Club of Amsterdam Journal, December 2022, Issue 249

Journals Archive
Journals – Main Topics
The Future Now Shows



Lead Article

What is The Line, the 170km-long mirrored metropolis Saudi Arabia is building in the desert?
by Andrew Allan, University of South Australia and Subha Paridat, University of South Australia

Article 01

Building An Off-Grid Solar System With Your Child To Fight Climate Anxiety
y Renogy

The Future Now Show

Integrated Sustainability
with Tom Bosschaert & Mario de Vries

Article 02

Knowledge Hubs for Cities

> The C40 Knowledge Hub

News about the Future

> European Battery Alliance
> Ethiopia Museum of Art and Science

Article 03

The World by 2100

Recommended Book

The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim
by Yizhao Yang, Anne Taufen

Article 04

8 billion humans: How population growth and climate change are connected as the ‘Anthropocene engine’ transforms the planet
by Manfred Laubichler, Global Futures Professor and President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology, Arizona State University

Climate Change Success Story

Energy Storage

Sodium-ion battery
Solid Hydrogen
Flywheel Energy Storage
Iron Air Battery

Urban Planning

Richard de Cani
Director and Global Cities, Planning and Design Leader at Arup

Art and Science, Climate Anxiety, Design,
Energy Storage, Ethiopia, Flywheel Energy Storage,
Green New Deal, Hydrogen, Integrated Sustainability,
NEOM, Pacific Rim, Saudi Arabia, Sodium-ion battery,
Sustainable cities, Vietnam

Club of Amsterdam Search
Submit your article


Felix B Bopp

Website statistics for
January 2021 - November 2022:
Visits: 917,000
Visitors: 198


Tom Bosschaert: "It is time to build a place that has never been built before, in a time where the world desperately needs new solutions for a resilient future."

Manfred Laubichler: " ... separation of the sciences and the humanities is increasingly seen as a serious problem. The main issues facing the world today all require multiple and integrated approaches that involve both scientific and humanistic perspectives. Real world problems, such as climate change, poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, global health, etc., do not fall neatly within disciplinary boundaries. Addressing these global challenges requires new avenues in research and education."

Zeng Yuqun, also known as Robin Zeng, is a Chinese billionaire entrepreneur. He is the founder and chairman of CATL: “The era of new energy has come, but there are still many challenges under certain opportunities. Only by adapting to changes and advancing with the times can we keep the success. We should work together to embrace the great change and contribute to carbon neutrality and global new energy industry.”

Lead Article

What is The Line, the 170km-long mirrored metropolis Saudi Arabia is building in the desert?
by Andrew Allan, Senior Lecturer in Transport, Urban and Regional Planning and Subha Parida, Lecturer in Management, University of South Australia



Andrew Allan

Subha Parida


As climate change rapidly advances, many Middle Eastern states are aiming to make the transition from carbon-based economies to alternatives that attract people from around the world – for tourism, business, work or to live.

One such example is a development known as NEOM, to be built in Saudi Arabia.

A key part of the plan is “The Line”, a A$725 billion futuristic city designed to house 9 million residents. It comprises a mirrored, wall-like structure 200 metres wide and 500 metres tall. To be built in Saudi Arabia’s north-western Tabuk province, the project will extend 170 kilometres inland from the Red Sea across coastal desert, mountain and upper valley landscapes.

The Line claims to set a new benchmark for sustainable development. Its footprint is just 34 square kilometres (less than 4 square metres per person), occupying a fraction of NEOM’s 26,500-square-kilometre site. This allows for a lighter touch on the landscape than would normally be expected for a mega city. In addition, the NEOM project includes an airport and shipping port, industrial areas, research centres, sports and entertainment venues and tourism destinations.

The Line is touted as a post-carbon eco-city, but the scale of its ambitions raises serious questions about whether the project can deliver on its environmental, economic and social goals within just a few years.

NEOM | What is The Line?

The devil is in the details

At first glance, the project appears environmentally impressive. The urban edge is no more than 100 metres from any point in the city. A high-speed electric public transport service ensures no part of The Line is more than 20 minutes away.

Residing in such a gargantuan structure implies a claustrophobic lifestyle. But, in theory, each resident would enjoy an average of 1,000 cubic metres of urban volume. That’s much more generous than most dense city living environments.

Unfortunately, as in many high-density, high-rise buildings, a sophisticated vertical transportation system would be needed. The structure is equivalent to a conventional 125-storey skyscraper.

The project costs also seem modest at US$55,000 per resident. Let’s say this is achievable in a country with much lower employment costs than in developed economies and only relates to infrastructure. Even then, it remains to be seen how ultra-high-speed transit and cutting-edge infrastructure and services within the most massive building ever constructed can be cost-effective.

