“Never know… … the first man to step foot on the Moon might just be Jewish!” ;D
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe, contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to understand a little of this mystery every day.” – Albert Einstein
“STEM? What in the UK?… most kindergarten and nursery teachers in the UK are fucking illiterate mate!… … most UK high school teachers are suicidal”
“Some of you can see where I’m going with this can’t you!” 😀
Akunis visits plant building 1st Israeli spacecraft to moon; ‘I’ve no doubt joy of all Israeli citizens will be felt when ship lifts off.’
Science Minister Ophir Akunis, Science Ministry Director-General Ran Bar, and Israel Aerospace Agency Director Avi Blassberger visited the plant where the first Israeli spacecraft to reach the moon is being built.
The project has so far been funded primarily by donations from private individuals, led by philanthropist Maurice Kahn and Dr. Miri and Sheldon Adelson.
Recently, however, the Science Ministry announced government support for the SpaceIL project in the amount of up to NIS 7.5 million.
Science Minister Ophir Akunis, Science Ministry Director-General Ran Bar, and Israel Aerospace Agency Director Avi Blassberger visited the plant where the first Israeli spacecraft to reach the moon is being built.
The project has so far been funded primarily by donations from private individuals, led by philanthropist Maurice Kahn and Dr. Miri and Sheldon Adelson.
Recently, however, the Science Ministry announced government support for the SpaceIL project in the amount of up to NIS 7.5 million.
An Israeli spacecraft is gearing up for a 2019 Moon mission that features unique partnerships, investigation of the Moon’s origin, and closure for an 11-year-old contest designed to spur commercial lunar activities.
SpaceIL, a privately funded Israeli non-profit, designed and built a four-legged lander that will touch down in Mare Serenitatis, one of the dark, lunar basins visible to the naked eye from Earth. The craft, which weighs less than 200 kilograms without fuel, will send home high-definition pictures and video before hopping to a new landing spot half a kilometer away. If successful, the mission will make Israel the fourth country to soft-land on the Moon, following Russia, the United States, and China.
The overall purpose of the mission, SpaceIL says, is to inspire more Israelis to pursue STEM careers. Three engineers formed the non-profit in 2011 to compete for the Google Lunar X-Prize, a $30 million contest encouraging privately funded groups to land on the Moon. The first team to land, travel 500 meters and transmit imagery would have earned $20 million. A second-place team would have earned $5 million, and another $5 million was up for grabs through stretch goals like visiting an old Apollo site and contributing to STEM diversity.
Google withdrew the cash prizes in April 2018 when no group was able to meet the contest deadline, which had already been extended from 2017. A few teams, including SpaceIL, pushed on, and despite a brush with bankruptcy at the end of 2017, SpaceIL announced they would be ready to fly at the end of 2018. The launch has since been delayed until the “beginning of 2019,” SpaceIL representatives said in response to emailed questions.
The lander, which is in the process of being named through an online contest, will leave Earth aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida. SpaceIL is one of at least three customers with spacecraft aboard the flight. The primary payload is an Indonesian telecommunications satellite called PSN-6, built by sat-building company SSL. Another undisclosed rider rumored to be a U.S. government satellite.
Rideshare missions are common, but this one is unique because one spacecraft is headed to the Moon while two others will trek to geosynchronous orbit, a region almost 36,000 kilometers above Earth. There, satellites have one-day orbits to match Earth’s rotation, enabling them to linger over the same ground spot.
All three spacecraft will detach from the Falcon 9 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a high point, or apogee, of 60,000 kilometers. The SpaceIL lander will orbit Earth three times, raising its orbit until being captured by the Moon’s gravity. The process will take more than two months, and at the Moon, the lander will make two orbits before landing.
In another mission twist, Spaceflight, the company that arranged the rideshare aspect of the Falcon 9 launch, says the undisclosed satellite will remain attached to PSN-6 while both satellites head to geosynchronous orbit. Ryan Olcott, a Spaceflight mission manager, called this arrangement “groundbreaking.”
“We’re really thrilled to develop this relationship with SSL,” Olcott said. “It is a great enabler for a broad category of rideshares that would be much harder or impossible to perform with a single ring below a primary spacecraft.” The company is already offering geosynchronous ridealongs as a dedicated service for future launches.
SpaceIL lander site
SpaceIL’s lander will touch down in Mare Serenitatis, the “Sea of Serenity,” shown as the larger circle. The specific landing site is in the inner circle.
Another big partner joined the mission in October: NASA announced it would provide SpaceIL with observations from a Moon-orbiting spacecraft, a laser retroreflector for the lander, and communications support during the mission. The partnership was made under the agency’s new Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program, or LDEP, which is part of the Trump administration’s plans to return humans to the surface of the Moon.
As the SpaceIL lander descends to Mare Serenitatis, its engine will stir up the lunar soil, and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, will use its science instruments to look for mercury and hydrogen in the dust plume. LRO has been surveying the Moon from lunar orbit since 2009.
But don’t expect any dramatic pictures of the spacecraft landing like the ones NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured over the years. Stephen Cole, a NASA official at the agency’s office of communications in Washington, D.C., said it’s “very unlikely” LRO will take visible light images of the landing. LRO will, however, take images afterwards to see how the lander’s descent exhaust altered the landing site.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is giving SpaceIL a laser retroreflector array, or LRA, to install on the spacecraft — essentially an array of mirrors that reflect lasers in order to measure distance (LightSail 2 and other Earth-orbiting spacecraft carry similar arrays). There are no immediate plans to use the retroreflector; LRO has a laser altimeter, but the team actually avoids aiming it at retroreflectors left behind by the Apollo astronauts because the return signal could damage the spacecraft. Earth-bound laser stations use the Apollo retroreflectors to measure the distance to the Moon, but the SpaceIL equivalent will be too small for that.
Instead, NASA is providing the retroreflector with the future in mind. Over time, a network of similar reflectors could be built and used for navigation by spacecraft in orbit.
“Each lander that carries an LRA, we can build up a navigational system on the Moon, providing more information to orbiting satellites and future landers, both robotic and human,” said Cole.
NASA is also giving SpaceIL time on the agency’s Deep Space Network, which communicates with beyond-Earth missions via satellite dishes in California, Spain, and Australia. In return, NASA will get a copy of all the data collected by the mission’s single science instrument: a magnetometer to measure “magnetic anomalies” in Mare Serenitatis. The Soviet Union’s Luna 21 mission, which landed in the same region in 1973 and deployed the Lunakhod 2 rover, detected magnetism there.
The SpaceIL lander in mid-2018.
Understanding the Moon’s magnetism is key to learning about its origin. While Earth has a global magnetic field caused by the continued churning of liquid metal near the core, the Moon does not. But 3.6 billion years ago, the Moon had a magnetic field just as strong as Earth’s. When new-forming rocks solidify from their melted states, they lock in traces of the ambient magnetic field at the time. By looking at the ages of different regions and the strength of the magnetic field embedded in rocks, scientists can piece together the Moon’s history. The magnetometer data will be archived in NASA’s Planetary Data System.
SpaceIL’s mission control will be located at Israel Aerospace Industries, the country’s government-owned aerospace corporation located southeast of Tel Aviv. The mission, which now has a reported price tag of $95 million, is bankrolled by billionaire investors that include Israeli entrepreneur Morris Kahn, and U.S. business magnate Sheldon Adelson.
SpaceIL aspires to advance the discourse on science and engineering in Israel and to acquaint the young generation with the exciting opportunities in their future, which STEM studies make possible. Through the anticipation and preparation for the historic landing on the moon of an Israeli spacecraft, our non-profit organization motivates students of all ages and sectors – both male and female – to broaden their knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and fosters entrepreneurship, innovation, excellence and leadership. Contemplating ‘the day after’, SpaceIL strives to enhance the quality of education, to close educational gaps in the Israeli society and to provide the graduates of the educational system with the tools they will need in order to thrive in the 21st century.
The SpaceIL moon landing project serves as a source of inspiration and as fertile ground for a long-term impact on the next generation of scientists and engineers in Israel.
THE EDUCATIONAL RATIONALE:
THE FUTURE IS UNKNOWN; THE REQUIRED SKILLS ARE CLEAR
One cannot know with certainty what future the professions will be, but many believe that 80% of them will require knowledge and skills in mathematics and science. However, at present, we, as a society are not prepared for this increased demand for scientific literacy. Even today, Israel is facing a serious shortage of engineers. The number of scientists and engineers in the Israel Defense Forces, the academia and the private sector fall short of the number required to uphold the State of Israel’s technological advantage and to preserve its status as ‘the startup nation’.
General Overview and Rationale
According to the World Economic Forum, the world is living its Fourth industrial revolution, which is the combination of cyber-physical systems, Big Data, the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Systems. Alongside great benefits, concerns emerge such as the fact that many jobs and disciplines will disappear and automation, computers and machines will replace workers across many industries, and the gaps between the skills learned and the skills needed is growing. Excellence and literacy in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are considered essential tools for students to measure up to the challenges of the 21st century.
This exponential change will require skills that weren’t given enough weight, if any, in teaching programs at all levels, whether at school, university or work: excellence, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, world experience, critical thinking, etc. In recent years key stakeholders and experts in Israel have been warning about growing shortages:
• In skilled students in the education system, as well as in the higher education system that develops STEM tracks;
• In a skilled workforce capable of fulfilling technology-based positions in the military and in industry in the next 10 years; and
• The limited scientific literacy among the general public.
STEM education has thus recently become the focus of an intensive public discussion and debate that can be gauged from increasing government attention and cross-sector initiatives.
An inter-ministerial committee headed by Israel National Economic Council outlined unequivocally the direct link between science and technology literacy at a young age, quality of high school diplomas, the number of students studying relevant fields in higher education, and the flow of a skilled workforce in knowledge-intensive industries, as well as minimizing the socio-economic gaps.
The Odyssey Program was inspired and initiated by the late President of the State of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres. The program was developed to nurture a unique scientific-technological group – a new generation of inventors and scientists in Israel who possess both the ability to lead and a sense of social responsibility.
The program includes academic studies in the sciences, alongside work in research laboratories. The participants acquire knowledge, skills and experience coping with complex problems, while accumulating academic credits. The program is implemented in parallel with formal studies and during vacation, the students participate in workshops and full-day intensive seminars.
