Greening of the World
The globe’s climate is kind of a big deal. After all, we all live in it. As such it’s interesting to look at how different countries are doing when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and exploring renewable energy sources. One might naturally think that the wealthier nations are doing a better job being that they have more money to spend on – well – everything. However, as with a great many things in life, things are not always as you would think.
According to a recent paper from the MIT Tech Review the wealthier countries are not exactly stacking up as you might think. In fact, it ranks relatively poor countries like Ukraine and Angola above the economic juggernauts of the United States and China. Tiny little Iceland is actually ranked number one. Now before we get into how that is happening and why some might be ranked where they are, let's take a quick look at the criteria MIT was using.
The paper’s authors looked at a number of factors:
Carbon emissions – Fewer emissions gets you a better ranking as does a net decrease in emissions compared to the previous year.
Energy transition – How many renewable sources are getting built to replace older, fossil fuel power plants?
Green society – This one is a grab bag, including things like how much forest a country has, how many energy efficient buildings, and a host of other things.
Clean innovation – Where are the hot spots for developing new, green friendly technology?
Climate policy – Basically, is the government encouraging development of new technologies and methods for a more sustainable world?
As a matter of purely objective measures, this isn’t bad, though there is plenty of room for subjectivity to enter in and it is unclear how certain subcategories are weighed. For example, is the use of animal products given more importance than energy efficient buildings? That would give a society like India a big advantage over many others since their primary religion prevents the eating of cows. Mention is also made of COVID stimulus being used to encourage green development. Personally, that seems potentially opportunistic. If the goals are synergistic, then great. It is something to watch out for though.
Those criticisms aside, the list is still pretty good and allows for a decent snapshot. So, let’s take a look at Iceland and why they might be ranked number one. Iceland has a lot of unique features that make it particularly well situated to do well with any sort of green ranking system. One is the fact it is a small island. There isn’t a ton of cattle farming that can go on there and as such it’s a nation that has always relied heavily on fishing. That means one part of the green society aspect is going to be well covered. While being very far north, being surrounded by ocean as well as having a large amount of volcanic activity means Iceland is surprisingly temperate given its latitude. That means there is less energy that has to get used for heating and cooling than in Ecuador. They also have made intelligent use of some of their natural resources, making use of all that volcanic energy in the form of geothermal heating. The government there has also shown a willingness to encourage experimentation. In particular, they are pursuing the development of a hydrogen economy that if successful will help Iceland reach carbon neutrality.
It’s also worth noting that Iceland’s small size means that there are not a number of different cultures within its borders, meaning there are not vast numbers of different mindsets and interests to deal with. A country as large as the United States has multiple cultures that have to be kept at peace. Forcing anything in terms of policy risks causing upheaval no matter what the policy changes might be. Combine that with the expense of new construction, difficulty of labyrinthine regulations, and vast amounts of preexisting infrastructure it is not hard to understand America’s relatively low ranking.
That said, the US has done a good job of reducing overall emissions in recent years and has at least potential for moving up quickly, given the vast open land that could be reforested and the advances in solar and carbon capture technology that could help a lot in the energy transition sector and further reduce emissions. Hopefully this potential will be better realized in the near future.
So, what can you do? If you have thoughts on the importance of climate stability, or experience working in a relevant field, then you can put that information in a data packet on TARTLE and share it with those looking for data like yours to help everyone build a better future.
What’s your data worth?
Speaker 1 (00:07):
Welcome to TARTLE Cast with your hosts Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby, where humanity steps into the future and source data defines the path.
Alexander McCaig (00:18):
What does the future look like for countries across the globe? I don't know. Let's find out. Is it going to be bleak, or are people actually committing to preserving this planet?
Jason Rigby (00:35):
Yeah. And I like MIT Insights have a report, a white paper, and they actually have data visualization on it, on the Green Future Index they call it.
Alexander McCaig (00:47):
Yeah. Here's the idea of this index is that even though a country may be low income, middle income, upper middle, or a high income country how invested are you in the future-
Jason Rigby (01:04):
Alexander McCaig (01:05):
... the future of clean energy, industry, agriculture in your society around renewables, innovation, and green finance. Is that a focus of yours? And what's interesting about this is we find that even low income countries this is a big focus for them-
Jason Rigby (01:21):
Alexander McCaig (01:21):
... and they're ranking higher than countries that have way more income.
Jason Rigby (01:24):
Like Saudi Arabia probably has the most income, is like 76.
Alexander McCaig (01:28):
Which is a joke. It's a joke. And so, that's what's interesting about this index here, the Green Future Index, that MIT Technology Review put together with their partners of Salesforce, Citrix, and Morgan Stanley.
Jason Rigby (01:41):
Yeah, and whenever you look at, because I want to get into it a little bit, whenever you look at it as far as tackling the global climate, and this is a word they use, and I love it, and we at TARTLE use this too, they said a global climate emergency.