The linear design underpinning The Line is not a new idea. The Spanish urban planner Arturo Soria y Mata developed a “linear city” concept in 1882. This concept allowed great efficiencies in infrastructure (such as water, electricity, gas and transport) by incorporating it along a narrow, linear urban corridor. A key plank of the design was to “ruralise” the city and “urbanise” the countryside.

The Line echoes this concept. However, one wonders about its impacts on the countryside. How might a continuous 500-metre-high mirrored barrier, reflecting the desert heat and light and cutting across the landscape for 170km, affect local biodiversity?

The Line appears to be oriented along an east-west axis. This may be optimal for solar thermal management, but is likely to cast large shadows in mid-winter.

Map showing the location of The Line and NEOM region in Saudia Arabia
The Line runs from the Red Sea eastwards for 170km. Shutterstock

Environmental and community impact

The Line aims for zero-emissions living. Energy comes from renewable sources, green hydrogen earns export income, wastewater is recycled, and it features the latest in “smart city” technologies and mixed-use buildings. Car ownership is eschewed in favour of walking, cycling and public transport.

However, the materials and construction of such an enormous project could be very emissions-intensive.

The concept claims no one would be more than two minutes from nature (in other words, the urban edge at ground level). But does this consider the waiting times for a lift? Without careful design, a high reliance on vertical transportation may stymie hopes for genuinely walkable or bicycle-friendly precincts.

The Line may be developed in modules, but whether these would correspond to neighbourhoods is not clear.

And will individuals, businesses and other entities have creative reign over how their designs are expressed – or will all parts of the city look much the same?

Independent expression of built form is an intrinsic part of conventional cities, but may not be possible with such as rigid structure as The Line. This raises questions about whether people would warm to it.

Creating and maintaining a vision

The Line was to be completed by 2025 in a desire to revolutionise urban living. With construction yet to begin in earnest, it remains to be seen whether such a complex megacity can be completed so soon.

And the project proposal makes precious little mention of important factors such as:

  • community structure

  • diversity of household types

  • likely demographics

  • governance

  • individual rights (equality of rights, property ownership, access to social services, civic involvement and citizenship)

  • tolerance of diverse religious and spiritual beliefs.

The Line promises to have “human experience” at its heart, that there will be “progressive laws” and healthcare will facilitate “individual empowerment”.

But maintaining this vision may be difficult as new migrants bring their own values.

An artist’s illustration of The Line where it meets the Red Sea. The Line public design exhibition/NEOM

A nation-building project

The Line appears to be a massive exercise in nation-building. Its planned 9 million population represents a 25% increase on Saudi Arabia’s current population of 35 million people.

The marketing focus of The Line is on environmental sustainability, technology, luxury and professional lifestyles, innovation and a strategic location. This suggests its planners and designers intend to produce a novel and exemplary urban development that will rapidly transition Saudi Arabia to a post-carbon future.

All the elements are there to do that. But, from a planning and construction perspective, it will require enormous strength of will, financial heft and capability.

And it remains to be seen how successfully The Line will attract the residents it needs to succeed. The Conversation



Andrew Allan, Senior Lecturer in Transport, Urban and Regional Planning, University of South Australia and Subha Parida, Lecturer in Management, University of South Australia


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Article 01

Building An Off-Grid Solar System With Your Child To Fight Climate Anxiety
by Renogy

Signs of climate change in the form of melting glaciers, heat waves, and extreme precipitation are so abundant even children can realize them. There is also growing evidence that exposure to the effects of climate change can cause anxiety in children. quotes a former producer of a children’s television show who says, “Climate anxiety is the second pandemic that kids in America are facing.” Hanna Ritchie of adds, “Many young people feel like their future is in peril.”

The good news is that we can do much to show children that climate change can be slowed down or even reversed. For instance, advocating for renewable energy sources like solar and wind can help children with anxiety caused by the ecological destruction of the planet realize that there are solutions.

However, when dealing with climate anxiety among children, actions speak louder than words. Therefore, this article will provide some practical steps to help you fight climate change, including a hands-on idea of building an off-grid solar system with your child.

Table of contents

What Is Climate Anxiety?
Symptoms Of Climate Anxiety
Fighting Climate Change Anxiety
Building An Off-Grid Solar System With Your Child
What You Will Need
Selecting Your Solar Panels
Determine Sufficient Battery Size
Choose A Solar Charge Controller
Get The Inverter
Putting Everything Together
Safety First


What is Climate Anxiety?

Harvard Health Publishing defines climate anxiety (also called eco-anxiety) as “distress related to worries about the effects of climate change.” The same source adds that climate anxiety is not a mental illness but unduly worries about the uncertainties regarding the future.


