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This scrapbook is a place where you can contribute ideas you find that can then be used by other members in their proposals.


Global scrapbook of ideas and images - please add to it!

Have you seen a great idea or inspiring image that shows a way forward with the climate and the economy? It could be one of yours or just one you admire. If you're not ready to get involved with a new or existing proposal then please add things here that you're happy to share with the community and see included in proposals in future. 

Examples of content you could include in this scrapbook

Policies and 'what to do' proposals. Strategies and approaches.  World-views and visions. Breakthrough technologies. Social innovations and processes. Organisations and movements with special potential. Something that the world has missed so far. How to overcome big obstacles. References to useful ideas and studies. Pictures and video that can be shared openly. 

Please see also the National scrapbook of ideas and images.

This is an open collaboration

  1. Please add content below.

  2. Sign your input with your profile name and link (see 'my profile' at top of the page).
  3. Others may edit it or use it in proposals.
  4. CoLab moderators will be involved and help as needed - find us here by clicking on 'moderators'. 
  5. You can also ask questions below :-)
  6. Thanks!


This is a very odd system!  Going to Profile takes one out of Edit.  And, what's "profile link"?  And, why don't CTRL-C & CTRL-V work simply?  How about a simple collaborative editor -- this is MIT, right?!

Catching up with 1962...

JFK asked for and got a report from the Seaborg Commission on how to stop burning valuable coal & oil, and how to build safe nuclear power so that by 2000 we'd have all US power generated by safe reactors that bred their own fuekl internally, that created little waste, and solved world water needs -- all as 'renewable' as solar power:

Anyone expecting to be listened to on addressing our now tragic environmental dilemma needs to have read that report, at least a few pages.  Had it been followed, the fantastic research & development at ORNL in the 1960s would heve eliminated most of the emissions burden that we (all industrialized countries) now lay upon billions of innocent people around the world.

Fortunately, China has this year begun to follow what we did, allocating $1B to apply our R&D, which is now all public, and create operational, Thorium-fed breeder reactors by 2020.  And, various other countries and organizations around the world have agreed -- for example, the new NGO...

And, there are others, already established to promote, finally, what we could have already achieved...

And, there are nations beyond China, that realize there are  true renewables, not just subsidized, land/sea-hungry fads.

There are only 3 'renewable' energy sources on Earth -- efficiency, solar & nuclear.  Organizations like Sierra Club rightly advocate the first two, specifically distributed generation (DG) for solar on existing structures.  The latter builds a robust grid, without large transmission losses and without environmental impacts or sensitivity to climate change (wind-power suffers this and consumes fossil fuels for materials processing).

Note that wind/wave are derivatives of solar input and are developed at very low efficiency, so direct solar PV or hot-water is far more efficient & sustainable, and, in fact, improving as others can't.  Tidal is gravitational in source, but only exploitable in very limited realms.  Geothermal is nuclear energy used as heat, just as from any radioactive-decay generator or a nuclear reactor -- the source of geothermal heat is, in fact, 60% due Thoium decay in Earth's core.

So, the issues around present nuclear power systems, based on solid fuel & delivering heat by water to low-temperature turbines is not what JFK & Congress were advised to continue -- by 2000, we were to have breeeders, no more LWRs.  And, in 1965, ORNL under Weinberg, designed & operated the molten-salt reactor, which provided safe nuclear power and the ability to use Thorium as input.with no dangerous fuel to corral or dispose of.  This is what the Chinese and others are now running with.  We are behind in using our own inventions.

But, there's hope that Congress & the administration will wake up, and complete a stable energy future for us, and the billions we've put at risk.  If not, then the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, etc. will service the world market for renewable, nuclear, base-load power and fresh water -- the latter likley being dominant... (draft of upcoming DVD)

And, if one wants to bet against China, well, maybe read a bit first...

Sputnik was an accident for the Russians and intentional for us.  China is intent on exploiting our accidental foolishness in the 1960s & early '70s on stagnating nuclear R&D.  Shall we continue our 49-year-old silly walk?

A. Cannara, 650-400-3071;


Renewables as the key

Idea contributed by icarus

Two recent studies suggest that renewables could be the answer.

The IPCC's 2011 Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation projects that renewables could potentially provide the majority of global energy production by the year 2050.

And a November 2010 article in Scientific American by researchers from Stanford and UC Davis was even more optimistic about the potential for  renewables. 

Both studies suggest that a global shift to renewables in coming decades is quite feasible.

So how about this as the basis for a proposal? 

I don't have time to take the lead on this, but if someone else did, I could help out.

