“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller
It’s been a while since I posted about the Earth Rehabilitation Program and the Global Food System, but it’s still something I think about a lot, and I wanted to share some of my latest thoughts.
Some basic considerations:
- The world is littered with well-meaning groups. Despite the best of intentions, for the most part they have not connected with each other, they are not well-organised, they are not powerful or funded.
- Some well-meaning groups are charities and collect money by employing professional salespeople to accost passersby in the street and extract money from them. Greenpeace, Red Cross, WWF, World Vision, etc., etc. I respect what these groups are trying to do but I don’t respect these methods nor do I consider them effective, as many have been around a good while and yet the problems they’re trying to solve have worsened.
- I do respect companies like Tesla and SpaceX (yes I know they have the same CEO) who effect real change by displacing old technologies, systems and businesses. They follow the quote of Bucky, above. Instead of crying for change, or fighting the status quo, Elon used this thing called “intelligence” to develop better ways of doing things.
My intention is therefore to create a global for-profit organisation (a multinational company), which will become wealthy and powerful (these are not bad words, by the way) in order to effect genuine large-scale global change. The company will sustain itself by participating in the global economic system (despite its flaws), while simultaneously moving Earth in the direction of improvement.
Core activities of the company include:
- Ensuring everyone in the world has access to free, healthy food, and clean water and air.
- Promoting animal rights and compassion, and ending factory farming and deforestation.
- A massive global reforestation program, incorporating holistic planned grazing.
- Promoting the development of continuous renewables, namely tidal and geothermal energy, as a solution to world energy requirements.
- Promoting the benefits of living underground, including the development of underground settlements.
- Settlement of Luna and Mars.
In this post I will speak a bit more about the main initial goal of the company – development of the Global Food System.
Everyone must have access to sufficient healthy food
Note, I don’t use the words “everyone has the right to eat” because rights are just an idea, not a physical actual thing, and it’s an idea that frequently confuses people and leads to a false sense of entitlement. No-one really has “God-given rights” (they were always human-given, to ourselves), but they do really have stomachs, and the practical reality is that putting healthy food in those stomachs on a regular basis will reduce health issues, stress, and crime.
This principle stands in contrast to the current model of “everyone who has money should eat”. Aside from the fact that we are compassionate, in light of a fast-approaching mechanised and automated future, many people will simply not have to work, and yet they will still need to eat. Note, this is not about who “deserves” to eat. It is about creating a successful global civilisation.
As long as there are parents with hungry children, there will be crime. As long as there are toxins in the food supply, there will be disease. When we are providing the world with sufficient healthy food for free, crime and disease will be significantly reduced. It should be clear that this will benefit everyone, greatly reducing the cost of law enforcement, security, and health care; greatly reducing fear, anger, and violence in the society; and greatly improving people’s well-being, emotions, quality of thinking, utility, and interpersonal, international and intercultural relationships.
This concept could be called something like “Universal Basic Sustenance”, analogous to the concept of Universal Basic Income.
It is my conjecture that the cost of providing everyone in the world with free food will be substantially less than the costs associated with addressing the problems that not doing this causes.
How does this work within a profitable business model? This is not, after all, a charity. My conclusion is that the best approach will be a “freemium” model. Certain crops will be free; others will cost money.
Free crops will be selected for being highly nutritious, yet inexpensive and easy to produce (and this will vary by region), for example, potatoes, spinach, mushrooms and bananas. No-one, anywhere in the world, will be charged for these crops. If you have no money to buy food because of injury or because a robot took your job, at least you can give your kids some mashed potatoes with spinach and mushrooms for dinner, and banana for dessert, which is a pretty nutritious and delicious meal. Yes, it might be boring after a while, but the intention will be to progressively add more crops to the free list as the company and the global system develop (when my friend Kristian Smith and I invented this idea back in 1996, it was simply called “Free Potatoes”).
To achieve profitability, we will also offer “premium” crops, which will be basically everything else that our efficient high-tech organic urban aquaponics farms will produce: fish, fruits, vegetables, different varieties of mushrooms, etc.
Every farm in our worldwide organisation will be its own business. The location and local cultural and economic conditions will determine what crops are grown, which are made for free and which are not, and what the right formula is to achieve the goal of every farm: zero hunger in the region that the farm is assigned to serve, while also being profitable. These goals will be achieved by selecting the right crops (and which ones to make free), and the optimal farm size.
For the purpose of this discussion the name of my company is Ascension Technologies (AT), and the subdivision of the company assigned to build and manage the global food system will be called Global Food System (GFS).
A “farmer” does not mean a man in a hat, pushing a plough behind a donkey in a field. This is because our farms will be efficient high-tech organic urban aquaponics farms. Most of them will be built right in the middle of cities, and potentially underground, powered by renewable energy to the maximum degree possible, and harvesting and recycling their own water. Farmers will, therefore, be technologically savvy, and educated in computers and mechatronics as much as the core principles of agriculture (particularly hydroponics and aquaculture).
As mentioned, every farm in the GFS network will be its own business. We will probably use a franchise model, as this is an established model that has been fine-tuned and optimised over the years, and there are plenty of resources from which to learn how to create a successful global franchise.
Farmers will either purchase a franchise, or GFS will provide interest-free loans to enable new farms to be established. There will be zero pressure on farms to repay loans, as their primary goal is to feed people. However, farmers will be supported and guided by GFS as to how to become profitable.
We will eventually create our own bank to issue these loans, in order to take advantage of fractional reserve lending. In this way loans will cost us much less, because with each loan we’ll be creating new money.
Every farm will be connected to our online software. Sensors within farms will record all utilisation of energy, water, nutrients and other resources, and food production and sales and giveaways will be recorded meticulously. This will inform GFS about which farms are successful and why, and how to make other farms in the network also successful. Farmers will be able to share ideas and learn from each other about how to make their farms work for them and for the people. This will optimise success.
What about competition?
If people want to copy our model, we will embrace and encourage this. We require profit to be successful, but our main goal is a healthy and happy world. Other people doing this will not threaten our profits, if for no other reason than AT will have other profitable activities. Also, the company will probably not be publicly-listed, because we do not want to compromise on our goals for the benefit of shareholders’ bank accounts.
We will open source all our inventions and systems to encourage other companies and farmers to do similar things. We will invite and enable existing farmers to join into our network, as long as their farms are sustainable, pescavegan, humane, and organic. If farmers wish to join our network whose farms are not organic pescavegan, then we can help them convert to this kind of farm. In other words, not every farm has to be urban aquaponics. We want to embrace farms and farmers all over the world, and connect them into a communications and information network that will empower them to become fully successful including being a net provider of free healthy food to their local area.
More to come later.