Climate Change Apocalypse and its Concequences for Poor People

Fiber Optic Ocean from Ozge Samanci on Vimeo.

The public does not care about climate change science and its intersection with the fate of the Global South. Blood will flow as it has in Syria (suffered from a massive climate change induced drought combined with hellishly bad politics) on an Apocalyptic scale if we don’t wake the fuck up as a species! Rather than give into hopelessness, I want to put my heart into the climate fight in activist art.

Ozge Samanci, art and media professor at Northwestern, came to Charis Books in Atlanta last spring with her book about growing up in Turkey. I emailed her and we talked about art careers. She suggested I do an MFA or Ph.D. in media and art. I said at the time that I wanted to go to Pine Ridge and try my hand at nonprofit work. I was repulsed by what I saw, discovering an ecotourism mentality coupled with what was called poverty pornography. I am now stepping back and reflecting about what to do and where to go with my life. I think the true reality of climate change can only be presented in art. I just finished my first poetry book about climate change and war, finishing the book with some poems about Pine Ridge.



I am now thinking of making a solar poem machine to recite poetry via robotic and computer sculpture. Steampunk has turned into solar punk with some and that will be an art piece theme. I’d like to use the work as an entry point into getting an MFA, and maybe eventually become an art academic like Ozge. I see art and science as being a team in conveying the reality of climate change. I want to bring photography and video into the solar poem machine piece. Looking for inspiration, I love this work by Ozge. It is the kind of art I want to make. I am flirting with the idea of going back to academia. I want to make the solar poem machine for a portfolio piece for an application to art school and to get experience in mixed media art, moving beyond poetry into hardcore electronic sculpture for museum installations.


A friend shared a poem with me today:

For Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging – in love, creativity, and friendship –
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret of Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with sureness with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

To Bless the Space Between Us
-John O’Donohue

From another blog post (done on 11/15/2015) a while ago, now private:


Things Are Such

Things are such,

that someone lifting a cup,

or watching the rain,

petting a dog, or singing,

just singing – could be doing as

much for this universe as anyone.

  • Rumi

This post I wrote was confirmed this week in Nature (article).

Growing evidence demonstrates that climatic conditions can have a profound impact on the functioning of modern human societies 1,2, but effects on economic activity appear inconsistent. Fundamental productive elements of modern economies, such as workers and crops, exhibit highly non-linear responses to local temperature even in wealthy countries3,4. In contrast, aggregate macroeconomic productivity of entire wealthy countries is reported not to respond to temperature5 , while poor countries respond only linearly5,6. Resolving this conflict between micro and macro observations is critical to understanding the role of wealth in coupled human–natural systems7,8 and to anticipating the global impact of climate change 9,10. Here we unify these seemingly contradictory results by accounting for non-linearity at the macro scale. We show that overall economic productivity is nonlinear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13 6C and declining strongly at higher temperatures. The relationship is globally generalizable, unchanged since 1960, and apparent for agricultural and non-agricultural activity in both rich and poor countries. These results provide the first evidence that economic activity in all regions is coupled to the global climate and establish a new empirical foundation for modelling economic loss in response to climate change11,12, with important implications. If future adaptation mimics past adaptation, unmitigated warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by 2100 and widening global income inequality, relative to scenarios without climate change. In contrast to prior estimates, expected global losses are approximately linear in global mean temperature, with median losses many times larger than leading models indicate.

Untitled-1 Article pdf:




I will happy fight a cyberwar in art and nonviolent activism for these kids like these from Aleppo who will be hurt by climate change.  The reality of climate change is economic collapse, without definitive actions.  Where we are now in the first world is caring more about our technology than the blood that will flow to keep it going.  This needs to change! Rather than being hopeless and nihilistic I want to be positive and work on art to raise awareness.  I’ve fallen into an abyss of nihilism in response to this situation.  That needs to stop and I need to start to fight my Night War during the day:

Orchids: Night War

“What I give form to in daylight is only one percent of what I have seen in darkness.”

-M.C. Escher

Law stay away, I have arson to do at night under the thunderstorm clouds of Perses,
Sacking in my dreams those without the remorse and guilt of a man who lives in hell,
I don’t like knowing what I know about the places that time has forgotten and passed,
Today we don’t live in a place where nights reveals the stars, electric buzzsaw lights,

I was the finder and the keeper, I never though I would need to be the creeper,
..but my keeper, turned out to be the reaper, and now it’s bloodlust, masta in the rain,
Tales of woe I was strung out on the line, and I though my life was fine, it wasn’t mine,
Fine, bring me the torch, I see a flower on the other side, across the line, in time,

Darkness and fire, hammer and the clock, throughout the whole time I was in darkness,
I had no physical pain, for many months and years I had a vision of blood and night,
Across the sands of the Middle East, don’t know why I cared or felt it like I did,
Connected in a way without much distance, crazy how it sounds, electric wired gave me,

Night, and death and war, saw the feelings transmitted and went mad, burn my life down,
What was it with comfort and padding, not sure what I could do without being on the edge?
How can you learn to love in desperation if you have a safety net? What if they don’t see?
How can I relate to them? Without a sense of the new connections and life I see?



Interesting excerpt from this grant announcement:

“Data Champions – Projects that connect Native youth through apprenticeship or other models with the fields of technology, research, and evaluation as a means to develop their skills and knowledge to design and improve tribal data (information) and other systems to generate accurate and reliable tribal-level data that is meaningful for Native families and communities. Such projects could include peer-to-peer learning about the use of ‘data’ in national and local policy making; the value of connecting data across areas such as education, health, and justice systems to support programming and supports for Native youth; the development of model local data policies that address data collection and use at the tribal level in ways that are informed by youth priorities; and development of ‘promising practices’ in Native data collection and use that can inform how government agencies collect or create information in ways that support downstream information processing and dissemination activities to Native American communities.”