The program operates through the Maimonides Fund’s Future Scientists Center, as a joint initiative with the Ministry of Education’s Department for Gifted and Talented Students and the National Cyber Bureau within the Prime Minister’s Office. Other partners in the program include the Rashi Foundation, the Jerusalem Foundation, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., SanDisk, Mellanox Technologies, and Keter
About the Course Background
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe, contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to understand a little of this mystery every day.” – Albert Einstein In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, where global problems require multidisciplinary solutions, where citizens and communities need to be creative and analytical in the way they deal with problem solving, our education processes need to be measured not only by what we know, but also by what we can do with that knowledge and even by our ability to develop and combine this knowledge. It is more important than ever for our children and youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills connected to the 21st century reality, where change is becoming the only constant. In this context, all learners should be prepared to think deeply and critically, to get the knowhow and the skills for creative and analytic thinking so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our world, both today and tomorrow. These are the types of skills that students learn through Science Education using STEM as a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. While it is almost impossible to list every discipline, some common areas include aerospace, astrophysics, astronomy, biochemistry, biomechanics, chemistry, biomimicry , mathematical biology, nanotechnology, neurobiology, nuclear physics, physics, and robotics, among many, many others. As evidenced by the vast variety of disciplines, it is clear that the Science Education fields affect virtually every component of our everyday lives. This new science education approach is providing the educational system with more tools for quality education, integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines, using a real synthesis of approaches and principles that should be especially prominent: Interdisciplinary, creativity and Relevance to reality. -The STEAM approach is connecting the dots and providing education with another tool for quality education; integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines, using a real synthesis of approaches. -In a world where technology has been integrated into our daily lives and in which global problems require multidisciplinary solutions, citizens and communities need to be creative and analytical in the way they deal with problem solving. This educational approach provides the tools for this kind
of approach. We must give creativity the importance it deserves in order to succeed in a world where change is becoming the only constant. -What separates this approach from traditional science and math education is the blended learning environment and the manner of showing students how the scientific method should be applied to everyday life. It teaches students a different way of thinking and focuses on the real world applications of problem solving. Nowadays we add to STEM an A, for arts. The addition of the arts to the original STEM framework is important as it includes practices such as modelling, developing scientific explanations and engaging in critique, which are often underemphasized in the context of math and science education. The course designed by The Aharon Ofri MASHAV International Educational Training Center is aimed at directors of education departments in education Ministries, Principals and supervisors of primary and secondary schools; Educational staff at schools Training institutions, whose responsibilities involve the allocation of resources and development of educational policies. It is based on the vast experience the Israeli education system has acquired over the years in working towards an educational environment contributive to sustainability and globalization.
In this chapter, we review the STEM education system in Israel, including historical overview, current reforms and contemporary trends and emphasis. We also describe the research process of the risk management process presented in this Brief, including the Research Methodology (Sect. 3.2.1), Research Participants (Sect. 3.2.2) and Research Tools (Sect. 3.2.3), and the Research Process (Sect. 3.2.4).
My recent academic – research and practice – work focuses on Policy of STEM Education, including: • Cross-sector collaboration: upscale processes, collective impact, and RPP • Human resources: predictions and professional development • Strategic analysis: SWOT analysis, risk management, and change management
These topics are addressed in my academic work on K-12, academia and industry levels. Within the context of these topics, STEM education processes on the national level (beyond a specific program or initiate) are examined, in order to make a significant change in the Israeli eco-system to sustain Israel’s economic growth and development My work is largely based on my academic background in mathematics, computer science, education, and management and my acquaintance with the Israeli educational system in general and computer science education in particular, with the academia, and with the industry in Israel and its hi-tech sector. In what follows, several examples of my recent research works, projects and activities on these topics are presented.
In recent years we have seen a decrease in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in Israel. Fewer students are completing 5 units of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science.
IATI co-leads the project, as our mission is to promote and cultivate the advanced technology industries in Israel and consequently we see great value in promoting STEM education. In order to continue being a Start-Up nation we must strengthen STEM teaching in Israel, and encourage high school students to acquire STEM knowledge.
To bridge this problem IATI is co-leading events to promote STEM Education in Israel, with Government ministries, Educational NGOs and with the High-Tech Companies.,
To find out more about how you can join us for these national efforts, please contact roni@iati,co,il.
Why did global aerospace giant Lockheed Martin send its chief executive to a Beersheva kindergarten?
Because Lockheed Martin is a major partner in Israel’s first science-technology early education program, thus far serving 100 children. The idea is that it’s never too soon to inculcate the basics of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to better prepare the next generation for the job market.
“The future growth of Israel’s economy will require a constant supply of highly trained, highly capable technical talent, which is why advancing STEM education is a critical focus for Lockheed Martin,” said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairwoman, president and CEO.
Lockheed, a large U.S. defense contractor based in Washington D.C. with a campus in Sunnyvale, is among several major multinationals that have established offices in Beersheva’s new Gav-Yam Negev Advanced Technologies Park (ATP), primarily housing companies involved in developing cyber technologies.
In 2014, Lockheed signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli government to help advance cyber-education in the Jewish state. Lockheed has since sponsored programs and conferences aimed at helping educators more effectively teach STEM curriculum.
Last year, Lockheed began collaborating with Israel’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and the Rashi Foundation to promote STEM programs for students in kindergarten through high schools.
The new early childhood curriculum was designed to provide 300 hours of science study per year in a stimulating learning environment that allows students to experiment and to experience and develop skills through hands-on creative activities in astronomy, physics, chemistry and robotics.
Over the next three years, classrooms taking part in the project will be equipped with computers, Lego construction kits, robotics experiments and space-related content to encourage a passion for STEM, according to the Rashi Foundation, which leads national projects that bridge educational and social gaps in Israel. The joint initiative is part of the MadaKids program that aims to cultivate future scientists in Israel.
The project is operated by Beit Yatziv, an organization that runs science education programs for some 40,000 elementary school pupils across Israel on behalf of the Rashi Foundation, including a municipal science excellence center in cooperation with the municipality of Beersheva.
“The participating kindergarten teachers received special training at Beit Yatziv that focused on the science behind natural phenomena such as the seasons, astronomy, robotics and more,” said Maya Lugassi Ben-Hemo, head of pedagogy at Beit Yatziv.
In-service training and academic guidance by Kaye College of Education and the pedagogic team of Beit Yatziv will continue through the school year, she added.
Ben-Hemo emphasized that the children won’t lack time to enjoy traditional activities such as coloring and building with blocks. “The science and technology program will be integrated within the regular curriculum of the Ministry of Education for science-oriented kindergartens, which obviously includes play time,” she said.
The goal is for children participating in the program to enter elementary school with a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and math, and that this model for technological early childhood education will be duplicated across Israel. The program “is intended to serve as a regional learning center” for teachers, other education professionals and parents, Ben-Hemo said.
Lockheed’s Hewson was not the only big name on hand when the science kindergarten was dedicated this past October. Also in attendance were Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, Beersheva Mayor Rubik Danilovitch, Rashi Foundation chairman (and retired general) Gabi Ashkenazi, and other dignitaries from Israel and abroad.
“The significance of the knowledge the children gain in preschool will be felt in years to come, and it will surely be highly valuable on the personal as well as the national level,” Bennett said at the event. “Opening the first science kindergarten in Beersheva sends a clear message — that everyone, everywhere in Israel, should have equal opportunities.”
Ashkenazi said the Rashi Foundation views the promotion of science and technology education from an early age as a major catalyst for strengthening Israeli society and closing educational gaps between the center and periphery of the country.
“The science kindergarten in Beersheva, the capital of the Negev, is an innovative and unique project that will give children an opportunity to cultivate their independent and inquisitive thinking and make an early start on their science education,” Ashkenazi said. “This is the first step on the path that will lead them, and the country, to new achievements in science and advanced technology.”
Israel signs second agreement with tech firm Lockheed-Martin to encourage more kids to study science and tech
But despite the best efforts of government and industry, statistics show that STEM is still a hard sell. Kids, it appears, are intimidated by math and science, and prefer “easier” subjects. It’s a major problem around the world, including in the US.
“Ninety-seven percent of US high schools do not teach STEM effectively enough to provide students with real-life skills that will enable them to get into advance tech programs in colleges,” and neither kids, parents, nor school boards are demanding those subjects, according to Rick Geritz, one of the world’s foremost experts on cyber-education.
“I use to think ‘ooh be a millionaire’, then I thought ‘be a billionaire’… unless you’re talking in the T’s,, I’m not fucking interested!”
“Energy, water and phosphates… nothing else matters!”
“Energy? This guy, has discovered the energy source of the Universe, the reason the Universe is expanding, the identity of dark matter and dark energy… he’s unlocked the secrets of the atom and Universe… Quantum Physics was ALWAYS bullshit… he’s created a multi-trillion dollar industry (and not just in energy, in EVERYTHING chemical, biological), the biggest paradigm shift in human history… THIS IS THE BIGGEST DISCOVERY SINCE FIRE… for the first time in human history the power of the of the Sun has been brought down to the surface of planet Earth 😉 …
I’ve always had fun with the CIA.
I have lunch with Mossad.
… You need to ask the Russians about our relationship.
MI6 can fuck themselves.
I eat cake with Rothschild.
(best champagne in the world)
“I’m thinking maybe Tel Aviv? The Weizmann Institute of Science?… some other people. Does Tel Aviv not host an annual piss up, with science lectures in bars?”
“Science On Tap”
“That’s the one!… yeah… in May? I was going to attend an Ayahuasca conference in Spain, but I’m going to go and check Israel out instead… go and do Tel Aviv and Haifa… see if I can fit in some Krav Maga training whilst I’m there” ;D~
Does anyone from the UK have a problem with me visiting Israel? Oh wait…
Science on Tap 2017
An influential initiative, creating a new urban culture that has been adopted around the globe – presented by Yivsam Azgad, Spokesman and Curator of the Weizmann Institute of Science, ISRAEL.
What is it? About 60 leading scientists and outstanding PhD students appear – on the same day, same hour – in bars and cafes around the city for informal talks with the patrons on the open scientific questions in their fields, on the sense of discovery, and on life on the “frontier” of science.
Are there parallel realities? Do dark energy and dark matter rule the Universe? How did life originate? Can we build a brain? Is nuclear fusion the solution to our energy problems? What do we mean by “personalized medicine?” Why do stars explode? Are we truly made of stardust? These are just a few of the questions that the scientists discuss.
Science on Tap 2018
Dozens of top scientists and outstanding research students from the Weizmann Institute of Science will be in 51 bars in Tel Aviv to talk with the patrons.
