Economics

Ponder for a moment whether global warming, water, food or waste problems will end civilisation as we know it. Not sure? Read on.

Fig. 1 - Interconnected World Problems

Have hope! At TecEco we believe that at least three of these problems can be solved by Gaia Engineering. As all global problems are interconnected in some way or another as in the above diagram other problems will also be at least in part solved. This web page focuses on the central most important issue - that of global warming and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The world is obsessed with Kyoto and TecEco, like professor Warwick McKibbin, the executive director of the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis in the college of Business and Economics at the Australian National University and a member of the Australian Reserve Bank board, believe that a much longer term view is required. McKibbin thinks that if a long term price for carbon can be established it will guide the investment decisions that will lead to effective abatement. McKibbin is hopeful that away from the short term posturing of Kyoto, sensible policy will prevail. He says "It is time for all countries to cooperate to implement a low cost and effective climate change regime." [1] . TecEco add that a long term view is essential because we actually have to find ways to exist in harmony with the planet. To get there massive technical and cultural change is required that must be managed properly (See Political summary).

Kyoto is obsessed more about numbers than means and mechanisms. It does not address how to get there, has no thought of the strategy or technology platforms, only promises about the quanta of emissions that so far few have shown they can keep. It is possible that all the actions to date have merely been for political feel good reasons and in the pursuit of profit through efficiency gains. In the future these strategies will ultimately become ineffective. A long term view is required with appropriate investment decisions and strategies and technologies for the long term survival of civilisation.

With this in mind the first thing economists should do is take a short nature course. In nature coexistence, equilibrium and homeostasis are words that describe the way eco-systems and for that matter how the whole planet works. Our problem is that we have invented machines and are thereby able to extend the satisfaction of basic wants way beyond natural levels. These machines essentially use fossil fuel energy resulting in the current problem of too much CO2 in the air [2].

There is only one earth, shared by upwards of 10 million species. The existence of each one depends on a vast web of interconnections, bonding living organisms to each other and to their environment. The play of evolution has graced humans with the brainpower necessary to control many aspects of their surroundings leading to the illusion that we are separate, no longer dependent on and better than the biological web. "Sustainability has become the Holy Grail of the environmental movement, and like the medieval myth, it is both unattainable, and absolutely essential as a beacon to guide environmentally sound decision making. Species have evolved and become extinct according to their ability to adapt to changes in climate and compete with other species. In the current world view man has met and overcome most of these challenges to become the dominant species. To maintain this status will require intelligence, planning, and a bit of luck"[3].

The average longevity of a species is one million years. If we choose to work toward a more sustainable society, the first pitfall to be avoided is the illusion of a quick fix. Fixes will not happen in the time frame between elections. A long term survival plan that changes the fundamentals is required.

Fundamental to the problem is industrialisation with which the whims and wants of our minds have been extended beyond the natural by machines with their diet of fossil fuels and unnatural wastes. We must invent a new generation of machines that have techno-processes that are complementary rather than detrimental to earth systems. If we want to survive on this planet in the long term the basis of our tenancy must be renegotiated. The new deal will stipulate no abuse, that we live in a closed system with no more waste and that we use what we produce. For this new deal to be realised a paradigm shift in the technological base of global economies is needed.

Fig. 2 - The impact of the Techno-Process on Earth Systems

Global warming is one of the root causes of many of our problems, yet we persist in our simplistic analysis that shows little understanding of earth systems and with our blunt and ineffective response. As a consequence for some time now and we have been tracking worse than all worst case scenarios. Kyoto policies are just not working which is not at all surprising given that they do not treat the cause of the problem. Kyoto is generating short term responses with short term market signals. Politicians outbid each other with aspirational targets and meanwhile the problem continues unconstrained. In harder times aspirations are evaporating and constraint chant going down like a lead balloon particularly with third world countries and the Bush administration in the USA.

Kyoto fails in that it is not a plan. It does not consider strategies and methods to solve the problem. It is neigh impossible and arguable undesirable for us all to go back to being hunter gatherers so we must redesign the complex technologies we have evolved collectively referred to as industrialisation so they do not run on fossil fuels and emit wastes like CO2. If they do then we must invent other technologies that use CO2 true to the biomimetric concept of homeostasis.

The clue the world are missing is plain to see in nature and defined by economics. The change in the technical basis of our economies in favour of using carbon dioxide as an input resource must be profitable. By internalising CO2 in the economy in this way we can harness human psychology dominated by selfish desire and get it working for our long term survival. We can talk about technical challenge rather than constraint. A real price on carbon will emerge as a result of which people would invent all sorts of way of capturing the gas.

