Club of Amsterdam Journal, October 2021, Issue 236

Journals Archive
Journals – Main Topics
The Future Now Shows



Lead Article

Climate disaster viewed from different angles
By Konstantin Müller, CEO, EduMedia AG, Basel/Switzerland

Article 01

World Nuclear Performance Report 2021
By World Nuclear Association

The Future Now Show

Global Food
with Tony Hunter and Felix Bopp

Article 02

The Futuristic Farms That Will Feed the World
By Freethink

News about the Future

> Deep Green - Underwater Kite
> City Intelligence Lab (CIL), Vienna

Article 03

Bjorn Lomborg Declares “False Alarm” on Climate Hysteria
With Hoover Institution

Recommended Book

Silent Earth
By Dave Goulson

Article 04

A New Accounting & Taxation Paradigm
By Leif Thomas Olsen, Master of Philosophy & Master of International Relations

Climate Change Success Story

Reforestation Projects
By Tree-Nation

Futurist Portrait

Alex Steffen
Planetary Futurist

Accounting, Agriculture, Agrifood, Anthropocene, Artificial Intelligence,
Climate Catastrophe, Climate Change, Corona, Culture, FOOD, Gnostics,
Health, Nature, Nuclear Energy, Ocean Energy, Reforestation,
Sustainable Development Goals, Taxes, TECHNOLOGY

Club of Amsterdam Search
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Felix B Bopp

Website statistics:

Visits January 2021 - September 2021: 259,000

Bjorn Lomborg: “We need to invest dramatically in green energy, making solar panels so cheap that everybody wants them. Nobody wanted to buy a computer in 1950, but once they got cheap, everyone bought them.”

Alex Steffen: "Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better. In fact, these days, cynicism is obediencer."

Sama Bilbao y León: "Nuclear energy has the potential to contribute a lot more than just electricity generation. Almost uniquely among low-carbon energy sources, nuclear energy can supply heat as well as electricity. This can be in the form of district heating, something that is already carried out with a number of PWRs today. Advanced nuclear reactors could be used to produce high temperature process heat to replace fossil fuel use today. This could help decarbonize all kinds of industrial applications, including the production of synthetic fuels and hydrogen." January 2021

Lead Article

Climate disaster viewed from different angles
By Konstantin Müller, CEO EduMedia AG, Basel/Switzerland

In recent years we have dealt with the concept of climate catastrophe. In this article, the term climate catastrophe is to
be considered from the point of view of very different perspectives and worldviews. Its purpose is to show that this
topic, depending on the point of view from which you look at it, has very different meanings. We are used to having the
climate catastrophe explained mostly from a political and scientific point of view and their logic. But it is very
instructive to take a look at the words of world-famous poets or wise men on the subject. Or to find out what
astronomy has to say about it. And then suddenly thoughts and attempts at explanation arise that go as far as the
spiritual approaches of the Gnostics. Since 2020, in addition to the climate catastrophe, humanity has also been
concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has already been speculated which catastrophe will cause more people to
die? A connection between the two events has not yet been found.

The climate catastrophe, a very serious issue that has not yet been resolved, is not so easy to bring under one roof. The topic urges us to think more complexly and to act according to our state of consciousness in such a way that we can
live in harmony with nature and its laws.

A voice from poetry says:


Before the throne of freedom, the trees rejoice with the frolicsome breeze and enjoy the rays of the sun and the beams
of the moon. Through the ears of freedom the birds whisper, and around freedom they flutter to the music of brooks.
Throughout the sky of freedom the flowers breathe their fragrance, and before freedom`s eyes they smile when the day

Everything lives on earth according to the law of nature, and from that law emerges the glory and joy of liberty.
Yet humanity denied itself this fortune, because it set for the God-given soul a limited and earthly law of its own.
It made for itself strict rules and built a narrow and painful prison in which it secluded humanity`s affections and desires.
It dug out a deep grave in which it buried humanity`s heart and purpose.
If individuals, through the dictates of their souls, declare their withdrawal from society and violate the law, their fellows
will say they are rebels worthy of exile or infamous creatures worthy only of execution.
Will people remain slaves of self-confinement until the end of the world?
Or will they be freed by the passing of time and live in the spirit and for the spirit?
Will they insist upon starring downward and backward at the earth?
Or will they turn their eyes toward the sun so they will not see the shadow of their bodies amongst the skulls and

These words come from Khalil Gibran (Lebanese poet).

What does science and logic mean?

The geologists of our planet define our age as the Anthropocene, which means that in this geological age,
humans alone determine the world. And this for about 12,000 years. Wow, around 11,800 years Nature
ruled the planet with its laws. The earth was inhabited by native tribes and communities who worshiped
nature and lived absolutely in accordance with the laws of nature. But even in the times of the powerful
peoples in East and West with their enormous drive to conquer, the law of nature prevailed.

But since the recent past about 200 years ago, human existence has completely changed. With the rise of
the industrial revolution about 200 years ago, humans increasingly lost touch with nature. Yes, he knew
how to correct nature, tried to control it in many areas and gradually the respect for nature was lost. So the
knowledge about sustainability, protection of flora and fauna has gradually disappeared. But can we
actually prove that these last 200 years of the technical age with all its advantages and achievements are
solely responsible for today's climate crisis (global warming)? Let's put this 1.6% time of the industrial
revolution in relation to the last 12,000 years and think about it.

Of course, we have to ask ourselves the question: "What are we doing wrong and how can we all contribute
together to perhaps steer against nature in the better direction."

And in the midst of this critical situation with the climate catastrophe, in which at the beginning of the
consciousness mainly the youth rebelled and the politicians urged to finally do something, comes the global
shock with COVID-19. In one fell swoop there is only 1 topic in the world: the COVID-19 pandemic.

So is the climate catastrophe over?

In Berlin the following slogans were painted on the street: "MORE DEADLY THAN CORONA: CLIMATE
CATASTROPHE". In 2020, the world's population was suddenly confronted with two very different but deadly
threats. In a nutshell, the renowned climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said in the context of
corona and climate catastrophe: “Anyone who carelessly passes the virus on is endangering the lives of their
grandparents; anyone who carelessly releases CO2 is endangering the life of their grandchildren."

And in the German-Czech-Slovak online magazine of the Goethe Institute you could read the following on
this topic: “The virus doesn't care whether a person is old or young, poor or rich. The same applies to the
climate. And in both cases the global south is particularly vulnerable. What does the pandemic teach us
about the fight against climate change?"

