Grit and Growth for Civilization

Angela Duckworth has helped to gathered and performed detailed research on the importance of Grit for individual achievement. Her insights also apply to our societal views on civilization.

Growth Mindset is better than fixed mindset

One potential way to build grit in people is to encourage a growth mindset. Individuals with a growth mindset believe intelligence and talent can be developed through hard work and dedication. By contrast, those with a fixed mindset believe a person’s most basic abilities are fixed traits.

For a civilization a growth mindset is that vast improvement to civilization are possible.

A majority of people believe civilization is relatively fixed.

Many people want create and justify limits to civilization. However, just as people can achieve more, civilization – the action of all people can collectively achieve far more.

Many believe that we cannot expand beyond the earth. Many people have desperately wanted to limit human population.

The World can support over 100 billion people who each have double the per capita wealth of people in the USA today. This would be before the application of molecular nanotechnology or other advanced technologies.

Quantum Volume, Error Rates and Population Error Rates

IBM Research introduced the concept of quantum volume. If we want to use quantum computers to solve real problems, the number of qubits is important, but so is the error rate.

This is applicable to population carrying capacity. The limiting errors we currently have are the use of fossil fuels and the side-effect air and water pollution that is generated. We can have scalable population by completing the economic transition from fossil fuels.

Let us slightly simplify the radical life extension effect and assume that people pre-radical life extension can live 100 years. So with radical life extension 1% of the world population who would have died do not die from the point of worldwide deployment. So 50 years after radical life extension (people living to 150 or more instead of 100) then population would be 50% higher assuming that long lived people did not further delay having births. In 100 years, after radical life extension (people living to 200 years or more instead of 100) then population would be double assuming that long-lived people did not further delay having births.

So instead of looking for 50-100% gain by killing all Grandma’s and Grandpa’s in a delayed version of Logan’s Run. (In Logan’s Run everyone is killed at the age of 30 in the movie and 21 in the science fiction novel). We can first look at boosting agricultural yield, achievable infrastructure construction and minor reorganization to support a higher population.

It is also interesting how some people have a knee-jerk reaction like the following. Well we must stop people in Africa and Asia from breeding to prevent an increase of 20% in world population and a 2% increase in the use of resources because of the lower per capita income in those areas. However, an alternative is boosting the efficiency of cars in the US and Europe and reduce the use of corn for ethanol.
Food production and CO2 are the main concerns that people have around population. I can get fancier and do better with on-Earth carrying capacity or of course go to space colonization and push it up by 1000 times. I am going to do it with old and simple tech to push the issue out a couple of hundred years in population growth.

Business as Usual progression of Agricultural Yield

Regular agriculture is on track to boost yields to 15 tons per hectare for most of the grains.

Deploying what is already grown in outdoor test fields

Yuan Longping, China’s leading agricultural scientist, realized one of his 80th birthday wishes recently when his super grain brought yields of 13.9 tons of rice a hectare, setting a new world record for rice output. The rice breed, DH2525 (Y two superior No 2), produced a harvest of 13.9 tons a hectare during its trial planting in Longhui county in Hunan province.

Does the present breakthrough translate into a yield of 13.5 tons per hectare at commercial scale? Yuan did not think so, but 80% at more than 10.5 tons per hectare is realizable according to past experience.

The highest rice yield in the world is in Australia, on average about 9.9 tons per hectare (660 kg/mu), followed by 6.7 tons per hectare (445 kg/mu) in Japan. The yields of China’s super-rice have now reached 550 and 600 kg/ mu, respectively, at large scale, as the result of the first two phases of development. So spreading best practices boost worldwide yield by 50%-100%. What is done across an entire country (Australia) to other countries.

Greenhouses can boost yield by 6-12 times for regular greenhouses and 20-30 times for “advanced greenhouses”

It is believed the first practical greenhouse was built by French botanist, Jules Charles, in 1599 in Leiden, Holland. Ancient greenhouses might have existed in Pompeii.

Greenhouse management is well understood.

A survey disclosed that construction costs to establish a complete economic unit [greenhouse], to include required equipment, varied from $5,500 by a Louisiana grower, to over $70,000 for a completely automated unit in Canada. Turn key construction costs by competent greenhouse construction contractors were substantially higher than construction costs by an owner/operator who supervised construction and used subcontractors. The average construction costs varied from $1.90 to over $30/ft2 ($20.90-$323/M2). These expenses did not include the cost of land. The average cost was $5 per square foot in the US or Canada.