Fig. 3 - Economic Behaviour and Global Homeostasis

Kyoto fails to recognise that global warming is a problem of carbon balance not emissions. Nature is a frugal economist and unlike natural economies found in climax eco-systems we are not using as much CO2 as we produce. In the past, before humans began interfering with and now controlling the climate, if the CO2 level was high it would eventually in a self regulatory way be taken up first by plants (on land as well as in the sea) then in soils and eventually as solid carbonate rock. That is why over 4.5 billion years some 40 million gigatonnes of carbonate rocks covering some 8% of the crust has been formed. Carbon dioxide has for many years been added to in the atmosphere by off gassing from the deeper earth. Life has continued as we know it because there is a natural progression in the permanence of carbon fixed in the crustal zone as depicted in figure 3.

Fig. 4 - Carbon Sinks with Increasing Permanence and Time to form to the Right

It should be understood from the observation of nature and as a matter of logic that to solve the carbon problem we must accelerate the rate of change in the direction of the blue arrow in the above diagram. Any other strategy such as currently pursued constraint alone will not hold off inevitable failure given population growth that is rising exponentially. Constraint is also a negative economic and cannot harness human endeavour the same way as a technical challenge that all can profitably participate in. For long term success the solution to global warming must be profitable.

Governments have no idea how to solve the problem and the global talk is more about mitigation than solutions. Constraint is too far removed from innovation to be a viable long term response. Although we recommend the harnessing of the power of free markets to make it all happen there are barriers to the invention of new technologies including economies of scale, patent costs, early unfair competition and business practices, and so in any new post Kyoto deal innovation for long term change must be prioritised and nurtured. There is no strategy in place anywhere in the world that currently recognises this and provides the massive R & D and procurement support required. In our view governments, as well as interfering in the market place (rules, regulations, taxes, tariffs, subsidies etc.) must also foster new technology paradigms.

In summary - To change the balance of carbon in the atmosphere and achieve long term stability we must actually change the materials flowing through the techno-process which is the "material" interface of the economy. That way the underlying molecular flow including the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will change. The new technolgy paradigms required need both a push (in terms of funding research to create the technology) as well as a pull (a profit motive to deploy the technology)

Fig. 5 - Molecular Flows Underlying the The Techno-Process

If 50% of all building and construction were man made carbonate as TecEco advocate, our modeling indicates that the required reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide would be achieved by 2030 and the problem of global warming solved. Considering that over 70% of materials used in building and construction are mineral based changing 50% to man made carbonate is not impossible to achieve. On the contrary, it is potentially profitable. Once stability is achieved this percentage will of course have to be monitored and adjusted. Following this strategy other problems such as that of waste and the supply of fresh water are incidentally solved as a bonus. See Gaia Engineering for details.

Both the earth system and economic system are homeostatic[4], the main differences being that the latter is utterly dependent on the former. The physical interface of our economic system is our techno-process and at the moment the techno-process is incompatible with earth systems. Molecular flows in the global commons are occurring that are upsetting the global homeostasis.

Fossil fuels power the techno-process for industrial development. On the other hand population growth is inversely correlated to industrial development[5]. The paradox is that we need energy to grow economies to ultimately reduce our population and thus the rate of growth of impacts on the earth system. At the same time to survive in harmony with nature we must massively reduce our per capita and total life-cycle impacts on the earth system.

The third world are rapidly industrialising as the graph below demonstrates and the challenge is to manage this so they can achieve higher living standards without the take and waste impacts currently associated with the massive footprint of industrialised nations.

Fig. 6 - 2006 World GDP Growth

It will not be possible to quickly decouple our economies from energy and as under developed countries grow their economies they are choosing the cheapest form which is fossil fuel thereby further compounding the global warming problem. There are huge reserves of around 7,000 gigatonnes of irresistible cheap coal and over a 100,000 gigatonnes of methane hydrates [6] on the planet.(See Figure 5)It is essential that we therefore also seek fundamental Pilzer first law technical change.

According to Di Fazio World physical industrial product (WIP) continues to rise and is strongly coupled with a correlation of 99.5% to CO2 emissions which are also rising at an increasing rate due to increasing rather than decreasing use of fossil fuels(See fig 12) as drivers of global economies[7].