There were also some movements in European politics in 2020 in the context of climate catastrophe and
COVID-19 pandemic: The Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD) is an established annual meeting that enables
countries to have constructive exchanges in an informal atmosphere on the most pressing issues regarding
international climate action.

In April 2020 the PCD XI was co-hosted by the German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature
Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Svenja Schulze, and the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and
Industrial Strategy and designated COP26 President, Alok Sharma. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the
PCD was convened as a series of video conferences.

Over 30 climate ministers and high-level representatives, including the United Nations Secretary General,
the German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaking on behalf
of Prime Minister Boris Johnson (via video message) met via video call.

A number of participants said that even during the COVID-19 crisis, climate change cannot be stopped.
Almost all participants confirmed that the previous and current decline in emissions is insufficient. This also
made it clear that the decisions made now will have a major impact on future emission paths.

The most important demands of the conference in a nutshell:
• Economic recovery plans need to be aligned with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development
Goals. Investments made now need to pave the way towards climate-neutral and resilient economies
and the effective protection of nature and biodiversity, and at th
me same time address the social dimension
of the crisis by promoting quality green jobs. Support for firms should enable them to make a just transition
towards climate neutrality.
• For the recovery to be successful, it needs to happen worldwide. Multilateralism, international
cooperation and support for developing countries is needed more than ever, with the fulfilment of the 100
billion USD climate finance mobilization goal by 2020 building the needed trust to this end.

How does astronomy see the whole thing?

The science of astronomy or astronomy has been actively lived for about 3000 years. It deals with the
universe and its stars and uses scientific means to research the positions, movements and properties of
objects in the universe, i.e. the celestial bodies, interstellar matter and the radiation occurring in space.

In 1932, the American physicist Karl Guthe Janksky discovered that our center of the galaxy was sending
radio waves to our planet. Radio astronomy was founded. The expression arose: The energy beam from the
center of the galaxy hits planet earth.

Our center of the galaxy is in the constellation Sagittarius. To date it is not clear what generates this
incredibly strong radiation, because the source of this electromagnetic radiation is so strong that it can
travel light years to our solar system and the earth. Of course, our sun is also a source of radio waves, and it
is believed that there may be a connection between the strong radiation from the center of the galaxy and
the radiation from our sun.

Changes observed again and again in all planets of our solar system and in particular our planet earth could
be registered. For us, this is noticeable through a strong transformation and natural disasters. The best
example is the inexplicable weakening of our magnetic field. The magnetic poles are starting to move and
some experts are warning that a catastrophic pole shift is imminent. Although impossible according to the
valid rules of physics, subatomic particles from 3.7 billion light years could be shot to Earth, measured in
the ice mass of the Antarctic.

There is no agreement at all as to whether this continuous bombardment of targeted strong radio radiation
on the earth could have any effects. Astronomy has researched it intensively over the past few decades
and, under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute, with the help of a network of 13 radio telescopes,
was able to confirm the following: An incredibly powerful beam of radio waves comes straight from the
supermassive black hole of Sagittarius A *, the center of our galaxy. The beam comes from a tiny area and is
precisely aimed at our planet earth! Since this inexplicable ray is aimed directly at our little planet, it cannot
be a coincidence, but an intelligently controlled process!

The researchers are at a loss and only think that the continuously symmetrical beam poses no danger to us.
But what is its job and what produces it? However Astronomers believe, that the intelligent beam is not
directed by some bizarre coincidence to the only planet in the galaxy where they believe intelligent life can
be found in the form of people who were able to develop the necessary technology to watch this ray!
Our solar system is in a spiral arm on the edge of our Milky Way and there are billions of other stars and
star systems in the galaxy, so why was Earth chosen?

Since 2007 there have been 60 super-fast and mysterious radio flashes (Fast Radio Burst) , which only occur
for milliseconds and bombard the earth. In the past two months, a total of 13 new radio flashes have been
discovered by the CHIME radio telescope in British Columbia, Canada. Among them was a lightning bolt
that was on the wavelength of 400 megahertz, which is the lowest frequency measured so far, this radio
lightning even occurred six times in a row! The six times recurring radio flashes always came from the same
area of the sky from a point about 1.5 billion light years away from us. The fast radio flashes do not come
from our galaxy, but are of extragalactic origin and embedded in a strong magnetic field that is similar to
the one that can be measured around the gigantic black hole in the center of our own galaxy. In one
millisecond, as much energy is required as our sun produces in 24 hours.

So who could say that these cosmic radio flashes do not affect our nature and our life on earth?

And what about the Gnostics?

In short, it should be mentioned that the gnostics and whistleblowers of a secret space program and these
ancient traditions report that we are now at the cyclical end of a world age in which a strong
transformation will take place, triggered by the galactic central sun and other cosmic phenomena will. This
transformation is intended to usher in an end time in which, in addition to strong external changes on our
planet, important internal changes are also to come in humans. It is said to be a spiritual harvest through
which a spiritual ascent becomes possible.

Ultimately what does astrology say?

The Aquarian period holds completely new possibilities in store for the earth and its inhabitants. The
universe influences life on earth. Electromagnetic fields fill the universe; Stars and planets emit radiation.
Nothing and nobody can evade them, and humans have to react to them too. Because the human body
consists in principle of the same building blocks as the earth, the planets and the stars.

This creates a close connection between man and the heavenly bodies. The movements of the stars change
the influences, and the cosmic radiation affects all people, directly or indirectly through breathing and food.
The current new radiation conditions due to the dawning Aquarian Age generate a general increase in
vibrations on earth, which is already evident in the changes in many environmental and natural processes -
but above all in human behavior. The energies that are released by Uranus, Neptune and Pluto play a
special role.

In the Universal Wisdom Doctrine, all planets embody divine principles, forces and laws. The so-called
mystery planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are of particular importance. They are located beyond the
"Gate of Saturn", ie beyond the planetary sphere of our solar system that has been known from ancient
times. The mystery planets were only discovered one after the other in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries
and are therefore relevant for humanity. They are considered esoteric transmitter of energies outside of
our solar system, which will shape the basis of life on earth in the future.

Final thoughts

As an author, I see a picture in my mind consisting of 5 spheres that circulate freely floating in space. Each
ball is transparent in a different color from the other balls. Yes, symbolically, it could be soap bubbles that
sometimes come together, but stick but do not unite. But what they have in common is that they all float in
the same space.