How do we know that climate anxiety is real among children? Several recent studies confirm that climate anxiety is becoming increasingly common among young people. One of the most widely quoted studies is the 2021 survey published by The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals.

The Lancet surveyed 10,000 children and young people from 10 countries. The results show that “Respondents across all countries were worried about climate change (59% were very or extremely worried and 84% were at least moderately worried).”

Symptoms of Climate Anxiety

Climate anxiety is not currently considered a diagnosable mental illness. Still, certain signs and symptoms can indicate this condition among both children and adults. notes that a leading sign of climate anxiety is “An increased sense of hopelessness about the planet’s changes.”

Here are other symptoms listed by

  • Frustrations and anger at those refusing to acknowledge climate change or the older generation for the part they have played.
  • Fatalistic thoughts.
  • Existential dread.
  • Obsessive thoughts about the climate.
  • Shame or guilt related to one’s own contribution to climate change.
  • Post-traumatic stress after experiencing the impact of climate change.
  • Feelings of panic, anxiety, and depression triggered by exposure to the signs of climate change.

The same source notes that the symptoms above could lead to problems related to focus, appetite, and sleeping.

Fighting Climate Change Anxiety

Even though it may look like all news about climate change is bad news, the reality is that there is good news too: climate change doesn’t have to be permanent.

This is a reality acknowledged by David Herring and Rebecca Lindsey, writing for In answering the question regarding whether global warming can be slowed or reversed, they say, “While we cannot stop global warming overnight, we can slow the rate and limit the amount of global warming by reducing human emissions of heat-trapping gases and soot.”

Below are some tips from Harvard Health Publishing on how you can help a child fight climate anxiety.

  • Don’t dismiss the child’s concerns.
  • Assist the young person in identifying organizations addressing climate change that they can become a part of.
  • Help anxious children identify steps they can follow to minimize their impact on the environment.
  • Encourage children to plant trees and spend time in nature.
  • Support children when they make decisions about their lifestyles, particularly changes they can witness at home.

Building an Off-Grid Solar System with Your Child

Inspired by the last point in the bullet list above, we have put together the following guide to help you take practical steps to build an off-grid solar system with your child. This will help the young person understand that there are solutions to climate change and possibly reduce their anxiety and feelings of helplessness.

Even though we refer to an off-grid solar system here, we are not necessarily talking about building an off-grid system for your entire home as that may require more expertise and time. Instead, we are looking at building an off-grid system for something like your recreational vehicle, tiny house, or tree house.

What You Will Need

Start by working with the child to identify the resources and materials you’ll need for your off-grid solar system. Your list should contain the following:

  • Solar Panels: These are also known as PV panels. They convert sunlight into DC electricity.
  • Charge Controller: This component regulates the charge, ensuring that your batteries don’t overcharge.
  • Inverter: The solar panels produce direct current (DC), which needs to be converted to alternating current (AC) for it to power most appliances. This is the device responsible for that task.
  • Solar Battery: Because there will be times when your solar panels are not converting sunlight into electricity, you need batteries to store the energy you’ll use during such times.
  • Monitoring system: This optional sophisticated system helps you monitor your energy use and intelligent home connectivity.
  • Wiring and accessories: You will need a wide variety of accessories, including fuses, mounts, brackets, tools, cables, adapter kits, tray cables, and inverter cables.

To get an idea of a suitable size system for your needs, maybe you can use the Renogy solar calculator. The calculator helps figure out how many solar panels you need. As the idea is to work with your child, you will want to give them tasks like entering data into the calculator and doing other research related to the project. This will ensure that they participate in decision-making, making them feel that they are making a difference.

Selecting Your Solar Panels

As you plan with your child on which solar panels will work best for your project, you’ll have to consider several factors:

The size of the panel is one of the biggest considerations. Panel size relates not just to the physical size of the panel but the size in watts too. Panels with a higher wattage will cost more.

Energy efficiency is another crucial factor when determining the solar panels to buy. This denotes the proportion of sunlight received by the panel that is converted into electricity. More efficient panels tend to cost more than their less efficient counterparts.

To get quality and durable solar panels, take your time to consider the company that supplies the panels. Reviews from customers that have used the same company's products are often an excellent way to start your research.

Determine Sufficient Battery Size

The battery size for your off-grid system will depend on what you want to use the system for. For instance, if you are designing this system for a small cabin with a few lights and devices, two 12-volt batteries may be sufficient.

The calculator we refer to above will help determine whether the battery size you are considering will be sufficient for your system’s needs.

Choose a Solar Charge Controller

Now that you have the panels to convert sunlight into electricity and the batteries that will store the energy, it’s time to get the device that will control the charging system: the solar charge controller.