Fig. 7 - World Industrial Product (deflated world `GDP' in real value - i.e. the physical equivalent)[7][8]

Fig. 8 - CO2 emissions (in CO2 mass units: Doubling time = 29 years. Data: CDIAC; statistics: GDI. [7][8]

According to Di Fazio[7] "this continued economic growth has brought with it a growing need for raw materials , growing pollution rates, growing use of wood (with consequent growing deforestation rate) and - most important to the growth itself - a fast-increasing need of energy. We know that more than 95% of the energy used by human kind is obtained by burning fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) and we also know that burning the above mentioned carbon-based fuels inevitably produces carbon dioxide (CO2). For these reasons, the economic growth - i.e. the exponentially increasing WIP - has implied a correspondingly exponentially increasing emission rate of CO2 in the atmosphere and an exponentially increasing CO2 concentration since about 1800. Di Fazio calculates the correlation between World Industrial Product and CO2 emissions as being 99.5% ( i.e. practically 1).

Di Fazio [7] then further explains that improvements in efficiency, which is the current main way in which reductions in emissions are being achieved, has limits. " Increasing the economic efficiency of burning fossil fuels, i.e. increasing d (WIP)/ d (E) (in $/ton), where WIP is in G$/year and E are the emissions in Gton/year is subject to diminishing returns because the quantity (E) is dependent in turn on the thermodynamic efficiency h = h k/ ac , where k is a thermodynamic efficiency constant and ac is simply the carbon content of the used fuels. It follows from the second second Law of Thermodynamics, h can never reach the value 100%, and - in the real world - it is actually limited to values at most of the order of 60%-80%. Given this and because WIP has been growing exponentially for about 150 years with a doubling time of about every 17 years (i.e. an e-folding time of ~25 years) means that increased efficiency can only reduce emissions by a limited amount. Mathematically the numerator is growing more rapidly than efficiency can change the denominator which can only grow by a limited total factor in the order of 2.5-3. The driver behind the growth of WIP (the numerator) are population growth and industrialisation of third world countries[9].

The coal industry answer to this dilemma is so called "clean coal" where CO2 from the burning of coal is pumped underground (usually with the co-operation of the oil industry as the gas is used to force up more oil.) Our comment is that much work over many years during the cold war and later has established that the risks of pumping CO2 underground are far too high due to the fractured unstable nature of the crust. This risk the oil industry are keen to ignore and transfer to future generations.

The Climate Action Network Australia (CANA) which is an alliance of environmental, public health, social justice and research organisations working together to fight Global Warming produced an interesting graph in a 2004 media briefing which supports our own modelling of geosequestration (downloadable under tools). The models vary depending on the emissions and response scenarios adopted but importantly they concurrently prove that with even with small amount of leakage which will be inevitable, that it is essential we adopt a permanent sequestration technology such as Gaia Engineering [10]. We hope to include some of our modelling in newsletter time permitting or the reader can use the tool provided to do their own.

The conclusions all depend on the leakage rate which of course can never be determined - the crust is instable in the long term and that is why we have the continents we do and so on. Researchers vary greatly in their assumptions and conclusions regarding a likely level of leakage. Whatever the scenario undeniably some leakage will occur because geological formations are not completely stable. They are for example disturbed by earthquakes caused by the movement of plates or upwelling of magmas. Another source of leakage could also be the instability of injection points over time [11].

Dooley and Wise[12], Hawkins[13], and Hepple and Benson[14] find that the annual leakage rate must be lower than 0.1% if geological storage is to be safe. The problem is that if the leakage rate is higher, targets for atmospheric greenhouse gas stabilization in the range of 450 to 550 ppmv become unattainable in the long term. Our own modelling in our new downloadable Gaia Engineering Process v Geosequestration Model under tools indicates that anything more than about .2% leakage which is quite possible would result in the problem getting worse after about 200 years and at best all geosequestration can do is buy us time.

The diagram below from CANA illustrates a scenario in which geosequestration is used as the exclusive greenhouse gas emission reducing tool for the next two hundred years and a leakage rate of 0.1% per annum is assumed. The graph shows that by the end of the 22nd century the entire ‘carbon budget’ of future generations would be consumed by leakage from past underground carbon dioxide storage. This would mean that future generations can not avoid dangerous climate change, even if they reduced their own greenhouse gas emissions to zero.

Fig. 9 - Impact of a 0.1% Leak Rate from the Underground Storage of Carbon[15]

In conclusion CANA said that "The assumption of exclusive reliance on storage may be an extreme one, however the example illustrates that emphasis on energy efficiency and increased reliance on renewable energy must be priority areas for greenhouse gas mitigation. The higher the expected leakage rate and the larger the uncertainty, the less attractive geosequestration is compared to other mitigation alternatives such as shifting to renewable energy sources, and improved efficiency in production and consumption of energy."

