Through the Wormhole Episode Scripts

Can We Hack The Planet?

Humanity is under threat from storms that seem to get fiercer Earthquakes that are ever more deadly And killer viruses that engulf the globe.
Are we powerless against these forces of nature? Or is it time for us to fight back against planet Earth Tame the elements, harness limitless power, eliminate entire species and bring others back to life? Do we dare to play god with our world? Can we? Should we Hack the planet? Space, time, life itself.
The secrets of the cosmos lie through the wormhole.
Captions by vitac captions paid for by discovery communications we all know about hackers.
They hijack a system meant to do one thing and make it do something different.
Usually, that means a computer.
But what if it was a planet? Astronomers always say, "Earth is the Goldilocks planet, ideal for life.
" But we know Earth isn't perfect.
Living here means dealing with deadly natural forces from plagues to drought to natural disasters.
And with global warming, things are getting worse.
Could we use technology to manipulate an entire world? Become hackers of planet Earth? No place on the globe is safe from nature's onslaught.
Our coastlines are pounded by tsunamis, hurricanes and cyclones.
The land we inhabit is riddled with geological fault lines, tormented by extremes of temperature.
But one natural enemy causes more human suffering than all others combined.
And that enemy disguises itself as a tiny flying insect.
Every year, mosquito-borne diseases kill more than a million people.
There's malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis and dengue fever.
Brazilian entymologist Guilherme Trivellato knows this enemy personally.
He's a survivor of dengue.
It's the worst disease I ever had.
Put me in bed, all my bones were in pain.
My eyeballs were hurting a lot.
I don't want to have that again, never again.
But planet Earth has worse in store for us.
In his research outpost in the Brazilian city of Piracicaba, Guilherme is fighting mosquitoes that are armed with a new weapon The zika virus.
Zika is coming.
And zika is a big menace for the whole city and the whole country and even the whole world.
Even though a zika infection is usually mild, this virus poses an enormous threat to humanity.
If it infects a pregnant woman, the virus stunts the growth of her unborn child's brain, causing a devastating condition called microcephaly.
Since zika can jump directly from human to human, the virus has spread rapidly around the world, a global threat to an entire generation.
More than 40% of the population of the world is in contact with this mosquito.
And that's a huge problem.
To fight the massive threat posed by mosquitoes, Guilherme and his team are doing something radical.
They're giving up on man-made weapons like insecticide.
Instead, they are hacking into nature itself, designing and releasing genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild, letting nature fight nature.
It's quite weird, the idea of releasing mosquitoes to have less mosquitoes.
But I think in this project that we are doing, I have released something around 44 million mosquitoes already.
The way that we developed this method is to use one mosquito against himself.
Instead of trying to kill mosquitoes with poisons, Guilherme and his colleagues at the biotech firm Oxitec are attacking them with mosquitoes which are genetically modified to die young and to pass on that fatal trait to the entire wild population.
Sex is our secret weapon in this case.
We changed the genome of this mosquito in the lab.
We released the male mosquito to seek for the female to copulate.
And when they do it, all the offspring will die before they reach adult phase.
To a female mosquito, Guilherme's males look normal and very suitable to breed with.
But they are stealth weapons, carrying a genetic time bomb.
When the males are in the wild, they mate with the females.
And all the offspring of this couple will carry his father's genes.
The larvae die before he can bite someone, before he can transmit the disease.
Creating a brand-new living organism is not Guilherme's only god-like task.
If his mutant male mosquitoes are to spread their premature death genes, he has to keep them alive long enough to mate.
Imagine the bike Guilherme is riding is a mosquito carrying the death gene.
And a flat tire is its fatal flaw.
Because it can't get far with a flat tire, Guilherme uses a tire patch kit to keep it going.
That tire patch is an antibiotic called tetracycline, which attaches to the death gene and temporarily turns it off.
When we get tetracycline, it's like we're filling up the tire of the bike.
And the mosquito can go long and reach the adult phase.
This antidote is good for just 14 days.
But that's long enough for the mosquito to mate.
Its offspring are not so lucky.
They have the death gene but no antidote.
In the wild, the offspring carrying the same gene won't have the equipment to repair the tire.
And that's why they end up dying in the larval stage.
Get enough mutant mosquitoes out there, and most of the next generation of disease-bearers will be doomed to die.
After releasing mutant mosquitoes for a year, Guilherme saw cases of dengue fever in his neighborhood plummet from 133 to just 12.
