A True Circular Economy

May 3, 2016

 

Let’s face the biggest risk of our current and future generation; climate change with all its related causes like natural disasters and migration leading to increased tensions. The world Economic Forum has identified this as top priority. In addition, scientists nearly uniformly agree that the Earth’s climate system is unequivocally warming and requires much more action. Worse even, the risks of climate change and the related problems are expected to become only more impactfull in the future. Hence, is without a doubt our most pressing and vital treat.

 

For some, living in fragile environments and areas naturally more affected than others, such as in the Sahel, Pacific-, and Caribbean islands, Bangladesh and the Artic area, both people and the natural environment is particular hard hit. The impact in fact is already beyond our worst expectations: the flooding and disappearing of islands due to rising sea levels; desertification; raging storms; deadly heat; vast areas of snow melting at record numbers. For these areas, radical measures where needed already years ago in order to stop what is happening there. But all of us will be affected in one way or another. Politics, currently nearly uniformly worldwide (with the unfortunate exception of the federal government of the United States of America) is aware of the need to act. However, their measures are too little and unfortunately too late. The global community still falls 30% short of the emissions reductions needed to achieve the, below 2-degree change limit. This 2-degree limit has been agreed upon in the Paris-, and re-enforced in the COP23-, agreement.

 

Due to its importance, in this case more than all others, we cannot rely just on national and international agreements. Also, we should not expect politicians to solve the problem for us. Rather, we also need to empower companies and individuals to act. We indeed should. We; the global citizen, the fragile common man in either developed or underdeveloped countries, the concerned elderly generations, the ambitious youth and others. Some of us are heavily advocating and pressing for change, many others have become faternalistic in the sense that climate change is unstoppable and the depletion and pollution of the earth -which currently unfortunately continues at alarming rates- is beyond our control.

 

So how to help solve it?

 

Now let’s imagine it is not! Let’s imagine getting rid not just of climate change completely, de- plastifying our oceans, de-carbonizing our planet, re-vitalizing polluted areas, and stop desertification. Massively ambitious and with a cause worth dying for, new technologies could help facilitate to enable all this. We cannot afford to overstretch and thus focus on different plans in different phases described below.

 

First it wants to hash all newly planted trees; basically, give them a unique number that modifies whenever the tree changes. This hash is based on the blockchain system making the proof of existence undisputable. Arguably we could extend “blockchainifying”, or simply said, digitize, all existing trees too. This sounds complicated, therefore, let’s move towards examples in order to better elaborate what this would mean.

The solution helps to solve one of the big hurdles in donations and investments in green projects (e.g. reforestation projects): fear of fraud, lack of transparency and trust, lack of visual tangible proof of what my donation has accomplished or that my investment is doing well. A good use case and example is carbon offsetting, that is donating something to offset CO2 emissions for example when flying. Who of us knows what exactly happens to the extra fee we pay to an airline to compensate our carbon footprint for that flight? Having asked this many times already, the answer nearly always remains absent. Due to both the missing link, transparency and trust between what consumers pay for in this case and the return which is often not more than a mere statement or certificate of a particular intermediary company, consumers are often reluctant to pay this additional fee.

Now what if we make this link visible, what if we provide every consumer with numbers that relate to a hash of a particular tree, blockchain based, making proof of existence undeniable and fraud impossible? Then, arguably so, customers would be more willing to pay for the offset of their flight.

 

What blockchain here helps with is to guarantee that the offsets are real, verified and enforceable; and permanent. This is exactly the solution that &Able provides; verify that companies do what they promised, and show this to investors/ donators in tangible ways. It does this cheaply and quickly with the help of advanced technology so that verification can be done even for small transactions making the solutions highly scalable. The technology is a combination of using block chain and satellite imagery: which then can proof that this tree is my tree and how it is doing. &Able in turn gets revenue through a fee for each transaction (donation, investment) paid by the investor or the airline for example.

The above can be applied more broadly too and will enable governments, NGO’s, companies and private individuals to know exactly what the status is of either their investments in forests, recreation or protected areas, and other forestry use is. Sot that they can take action based on this information.

The same technology is highly valuable for individuals and companies that invested in forestry. Major frauds have occurred, mainly in the U.K. and the Netherlands concerning teak forest plantations promising massive returns while the trees needed to provide the eventual return on investment from wood sale, where in fact non-existing.

 

Besides the above two use cases, you can imagine many more varieties of value based on this technology. In particular when these hashes can be verified by satellite imagery which can be can be processed automatically towards clear insights. As an example of what is already possible with satellite images; plots of land with trees can be monitored, the health of the trees, respective species, size, and respective timber wood value can be established. This continuously updated satellite data can keep the information of the trees up to date.

 

So why do we want to start with hashing trees? Because trees and forests and oceans act as carbon sinks that reduce the effects of global warming. A single tree’s impact may be small relatively speaking but imagine if we plant trillions of trees in a circular economy based system, on such a massive scale. In addition, if governments have much more accurate information on their forests, they can protect it better too.