HERE’S SOMETHING INTERESTING FROM WEIZMANN INSTITUTE!…
Prof. Ron Milo’s lab reveals stunning insights about Earth’s biomass While humans make up just a tiny fraction—only 0.01 percent—of the mass of all living things, we are responsible for a hefty amount of destruction across other species. Human activity has caused a decline in the total biomass of wild mammals—both marine and terrestrial— by a factor of six, or over 80 percent, since the dawn of civilization, according to a new Weizmann Institute-led study. Meanwhile, the total plant biomass has declined twofold since the emergence of people on the planet due to the cutting down of forests. But the surprising finding was that plants still rule the Earth—comprising about 450 gigatons of carbon (Ct C) out of the total 550 Gt C of biomass on Earth. In comparison, humans make up a staggeringly low 0.06 Gt C, despite our enormous impact. The study, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, includes a census of the total biomass distributed among all kingdoms of life. Performed by PhD student Yinon Bar-On from Prof. Ron Milo’s laboratory in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, in collaboration with Caltech Prof. Ron Phillips, the research provides a holistic view of the biosphere’s composition while characterizing patterns according to taxonomic categories, geography, and nutrition. To assemble the census, the scientists conducted extensive analyses based on hundreds of existing studies. Another insight from the study was that while the biomass of wild animals has declined steeply, the total mass of mammals—including humans and livestock—increased fourfold. “Over the relatively short span of human history, major innovations, such as the domestication of livestock, the adoption of an agricultural lifestyle, and the Industrial Revolution, have increased the human population dramatically and have had radical ecological effects,” the authors observe. “The impact of human civilization on global biomass has not been limited to mammals but has also profoundly reshaped the total quantity of carbon sequestered by plants.”
Yeah anyway… Tel Aviv!
Tel Aviv Among World’s ‘Heavyweight’ Tech Hubs, Says New Report
While Silicon Valley is still “off the charts” as a global tech hub, Beijing and Shanghai are catching up and Tel Aviv is among the most influential and most international, with more deals involving foreign investors, according to a new report this week by New York-based research firm CB Insights.
Silicon Wadi (Hebrew: סיליקון ואדי, lit: “Silicon Valley”) is an area with a high concentration of high-technology companies on the coastal plain of Israel, similar to Silicon Valley in the U.S. state of California, and is the reason Israel is nicknamed the Start-Up Nation. The area covers much of the country, although especially high concentrations of high-tech industry can be found in the area around Tel Aviv, including small clusters around the cities of Ra’anana, Petah Tikva, Herzliya, Netanya, the academic city of Rehovot and its neighbour Rishon Le Zion. In addition, high-tech clusters can be found in Haifa and Caesarea. More recent high-tech establishments have been raised in Jerusalem, and in towns such as Yokneam Illit and Israel’s first “private city,” Airport City, near Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv Startup City
Ranked one of the world’s leading innovative cities, Tel Aviv is at the heart of the global startup scene. Through its vast resources, top talent, highest level of venture capital per capita, and non-stop culture, Tel Aviv is the place to be to create the next big project. Tel Aviv welcomes all ideas and startups no matter the size and will support you in your journey. The city, with its fast-paced nightlife and unforgettable environment, breeds the best innovation, uniqueness, and creativity.
The Rise Of Tel Aviv’s Tech Hub
Tel Aviv has long been the epicentre of Israel’s bustling high tech scene. The latest trend overtaking the startup world is shared workplaces dedicated for techies and young professionals alike to work in, and Tel Aviv’s famously (un)corporate work culture is leading the way. Built around open spaces and geared towards networking, these hubs range from so-called “accelerators” run by investors, to small communal offices for freelancers and creatives. In Tel Aviv, you can find a wide variety of both, with big firms like Microsoft setting up shop alongside hip young workspaces, perfect for the gig economy.
“Those of you that know me, know I’ve been talking about this subject matter for a number of years (slight diversion from global energy)… Phosphorous! Not only is it essential to securing the global food supply due to the global fertiliser industries over reliance upon it, it’s actually essential to ALL life on Earth, the backbone to DNA…
it is a FINITE resource, that is not being thoughtfully managed or controlled, at some point in the future, humanity will exhaust the planets supply.
a) source it from elsewhere. i.e. outer space. Recent study suggests all phosphate on Earth actually came from elsewhere in cosmos. “Biocompatible phosphorus could have travelled to Earth on space ice Lab experiments back up hypothesis that comets and meteorites provided a form of the element compatible with the biochemistry of early life”
b) find a method of synthesising or recreating the phosphate molecule.
We now have a population exceeding 7 billion, set to hit 9 billion by 2030, and not slowing down… unless there is a technological revolution, in our understanding of molecular modelling, synthesising or reproducing organic molecules vital to life and DNA (phosphorous), or sourcing them from elsewhere in the Cosmos (meteorites, planets)… billions of people will potentially starve and die!
With The Grand Unified Theory Of Classical Physics, a better understanding of molecular and atomic structure… accurate and predictive molecular modelling programs such as Millsian… this sorry arse civilisation may stand half a chance!
How Phosphorus Scarcity Endangers the World
By Ryan Sim August 10, 2016
Phosphorus: a powdery maroon substance used in producing everything from baking powder to steels to fertilizer. Surprisingly, stocks of phosphorus are declining. The international community faces so many insidious issues that phosphorus scarcity can seem trivial; however, dwindling phosphorus is indeed important to national security. One of the most important substances for global food production, phosphorus is crucial to sustainable population growth. Its scarcity must be addressed by the international community.
Used in many fertilizers, phosphorus enables higher food production from crops, which is important for feeding a rapidly growing world. Phosphorus has contributed to a global surplus of food that has fed millions. Unfortunately, phosphorus, like many other important resources such as water or energy, is limited. There is no replacement for phosphorus, and without its role in fertilizer, millions will go hungry.
Numerous global trends have caused the demand for phosphorus to increase at an unsustainable rate. Especially in developing regions, rapid population growth has led to increased phosphorus demand, with the rate of fertilizer including phosphorus increasing by over 600 percent from 1950 to 2000. In developed regions, on the other hand, the shift towards a diet of meat and cheese have also increased phosphorus demand, since meat and dairy contain a significant proportion of phosphorus. As a result, countries everywhere face rising demands for phosphorus, which has led to precarious markets.
Recently unfolding events have demonstrated the impacts of phosphorus’ increased demand. In 2008, world food prices skyrocketed, leading to the 2008 global food crisis. While there were many explanations for this phenomenon, ranging from oil price volatility to economic tariffs, the fact that there was a simultaneous rise of in phosphate prices did not go unnoticed. Though at first many were skeptical of a correlation, the international scientific community has strongly supported the relationship between these two trends.
In such scarcity, phosphorus especially impacts farmers from poor regions like India and landlocked regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa. In poor regions, farmers are vulnerable to extreme price changes such as the recent phosphorus price crisis in 2008. In fact, in places such as India and Haiti, many farmers committed suicide while others rioted due to their disrupted livelihoods from the 2008 phosphorus price crisis. In landlocked regions, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, expensive transport as well as government corruption add significantly to phosphorus prices. It is unfortunate, since many of these countries rely upon agriculture for economic growth, further increasing their reliance on phosphate. Many of these countries are also undergoing rapid population growth, which cannot be sustained by such high phosphorus prices.
Though demand is increasing, phosphorus is an extremely rare resource and its supply may not be able to keep up. Phosphate rock is the difficult to extract and slow-forming product of millions of years, much like oil, and cannot be produced artificially. To make matters worse, phosphorus cannot be replaced by any known alternatives. It is uncertain exactly how much time that the international community has before phosphate runs out. However, as phosphate is continuously and increasingly harvested, the ability to easily harvest high-quality phosphorus is reduced. This is a phenomenon known as “peak phosphorus”, since at a certain point of time, phosphorus quality peaks and then is difficult to harvest afterwards. Even now, it takes enormous amounts of energy to obtain the same amounts of phosphate as before. Since phosphorus has a limited and quickly depleting availability and it saps precious energy, more sustainable and efficient methods of phosphorus harvest must be implemented.
It must also be noted how phosphorus can only be found in very specific locations, namely, Morocco, China, Algeria, and South Africa among a few others. As is the case with most resources of significance, when certain countries have a monopoly, it gives them major geopolitical power over other countries who need those imports. For example, the 2008 phosphorus price crisis was spurred in part due to China placing limits on phosphorus exports. This event demonstrates how countries are at the mercy of those who hold such a monopoly and, consequently, the balance of power has significantly been slanted towards them.
Though demand is increasing, phosphorus is an extremely rare resource and its supply may not be able to keep up.
In countries such as Morocco, for instance, phosphorus lies in the Western Sahara, an area that Morocco claims to own; the international community refuses to acknowledge this territorial claim. Regardless of the legitimacy of the Moroccan claim, numerous companies import phosphate rock from this contested area, much to the dismay of neighboring countries. Moreover, the people who occupy the Western Sahara protest against the phosphorus extraction, stating that it violates their sovereignty. Though this may be a singular case, it demonstrates how the extreme need for phosphorus combined with little regulation has created an environment where illegal activity may flourish. Furthermore, the lack of regulation allows more opportunistic powers to enter weaker territories and take their resources, instigating oppression and deeper economic woes.
Phosphorus’ scarcity stems not only from its limited quantities, but it is also wasted during harvests. As much as four-fifths of phosphorus is wasted during production, from the moment it is mined to the final moments of processing. These losses can be minimized through greater efficiency and recycling waste, ensuring more sustainable levels of phosphorus use. Moreover, improving the efficiency of phosphorus extraction reduces phosphorus runoff into streams and oceans, which causes algal blooms that kill aquatic wildlife and hurt tourist industries and the environment. This algal bloom is costly, as well. The estimated annual cost in the United States alone reaches up to as high as $2.2 billion USD. More stringent monitoring of excess phosphorus waste during harvest will decrease phosphorus scarcity and environmental risks.
This raises the question–who is responsible for managing phosphorus, whether by following international norms or minimizing excessive waste? The answer, at the moment, is lost in a hectic mass of mining sectors, national governments, and agricultural industries. The trade and production data that exists on phosphorus is incomplete; indeed, the only data available is from the US Geological Survey, but even this data lacks outside verification from other organizations or countries. This is a clear and present problem, especially given that phosphorus is such a critical resource for future food sustainability. All lines involved in the production of phosphorus need to be held to more accountability, and more information regarding the phosphorus production process needs to be revealed to give a better picture of the status quo.