TecEco believe the graph demonstrates that a permanent form of sequestration is essential because of the leakage issue. Our view is that it will be too difficult given human nature for us to give up the remaining 7,000 gigatonnes of coal left on the planet as a source of energy and that the rate of conversion to non fossil sources of energy cannot possibly be quick enough. As Di Fazio has demonstrated - the correlation is just too strong [7] between world industrail product (WIP) and fossil fuel energy and thus emissions. Gaia Engineering is the most promising form of permanent sequestration yet devised. We must build with man made carbonate. There is no other choice.

Conversion to a hydrogen economy will, at least to the extent hydrogen is produced from petroleum or coal only exacerbate the problem. A recent report in New Scientist has flagged that we may be ending the era of cheap coal with the reserves to production ratio falling by more than a third in the last twenty years. From the point of view of the planet this news is welcome[16].

More recently we have entered debate around the world for a return to nuclear however as we move to lower grade ores it has been claimed that nuclear generation will produce about a third as much CO2 per kWh as conventional state of the art mid-sized gas-fired electricity generation[17]. In spite of strong rebuttals around the world from the nuclear industry this is axiomatically true to a certain extent.

What this all means is that there is no way we can reduce emissions of fossil fuels even if we markedly increase efficiency. Even if we substantially and rapidly convert to nuclear the rate of change and hence emissions reduction will be too slow because output of CO2 is very connected to WIP and what is more CO2 in the atmosphere has a half life of around 35-40 years. Given the risks of both nuclear and pumping CO2 underground it is essential that we change the physical basis of our economy so that the production of CO2 is balanced by consumption.

In a real world economy governed by market behaviour only profitable innovations survive. The present intergovernmental consensus is to foster change by introducing legal costs (carbon taxes) so that market behaviour will tend towards reducing emissions and little emphasis has been placed on promoting technological change that increases sequestration. This is a major problem with current strategy. Having said this we note that point 4 in a communique from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the International Chamber of Commerce from Bali says "Technology is key, for addressing the climate challenges. There is a need for scaling up of R&D jointly between Governments and Business as well as accelerating the deployment of technologies." We hope this means that at last they are getting the message.

Assuming Kyoto commitments are met (which is unlikely) it is estimated that global emissions will be 41% higher in 2010 than in 1990[18]. The bottom line is that we are tracking on previously estimated worse case scenarios and making no progress towards reducing net emissions.

The arguments of Di Fazio make it clear that it is not easy to achieve a decoupling between growth and emissions and more importantly the quantum of CO2 in the atmosphere and TecEco advocate what we call Pilzer first law substitutions[19] that incorporate alternative technical paradigms that either convert CO2 to a resource or result in less or no emissions to help solve the imbalance. Basically our moleconomic flows in current paradigm techno-processes in our economic system are resulting in too much CO2 accumulating in the air. This bottom up approach TecEco advocate can be taken in relation to heavy metals, CFC's and other moleconomic imbalances as well.

There is an urgent need to find ways of achieving a higher standard of living particularly for developing nations (as only then can we control population) whilst at the same time reducing net emissions. We are not going to achieve these combined objectives without strategies for doing the required research and development. For a political strategy that will lead to the required research and development see our Political Analysis

One outcome of Pilzer’s first law[19][20] is that we can change the materials flow and hence the damaging underlying substance or moleconomic flows by changing the technological basis of what we do. The current response to global warming is constraint the affects of which are minimised by minor sideways substitution of energy sources and major efforts to increase thermodynamic efficiencies. The former does not change the underlying moleconomic flows and the latter will eventually reach a point of uneconomic diminishing returns. Pilzer first law substitution[19] involves bottom up rather than top down or sideways change.

For the bottom up change we advocate can occur it is essential that the research, development and deployment of new technical paradigms including alternative energy production and technical innovations that are more sustainable and that can recycle wastes including CO2[21] are prioritised.

Cultural changes are occurring, technical innovations such as that offered by TecEco are available, yet governments and the big end of town have just not caught up with how we can move forward as we must. Long term strategies are required for all this to change.

