion polls the most support goes to the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) party who are your basic right-wing populist racist party.

    So, there are still almost three years until the next (scheduled) parliamentary elections but the opinion polls don't fill me with confidence.

    355:

    How much would it cost to buy every single vacant, foreign-investment-vehicle property in the UK and turn it into maintenance-cost-only rentable properties? What's left over after that, electrify as much of the planet that isn't currently electrified as possible - at maintenance costs only, again.

    356:

    Ah yes, the inimitable Arschlecken für Dummkopfen. Really they just need to crack the daisy chain and leave politics to grown ups.

    357:

    This claim that very rich investors beat the market by hiring the best investment managers is odd when you look at it closely.

    Every large bank, pension fund, hedge fund has lots of dosh. Billions. That is what makes them a large fund. They can all afford the best investment managers, just as much as billionaires can.

    Except the best actually set up their own hedge funds, and charge 2 and 20.

    University endowments have some advantages. Tax advantages, for one. A long term horizon, for another. And they sometimes really can get the best for reasons other than money: Keynes ran his college’s investments, you just cannot buy that sort of expertise.

    358:

    #310: "the heirs don't have the skills or the interest to become financiers along with whatever else they're passionate about"

    #169: "if you have US $100 billion and want to make the world a better place, is there anything terribly useful you *can* do?"

    I guess these two are the main problematical factors in the proposition for me personally.

    As you also noted, the victim in this case is essentially being dumped into generation 2 at best. In my case, not only do I not have the skills or the interest, I don't want to have them. I have a strong aversive reaction even to reading about it (as in: start reading Charlie's initial post, get to a bit about financial shenanigans, screw my eyes shut, go "nngh", shake my head, skim quickly downwards until I get to something else). One of the advantages of not having any money is never having to think about that sort of shit.

    And the answer to your question of #169 seems to be - not a lot, really, unless you get into political influence stuff which again is so amazingly not my thing. I keep thinking of things that turn out to be small change at this scale so you'd just do them anyway without bothering to think about it, or that are only practical in a scale vastly larger yet, or that can be done on this scale but not maintained, so in a few years the effects have worn off or someone else has come along and fucked it all up again.

    So if I was the victim one useful response appears to be to go into partnership with la famille Tingey. Reasons being:

    - Mrs Greg is apparently an important financial person of some kind, so she could take charge of all the stuff that makes me go blaargh even to consider its existence.

    - Greg knows about growing things, which is important from the self-sufficiency angle, and is something I know sod all about (I could probably manage to grow chickens, but not anything with no legs).

    - The amount of money involved is a good match for one of my more extravagant "things I'd do if I had the means to do it" fantasies, which is also something Greg would probably approve of...

    The idea is to be a sort of "National Trust" (organisation which buys and preserves for public use historic buildings, scenic landscapes etc) for former railway routes. Buy the land, preserve any remaining intact structures on it, don't allow anything except railways to be built on it, knock down anything that has been built on it when the current users decide to stop using it, rent it at a quid a year to anyone who does want to build a railway on it (as long as they build a proper one, and making it clear they'll be kicked off if we think they're taking the piss).

    Also, as complete ownership of the whole of viable route sections is achieved, start putting railways on them ourselves. Lay things out, and design stock, so that it's possible to run trains in accordance with when people want them rather than when what you've got allows you to; set all fares at something under the cost of the petrol for driving the same journey in a reasonably thirsty car, that does, say, 20mpg; put emphasis on making a rail journey a pleasant and comfortable experience, so you enjoy it or at a minimum don't mind having to do it, rather than something to be endured and got over with as quickly as possible. (Too many interiors of modern trains are too close a match to descriptions of spaceship interiors where it is a plot point that putting up with the conditions does everyone's heads in.)

    Configure the background financial magic so that the capabilities are self-sustaining and don't depend on making a profit from operating the trains. I assume there are shitloads of ways to do this sort of thing, arranging it so the cost of running trains lets you off paying that much tax, or something, etc.