Luckily for the international community, the future is not as grim as it appears. There are a number of institutional changes that can be made to improve regulation and decrease waste. Outreach and advocacy measures, on the macro-level of the United Nations and giant media organizations as well as micro-level of grassroots movements and nonprofit organizations, can raise awareness of the seriousness of phosphorus. As these reforms and changes change the nature of institutions to become more sympathetic to phosphorus sustainability, the best practices and procedures of the international community can be more easily implemented.
One area that should be prioritized in reducing phosphorus is the smarter use of fertilizer. In most cases, farmers are unaware of how much fertilizer they need. For good reason—the amount of fertilizer a farmer may need is highly dependent on environmental conditions such as soil, temperature, and weather patterns. As a result, many farmers in developing countries are not able to accurately gauge their fertilizer requirements, leading to much waste. One example of this case can be found in a China Agriculture Survey on northern Chinese farmers. Since many of these farmers were never taught how much fertilizer they need, they tend to use about half of the fertilizer they put down. Thus, a valuable resource is wasted and becomes an environmental risk to water supplies, just because some people were never educated.
To combat this lack of information, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization is putting together a task force to work together with local and state governments. It hopes to provide accessible information to farmers, emphasizing ideals of conservation and long-term sustainability of phosphorus. This task force is not unprecedented and draws inspiration from past successful initiatives. The University of Wisconsin, in concert with the Wisconsin government, put together a program called the Wisconsin phosphorus index, which helps farmers accurately predict how much phosphorus that they will need. By promoting past sustainable practices that have a track record of success, organizations like the United Nations will hopefully be able to increase awareness amongst local communities.
Another area that can be examined to increase phosphorus supply is recycling waste. In the past, farmers were able to sustain the quality of their soil largely through household waste. Even though animal manure is still widely used, human waste is also a valuable source of phosphorus. Instead of disposing of it as sewage, human waste has potential as an alternative fertilizer. Moreover, many countries across the world are undergoing intensive research to find innovative ways to efficiently recycle waste. It is important that the international scientific community communicates their findings to one another to promote the best long-term phosphorus recycling methods. Additionally, areas that might not be able to afford such advanced levels of technology need to receive assistance from NGOs and the United Nations. Since some of these recycling procedures are difficult to keep up without high development levels, countries must have access to at least rudimentary recycling processes. In this way, countries will be able to extend their current supplies of phosphorus.
Just as important in preserving phosphorus in the long term is having a tangible idea of the global phosphorus supply. As previously mentioned, the US Geological Survey currently gives us the best representation of how much phosphorus is left. However, a more effective way to describe the world phosphorus supply would be through an international organization such as the World Trade Organization. The World Trade Organization should work together with governments to foster the creation of a more comprehensive global database of phosphorus trade and supply. Indeed, this partnership should also yield information of new phosphorus mining areas, since many places need heavier examination by regional governments. Then, markets and research institutions will have more accurate information to act upon, creating a more sustainable phosphorus supply in the long run.
While there are numerous measures that can be implemented in order to promote more long-term phosphorus supply sustainability, they cannot be effective without cultural changes as well. Meat and dairy, for example, take up immense supplies of phosphorus, and yet people are consuming these products at unprecedented levels. Therefore, it is increasingly necessary to promote a plant-based diet to reduce the amount of phosphorus consumption. Other cultural changes can include speaking with local farmers in underdeveloped countries, explaining how phosphorus is an essential and limited resource that needs conservation. With these movements in place, major media outlets and nonprofit organizations should direct the focus of public energy. Of course, this will not be an overnight process, since cultural changes often take many more incremental, subtle steps. However, encouraging such a long-term paradigm shift while putting into place other specific strategies for improvement should maintain phosphorus supplies.
The world’s population is growing at an exponential rate, as technology has dramatically improved the standard of living. On the whole, more people have access to the necessary resources they need to live than ever before. Yet, there are still large swaths of populations who live in poor conditions. There is still work to be done in lifting every person to the basic standard of living that they each deserve. Phosphorus is not a silver bullet that will deliver such people. However, when phosphorus sustainability is considered in the grander scheme of things, it will have enormous benefits to everyone, regardless of where they live. It will improve international security, as those who have more access to phosphorus will not have such a monopoly on power. It will reap benefits for farmers who are able to support their livelihoods through affordable fertilization. And it will reap benefits for every individual, as the markets of phosphorus and agriculture become more stable over time.
Phosphorus is more than simply an element or powdery substance—it represents an opportunity for the international community to help itself and the most marginalized populations. In a vastly changing world, it has become an essential element for change.
Phosphorus (P) plays a fundamental role in the physiology and biochemistry of all living things. Recent evidence indicates that organisms in the oceans can break down and use P forms in different oxidation states (e.g., +5, +3, +1, and −3); however, information is lacking for organisms from soil and sediment. The Cuatro Ciénegas Basin (CCB), Mexico, is an oligotrophic ecosystem with acute P limitation, providing a great opportunity to assess the various strategies that bacteria from soil and sediment use to obtain P. We measured the activities in sediment and soil of different exoenzymes involved in P recycling and evaluated 1,163 bacterial isolates (mainly Bacillus spp.) for their ability to use six different P substrates. DNA turned out to be a preferred substrate, comparable to a more bioavailable P source, potassium phosphate. Phosphodiesterase activity, required for DNA degradation, was observed consistently in the sampled-soil and sediment communities. A capability to use phosphite (PO3 3−) and calcium phosphate was observed mainly in sediment isolates. Phosphonates were used at a lower frequency by both soil and sediment isolates, and phosphonatase activity was detected only in soil communities. Our results revealed that soil and sediment bacteria are able to break down and use P forms in different oxidation states and contribute to ecosystem P cycling. Different strategies for P utilization were distributed between and within the different taxonomic lineages analyzed, suggesting a dynamic movement of P utilization traits among bacteria in microbial communities.
Phosphorus, the 11th most common element on earth, is fundamental to all living things. It is essential for the creation of DNA, cell membranes, and for bone and teeth formation in humans. It is vital for food production since it is one of three nutrients (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) used in commercial fertilizer. Phosphorus cannot be manufactured or destroyed, and there is no substitute or synthetic version of it available. There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not we are running out of phosphorus. Are we approaching peak phosphorus? In other words, are we using it up faster than we can economically extract it?
In fact, phosphorus is a renewable resource and there is plenty of it left on earth. Animals and humans excrete almost 100 percent of the phosphorus they consume in food. In the past, as part of a natural cycle, the phosphorus in manure and waste was returned to the soil to aid in crop production. Today phosphorus is an essential component of commercial fertilizer. Because industrial agriculture moves food around the world for processing and consumption, disrupting the natural cycle that returned phosphorus to the soil via the decomposition of plants, in many areas fertilizer must now be continually applied to enrich the soil’s nutrients.
Most of the phosphorus used in fertilizer comes from phosphate rock, a finite resource formed over millions of years in the earth’s crust. Ninety percent of the world’s mined phosphate rock is used in agriculture and food production, mostly as fertilizer, less as animal feed and food additives. When experts debate peak phosphorus, what they are usually debating is how long the phosphate rock reserves, i.e. the resources that can economically be extracted, will hold out.
Pedro Sanchez, director of the Agriculture and Food Security Center at the Earth Institute, does not believe there is a shortage of phosphorus. “In my long 50-year career, “ he said. “Once every decade, people say we are going to run out of phosphorus. Each time this is disproven. All the most reliable estimates show that we have enough phosphate rock resources to last between 300 and 400 more years.”
In 2010, the International Fertilizer Development Center determined that phosphate rock reserves would last for several centuries. In 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey revised its estimates of phosphate rock reserves from the previous 17.63 billion tons to 71.65 billion tons in accordance with IFDC’s estimates. And, according to Sanchez, new research shows that the amount of phosphorus coming to the surface by tectonic uplift is in the same range as the amounts of phosphate rock we are extracting now.
The duration of phosphate rock reserves will also be impacted by the decreasing quality of the reserves, the growing global population, increased meat and dairy consumption (which require more fertilized grain for feed), wastage along the food chain, new technologies, deposit discoveries and improvements in agricultural efficiency and the recycling of phosphorus. Moreover, climate change will affect the demand for phosphorus because agriculture will bear the brunt of changing weather patterns. Most experts agree, however, that the quality and accessibility of currently available phosphate rock reserves are declining, and the costs to mine, refine, store and transport them are rising.
Ninety percent of the phosphate rock reserves are located in just five countries: Morocco, China, South Africa, Jordan and the United States. The U.S., which has 25 years of phosphate rock reserves left, imports a substantial amount of phosphate rock from Morocco, which controls up to 85 percent of the remaining phosphate rock reserves. However, many of Morocco’s mines are located in Western Sahara, which Morocco has occupied against international law. Despite the prevalence of phosphorus on earth, only a small percentage of it can be mined because of physical, economic, energy or legal constraints.
In 2008, phosphate rock prices spiked 800 percent because of higher oil prices, increased demand for fertilizer (due to more meat consumption) and biofuels, and a short-term lack of availability of phosphate rock. This led to surging food prices, which hit developing countries particularly hard.
With a world population that is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050 and require 70 percent more food than we produce today, and a growing global middle class that is consuming more meat and dairy, phosphorus is crucial to global food security. Yet, there are no international organizations or regulations that manage global phosphorus resources. Since global demand for phosphorus rises about 3 percent each year (and may increase as the global middle class grows and consumes more meat), our ability to feed humanity will depend upon how we manage our phosphorus resources.
Unfortunately, most phosphorus is wasted. Only 20 percent of the phosphorus in phosphate rock reaches the food consumed globally. Thirty to 40 percent is lost during mining and processing; 50 percent is wasted in the food chain between farm and fork; and only half of all manure is recycled back into farmland around the world.
Most of the wasted phosphorus enters our rivers, lakes and oceans from agricultural or manure runoff or from phosphates in detergent and soda dumped down drains, resulting in eutrophication. This is a serious form of water pollution wherein algae bloom, then die, consuming oxygen and creating a “dead zone” where nothing can live. Over 400 coastal dead zones at the mouths of rivers exist and are expanding at the rate of 10 percent per decade. In the United States alone, economic damage from eutrophication is estimated to be $2.2 billion a year.
As the quality of phosphate rock reserves declines, more energy is necessary to mine and process it. The processing of lower grade phosphate rock also produces more heavy metals such as cadmium and uranium, which are toxic to soil and humans; more energy must be expended to remove them as well. Moreover, increasingly expensive fossil fuels are needed to transport approximately 30 million tons of phosphate rock and fertilizers around the world annually.