Fig. 10 - Sustainability is Where Culture and Technology Meet

For a method of removing the CO2 from the air to succeed it must be economic otherwise it will not be universally adopted and part of what we all do in our everyday lives. Technical innovation that is not economic does not survive and innovation that does not survive will not invoke Pilzer's first law and change the materials and hence underlying damaging moleconomic flows. To solve the most important problems of our era and more, TecEco uniquely advocate mimicking nature by building with man-made carbonate incorporating other wastes as a profitable way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and to this end have developed many technologies which working together in Gaia Engineering can solve the problem profitably.

Because of time lags the required research and development must be on a timely basis. A very long term view of the price of carbon is essential for correct and timely decisions about the research and development essential to change the actual supply delivered by the techno-process, possibly even years beforehand because of take up lags. Government assistance to help overcome short term diseconomies of scale and other blockages is also required urgently to get the required research underway. See our Political Analysis

Some governments are in fear of such change yet modern economic theory (evolutionary economics in particular) is based on the fact that change is the major driver of economic growth. This process, called creative destruction by Schumpeter [22] is whereby new innovation destroys old and less efficient process and is the drive engine of modern economies. The economic truth is that that change is a driver not a brake.

Whilst emissions trading may deliver peace of mind to participants, profits to some and arguably is a starting point, it has not and will not reduce the order of magnitude of greenhouse emissions necessary because of the numerator/denominator problem mentioned earlier in relation to Di Fazio[7]. So far it has essentially involved taking profitable thermodynamic efficiency gains or minor sideways substitutions that do not change the fundamental underlying moleconomic flows. We are not going to solve the problem doing the same as we have done in the past more efficiently. As we approach thermodynamic limits to efficiency, the laws of diminishing returns will impact outcomes and constraint will be no longer possible. Substitution to alternatives (many of which will result in bottom up change such as substituting solar for fossil fuel energy or materials changes in favour of converting current damaging wastes such as CO2 to resources) will become essential. The development of new technical paradigms that result in the required changes in materials flows fortunately also provide economic opportunities.

Fig. 11 - Avoiding Reduced Response through Thermodynamic Constraints

The above discussion leads to one conclusion. It is essential that governments and the big end of town support innovations like TecEco’s Eco-Cement with research and development money now if we are to move the supply curve for more sustainable technologies later. If we do not do this quickly enough then our responses to global warming will reduce due to thermodynamic constraints and population growth. Constraint will eventually become destructive to economies. Any talk of carbon cops and rationing is nonsense[23].

To create the change necessary in the physical economy there will have to be nothing short of a materials revolution and the concrete industry are major players. The industry may as well start now with the research and development required into major innovations including TecEco Eco-Cement and Gaia Engineering.

Another reason the concrete industry should move now is that a disproportionate impact due to carbon restraint is likely. According to Amanda McCluskey [24][25], deputy chairwoman of the Investor Group on Climate Change "Australia's cement industry would be among the hardest hit by a greenhouse gas emissions trading system, with the sector's annual profit dropping as much as 60 per cent, or $160 million, under worst-case measures” The basis for such a profit cut include an emission price of $25 a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, and the absence of any free permits, conditions unlikely to be imposed at the start of an emission market in Australia.

Fortunately emissions trading under Kyoto as it will to some extent encourage the development of offsets which will help fund the Research and development required but there are real problems in developing the required imprimatur in the area of building and construction for offsets to be confidently purchased and traded in markets. The problem is that emissions in that industry are mostly scope 3 and still in the too hard basket. See politics summary.

TecEco are offering the cement industry an opportunity to leapfrog technology thereby neatly overcoming the business risk of carbon taxes or being left behind as governments and consumers rush towards technologies that solve rather than exacerbate the global warming problem. By selling man made carbonate and carbonating binding agents that could potentially be used for the Pareto proportion of applications[26] the industry could lead the world.

There are very good commercial reasons for the industry to take up this offer. Consider the alternative option. Slowing industrial progress is not feasible and in spite of all the rhetoric from politicians about impossible to meet emissions “targets”[27] approximately four new power plants are being commissioned a week and two of these are in China. Energy consumption continues to grow from all sources including fossil fuels as the graph in Figure 4 from the 2007 BP statistical world review shows.

Nuclear and “clean coal” are sideways substitutions that have been mentioned as alternatives and fixes for the current paradigm. Nuclear generation may produce about a third as much CO2 per kWh as conventional state of the art mid-sized gas-fired electricity generation as the concentration of ores declines [17]. Thorium or fusion reactors show some promise however. On the downside, given global terrorism the proliferation of weapons is of great concern.