    Then start extending our ownership to include the existing network, to run it to the same standards. Also, build local transport networks to bridge the gap between the station and the places people are actually going to/from (and provide local transport about the town in general). These would find space to thread themselves through the existing spaces by being based on the Brennan pattern gyroscopic monorail, which is the only type of monorail that really only does use one thing that really is a rail and allows for sensible points, unlike every other pattern which all have to go to such lengths to stop it falling off that what you end up with is no less complex or space-consuming than a conventional track and makes doing points a nightmare so it'd be easier to just stick two rails with conventional points up on pillars and have done. With a Brennan system you can set up a route using existing lamp-posts to support a rail, you can cross rivers with a tensioned cable, and you can generally use spidery enough structures to be hardly noticeable where other patterns require something that is guaranteed to fuck up the view no matter how you fiddle with it. The vehicles would be individually routed single-person-to-single-family sized things, turning the one disadvantage of the Brennan system - the need for every vehicle to have its own gyroscopes - into an advantage: the same flywheels can be used both as gyros and as the energy storage to power the vehicle (and the drive capability fades out faster than the balancing power, which is the right way round).

    The goal is to end up running the entire country's railways on the principle that railways are supposed to run trains and that trains should be something people find an attractive option for getting where they want to go. Currently the idea of getting people to use trains instead of cars is up against the problem that everyone knows trains are an expensive pain in the arse and everyone knows that no matter how much they brag about improvements to the railway system none of the so-called improvements ever address that problem. So I reckon the thing to do is make the railway sufficiently useful and easy to use that people don't bother to use their cars because the train is easier, cheaper and more comfortable, instead of the other way round as it is at the moment and will remain at least as long as people think railways are supposed to make money.

    359:

    "...the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) party who are your basic right-wing populist racist party."

    Given my complete ignorance of any Finnish roots but some familiarity with French and chemistry, that name looks like it refers to a disease related to molecules having an unfeasible number of Russian groups. I don't know enough about Finnish politics to work out how amusing I ought to find that.

    360:

    No, it's a terrible idea. Testosterone is strongly linked to sex drive, aggression and physical strength, but what is not admitted by the politically correct is that it is ALSO linked to 'dynamism' and 'effectiveness'. It is not a coincidence that a huge number of great innovators, artists, leaders (genuine ones, as well as villains) etc. were randy buggers. Any viable solution would work with and tweak our species's basic makeup, not try to deny and frustrate it. As LAvery said in #300, humans are too complicated for any simple solution not to backfire.

    I believe that there ARE approaches that might improve things, and some SF stories have considered them, but any of the extreme approaches will fail even more badly than we do at present. For example, there are good reasons to believe that our society would be more stable if there were a significant but not large majority of women. But that's probably 60-75%, not 90-99%. However, even that is uncertain.

    361:

    Absolutely, I'm at least an order of magnitude off being able to become crime boss of the world. It was really an excuse to make jokes comparing Uber with a Bond villain, and about kinder more ethical illegal drug gangs.

    That and no one had yet gone for money laundering as a provider rather than as a consumer.

    362:

    And that's just scratching the surface, on that subject.

    A good colleague of mine, a biochemist, made his bones working on aromatase. Sorry to see it didn't make your list. But that's basically the point, right? The subject is far too complex to compass in a blog post.

    363:

    "Even if it causes a GFC, I presume that a few other people's heads on pikes reduce the likelihood that MY head ends up on one."

    I really don't think that follows. When people start putting heads on pikes, they start getting a taste for putting heads on pikes...

    364:

    "I don't have to outrun the bear; I just have to outrun you."

    365:

    <i>"I don't have to outrun the bear; I just have to outrun you."

    "Always assuming you don't attract you don't attract a bunch more bears."

    366:

    And it turns out that not only investing in local news is cheap, it's needed:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/us/local-news-disappear-pen-america.html

    https://pen.org/local-news/

    "In 2017, when work on the PEN project began, researchers planned to call it “News Deserts,” examining pockets of the country where local news was scarce. But the more research the group did, the more it realized that the original scope was inadequate: Since 2004, more than 1,800 local print outlets have shuttered in the United States, and at least 200 counties have no newspaper at all."

    Just the thing to spend a half-billion or so on.

    367:

    LAvery @362:

    A good colleague of mine, a biochemist, made his bones working on aromatase. Sorry to see it didn't make your list

    Well, that's a fascinating Wikipedia article, so thanks greatly.