Saving the forests that are currently cut would be like taking 600 million cars off the roads. That is much more than the number of cars in Europe and the United States combined. In climate speak, this positive contribution to the emissions balance (achieved through any action that strengthens or protects the capacity of forests, rainforests, wetlands, soil, mangroves and peat and absorbs carbon emissions) acts as a “credit” in our global climate account. Hence, the land-use sector is the only sector that can go from being a net emitter or withdrawal today to a net absorber or depositor in the future.

 

For context, approximately half of the world’s original six trillion trees have been lost since the beginning of civilization. Most of the remaining forests have been damaged by industrial-scale human activities, yet still hold more than 45 percent of terrestrial carbon, are home to two-thirds of all land-based plant and animals, and support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people.

 

Second, it wants to establish a circular crypto economy where all actors involved are incentivized to help forests grow, this can be compared to a micro economy that is tokenized with a community that shares a common goal.

The goal of this community based commercial sustainable forestry is that management layers are largely cut out and the community is incentivized to actively involve themselves in the (re)forestation process. It is the community that is rewarded by the value increase of the coin. It also receives tokens by the actions they themselves, either physically-, logistically-, or organizationally-, execute. Tokens are thus awarded similar to proving existence in decentralized blockchain verifications. The miners, known in the crypto currency scene for their coding and digital work, are in this project the actual re-foresters, maintainers, land providers, and others that have a stake in this circular micro economy. Hence, the token launching event and the respective tokens deriving from it would be asset based; a natural, organically growing asset that makes it possible to mathematically calculate the value of the coin, removing the speculation attached to the overwhelming majority of the current crypto coins currently existing.

 

Third, it wants to set up a complete machine to machine based system by using blockchain, crypto, drones planting seeds executed through smart contracts, satellite data analysed

for control, and seamless software and easy interface for the humans participating. Science fiction forestry becoming reality, with early-stage technologies becoming available and more mature.

Machine to Machine based reforestation, how would this work? Drone based tree planting and maintenance is currently already possible, although still requires human monitoring. A step further in the commercial process is clearing the trees and distributing them to specific areas, arguably the last part of this supply chain cannot be done completely machine to machine based. This remains to be discovered. The reforestation and maintenance however, can be executed completely machine to machine based. The mechanisms, smart contracts, maintenance plans, amongst other, however, need to be constructed properly beforehand. Knowledge gained in phase 2 can help construct a viable path towards executing this third phase.

Fourth and finally, &Able wants to use all this knowledge, their build systems, developed protocols, software and coding to combat additional environmental challenges like; de- desertification, cleaning up the world’s oceans, re-vitalizing heavily protected areas and de-carbonizing the planet.

There are many more commercial, community-based business models beyond reforestation which we can explore. These can also be outsourced by making our infrastructure open source. Like the below:

  • De-desertification. By planting trees and vegetation that combat the desertification trend that is rampant in particular in the Sahel and other fast changing areas, affected by climate change.

  • De-polluting land areas. There are many parts of land that are polluted, basically have a rock bottom value, and when revitalized gain in value for both the holder as well as for the environment. This can be applied to small plots of land but also huge polluted areas such as lake Baku, where collective action by an engaged and commercially incentivized community can make a huge positive difference for both the people living in that area, the environment and their own due to appreciation of their indirect assets which are completely fluid (tradable).

  • De-plastifying our oceans. Currently it is unprofitable to extract plastic waste from

    the oceans since plastic is too cheap to produce making it unviable to recycle from a commercial perspective, let alone extract it from the oceans first. Taken government subsidies or NGO funds into account to clean up waste from the ocean, the parties involved in cleaning up the ocean can receive tokens per kg ocean waste collected and potentially recycled. Taking into account that technologies developed will become more efficient, the token based incentivation of these efforts will only help this development.

  • Extract CO2 from their air. Incentivize this via tokens. These will be paid for by governments, NGOs or CO2 certificate compensations. Technologies to extract CO2 from the air are currently costly and infantile. Required technologies are available yet still costly. Token-based incentivation, tech advance and community pressure will drive down costs. This can enable a profitable business model.

As can be noted from all of the above, the ambitions of this project are sky high, when it works however, so are the potential rewards. Since the cause, making this planet more sustainable and combating climate change, is indisputably the biggest challenge of our current generation. The concept that &Able proposes has been able to generate enthusiasm in its early days already. However, in order to actually make this a reality, it needs more than rational arguments. It needs super credibility. It needs partners. It needs a network behind it. It needs supporters.&Able currently is in its early stages in ever expanding search for partners and enthusiasts. We need you and your network. Just like the –to be created community- could be much aided by you and your network.This article is meant as a teaser, in order to attract a community that stand behind this purpose and dare to dream. For more details on our plans on how we will establish the above, our business model and our partners, get in touch! Are you excited? Are you positive about radically changing our world for the better? Do you believe in making the unimaginable possible? Then get in touch, let’s start this movement here and now, build this community and enable all technologies currently available and those to be further developed in the future, for our common benefit where active involvers like you and your network will be even more incentivised. Since it is you and your network that can &Able all of this! 

 

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