segunda-feira, 28 de outubro de 2013

2112 - The Diamond Towers – Part III - The Syndic

 As I mentioned before, the Tower’s Syndic became the most significant political figure. Now I’d like to explain how the ascension of the Syndic is a revolution in the democracy, and how this revolution spread through world.
            The advent of the Internet altered the way people interact and made possible international interactions in a way that was never though before. In fact, people realized that communication is beyond listening and speaking. The possibility to broadcast audio, video, and text provided a way to establish a real communication between people, and the access of a lot of information make people realize that other communication ways, like TV and newspaper, could be misinforming people. They realized also that governments control TV and newspaper information. The Global Warming scandal was just the top of the iceberg, and people begin to lost confidence in governments. When the Towers’ population began to be significant, the governments and the companies tried to take the political control of the Towers, but the Residents (capital R) decided that it’s a lot of power to put in hands you not trust.
            Before continue, I need to explain how the Tower Address System works. Since we can move through the entire world using the Towers Transport System, it’s necessary to have a standard address system to allow people to best localize and find address. We took inspiration on the ancient American address system, which used regular spaced streets forming regular blocks. When we realized that Towers was becoming global, we decide to use geographical coordinates to precisely position each tower. So we decide to space each Tower by two nautical miles, or 1800 meters. We decide this because one nautical mile corresponds exactly to a second in geographical coordinates. The bridges were built following the cardinal orientation. This way provided a natural localization system.
            The revolution began in a Tower called “Capricornus 4727”. It received this name because it was localized on the Tropic of Capricorn (23º 30’ S) and 47º and 27’ West. A dispute between local government and the company that built makes the Residents very angry. Through a juridical dispute, the Residents gain the control over the Tower, and decided for a new government model: the Common Agreement. It means that to be a Syndic, it is necessary to be supported by one hundred percent of the Residents. The idea is that the candidate must provide an administration plan that 100% of the residents agree. The plan is negotiated for a few weeks with the participation of all Residents. Any aspect of the plan that not gets 100% is removed. The first candidate that reaches 100% is elected. You may think that it can lead to an unsolved situation. However, since each resident have the conscience about this risk, everybody works to reach an agreement.
            The “Capricornus Revolution”, as they call it today, was rapidly spread through Internet around the world. Soon others towers decided to follow the same way, and the juridical precedent helped others to get the same solution.
            When most people moved to Towers, and the world economy became dependent of its products, the governments around the world became to fall due to its lack of usefulness. The Syndics and the Council of Syndics became the new political and administrative power. A power supported by one hundred percent of people. That’s the New Democracy.