Perhaps every sphere contains a partial truth or just one aspect in itself, delimited in its shell. But as a
whole, the 5 partial truths could perhaps result in an overall context that cannot simply be put into words
or grasped in a logical way with the mind.

Could it be that using our five senses at the same time gives us a clearer answer?

Example: We see and smell nature. We hear, taste and feel it. In rough weather, go outside in the rain and
wind without protection and you have completely captured them.

Back to our planet earth

“Our lifestyle dramatically influences the world of animals and plants and yet we behave as if our everyday
life had nothing to do with the states of the world. We are sleepwalkers. We neither know what we are
doing nor in which direction we are going. The future of every form of life, including ours, depends on
conscious steps. And yet, everyone can do something to protect and heal the planet. We have to live in a
world that gives our children and grandchildren a future. Our life will be our message.”

These statements are from Tich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Buddhist monk, writer and poet).

© 2021 Konstantin Müller

Konstantin Müller is an entrepreneur and engineer and worked as an author and editor of specialist magazines and textbooks at a young age. In addition to important consulting mandates with global corporations, he reads and hikes and regenerates himself through meditations.


Article 01

World Nuclear Performance Report 2021
By World Nuclear Association


Director General's Preface

In 2020, nuclear reactors supplied 2553 TWh of electricity, down from 2657 TWh in 2019. In any other year an almost four percent decline in nuclear generation would be an unequivocal disappointment. However, in 2020, with overall electricity demand falling by around 1% and nuclear reactors increasingly being called upon to provide load-following support to the increased share of variable renewable generation, the resilience and flexibility shown by the global nuclear fleet tell a very positive story.

Despite some reactors curtailing generation to account for reduced demand or to offer load-following services, the global capacity factor in 2020 was still high at 80.3%, down from 83.1% in 2019, but maintaining the high performance seen over the last 20 years.

At the end of 2020 there were 441 operable nuclear reactors, with a combined capacity of 392 GWe. This total capacity has remained almost unchanged for the last three years. Five new reactors started up, but this increase in capacity was countered by the closure of six reactors. Between 2018 and 2020 there have been 26 reactors permanently shutdown with a total capacity of 20.8 GWe, compared to 20 new reactors starting up, with a total capacity of 21.3 GWe.

The IPCC recently published the first part of its Sixth Assessment Report. This report confirmed what we have known for many years - global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall fast if we are to have any chance of limiting the effects of climate change to manageable levels.
With global electricity demand expected to rebound sharply, there is a real risk that greenhouse gas emissions will do so as well, as they did following the recovery from the economic collapse in 2008.

More than half of the reactors permanently shutdown in the last few years have done so not because of technical limitations, but because of political phase-out policies or the failure of markets to adequately recognize the value of low carbon reliable nuclear power. This is a loss of low-carbon generation that the world can ill-afford to squander.

However, there are promising signs for nuclear. Already in 2021 we have seen four new reactors connected to the grid and construction started on seven new reactors, although two reactors have permanently shutdown.

It is vital that nuclear generation bounces back further and faster, helping displace fossil fuels, thus avoiding a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions. The operation of the existing nuclear fleet must be maximized and extended as long as feasible, and the pace and scale of new nuclear construction must increase.

Sama Bilbao y León
Director General
World Nuclear Association

Download the report

Nuclear energy's contribution to net-zero and the sustainable development goals


The EU will invest €300 million in nuclear energy research in 2021 as part of Euratom, the EU's five-year €1.38 billion programme, with a third of the funding this year - €102 million - going to push forward nuclear fusion. ... “This is due to the majority of the funds now being allocated to fusion.”


The Future Now Show

Global Food
with Tony Hunter and Felix Bopp

Ensuring food companies can cope with exponentially changing food technologies to survive, profit and gain a competitive advantage. People are by nature linear but technology is exponential and we need to embrace exponential technologies. Tony is a Global Strategic Foresight consultant, Futurist, Food Scientist and Speaker specialising in alternative proteins and the Future of Food.






Tony Hunter
Food Futurist at Future Cubed, Australia

Felix B Bopp
Club of Amsterdam

The Future Now Show

You can find The Future Now Show also at

LinkedIn: The Future Now Show Group
YouTube: The Future Now Show Channel

Producer of The Future Now Show: Felix B Bopp


Article 02

The Futuristic Farms That Will Feed the World | Freethink
By Freethink


How efficient farming in the Netherlands is producing 20 times more food with 1/4 the water and the most sustainable agriculture systems in the world.

Amidst climate change, a growing population, and people consuming more of less sustainable food, how will we feed our future world? The answer may not be increasing resources -- land, water, and employees -- but rather improving production ef ficiency to create more sustainable farming of crops. The key question: How do we increase the amount of food we produce while using the same or fewer resources?

The Sustainable Development Roadmap from an Unexpected Superpower:

When it comes to scaling agricultural production sustainably, one small country has a very large impact. Bolstered by a national commitment to produce twice the amount of food with half the resources, the Netherlands has become the world’s #2 produce exporter. The close collaboration between the government, science organizations and the food industry have driven impressive innovation and an efficiency that’s unmatched anywhere else in the world.

On a normal open-field tomato farm, one could expect 4 kilograms of yield per square meter. In a high-tech greenhouse in the Netherlands, that number shoots up to 80 kilograms of yield per square meter, with 4X less water. That’s a 20X improvement on output! And it’s not just tomatoes -- the Dutch are #1 in the world on producing chilis, green peppers, and cucumbers (measured by yield per square mile). With conservation and sustainable food as two of the most important global issues, could other countries copy their approach to help save the earth?

Sustainable Farming Practices Driven by AI

What is sustainability driven by? The technology behind these greenhouses allows for an extreme level of control over water, light, temperature, and CO2 -- all of which are finely tuned and optimized. Constant testing on countless variables is what drives these facilities and could be the future of our planet’s sustainable food systems. Tests can be as simple as comparing different hues of LEDs to increase tolerance against pests, or as advanced as a moth-killing drone.

In addition, eco friendly technology is simply getting better. More and more, efficient farming is becoming automated, using artificial intelligence to find the optimal conditions. By learning the behaviors of plants, climate computers can adjust conditions far better than a human.