Alexander McCaig (01:56):
It is an emergency. We've been stating that it's a damn emergency. 50 years left, 60 years left, before the oceans rise too high, before the carbon dioxide is just too strenuous on the entire system, before we start blowing up more limestone on the Earth and releasing more of that carbon dioxide that's been trapped there into the sky so that it sits around for seven to 10 years.
Jason Rigby (02:17):
The beautiful part is your generation and younger, Alex, are saying this is the number one issue that we need to face more than anything.
Alexander McCaig (02:24):
For every human being. For every plant, animal, things that fly, crawl, it doesn't matter what it is. It's extremely important. If you want to have a future you need to focus on it.
Jason Rigby (02:33):
Right, and they talk about these natural disasters, whether we have the floods, the storms, how it's affecting livelihoods and devastating lives, and it goes into in 2019 we generated losses of around 140 billion dollars just based off of what is happening in our climate.
Alexander McCaig (02:52):
We've destroyed about 38% of the world's climate ecosystem, 38%, so essentially 38% of what we've taken from Earth is now irreversible.
Jason Rigby (03:04):
Alexander McCaig (03:05):
That's sad. Hands down. And it's pathetic that we haven't just smartened up about our house. We're just crippling the foundation of our home, and it's just going to topple on top of us.
Jason Rigby (03:17):
Yeah, because you can worry about ROI all you want, and shareholder value, but if you don't have a house to live in-
Alexander McCaig (03:22):
What ROI are you going to have? You're not measuring anything. You're measuring lifespan at that point.
Jason Rigby (03:26):
Alexander McCaig (03:27):
You know what's cool about this? Even under carbon emissions of the 76 countries that were in here in this report, the Ukraine is number one for dealing with carbon emissions and their investment into and they are a lower-middle income country.
Jason Rigby (03:41):
Yes. Good job Ukraine.
Alexander McCaig (03:43):
Dude, you ready for this. Angola in Sub-Saharan Africa, sixth. Where's the United States? This is a joke. I don't even see the United States on this list.
Jason Rigby (03:56):
They call them climate laggers.
Alexander McCaig (03:58):
United States is 53rd. There's no correlation, and we've seen this before, there's no correlation between income and happiness.
Jason Rigby (04:06):
Alexander McCaig (04:08):
Correlation between health and income, or apparently here having a bunch of income and actually trying to preserve the planet. To me, it looks like all these high income people are very happy destroying the planet.
Jason Rigby (04:20):
Yeah, and Japan's 60th.
Alexander McCaig (04:22):
That is ridiculous.
Jason Rigby (04:24):
How do they do this? How do they rank these 76 leading nations and territories? One is their progress and commitment towards building a low-carbon future-
Alexander McCaig (04:32):
Jason Rigby (04:32):
... taking into accounts to curb emissions made in recent years, as well as renewed policy commitments towards carbon neutrality, and the degree to which pandemic recovery packages are targeting green industries.
Alexander McCaig (04:43):
Yeah, so they're looking at are the social groups investing themselves and changing this?
Jason Rigby (04:48):
Alexander McCaig (04:48):
Is the government investing itself and incentivizing people to change this, and is industry investing in these changes? That's what they need to look at.
Jason Rigby (04:57):
Yeah, and the index consolidates scores for each country across five pillars, and I love these five pillars. Number one is carbon emissions. Number two is energy transition, which I think energy transition is important, because this is a fourth industrial revolution World Economic Forum talks about.
Alexander McCaig (05:12):
Jason Rigby (05:13):
And that transition from-
Alexander McCaig (05:14):
Jason Rigby (05:16):
Alexander McCaig (05:16):
Burning anaerobic things, which is completely absurd, and then transitioning to something we're not burning anaerobics. It's generated freely, sunlight, wind, hydro, all that stuff.
Jason Rigby (05:27):
And then, we look at green society, how the society's green in and of itself, and then we look at clean innovation, which is a lot of technology today, and then we look at climate policy. And these are the key findings. We'll go over these, and then I encourage everybody to look at this report.
Jason Rigby (05:43):
Europe provides 15 of the top 20 countries in the index. And first place, guess who first place is? Shout out to Iceland.
Alexander McCaig (05:52):
Iceland's killing it.
Jason Rigby (05:53):
Alexander McCaig (05:53):
Think about all their geothermal centers, their recycling habits.
Jason Rigby (05:57):
Alexander McCaig (05:57):
They see a future in engineering solutions. People aren't doing that.
Jason Rigby (06:03):
Alexander McCaig (06:03):
Dude, for energy transition number one for people trying to transition off of burning peat, and coal, and oil, Ethiopia, numbero uno, totally low income country. 100%.