Once we started to release, in 4 to 6 months, we can see, like, a huge knockout on the population.
We don't hear about dengue fever anymore in the area that we are treating.
It was once one of the most hot spots for dengue fever in the city before we started the project.
Since the trial began before zika hit Brazil, he can't compare its before and after numbers.
But the death gene method is blind to which disease mosquitoes carry.
The results that we have for dengue fever, we will certainly have the same results for zika virus.
Because we are killing the mosquito.
If you don't have the mosquito, you don't have any of those diseases.
Hacking the genes of the mosquitoes could save millions of human lives.
But hacking into the ecosystem, even if to rid the world of devastating disease, is not welcome by all the residents of Piracicaba.
Releasing into the wild genes that trigger death is, for some, a shocking escalation of GMO technology.
We work with media and TV, radio, newspaper.
We deliver leaflets.
We also pass house by house, carrying a cage with the male mosquito.
So that people can see that it's true that the male does not bite.
The male doesn't transmit any disease.
The males cannot harm anyone.
As zika has spread to the United States, so have the fears that scientists are messing with mother nature with as yet unknown consequences.
But Guilherme and his colleagues and Oxitec argue their technique is a smarter and safer way to fight mosquito-borne disease.
The beauty of this thing is that it's the most environmental friendly way to fight the mosquito.
That without releasing 1 gram of pesticide in the environment, we're not going to harm bumblebees.
We're not going to harm honey bees.
We're not going to harm any other insects in the environment.
Hacking into the basic biology of life is merely science's first step in combating the deadly forces of nature.
Every year, millions of people suffer the wrath of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes.
We can't hope to build defenses against these colossal forces.
But perhaps we can use our ingenuity to tame them.
Sometimes, it feels like the Earth is out to get us.
When Katrina hit New Orleans, it took more than 1,000 lives and flooded 80% of the city.
Hurricanes are so powerful, they can take water and turn it into a swirling vortex of destruction.
Today, we are building better defenses.
But they're never guaranteed to hold off nature's power.
Maybe we're going about this the wrong way.
Could we use our ingenuity to hack into nature directly? And turn a storm into a tempest in a teacup? Every year, hurricanes and tropical storms kill around 10,000 people.
They cause billions of dollars in damage.
With rising sea levels and rising temperatures, the toll is only going to get worse.
Dr.
Stephen salter, one of Britain's leading marine inventors believes we can turn back this rising tide of destruction.
But the only way is to suck the life out of the storms before they grow too big.
It gets very difficult to stop hurricanes once they've really got going.
The amounts of energy are really enormous.
And you end up with a cubic meter of water having about the same energy as 12 grams of TNT.
So a cubic kilometer is about the same as Hiroshima.
And this is very difficult to control.
A category-5 hurricane is among the deadliest weapons in nature's arsenal.
It can be larger than the state of Texas and release more energy than our largest nuclear bombs.
After Katrina, we were kicking around ways of trying to prevent another Katrina.
And the focus is to try and reduce the sea surface temperatures.
Warm, surface water near the equator is the seed of every hurricane.
When the warm water evaporates and rises, it forms thunder clouds that are whipped into a spiral shape by the Earth's rotation.
When these winds hit 74 miles per hour, a hurricane is born.
We cannot compete with a full-grown hurricane.
But Stephen thinks we can drain them of their power, if we get them while they're young.
We all know about oil and vinegar.
Because one is lighter than the other, it floats to the surface.
The same is true for the warm and cold airs in the ocean.
Brown vinegar is the cold water.
And the yellow oil is the warm water.
And it's the warm water that's doing the damage to hurricane growth.
And what we want to do is to bury that warm water somewhere down deep.
But it's one thing to mix up the contents of a water glass.
It's another to mix up the entire ocean.
And that's the hurricane hack Stephen is working on.
This is a test tank, where we can test models of any devices with any sea state at about a hundredth scale.
And we can make highly repeatable and accurate representations of very realistic seas.
Today, Stephen is testing his newest hurricane-taming device.
It's called the salter sink.
What I'm trying to do here is to move a layer of warm water down to bury it deep in all the cold water, using only the energy from the existing sea waves.
Like any sink, salter's device collects and drains water.
Warm water from the ocean's surface enters the device through one-way valves.
As water gets trapped in the center, the sea level there rises slightly.