Scaling Efficient Farming: It’s All About Knowledge Sharing

The Netherlands is not just thinking about the Netherlands. Besides leveraging technology in efficient ways, these innovators are exploring how to use their findings on a greater scale. For example, their greenhouses emulate climates across the world in order to optimize growth outside of the country. As they learn about what’s optimal in Columbia, for example, they can then transfer that knowledge and help build sustainable food systems across the earth. This level of big picture thinking could be a game-changer as we tackle global warming and climate change - one of society's greatest challenges in the coming years.






News about the Future

> Deep Green - Underwater Kite
> City Intelligence Lab (CIL), Vienna

Deep Green - Underwater Kite

Minesto’s marine energy technology, called Deep Green, generates electricity from low-flow tidal streams and ocean currents by a unique and patented principle similar to a stunt kite flying in the wind.

The wing uses the hydrodynamic lift force created by the underwater current to move the kite. With onboard control system and rudders, the kite is autonomously steered in a pre-determined figure of eight, pushing the turbine through the water. By doing so, the turbine experiences a water flow several times higher than the actual stream speed.

The turbine diffuse power to the generator which outputs electricity via power cable in the tether. Seabed umbilical transfers the electricity to the onshore connection.

City Intelligence Lab (CIL), Vienna

The City Intelligence Lab (CIL) is an interactive digital platform to explore novel forms and techniques for the urban development practice of the future. As incubator for intelligent solutions the lab fosters the co-creation of digital urban planning workflows and processes, applying augmented reality and interactive design interfaces to create simulations, generative design and artificial intelligence solutions.

The CIL is part of the Digital Resilient Cities Competence Unit anchored in the Center for Energy of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. It enables the use of complex data for crucial urban planning decisions and allows new planning experiences through the use of AI, e.g for rapid urban planning prototypes, addressing citizens, city authorities, real estate developers as well as all sorts of urban practitioners.

The CIL’s facilities include its meeting space, with interactive projection walls and augmented models that create an enhanced collaborative planning environment as well as an AI-driven urban planning framework, which combines real-time simulation prediction and generative design to enable the exploration of unprecedentedly large design spaces and serve as a powerful decision support platform.



Article 03

Bjorn Lomborg Declares “False Alarm” on Climate Hysteria
With Hoover Institution


Copenhagen Consensus Center

Bjorn Lomborg, President and Founder.

The Copenhagen Consensus was conceived to address a fundamental, but overlooked topic in international development: In a world with limited budgets and attention spans, we need to find effective ways to do the most good for the most people.

” Bjorn Lomborg’s work with the Copenhagen Consensus is a vital, solution-oriented contribution to the economics of global warming – and the many other problems facing a growing planet.” - Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine

False Alarm
How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet
by Bjorn Lomborg

The New York Times-bestselling “skeptical environmentalist” argues that panic over climate change is causing more harm than good

Hurricanes batter our coasts. Wildfires rage across the American West. Glaciers collapse in the Artic. Politicians, activists, and the media espouse a common message: climate change is destroying the planet, and we must take drastic action immediately to stop it. Children panic about their future, and adults wonder if it is even ethical to bring new life into the world.

Enough, argues bestselling author Bjorn Lomborg. Climate change is real, but it’s not the apocalyptic threat that we’ve been told it is. Projections of Earth’s imminent demise are based on bad science and even worse economics. In panic, world leaders have committed to wildly expensive but largely ineffective policies that hamper growth and crowd out more pressing investments in human capital, from immunization to education.

False Alarm will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong — and points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all.



Recommended Book

Silent Earth
By Dave Goulson

Averting the Insect Apocalypse

We have to learn to live as part of nature, not apart from it. And the first step is to start looking after the insects, the little creatures that make our shared world go round.

Insects are essential for life as we know it. As they become more scarce, our world will slowly grind to a halt; we simply cannot function without them. Drawing on the latest ground-breaking research and a lifetime's study, Dave Goulson reveals the shocking decline of insect populations that has taken place in recent decades, with potentially catastrophic consequences. He passionately argues that we must all learn to love, respect and care for our six-legged friends.

Eye-opening, inspiring and riveting, Silent Earth is part love letter to the insect world, part elegy, part rousing manifesto for a greener planet. It is a call to arms for profound change at every level - in government policy, agriculture, industry and in our own homes and gardens. Although time is running out, it is not yet too late for insect populations to recover. We may feel helpless in the face of many of the environmental issues that loom on our horizon, but Goulson shows us how we can all take simple steps to encourage insects and counter their destruction.


Dave Goulson

I study the ecology, behaviour and conservation of bumblebees. I'm also interested in pollinators and pollination more generally, and particularly in the sustainable management of pollinators in agro-ecosystems. My group uses a broad range of approaches, from genetic studies (of inbreeding, population structure, and as a means of estimating nest density) to behavioural assays to large-scale field trials. In recent years we have become heavily involved in studies of the impacts of pesticides on bumblebees. We are also involved in various “Citizen Science” projects as a mechanism to involve large numbers of people in conservation and in science more generally, and also as a means for gathering large data sets.

My bestselling popular science book about bumblebees, A Sting in the Tale, has proved to be a great way to build popular interest in bees and their conservation. Since then I have published A Buzz in the Meadow (2014), Bee Quest (2017), The Garden Jungle (2019), and Gardening for Bumblebees (2021). Silent Earth is due for publication in August 2021 (September in USA). So far my books have been translated into 17 languages and have sold more than half a million copies.


Article 04

A New Accounting & Taxation Paradigm
By Leif Thomas Olsen, Master of Philosophy & Master of International Relations

Or How Resource Consumption Tax Can Replace Profit- and Income Tax

Why do we have such large forest fires and devastating floods at the same time? How come temperatures are souring well above our comfort-levels in places like Canada and Siberia? How come billions of tons of ice melt in Greenland in one single day? How come global emissions do not go down in spite of a pandemic that put millions of people out of work? We all know too well why. We have disrupted the eco-system we are part of. But what do we do about it? Almost nothing. The incentives for individual change are simply not there. This article discusses how such incentives can be designed and eventually implemented.