The fact is that we will continue to build and run coal and gas fired power stations for years to come because there are still abundant if not harder to mine reserves of cheap coal and methane hydrates[6] that will be utilised by developing nations. This will particularly be the case with third world countries as they desperately try to catch up.

Proponents of so called “clean coal” have no way of dealing with CO2 safely [28]. Nuclear is a possibility that carries with it a number of caveats and the fear of proliferation concerns us all.

Fig. 12 - World Energy Consumption [29] (BP 2007)

Around the world debate rages as to how the problem can be solved and more recently the IPCC have recognised the importance of buildings as major contributors to CO2 [30]. According to researchandmarkets [31] “Buildings make a large contribution to the energy consumption of a country. It is estimated that, of the total energy generated in the industrialised world, 40% of it is used in the construction and operation of residential, public, and commercial buildings. Approximately one third of primary energy world-wide is consumed in non-industrial buildings such as dwellings, offices, hospitals, and schools where it is utilised for space heating and cooling, lighting and the operation of appliances. In the European Union (EU), energy consumption for buildings-related services accounts for between 33% and 40% of total EU energy consumption. Energy used for heating, lighting and powering buildings can account for up to half of a country’s total energy consumption. In an industrial economy domestic water heating can account for over 5% of total energy use, domestic space heating up to 20% and appliances and lighting up to 30%. In terms of the total energy end use, consumption of energy in the building sector is comparable to that used in the entire transport sector.”

In spite of huge difficulties in developing the imprimatur of carbon offsets in the building and construction industry there are significant gains to be made in this market both in relation to improved design for lower lifetime energies and improvements in the materials used in terms of their life cycle impacts, embodied energies and emissions. For TecEco building and construction is the only market large enough to profitably use large tonnages of man made carbonate.

There is a strong need to develop new and powerful technical ways of solving the problems we have and to do it now before diminishing returns set in on our current efficiency based strategies to avoid climate disaster. Our conclusion is that the most sensible and eventually only route forward will be fundamental bottom up Pilzer first law[19] technical substitution. As correctly pointed out by Sir Richard Branson at the launch of the virgin Earth prize we must “come up with a way of removing lethal carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere” - Once equilibrium is reached our custodial role will then be to balance emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases with their sequestration so as to not follow a natural trend towards glaciation based on Milankovitch cycles. In this way we will mimic the role of nature throughout the Holocene that we have now substantially usurped.

The oil industry have woken up to the large amount of money that governments will spend on even remotely viable options for sequestering CO2 yet the cement industry with the obvious solutions in front of them cannot see the opportunity TecEco Gaia Engineering technologies represent yet it is likely at least equivalent funding would be available should the construction industry wake up.

M K Singh from India commented at the recent Cement Industry National Conference in Melbourne in relation to his country “we want the concrete industry to be the saviour of the world” [32] (Singh 2007) The cement and concrete industry don’t know it yet but will be the saviour of the world because it is the only industry with sufficiently large flows to reverse global carbon flows.

All involved have missed the obvious solution John Harrison of TecEco propose first announced by New Scientist Magazine on the 13th July, 2002 [33] (Pearce 2002). What Fred Pearce said then is even truer now “There is a way to make our city streets as green as the Amazon Forest. Almost every aspect of the built environment from bridges to factories to tower blocks, and from roads to sea walls, could be turned into structures that soak up carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas behind global warming. All we need to do it is the change the way we make cement.”

To be successful the solution to the carbon sequestration problem must be economic and produce saleable outcomes that have unlimited markets in size and over time otherwise it will not be implemented by business or the masses in the economic system given their short term view in imperfect markets, nor sequester sufficient carbon. Gaia Engineering is conceptually a simple solution based on geo and biomimicry that does all this and more. Depending on the front end process selected to create carbonate from sea water, brines or bitterns it has variable outputs of valuable salts or acids, carbonate building materials and cements to bind them as well as fresh water - all of which are saleable in very large quantities.

40 million gigatonnes or around 8% of the crust is carbonate sediment (See Figure 5) and this represents the major proportion of billions of years of natural permanent sequestration and durable structures have been built using this natural carbonate for thousands of years. The technology developed for Gaia Engineering mimics this natural process by sequestering carbon dioxide using salty water or bitterns as sources for calcium and magnesium carrier ions and further substitutes the major material flows on the planet by profitably putting the gas to use to make building materials for constructing the built environment. It is not a giant leap of faith from what we already know has worked in the past.