segunda-feira, 21 de outubro de 2013

2112 – The Diamond Towers - Part II – The Carbon Crisis

At the time I was born, it was very difficult for anyone to reach 100 years. Today it is not unusual for someone to reach this age. It seems that the new lifestyle and the advances in genetic medicine have led to life expectancy to levels never seen before. From what I hear, it has been 50 years since no one dies old. It is not my specialty, but it seems it has to do with a set of genes that appear to be associated with the aging process. Our friends, the doctors, created a genetic treatment that disables this set of genes. A curious thing is that only the first two generations of humans had to receive treatment. The third onwards began to be born with the genes of old age inactive. Perhaps this is the first example of self-caused evolution. The same technique was used to cure diseases like color blindness or hemophilia. But all this progress has created a big problem. Although birth rates are relatively low (I hear about 1.75 children per woman), mortality rates are also very low. Infant mortality is almost zero and wars, crimes and traffic accidents are no longer a concern (traffic accidents almost ended when the car stopped need drivers). Thus, human population continues to increase. Today we are in 15 billion. The Torres guarantee space and ecological conditions for up to 10 times that, except that there is no enough carbon on the planet for so many Towers. So, although things are good today, it will not be like this forever. Some proposals such as the migration to the Moon or Mars are being considered.
            But this is a future crisis and I would like to talk about a past crisis, where there was no shortage, but excess carbon in the wrong place.
            I am one of the survivors of the Carbon Crisis, the time when we almost self-destroyed because of our carelessness and greed. Mankind has learned from his mistakes, but I have no assurance that such errors or other worst will not be repeated in the future. I then decided to tell this story to future generations. For a long time we no longer use paper for obvious reasons. Today we depend entirely on digital media for our records and our communication. But if one day our technology fails for some reason, we will lose access to all our records, our entire history. Without them, humanity can take a huge time to rebuild, and this may be our ultimate downfall. Thinking about it I'm making this my record being printed on pages made ​​of a special polymer, which according to the experts prognosis can survive for several million years. I will make sure that copies of this record shall be present in each tower already built and in each of which will be built from now. I'm making to be included microfilmed records made ​​of the same material, with a record as complete as possible of all the relevant information of our culture and society as well as instructions for building an easy to manufacture and handling microfilm reader for the case in which all players have been destroyed. That is to ensure that someday, in case that the civilization should be destroyed, the mankind can rise again, doing things the right way. I hope this multiple redundancy guarantee that this record reaches the hand of those who need it.
            Ah! I was about to talk about the Carbon Crisis. Let me explain a little about what preceded this crisis. Since the 1970s, it began to emerge early indications that the climate was being changed by human action. For many years, this anthropomorphic climate change was attributed to human carbon emissions, a result of burning fossil fuels and deforestation by fires. It was created a group of researchers, then called IPCC, which was responsible for collecting all data from climate research to corroborate with the thesis of the "anthropomorphic global warming", and to produce from these data a periodic reports that should serve as a guide to governments and other institutions in a decision making position. At the beginning, everything seemed to indicate that human emissions of carbon dioxide were actually altering the Earth's climate. The problem began when global average temperatures stopped rising in accordance with the theoretical model. However, it took some years before the public began to take notice of this trend. Coincidentally or not, in this time an incident occurred which damaged the IPCC image and provided ammunition for critics of global warming, the so-called skeptics. It was discovered that one of the researchers selected the data so that it fit the theory, discarding the rest. It is common practice among researchers to discard data that detract too much from the expected average (due to measurement errors), but in this case, the discharge was clearly a forced curve fitting. This provided wood for the fire from critics, who began to suspect other jobs. Faults were detected in the data collection and selection, faulty methodology, and political and economic interests in both factions. But the sensationalist and unskilled technical press failed to clearly identify what was really happening. A part of the press continued to systematically disseminate the global warming thesis with no change, as if nothing had happened. Another part (the most notorious) gave focus to critics, giving to public the idea that there was not a global warming at all.
In the midst of this war of facts, lies and accusations, a few groups of serious climatologists began to filter the signal from the noise. It seemed clear that there was some sort of climate disruption, something that could not simply be explained by natural variations. The problem was to define if the trend was heating, cooling or strong oscillations between these two extremes. It was easy to see from the data (those correctly collected) that there was a strong correlation between human activity and climate extremes, but not only in the direction of warming. It was also easy to see that these disturbances appeared more intensely in more densely populated and industrialized areas. It was very difficult to filter this disturbance among the various natural phenomena such as El Niño and solar cycle, but as more data were collected more the correlation began to be clear, not toward a warm, but definitely a natural cycle disturbance. This disruption could no longer be exclusively attributed to human carbon emissions, but the set of all activities that somehow caused their impact. Soon it was proved that deforestation was more severe than burning fossil fuels, even when this deforestation was aimed at planting sugar cane or other biomass to replace oil consumption. Other things like the urban occupation, water and water sources use, water, air and soil pollution, electronic junk, waste of energy, raw materials and food, overfishing, species extinction, and much more, were changing so significant the planetary ecosystem. It soon became clear that simply cutting carbon emissions was far from enough to solve the problem. It was necessary to change the system, to do things in a different way. This resulted in profound changes in eating habits, housing and transportation, in addition to profound economic and political changes.
Unfortunately, when the scientific community finally came to this conclusion, many trillions of dollars have already been irretrievably spent on "active carbon mitigation", i.e. the construction of huge and expensive machines designed to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This had its good side, because it allowed the surplus of material needed to lower the construction of the towers. But we just barely escaped from plunging into an early Ice Age. This happened because humanity decided to act before understanding what was really happening.

