When will climate change and our survival as a species be talked about more than football, movies and other trivial human pursuits?
This memo is all about sparking the much needed
global "conversation" about what must be done to maximize the chances that humanity will survive beyond the 21st century. The question is: What must we do to maximize our chances of learning to live in harmony with nature?
In order for humanity to inflict the least amount of damage on the natural world, some of our greatest "big picture" scientists have suggested that we should all live in cities. Among them are Dr. James Lovelock and Dr. E.O. Wilson. As for the overall human lifestyle that would be acceptable to nature, Lovelock took it a step further with this statement ten years ago:
If the Earth improves because of our presence, then we will flourish. If it does not, then we will die off.
Following their lead, I have been suggesting that rather than trying to retrofit old, decaying cities in the USA, that we should design and build one ultra-efficient, futuristic, interconnected mega-city in which 300 million Americans could live comfortable and meaningful lives while actually helping to
improve the natural world
as opposed to what we're doing with our current civilization.
As for Dr. Lovelock's conclusion about our future, I ask...
No, she most definitely is not!
And that is exactly why we must urgently move toward what Dr. Rupert Read has labeled a "successor" civilization. And, with the OUTCRY we're now hearing from nature in the form of droughts, floods, fires, melting glaciers, storms, heat waves, dying oceans, declining bird and insect populations - to name just a few - we must develop and transition to that
civilization just as fast as physically possible.
We should also enlist the powerful support from those rapidly emerging AI-enabled cyborgs to help speed the process along while helping to make our newly designed habitat as green as it can possibly be.
Dr. Rupert Read, The University of East Anglia
Two years later, during the beginning of the "Greta" era, Dr. Read delivered a 72-minute lecture at Churchill College, University of Oxford on a similar topic. It was entitled:
In that talk, he stated that our current civilization was doomed and that one of these three outcomes would follow:
- Transformation of our current civilization.
- Creation of a totally-new "successor" civilization.
- The end. A total collapse.
Naturally, it was his second option, the "successor" set of living arrangements that caught my attention - since I had been promoting a similar idea since September of 2018.
I had originally called it GRATOLA, an acronym for
Green Region Atlanta to Los Angeles
, but after thinking more about the effect of climate change on that southern route, I concluded that a northern corridor would make a lot more sense.
Remember that this exercise is for the sole purpose of sparking the global "conversation"
regarding the need for a totally redesigned, ultra-efficient and sustainable way of living for humans. Our goal should be to develop an ultra-green habitat that can provide humans with comfortable and meaningful lives without destroying the biosphere that gives us life.
My original idea was that it would be a 2200-mile living corridor (ten miles wide) - with a 700 mph HyperLoop system down the middle and that it would be built across the southern part of the USA. It would be governed by the American Green Region Authority (AGRA) and would serve as a model that the rest of the world could emulate.
That first corridor was envisioned to be capable of housing up to 100 million people and would lead to two or three additional connecting corridors. This combined network would be able to house the entire population of the United States in an area smaller than the state of Oregon.
But my vision has changed. After realizing that rising temperatures will very likely render that southern route uninhabitable within a few more decades, I decided to pivot northward and suggest that our future, totally green, corridor should be from Seattle to Boston instead of from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
Along with a new vision comes a new acronym, GBN (Great Big Northern), which was inspired by the sheer
size and location of the corridor - and by my memory of the
Great Northern Railway
that I knew about from working at
during my college years at Auburn University.
With a cross-country length of 3,000 miles and a width of 25 miles, like the former GRATOLA vision, this single GBN mega-corridor across America would be capable of housing 300 million Americans in an area smaller than the state of Oregon.
Notice below that the envisioned GBN corridor follows the exact same route as that storied railroad for which it is named.
Naming the GBN HyperLoop System. In the interest of history and nostalgia, perhaps that massive, ultra-modern system down the middle of this world-changing corridor could be appropriately named the:
Great Northern Railway
This former railroad man thinks that would be very cool. Also, I am hoping to live long enough to be one of the first passengers. Related bit of history from Wikipedia:
The Great Northern Railway was the only successfully built, privately funded transcontinental railroad in U.S. history.
Reality Check. The GBN will not have some of the luxuries to which we are now accustomed, but it will offer a plethora of lifestyle amenities that will more than compensate for the wasteful and harmful elements of our current lifestyle. The way we are living now is a model that our great-grandchildren will think of as ancient history - almost like we adults today think of the days of the westward-bound covered wagons.
Importantly, as we now think of our forefathers' despicable treatment of the native Americans in the 19th century as being immoral and unforgivable - our great grandchildren will think similarly regarding our own reckless treatment of the precious biosphere that gives us life. So far, we have been terrible stewards of the only planet in the universe capable of keeping us alive.
Do you think I am delusional? I prefer to think that I am being totally rational regarding the disastrous situation in which we find ourselves. The vision I am describing about a futuristic, green living corridor, is presented here merely to spark a global
regarding the urgent need for us to totally reinvent the way we humans are living on this planet.
Just so you know, I am definitely NOT pretending to have all the answers - just some "big picture" ideas that the professionals can expand upon and take to the next level.
I wholeheartedly agree that we desperately need to develop a "successor" civilization as suggested by Dr. Read. As we move in that direction, I am convinced that our future as a species is riding on the actions we will take between now and 2030.
Our first step is just getting people to talk about it!
As evidenced by the fires and floods of late, the way we are living now is likely to be seriously disrupted by Mother Nature during the next few decades - so we best be taking cues from her in 2020 as we carefully plan exactly how we're going to live in the future.