Jason Rigby (06:18):
And we, we're in the United States. We sit here in the United States and think we're doing so well when these other countries, that we would think in our imperialism put them down, they're doing a much better job than we are.
Alexander McCaig (06:30):
Think about the CO2 emission on homes that are heated by oil. Think about all the oil burning heat in homes.
Jason Rigby (06:39):
Alexander McCaig (06:39):
Ridiculously inefficient. Where's that stuff going? Where's the release? It's just going up into the atmosphere. So many homes are still using that. People want it every single day. All those cold climate homes, all those old homes in Massachusets, big old oil burning homes. You've got a big old oil furnace down there. The things weigh a metric ton. They're a pain to service, and you've got to pack it full of oil all day long.
Jason Rigby (07:05):
Iceland, they were number one total, but they were number one in carbon capture technology, and I think this is really important, because we don't even think about this, capturing the carbon.
Alexander McCaig (07:15):
Not only the fact is the carbon going in the atmosphere it's like how do we take that and actually put it back into limestone?
Jason Rigby (07:19):
Alexander McCaig (07:20):
Put it back into other volcanic areas so it can be trapped in a molten sense in that rock so it doesn't get released? That's important stuff to look at. It's also extremely cost-effective to do it.
Jason Rigby (07:30):
Yeah, and Norway, which is third, is striving to decouple it's economic prosperity from fossil fuels. Norway's decoupled. Think about that. Decoupled, spacecraft.
Alexander McCaig (07:42):
Norway has this enormous economy around these oil rigs, huge.
Jason Rigby (07:47):
Alexander McCaig (07:48):
Right? I forget what the company is that manages a majority of those financial assets around that oil. That's going to be tough for them to do that. A huge part of that economic value of that country is coming from that oil production, those offshore assets.
Jason Rigby (08:06):
Yeah, and you look at Costa Rica they're seventh.
Alexander McCaig (08:10):
Jason Rigby (08:10):
How badass is that?
Alexander McCaig (08:11):
You know where it starts though?
Jason Rigby (08:13):
Uruguay is 20th.
Alexander McCaig (08:15):
You know where it all starts, Jason?
Jason Rigby (08:16):
Alexander McCaig (08:16):
Jason Rigby (08:17):
Alexander McCaig (08:18):
We can go through this list all day long. Do you care enough? Do you care enough to do it? That's what's important. But the people in these countries need to say it matters to us. Their culture needs to scream at the top of their lungs and say, "This matters to us. We need to do this right now." And if you don't feel like going outside and screaming on a soapbox put the information in a data packet.
Jason Rigby (08:43):
Yes. And how do you do that?
Alexander McCaig (08:45):
And how do you do that?
Jason Rigby (08:45):
I want to shout out to India, because India is 21st. We're 40th. India's 21st.
Alexander McCaig (08:52):
And they have a billion people.
Jason Rigby (08:53):
I know. Think about that.
Alexander McCaig (08:55):
We have 300 million plus.
Jason Rigby (08:57):
So, how do we take the responsibility of climate stability, and how do we put that through the filter of us being responsible into TARTLE?
Alexander McCaig (09:08):
Everything you do, your thoughts, behaviors, actions, emotions, those are captured and recorded. And if you put those into a data packet on TARTLE it allows this thing, these thoughts, you, to be shared to people that want to research and analyze this to find and engineer those solutions, but if you keep that stuff to yourself, if you don't share it, if you don't talk about what's of value to you, what's important, you're doing a disservice to yourself, your children, future generations, and the rest of the world. We need to be truthful in how we share. If we do not do that, if we're not truthful and transparent with one another we're shooting ourselves in the foot.
Alexander McCaig (09:43):
We're sitting around in a burning house waiting for it to fall on top of us. We need to wake up and say, "This is important to us. My data's important to me. My world is important to me. Human life is important to me." Prove it.
Jason Rigby (09:58):
Yeah, and so if these countries, these not-for-profits, these buyers of data how can cities, countries, municipalities, and how can not-for-profits, how can they be a part of TARTLE?
Alexander McCaig (10:11):
This is great. Say you're a not-for-profit. Do you need some visibility? Do you need some support from people that have resources? The whole world is willing to support you on TARTLE. There're 196 countries. Come to us and say, "I want to list my not-for-profit or charitable organization on TARTLE." We need funds to continue this sort of climate research. People will be able to see that. They can donate to you directly. Talk about an index of not-for-profits for everyone to do to and donate earnings from their data towards that. And if you're a business that needs insight, if you're a government that needs insight, if you're a research institution at a university that needs insight, go on TARTLE, sign up for free, find out what data you want, and then go get it. But it from people. Get your answers and economically uplift those that need to be uplifted.
Speaker 1 (11:10):
Thank you for listening to TARTLE Cast with your hosts Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby, where humanity steps into the future and source data defines the path. What's your data worth?