Your system will require a single charge controller. However, if you are building a massive off-grid solar system, you may need to consult a technician about the appropriate number of solar charge controllers.

You don’t need to purchase the solar charge controller if you’re using foldable suitcase panels. These suitcases come with built-in solar charge controllers.

Get the Inverter

Get your child to understand that now that you have everything you need to generate the power from your off-grid solar system, it’s time to ensure that you can use the power to provide energy to your appliances and lights. For this, you will need an inverter.

When selecting the inverter, you’ll be guided by the total number of watts your system will power. If you’ll be making your system bigger in the future, it’s vital to consider this when you select the inverter.

Putting Everything Together

You now have all the items you need for your off-grid solar system. So, it's time to put everything together. Here is our in-depth article offering a step-by-step guide on building your system from start to finish.

Safety First

No matter what you do on this project, don’t forget that you are working with a child. Therefore, safety should be paramount.

If you’re installing the panels on a roof, you should have a roof-anchoring tool. Never let the child work unsupervised at any time. Always have someone working with you so they seek help in case of an emergency.

Even though the risk of electric shock in small solar projects is minimal, it’s important to read all manufacturer instructions, and ensure that the children you’re working with understand them.

Whether you are installing your system on the roof or ground, personal protective equipment is essential. Always wear shoes with a good grip. Clothes should cover the legs and arms to prevent cuts. Protect hands with gloves, your head with a hard hat, and eyes with goggles. Be safe.


Build a solid solar panel system with your child, as an easily broken machine can harm confidence. At Renogy, a US-based online store, you will find premium-quality solar panel kits and components, such as monocrystalline solar panels, which are incorporated with the most efficient solar cells, 12 volt deep cycle batteries and 48V batteries, solar inverters, and more. All are manufactured using qualified materials for excellent performance.




The Future Now Show

Integrated Sustainability
with Tom Bosschaert & Mario de Vries


About systemic solutions for our societal challenges by combining science, business, design, and communication.

In the past decades, Tom has developed several hundred projects globally, for groundbreaking sustainable cities, buildings, business, policy, and industry. Tom’s vision shows that we can flourish globally when we simultaneously integrate environmental, societal, economical, and technical aspects in our society.







Tom Bosschaert
Founder & Director @ Except Integrated Sustainability
Systemic Sustainability strategy & design
the Netherlands
Chairman, Environment Committee of the World Institute for Change Management and Innovation (WICMI)
Except Projects

Mario de Vries
Media Specialist
The Netherlands

Felix B Bopp
Producer of The Future Now Show

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


Article 02

Knowledge Hubs for Cities

> The C40 Knowledge Hub





URBACT helps cities to develop an integrated set of actions for sustainable change.

The URBACT Knowledge Hub
brings together a series of thematic insights. It’s the place where initiatives sparked by URBACT cities have room to grow and evolve. The content shared is accessible to urban enthusiasts across Europe and beyond.
The URBACT Knowledge Hub brings together, analyses, and synthetises a series of thematic insights. It’s the place where initiatives sparked by URBACT cities – and other partnerships – have room to grow and evolve. The knowledge shared is accessible to urban enthusiasts across Europe and beyond.

URBACT Toolbox
Your set of tools and resources to shape better cities!
Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. URBACT makes sure cities have the right tools to spark change, one step at a time.
Maybe you have an idea for an innovative and sustainable policy? Or perhaps you’ve identified a pressing challenge in your city that has to be solved?
The URBACT Toolbox has everything you need to design and implement integrated and participatory actions in your city.

Learn all about the URBACT Method!



The C40 Knowledge Hub

Cutting-edge insights and practical resources from leading climate cities.

C40 is a network of mayors of nearly 100 world-leading cities collaborating to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis. Together, we can create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive.

The C40 Knowledge Hub is a resource for cities wanting to act on climate change. It is designed for every city, regardless of C40 membership. We use ‘cities’ as shorthand for an urban municipal government of any size and in any country. If you work for a city – small or large – this site is for you.

The primary goal of the Knowledge Hub is to equip city practitioners and policymakers with the practical information and tools they need to drive climate action at home. To accomplish this goal, we identify practical experiences, tried-and-tested approaches, and insights from cities already working on climate issues, and share them in formats designed to be accessible and digestible for cities everywhere.

Most of our resources have been created by our team specifically to address key questions: why, what and how. These articles capture the case for action, profile the most impactful steps cities can take, and guide cities to implement them. Alongside these, we also curate a growing set of practical resources and provide context to help decision makers quickly understand why they are relevant; these originate from a variety of sources, including directly from city governments, C40 specialists, and other organisations, including NGOs, think tanks, and academic institutions.