It is time for ACTION, Nature Cannot Wait Much Longer
With that in mind, I recently asked Mother Nature to write the foreword for
our upcoming book
. Her message begins with these 78 words:
This message is addressed to the billions of human citizens who reside in the developed nations of planet Earth.
You may wonder why I am not sending this message to all humans who live here. It's because you in the developed world are the ones who have done most of the disruption of my efforts to sustain you; while the remaining three or four billion have done most of the suffering as a result of your reckless behavior.
More about the GBN. Over the next few weeks, I will be describing more of the envisioned details of how we might be able to save humanity. Hopefully, those ideas will help to spark that intensive
"global discussion" that we so desperately need.
As for that vision, I choose to believe that whatever can be envisioned using today's technology, is capable of being implemented. I believe this to be especially true now - just in time for the emerging new superpowers of artificial intelligence to do much of the "heavy lifting" when it comes to the final design and construction leading up the ribbon cutting of the first of thirty 100-mile sections.
The Greenest part of the GBN is, without a doubt, the 3,000-mile HyperLoop system that will eliminate over 90% of the automobiles, trucks, parking lots, roads, highways, and domestic airline flights in the USA.
Here are three stats to drive home the enormous impact that the ultra-efficient HyperLoop system will have on three grossly unsustainable elements of transportation in the USA:
- Currently, there are 275 million registered vehicles in the USA and about 250 million of them are parked at any given time. With the GBN, that vast acreage of parking lots, driveways and garages can be totally returned to nature.
- There are 41 million miles of roads or highways in the USA and, with the coast-to-coast HyperLoop system along with shared vehicles, trams and bicycles - most of those roads and vehicles can be recycled.
- With 90% of all Americans living in a single, highly efficient corridor - domestic air travel will eventually be unnecessary in the lower 48 of the USA.
What about international air travel? In the early days of the GBN, I see travelers using one of three airports: SEA, ORD or BOS. But what happens to Logan airport when it is inoperable due to flooding several times a year?
It will be time to close the airport permanently.
Like the three NYC area airports, Boston Logan sits just slightly above sea level. As such, with waters steadily rising, it simply makes no sense to continue investing in infrastructure that could very well be underwater in less than fifty years - whether they be airports, subways, bridges, roads, buildings or power stations.
In the GBN scenario, when Logan is flooded too often to justify remaining open, it would be be permanently closed. By 2040, folks needing to fly internationally would simply take the two-hour HyperLoop ride to ORD in Chicago.
Flooding in Tunnel near Logan in April of 2017
Willy-Nilly improvements? Without a grand plan driven by a highly efficient, futuristic idea like the GBN, every country will resort to what I call "willy-nilly" planet stewardship when it comes to urgently trying to retrofit old infrastructure with slightly greener versions.
Remember my earlier message about trying to convert a donkey into a spaceship? Ain't gonna happen.
I fear that we will consume all of our time, energy, creativity and capital on those sub-optimal lifestyle solutions unless we have some kind of "big picture" plan for how we can survive and thrive in harmony with nature.
Let's start putting our brains and our money into a civilization that can truly save us and not into projects like the one shown below in Manhattan.
The city of New York spent ten billion dollars and 45 years to add just three stops to one subway line. I have used that subway line and can report that both the trains and the facilities are excellent - but a very poor use of time and money in a neighborhood that could very well be underwater in less than 50 years.
The Bottom Line.
Doing more recycling, eliminating meat & dairy, lowering many categories of consumption, taking public transportation and avoiding air travel are all steps that individuals can take immediately to help slow climate change - and maybe we can even slow it enough for something like the GBN to be designed and built.
Importantly, if we start making great progress in that direction with our own futuristic, big-picture plan, other countries will follow our lead.
For the best chance of longterm survival for our species, it is my sincere conclusion that we must reinvent almost every element of the way we live in the developed world. As we go about that process, there will no doubt be many people who will choose to not move to the GBN - at least until their current world turns into an uninhabitable hell on Earth.
If you find yourself saying that you could NEVER give up eating meat, or other unsustainable aspects of your luxurious lifestyle that will not be allowed in the totally green, futuristic, GBN corridor - just remember that no one will be forced to live there.
As for the necessity of planning and building the greenest possible way to live, just keep this conclusion in mind:
We're only going to get one chance to get this right - so we had best err on the side of learning to live even "greener" than Mother Nature demands.
Finally, let's commit ourselves to making the 2020s the decade that future historians will record as being the breakthrough era when humans came to their senses, leveraged their resources and the awesome power of AI to dramatically reinvent their entire civilization - and, in so doing, turned the corner on climate change.
All the children of the world deserve nothing less!
PS: You may be wondering how you can help promote the never-ending search for a way to save our species. You can get me in front of some audiences who you think might be ready to hear about the long-overdue, global "conversation" about our survival.
As always, I am simply trying to spark the global conversation about what is needed. By sharing a vision of what I believe is possible, I hope to influence others to think bigger, better and bolder.
To see the latest on our 2020 book, OUTCRY, now being written, scroll to the bottom of my home page at:
As for speaking, I continue to search for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future - and their role in making that vision come true.
As such, I will travel anywhere for an opportunity to speak to one or more groups in each city that I visit. I will create a custom presentation for each audience and I only ask for travel expense reimbursement and a modest honorarium.
In the months ahead, I will continue to focus on the urgent need for a totally reinvented greening of our civilization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next fifty years.