A New Accounting & Taxation Paradigm

The Kyoto Protocol from 1997, UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development from 2015 and the COP 21 Paris Agreement from 2016 are all based on Governments' commitments to reduce national emissions. Commitments that in the end nobody could (or wanted to) live up to. Now, as described in CoA's lead article from June 2021 (titled For the EU's 'Green Deal' to succeed, economic theory must take into account qualitative growth) the authors, referring to EU, argue that (quote):

Under the Green Deal's ecological constraints, economic growth can be achieved by increasing the quality of products and services - but only if it's taken into account. Qualitative growth is essentially a process of increasing information and complexity of an economy without use of natural resources.
[…] Under such constraints, firms will find it difficult to grow in the classical sense by manufacturing more products. They must therefore seek to innovate and create products of higher quality and, ultimately, complexity. Simply put, firms will create information and complexity - for example, the aesthetic dimension of artifacts, including buildings and cities, art, culture, health care and medicine, food, intelligent travel. It will be the creative effort of firms and governments that will produce qualitative growth."

Sounds intelligent enough. But how can it be achieved? Even if a governing body like the EU suggests it should be like that, what will actually change the behaviour of actors? Can simply requesting millions of independent actors to change behaviour really turn the collective tide? What if just one actor fails to comply? Will it matter? How many must comply in order to make it work? And how can that critical mass be made to comply? In their article the authors suggest that EU's answer be a new way of measuring growth (ibid).

If economic theory fails to understand quality and to promote its measurement, then it will lose its role in supporting decision-making. Major efforts for arriving at a sustainable economy will be frustrated by naively, and falsely, concluding that an otherwise flourishing, highly qualitative economy be in recession. If we want to achieve sustainable growth under the constraint that consumption is independent from the use of natural resources, we should move along the path of qualitative growth. This implies that quality improvement be considered genuine growth. If economics has to play a role in supporting decision-making, it must understand qualitative development and be able to measure qualitative growth.

But how can such measurements be scaled down from aggregate to individual actors' level. No one makes up an aggregate by themselves. Everybody does. So why should I contribute at my own peril if nobody else does? It will not make any difference on the aggregated level anyway. No, if we are to see a wave of behavioural change, we must first see a wave of new incentives promoting such behavioural change. Any one's individual effort shall be worthwhile, even if nobody else makes any. Then everybody will rush to be the first to change, to 'profit' from the head-start they then will get.

This article is about how such incentives can be created.

On the link we can read that:

[Accounting] is a systematic process of identifying, recording, measuring, classifying, verifying, summarizing, interpreting and communicating financial information. It reveals profit or loss for a given period, and the value and nature of a firm's assets, liabilities and owners' equity.

If 'quality' is now going to be a decisive factor, quality must also matter to the individual's bottom line. Our world is currently driven by quantity. If it shall be driven by quality, we must measure and reward that on the individual actor's level. But what a particular market claims to be quality (a Rolls Royce?) may not be what society as a collective considers quality (a train!). Most companies know how to put together, read, and analyse Profit and Loss Accounts and Balance Sheets. And most individuals can tell the difference between incomes, savings, and debts. So why not use this format when creating the necessary incentives?

Profit and Loss Accounts are, as we know them, part of what is called creative accounting. We start from the back, i.e. how much or little profit we want to account for, moving upwards in the P&L Account to balance the turnover we have already recorded in our VAT-accounting records. The driving factors are corporate tax and dividends.

The problem is that we do not account for costs we generate but society at large carry for us, like shortages of water, clean air, or a lack of prosperous futures for people. Nor do we account for benefits we create that is not part of our core business - such a employees' quality of life. So our P&L Accounts are nothing but fiction. We all know that, but we expect nothing else. All our incentives are built around this line of thinking, so no individual measures will make anything but a small dent in our collective behaviour. Our current incentives actually work against the necessary behavioural change.

It is important to put this issue in context. Taxation (and its underlying number-crunching we call accounting), is often treated as a stand-alone topic. It is often taken for granted that accounting and taxation are already finally and ultimately defined components of society and life; that the roles they play are given and that the only thing experts need to do is to refine them to become even more efficient instruments within the scope of these already defined roles.

Accounting as a precondition for taxation

Since accounting intends to carefully and meticulously record all the in- and output variables generated by the production and sale of goods and services, in turn being the ultimate cornerstone for taxation, is corporate accounting equally important to the enterprise's owners (using it to understand how to maximise profits) as to the state (using it to calculate tax revenues for the common good of the general public). Without corporate accounting the state would not only be unable to levy corporate taxes, it would also not be able to levy income taxes on individuals, since nobody would know how much each individual earned.

In other words: Without corporate accounting there can be no modern-day taxation; Without taxation there can be no common good; Without common good there can be no society. But - and that is what this paper is all about - what are we actually recording in our accounting processes, and what are we actually levied taxes for consuming or doing - and why?

Most of you reading this article probably know what is included in both the Profit and Loss Account and the Balance Sheet, them being the core documents in the world of accounting. For those who do not, I can sum it up as follows: the Profit and Loss Account summarises the monies we pay for those items and resources we use in the production process, and those monies we receive for selling the end-products, while the Balance Sheet records the assessed value of the physical and financial capital that we use in the production process. It is here important to recognise that we talk about monies paid or received, and values assessed. Resources used but not paid for (e.g. clean air), output for which we do not get paid (e.g. waste) and values never assessed in monetary terms (e.g. happiness), are not included.

The level of sophistication in terms of how to specify these monies (i.e. costs and revenues) and capital (i.e. assets and liabilities), has step-by-step increased to a point where lay people can no longer understand such documents. It has been elevated to a science in its own right.

National accounting, being the flipside of this coin - supposedly reporting on how tax revenues (for which corporate accounting serves as a revenue-calculator) are being used - applies a very different structure. In the state's Profit and Loss Account are revenues not linked to the items for which the costs are reported. Likewise are assets and liabilities in the national Balance Sheet not well specified - but primarily reported as either financial or non-financial. This means that corporate accounting and national accounting are not comparable on anything but aggregated levels. Once again, the state incorrectly assumes that aggregated data and collective supervision shall entice the individual actor. This is why tax planning is such a common by-product of accounting. But with a new taxation paradigm, blockchain accounting and smart contracts, there could be a way to change all this.