News about the Future

> European Battery Alliance
> Ethiopia Museum of Art and Science

European Battery Alliance

The European Battery Alliance (EBA) was launched in 2017 by the European Commission, EU countries, industry, and the scientific community. Batteries are a strategic part of Europe's clean and digital transition and a key enabling technology, essential to the automotive sector's competitiveness. Therefore, the Commission aims to make Europe a global leader in sustainable battery production and use.

EIT InnoEnergy is the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). EIT InnoEnergy has been entrusted by the European Commission to drive forward and promote the EBA250 activities. EIT InnoEnergy’s role in the European Battery Alliance is to provide background data and to define key questions, recommendations and actions. EIT InnoEnergy also supports the establishment of a European battery ecosystem by providing EBA250 workshops, a meeting place for key stakeholders along the entire value chain.

The EBA250 network includes organisations from both the public and private sectors. A collaboration of more than 750 participants, covering the entire battery value chain.



Ethiopia Museum of Art and Science

The newly inaugurated Science Museum is expected to further curate Ethiopia’s rich indigenous knowledge, science, and art alongside modern technological advancements.

The museum is built on a seven-hectare space hosting two major building complexes and several interactive exhibits that displayed local solutions in healthcare, finance, cybersecurity, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), service industries, data analytics, manufacturing, and robotics among others.

The Science Museum is the Vision of the Prime Minister whose leitmotiv is to bring together a world of science where we will be able to embrace technology, innovative practices, and methods, to advance understanding, improve lives, and shape the future while being respectful of our environment.



Article 03

The World by 2100


The World by 2100
by Tech World



Top 10 Largest Cities by 2100
by The B1M



The World in 2100: Top 10 Future Technologies
by Future Business Tech



Future Singapore - 2100 - Vision and Regenerative Strategies



Recommended Book

The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim
by Yizhao Yang, Anne Taufen


This handbook addresses a growing list of challenges faced by regions and cities in the Pacific Rim, drawing connections around the what, why, and how questions that are fundamental to sustainable development policies and planning practices. These include the connection between cities and surrounding landscapes, across different boundaries and scales; the persistence of environmental and development inequities; and the growing impacts of global climate change, including how physical conditions and social implications are being anticipated and addressed. Building upon localized knowledge and contextualized experiences, this edited collection brings attention to place-based approaches across the Pacific Rim and makes an important contribution to the scholarly and practical understanding of sustainable urban development models that have mostly emerged out of the Western experiences. Nine sections, each grounded in research, dialogue, and collaboration with practical examples and analysis, focus on a theme or dimension that carries critical impacts on a holistic vision of city-landscape development, such as resilient communities, ecosystem services and biodiversity, energy, water, health, and planning and engagement.

This international edited collection will appeal to academics and students engaged in research involving landscape architecture, architecture, planning, public policy, law, urban studies, geography, environmental science, and area studies. It also informs policy makers, professionals, and advocates of actionable knowledge and adoptable ideas by connecting those issues with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The collection of writings presented in this book speaks to multiyear collaboration of scholars through the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes (SCL) Program and its global network, facilitated by SCL Annual Conferences and involving more than 100 contributors from more than 30 institutions.

Yizhao Yang
Associate Professor
SCI-China Program Director
Asian Studies, The School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM)
University of Oregon

PhD (City and Regional Planning), Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (2007)
MRP (City and Regional Planning), Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (2001)
MS (Building Science), Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (1998)
BArch (Architecture) Tianjin University, Tianjin, China, (1995)

Summary of Interests
Environment-people relationship — Using residential satisfaction and perception to evaluate the impacts of land use patterns and urban design characteristics on residents’ wellbeing;
Environment-behavior relationship — Understanding the impacts of the built environment on people’s behavior, especially physical activities and children’s school travel;
Understanding how place-making knowledge and practices can be transferrable between different cultures and countries.


Anne Taufen
Associate Professor
University of Washington. Tacoma

Anne Taufen joined the Urban Studies faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma in 2008, and was tenured in 2015. Her research focuses on equitable governance, port city infrastructures, and the social-ecological networks of urban regions.

Teaching, Service, Research
Dr. Taufen was hired to implement the BA degree in Sustainable Urban Development, the first of its kind in the US. As part of the successful launch of this degree, she created the Urban Studies Forum Urban Studies Forum in 2010.

Building on this commitment to engaged pedagogy and equitable development, Dr. Taufen led the creation of the MA in Community Planning, in 2015. This graduate program trains students to be change agents and leaders in creating just, livable, and inclusive communities, in the South Sound and beyond. You can read more about the MACP here and you can view some of the first studio projects here. Dr. Taufen currently serves as the Graduate Program Coordinator, and enjoys keeping in touch with our growing ranks of alumni, who are working in local and regional non-profits, in research and advocacy, and at all levels of government.