Gaia Engineering involves building with man made carbonate and wastes and John Harrison, TecEco’s managing director has developed enabling technologies including more sustainable and technically superior binders including Eco-Cement the flagship product which sets by absorbing CO2 and binds to almost anything[34]. A kiln is also under development by TecEco for making the binders required without releases and software for implementing the companies cement formulations is being written by a subsidiary company TecSoft Pty. Ltd.

Fig. 13 - Carbon Sinks and Anthropogenic Actual and Predicted Consumption of Carbon [35] (after Ziock and Harrison)[36]

Internalising external costs (accounting for externalities) is a huge problem not yet resolved by successive societies and the value of our “Natural Capital” remains unaccounted for and abused[37]. Aristotle said “For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual”[38]. The issue of looking after and therefore valuing the commons, first discussed by Plato, Aristotle’s teacher, continues as one of the main topics for debate amongst modern political philosophers and is far from resolved. A more recent book “The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin raised the problem in relation to the population debate, the ultimate cause of global warming[39]. The Easter Island and Norse Greenlanders are examples of societies that have collapsed through failure to properly value and conserve their natural capital and are documented by Jarrod Dimond in the popular book “Collapse”[40]. With the CO2 problem we are talking about the entire population of the earth not just islands. By converting CO2 to a resource the TecEco - Gaia Engineering strategy internalises the problem and solves the problem enunciated by Aristotle so long ago.

To achieve economies of scale with Gaia Engineering carbon taxes are useful but unnecessary in the long run because Gaia engineering is economic, produces saleable outcomes and has unlimited markets in size and over time. It is therefore feasible for businesses to adopt and the masses to accept given the short term view of both. Further more Gaia Engineering has the potential to sequester sufficient carbon. Gaia Engineering has inputs of waste acid, CO2, brine, seawater or bitterns and outputs of valuable salts, carbonate building materials and cements to bind them as well as in some configurations fresh water - all of which are saleable in very large quantities.

Around 7% of the crust is carbonate sediment and this represents the major proportion of billions of years of natural permanent sequestration and durable structures have been built using this natural carbonate for thousands of years. The technology developed by Gaia Engineering partners mimics this natural process by sequestering carbon dioxide using salty water or bitterns as sources for calcium and magnesium carrier ions and further substitutes the major material flows on the planet by profitably putting the gas to use to make building materials for constructing the built environment.

Fig. 14 - Gaia Engineering Flowchart

Although the Gaia Engineering process is simple in concept the detail is more complex and readers are invited to read a more technical explanation.

Humankind have built with everything from dung to mud, metal to timber, grass to gravel, plastic to cardboard. There is hardly a material that has not been tried and used throughout the millennia. Changing the physical basis of the economy (the techno-process) and building with man made carbonate and wastes should not therefore faze corporations and governments desperate for a fix to the global warming and waste problems. On the contrary TecEco bio/geomimicry solves the problems of global warming, water and waste and should excite industry as all are new markets in the sense that they represent new materials and methods paradigms. Gaia Engineering [41] is simply the most exciting, brilliant and necessary technology on the planet right now. What is more, compared to so called clean coal or nuclear it is potentially profitable and there are no downsides.

Change has never been a negative force in economies. On the contrary change will create and drive new business opportunities. Businesses must act now to fit into this new world and the role of governments is to provide the policy to bring about the fundamental shift in direction required including in the technology basis of our economy. A new replacement treaty for Kyoto is required that has a much longer term view, survives successive governments and provides for the management of the technical and cultural changes required for our long term survival on the planet. See Political Analysis

[1]Parkinson, G. (2008). A Kyoto Alternative: Warwick McKibben explains to Giles Parkinson why he doesn't support the Kyoto Protocol and suggests and alternative solution to Australia's climate change dilemma. Company Director.We support Prof McKibben because he understands the need for rapid technological change and that to achieve it price signals and R & D support are required. More can be found out about McKibben's ideas at www.sensiblepolicy.com, www.lowyinstitute.org or www.brookings.edu. Warwick McKibben's Home Page

[2] Lovelock, J. E. (1979). Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford University Press is a good read to understand the concepts of homeostasis as they apply to earth systems.

[3] The Whole Systems foundation http://www.whole-systems.org/

[4] See the Wiki definition at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeostasis#Ecological_homeostasis

[5] The greater the economic well being of a country the lower the population growth.

[6] Methane hydrates or clathrates are the likely fossil fuel of the future. See http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/oilgas/hydrates.

[7] di Fazio, A. The Fallacy of Pure Efficiency Gain Measures to Control Future Climate Change.