This creates a downward pressure as the water levels try to equalize, driving the warmer water through a tube into the colder layer deeper in the ocean.
In full scale, this would be made as a network of used tires latched together.
The idea of this is that we can't afford to make anything strong enough to resist the forces of big seas, so what we want is something that can bend enough to move with a punch.
The salter sink is made of recycled materials and requires no power other than the waves themselves.
But to stop a hurricane, we'd need to build them very big, with diameters more than twice the length of a football field and plastic tubes dropping down nearly as deep.
Stephen imagines nearly 500 sinks dotting the ocean's surface, draining away the warm water fuel that powers hurricanes.
He knows that his invention might be a long shot.
But with destructive storms becoming more common, Stephen believes we must dream big.
I think we have to try to do it.
But at least I can go to my grave saying, "I've tried to do my bit.
" If we can tame the ocean's fury, coastal cities would become safer places to live.
And with our ever-growing population, we need every patch of land we can get.
But will planet Earth fit 11 billion human beings? And even if it can, what are we going to eat? Can we hack deserts into oases? We think of Earth as a fertile planet.
It provides vast quantities of food with its abundant green fields.
But by the end of this century, that will be 11 billion of us.
And take a look at the land that's left.
Desert.
Will we all bite the dust? Or is there a way to hack it? Most architects design homes and office buildings.
But Michael Pollan is thinking bigger.
He wants to redesign the driest places on Earth by mimicking the designs of nature.
Biomimicry is about looking to nature as the source of inspiration for design solutions.
In biology, there's an amazing source book of ready-made solutions for many of the big challenges that we face over the next few decades.
Feeding everybody in the world is a challenge today.
And it's only going to get more difficult.
And right now, we're not creating new farmland.
In fact, we're doing just the opposite.
A lot of the world's deserts have only been that way for a fairly short amount of time.
And they're that way because humans made them that way.
A lot of north Africa, when Julius Caesar arrived, was this wooded landscape.
Caesar's armies set about clearing those forests.
And within about 200 years, they had substantially trashed that landscape.
And once you've made that flip, it's very difficult to get it back.
Today, one-third of all land on Earth is desert.
Case in point, the Arab state of Qatar.
It's bordered on three sides by water, but that water is too salty for farming.
Michael began thinking about how to get rid of the salt.
He researched traditional desalination plants.
But found they were too expensive.
Then he came across a tiny creature that seemed to have the problem figured out.
The Namibian fog-basking beetle is an amazing example of an adaptation to a very resource-constrained environment.
What the beetle does is it comes out of its hiding place at night, it crawls to the top of a sand dune.
And then because it's got this matte black shell, it's able to radiate heat out to the night sky.
And it becomes slightly cooler than its surroundings.
And as the moist breeze blows in off the sea, you get droplets of water forming on the cool shell.
Just before the sun comes up, it tips the shell up, the water runs down to its mouth.
It has a good drink, goes off and hides for the rest of the day.
Michael began sketching designs for an equivalent of the beetle's shell that farmers could use to give plants a drink.
Usually, we use greenhouses to trap the sun's heat.
But Michael turned that idea upside down.
In the desert, at night, the outer surface of a greenhouse becomes very cool and could condense water from the air around it.
I put a mirror in the ice box to cool down.
If we hold this over a bit of hot water, we should find that we get condensation forming that leaves the salt behind in the solution and it just evaporates pure water into the air.
Michael has designed a greenhouse which uses solar energy to pump in warm seawater.
That water flows into a space between two roof layers, where it soaks into cardboard pads.
At nights, that roof loses heat to the night sky and becomes cooler than its surroundings so that you can get this condensation forming.
The roof is at an angle.
And once that starts to form droplets, then we can use that to water the plants.
Michael put his greenhouse to the test in Qatar.
It was the opening salvo of what he calls "the Sahara forest project".
And soon, it was producing fruits and vegetables just like European farmland.
By bringing concentrated solar power and the saltwater-cooled greenhouse together, we're using what we have a lot of Sunlight, seawater, and carbon dioxide To produce more of what we need.
With the success in Qatar, Michael's ready to scale up his designs and transform deserts into bread baskets all around the globe.
The project in Qatar was 2 1/2 acres.
There's the potential to go really big.
Five years down the road, we hope that we will have, significantly scaled up.
And we'll be producing really massive quantities of food in some of the most water-distressed parts of the world.
Humanity has been decimating ecosystems for millennia.
