Agile Race To Zero

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Agile Race To Zero
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2021
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2020

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And now for something completely different. Unless you've been living under a rock, you will be aware that massive change is afoot. A popular uprising against ecological disaster is gaining unprecedented momentum. This talk covers ways in which we, in technology, can enact meaningful change through our professional roles, and in our personal lives. Future Design, code optimization, green operations, agile change management: whatever your role, you will be presented with useful entry points to make a difference in the climate emergency. Your takeaways will be urgency, hope, empowerment, and community.
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thank you okay let me first kick off by introducing myself for those who don't know me i've been in open source web development since 1995 did python since 1997. they've deployed since 2004 i'm the founder of quave which runs on plone and i'm also now a lecturer in digital transformation at a business school this talk basically grew out of the thing i did the thing that middle-aged men do which is to marry a new wife and then take a sabbatical and wonder about the futility of life and i was a bit fed up with being zoomed in on software development all the time while so much stuff is ongoing so i did a step back and i zoomed out and this store grew out of that i'm going to take you through well this is not expertise it's more like questions like i see three waves hitting us three waves of disruption i just want to share my thoughts about those and see what it brings for you the first wave that's hitting us is well known to you it's digital transformation it's a wave we all have been riding for the past decades it's how we make our money this is a graph showing moore's law and you should note that this graph has a logarithmical scale it shows the increase and speed of computers over more than a century and the increase is exponential and this whole talk is about exponential curves and our inadequacy as human beings to fully grasp the effects of exponential developments and we've seen that in the digital space like now this is from the matrix which
is more than 20 years ago and all that stuff has come to pass already we now have elections being stolen by armies of bots we are on the verge of seeing the deployment of literal killer bots and i'm a bit disappointed basically in all the digital stuff because it did a lot of good but you know we also now have facebook and google and we just have this massive concentration instead of the open source empowerment that i was that was motivating me to step into digital but let's park that i think you all know about digital transformation let's look at the other waves that are
coming a major one is sustainability transformation
this is the cliched picture of an ice bear and the problem with this is that we've seen it so often that we are now desensitized to melting ice caps and dyeing polar bears it's basically a big yawn reflex which is a pity this is still taken from
a movie made by shell in 1991 in which they addressed basically the effects of carbon on the climate knowing that already then and projecting that like stabilized by 2005 which actually means zero emissions by 2005 because you don't stabilize unless you do that and it's all a big greenwash because the movie that this came from was basically saying we should switch to natural gas and do efficiency and that doesn't get us the zero carbon does it
meanwhile we've had three decades and more of climate talks and conferences and these are nicely superimposed here on the graph of actual measurements on hawaii of our co2 levels in the atmosphere you can see that graph not making a dent whatever talks and treaties are made and that's a problem
meanwhile the situation is so darn that we can see in a conservative medium channel like not the telegraph that's not a very progressive newspaper we can see jp morgan which is a major investment bank basically telling us that capitalism is killing life on this planet now stuff has gotten pretty dire if major banks write stuff like that in conservative news media
and we're now in the situation that the next few years are probably the most important in our history and how do we live that
well there's this initiative called race to zoo which i'm actually pretty excited because it makes this intractable beast of like how the heck do we get to exit this self-destruct scenario it's an effort to make that really tractable and what it does is that it cuts the reduction that we need to get to zero emissions per sector and then it also cuts that per decade and it posits an exponential decline so it says like in the first decade until 2013 we already need to have 50 decline in our greenhouse gas emissions and then for that those 10 years it
breaks it down for each sector into specific measures that need to be taken within each sector so the left pane you see the graph of reduction in co2 for the energy center and the main effect there should be like electrical power based on solar and the second one you know the blue one is concentrated solar power and then we have wind power we have low carbon other sources and we have some other effects and that should have emissions in the energy sector within 10 years on the right pane you see our digital industry which is much smaller in absolute terms but also that much smaller base figure still needs to be halved within 10 years and you can see that being done on device usage so being more efficient and less draining on devices using clean electricity instead of coal-fired electricity cutting the use of networks cutting the power usage of data centers and making gains in manufacturing
and then for each decade again another halving so in 2040 half again emissions as to the baseline in 2030 and then do that again in 2015. in combination with drawdown that should get us to not just net zero it should actually start sucking carbon out of the atmosphere again and
the best way to do that is by planting trees and by planting beautiful trees and not just more cultures of conifers and really bad ideas to do that drawdown is by trusting in the technofix with technologies that aren't there yet because we're in a hurry we are in a hurry