    At a quick read-through, it looks like neither of the two listed disorders involving aromatase belongs among my essay's existing 13 genetic/developmental anomalies, because they would not cause erroneous failures of one of the IOC sex-determination tests, or possible successors to those tests, hence they also would not create problems with 'marriage protection' statutes.

    The point is a good one that genetics is only the beginning of developmental biology: Hormones, enzymes (like aromatase) and other factors are also crucial. I hope my essay underlined that point adequately in passing, though I had to focus on the main argument for clarity's sake.

    368:

    Rick Moen noted: "Without McPhee saying so, you get the clear impression he's impressed as all hell at the Icelandic farmer who tried to stop the advance of a volcanic lava flow with a garden hose, garnering embarrassed laughter until watchers realised it was working and just needed to be scaled up."

    Indeed. I read about this in a book about geoengineering (sorry, can't recall author/title), and saw it in person when I visited Iceland with my wife. In summary, and with a bit of exaggeration to make this suitable for an Icelandic saga:

    When the Eldfell volcano erupted on Heimaey Island, the residents basically begged, borrowed, or stole every saltwater-capable pump in the north Atlantic, and spent months pumping cold northern water onto the lava flows to cool the front near the city and redirect the flow. They won: though a few fingers of the flow made it into town, they basically stopped the lava (ahem) cold. One of my favorite photos of Heimaey is one where the lava flow wrapped around a three-story building, that (so far as we could tell from outside) is still inhabited. Just with the world's biggest backyard fence.

    369:

    I hope my essay underlined that point adequately in passing, though I had to focus on the main argument for clarity's sake.

    Yes, of course. It is well done.

    370:

    Despite any rhetoric and political dogma, passenger rail doesn't on its own make a profit.

    In fact, the UK government subsidy has increased dramatically since "privatisation" so that it now averages about £5.3 billion a year (and Network Rail has a lot of debt that also likely should be added in).

    The inherent problem is that you have a rail network built essentially in the late 1800's attempting to deal with a mere 40 million people, but those 40 million people essentially didn't travel beyond their village/town

    In 10 years the UK is expected to pass 70 million, and people no longer work on the farm or a walking distance from home (and worse, now that both parents are working full time outside the home that is even more commuting).

    Much of the UK rail network is simply capacity constrained at this point, and adding capacity is very expensive as there are no more quick and easy fixes.

    Hence the overcrowded trains, the poor interiors (a direct consequence of putting more seats per carriage in than the past), etc.

    371:

    But there are also small populations living in places that are well beyond those margins all the time and that would immediately be discarded as obviously uninhabitable if it wasn't for the fact that people do live there (and often are anyway).

    Look up "Dorset Culture" for a simple clear example of why that's not reassuring. Those places don't tend to be continuously inhabited; the people there frequently (for cultural values of frequently) go extinct. Absent the population reservoir for repopulation elsewhere, it's not evidence for species survival.

    Anybody talking about "going back to the old ways" is necessarily presuming an Anthropocene with regular rainfall and sufficient game animals AND a whole bunch of skills that apply to that specific set of conditions. We are absolutely one hundred percent not going to get that. We are in the process of losing that right now, as anybody who (for instance) tracks aerial insectivore guilds or the Ontario moose population or a whole lot of other things is well aware on the game side, and anybody who looks at hay prices is well aware on the rain side.

    I mean, sure, I buy knives and other basic hand tools as a sort of anti-anxiety retail therapy; it helps a bit. That doesn't mean it's accurate.

    372:

    Losing you Facebook account, your mobile phone, your SUV, your yearly flights for holidays, losing modern farming, losing food supply to cities, losing most of the transportation etc does not mean the extinction of the human species.

    That's not what we're losing.

    We're losing the geologic epoch we evolved in.

    We're, despite being a species with tropical antecedents, a cold-climate creature. We evolved during a cool phase of the terrestrial climate. We rely on a culturally transmitted bucket of skills to get food; all of those skills, not just the agricultural ones, are specific to biomes which are specific to their climate, and every single one of those is going away.

    I am just old enough to have adult memories of the Holocene; I had an odd upbringing so I can use a scythe and forge weld and milk a goat, or at least I've done those things. I've been winter camping at moderate altitude back in the Holocene, too.