Comment by blindspotter: Thanks icarus! This could be a really interesting basis for a proposal, either as is or as part of an energy plan proposal that includes the scope for:

• renewables

• an energy efficient society

• phasing out conventional high-risk energy sources

• economic changes that would enable the energy plan.

Such a proposal would make a useful place for other members to include their thoughts on particular energy topics such as supply decentralisation, matching demand/supply and new advances in technologies. 

Thanks to Mike for adding your idea to the CoLab discussion Looking for teammates?


As I drive around the US, I am struck by the amount of "idle" land that could be reforested and thereby used to sequester CO2.  An "easy" example is found in the medians, sides and interchanges of the interstate highway system.  There are huge swaths of land that could be forested instead of mowed and manicured.  Someone will argue that falling trees might constitute a hazard for the traffic.  But if you look at interstates through forested areas, there are trees relatively close to the road and people live with that all the time.  If all areas in the interstate system were planted in trees up to that distance from the road, we could increase forestation, reduce the areas to be mowed and ultimately generate usable wood products.  Variations of this approach could be used in utility right of ways and other classes of open areas. 

And, of course, I suspect that the US is not alone in having large areas where conventional thinking says to leave them open, but in reality there are ways to significantly increase the volumes of carbon that they hold.

Comment by blindspotter: Thanks for this (who?). Would anyone like to include this in a proposal about how to handle nature generally? How to stop losing it? How to expand it everywhere? How to adjust worldviews and economics to create the change reliably and quickly? Possibly connect with existing proposals on the CoLab such as 'fixing the system', biochar and internalising ecosystems? 


Idea contibuted by lila
 In a recent trip to Vietnam I witnessed their rice-harvesting season. I was struck by the amount of waste this generates, as the rice is separated from the stalks by portable machines just next to the rice fields, then the stalks are left in piles on the side of the road. Eventually the farmers burn the piles of rice stalks. I can't even imagine how much CO2 this generates, given that all of Vietnam is basically one big rice field, and some areas have three harvests a year. I wonder if someone has estimated the amount of CO2 produced by burnign such agricultural waste worldwide, and if something can be done about it... Surely to transport the stalks to a local plant for any kind of processing would generate carbon emmissions as well, so first the numbers need to make sense, then someone needs to find something useful to extract from this waste, and then Vietnam and other developing countries can have a technology for saving on carbon which they can eventually trade as "CO2 emmission stocks" for money for further development. I don't know how other agricultural waste is dealt with, but I'm sure there are opportunities there to save on emmissions worldwide. It would be an idea for someone to look into it.

You spotted an excellent opportunity Lila, thanks for adding this. If you or others would like to follow-up, here's a link to search results on biochar for rice waste. This can provide a source of renewable energy and a soil enhancer as well as a carbon-negative flow from air to ground. Proposals welcome for solutions around biochar or agriculture! James (blindspotter)

Urban Ecological Systems

"... capture rainwater so that we can reduce water use? Water is energy intensive. Do they perhaps include green infrastructure, so that we can take runoff and water that's going out of our houses and clean it and filter it and grow urban street trees? Do they connect us back to the ecosystems around us by, for example, connecting us to rivers and allow for restoration?Do they allow for pollination, pollinator pathways that bees and butterflies and such can come back into our cities? Do they even take the very waste matter that we have from food and fiber and so forth,and turn it back into soil and sequester carbon --take carbon out of the air in the process of using our cities?

I would submit to you that all of these things are not only possible, they're being done right now, and that it's a darn good thing. Because right now, our economy by and large operates as Paul Hawken said, 'by stealing the future, selling it in the present and call it GDP.'"

Alex Steffen Shareable Future of Cities 

Comment by blindspotter: Urban ecological systems sounds great. Compatible with many/all proposals on the CoLab. The biochar proposal for example sequesters carbon and generates usable energy. The 'fix the system' proposal corrects market prices so GDP would be built up from activity directed towards sustainability.


Grid Elasticity

Building Elasticity into the Electrical Grid through mechanical storage of electricity (e- into work & work back into e-). 