The Solar Poem Machine can be adapted to engaging Native American Youth.  I created a solar light data collector from the machine recently



and plotted the data in R:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.51.32 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.47.15 AM …also discovered that Alahandro, Henry’s 5 year old son loves playing Minecraft on the Solar Poem Machine.  Here is a Guardian article on teaching sustainability in Minecraft.

The fates have decided the solar powered ‪#‎solarpoemmachine‬ will be a solar punk Trojan (buffalo) horse leveraging the Raspberry PiRate Radio Make project ( to hack the airwaves with poems about climate change and war.

“The Raspberry Pi’s broadcast frequency can range between 1Mhz and 250Mhz, which may interfere with government bands. We advise that you limit your transmissions to the standard FM band of 87.5MHz–107.9MHz (see Step 3) and always choose a frequency that’s not already in use, to avoid interference with licensed broadcasters.”

Well, cool! You know how we feel about the Feds and corporations. Hack Fox News?

First post from Pine Ridge outlining beginings of these thoughts.  Show some simple threads, that I want to develop more…


      Today begins my second day volunteering at Lakota Solar Enterprises and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to start my first day of work at Henry Red Cloud’s center.  Henry put me in charge of working on sanding the drywall and placing sheetrock on the compressed earth.  I ended up talking about the reservation and started to learn quite about the nature of living “on the rez.”  I went into town and got a book of Lakota stories in transliterated Lakota and some peppers for scrambled eggs that Henry gave me from the hens on the Solar Warrior farmland.  On the drive over to the job site, Henry and I talked about stuff.  He asked me what my name meant and I told him that Kaya means “rock” and Erbil is the hometown of the Kurds.  I said I got William when I was three years old and never really used it.  I explained how my father was from Turkey and how my mother was American.  We talked about the Black Hills, showing them to me in the distance as we drove to the site.  He said he had worked all around the country from New York to Los Angeles as a steel worker for years, and then came back about twenty years ago to start his work on the reservation with residential solar heating. 


     So far, there are 400 of his passive solar heater units on the Pine Ridge reservation and another 600 around other places.  In total, Lakota Solar Enterprises has built about 1000 passive solar heaters.  When we got to the job site, he explained how he wants to get into building houses on the reservation that are both affordable and from local materials.  The compressed earth block house that we are working on is a design from Henry’s friend on Fifth Avenue in New York and costs about the same to make as a mobile home.  It is much more sturdy and resistant to the high winds that storms can bring in the summer.  In the winter, the compressed earth blocks insulate the house keeping warmth from solar and other forms of heating inside.  In the summer, the compressed earth blocks keep the heat outside and the cool air inside.  The house will have solar panels on top and will have a passive solar heater and a hot water heating system that is installed in the floors.  I explained to Henry how I was interested in green building and renewables in cities, particularly in urban spaces that are subjected to rapid gentrification. 


Compressed earth block:


     I told him about Tyler Sit’s eco-church in Minneapolis and the work that New City Church is doing in the Powderhorn neighborhood.  I also told him about what my eventual dream for Atlanta is about finding urban zones that the African-American church can help in greenifying like Vine City (aka Tha Bluff).  Lindsay Street Baptist Church recently built the English Avenue Urban Garden, and I would like to see their efforts expand into other parts of the neighborhood.  Overall, the day was quite successful and was a wonderful way to get introduced to the work of Lakota Solar Enterprises.  As the work started, two Lakota volunteers from Re-member volunteers came to help out sanding the drywall and installing mud on the joints.  They brought with them two women from Vermont, a professor of evolutionary biology and her high school aged daughter.  We sanded for much of the morning, but their part of the work had to stop because the young woman was sick with a cold.  We ate lunch graciously provided by Re-member and they went back to take the young woman back to rest and heal.  I spent the rest of the day in the afternoon working on mudding. 


     Around lunchtime, Henry took me back to his solar workshop, the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center.  There he showed me a lot of the materials in the shop, including the passive solar heaters that they locally manufacture and some recently designed photovoltaic systems (PV).  The PV panel he showed me he said cost $10 to make in terms of material costs.  I was shocked at how affordable to panel was to make. 


I then showed him my dream of making solar powered computers.  I showed him the box of materials for that I had brought.  I introduced Henry to the Arduino, Beaglebone, and Raspberry Pi microcomputers, that cost $10, $35, and $35, respectively. 


He seemed really interested in them.  I had the idea that I could make and sell solar powered Raspberry Pi cases that are decorated by local Lakota artists and designs to raise money for the reservation. 

IMG_1434 IMG_1443

I was thinking of doing a Kickstarter where donors would get a custom made Lakota Solar Computer.  Donations could be put into making a solar compressed earth block computer laboratory with many Raspberry Pi’s.  They computer laboratory could be a place where Lakota youth come to use computers and design sustainable solutions to problems on the reservation, like hot water heaters.  The idea would be for youth to be able to got out and find solutions to problems on the reservation on their own and create local solutions in the same way Henry did.  I would be happy to teach programming and other more intensive computer skills if that is something that is deemed good.  For the little kids, we could load computer games like Foldit! to introduce science in a fun way.  This is a long term goal, but something that I would like to do with my life.  

IMG_1448 In the news today, are some articles on sustainable lifestyles.  There is one in the Guardian about a near zero waste blogger.  This one in Science is more of a theory paper about the same idea.  On a side note, this paper also showed up in Science about a hybrid enzyme semi-conductor way to make ammonia from nitrogen, kind of like an artificial photosynthesis.  Zika virus is a climate change caused problem, there is a cryo-EM structure of it today in Science here.  There was also a technical comment on a paper on global warming and fisheries.          

About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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