Sanchez says that while there is no reason to fear we are running out of phosphorus, we do need to be more efficient about our use of phosphorus, especially to minimize eutrophication. The keys to making our phosphorus resources more sustainable are to reduce demand and find alternate sources. We need to:
Improve the efficiency of mining
Integrate livestock and crop production; in other words, use the manure as fertilizer
Make fertilizer application more targeted
Prevent soil erosion and agricultural runoff by promoting no-till farming, terracing, contour tilling and the use of windbreaks
Eat a plant based diet
Reduce food waste from farm to fork
Recover phosphorus from human waste
Phosphorus can be reused. According to some studies, there are enough nutrients in one person’s urine to grow 50 to 100 percent of the food needed by another person. NuReSys is a Belgian company whose technology can recover 85 percent of the phosphorus present in wastewater, and turn it into struvite crystals that can be used as a slow fertilizer.
New phosphorus-efficient crops are also being developed. Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute discovered a gene that makes it possible for rice plants to grow bigger roots that absorb more phosphorus. The overexpression of this gene can increase the yield of rice plants when they are grown in phosphorus-poor soil. Rice plants with this gene are not genetically modified, but are being bred with modern techniques; they are expected to be available to farmers in a few years.
A breed of genetically modified Yorkshire pigs, called the Enviropig, has been developed by the University of Guelph in Canada to digest phosphorus from plants more efficiently and excrete less of it. This results in lower costs to feed the pigs and less phosphorus pollution, since pig manure is a major contributor to eutrophication. Last spring, however, the Enviropigs were euthanized after the scientists lost their funding.
The Agriculture and Food Security Center is working on food security in Africa and attempting to eliminate hunger there and throughout the tropics within the next two to three decades.
In the mountains of Tanzania along Lake Manyara, Sanchez’ team has discovered deposits of “minjingu,” high-quality phosphate rock that is cheaper and just as efficient as triple super phosphate (a highly concentrated phosphate-based fertilizer) in terms of yields of corn per hectare.
Minjingu deposits are formed by the excreta and dead bodies of cormorants and other birds that roost and die in the mountains, forming biogenic rock phosphate or guano deposits. Guano, the feces and urine of seabirds (and bats), has a high phosphorus content, and in the past was often used as fertilizer.
Sanchez’ researchers have also discovered a common bush called the Mexican Sunflower that is an efficient phosphorus collector. It grows by the side of the road, fertilized by the excreta dumped there by farmers. The farmers cut it down and use it as green manure, an organic phosphorus fertilizer which helps grow high-quality crops like vegetables.
The Agriculture and Food Security Center team also helps farmers contain erosion and runoff by encouraging them to keep some vegetative cover, either alive or dead, on the soil year-round. This is done through intercropping, leaving crop residue in the fields, contour planting on slopes or terracing.
“There is no data to support the idea of peak phosphorus,” said Sanchez. “Just fears. New deposits are continually being discovered. We also have more efficient extraction that is getting more phosphate rock out of land-based sediments. And there is an enormous 49-gigaton deposit of phosphorus in the continental shelf from Florida to Maritime Canada that scientists have known about for years. Now there is some experimental extraction going on off the coast of North Carolina.” Pedro Sanchez, author of Properties and Management of Soils in the Tropics published in 1976, which continues to be a bestseller, is currently working on Tropical Soils Science, an update of his previous work. It will be published by 2015.
1. Phosphorus equals food
Without phosphorus, we can’t produce food. Phosphorus is as essential as water, carbon or oxygen.
Phosphorus is essential for all living matter, including bacteria, plants and animals. We get our phosphorus from the food we eat, which in turn comes from the phosphate fertilizers we apply to crops. Phosphorus fertilizer is essential for modern food production and is the limiting factor in crop yields. Phosphorus is a critical global resource, along side water and energy resources.
Around 90% of the phosphate rock extracted globally is for food production (the remainder is for industrial applications like detergents).
2. Growing food demand, growing phosphorus demand
Nine billion mouths to feed by 2050 with growing appetite for meat and dairy means increasing demand for phosphorus.
Demand for phosphorus is increasing globally, despite a downward trend in developed regions like Western Europe. This is due to an increasing per capita and overall demand for food in developing countries, from increasing population and global trends towards more meat- and dairy-based diets, which are significantly more phosphorus intensive.
The average diet today results in the depletion of around 22.5 kilograms of phosphate rock per person each year (or 3.2 kilograms of P). This is 50 times greater than the 1.2 grams per person per day recommended daily intake of P.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating hunger and achieving food security, means we must change the way we source, use and equitably distribute phosphorus in global food production. Further to market forecasts, there is a ‘silent’ demand from the many farmers with phosphorus-deficient soils who can’t afford fertilizers. The current phosphorus inequity is most evident on the African continent, which is simultaneously home to the world’s largest phosphate rock reserves (over 75% of the global share) and the continent with the lowest phosphorus fertilizer application rates, some of the most phosphorus-deficient soils and the most food insecure region.
3. Finite phosphate: we’ve used up the good stuff
The world’s main source of phosphorus fertilizer – phosphate rock – has taken millions of years to form.
The majority of the world’s agricultural fields today rely on fertilizers derived from phosphate rock. Phosphate rock is a non-renewable resource that has taken 10-15 million years to form from seabed to soil via tectonic uplift and weathering. Many recent studies indicate that phosphorus demand could outstrip supply this century if no fundamental changes are made to the current trajectory, while others argue we have ‘hundreds’ of years remaining (see Peak Phosphorus).
While oil and other non-renewable natural resources can be substituted with other sources when they peak (like wind, biomass or thermal energy), phosphorus has no substitute in food production.
While there is some uncertainty about the timeline, there is consensus that the quality of remaining phosphate rock is declining. That is, the concentration of P in mined phosphate rock is decreasing and the concentration of unwanted clay particles and heavy metals like cadmium are increasing. The cadmium content of phosphate rock can be very high. This is either considered a harmful concentration for application in agriculture, or, expensive and energy intensive to remove (maximum cadmium concentrations for fertilizers exist in some regions, like Western Europe). Further, remaining phosphate reserves are becoming more difficult to physically access (mining under the sea bed has begun). Extracting the same amount of phosphorus is requiring more energy, is more costly, and is generating more waste and byproducts.
With growing concern about fossil fuel scarcity, we cannot afford to continue the energy intensive process of mining, processing and transporting phosphate rock and fertilizers across the globe. Phosphate rock is one of the most highly traded commodities in the world. Around 30% of energy use in agriculture in the US is from fertilizer production and use.
4. Geopolitical risks: an issue of national security?
All farmers need phosphorus, yet just 5 countries control 88% of the worlds remaining phosphate rock reserves
Phosphate rock is unevenly distributed across the globe resulting in only a small number of countries controlling the world’s remaining reserves. According to the US Geological Survey in 2015, Morocco, China, Algeria, Syria & South Africa together control 88% of the world’s phosphate. Morocco alone controls 75% of the world’s high-quality reserves, and the Kingdom’s share is expected to increase to 80-90% in the coming decades. The US used to be the world’s largest producer, consumer, importer and exporter, yet now has approximately 20 years of reserves remaining. while China has recently imposed a 135% export tariff to secure domestic fertilizer supply, which has halted most exports.
This means all importing countries – from India to Australia to Europe – are vulnerable to price fluctuations and supply disruptions in producing countries.
Further, the phosphate rock located in Western Sahara is controlled by Morocco. While Morocco claims rightful ownership of the land and phosphates of Western Sahara, this occupation is condemned by the UN and not recognised by any other nation, nor the Saharawi people of Western Sahara, many of whom are living in refugee camps in neigbouring Algeria. Many of Scandinavia’s major banks and pension funds have divested from companies importing ‘conflict phosphates’ from Western Sahara via Morocco.
5. An inefficient global food system
Phosphorus is mis-managed: Four-fifths is lost or wasted in the supply-chain from mine to field to fork
Phosphorus is scarce not only because it is finite – but because it is mismanaged in the food system. Only one-fifth of the phosphate mined specifically for food production ends up in the food we eat globally. Four-fifths of the phosphorus is lost or wasted during mining and processing, fertilizer production and distribution, fertilizer application on farms, food production and trade, right through to the dinner table. Much of these losses could be avoided through improved practices and efficiency measures, while the remaining waste (banana peels to manure) could be captured for reuse as fertilizer.
Much of the lost phosphorus ends up in our rivers, lakes and oceans where it can cause toxic algal blooms – from the Baltic Sea, to China to the Great Lakes of North America to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Algal blooms can kill fish and other aquatic life, pollute our drinking water and damage our tourism and fishing industries.
6. Cheap fertilizer – a thing of the past for farmers
Farmers need access to phosphorus, yet up to a billion farmers lack access to fertilizer markets.
Already many of the world’s farmers can’t afford fertilizers. Sub-Saharan African farmers in some landlocked countries can pay 2-5 times more at the farm gate for fertilizers than European farmers, due to high transport costs (road/rail), handling, duties and even corruption.
In 2008, the price of phosphate rock spiked 800%. This led to farmer riots and suicides from India to Haiti.
While demand continues to increase, the cost of mining phosphate rock is increasing due to transport in addition to a decline in quality and greater expense of extraction, refinement and environmental management.
Non-food demand for phosphorus has also increased: the demand for first generation biofuel crops over the past decade increased global demand – and hence price – of phosphate rock.
7. No one is monitoring phosphorus: whose responsibility is it?
There are currently no international or national policies, guidelines or organisations responsible for ensuring long-term availability and accessibility of phosphorus for food production.
Despite being one of the world’s most critical resources, there are no international organisations like the UN taking responsibility for phosphorus security in the long term. There is no independent, comprehensive and transparent data on the world’s remaining phosphate rock and trade. The US Geological Survey collates data provided directly by companies and countries as a public service, with no way of verifying the source, assumptions and authenticity of the data.
The management of phosphorus is fragmented between many different sectors – from the mining and fertilizer sector where phosphorus is a globally-traded commodity, through to the sanitation sector where phosphorus is a pollutant, wastewater indicator and in some cases a resource to be recovered.
Whose responsibility is long-term governance of phosphorus for food security? the fertilizer industry? Investors? National governments? the UN? Agri-food companies? Food consumers? Sanitation providers?