Gilvan Apolonio

domingo, 13 de outubro de 2013

2112 - Part 1 - The Diamond Towers

Today is February 22 of 2112.  And today I’d like to talk about how our world reverted the climate change and avoided the earth environment and mankind destruction. I choose to talk about these things today because this is a very special day for me. Today is my 100th anniversary, and I say how all these things happened.
            I was born in a year when many people believed that would be the end of the world. This belief was related to a certain Mayan calendar, but I never understood the relationship between one thing and another. In fact, I grew in a world that was turning at same time better and worse. Better, because every day new wonderful technology appearing, bringing the promise of getting better people’s life. However, just a few people could access these technologies.
             I was born in São Paulo country, in Brazil. When I was a child, there were a lot of sugar cane fields around the place I lived. At that time, many people believed that sugar cane was the best option as a sustainable energy. However, the mankind was destroying the world, and these cane fields toke a part of this destruction. The year I was born, 2012, presented the history’s highest and the lowest temperatures. Despite the economic crisis on Europe that helped to reduce the carbon emissions, it looked like the world climate was already jeopardized.  Powerful hurricanes, devastating drought, and North Pole glaciers melting was the final warning. Something needed to be done.
            I was 12 or 13 when changes started. For years, several sophisticated plans were proposed to revert the climate changes. However, the situation was so critic that a lot of crazy plans were executed. Big machines were built in order to remove the CO2 from air. Giant algae tanks were air insufflated in order to produce carbon compounds. An unprecedented massive reforestation program was started, and millions of little mirror was put in orbit, in order to reduce the Sun radiation on the surface of the Earth.  All these initiatives spent a lot of money and hard fossil fuel taxes were charged, making automobiles a luxury. All production chain was affected, but all people treated this issue as a war effort. Food, water, fuels and energy began to be rationed.
            After some years, people realized that humanity wasted a lot of resources. Due to the fuel’s elevated prices, people began to use high efficiency electric cars and bicycles. Electronics and appliances were designed to use less energy and last more time. Streetlights began to be automatically turned off when no people on streets. Garbage began to be 100% recycled in order to reuse materials or to produce energy.
            People began to contribute, since they realized that their lives depended on these contributions. Companies began to promote home office in order so save energy and the waste began to be intolerable. Weapons and low quality product’s production was suspended.
            When I was attending college, a new technology arrived. Due to all changes in the world in consequence of the new energetic paradigm, a log of hydrocarbons began to be available. Oil price got down, but nobody though about backing to the old habits. However, people realized that oil is a too noble raw material to be burned. In that time, the nanotube polymer technology was mature. It is possible to produce this polymer using any source of hydrocarbons, even from the garbage. This kind of polymer is a perfect building material due to high resistance to traction, compression, and chemical attack. It also could be used to special functions, like heat and light control and photoelectric conversion. Then, It’s started up to construct enormous buildings, more than 1500m (5000 feet), able to house more than 100,000 people. To avoid environmental problems, strict regulations defined a minimum distance of 2 km (1.2 mile) between buildings. A natural extension of these well-spaced buildings was the construction of great cable-stayed bridges, freeing the soil for agriculture or native vegetation.
            These towers were fully self-sufficient in energy, water, and even materials; due to high efficient recycle systems and energy production using strong altitude winds and solar energy. All exceeding were sold to industry, and residents received part of the Tower operation’s income.
            Due to low construction and operation costs, plus a significant income, an apartment on a tower become cheaper than usual livings. This started the first urban exodus of the history. The great Towers and the integrated bridges integrated a highly complex and sophisticated transport system, including local lanes, roads and high-speed tracks, afterwards substituted by high speed vacuum tubes, allowing high speed trips (nowadays, a trip between São Paulo and New York takes only 40 minutes).
            The advent of Diamond Towers caused the ascension of a new political figure: the Syndic. At the beginning, specialized companies were in charge of the Towers. However, people realized that it was a great risk to put so great power in private companies hands. So they decide to elect local Syndics.  Any people could be candidate to be Syndic (capital S), elected by common agreement, system that persists until today. Common agreement was adopted to avoid no ending disputes among residents. This kind of dispute could be a minor problem in small buildings. However, in town-size populations buildings, these disagreements could cause great loss of money and resources. Thus, Syndics became an important person, performing real power in behalf of his or her own Tower, but with no connection to the official power, and making the national governments weak.
            Thereby, Diamond Towers became the major humankind’s living, working, and political unity.
            Until now, I omitted an important part of this history. My name is Lúcio Freire, and most people know me as the Father of the Diamond Towers. Certainly, this is an overstatement. I just put together the puzzle pieces. I had a crazy idea, and I was lucky to find someone to believe in this idea. But I didn’t tough about the consequences of this idea, and how deeply would the humankind be affected.
            Today, I live in a Tower in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, 150 km (93 miles) from Manaus. From my window of the 457th floor, I can see several Towers like the one I live. However, I’m not alone here. I can be anywhere in the world in less than two hours. Most people live like me. Poverty and ignorance were eradicated. There are no more national frontiers (but this is another history), and generally speaking, the world is better than before. This year it is probable that the Artic glacier would not entirely melted on summer. But don’t think that the humankind become perfect. We still commit errors, someone very severe. But I feel a little proud for celebrating one hundred year in a so promising time.


Brazil’s history has several local incidents that we could call revolution.  We can mention two most important of them: the Farroupilha Revolution, who take place on Rio Grande do Sul at the 19th century, and Constitutionalist Revolution, that happened in São Paulo in earlier 20th century. These two represented the people’s desire of freedom and self-reliance. But can we consider appropriate these revolutions? In which situations a revolution is fair or justified?

We are expected to support all government legally constituted. However, when these governments try to change laws to get advantage over the people, and interfere on free agency, people should have the right to defend it. The government’s bad actions can make the people angry, and it can be a spark that would start a popular revolution. The tea taxes started the American Revolution, while the starvation caused the French Revolution. Obviously, the American Revolution was not about tea, and both revolutions are strongly related with the same core: freedom.

There is not easy to judge the events that happened recently in Egypt, Libya and Syria, or even the recent commotions in Brazil. Unluckiness, people with no good intentions could use these movements for self-promotion or other hidden agenda. Or they can resort for terrorist’s tactics, claiming that the ends justify the means. It looks like a tricky and dangerous situation. It is hard to judge a revolution, but we still judge revolutionary behavior. It is not easy to ensure an ethical revolution, due to the exposed above. However, when people decide to start a revolution, it is like a tsunami. There is no possible control. Revolutions are like an institutional chaos, because most of them came from institutional failure.

There is only one way to avoid people revolution: preserving the institutions healthy. Governments, congress and courts need to be reliable, worthy and dependable, and people need to trust them. Otherwise, a spark could start a revolution with unpredictable consequences.