SNS: Special Letter: Graphene and Global Warming

2013-01-30

Volume 16, Issue 4
Week of January 28, 2013
In This Issue
Feature: Special Letter: Graphene And Global Warming

  • What Is the Problem? or, The Legacy of Bubbles
  • We Are a Bubble
  • Bursting the Bubble of Denial
  • The Role of Graphene
  • Understanding Graphene’s Potential
  • A Cause for Hope and “Right Action”
  • About Jon Myers

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Publisher’s Note: It is often said that the average human being literally lacks the ability to comprehend second-order rates of change: straight lines, OK – but increasing increases, no. That’s too bad, as this is the shape of most human-caused problems. Worse, this shape, representing self-reinforcing problems, gets out of control much faster than do straight-line problems, often ending up in a veritable black hole from which there is no chance of solution.Another issue most people face in understanding complex problems is quite direct: the solutions are also complex. And, it seems, most people are not very good at understanding, or supporting, solutions that have more than one moving part.

This is exactly the case for solving the problem of Global Warming. Energy-based solutions alone (e.g., reduce coal burning, when possible) won’t do it. We know from past work by the CTO Design Challenge results at FiRe that even a single set of answers isn’t enough: there will need to be a set of transition (“good enough”) solutions put into practice immediately, followed by a second set of solutions that are better yet.

Last year, SNS members read about a new proposal from us called “Twinning,” which involves linking the problems caused by CO2 created during coal and petro burning for energy, with the idea of a vast new sustainable materials cycle. By taking the carbon from CO2 and creating a new planetary economy in an amazing new class of superior, carbon-based construction materials, we suggested that we could solve the global warming problem, solve the problem of constant resource exhaustion and waste, and make some money for those taking the risk.

At that time, I thought the answer was carbon nanotubes, but a review of a combination of potential health issues gave me (and others) pause: small fibers, after all, caused asbestosis. At the same time, a second look at the requirement for a universal geometry on the nano scale convinced me that I was wrong, and that the best solution would be flat sheets of carbon, 1 atom thick – or “graphene.”Last month, the UK made the same decision, announcing a new government-sponsored R&D effort focused in Manchester (and quickly picked up by Cambridge). Two weeks ago, the EU followed suit. Having been in touch with the White House on this question since last November, we have strong hopes that the US, too, will get into this game, before it’s too late.

If we’re right about the potential of graphene, it will be the building block with which a very large part of the future world is created. Jon Myers, CEO of Graphene Technologies (a 2013 FiReStarter Company), saw this problem early, and has created a novel, proprietary solution which will hopefully accelerate the idea of placing a graphene plant next to every coal plant in the world, turning 100% of the CO2 into a valuable graphene feedstock, the centerpiece of the Twinning concept.

At the end of this issue, members will note a new feature which we felt would be particularly helpful in this discussion: a Resource List of articles on graphene from the UK and US, the latter a part of a longer list recommended to us by the White House. I believe everyone should read this letter carefully, regardless of one’s current job or interests: it addresses the creation of a new path for the survival of our species. – mra.

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