Cordell, D. & White, S (2014), Life’s bottleneck: sustaining the world’s phosphorus for a food secure future, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 39:161-188.
Cordell, D. & White, S. Phosphorus security: global non-governance of a critical resource for food security, Edward Elgar Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Politics and Governance, (Eds) Pattberg, P & Fariborz Zelli, F. 2015. In press.
February 17, 2016 by Charly Faradji, University Of Bristol, And Marissa De Boer, Vu University Amsterdam, The Conversation
You know that greenhouse gases are changing the climate. You probably know drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce, and that we’re living through a mass extinction.
But when did you last worry about phosphorus?
It’s not as well-known as the other issues, but phosphorus depletion is no less significant. After all, we could live without cars or unusual species, but if phosphorus ran out we’d have to live without food.
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for all forms of life. It is a key element in our DNA and all living organisms require daily phosphorus intake to produce energy. It cannot be replaced and there is no synthetic substitute: without phosphorus, there is no life.
Our dependence began in the mid-19th century, after farmers noticed spreading phosphorus-rich guano (bird excrement) on their fields led to impressive improvements in crop yields. Soon after, mines opened up in the US and China to extract phosphate ore – rocks which contain the useful mineral. This triggered the current use of mineral fertilisers and, without this industrial breakthrough, humanity could only produce half the food that it does today.
Fertiliser use has quadrupled over the past half century and will continue rising as the population expands. The growing wealth of developing countries allows people to afford more meat which has a “phosphorus footprint” 50 times higher than most vegetables. This, together with the increasing usage of biofuels, is estimated to double the demand for phosphorus fertilisers by 2050.
Today phosphorus is also used in pharmaceuticals, personal care products, flame retardants, catalysts for chemical industries, building materials, cleaners, detergents and food preservatives.
Phosphorus is not a renewable resource
Reserves are limited and not equally spread over the planet. The only large mines are located in Morocco, Russia, China and the US. Depending on which scientists you ask, the world’s phosphate rock reserves will last for another 35 to 400 years – though the more optimistic assessments rely on the discovery of new deposits.
It’s a big concern for the EU and other countries without their own reserves, and phosphorus depletion could lead to geopolitical tensions. Back in 2008, when fertiliser prices sharply increased by 600% and directly influenced food prices, there were violent riots in 40 different developing countries.
Phosphorus also harms the environment. Excessive fertiliser use means it leaches from agricultural lands into rivers and eventually the sea, leading to so-called dead zones where most fish can’t survive. Uninhibited algae growth caused by high levels of phosphorus in water has already created more than 400 coastal death zones worldwide. Related human poisoning costs US$2.2 billion dollars annually in the US alone.
With the increasing demand for phosphorus leading to massive social and environmental issues, it’s time we looked towards more sustainable and responsible use.
There is still hope
In the past, the phosphorus cycle was closed: crops were eaten by humans and livestock while their faeces were used as natural fertilisers to grow crops again.
These days, the cycle is broken. Each year 220m tonnes of phosphate rocks are mined, but only a negligible amount makes it back into the soil. Crops are transported to cities and the waste is not returned to the fields but to the sewage system, which mainly ends up in the sea. A cycle has become a linear process.
We could reinvent a modern phosphorus cycle simply by dramatically reducing our consumption. After all, less than a third of the phosphorus in fertilisers is actually taken up by plants; the rest accumulates in the soil or is washed away. To take one example, in the Netherlands there is enough phosphorus in the soil today to supply the country with fertiliser for the next 40 years.
Food wastage is also directly linked to phosphorus overuse. In the most developed countries, 60% of discarded food is edible. We could also make agriculture smarter, optimising the amount of phosphorus used by specially selecting low-fertiliser crops or by giving chickens and pigs a special enzyme that helps them digest phosphorus more efficiently and therefore avoid extensive use of phosphorus-heavy growth supplements.
It takes vast amounts of energy to transform phosphate ore into “elemental phosphorus”, the more reactive and pure form used in other, non-agricultural sectors. Inventing a quicker route from raw rocks to industrially-useful compounds is one of the big challenges facing the future generation. The EU, which only has minimal reserves, is investing in research aimed at saving energy – and phosphorus.
We could also close the phosphorus cycle by recycling it. Sewage, for instance, contains phosphorus yet it is considered waste and is mainly incinerated or released into the sea. The technology to extract this phosphorus and reuse it as fertiliser does exist, but it’s still at an early stage of development.
When considering acute future challenges, people do not often think about phosphorus. However, securing enough food for the world’s population is at least as important as the development of renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gases. To guarantee long-term food security, changes in the way we use phosphorus today are vital.
A good way to scare yourself is by googling “phosphorus shortage.” Agriculture requires lots of phosphorus for fertilizer, and after it’s spread on crops, most of it gets washed into the ocean, where it is irrecoverable. Without phosphorus, food production will plummet, unless people come up with new ways to grow food.
From the Global And Chinese Phosphate Fertilizer Industry, 2018 Market Research Report:
In 2007, at the current rate of consumption, the supply of phosphorus was estimated to run out in 345 years. However, some scientists thought that a “peak phosphorus” will occur in 30 years and Dana Cordell from Institute for Sustainable Futures said that at “current rates, reserves will be depleted in the next 50 to 100 years.”
From The Conversation:
Fertiliser use has quadrupled over the past half century and will continue rising as the population expands. The growing wealth of developing countries allows people to afford more meat which has a “phosphorus footprint” 50 times higher than most vegetables. This, together with the increasing usage of biofuels, is estimated to double the demand for phosphorus fertilisers by 2050.
Today phosphorus is also used in pharmaceuticals, personal care products, flame retardants, catalysts for chemical industries, building materials, cleaners, detergents and food preservatives.
From Critical Shots:
The greatest natural reserves of unmined phosphorus exist in [Morocco]…
According to the USGS, 42% of all phosphorus imported by the United States between 2012-2015 came from Morocco. China beats them out by a tremendous margin in production, but based on the most recent data Morocco and Western Sahara combined are sitting on 50,000,000,000 metric tons of reserves.
GRANTHAM: We’re on a finite planet with finite reserves of phosphorus. And we are mining it and running through the supply. That should make the hair on the back of everybody’s neck bristle.
SMITH: There are widely ranging estimates for just how close we are to the phosphorus cliff. Maybe we’ve got 30 years. Maybe we have 300 years. It’s hard to estimate. This is Jeremy’s take.
GRANTHAM: Whether it’s 42 years, 62 years or 82 years doesn’t really matter. We have to change our way of growing food.
DUFFIN: We’ve known for a while that phosphorus was limited. But the price was cheap, and the problem just seemed so distant, so people were kind of like, meh, we’ll deal with that problem later.
SMITH: Then 2008 happened – the financial crisis. And along with many commodities, phosphate prices spiked, which – because of its use as a fertilizer – made food prices skyrocket. And now everybody’s talking about phosphorus.
NARRATOR: Across the developing world in 2008, hungry people rioted as food supplies ran low and the price of phosphate rock spiked by 800 percent.
GRANTHAM: I would argue that that was a shot across the bows. That was the first warning to planet Earth that we are beginning to run out.
China is a very inefficient consumer of fertilizer: a recent China Agriculture University study found that northern Chinese farmers use about 525 pounds of fertilizer per acre, of which 200 pounds is wasted into the environment. This is six times more fertilizer and 23 times more waste than the average American farmer in the midwest uses and produces (Shwartz, 2009). These phenomena of growth and overuse, coinciding with peak production, will drive prices drastically higher and force a number of changes in the world’s food production and consumption. The potential for catastrophic food shortages and global famine looms without significant systemic changes.
Date: March 17, 2010
Summary: Phosphorus is just as important to agriculture as water. But a lack of availability and accessibility of phosphorus is an emerging problem that threatens our capacity to feed the global population. Like nitrogen and potassium, it is a nutrient that plants take up from the soil and it is crucial to soil fertility and crop growth.
Phosphorus is just as important to agriculture as water. But a lack of availability and accessibility of phosphorus is an emerging problem that threatens our capacity to feed the global population. Like nitrogen and potassium, it is a nutrient that plants take up from the soil and it is crucial to soil fertility and crop growth.
“Unless something is done, the scarcity of phosphorus will cause problems of a global dimension. As early as 2035 it is calculated that the demand for phosphorus map outpace the supply,” says Dana Cordell, who presented her thesis at the Department of Thematic Studies — Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping University, Sweden on the implications of phosphorus scarcity on global food security.
Phosphorus is extracted from phosphate rock, a non-renewable resource that is used almost exclusively in agriculture. Two thirds of the world’s resources are in China, Morocco, and Western Sahara.
“The demand for phosphorus has increased and prices soared by 800 percent between 2006 and 2008,” says Dana Cordell.
Cordell maintains that the shortage of phosphorus in not simply due to a drop in the availability of phosphate ore. Many of the world’s farmers do not have enough purchasing power to be able to afford and use phosphorus-based fertilizer, which means their soil is becoming depleted. What’s more, phosphorus use in the food system from mine to field to fork is currently so inefficient that only one fifth of the phosphorus in the rock that is mined actually makes its way into our food.
“There is a lack of effective international governance to secure long-term access to phosphorus for food production,” says Dana Cordell, who adds that the way phosphorus resources are handled needs to be improved.
Phosphorus needs to be applied and management in agriculture more efficiently, we need to eat more vegetarian food, and increase efficiency throughout the food chain. At the same time we need to recover and reuse a large part of the phosphorus that exists in crop residues, food waste, manures human faeces and other sources.
“If nothing is done, food production runs the risk of a hard landing in the future, including further fertilizer price increases, increasing environmental effects of pollution, energy and resource consumption, smaller harvests, reduced farmer livelihoods and reduced food security,” says Dana Cordell.
Eliminating depletion and environmental damage with efficient phosphorus use and reuse.
Earth’s phosphorus is being depleted at an alarming rate. At current consumption levels, we will run out of known phosphorus reserves in around 80 years, but consumption will not stay at current levels. Nearly 90% of phosphorus is used in the global food supply chain, most of it in crop fertilizers. If no action is taken to quell fertilizer use, demand is likely to increase exponentially.