In 2017-2018, Dr. Taufen agreed to serve as a faculty co-director for the UW Livable City Year program during its partner year with the City of Tacoma. In this role, she made sure that UWT faculty and courses remained visible, helping to match nearly half of the projects with Tacoma faculty, and drawing attention and resources to what would become the Office of Community Partnerships. You can read more here.

Dr. Taufen represents the UW on the Steering Committee for the Sustainable Cities and Landscapes hub of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), where she has led a working group on port city waterfronts since its inception. Currently, she is co-editing a Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim (Routledge, forthcoming 2021) (with Yizhao Yang, University of Oregon), and is an instructor for the Asia-Pacific Mayors’ Academy, a partnership between APRU and UN-ESCAP.




Article 04

8 billion humans: How population growth and climate change are connected as the ‘Anthropocene engine’ transforms the planet 
by Manfred Laubichler, Global Futures Professor and President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology, Arizona State University


Manfred Laubichler

Global Futures Professor and President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology, Arizona State University


Population growth fuels knowledge, leading to new technology and energy use, fueling more population growth. Robert Essel/The Image Bank via Getty Images
Manfred Laubichler, Arizona State University

At first glance, the connections between the world’s growing population and climate change seem obvious. The more people we have on this planet, the larger their collective impact on the climate.

However, a closer look with a longer time horizon reveals relationships between population size and climate change that can help us better understand both humanity’s predicament as the global population nears 8 billion people – a milestone the United Nations expects the world to hit on about Nov. 15, 2022.

Looking back to the Stone Age

For much of human evolution, our ancestors were exposed to large climatic fluctuations between ice ages and intermittent warmer periods. The last of these ice ages ended about 10,000 years ago.

Before the ice sheets melted, sea levels were about 400 feet (120 meters) lower than today. That allowed humans to migrate around the world. Everywhere they went, our ancestors reshaped landscapes, first by clearing forests and then through early agricultural practices that emerged in a number of regions starting just as the last ice age ended.

Paleoclimatologist William Ruddiman has suggested that these early actions – cutting down trees and expanding farming – caused a small initial rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That contributed to a stable climate over the past 10,000 years by counteracting trends of declining carbon dioxide levels that might have triggered another glaciation event.

Painting from an Egyptian tomb showing a person holding a scythe and cutting wheat.

Agriculture began fueling the Anthropocene engine. A painting in the tomb of Sennedjem from Egypt’s 19th dynasty, between 1295 B.C. and 1186 B.C., shows a person reaping wheat in Thebes.
Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

By reshaping landscapes, our ancestors actively constructed the niches they inhabited. This process is an important aspect of evolutionary change, creating important feedback dynamics between evolving species and their environment.

As humans evolved, the demands of the growing population, associated knowledge creation and energy use created a feedback cycle my colleagues and I call the Anthropocene engine. That engine has transformed the planet.

Revving up the Anthropocene engine

The Anthropocene engine has been running for at least 8,000 years. It led to the rise of modern civilizations and ultimately to the environmental challenges we face today, including climate change.

How does the Anthropocene engine work?

First, populations had to reach a critical number of people to successfully create enough knowledge about their environments that they could begin to actively and purposefully transform the niches they lived in.

Successful agriculture was the product of such knowledge. In turn, agriculture increased the amount of energy available to these early societies.

A carved scene shows a shop with bowls on the wall, a man pounding an item with a large hammer, another person writing, a dog and a child.

More knowledge and energy led to division of labor and more innovation. This marble relief depicts a coppersmith’s shop in Pompei during the first century.
DEA/L. Pedicini/De Agostini via Getty Images

More energy supports more people. More people led to early settlements and, later, to cities. This allowed for task specialization and division of labor, which, in turn, accelerated the creation of more knowledge, which increased available energy and allowed population size to grow as well. And so on, and so on.

While the details of this process differ around the world, they are all driven by the same Anthropocene engine.

The problem of exponential growth

As an evolutionary biologist and historian of science, I have studied the evolution of knowledge and complexity for over three decades and have been developing mathematical models with colleagues to help explain these processes. Using the universality of the underlying processes driving the Anthropocene engine, we can capture these dynamics in the form of a growth equation, which includes links between population growth and increasing energy use.

One consequence of positive feedback cycles in dynamical systems is that they lead to exponential growth.

Exponential growth can start very slowly and be barely noticeable for quite some time. But eventually it will have dramatic consequences wherever resources are limited.