[8] The unit is an index number, set as base=100 in 1963. To obtain with good approximation the value in US$ (1990 value) multiply by 212.1 billion. Doubling time is approximately 17 years. Data: the World Bank; statistics : GDI World Physical Industrial Product

[9] Di Fazio does not discuss the affect of population growth on his equations, however it is obvious that WIP and emissions grow for two reasons, per capita industrialisation and growth in the population.

[10] TecEco and other Gaia Engineering partners advocate the production and use of man made carbonate on a massive scale for building and construction as a means of reducing the CO2 in the air.

[11] Torvanger A, Kallbekken S. and Rypdal K,:(2004) Prerequisites for Geological Carbon Storage as a Climate Policy Option, Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Norway.

[12] Dooley, J.J. and Wise, M.A.: 2002, Why injecting CO2 into various geological formation is not the same as climate change mitigation: The issue of leakage, Article presented at Sixth International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies, 1-4 October, Kyoto, Japan.

[13] Hawkins, D.G.: 2002, Passing gas: Policy implications of leakage from geologic carbon storage sites, Article presented at Sixth International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies, 1-4 October, Kyoto, Japan.

[14] Hepple, R.P. and Benson, S.M.: 2002, Implications of surface seepage on the effectiveness of geological storage of carbon dioxide as a climate mitigation strategy, Article presented at Sixth International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies, 1-4 October, Kyoto, Japan.

[15] CANA (2004). Carbon Leakage and Geosequestration, Climate Action Network Australia.

[16] Strahan, D. (2008). "Coal: Bleak outlook for the black stuff." New Scientist(2639).

[17] van Leeuwen, J. W. S. and P. Smith. "Nuclear power - the energy balance." Retrieved 25 July 2007, from http://www.stormsmith.nl/.

[18] Ford, M., A. Matysek, et al. (2006). Perspectives on International Climate Change. Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society 50th Annual Conference, Sydney, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

[19] Pilzer, P. Z. (1990). Unlimited Wealth - The Theory and Practice of Economic Alchemy, Crown Publishers.

[20] Simply put as the technology paradigm defines what is or is not a resource.

[21] As nature would teach us

[22] Schumpeter, J. A. (1954). History of Economic Analysis. New York, Oxford University Press.

[23] A book that seriously suggests carbon rationing is: Hillman, M. and T. Fawcett (2004). How We Can Save the Planet. London, Penguin Books.

[24] Hannam, P. (2000). Cement to crack with emissions trade. The Age. Melbourne: Business day section page 3.

[25] Amanda McCluskey was formerly manager in sustainability for Portfolio Partners in Melbourne and as of 9th July 2007 took up a new role as general manager, sustainability at the Commonwealth Bank. The concrete industry should note that even bankers are looking closely as environmental issues!

[26] The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy went to 20% of the population. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., "80% of your sales comes from 20% of your clients." See Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

[27] In Australia Labour has committed to a 60 % reduction from 1990 emission levels by the year 2050. The Liberal government says it will commit to a target, but not until after the next election. Elsewhere around the world the emissions targets called for by various politicians vary from achievable to impossible.

[28]Many geologists consider “geosequestration” unsafe - see earlier discussion on leakage.

[29] BP (2007). BP Statistical Review of World Energy, BP.

[30] Age, T. (2007). Call for a major green and global renovation rescue. The Age.

[31] ResearchandMarkets (2007). Zero and Low Emission Buildings.

[32] Singh, M. K. (2007). Indian Cement Industry Overview. Australian Cement Industry Driving CO2 Reduction National Conference, Melbourne.

[33] Pearce, F. (2002). "Green Foundations." New Scientist 175(2351): 39-40.

[34] Magnesium compounds bind well because of their strongly polar surfaces to any other surface that is or is potentially differentially charged.

[35] Ziock, H. J. and D. P. Harrison. "Zero Emission Coal Power, a New Concept." from http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/proceedings/01/carbon_seq/2b2.pdf

[36] Modified from Figure 2 in Ziock by the inclusion of a bar to represent sedimentary sinks

[37] Hawken, P., A. Lovins, et al. (2000). "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution."

[38] Aristotle (350 BC). Politics.

[39] Hardin, G. (1968). "The Tragedy of the Commons." Science 162: 1243-1248.

[40] Dimond, J. (2005). Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, Penguin.

[41] Gaia engineering is probably best described as a low energy bottom up economic solution to the world’s most pressing problem that will work because it profitably changes the fundamental flows that are damaging.