But now we have the chance to use technology and ingenuity to restore them, transforming the face of our planet.
If a beetle can do it, then we ought to be able to do it.
Humans are ingenious.
By turning deserts into fertile places, we could dramatically boost the world's food supply.
But why do deserts become deserts in the first place? Because the ecosystems that made them fertile have collapsed.
There may be a hack for this, too, bringing long-extinct species back.
Scientists have identified upwards of 8 million species now living on our planet.
But they're disappearing.
For every thousand species that has ever lived, there's only one that is still around.
And our life depends on other life.
When just a handful of species dies, it can bring down an entire ecosystem.
Rich forests can turn into desert, just like they did in the Sahara.
The first step to prevent the demise of our species might be to bring another one back from the dead.
On her day off, molecular paleontologist Beth Shapiro likes to drink in the abundance of nature.
You would, too, if your day job Took you to the Siberian tundra.
Few places on Earth are as barren and desolate.
But the tundra only became that way because its animal populations died.
Extinction is a natural process.
But the rate of extinction today is not natural.
We're in a crisis.
But Beth is working on a fix, one that sounds like science fiction.
She's bringing dead species back to life.
It's clear that the Siberian tundra would benefit greatly from having a large herbivore up there, roaming around and distributing nutrients and regenerating that rich grassland that used to be there.
A large herbivore, say an elephant, could start to turn things around in Siberia.
Except that no elephant can survive in Siberia.
But Beth knows an elephant-like creature that could The long-extinct wooly mammoth.
Asian elephants can't live in the frozen tundra, but a mammoth could.
So if we want to take an Asian elephant and turn it into an animal that can live in the tundra, we're going to have to find those characteristics of a mammoth and somehow get those characteristics into an Asian elephant.
Beth's plan is to hack together the DNA of two species separated by tens of thousands of years of evolution.
But first, she needs to get her hands on mammoth DNA.
One of the best places in the world to find DNA in bones is in the arctic.
And that's because those bones get buried in the permafrost.
It's like sticking it in a freezer.
So this is really cool.
What we just found, you can see, is one, two, three, four pieces of mammoth bone here.
This is part of a vertebrae.
So you can see how big this is.
Recovering mammoth bones is surprisingly easy.
But it's a different story with the DNA inside them.
My job, once I've gotten the DNA out of this bone, is to take all of those tiny little fragments of mammoth DNA and figure out how they line up against the elephant genome.
That's how we really start to piece together what a mammoth genome looks like.
Because mammoth DNA comes in bits and pieces, Beth has to put them together in the right order, using closely related modern elephant DNA as a template.
Building a mammoth is a bit like building mail-order furniture.
Suppose someone sent you a chair, but it came in many pieces.
And they forgot to include the instructions.
You have to figure out which piece does what.
If you tried to make a mammoth like this, you'd wind up with a monstrosity.
But now suppose you started with a fully assembled elephant.
And all you had to do was modify it.
To make it in Siberia, it will need some mammoth pieces.
Long, thick hair larger tusks And thicker layers of fat.
You'd end up with a hybrid that's neither elephant nor mammoth, but a new custom species of your own design.
With 21st-century gene editing, Beth thinks we're close to achieving this godlike feat.
De-extinction is still science fiction.
But there are many scientists out there who are trying to make it cross that divide, to become science instead of science fiction.
As humanity demands ever more of our planet's resources, Beth believes custom-designing species to revive dying ecosystems will become a vital technique.
Now as our population continues to grow and we need bigger cities and more agriculture, we can use this technology to provide a little bit of an evolutionary booster shot, if you will, to protect species that are alive today, to protect ecosystems that are still here while we can.
Hacking into the animal kingdom could keep our planet in balance, even as our population swells.
But if we can't slow down global warming, aren't we all doomed? Or can technology kick climate change Into reverse? Our civilization depends on things that spew carbon dioxide Cars, airplanes, power plants.
We're always hearing about how if we want to save the world, we'll need to get rid of all that.
But is there a radically different solution out there? Is all that carbon dioxide really the enemy? Or is it a potential ally? Canadian engineer Jeffrey Holmes understands that all living things make a mess.
But Jeffrey believes if we're going to save the planet, we need to reuse the mess we make.
Carbon dioxide.
Today, we make most of our power by burning carbon-based fuel dug up from the Earth.
Carbon dioxide is the waste product we release that's trapping the sun's heat and causing all of our climate problems.