Open Source Global Outcome Simulation Games

The last few days of conversation on the coalition of the willing googlegroup ( : Dante Gabryell Monson: "In order to create a simulation game with maximum potential for catalyzing a paradigm shift, you need to have a knowledge layer which the game layer uses to create the game environment, and to define the rules and the responses that are elicited from players, and the consequences of player actions and environmental capacity and changes. What we are seeing in Dante-Gabryell's and Eric H's contributions, along with Global ARC ( is that at last, sufficient work is being done (and collected) on the knowledge side (and from the same viewpoint I have been articulating) that (the larger) 'we' can move forward collectively to combine it with social architecture ( social and ecological values, game psychology, and simulation design, and actually build a prototype of The Grand Game of RESET!!!. "Then, in Agile fashion, we can enroll stakeholders to familiarize themselves with it, critique it, and support its iteration and expansion over time, while embedding it in the Games for Good subculture (thus tapping a larger pool of game-development talent that has the right attitude for the mission, as distinguished from body-count gamers)." -------------------------     "The Global ARC is led by a mix of educators, researchers, scientists, professionals and community organizers all of whom are dedicated to critical study, open dialog, social learning and shared problem solving through place-based approaches. We join forces with one another through partnerships and networking that foster globally-mindedness and equity in planning research, education and practice. "Why call our organization an ARC?  First, it’s an acronym for Action Research Center. More importantly, ARC it is a metaphor for our urgent times, time to bring diversity together—animals, plants and people—joined in a willingness to sacrifice, live simply, tread lightly, with respect.  ARC also conveys a connective energy, literally as in lightening bolts and figuratively as in leaps of imaginative power that connects the otherwise disconnected." -------- "The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is a non-governmental organisation with members in 11 of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. Officially launched in September 1992, MISA focuses primarily on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media , as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration.  "MISA seeks ways in which to promote the free flow of information and co-operation between media workers, as a principal means of nurturing democracy and human rights in Africa<br /><br />The role of MISA is primarily one of a coordinator, facilitator and communicator, and for this reason MISA aims to work together with all like-minded organisations and individuals to achieve a genuinely free and pluralistic media in southern Africa." ---------------- “Participatory Online Learning Games as a Next Generation Scenario Building Tool” excerpt : "This white paper seeks to explore the potential of massively multiplayer alternate reality games (MMARG’s) to contribute to real world challenges by testing its utility as a next generation scenario planning tool for complex socio-ecological problems," by Noah Raford -------------------------- Global Survival System</div> mailing list:!forum/global-survival</div> Rational Eudaemonic Systematic Universal Savior "A completely transparent, internet-powered, distributed, planetary mind that manages earth's resources towards survival of all beings AND the manifestation of all humanity's dreams for the future. It explains all of its decisions and conclusions in terms of factual data collected from sensors and human input." ------- Social bookmarking on Open Source Global Outcome Simulation Games at delicious and Diigo: rss reader


Reduce, Recycle, Launch!


Short-term energy solution: REDUCE; medium-term: RECYCLE; long-term: LAUNCH

  1. 1. Short-term (15 years): radically REDUCE energy/person without sacrificing living standards.

  2. 2. Medium-term (15-25 years): renewables + reactors that RECYCLE nuclear weapons and waste.

  3. 3. Long-term (25+ years): LAUNCH solar power satellites and free-space colonies.


In the near term, there is far more low-hanging fruit in energy conservation than alternative energy. One example is the proposal for Personal Rapid Transit grids . It uses 1/10th the energy/mile of automobiles and could easily replace 50% of car miles in the US – that would replace 70% of US oil imports while adding only 6% to electricity consumption. Actually MORE convenient than cars: 100 or 150 MPH; computer control; no traffic congestion. Yet the proposed (tandem 2-passenger) vehicles weigh 200 pounds and have a frontal area just 8 square feet. Automotive X prize cars same idea, but several aspects easier overhad: much safer; power from track; hang below for stability; tight control and closer spacing increases capacity.

I think there are several more order-of-magnitude power reductions. A minor one that’s well along is LEDs vs. incandescent. Current white LEDs are about 50% efficient because they are UV LEDs + phosphor like fluorescent, but true RGB LEDs can be nearly 100% efficient. They also allow tuning color temperature: daylight for alertness while working; redder in the evening simulates dusk and improves sleep. (Even lower-energy: cheap heliostat mirrors that direct sunlight into north windows all day: a few solar cells could power each one, and office lighting stays off all day whenever it’s sunny.)

Buildings are the largest consumer of power in the US. Conventional superinsulation can replace most of it: e.g. the Rocky Mountain Institute headquarters built in the 1980’s needs no heating system 7000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains: it has 6 inches of foam (R30) between two concrete walls for thermal mass and HeatMirror (TM) windows (R10-20) for solar heating.