to illustrate how much this stuff is gaining traction we have a pen we have an ongoing court case in the netherlands against royal dutch shell which is one of the largest emitters worldwide of co2 and this builds on the paris agreement which has legal standing and the cod case basically argues that based on the human rights of future generations shells to stop doing harm and it doesn't seek damages from child it just seeks that shell binds itself to these scenarios are just outlined which means that shells should have a policy in place that makes it reduce carbon emissions by 50 in 2030 and then go to net zero in 2050 and if this case succeeds and it's a very serious case it has been prepared for six years the people doing that have great hopes that it will work it basically challenges the core conditions of capitalism which is i just look after myself and the rest and that's not gonna fly anymore we really need to shift our consciousness there and we really need to stop polluting the planet and just you know doing as if there's not tomorrow in this case tries to give legal teeth to that line of thinking preventing irreversible climate disruption is the race of our lives and for our lives it is a race that we can and must win that's antonio guterres who is the u.n secretary general the head of the united nations so there's a lot of power being put behind these initiatives a lot of governments and local government agencies and companies big companies have signed up to these pledges already so it's gaining a lot of traction the thing is we've seen pledges all along and now it's about really making the stuff work so it's about putting action in place and not just promises
that all ends up in a positive scenario in the circular economy where we stop draining resources and we stop polluting our environment and we have this economy that runs nicely without degrading our environment and without regret in the future and i really like this graph because it shows that it doesn't really work that way because this graph still has major resource inputs and major waste as outputs so it's not a closed circular economy at all
and that's also been turned on by a scientific review so a bunch of scientists did a review of uh i think it was close to 200 studies on decoupling which is that we can have economic growth without growing our environmental impact and that just doesn't turn out that way it turns out that way sometimes locally if you disregard side effects but it hasn't been shown for any large-scale economic entity like a country or whatever it's just not happening and that's what this curve shows it's we've been talking about decoupling for decades and trying to decouple for decades meaning that we could have societal development without growing impacts on the environment and this graph just shows that that's not happening we just keep polluting this is an autograph showing a projection of 50 years ago club of rome in 1970 and they predicted that various economic indicators would peak around 2020 2025 like services like industrial output like food and they would decline afterwards and this graph also shows that in 2030 population would start to decline because of the adverse impacts we have of basically our economy collapsing and the scary thing about this graph is that it was recently updated with more recent data and those most recent data actually tracked the projections of this very simple 50 years old model and that's pretty bad news this is how we get from where we are to zero carbon and this is based on a two degrees heating scenario and this is a graph from 2015 and each year that we delay going down the graph gets steeper so if we would have started properly reducing carbon emissions in 1995 we would be on the bottom most yellow slope and that would have been somehow feasible but we are now already five ticks to the right of the magenta big line so that's a steep decline and actually it's steeper because we don't need to target two degrees heating we need to target one and a half degrees as the upper bound before we start triggering uncontrollable climate change basically to be a bit safe and we already like this is a 2019 graph we're now at the end of 2020 so already more than one tick to the right again here the scary thing about this graph is that it basically reflects what we do as humans it reflects our human activity because that's all bound with energy consumption so a decline this steep it's like falling off a cliff that's you hitting your house and you're driving your car and then stop heating your house and stop driving your car and stop eating food i don't know what it all implies but this this is basically a collapse scenario that we're seeing here
i want you to act as you would in a crisis i want you to act as if our house is on fire because it is our predicament is dire
this comes from a study in published in nature and the authors made an inventory of potential tipping points in our climate and they identified something like 23 10 years ago and they recalculated recently the state for all these tipping points and they found that the majority actually has evidence that they that the tips have been triggered so that there's a cascade starting to go where our climate is getting worse so we're talking about the amazon in a turning into savannah we're talking uh about ged green and ice sheet starting to melt and water levels rising we're talking about h the permafrost falling and releasing methane we're talking about b the arctic melting and absorbing more heat because water absorbs more heat than white eyes
and that stuff is panning out like this what you're looking at here is a graph of last month of the arctic temperature anomaly and you can see with the red zone there that the arctic over the whole month has been 12 degrees hotter than the historical record average a full 12 degrees so planet wide we're currently at 1.1 degree above the baseline and this is 12 degrees hotter
now the problem problem problem with this is that it's not really useful to incite fear when talking about this but it flips out of that it's also not really useful to keep closing our eyes for the reality that we're facing so how do we balance that and how do we balance the difficult emotions that all of this raises
this should be a movie poster for a dystopian science fiction movie but actually it's a movie poster for a documentary about the campfire that ravaged california in 2018
so that brings me to the third wave of disruption that we're facing we've seen digital transformation we've seen sustainability where we need to cut emissions really fast but there's a third wave of change that's coming which is that we need to prepare for impact of the stuff that's already been done and for the climate change that we are unable to prevent there was a paper about that
in 2018 and it's called the climate change paper so depressing it's sending people to therapy at the time of this screenshot i was read a hundred thousand times which is really atypical for an academic paper by now it has been downloaded over three million times and they've stopped counting and that paper basically outlines several