So co2 in the air, it's a bit like this dirt.
We need some amount.
It's useful.
But too much, we've got ourselves a mess.
If we don't clean up the mess, it just continues to build.
In Squamish, British Columbia, Jeffrey and his colleagues at carbon engineering are working on a hack for the entire atmosphere.
It begins the same way you clean up a pile of dirt except with a much bigger vacuum.
Now, the ability to take co2 back out of the air, turn it into something useful, it's like reusing dirt.
That's a game changer kind of idea.
Jeffrey didn't invent the idea of capturing carbon dioxide for fuel.
Trees do it all the time.
But Jeffrey's prototype carbon plant take this idea and turbocharges it.
It starts by sucking air into a big box called an air contacter.
Inside, the carbon dioxide in the air combines with a chemical solution and is converted into pellets of synthetic, carbon-based fuel.
We can take the co2 that's produced by this plant.
We can form molecules of octane or diesel or any of the other fuels that we use in transportation.
When your car gives off co2 in its exhaust, that gas usually builds up in the atmosphere.
But Jeffrey's plant captures that gas and turns it back into fuel.
No more waste, no more mess.
If he's going to do this on a global scale, however, Jeffrey's going to need a lot more fans.
We could build large, factory-scale facilities.
So instead of one fan on the unit behind me, we'd have hundreds or even a couple thousand fans.
Because carbon dioxide is everywhere in Earth's atmosphere, we could build these plants wherever there's space for them.
And because they devour carbon dioxide much faster than trees, we could not only stop global warming.
We might even reverse it.
But such a massive project would take decades.
And that's time we may not have.
That's the worry of Jeffrey's boss, David Keith, founder of carbon engineering.
Even if we could bring emissions to zero tomorrow, that doesn't eliminate the carbon risk.
We might already have put enough carbon in the atmosphere to make west Antarctica melt and drown a bunch of cities.
So we need backup options.
David thinks we might be able to turn down the temperature dial on the whole planet.
But it would take a radical idea called solar geoengineering, a kind of sunscreen for the planet.
In 1991, the eruption of mount Pinatubo in the Philippines spewed 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the Earth's stratosphere.
It was one of the most devastating eruptions in a century.
But it had one positive effect.
It spewed a cloud of tiny sulfuric-acid particles all across the stratosphere, which reflected some of the sun's heat.
Over the next 2 years, the entire planet cooled by 1 degree Fahrenheit.
Sulfuric acid is the most common suggestion for stratospheric solar geoengineering, simply because it's what nature does with big volcanoes.
A big volcano can put enough sulfuric acid in the stratosphere to cool the whole planet.
Now that our climate appears to be changing rapidly, David has a short-term solution.
Pollute on purpose.
Pretend I'm a giant, 20 kilometers tall.
Typical commercial aircraft fly at about this altitude, say 10 kilometers.
The stratosphere starts somewhere between about here and about here.
And the tropical stratosphere may be at this altitude.
It'd be the place where people would put aircraft.
They would release particles if we were going to do solar geoengineering.
David's radical proposal is to use a fleet of airplanes to dump millions of tons of sulfur-dioxide particles into the stratosphere, where high winds would keep them aloft.
When combined with water vapor, they would do just what the volcano did, bounce back heat from the sun.
David admits his stop gap measure has some ugly side effects, like smog and acid rain.
But it will buy us the time to develop better solutions.
I got involved in the solar geoengineering really because of a taboo.
I was curious of why people wouldn't talk about something that seemed like it might be important.
Of course meddling with nature scares me.
That's precisely why I work on this topic.
We may one day turn the tables on our changing climate.
But one scientist thinks we have a better future beyond the atmosphere, in outer space.
He's working on an extension cord to the sun.
We're on the brink of making some serious upgrades to planet Earth.
Scientists are already envisioning the day when we can regulate the global temperature, control storms, bring our deserts back to life and when we can manipulate our fellow creatures, both big and small, to make the world safer.
But there's more we can do to hack the Earth.
Out there, beyond the sky, is a source of energy that is unimaginably vast.
If we could tap into that, we would truly become masters of the planet.
For spacecraft engineer Paul Jaffe, thinking big is part of the job description.
Living on the Earth, it's easy to forget there are tremendous resources out there.
The sun is unique among the sources of energy that we're exploring because it is effectively limitless.
If you look at fossil fuels, which are limited and will run out, there is no such fundamental limit with the sun.