(Prud’Homme, 2010, from Schroder et. al., 2010)
A simple program of smart demand reduction and increased organic waste recycling, supplemented with mining exploration in probable deposit areas, can delay, if not completely avoid, a peak in phosphorus production for several decades. However, it is imperative to take action now. There was a time when humans operated totally self-sufficient farms, tilling the same land for years by managing waste effectively, by simply making sure that everything that came out of the land eventually went back into it. In such a closed-loop scenario, phosphate would have the capacity to be reused approximately 46 times as food, fuel, fertilizer, and food again . In the fertilizing techniques that dominate today, which involve the annual application of phosphate-enriched chemical mixtures on top of nutrient-starved soil, phosphorus is used exactly once, then swept out to sea. This practice is simply unsustainable. Our ancestors learned the importance of conserving nutrients through necessity: if they could not make the soil yield, they would starve; there were no second chances. The world has a chance, now, to learn this lesson again, before it’s too late.
The United States is unique in that it is both a wealthy, industrialized nation at the forefront of technology, and an agricultural powerhouse with the third-largest population in the world. In the 1970s and early 1980s, during the early years of the Green Revolution, the US’s production of food commodities shot up, as did their use of artificial nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizers. The USSR followed a similar agricultural path, and as a result, worldwide phosphorus production grew from about 8 Mt/y in 1960 to over 20 Mt/y at its peak in the mid-1980s. Following this milestone, the world actually entered a period of reduced production and use that lasted until just a few years ago. While some have speculated that peak phosphorus production has already been reached, it seems more likely that the relatively short dip in production was merely the a coincidence of reduced use in the wake of the USSR’s collapse and more efficient practices being adopted by US farmers, while the rest of the world’s food production was still catching up.
The world has caught up. In the past 30 years, the US has gone from the world’s top phosphate consumer to the third largest, and now exports more phosphorus than it consumes (World Bank, 2012). Most of the new phosphorus use has been in India and China, which, together, now account for over 45% of the world’s total consumption . However, the United States’ total food production has not faltered at all in that time; in fact, it has improved significantly . This is due to more efficient farming practices and greater utilization of organic waste, as well as increased awareness of the problem among today’s farmers. The same shift towards efficiency and moderation has occurred among farmers in the EU as well, and it may be extrapolated that this is the natural progression followed by agricultural countries as they mature past rapid expansion to more stable, sustainable production levels. The biggest challenge, then, is not cutting back on phosphorus use in developed countries, but reigning in the growth of demand in rapidly developing ones.
Mission 2016 proposes a 3-part plan to cut back on global phosphorus consumption, especially in areas with growing demand, increase efforts to recycle phosphorus in human and animal waste, and assess new potential mining zones.
1. Reduce demand through smarter fertilizer use
It is the opinion of Mission 2016 that the single largest problem with phosphorus fertilizer use is overuse. The amount of phosphorous actually required to maintain a farm is highly variable, and depends on factors such as soil conditions, crop type, crop history, geography, and weather patterns. This makes it very difficult for farmers, especially those operating small, independent operations in developing countries, to accurately assess their fertilizer needs, and leads to superfluous application. Excess fertilizer is not only wasteful, it runs off into lakes, rivers, and oceans, where it causes massive, unnatural algae blooms. These photosynthetic microbe colonies cover huge areas of water, then die off, leaving behind sediment that blocks sunlight and destroys the aquatic ecosystems beneath them.
Experienced farmers can learn the most efficient amounts of fertilizer to use through years of experience, which is part of the reason agriculturally mature nations have better fertilizer-to-yield ratios than developing nations. In addition, scientific, quantitative data analysis can be applied to farmland to determine the proper amount of fertilizer to use in a given situation. The Wisconsin phosphorus index is an example of a tool, developed jointly by the government and the University of Wisconsin and optimized for a specific region. It includes SnapPlus, a free software that allows farmers to estimate their optimal fertilization plan from home .
This program will be used as a model for a worldwide campaign, focusing on the fastest-developing, highest consuming nations. For this purpose, a United Nations (UN) task force will be established within the Food and Agriculture Organization, within the Economic and Social Development Department, comprised of approximately 200 agents with agricultural and educational experience with a budget of $30 million per year. The average UN salary is approximately $119,000 per year , and an additional 6 million USD/a will be allocated for transportation, supplies, and expenses. The task force will develop a template, similar to the one developed by the University of Wisconsin, which can be adapted to specific regions around the globe. It will work closely with state and regional governments and agricultural institutions to provide accessible information for all local farmers, even those who do not own or have access to a computer. The force should emphasize the economic, environmental, and long-term benefits of sustainable phosphorus use to its clients. While it will not work directly with farmers, it will aim to instill the ideas of conservation and sustainability into the local bodies responsible for the agricultural health of their communities.
A recent China Agriculture University study found that northern Chinese farmers use about 92 kg of phosphorus fertilizer per acre, of which only 39 kg are removed as crops. This means 53 kg, fully 58% of phosphorus, is not utilized and ultimately lost into the environment (21). As China is the largest phosphorus consumer in the world, with 5.2 Mt consumed in 2009 alone , reducing the country’s phosphorus waste by even half would save the world over 1.5 Mt of phosphorus (3.45 Mt phosphate) per year.
2. Stretch current supplies further through recycling
The primary means by which phosphorus is reintroduced to the environment post-consumption is animal waste. Though manure is still used extensively around the world as fertilizer, human waste that was once returned directly to the soil is now collected in municipal waste facilities and often released to the ocean. Although most of the recoverable nutrients are currently lost, centralized municipal collection facilities offer a means to recycle large quantities of phosphorus with relatively little effort.
Struvite, or magnesium ammonium phosphate, is a hard, clear crystal that occurs naturally when ammonium-producing bacteria break down the urea in urine. It’s the substance that causes kidney stones, and for centuries, it has been the bane of sewage system operators the world over, forming hard, rock-like crystal deposits on the inside of pipes that can build up and block off flow. However, struvite is a benign, non-toxic substance, and it can be used as a rich, slow-release phosphate fertilizer. In fact, struvite outperforms diammonium phosphate (DAP), the most widely-used fertilizer today (15), on a unit-for-unit basis in terms of dry matter production, phosphorus uptake, and extractable residual phosphorus (14). Although struvite is preferable to DAP in most circumstances, in the past, it has only been used for high-value crops due to its higher cost (14).
In the past decade, phosphorus recovery has been the subject of intense research, and there are several new, economical methods by which it can be accomplished, many involving struvite formation. One technique, developed by University of British Columbia professor Don Mavinic, involves a cone-shaped reaction chamber in which small struvite crystals combine with magnesium, ammonium, and the phosphorus in wastewater on its way to a biosolids processor (X). The crystals grow until they are large enough to be collected by a filter and removed. These systems prevent struvite buildup in pipes, prevent phosphorus pollution in water basins, and provide valuable, usable phosphorus fertilizers. A company, Osatra Nutrient Recovery Technologies, Inc., was founded around the technology, and the struvite fertilizer the process creates is marketed as Crystal Green® (X). Another technology involves using charged, molecular “templates” to induce the formation of large crystals in liquid manure (X). Struvite-based methods can recover upwards of 90% of wastewater phosphorus (X,Y). Biological capture is a promising area of research as well, and involves cultivating phosphorus-hungry algae in the phosphate-rich side streams of waste treatment facilities, yielding 60-65% recovery rates (X). A third possible recovery method is through thermochemical treatments, which burn waste sludges to ash and then convert the contained phosphorus to bioavailable forms free from toxic heavy metal loads; this method can feasibly reach 100% recovery (20, X).
As is the case with improving fertilizer efficiency, the European Union, Canada, and the US have led the world in phosphorus recovery. By 2007, 53% of sewage sludges in the EU were already reused in agriculture , and in 2009, Sweden passed legislation to have at least 60% of its total phosphorus streams from wastewater diverted for agricultural use by 2015 (18, X). By 2009, Osatra struvite systems had been installed in Edmonton, Alberta; Portland, Oregon; and York, Pennsylvania, and the company had plans to expand to the UK and the Netherlands. The progress made by these countries is significant, but the greater problems, and potential gains, lie with China, India, and other fast-developing areas. If these areas begin implementing significant amounts of high-quality, renewable phosphate fertilizer into their supply chain early during their agricultural maturation, their demands for imports will not rise nearly as dramatically as they could.
To this end, Mission 2016 will establish a domain of the Open Information Exchange to deal specifically with phosphorus recycling techniques. As established above, there is a plethora of scientific research being done on the subject, although most of it is taking place in Europe. Working in conjunction with the governments and relevant research bodies of the world’s fastest-growing phosphorus consumers, the task force will promote the development of economical, efficient applications of new and cutting-edge recycling technologies that are tailored to specific regions. Its goal will be to reduce their waste and increase their recycling, and it will emphasize the economic potential of such systems: one analysis by the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) estimated the potential of phosphorus wastewater recovery in East Asia at more than 625 million USD annually (22). In addition, the Strategic Minerals Association (SMA) of the UN, described in the Protocol section of our solution, will work to draft a treaty between the top phosphorus consumers in the world, currently China, India, the United States, the European Union, and Brazil, to set a target of 50% total phosphorus recovery from wastewater by 2025. The SMA will also provide investment capital in the form of loans to municipal waste processing companies looking to install phosphorus-recycling technology.
However, the most critical applications of waste recycling will be in places that lack access to conventional sources of phosphate fertilizers. Many farmers in sub-saharan Africa simply can’t afford artificial fertilizers, if they can even find them; yet the same SEI study estimated the value of recoverable fertilizers from waste in the region at 800 million USD (22). According to a 2009 study by renowned soil scientist Pedro Sanchez, the average Kenyan farmer uses just 8 kg of phosphorus and 7 kg of nitrogen per hectare, far less than the 14 kg P and 93 kg N used in the US and the staggering 92 kg P and 588 kg N used in China. This is not efficient use, it is insufficient use, and it causes food shortages and starvation. Magnesium waste scrubbing (struvite-forming) technologies would appear to be an easy solution in these cases, too, but kind of infrastructural investment that the technology represents requires a level of maintenance that impoverished areas simply can’t support. Without proper upkeep, the struvite filters can become clogged and dirty, breeding malignant bacteria and doing more harm than good (X).
For poor, underdeveloped communities, better waste-recovery solutions are often low-tech, small-scale affairs. SEI has explored simple, outhouse-style toilets, able to be constructed locally and maintained with minimal skill or effort. The temporary installations will collect waste for a number of years, then transition to compost pits suitable for planting trees. Some variants include a method for collecting and storing urine, which may be used as a fertilizer for greens, onions, maize, and many other crops. The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG) has been applying a similar minimalist approach in Nepal, where a simplified struvite extraction reactor of their own development turns urine into a usable, dry powder fertilizer. As of 2010, the process was not totally refined, but it had been met with tremendous local support.