Penn state has a greenhouse design for Africa that is 5.5 meters by 6 meters (over 300 square feet) and is one-fourth the cost of other greenhouses in Kenya. The Penn State greenhouse costs approximately $600, compared to a standard greenhouse, which goes for about $2,300.

“They can purchase it and pay it off within three growing seasons,” Eckard said. “It’s about empowering others. That’s why I’m involved.” With a greenhouse, a farmer can extend a growing season to three crop cycles and they can keep insects away from the crops.

The Netherlands has 10,000 hectares of greenhouses that produced over $5 billion per year worth of agricultural production.

Spain has over 50,000 hecatres of greenhouses in Almeria Inveranderos.

Agricultural land constitutes only a part of any country’s territory, which in addition also includes areas not suitable for agriculture, such as forests, mountains, and inland water bodies. Agricultural land covers 33% of the world’s land area, with arable land representing less than one-third of agricultural land (9.3% of the world’s land area.

Expand Commercial Kelp Growth by 100 times

There is a proposal to use about 9% of the oceans surface for massive kelp farms. The Ocean surface area is about 36 billion hectares. This would offset all CO2 production and provide 0.5 kg of fish and sea vegetables per person per day for 10 billion people as an “incidental” by-product. Nine percent of the world’s oceans would be equivalent to about four and a half times the area of Australia.

In 2016, seaweed farms produce more than 25 million metric tonnes annually. The global value of the crop, US$6.4 billion (2014), exceeds that of the world’s lemons and limes.

A 2016 report from the World Bank estimates that the annual global seaweed production could reach 500 million dry tons by 2050 if the market is able to increase its harvest 14% per year. Hitting that 500 million mark would boost the world’s food supply by 10% from the current level, create 50 million direct jobs in the process and, as a biofuel, replace about 1.5% of the fossil fuels used to run vehicles. The Ocean forest plan would be to accelerate growth of seaweed farming to 25-50% per year growth and reach about 20-60 billion tons per year of production. The world currently produces about 4 billion tons per year of agricultural product.

Ocean Afforestation (aka Ocean Macroalgal Afforestation (OMA)), has the potential to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations through expanding natural populations of macroalgae, which absorb carbon dioxide, then are harvested to produce biomethane and biocarbon dioxidevia anaerobic digestion. The plant nutrients remaining after digestion are recycled to expand the algal forest and increase fish populations. A mass balance has been calculated from known data and applied to produce a life cycle assessment and economic analysis. This analysis shows the potential of Ocean Afforestation to produce 12 billion tons per year of biomethane while storing 19 billion tons of CO2 per year directly from biogas production, plus up to 34 billion tons per year from carbon capture of the biomethane combustion exhaust. These rates are based on macro-algae forests covering 9% of the world’s ocean surface, which could produce sufficient biomethane to replace all of today’s needs in fossil fuel energy, while removing 53 billion tons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere, restoring pre-industrial levels. This amount of biomass could also increase sustainable fish production to potentially provide 200 kg/yr/person for 10 billion people. Additional benefits are reduction in ocean acidification and increased ocean primary productivity and biodiversity.

Staying Motivated for the Long Haul – A large vision and Big Dream is needed

Stay motivated for the long haul. How do you do that?

According to Angela, with a combination of two things:

1. A large vision, a big dream, something greater that’s meaningful to you and that can inspire you for a long time.
2. Small, achievable, daily goals, to help you get wins, make progress and stay motivated.

For Achievement Effort is squared

In order to achieve something, you first need the right skill to be able to even start working towards the achievement. However, once you have it, you still need to use and apply the skill for a long time in order to actually get there. With a certain amount (or lack) of talent, your starting points for those two “movements” then become:

Talent x Effort = Skill.
Skill x Effort = Achievement.
Your first bit of talent, combined with effort increases your skill level. Your increasing skill, multiplied by effort, leads to achievement.

That means effort counts twice. Once for skill and once for achievement. But that doesn’t mean it’s twice as important. If you substitute the skill equation into the achievement equation, you end up with:

Talent x Effort x Effort = Achievement, which means that Talent x Effort² = Achievement

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