    None of that matters because everybody has to eat every day, and for the next hundred years for sure, and maybe for the next thousand years, the weather gets less predictable and more violent. Ocean productivity drops. There's no obvious parallel in the geologic record for how fast, either; we're applying a remarkably brutal climate forcing. Ecological adaptation works by generations. There's a (variable by species) lower limit in generations for adaptation to occur. For humans, where we're looking at 8 C or more in three generations, the adaptive prospects are poor.

    The things that stick with me are stuff like the Mongolian Red Beds sandstone (the stuff with the psittacosaurus fossils in it); it's an aeolian deposit, piled up by wind. You can get the wind speed from the grain size, and that tells you there were 300 kph winds there, a lot.

    And a lot of life; there's a lot of fossils, it's a very interesting paleo biome. But what there isn't is any indication that things got there quickly. Life can deal with a lot of weather; life can't deal with that weather arriving too fast. In all the years of the earth we can see, the weather's never changed this fast unless there was a major impact, and we know what those do.

    Look, from another angle, at the Zone Rouge in France. Expected active remediation time is another three to seven centuries. Still places nothing grows. Given long enough, sure, you'll get bacteria that can eat the buried explosives and all the shells will rust into flakes, but you still can't go there now. The ecological utility of that landscape to humans is negative. (Go there and it might kill you; nothing you want can be extracted from it.) It'll be fine in a thousand years or so, but if you have to eat today that's not going to do you any good.

    373:

    I'd like to print copies of that for my science students, if I may?

    An accessible book that goes into a bit more detail is Jared Diamond's Why Is Sex Fun?.

    374:

    And there's also a Nature issue on the subject. I think it was early 2015, but mine are packed or given away so I can't check. (And I no longer have a subscription, because it's expensive.)

    This article looks familiar and may be from that issue:

    https://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943


    On the subject of 'correct' language, I always try to remember this comic:

    https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-02-23

    375:
    that same neologistic recasting of the meaning of 'gender'
    A supposition: that neologism is in fact a contraction - the 'new' meaning aligns with that of "gender identity," so I suspect what's happened is the standard "that's awkward to say/too long for Twitter/the 100 other reasons phrases get chopped down in spoken language" processes are working on it?

    Basically the people who defined the words were careful and exact and redefined nothing and overlapped nothing. And then they let us at them and laziness is doing the rest.
    (The functional difference between "gender is being redefined" and "gender identity is being truncated to gender, making gender's previous meaning less accessible" is... limited.)

    376:

    That could well be true, at least in some cases.

    OTOH, I've encountered people who use "gender" as a synonym for "sex", because apparently it means the same thing but is politer (at least as they explained it to me).

    377:

    For those looking to design a Secret Underground Lair, the US Army has just emitted a helpful and interesting Army Techniques Publication, Subterranean Operations, ATP 3-21.51.

    It's at https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/atp3-21-51.pdf

    378:

    *Busts out the "words mean things" rant, calling-Idris-Elba-African-American version*

    379:

    More misconceptions, I'm afraid.

    Most of the people in the world live towards the equator, not towards the poles, and they live in India, Africa, Southeast Asia, and southern China.

    We're children of the ice, not because of the cold (that would be Neanderthals and Denisovans who are morphologically extinct, even if their genes live on), but because of the chaos of the ice ages. That's what favored the evolution of intelligence.

    Richard Alley wrote a really good book on the ice ages titled The Two Mile Time Machine, about what he's learned from ice cores and other paleontological data. His hypothesis, which I don't think has been refuted, is that the ice ages rocketed rapidly and fairly unpredictably between three different metastable states: cold, colder, and coldest, depending on whether Hudson's Bay froze to the bottom or not. The breakup of the glacier in Hudson's Bay was fairly rapid (on order of years to decades), caused a huge amount of ice to flow into the North Atlantic (google Heinrich Events), that warped the thermohaline flows (huge amounts of fresh water on the surface) and caused global average temperatures to increase over 4oC, again within decades. And repeatedly.

    He described the temperature graph of the ice ages as looking like someone took a roller coaster, tied a bungie jumper off the edge of the roller coaster, gave the dude a yoyo, and used the vertical position of the yoyo to chart how temperature changed.

    Assuming this is all true (and I've seen no one really trying to disprove it), climate chaos by itself isn't a problem, as most species on the planet either dealt with it or evolved during it. Nor is the speed of what we're doing unusual.

