Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Blueprint: Averting Global Collapse

The Blueprint - Averting Global Collapse
Author's website: Daniel Rirdan (It also contains links to Amazon and other sites, where you can order the book from)

When Daniel approached me for a book review, owing to many prior book review commitments and a very hectic schedule, I had to say no. At the same time, I was well aware that the issues he is speaking about in this book, are crucial. If we don't take steps today, there will be no tomorrow.

After having read the extract available for download from his website and a peek that Amazon offers into some pages, I decided to quiz him instead (I never interview authors without having read their book - the book review and interview go hand in hand) Only this time, I made an exception. After all the message contained in the book was important and I did not want to imitate our weather, ie: Delay of the monsoon season and delay the insights that I could share via my blog.

This is what Amazon showed me as a peek preview: Some studies indicate that with a carefully controlled, economical irrigation regimen, it is possible to reach about 80% water savings. This one straightforward measure can cut our water consumption like nothing else. With the use of subsurface drip irrigation we can save perhaps 1,000 billion cubic meters of water every year if we postulate 35%–40% water savings.66 If you take this 1,000 billion cubic meters and use it to fill five glasses of water daily for every one of the billion inhabitants of Africa and also for every one of the billion inhabitants of India, you could keep doing this, year in, year out, for about eight hundred years.It does take some doing to bring about a water crisis aboard a water planet and have the leading cause be the indiscriminate flooding of a field instead of the utilization of a piece of plastic with little watering holes.

My country India is largely dependent on the monsoons, since there seem to be some delays this year, we are anxiously watching the skies, hoping that grey clouds will form and burst and rejuvenate earth and our economy. I do hope we are better able to spread the use of drip irrigation which would be a boon in our country.

Here is the interview with Daniel and I do hope someday soon to read and review the book.

1) Tell me something about yourself and what prompted you to write the book: The Blue Print - Averting Global Collapse.

I could have told you what I've studied or did in the past, but in the end, the most meaningful answer I can give is this: "I am the man who wrote The Blueprint." The two-years writing journey I have undertaken transformed me, and I must say, aged me--both matured and wore me out. You cannot wake up every morning with the burden of the world on your shoulders and not be changed. And the only way to have written that book was to assume the role I took on: like the fate of the world rests with me, like this is my responsibility. I had to mean it to care. I had to care in order to go the extra mile needed to produce viable, highly detailed plans that are devoid of sentiments. Why did I write it? I identified what is the most important thing I could do, and then went ahead and did it.

2) Shortage of water is an issue that not only developing countries like India are grappling with, but also countries like the USA. How do you propose countries could resolve this problem? What could be the possibilities that India could look at?

Let's get something out of the way first. No viable technological solutions, such as the ones I am about the outline, are possible within the existing economic and political framework--had they been, you would have noticed it by now. I do urge and offer a concrete plan for a total makeover of our political and economic paradigms, which is a topic all of its own. Thus, in my answer I will suspend, set aside, the accompanying economic and political issues and present in broad brushstrokes the technological solution. My plan is the desalination of the ocean water coupled with a system of canals pumping the water inland and then using the existing network of rivers to get the water where it needs to go throughout the land. This can take care of all our water needs--in perpetuity. Let's talk numbers. Very generously, I reckon 10 kWh to desalinate 1 cubic meter of water. Based on the existing Arizona Central Project, I reckon 1.48 kWh to move one cubic meter of water 500 kilometers and lift it about 1,000 meter high (assuming the terrain is slowly going uphill). To provide for all the water needs of USA would take 678 TWh a year. This last number can give you a reference point for the electricity required to desalinate water in other regions of the world. As a secondary point my plan calls for the wholesale switch from the existing irrigation practices to sub-surface drip irrigation--which uses drip lines buried underground that release small amounts of water into the plant root zone. With them it is possible to reach 80% water saving. Given that irrigation accounts for the vast majority of water consumption, the importance of switching to sub-surface drip irrigation this cannot be overstated.

3) You mention about nature restoration and bringing back the wilderness, but with a need for space, especially in countries like India or China how can this be attained?

China's eastern seaboard is heavily populated and obviously cannot be re-wilded. However, its western regions, are fairly sparse and thus are viable candidates. Second point, for many reasons we have to bring down our collective numbers. It is another topic all of its own, but when you end up within 150 years with 15% of the existing population numbers, you have a lot more space for restoring the biosphere, which is currently teetering on the edge of collapse. And another relevant point yet-- I call on a right of passage, residence, and work for everyone everywhere (implemented in stages, over a fifteen years period). For one, this means that some of the one billion people crowded in the Indian Subcontinent may choose to move elsewhere, reducing ecological stress, making it possible to restore some of the local ecosystems.

4) Why hasn't solar power become as popular as it ought to have? What is hindering its spread? After all the nuclear disaster in Japan has made many countries wary of the use of Nuclear power.

You have to ask yourself what is the driving force of the economy and politics--which explains, as a matter of course, everything that happens and doesn't happen. This aside, solar panels don't make much sense by themselves--as they are intermittent and provide only daytime power. Furthermore, there is no vision, master plan and mandate to orchestrate a unified power grid that would provide the needs of an entire continent. Each agency, each utility company has a tunnel vision. With this very localized view, what sense is there to put solar panels in the middle of the desert, when there is no agency capable of constructing long distance power lines reaching the population centers? Finally, no decision maker--at least in his professional capacity--cares about tomorrow. Today, fossil fuels can be cheaply extracted and burned to make electricity. So why go with a more expensive technology? And as for tomorrow? Well, let tomorrow take care of itself. This has been our way of thinking.

5) Are you optimistic that we can undo, even if partially, the damage that we have done to Mother Earth?

Not with the existing state of mind. We are too preoccupied with trivia to affect the needed changes; we are too wedded to the existing social paradigm to affect a transformation. The means our at hand, though; we can undo much of the damage. And I will only say that much: historically, we have mobilized ourselves and have shown great spirit of sacrifice and courage under crisis. Give people hope, show them a concrete, viable plan and even for half a chance of success, they will jump upon it with both feet. No, not everyone. But a determined, inspired minority can steer humanity away from the brink of ecological collapse.


Leora said...

It's so hard to read about all the environmental issues we have on this planet. And it's so true that politics often gets in the way of any solutions at all.

Regarding desalination, one could hope that if it can be achieved in one small part of the globe, perhaps it could be copied elsewhere.

Thank you, Lubna, for bringing forward these important issues by reviewing this book.

Carlo said...

Thank you for this insightful interview. Mr. Rirdan has brought to light may ecological issues that need consciousness and awareness, and it's really up to us to change.

Susan Oakes said...

Really interesting interview Lubna. What he said about solar panels is similar to what happened in my country. I didn't know India was dependent on Monsoons so I learent something new today.

Dilip said...

Yes a much needed book to inspire us to be aware and to act and contribute to avert a 'Global Collapse'.

Sustainable development in the words of George Monbiot ~ "...sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of un- sustainability".

In my opinion unless we as a society and as individuals change our life's basic philosophy - simple living with love and respect for nature very little may be achieved.

Thanks for this brilliant review.

Anonymous said...

Great Book in these alarming times and thank you for a thoughtful review on my blog commenting about the Nuclear Fallout in Japan...
Please also check out my documentary about Nuclear Radiation in Japan from the people of the streets of Osaka - one year on from the Tsunami