A new taxation paradigm

This paper takes the 2008 version of the Standard National Accounts (SNA 2008) outlines for the national account's Balance Sheet as a key reference-format but draws specifically on its EU-developed application called ESA 2010. However, the overhaul of the accounting frame-work - and hence basis for taxation - suggested in this article aims at recording all the resources that corporate and/or institutional (and if/when possible, also individual) activities consume or value; whether paid for or not, whether currently assessed in monetary value or not. This, therefore, includes not only the resources procured through different markets, but also resources obtained from the commons, for which no payments are made in spite of the fact that its consumption reduces (to a smaller or larger extent) others' opportunity to consume the same resources. The only institutional level where such resources can be accounted for prior to its allocation and subsequent consumption is the national level. If the national account's Balance Sheet record such assets, its consumption by any member of the society - whether corporate, institutional, or private - that reduces this nationally accounted for stock (or increases the communal costs for maintaining it), a consumption tax can be levied that corresponds to the state's opportunity cost for the consumed part of the stock. This would mean that taxes could be based on the corporate / institutional consumption of society's common stock of assets, rather than on the value-added profit the resource-consumer can achieve through its internal processes.

This approach would have several consequences. One is that the state could vary taxes to match the actual opportunity cost of the resource in question, where (e.g.) renewable resources could get a lower tax-rate than non-renewable ones, driving users to opt for renewable ones in their internal strive for a higher added value (i.e. profit), which (under such a model) is not taxed at all. Another consequence is that tax-rates could, over time, be officially and hence predictably phased up or down, allowing users to focus their R&D on such areas where tax benefits will result, allowing the state to motivate rather than force (e.g.) an environmental agenda.

Furthermore, by defining human resources as yet another asset accounted for in the national account's Balance Sheet, it will also be possible to motivate corporate and institutional users to make best possible use of society's human resources, avoiding over- or under-consumption of human capital, as understood from social and health perspectives, as well as (but not only) from (corporate / institutional) productivity perspectives.

Using resource-consumption taxes to motivate resource-consumers to make best possible use of common resources, including human resources, rather than the state focusing on taxing corporate added value (profits) and private incomes, would allow the state to drive consumption towards what is 'lean and clean'. With lean and clean consumption, the state can spend less on preventive action, control, and corrective measures, saving money and hence keep taxes down. Doing this will nevertheless require a different accounting paradigm - one where corporate accounting is directly linked to national accounting. The technical solution to this link may very well be blockchain accounting, whereby smart contracts trigger the tax-charge in question.

So far has all this been a purely theoretical discussion. Below I will look at some potential uses and consequences of this. I will use the Balance Sheet structure of the SNA (Standard National Accounting) from 2008 and the ESA (European System of National and Regional Accounts) from 2010 as my starting point - to which I will link (theoretical) revisions to corporate accounting structures.

SNA 2008 and ESA 2010

In both the SNA and the ESA the Balance Sheet records incoming balances, changes, and outgoing balances, either for a type of economic activity (production, household- or government consumption, or capital formation), or for a given sector of the economy. A parallel set of documents, called the Asset Accounts, sorts incoming balances, changes and outgoing balances for individual assets and liabilities per type in the economy as a whole rather than by sector or activity.

Although SNA 2008's Balance Sheet is designed, and hence meant, to enable the display and analysis of stocks and asset-changes on multiple levels of each economic sector (all the way down to the individual institution if needed), the overall sector-division lists only five groups; (a) non-financial corporations, (b) financial corporations, (c) government units, including social security funds, (d) non-profit institutions serving households and (e) households. It furthermore registers assets and liabilities vis-à-vis 'the rest of the world', i.e. institutions and governments in other countries.

As is clear from this, such balance sheets are meant to measure changes, where ingoing balances plus / minus changes equal outgoing balances. This is what would allow for taxation driven by resource-consumption, rather than by added value in a corporate or institutional process, and/or private incomes. It is not this paper's ambition to suggest which assets and liabilities shall be taxed, nor with how much, but I will use the first group (non-financial assets) to make examples and suggest how this approach could be elaborated further.

The key to this is to link corporate accounting to SNA (ESA) in a way so that corporate and institutional entities' use of resources listed in the national account's Balance Sheet is reflected also in that corporation's / institution's internal accounts, automatically debiting that corporate / institutional entity a tax based on the specific tax-rate assigned for that particular resource. In some cases, such specific taxes may also be negative, i.e. a credit rather than a debit being assigned to the corporate / institutional unit in question if/when positive changes are recorded in the national account's Balance Sheet - assuming the government in question has already agreed to give such tax credits. Examples of this could be certain training of staff or staff-to-be, planting of trees or the restoration of natural habitats, or the like, which in turn presumes that such assets (i.e. human resources and/or natural habitats) are also included in the national account's Balance Sheet. The inclusion of human resources in the national account's Balance Sheet is here (as we will see below) considered a key to more social and ecologically efficient governance of our societies.

Let me use two areas of resource-consumption to illustrate this: underground resources and human resources. It shall be noted that these examples are meant to show how the link between corporate and national accounting can work, not give details for how they shall work.

Underground Resources

Let me start with underground resources. Here we would typically include minerals, oil and gas, but we also know that soil, clay and sand are mined for both commercial use, such as (e.g.) producing building materials, and public use, such as (e.g.) building flood defences. Over time has the allocation of underground water - in spite of being renewable through its ecological cycle - also proved critical. Concessions given to private companies to extract large volumes of underground water, bottle it and sell it, reduces local populations' possibility to drill for water. Water, previously seen as a public commodity, is now increasingly turned private, in return for a rent or lease paid to the state - of which those local communities affected may not receive anything at all to compensate for the costs inflicted upon them for having to buy water from the very same source they previously could access through a public well or system of taps.

For this kind of resources, two types of taxes can be considered. One is an allocation tax, meaning that the act of allocating (through a sale, lease- or rental-agreement) of an underground resource should activate a tax. This tax should then be set to match society's cost for not having this resource available for future public use. This should not be a one-time tax, as that simply would be a different name for a transaction fee, but a percentage of the common value of the allocated asset per agreed time-interval. In other words - a tax on the general public's assessed cost for not having access to this asset any longer. If the value of the asset increases over time, the actual tax amount will also increase; if the value of the asset decreases over time, the actual tax amount will also decrease. The end-date of levying this allocation tax would also need to be set as a part of the tax rate itself, and it could without doubt be levied well beyond the exhaustion of the resource itself, since this tax is meant to compensate the general public for the resource's non-availability, not for its use per se.

This type of allocation tax requires the national accounts to value the asset independently of the commercial value set by the corporation, to which the asset is being allocated. If we here (although other account-structures may prove more useful for the purpose) assume the same structure was being used by the corporation / institution to which the resource was allocated, an account in the corporate balance sheet equivalent to the one in the national accounts would be required. The use of this account can be enforced by the state through a blockchain accounting mechanism, and the tax-charge itself triggered by a smart contract.