ways to think about adaptation to disruption and to societal collapse one of those is resilience and that's a term i think from an engineering perspective we can easily phrase as loose coupling high cohesion and it's mainly about reducing the close coupling that we have between all the systems that are that constitute our society and by reducing coupling making them less vulnerable to adverse impacts so that's thinking in terms of community building of local food growing and stuff like that the second r in the deep adaptation framework is to relinquish is to let go of expectations about comfort and consumption that are just not sensible given the reality that we're facing it's about facing that the only sustainable growth is the growth it's about to stop eating meat to stop flying now whatever you could do as an individual to cut your carbon emissions and also to recognize that it's not enough to just do that as an individual but we need systemic change to make that happen the third r is that of restoration it's trying to build back some of the things that we lost it's taking a seven generation approach to what we're doing here and trying to create a pathway towards a world where our children's children's children can survive and can even thrive in a way that is far more unbalanced with nature than we are currently living the fourth r in the framework is that of
reconciliation it's about atoning for the fact that most of the damage has been caused historically by rich white people in the north and most of the damage is being and is going to be suffered by poor brown people in the global south it's to atone you know it's it's to decolonize our whole approach to life and it also involves doing the same with the future with our descendants who will have to bear the price for the lifestyle choices that we're making right now
all of that shows up in for example extinction rebellion and fridays for future extinction rebellion was majorly in influenced by the deep adaptation paper and we are now seeing mass civil disobedience and mass social movements at a level that we haven't seen in decades which is pretty hopeful given you know how dire the situation is
this is required from a paper which investigated how can we actually make change and what you're seeing here is on the y-axis on the vertical axis you see stability being measured and on the horizontal axis we measure decarbonization what it shows is that we're stuck now in a local sub optimum where we can't move to decarbonization because it would destabilize our society and then the authors say that by having social movements like extinction rebellion or by whatever choices you are making and the conversations you are having we can shift that stability slope downwards in a way that makes reaching the decarbonized state actually feasible and in the end that's of course a much more stable state than our current business as usual which is heading off cliff
another thing to derive hope from is what bruce mau identifies as the power double-double instead of thinking about population growth in maltusian terms like you know it's spending disaster because all those people need to eat and consume he flips the frame on that and he says the more humans we have the more talent there is available so that's one of the exponential curves in this graph and the other curve is the exponential growth in access to knowledge that for example the internet brings access to education so what we're seeing here is a double exponential of human capacity and human empowerment together and we need to realize that you know a combination such an exponential combination we can't really grasp the effects of that we can't really predict the effects of that it's fundamentally unpredictable anything can happen
we're seeing some of that play out already in the government 19 response the virus was sequenced extremely fast so the fire sequence was published within weeks of china finding the virus we've now seen vaccines having been developed with an efficaciousness of more than 90 which is extraordinary in historical terms and we've also seen governments step in and facilitate the scale up of the production to such understand extent that we're now ready to start immunizing the whole world population within less of a year of this pandemic starting to occur so all of that is is much much faster than have ever happened before and it's partly a result of science being prepared for the scenario and having basically prepared agents to build a virus to build an immunity response front to build a vaccine from those delivery mechanisms had already been developed before kovit came along and they just plugged their covent remedy into the existing delivery platforms so that's all really hopeful and also the whole covert 19 response showed that governments can actually do the unthinkable and shut down the economy and if they can do that for a pandemic why couldn't they do that for a climate emergency so it starts people questioning why our response is so weak and it also starts people to think differently about state intervention versus liberalism and just let stuff happen
ultimately it boils down to the fact that we need to somehow have a massive consciousness shift because we are one life we are one planet and we need to enlarge our circle of consideration to include other people to include also non-human beings to include the natural world and to include future generations and that's the big challenge that we're facing as our generation to make that happen and to make it work so to summarize i tried to sketch how we're facing a triple disruption a perfect storm where three waves superimpose that a digital transformation that of sustainability transformation and that of deep adaptation and i don't have any answers here i'm just trying to pose questions like so what what can we do there and i think open technology is important because it provides bottom-up agility it's empowering for for local actors as opposed to silicon valley at least it could be we need to work on fast decarbonization it's critical to achieve climate justice and like i said we need to do that individually but we also need to find ways to affect systemic change and we need a consciousness shift and part of that is orienting towards resilient communities and again as an open source community we have plenty of experience in non-traditional ways of organizing and networked crossroads way of organizing so i'm hoping that this crowd you and me have something valuable to bring in terms of technology in terms of agility in terms of network organization expertise to make a change for good in this horrible situation
some books as inspiration bruce smile massive change 24 24 patterns to affect massive change in our lives that's really good and i'm currently reading the ministry for the future which is both a gripping science fiction novel but it's also full of really deep thought about specifically all these challenges that i mentioned in this talk
it always seems impossible until it's done that's what malza mandela said and we can maybe have some hope based on that quote
you can follow me on twitter at hirostevens and i'm infrequently blogging a dark agile world and i hope to do a write-up of this talk there soon with all the references linked to all the resources that i mentioned and that's what i had to say
right on time yeah we have five minutes remaining for the talk time so that's a good time for q a so thank you guido for coming and giving your talk everyone can now go click on the face-to-face link down underneath the video in loudsform and join guido so that we can all continue the discussion so thank you so
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