    There are a couple of big problems.
    1. We're not going cold/colder/coldest, we're doing a brief excursion from icehouse into hothouse. That could well kill a bunch of things, because the last time this happened was the Carboniferous.

    2. Civilization. Humans have been around for around 300,000 years, but we only managed agriculture and civilization after the Ice Age chaos stopped. That strongly suggests to me that civilization won't survive climate chaos of any sort, although our species will.

    3. Civilization II. The way species normally dealt with past climate chaos is by migrating. This whole notion that nature is unchanging is an artifact of us doing science in an extremely calm part of Earth's climatic cycle. Normally stuff moves, and old growth ecosystems normally don't occur (apparently). HOWEVER, civilization is all about fences and unchanging land uses, and against nomadism by anyone who isn't at least middle class and definitely human.

    This meme of fence, control, and put nature and native peoples on reservations to make consumers feel good about seeing it is probably going to cause more extinctions than climate change alone will, simply because plants and animals will die trying to move, after either being cut off by a fenceline or killed trying to migrate (most likely by someone spraying poison on the landscaping to keep it looking nice). Right now, that's where the mass extinction's happening, at least on land.

    380:

    Robert Prior @373:

    I'd like to print copies of that for my science students, if I may?

    Of course. I would be honoured if you would.

    381:

    anonymous @375:

    A supposition: that neologism is in fact a contraction - the 'new' meaning aligns with that of "gender identity," so I suspect what's happened is the standard "that's awkward to say/too long for Twitter/the 100 other reasons phrases get chopped down in spoken language" processes are working on it?

    Well, actually, the concept of a 'gender identity'(or 'a gender' for short) is also, to the best of my recollection, a fairly new invention in English. So, yes, it's a contraction -- of a neologism.

    Traditionally, 'gender' was a mass noun, not a countable one. One spoke of gender-related behaviours, and one spoke of gender psychological constructs such as masculinity and femininity, but one didn't speak of genders as countable things, for the same reason one didn't speak of multiple waters, i.e., because both are mass nouns. (Adding water to water doesn't yield two waters, but rather water. Thus, mass noun.)

    To repeat, as I said in footnote #1, it's likely that English has needed denoting 'what sex (if any) you identify as', because after all, how we're plumbed, i.e., our sexes, is a personal matter relevant only to those closest to us, and our doctor'. I merely consider it slightly regrettable that 'gender' got adapted to that purpose, because it creates (some) confusion with the word's established meaning.

    Then, too, the word has started being used as a an avoidance mechanism merely to sidestep using the word 'sex' (I guess, out of squeamishness) by swapping in the other word even though the intended reference is clearly to sex, not gender, i.e., in bizarre coinages like 'gender discrimination' and 'gender testing', which strike me as outright failures of literacy.

    382:

    it's likely that English has needed denoting 'what sex (if any) you identify as', because after all, how we're plumbed, i.e., our sexes, is a personal matter relevant only to those closest to us, and our doctor'.

    As I'm sure you're aware, Biology doesn't fully compel language in this regard. It is quite usual in Japanese and Korean to talk to and about someone without ever specifying gender.

    In fact, "Cowboy Bebop" did a little sleight of hand in this matter concerning the sex/gender of the character Radical Edward. From the name you would naturally guess that Radical Ed was a boy. In the English subtitles, though, if a pronoun is needed to refer to Radical Ed, it is always "she", "her", etc. I'm sure that the Japanese creators deliberately kept Radical Ed's gender ambiguous. In Japanese that is easy. (Eventually, nearly at the end of the series, we learn she is in fact a girl.)

    And then there are languages like Spanish, where it is almost impossible to say anything about anyone without specifying a gender.

    383:

    Robert Prior, printouts are great, but one thing to note: You might want to ensure that the printouts include the URL (and advise students they might want to read it live off the Web), because one place I indulged myself and stuck in an authorial knife is in some of the hyperlinks.

    For example, near the essay end, my phrase 'By contrast, some readers will, for various reasons including socially conservative views...' links the phrase 'socially conservative' to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXPcBI4CJc8. Do have a look at that video.

    I threw in a number of such deadpan hyperlinks. It's where I channeled the urge to include rhetoric.