The UN, through the World Food Program (WFP), will fund efforts to implement these technologies in sub-saharan Africa and elsewhere, beginning on a small scale. In 2010, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation pledged 3 million USD in a grant to the EAWAG towards a test sewage-recovery program for sub-saharan African communities (23). The WFP will match that amount to start, to conduct a similar, 4-year pilot program. At the conclusion of the program, or in the middle should it prove extraordinarily successful, the WFP will convene to discuss the results and determine the long-term viability of the technology. It will allocate additional funds for a permanent organ of the WFP dedicated to fertilizer recovery from waste. Hopefully, once the concepts are proven, private charities will appropriate a significant portion of the cost, as they have in the past.
3. Explore new mining areas to determine actual total reserves
According to some peak phosphorus alarmists, the world is running out of viable reserves in the very near future (EU paper). Their estimates often use United States Geological Survey (USGS) data on total world reserves, but each year, USGS estimates change, usually to expand reserves, and sometimes dramatically. The largest discoveries as of late are in Morocco or the Western Sahara, and there is as of yet no definitive world total of high-grade phosphate deposits. By determining the actual amount of phosphorus available, more accurate plans can be made for a sustainable future. Currently, there is far too much uncertainty about how much recoverable phosphate the earth has left.
The USGS has extensive geological resources at their disposal, and they have mapped out the mineral profiles of foreign countries several times in the past. Mission 2016 advises that the World Trade Organization (WTO) facilitate treaties between the US and other countries in which the USGS works with other governments to map geological profiles worldwide, creating a database of areas with potentially tappable mineral reserves. Following this initial study, increasing supply becomes a free market solution, as corporations use this information, conduct follow-up studies, and open new mines. This will be a beneficial situation for all parties involved, and in the end will be good for the world.
“The Russians will soon make LENR (or ‘Cold Nuclear Transmutation’ as it is known in Russia) an officially publicly recognised science… … and a number of their scientists have already recognised Mills for the genius he is, and the implications GUT-CP will have for our species (PhilosophyStorm.org/Koroeada)… three questions to the Kremlin:-
1) Do you know what this technology was used for?
2) How much research have you secretly conducted on it?
3)… are you going to pay for it?
As you know, the term “disruptive innovation” was introduced into science by Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School back in 1997, in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma: How Strong Companies Perish because of New Technologies”. At the moment, it is a kind of “cornerstone”, “track star” in the global venture capital industry. Christensen classified innovations as “improving” (gradual improvement of old technologies) and “disruptive” (fundamentally changing, devaluing and replacing old ones).
The history of mankind, both in the past and in the settled decades, is replete with examples of such disruptive innovations.
Gunpowder and firearms based on it supplanted the bow and arrows, the emergence of a steam engine led to the disappearance of sailing ships, internal combustion engines finally “finished off” horse-drawn traction, the invention of refrigerators destroyed the ice-making business, and how many candle factories did the light bulb destroy?
Cell phones almost crowded out wired landlines, e-mail drastically reduced the amount of paper correspondence, “electronic” books are increasingly replacing paper ones, photo technology has almost completely become digital …
This list can be continued for a long time. At the same time, the emergence of a new technology does not necessarily mean the immediate disappearance of the previous one due to its inefficiency. For example, the steam engine and the internal combustion engine coexisted for a long time, while the engine was still not perfect enough, and the steam engine had the opportunity to further increase its efficiency. But this is only the technological aspect of the problem. A much more complicated problem is the problem of the social consequences of this kind of innovation.
Innovations are not immediately radically changing human life. Many “outdated” things remain in demand simply because of the conservatism and low adaptability of a large mass of people. With age, it generally becomes extremely difficult to master the ever-increasing volume of new products. For example, for those who are used to reading books in their “classic” form, to feel their color, volume, and even smell, the choice will almost always be in favor of the paper version. So the printing industry will exist for a long time. However, over time, the process of changing generations will finally take the paper book out of use. While there is still time. But soon the technology of printing will finally be a thing of the past.
The most difficult problem is the problem of the released labor force. In printing, as in its time and in the procurement of ice, not so much workforce is employed. In the case of cab drivers, everything was more complicated. Many of them have not moved to the “iron horses”. It is possible that soon the driver’s profession will start to disappear altogether due to the massive introduction of unmanned vehicles. Where to put the ever-increasing mass of the unemployed? This is an old problem, known since the French proletarians, who were small artisans yesterday, were throwing their wooden shoes (clogs) into the complex mechanisms of factory-made machines. Sabotage has become a common form of social protest against technological progress. A modern, equally ridiculous example is the taxi riot against Uber.
A significant part of the people freed from the old industries will still be able to adapt, and the more perfect the system of governance, education and social support in the country, the less painful the adaptation process will be. The main thing is that these social systems cope with the “volumes” qualitatively. But what will happen if these volumes increase critically?
The era of subsistence farming in most of the planet is a thing of the past. The division of labor has reached its maximum, and has become global. As a result of this process, a large group of countries has emerged, whose well-being largely, if not critically, depends on world market demand and the price of a single commodity. For example, oil. Venezuela and Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and Kuwait. This is a long list of countries. “Black gold” became for them both a great gift and a great curse, since it largely determined the model of socio-economic development. Until recently, these countries were swimming in the flows of petrodollars. Now, after a significant drop in oil prices, the situation has changed, but for now it is not so critical. But what happens if the demand for oil begins to decline even more rapidly? What will happen if whole countries start to be “released” from the world market division of labor? On the example of what is happening in today’s Venezuela, we see possible scenarios …
What will happen if the process of displacing fossil fuels from the global energy balance begins to accelerate, and an avalanche? And such a scenario seems increasingly likely, and here’s why.
To date, the transition to alternative oil sources of energy has been complicated mainly by the inefficiency of alternatives. All alternative oil technologies could hardly be called “disruptive.” Neither solar, nor wind, nor geothermal, nor even atomic energy was a serious alternative to oil, at least on a planetary scale. But in the coming years, the situation may change radically.
October 26, 2016 there was quite an ordinary event. In a small room, designed only for a small audience for interested persons, Brilliant Light Power presented the latest, industrial design of the Sansell reactor (solar cell, SunCell). It was another presentation of an improved prototype, which the company has been conducting regularly since January 2014. It is important to note that this time the company positioned the sample of the reactor as an industrial prototype, that is, almost ready for testing and subsequent mass production. That is, able to work constantly, 24 * 7 * 365.
The appearance of Sunsell became possible as a result of the long and persistent efforts of the head of the company, Dr. Randall Mills. The result of a long, twenty-five years of work. The work is both practical and theoretical, since Sunsell is based on a completely new physical theory called “The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics” (GUT-CP) by Dr. Mills, “The Big Unified Theory of Classical Physics”. It is characteristic that the Mills theory fundamentally contradicts the currently dominant physical theory — quantum mechanics. However, Dr. Mills considers quantum mechanics “just a bad theory.” Well, he can afford it, since he proposed a much more effective alternative.
In addition to a number of others, the most important theoretical discovery of GUT-CP’s theory by Dr. Mills was the idea of hydrino — a particularly compact state of the hydrogen atom, which is essentially the so-called “dark matter” in our Universe. The transformation of ordinary hydrogen into hydrino occurs during the so-called BLP process (BLP-process), a special catalytic process, with an output of enormous energy, hundreds of times greater than when burning hydrogen. The voron – argon mixture is used as a “fuel,” and molten silver is used as a catalyst. The product of the transformation of hydrogen into hydrino is the so-called “hydrino gas”. Extremely light and inert in its chemical properties, it cannot be held by gravity, as a result of which it is carried off into space.
Due to the fact that the emitted radiation is mainly in the invisible range (ultraviolet), it can not be absorbed by solar panels directly. Therefore, the design of the reactor uses the so-called “black body”, a graphite sphere, which absorbs ultraviolet light and emits it already in the visible range, suitable for operating the most efficient three-layer solar panels.
In turn, solar panels serve as a kind of compact “Dyson sphere”, absorbing the energy of thousands of suns.
It is noteworthy that the reactor has a very simple design, with a minimum of moving parts. For example, two electromagnetic pumps are used as pumps for molten silver, as well as a “liquid electrode” modulator, so that opposite jets of melted silver converge in opposition in the center of a hot sphere (there is a video of the process on the digging site). This design makes the reactor cheap, simple and almost maintenance free. The main factor both in price and durability of the reactor is solar panels. At the moment, it is planned to use solar panels by Masimo (Masimo semiconductor), with a thirty-year history of work in this area. The declared life of the solar panels is more than 20 years.
Thus, the twenty-five-year work of Mills achieved the goal: confirmation of the correctness of his theory, its practical embodiment was a compact, and incredibly powerful source of energy. Which, according to the announced plan, should enter the market after industrial testing, in the second half of 2017.
Now, back to the original question of this article: Is the Sunsell technology a so-called “disruptive innovation”? An innovation that can drastically change the face of the entire energy industry, and of the planet as a whole?
That is the goal stated by Dr. Randall Mills. And it seems that he is right. Because, at the moment there is no other source of energy so compact, so powerful, so cheap. Of course, it is a brilliant alternative to fossil fuels that can replace it in the vast majority of areas. Finally, humanity will stop, in the words of the great Russian chemist Mendeleev, “drown the stove with banknotes”, burning the most valuable mineral raw materials, and at the same time polluting the earth’s atmosphere. And this is a matter of time.
But this is the main question: what time? And what social and economic consequences will result from the introduction of this truly great innovation?
Of course, the main thing that awaits us is the “great infrastructure transition,” on a planetary scale. This is a question of quite a long time, perhaps several decades. Of course, fossil fuels will not be squeezed out of the energy market tomorrow. But in the perspective of 10-15 years, it will begin to happen inevitably. And the farther, the more, and over time, the process of introducing a new technology will acquire an avalanche-like character, causing not only fundamental technological, but also social changes. Preserving smoothness and stability during this transition is a complex managerial task on a global scale that requires both comprehensive thinking and the creation of international mechanisms that facilitate the transition, compensating for possible negative socio-economic consequences, especially in “oil” countries.
There is still time, and it is necessary to use it. This is especially true of the “oil” countries, which are well prepared for the possible socio-economic turbulence caused by structural changes in the economy. As Steven Chu, an American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, former US Secretary of Energy in the United States, said, “the Stone Age did not end because humanity ended up with stones,” meaning that the oil age would end not because oil would end. Looks like he was right.