However, there are possible order-of-magnitude improvements here. too, using R50/inch . Designs where the vacuum pressure is held by Kevlar fibers in tension might make this economical. I want R50 or R100 siding I can add to my existing house. Long before that’s economical, point loads -- refrigerators and freezers and hot water tanks -- will start using dramatically less energy to cool or heat. is another crucial idea: air leaves only a few degrees hotter or colder than it enters – same principle with interlaced arteries and veins explains why warm-blooded marine mammals can survive in Arctic waters where a human freezes to death in minutes. Houses and offices could similarly remain comfortable with a small fraction of the energy they currently use.


The “Cycling Carbon” proposal includes two basic nuclear reactor designs that “burn” the nuclear waste from current reactors, producing many times more energy than the original reactors derived, while removing the 5% of spent nuclear fuel (plutonium and other actinide elements) with half lives over 300 years that cause most of the storage headaches.


Peter Glaser’s solar power satellites and Gerard K. O’Neill’s ( open the way to a truly abundant energy future. O’Neill’s question to his advanced students in 1969, “Is the surface of a planet the right place for an expanding technical civilization?” still blows me away with its audacity. Free-space colonies several miles across can have Earth gravity and good protection from cosmic rays; as much like Earth as we need. Yet free space has abundant energy – huge mirrors and power plants are easy to build. Solar power satellites in the current communications geosynchronous orbit band can supply our planet’s energy needs easily forever, with no emissions or pollution.

 Howie Goodell

Hi Howie, would you like to add this text as a new proposal? James (blindspotter)


Mashup: Vertical Farming & Wave Energy...

One of the major limitations of vertical farming is the need for large amounts of energy to power the high power lamps.  Solution: place vertical farms on massive floatillas at sea that are anchored to submerged pistons that harvest wave energy (similar to CETO by Carnegie -- aside: I do not represent Carnegie), so the clean energy for the lamps can be generated on site.  Also, fresh water for feeding these plants can be collected by large exterior flumes that draw in the evaporation of the sea water.  Lastly, the base of the floatilla would need to be sufficiently large to reduce rocking that may hinder plant growth, and mitigate impact from tropical storms. 

Furthermore, the floatilla could be designed so that that plants are grown directly on rotating platforms that provide even exposure to sun.  These platforms could then be pushed inland when ready for harvest.  They could be pushed by electric tugboats that are auto-piloted and fully electric (also receiving their electric fuel from the wave energy pistons).  This would allow the plants to remain alive and fresh as long as possible. The platforms would be re-usable.  There would be minimal need for soil if using self-contained hydroponics.

If enough of these are deployed globally, the food production of the world could raise enough to keep pace with demand while reducing impacts of current farming practices.

More possible proposal ideas...


Focus on carbon flows? Managing/rationing/re-pricing fossil fuels, energy use, emissions. Carbon budgets. Carbon sequestration, storage, biochar. Atmospheric CO2 concentration. 

Focus on goals? Target %emissions cuts over time. Target shares of global carbon cap. Target GHG concentration level. Target maximum global temperature rise. Target carbon price changes. No target: focus on 'upstream' mechanisms that lead to cuts. 

Focus on political process? Creating an effective movement. Denial, apathy, cynicism, skeptics, lobbying. Local, national and global decision-making. Transition. Support for process innovations (such as the CoLab!)

Focus on thinking and rethinking? Habits of thought underlying the climate problem and the ineffective global response. Herd thinking vs collective intelligence. How to get unstuck?

Focus on climate system? Predictions, trends, existing impacts. Positive feedbacks and risks of runaway disruption. Adaptation. Potential for carbon-negative effects including reversing loss of nature and biochar.

Focus on whole system? Climate change as a symptom of deep systemic failures. Fixing systems not symptoms. Matching society's responses to the scale, speed and connectedness of the issues.


 The Problem With the Concept of a 'Green Economy'


Ever since I first heard about the concept of a green economy, I've has my reservations. Although it's important to account for the ecosystems costs that have hitherto been ignored by economics, I also think it's a dangerous precedent to try to 'put a price on nature'. Whatever price we might come up with, it will never truly reflect the value of earth's natural resouces.

On of my role models is Dr. Vandana Shiva, her intelligence and outspokeness are examplary. In the article below she shows her eloquence by explaining some of the inherent problems with the concept.


How green is our economy?

August 17, 2011

By Vandana Shiva


“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
— Albert Einstein

In 1992, citizens and activists from across the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit. On December 24, 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to hold the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio — to mark 20 years of the Earth Summit, and to discuss the way forward. On June 4, 2012, the world community will gather again in Rio de Janeiro. Member states have agreed on the focus of Rio+20: “Green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” and “institutional framework for sustainable development”.