Solar panels are nothing new.
We've been building them for decades.
And they supply the majority of our satellites with free power.
Today, Paul is working on a way to collect the sun's energy for all of us, directly from outer space without any of the limitations of solar panels on the ground.
When we collect sunlight in space, not only is it brighter than anywhere on Earth, we don't have to worry about nighttime.
We don't have to worry about clouds or rain.
We have essentially unlimited access to sunlight in space.
We just need to bring the energy to Earth.
The first challenge would be building enormous solar arrays in outer space.
But that's not slowing Paul down.
The good news is, is it's easier to build large things in space than you might realize.
The spacecraft would be larger than anything we've built in space before.
But because we're building it in a zero-gravity environment, it's actually a lot easier to build, in some ways, than building a similar-sized structure would be on the ground.
But if we build a solar farm orbiting the Earth, there's another challenge.
How on Earth do we get that energy Down? Imagine you tried to run an extension cord from a satellite in space.
That satellite is whipping around the planet at thousands of miles an hour.
You could fix this by putting it in an orbital sweet spot, so it's always over the same place on Earth.
But then you'd need an extension cord that's 22,000 miles long.
Fortunately, Paul and his team at the U.
S.
naval research laboratory think we don't need a cord at all.
This is a model of how the space solar concept works.
We have the sun through the satellite and the receiver on the ground.
The sunlight in space gets to the satellite.
In the satellite, we have the solar panel on top, which converts the electricity into direct current.
And then the electronics, which convert that direct current into a radio signal.
A radio signal is sent to the ground, where it is received and converted back to electricity that we would use at home or in our places of work.
Transmitting energy across space sounds like magic.
But we do it all the time.
Our radios, cellphones, and microwave ovens all move energy through invisible waves.
So does the Wi-Fi signal in your home.
We use Wi-Fi every day to send data.
But we can also use it to send power.
Using just my phone and the Wi-Fi signal, I'm going to power this led bulb, just using the Wi-Fi signal from my phone.
Imagine if we could take this and scale it up to power the entire world.
Paul and his team have already built a tiny working prototype of the satellite they want to put into orbit.
It combines a thin layer of solar panels with special electronics that convert the energy to a radio signal.
To ensure it will work in outer space, Paul puts it through its paces in a series of test chambers.
One of them simulates the vacuum of space, another simulates the extreme cold.
This is not science fiction.
We have it.
It works.
It can be made into a real system.
A full-sized solar system in space would be nine times longer than the international space station.
Too massive to launch on a single rocket, it would be assembled piece-by-piece by a team of robots.
Meanwhile, we'd be building a big receiver called a rectenna on the ground.
The rectenna would look like a big mesh.
So the sunlight would come through it, you could grow crops under that.
You could raise livestock under that.
You could even collect regular solar energy so you had that as an extra source of energy during the day.
Paul wants to outfit his rectennas with the same wireless power system as his satellites.
That means we wouldn't have to plug them into anything.
But what will happen to life on Earth when we start shooting beams of energy around? People often ask, "well, won't this fry birds?" And the answer is no because the power density is too low.
You are not going to walk under it and get melted.
It's not gonna knock down planes.
And these invisible beams of energy from satellites would supply a huge amount of power.
A given satellite would probably be about a gigawatt, enough for a small city.
With just a few thousand of these satellites, we could cover all of the current and projected future demand for energy for our civilization.
A few thousand satellites would cost a fortune.
But as we learn to reuse rockets and mass-produce satellites, the cost of putting things in space is rapidly going down.
And Paul thinks we'll spend the money anyway.
The only question is how.
For tens of billions of dollars, we can kick our addiction to fossil fuels.
This is going to be way less than the economic impact of global warming.
That doesn't come free.
That's going to be extraordinarily expensive.
If we didn't have to worry about energy anymore, think about what our lives could become.
Energy would be as effortless and easy and unconscious as we think now about breathing.
The human race has spent most of its history doing whatever it liked to this planet.
Cutting down forests, hunting species to extinction and polluting without a care in the world.
But in the past half century, some of us began to realize that we have to limit our footprint.
However, unless the entire world agrees to tread lightly, environmentalism isn't going to be enough.
We have to actively undo our past mistakes.
And when we gain confidence in our ability to hack the planet, we can try to make this world better than it has ever been.
Of course, when you hack into anything, you run the risk of crashing the system.
But it's a risk we may soon have to take.