    384:

    You wrote:
    Reader, even if you have $100Bn in assets, you are not a state level actor (unless those assets come attached to an language and an army),
    ---

    Allow me to point out that $100Bn is, in fact, more money than a lot of actual countries entire wealth is. You could *buy* a country, and have your own land, government, and army.

    386:

    LAvery @382:

    As I'm sure you're aware, Biology doesn't fully compel language in this regard. It is quite usual in Japanese and Korean to talk to and about someone without ever specifying gender.

    Also Turkish and other Turkic languages, plus Estonian, Hungarian and Finnish (sharing the trait of being all Uralic tongues). Plus Chinese. (in Cantonese, which I grew up hearing as a kid in Hong Kong, the third-person singular pronoun is keui. The equivalent in Mandarin is tā.) And out of our Into-European group: Armenian, Bengali, Persian and Central Kurdish. Plus all Austronesian languages including the Polynesian tongues.

    Dravidian languages have a gender-neutral form for the third-person plural, which is also used for the third-person singular in all formal communication. And then there's also Swahili, Yoruba, Basque, Bengali, and a bunch more.

    387:

    Footnote to what Heteromeles said:

    The human population has reached unprecedented levels, and we're surviving now on the thin edge of what we can sustainably produce. (In some places, the fat edge... but globally, we're closing in on Malthus territory.) Current agriculture can comfortably support us all for as long as current agriculture remains possible. When the climate starts going seriously bad, which it will begin to do within our lifetimes, conventional field-based agriculture will no longer be possible over large enough areas to sustain everyone. That means a massive die-off until the population level decreases to the level we can sustain with food factories (crops grown entirely indoors with roofs more robust than those of greenhouses, which are highly vulnerable to windstorms, hail, etc.).

    As a postscript to what I wrote earlier, I think we're going to need to invest those billions in robust, climate-proof agriculture that can be scaled down to a community level if we want any large proportion of us to survive. I suspect that we'll muddle through as a species, but it's going to take some serious work right now to ensure that this happens and to reduce the body count below apocalyptic levels.

    388:

    The MBA is not quite the old boys' network, it's worse.

    It was MBAs who came up with the "brilliant" idea of making all divisions in a company into "profit centers", with no "sinks", so the DP/IT department *charges* other departments for doing the company's work... and do this to the point where it's cheaper for the division to buy its own computers and do the work, or outsource.

    Which results in massive outsourcing of *everything*, where a century ago, companies wanted it all inside, to better control prices. You'll note that by outsourcing, they're handing more and more money for the service, since the companies they outsource to are required to show increased profits every year....

    It also results in companies crashing and burning, because there are incompetent managers who do things that will destroy the company, but they'll have shown increased ROI for a few quarters, and they're going to go off to another company in < 5 years anyway.

    I just retired from 10 years working for a US federal contractor. About half or more of out division was contractors, so the GOP could claim that the government was smaller, since they hadn't hired us.

    Ah, yes, it saved *so* much money... though I Know I was getting about the same money and bennies as a GS at the level I was at... but our tax dollars were *also* paying for my manager, and her manager, and my company to make a profit... see how that saves money?

    HR departments are another story all together.

    Several years ago, Slate or The Atlantic - someone like that - had an article entitled "Your HR Department Hates You", and that's the case. We *used* to have Personnel depts which *knew* the organization, and understood what the hiring managers needed. Now, HR knows *nothing*, they're going to change jobs in a couple of years, and don't care to *learn*, so they require degrees and certs, etc, because they have NO IDEA what those complicated words mean.


    389:

    "To repeat, as I said in footnote #1, it's likely that English has needed denoting 'what sex (if any) you identify as', because after all, how we're plumbed, i.e., our sexes, is a personal matter relevant only to those closest to us, and our doctor'."

    Regrettably not. It can also affect whether someone may be a threat under some circumstances, not always in the obvious ways. And, most importantly, there is the matter of how the person is likely to behave and expects other people to behave towards him/her/it/whatever, which is at least as closely linked to their plumbing as the gender they identify as.

    I have had trouble with the last all my life, and have twice had employment issues for treating women the same way as men. That's generally an absolute no-no, because the expected and tolerated behaviours are very different (as they are between cultures). I shall not debate how much of that is based in our biology, and how much in society, but it is assuredly the case.