As many (most) countries do not (yet) keep inventory of such not yet allocated resources, such an inventory would need to be undertaken on a grander scale to assess each nations' asset value from this type of resource perspective. Although this is not a small task to complete, it would make those countries rich in natural resources, but poor on revenue, boost its recognised wealth via a strong balance sheet in lieu of a strong P&L Account. This would increase transparency, and hence reduce corrupt use of national resources by powerful and vested interests - a curse many resource-rich countries suffer.

This tax would not replace the lease or fee, but allow the state, as a representative of its citizens, to compensate also future generations for the loss of the resource, in this case underground non-renewable minerals, oil, gas, water, clay, sand, etc. The difference between the tax and the lease or fee is that the tax is set by law, be unrelated to the extraction, and be based on its worth as assessed from a 'commons' perspective, as well as being non-negotiable - while a lease or fee is set through negotiations and is based on its worth as assessed by the corporate / institutional entity to which it is meant to be allocated. The terms and conditions upon which the allocation is made legally possible will therefore affect the allocation tax level, making the correct entry into both the national and corporate accounts necessary. Without a case-sensitive and properly audited book-keeping will this kind of system fail and become a victim of corruption. Blockchain accounting will help ensure abuse is kept at a minimum.

The intended beauty of this approach is that the tax is levied on the resource's value set by the state as a representative of its citizens, not based on a complicated calculation of profit, or added value, in which an array of factors is included - of which only the tax subject has full knowledge and control. In return will, under this system, the value added (i.e. profit) during the production process not be taxed, making skill-based competition more attractive than creative accounting.

The allocation tax is nevertheless likely to be relatively low, as it only intends to compensate the general public for not having common public access to the resource - not to compensate the general public for the depletion of the non-renewable resource. Compensation for the depletion, i.e. the final loss, of the non-renewable resource, will be a different depletion tax - levied as and when the allocated resource is consumed in the production-cycle for which it was booked. This will, once again, require both case-sensitive and properly audited entries in both the national and corporate accounts, again presumed to be ensured by a blockchain accounting mechanism, making it possible to institute tax charges that are automatically booked - and eventually also automatically paid - once the system recognises that the allocated resource has been retrieved.

If tax is levied on the initial resource allocation, and the eventual resource retrieval (depletion), will profit taxes not be required. It will now be up to the corporation to make the most profitable use of the resources it already paid the commons for. As suggested above will resource-lean, skill-based competition now become the key to success.

Human Resources

Let me move on to another example of resource (out of many) that would need to be reconsidered under this approach. The human resource.

Human resources are in fact a type of resource that costs society more, the less it is being used. A country with an unemployment-rate of 2% is far better off than one with a 20% rate. One problem here is of course how to measure unemployment. In countries where only those who are officially registered as jobseekers are considered unemployed, is the un-recorded numbers likely to be significant. Many better-off societies offer alternatives for those unemployed, where individuals become eligible for social security benefits (including re-education or training paid for by the state, temporary jobs subsidised or paid for by the state, medical leave or early retirement). Here unemployment numbers are often far higher, and state-funded benefits hence far costlier, than official numbers suggest. If all basically fit individuals bankrolled by the state because they cannot find a demand-driven employment (whether in the private or public sector) were to be considered unemployed, were numbers likely to be significantly higher than those officially published.

It is also important to recognise the difference between the financial cost of unemployment and the social cost for unemployment. The social costs include stigma, exclusion, depression, social unrest, criminality and drug-abuse, some of this directly reflected in the state's financials, some only indirectly. But the higher the level of automation and digitalisation of 'industries' (from steel to music), the higher the need for (state-funded other otherwise subsidised) education in order to meet job requirements. And the higher the wage- and income taxes are (currently being one important source of income for the state to help pay for e.g. education), the higher the employers' costs for human resources, and the higher their desire to automate, digitalise or simply move production to low-cost countries. And the higher the unemployment, whether official jobseekers or otherwise, the higher the state's costs. Both financial and social.

Taxes alone finance unemployment benefits. The higher the unemployment, the larger the need for governments to collect taxes from other tax subjects than the individual wage-earner. The greater the need to collect taxes from the corporate / institutional sector the larger the tax-burden for employers. The heavier the tax-burden for employers related to human resources (wage- and income-taxes), the greater the incentive to automate, digitalise or simply move production to low-cost countries. How can this vicious circle be broken?

Assume employers did not pay wage taxes, and employees did not pay income taxes. Assume employers were incentivised to employ people instead of laying them off. Assume a system that made human resources of all types a profitable resource. Then unemployment would mainly be transitional, where people opted for temporary stints of unemployment if/when transferring from one employer to another. Or when they retired. How could a reformed tax system help this happen?

The key to this must be sought in the way the costs for human resources match against other costs of production. As long as 'machines', and to them related running costs, are cheaper per output than humans, will 'machines' be the preferred option. So why are humans taxed up to 100% of their net salary-cost (wage- and income taxes combined), while machines are not only not directly taxed for producing output, but even depreciated - meaning they reduce the net tax that the corporation / institution will have to pay? Assume the tables were turned, and the 'machines' were taxed by hour of operation - while humans were not - and humans were depreciated annually with a fraction of their annual salary cost - while 'machines' were not.

Now employers would only pay the actual cost for staff, i.e. their salary and other benefits agreed, while paying tax in addition to running costs for operating non-human capital, non-financial resources (i.e. 'machines'). Here would - nevertheless - differentiated tax-rates be required, where non-human capital resources that are difficult or more dangerous to substitute with human resources (e.g. in underground mining) carry a lower tax-rate than those where human resources more easily can replace 'machines' (e.g. throughout the service industry).

By booking non-human, non-financial capital ('machines') in a corporate account linked to and mirrored by the national account's equivalent, a machine-operating tax can be levied based on a formula between the machine-investment and its physical output - possibly measured in fractions of annual design capacity (e.g. 50.000 tons of paper or 1.000 GB of computing power), fractions of operating lifetime (e.g. 1 -10 years) or actual output (e.g. 1 MWh). In return for being levied such taxes shall employers not be charged wage taxes, and employees not be charged income taxes. This will make human resources cost approximately half of what they cost today, while the use of non-human, non-financial resources ('machines') will cost much more to use than they do today.

