As part of the Marginal Funding Week, we wanted to give a brief update on the situation of ALLFED (Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters), describing in which projects marginal funding is likely to be spent. There is a much more detailed, in-depth picture of the ALLFED 2023 year-in-review, as usual.
In 2023, ALLFED’s research team has been working on modeling outdoor crop relocation and seaweed deployment in nuclear winter scenarios, two of the most promising food production interventions for this catastrophe. Our integrated assessment model of combined resilient food deployment is being revamped and will be updated soon; it has recently been applied to a new article looking at country-level nuclear winter response in Argentina. Further ongoing research this year has focused on infrastructure collapse scenarios, such as crop yield loss modeling, supply chain interventions (transportation of food and water) and system dynamics. Other recent outputs include work on leaf protein concentrate, agricultural residue utilization in Africa, and the intersection of nuclear winter with planetary boundaries.
Over the last 12 months, there has been a general shift of ALLFED’s resources towards policy engagement and advocacy to increase humanity’s resilience against a potential global catastrophic food failure. Increasing geopolitical tensions have compelled us to expedite the translation of our scientific research into actionable policy. Examples include our reports outlining the content of national preparedness and response plans against abrupt sunlight reduction scenarios (e.g. nuclear winter) for various countries such as the United States, Australia, and Argentina.
We will continue to work on all three pillars of ALLFED’s work: research, policy, and technology development.
Projects: where is marginal funding likely to be spent?
Research: previous funding will enable ALLFED to continue work in a large project to create an integrated assessment model of food system responses to counter yield losses of full-scale nuclear winter-level (150 Tg soot, global average calorie production from crops would decrease by ~80-90%). We are in the process of publishing the first sets of results. Previous funding will also allow us to continue key priority research projects on the topic of resilient foods for nuclear winter-level shocks. In this funding appeal we would instead like to ask for support to:
- Overhaul our more neglected line of research. Specifically, research into interventions to increase resilience and response capabilities to scenarios involving extreme, abrupt collapse of critical infrastructure (e.g. loss of electricity/industry), which could be caused by an extreme pandemic resulting in employees in critical industries being too fearful to report to work. This would also involve designing a resilient backup communication system (such as a resilient satellite that could communicate directly with cell phones). Previously we proposed using draft animals for farming and transportation, but we are now investigating wood gasification that was used in WWII to substitute for petroleum products. This would also involve defining how an effective resilient food response to this scenario would look, and developing the required methods and tool designs to achieve it. We estimate the need as ~3 FTE with support ($300,000).
- Maintaining our researchers to carry out other priority projects. For example, research on combination scenarios is crucial to understand not only how to prevent humanity from surviving a most extreme scenario involving a global food production collapse combined with a loss of global industry and supply chains (e.g. via a full-scale nuclear war involving coordinated nuclear EMP attacks), but also how to best help regions likely to be a target of nuclear attacks in a war, such as the USA and the European Union (where nuclear EMP is very likely even if it does not take place globally). We’ve estimated a requirement of ~5 additional FTE including research, operations, etc. to kickstart this ($500,000).
Translation of research into policy:
Additional funding will be used to:
- Support existing policy engagements in the USA, Australia and Argentina.
- Kickstart a new regional preparedness planning project in a key region (e.g. Scandinavia, New Zealand, Persian Gulf). A basic plan can be done for $10,000 with limited engagement - more customization and greater engagement is more like $100,000.
Translation of research into resilient tech development: We are also looking for funding to perform a modest (~$200,000) technology demonstration of a key resilient food technology from our list of tech ideas that address current bottlenecks, e.g. an open source extruder for greenhouse cover production for fast scaling, or open source rope twister for seaweed.
|Pilot||Total cost (including overhead)||Breakdown||Completion time|
|Simple greenhouse prototype for fast scaling (Open Source (OS))||$160,000|
2 FTE $75,000 each, $10,000 materials and supplies
|Rope twister for seaweed (OS)||$170,000|
1 FTE $75,000 each year
$20,000 materials and supplies
|Plastic extruder for greenhouses (OS)||$250,000|
1 FTE $75,000 each year
$100,000 materials and supplies
|Repurposing of a small scale university paper pilot plant for production of sugar||~$2,200,000|
3 FTE $100,000 each/year
Thanks to all our donors and volunteers. Other than donating, you can also contribute your time through volunteering with ALLFED, including as a board member. Thank you for your interest and support in increasing the chances of humanity in the face of global catastrophic food failure.