    390:

    Thank you, and others, for the congrats. The story had to go through Eric directly, because it dealt with one of his special characters, Red Seybolt, the union organizer and socialist. My story shows *why* and *how* he was so effective at what he does.

    The microwave - I figured take it apart, and add a long, metal horn to focus and aim. Don't need more than a couple of blocks range, and something you can plug in while in a vehicle.

    391:

    the MBA is one of the things that destroyed the US...

    As an MBA, I would like to state that I have not destroyed the USA. At least, not within the last four years.

    392:

    Jar@234 said "After that you will end up with a couple of hundred children and a large tribe in the area previously known as middle Sweden. Of course you might lose all the fancy technology, but make that up by producing more children with the immigrants coming from the previous Africa or Middle-East.

    I just cannot see this as a survival situation. That is more like "back to the basics of being a warlord"-game."


    Being a warlord sounds like revisiting the Middle Ages. Seriously, people then must have been bored out of their gourds even at the best of times, which helps explains the chronic alcoholism, religious fervor and recreational warfare of the era. Browse through some artwork from back then, it starts to sink in that they were really starved for entertainment whenever they weren't just plain old starved. You could argue that present day subsistence farmers in underdeveloped  parts of the world are practically the same as medieval peasants, but they're not.
    Literacy is much higher if still too low. Electronic media like radio are available even where not pervasive.  Instead of barter the use of money is familiar though not plentiful as an exchange medium, and recycled clothing and other trade items make their way to every corner of the globe. So now the most benighted, backward folks you could find anywhere look like cosmopolitan sophisticates compared to the sturdiest yeomen of the Dark Ages. In other words, our worst beat their best. To get an appreciation for what they must have endured back then, we'd have to experience "cabin fever" snowed in during a six month winter without electricity or printed matter of any kind, like solitary confinement, only for the whole family.  (Cue theme from Kubrick's "The Shining.")  Modernity is worth fighting to preserve.

    393:

    All of that is way too complicated. Either get some, and layer it around a conventional bomb, and just look for lots of fallout... or take a clue from the first Superman movie, and *steal* a bomb.

    394:

    Ada@255 said "The Stupidity Virus", where a very virulent disease killed off the dumbest 50% of humans. I would refine it in this case, I don't care about dumb as much as pig-headed. So I dump $95 billion into R&D and then distribution. Everyone in the research team and myself gets the vaccine if possible."

    Why engineer a virus to kill people, if you can manage that much, then a livestock plague should be easy. Once all the hogs, hens and heifers are history, the corn and soy previously used to feed them would pile up in unsaleable mountains, so cultivated land worldwide would drop to a small fraction of it's current extent. And opportunistic billionaires could fund research on making corn and soy more palatable for human consumption. Although right now I'm looking at a three-quart container of popped corn and one next to it of salted roast soybeans. Both are blah by themselves but tasty when munched together, and excellent with beer.

     I think the arithmetic works out to eight pounds of vegetable matter as feed input to get one pound of animal protein, but I have no idea how much meat consumption  is required to produce a pound of human tissue. For sake of argument say it's three to one, that makes it all that much more efficient to give the livestock feed directly to people for sustenance.  Sheep, goats, geese, ducks and fish would still be around to provide traces of animal protein if needed for complete nutrition. Though I personally would miss cheese omelets.    

    395:

    I'll note that by outsourcing, they're handing more and more money for the service, since the companies they outsource to are required to show increased profits every year....

    And looking at who owns/profits from those companies is instructive…

    396:

    Interesting. Esp. since I was just in a conversation at Windycon this past weekend, where an old friend was commenting on the scene where Moses has a magical trial with the Pharoe's people... and he noted that it uses three separate words, which are usually translated as "magicians", "sorcerers", and "wise men", and my friend found it interesting.

    397:

    You've got it.

    Years back, a Canadian friend of mine loaned me an autobio of a Canadian ad min, Jerry Goodis. In it - and this is a high-power advertising man - he said, "Profit-making is a technique for encouraging human enterprise, not an end in itself."

    Esp. since the Raygun/Thatcher revolution, making money *is* an end in itself.

    For a long time, I've thought about creating the ultimate company: I print up a bunch of really pretty stock certificates, and sell them. Then, anyone reselling them has to give me a cut... and that's it. Pre-downsized, only a company CEO, and everything's already amortized.