Now, what is this “green economy” and what is the “institutional framework for sustainable development”? If the answers are offered within the old paradigm of market-driven solutions, which have failed to protect the Earth, “green economy” will mean more of the same: more carbon trading, which has failed to reduce emissions; more commodification of food, water, land and biodiversity, which has not just failed to reduce hunger, thirst, poverty and ecological degradation but has, in fact, increased them.

If the “institutional framework for sustainable development” creates a “World Environment Organisation” along the line of the World Trade Organisation, based on the commodification of, and trade in, nature’s gifts, and trade wars as part of global environment management, we will further impoverish the Earth and local communities. We will further destroy democracy.

If on the other hand the answers are offered in the context of the emerging paradigm of the Rights of Mother Earth, then the green economy is Gaia’s economy, and the institutional framework is “Earth Democracy” — democracy from the bottom up and a democracy rooted in the Earth.

The world order built on the economic fundamentalism of greed, commodification of life and limitless growth, and the complementary technological fundamentalism that there is a technological fix for every social and environmental ill is clearly collapsing.

The “green economy” agenda for Rio+20 can either deepen the privatisation of Earth, and with it the crisis of ecology and poverty, or it can be used to “re-embed” economies in the ecology of the Earth.

Green economics needs to be an authentic green. It cannot be the brown of desertification and deforestation. It cannot be the red of violence against nature and people, or the unnecessary conflicts over natural resources — land and water, seeds and food. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “The Earth has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for some people’s greed”.

To be green, economics needs to return to oikos. Both ecology and economics are derived from the Greek oikos, which means “home”. Ecology is the science of household, and economics is supposed to be the management of the household. When economics works against the science of ecology, it results in the mismanagement of the Earth — our home. The climate crisis, the water crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the food crisis are different symptoms of the crisis of mismanagement of the Earth and her resources.

We mismanage the Earth when we do not recognise nature’s capital as the real capital and everything else as derived. If we have no land, we have no economy. When we contribute to the growth of nature’s capital, we build green economies. And the richer nature’s capital, the richer human society will be.

Nature-centred, women-centred perspective takes us down a road that is sustainable and equitable. The Earth Summit in 1992 produced two legally binding treaties — the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the Summit, the participating members also produced a Women’s Action Agenda 21 through Women’s Environment & Development Organisation, which I co-founded with former US Congresswoman Bella Abzug.

As we move towards Rio+20, there is danger that the gains of Rio will be eroded. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has already been undermined by the Copenhagen Accord. There is an attempt to revisit the Rio principles that gave us the “precautionary principle” and the “polluter pays principle”. We need to strengthen Rio, not undermine it.

The “green economy” can either commodify all of nature, or it can create a new harmony with the Earth while providing for basic needs and increasing sustainable livelihoods. We must value nature. The question is how? Will nature be valued on the basis of the Rights of Mother Earth, on the basis of sacred values, or will nature be valued on the basis of speculative investment?

In the Earth-centred green economy, the market obeys nature’s laws, Gaia’s laws, the laws of Mother Earth. In the greed-centred green economy, the volatile and predatory laws of the market are forced on nature. Ecological laws are violated to impose the laws of the market. Since the majority of people derive their livelihoods from the Earth, violation of the laws of the Earth translates into the violation of laws that uphold justice and human rights. Poverty increases, hunger and thirst increases, inequality increases.

The laws of the market have proved unreliable for managing the market itself. How can they be trusted with the lives of people and the care of the Earth?

We have two options. Either the greed economy will be green-washed and presented as a green economy. In that case, the “green” will just be the colour of money. Our other option is to bring back harmony in our relationship with the Earth, live within her limits and means and create an inclusive wellbeing for all. In the latter case green will be the colour of life.

Rabindranath Tagore, in his essay The Robbery of the Soil, warns us of the consequences of the economy based on greed: “This passion of greed that rages in the heart of our present civilisation, like a volcanic flame of fire, is constantly struggling to erupt in individual bloatedness… A sudden increase in the flow of production of things tends to consume our resources and requires us to build new storehouses. Our needs, therefore, which stimulate this increasing flow, must begin to observe the limitation of normal demand.

If we go on stoking our demands into bigger and bigger flames, the conflagration that results will no doubt dazzle our sight, but its splendour will leave on the debit side only a black heap of charred remains.”

* Dr Vandana Shiva is the executive director of the Navdanya Trust


I could not have hoped to say it better, so I dare not try.


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