Employing people will hereby become far more economically viable than it is today, reducing the urge to replace staff with machines and computers in the hunt for higher profits (or simply lower running costs). The above indicated national account's Balance Sheet-account recording the asset in question, could then be used to calculate this operating tax, triggered by a smart contract. Auditors could make annual or semi-annual revisions of a corporation's 'machine-operating' tax base, ensuring the tax levied is in accordance with the tax code.

To make corporations / institutions interested in retaining staff also when they grow older, i.e. value 'experience' on par with 'youthful energy', can a human-resource depreciation factor also be introduced, allowing the employer to deduct from its annual tax bill an amount based on how much salary they paid employees over a certain age, and/or over a certain number of years of service.

Although this shift from wage-/income taxes to 'machine/computer'-operating taxes would need serious consideration as how it in that case could and should be designed and introduced, the intention here is simply to raise the issue. We are so used to think in terms of wage- and income taxes for human capital and depreciation for non-human, non-financial capital, so we do not even question it. I argue it indeed is time to question it, as a society where underutilisation of human capital is looming. Whether it is because of international competition or because of a technology-shift leaving scores of inadequately trained people jobless it is a recipe for social problems, criminality, and social unrest.

The overall usefulness of keeping staff on the payrolls can however best be recognised if the national accounts start accounting for its citizens in asset terms. It is actually quite obvious; no people, no society, no state. So, a fundamental resource for any nation-state is its population. Each citizen would therefore need to be assigned a standard-value in the national accounts. Starting out from that (accumulated) citizen-value, additional value should be added for each level of education s/he passed (based on accrued rather than individual data), while the value would decrease based on factors as unemployment, long-term illness, retirement, etc. Hereby could e.g. collectives of unemployed people attending training balance the accrued value of this collective-in-training, as participating in training (no matter who is paying) could add equally much to the nation's asset value as their unemployment reduces it. And just as decreases in long-term sick-listings would increase the nation's asset value, could immigration do the same (i.e. more people). If the national accounts booked these HR-assets could investments in human resources made by the private as well as public corporate / institutional sector lead to potential tax credits when certain HRD-objectives are fulfilled - costs booked in their corporate accounts through blockchain accounting, mirrored in the national accounts. To the employer this could be yet another way to incentivise HRD-investments; to the nation-state this would be a good way to boost its balance sheet, leading to better credit ratings and possibly cheaper interest rates.

Smart contracts

In case smart contracts are used to book tax-charges in corporate and national balance sheets on a parallel, a mechanism must be established to automatically register the resource consumed through e.g. the 'Internet of Things'. For each asset-unit registered on the national accounts that is extracted and consumed, a tax is levied through the activation of a trigger in the smart contract, using code to secure the tax is charged on a predefined time-basis, accruing the corporation's tax debt and the state's tax claim in their respective balance sheets, settling the tax on an equally predefined occasion (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) through a direct debit. Unless a guaranteed balance between the corporation's accounted debt and the state's accounted claim, achieved through the blockchain code, a direct debit activated by a smart contract cannot be applied. It shall once again be stressed that here the state can use the tax level to encourage or discourage certain activities, but that once the allocation and extraction/consumption tax is paid shall no further taxes be levied on the corporation's profits from processing and/or selling the resource in question (VAT being an exception).

If the resource consumed is in the form of public administration services, a smart contract can be established between the corporation and each authority providing services, which triggers a tax every time a service is delivered, activating a booking of a claim in the authority's balance sheet and a debt in the corporation's - again paid via direct debit at in the contract already agreed intervals. These taxes can also be promotional if policy so suggests, and even negative taxes can be booked in the same manner - if / when such policy is agreed upon. In case of lobbying, a tax can be charged by the hour the politician is engaged in meetings with lobbyists, activated by the ministry's note-taking function.

It is important to note that these examples in no way intends to suggest how a state shall bankroll its responsibilities. They simply intend to demonstrate how to link corporate accounting to national accounting, and how to use that link to move taxation away from todays' calculation-driven and hence easily corruptible profit-based taxation, where endless checks and balances still fail to capture the reality behind creative accounting, and so many resources used still remain unaccounted for. By focusing on the actual resources consumed in the process, including all those previously unaccounted for, will a far more flexible and fair taxation model emerge.

HCMC in August 2021

Leif Thomas Olsen
Leif is a former management- and management-training consultant turned property investor. During this millennium he also dedicated around half of his time to research on cross- / multicultural interaction, and its socio-economic consequences. A Swede by birth he spent half his life elsewhere and lived in South-East Asia since 1993. In 2005 he completed a Master of Philosophy and a Master of International Relations.



Climate Change Success Story

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Daintree Life Revegetation, Australia

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Futurist Portrait

Alex Steffen
Planetary Futurist

I'm Alex Steffen. I try to live well, see far and be a good ancestor. I write and speak about everything from the distant planetary future to building better cities today.


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Projects: Worldchanging; Carbon Zero; Heroic Future; The Nearly Now.

"I explore humanity's long-term relationship with our planet. I research, report, consult and speak about planetary foresight, sustainable development, climate action, social innovation, urbanism and design.



" In tough times, some of us see protecting the climate as a luxury, but that's an outdated 20th-century worldview from a time when we thought industrialization was the end goal, waste was growth, and wealth meant a thick haze of air pollution."

"Americans trash the planet not because we're evil, but because the industrial systems we've devised leave no other choice. Our ranch houses and high-rises, factories and farms, freeways and power plants were conceived before we had a clue how the planet works."

“Kids born today will see us navigate past the first greatest test of humanity, which is: can we actually be smart enough to live on a planet without destroying it?”

  • Alex Steffen is an award-winning writer, speaker and foresight consultant, “One of the world’s leading voices on sustainability and the future of the planet” (Vancouver Sun).
  • Alex is a prolific writer and public thinker, having written thousands of pieces, been profiled in numerous media interviews and given hundreds of talks to audiences around the world. Over the last ten years he has also advised some of the world’s most forward-looking institutions, investors, philanthropists and NGOs.
  • In 2013-2014, he was Planetary Futurist in Residence at the design and innovation firm IDEO.
  • His 2012 book Carbon Zero: Imagining cities that can save the planet is an exploration of the kinds of design, technological and policy innovations that can transform our cities into low-carbon engines of prosperity.
  • From 2003 – 2010, he ran the pioneering sustainability and social innovation project, and edited two best-selling Worldchanging books.
  • Before that, he worked for almost a decade in newspapers and radio, covering planetary change on four continents.




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