    398:

    One of my nieces has an MBA. She got her engineering degree first, worked for a bit, and realize that without the MBA she wouldn't get promoted past a certain level. So she got one, but was careful to study things she would find useful.

    It worked out well. She met her husband in the program*, leveraged the MBA into a better job, and is doing well in her career.

    At one level her MBA was a lesson in learning the language of management, so she could give engineering advice in a manner that would be listened to**.


    *And I now have a cute grandniece!

    **One of my now-retired colleagues used to talk about learning how to talk to administrators. He always kept up with the latest educational fads and vocabulary, not because he was trendy, but because, as he put it, any good teacher is probably doing most of that stuff already, just not using the trendy buzzwords. Learn the buzzwords, use them, and you won't be micro-managed.

    399:

    What makes you think they "hire the best"? What they hire are companies, and they hire the ones that other billionaires hire. The folks in there schmooz with their pals in other such companies, and as long as they bring in reasonable income/profits, they're wonderful.... Insider trading? That's just a joke on the proles....

    400:

    Nope. Passenger rail was *always* a loss leader for the real money, the freight traffic. Expecting it to "pay for itself" is bs by folks who don't know (i.e. politicians).

    401:

    "Modernity is worth fighting to preserve."

    No argument there. But I am just assuming that our economic model proceeds to its logical conclusion. Remember that the one and only purpose of a firm to exist is to generate profit. All damage to the environment or other people is completely ok if it does not weaken your profits.

    The logical end of producing waste by using resources is that there are no resources to be used. After that modernity is a tough goal.

    402:

    Like others, I have some skepticism about MBAs. But we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The strength of an MBA program is that it teaches you how to think about business processes; the weakness is that it may not explicitly ask you to understand things before you start changing them, or to beta test cool theories that don't actually bear much relationship to reality. (The same problems afflict post-graduate "education" degrees, while we're slinging mud. I'm sure everyone here can provide a list of other degrees that they don't respect.)

    But I'd point out that a fair number of MBA students are smart enough to overcome these problems. One of the smartest men I know (and I try to surround myself with people who are smarter than me so I can strive to rise to their level) is an MBA graduate. I have nothing but respect for his smarts, and even when I disagree with his thoughts, I benefit from working hard to confirm that my disagreement has merit.

    403:

    So she got one, but was careful to study things she would find useful.

    Finance turned out to be very useful to me in my later research. (Because, duh... it's basically the mathematics under exponential growth. So finance is, in essence, biology.) But if I had been choosing the subjects that I (thought) I would find useful, that's probably not one I would have picked. I didn't know.

    404:

    "That strongly suggests to me that civilization won't survive climate chaos of any sort, although our species will."

    I find that a very plausible assumption. Our current civilization is very, very fragile. Just consider the damage caused by simple numbers in computer memories during the Financial Crisis.

    What I find most annoying in the current situation is that we still could do very much in order to survive the situation (and even some big changes) like the warming climate and the mass extinctions as a civilization. Unfortunately that would mean drastic changes in the political and economic environment. Because those changes would mean that people who are Serious Money would have to give something away the changes are impossible.

    Therefore I assume that the collapse is almost a given fact if something really drastic does not happen in the political/ideological side of our civilization. Unfortunately I am too dependent on modern technology (medicine and tools like spectacles) in order to survive in a crashed civilization. But fortunately those changes will not mean the extinction of the human species.

    405:

    The strength of an MBA program is that it teaches you how to think about business processes; the weakness is that it may not explicitly ask you to understand things before you start changing them, or to beta test cool theories that don't actually bear much relationship to reality.

    The main negative thing I have to say about biz school is that the quality of scholarship in some business disciplines ("Business Strategy" comes to mind) is low. They aren't taught the kind of skepticism a scientist learns. Now, to be fair, it is often impossible to do good experiments, which means that some important cause-effect questions become virtually impossible to answer with any assurance. But the proper response to that is to know what you don't know.

    On the other hand, some busines disciplines are quite rigorous and interesting. Accounting gets a bad rap: a lot of people who don't know the first thing about accounting are quite certain that it is the most boring subject on Earth. It is not. It is a fascinating subject, that touches on some of the deepest and most difficult questions of our society and our world.