Driven by the Anthropocene engine, human population has grown exponentially, and individual societies have approached collapse multiple times over the past 8,000 years. The disappearance of the Easter Island civilization and the collapse of the Mayan empire, for example, have been linked to the depletion of environmental resources as populations rose. The dramatic decline of the European population during the Black Death in the 1300s was a direct consequence of crowded and unsanitary living conditions that facilitated the spread of Yersenia pestis, or plague.

Biologist Paul Ehrlich warned about unchecked growth in his 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” predicting growing global demand for limited resources would lead to societal collapse without changes in human consumption.

But globally, humanity has always found a way to avoid doom. Knowledge-based innovations, such as the Green Revolution – the broad-scale effects of which Ehrlich did not foresee – have enabled people to reset the clock, leading to more cycles of innovation and (almost) collapse.

An illustration of a row of giant furnaces with steam coming out, rail cars carrying coal and a stream engine, with workers scurrying about.

Fossil fuels and the Industrial Revolution changed the face of Britain and the Western world in the span of a few decades starting in the late 1700s.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One example is the sequence of energy regimes. It started with wood and animal power. Then came coal, oil and gas.

Fossil fuels powered the Industrial Revolution, and with it, greater wealth and advances in health care. But the age of fossil fuels has had dramatic consequences. It almost doubled the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in less than 300 years, causing the unprecedented speed of global warming that humanity is experiencing today.

At the same time, inequality has become endemic. Poorer nations that contributed little to climate change are suffering the most from global warming, while just 20 wealthier countries are responsible for about 80% of emissions.

The next energy transition to avoid collapse is underway now with the rise of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. But studies – including a report released ahead of the 2022 U.N. Climate Change Conference in November – show humans aren’t evolving their energy use fast enough to keep climate change in check.

Using knowledge to reset the cycle again

Every species, if left unchecked, would grow exponentially. But species are subject to constraints – or negative feedback mechanisms – such as predators and limited food supplies.

The Anthropocene engine has allowed humans to emancipate ourselves from many of the negative feedback mechanisms that otherwise would have kept the population’s growth in check. We intensified food production, developed trade among regions and discovered medications to survive diseases.

Where does this leave humanity now? Are we approaching inevitable collapse from climate change of our own making, or can we transition again and discover innovations that reset the cycle?

Introducing negative feedback into our socioeconomic-technical systems – not as radical population control or war, but in the form of norms, values and regulations on excess greenhouse gas emissions – can help keep climate change in check.

Humanity can use knowledge to keep itself within its environmental boundaries. The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.





Future Challenges in Complex Adaptive Systems Science - Manfred Laubichler
by ASU School of Complex Adaptive Systems







Manfred Laubichler
Global Futures Professor and President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology, Arizona State University

Manfred Laubichler is Global Futures Professor and President's Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology. He is Director of the School of Complex Adaptive Systems and the Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative at Arizona State University. His work focuses on evolutionary novelties from genomes to knowledge systems, the structure of evolutionary theory and the evolution of knowledge. His undergraduate training was in zoology, philosophy and mathematics at the University of Vienna (Austria) and his graduate training was in biology at Yale and in History/History of Science at Princeton. He is external professor at the Santa Fe Institute and, visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany, and external faculty member at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna. He is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a former fellow of the WIssenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and Vice Chair of the Global Climate Forum.


Climate Change Success Story

Energy Storage



Types of Energy Storage

Storage options include batteries, thermal, or mechanical systems. All of these technologies can be paired with software that controls the charge and discharge of energy.

There are many types of energy storage; this list serves as an informational resource for anyone interested in getting to know some of the most common technologies available. You can learn more about these and other energy storage technologies in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Storage Handbook



Some Examples

Sodium-ion battery

Sodium-ion battery breakthrough. Safer, cheaper and cleaner than Lithium-ion 
by Just Have a Think


Sodium Ion // CATL and Faradion // Managing Expectations
by The Limiting Factor


is a global leader of new energy innovative technologies, committed to providing premier solutions and services for new energy applications worldwide.

Dr. Qisen Huang, deputy dean of the CATL Research Institute, said that sodium-ion battery manufacturing is perfectly compatible with the lithium-ion battery production equipment and processes, and the production lines can be rapidly switched to achieve a high-production capacity. As of now, CATL has started its industrial deployment of sodium-ion batteries, and plans to form a basic industrial chain by 2023. CATL invites upstream suppliers and downstream customers, as well as research institutions to jointly accelerate the promotion and development of sodium-ion batteries.



The world leader in non-aqueous sodium-ion cell technology.
Our patented chemistry delivers a high performance, safe and cost-effective battery solution for key applications, such as transportation, storage, back-up power and energy in remote locations. Providing lithium-ion performance at lead-acid prices.
Our sodium-ion batteries are recognised as an emergent technology and a key part of the solution for cheaper, cleaner energy. They are cheaper and safer than lithium-ion, with a higher energy density and a wider operating temperature range than other batteries.



Solid Hydrogen

Solid Hydrogen Explained (Again) - Is it the Future of Energy Storage?
by Undecided with Matt Ferrell




This NEW Solid Hydrogen Storage Will DISRUPT The Energy Storage Industry
by The Tesla Domain



offers a wide range of hydrogen solid storage solutions. The implemented technology relies on the use of hydrides, a metallic powder which absorbs and stores significant hydrogen quantity at low pressure and room temperature. Thanks to our complete control of the process of induction heating, we guaranty on-demand solutions as well as materials quality. Single unit or assembled, our storage solutions can satisfy all needs for most of the possible applications.
Thanks to the control of the induction melting process, we secure a solution used to the needs as well as the quality of the material. Alone or assembled, our storage solutions can satisfy all your needs.


Plasma Kinetics USA
A technology-driven company built on global environmental responsibility, entrepreneurial innovation, integrity, and teamwork. Our breakthrough approach to renewable energy is recognized as having exceptional potential to revolutionize production, transportation, storage and consumption of the cleanest alternative fuels, Hydrogen. Our mission is to protect the environment by providing clean energy, while reducing dependence on traditional sources of energy like oil and coal. The “Hydrogen Economy” will soon be generating high tech jobs and improving the competitiveness of manufacturers who embrace safe and clean energy.

The universal adoption of Hydrogen as the cleanest source of energy has stalled due to storage, transport and availability issues. We have a solution.



Flywheel Energy Storage

A flywheel is essentially a mechanical battery consisting of a mass rotating around an axis. It stores energy in the form of kinetic energy and works by accelerating a rotor to very high speeds and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational energy.

The energy efficiency (ratio of energy out per energy in) of flywheels, also known as round-trip efficiency, can be as high as 90%. Typical capacities range from 3 kWh to 133 kWh. Rapid charging of a system occurs in less than 15 minutes.

The Mechanical Battery Explained - A Flywheel Comeback?
by Undecided with Matt Ferrell

Amber Kinetics USA
is the industry-leader in manufacturing grid-scale kinetic energy storage systems (KESS). As the only provider of long-duration flywheel energy storage, Amber Kinetics extends the duration and efficiency of flywheels from minutes to hours — resulting in safe, economical and reliable energy storage.




EC Power USA's thermal modulation cell technology (TMCT) is to batteries what a turbocharger is to engines: more bang for your buck!
In the future, “we would like to achieve charging ultrahigh energy density batteries to 80 percent in 5 minutes. This will give consumers a similar experience to filling gas,” study senior author Chao-Yang Wang, a battery engineer at Pennsylvania State University, says. “We believe that we have laid the scientific foundation for this ultimate goal, and what is left is to fine-tune more stable materials and our thermal modulation strategy.”
Wang’s lab partnered with startup EC Power to develop the technology. The company is now working to manufacture and commercialize the fast-charging battery.

Turbocharging Lithium-Ion Batteries with EC Power's Technology



Iron Air Battery


Why Iron Air Battery Technology Could Be The Future Of The Energy Industry
by Tesla Domain





Urban Planning

Richard de Cani
Director and Global Cities, Planning and Design Leader at Arup

Richard is the Arup Global Cities, Planning and Design Leader and a recognised senior leader of city planning and transportation with a strong track record of strategic thinking and delivery with in depth knowledge of the transport/planning issues facing cities and city regions. He brings together a unique combination of working at the highest level in city Government with direct experience of leading and shaping many of the new transport and planning initiatives in London and the UK over the past decade. Richard specialises in the inter relationships between infrastructure, people and place and the economic, social and environmental outcomes that can be unlocked through investment in the transport network.


Rethinking cities of the future

Now is the time to rethink how our cities are planned, designed, and operated so that we create a new type of resilience – one that allows infrastructure, communities, and neighbourhoods to recover quickly and confidently when impacts are significant.

Cities are a focal point of opportunity, with dynamic and vibrant economies that are the engine room of the world. However, they are also clusters of poverty - with huge disparities.

How do cities remain economically competitive and respond to the fast pace of change with technology and data; how should we create a fair and equitable society where all citizens can prosper; how do we manage movement in cities in a way that benefits everyone; how should we house a growing population. And of course, standing above all these issues, how do cities transition to net zero and prepare for the effects of climate change.

In this conversation, our Global Cities, Planning and Design leader Richard de Cani, talks to Dima Zogheib, Landscape Architect and Resilient Cities expert to explore why taking an integrated approach to environmental, economic, and social challenges will give cities more chance to grow and prosper.









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