Naya with Edward Burtynsky

May 18, 2021 Clinton Robinson and Kofi Gyekye Season 1 Episode 3
Naya with Edward Burtynsky
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Naya with Edward Burtynsky
May 18, 2021 Season 1 Episode 3
Clinton Robinson and Kofi Gyekye

How will the workforce shift towards climate adaptation? Is the future of work all about climate resilience and/or carbon mitigation projects? Edward Burtynsky joins Sydney Allen-Ash and Lane founders, Clinton Robinson and Kofi Gyekye for a conversation on possibilities for future roles in light of global climate crises, environmental degradation, and resource depletion.

Edward Burtynsky is regarded as one of the world's most accomplished contemporary photographers. His remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes represent over 40 years of his dedication to bearing witness to the impact of humans on the planet. Burtynsky's photographs are included in the collections of over 60 major museums around the world. His film collaborations include Jennifer Baichwal's Manufactured Landscapes (2006); Watermark (2013); and the third film in the trilogy, ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch.

Work/Place is brought to you by Lane and Toronto-based Foresight studio, From Later

Host: Sydney Allen-Ash
Producer: Robert Bolton & Macy Siu with Udit Vira and Valdis Silins
Audio Production: Jeremy Glenn
Sound Design: Dani Ramez 
Voice Actors: Aaron Hagey MacKay, and Maxie Smolters

Show Notes Transcript

How will the workforce shift towards climate adaptation? Is the future of work all about climate resilience and/or carbon mitigation projects? Edward Burtynsky joins Sydney Allen-Ash and Lane founders, Clinton Robinson and Kofi Gyekye for a conversation on possibilities for future roles in light of global climate crises, environmental degradation, and resource depletion.

Edward Burtynsky is regarded as one of the world's most accomplished contemporary photographers. His remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes represent over 40 years of his dedication to bearing witness to the impact of humans on the planet. Burtynsky's photographs are included in the collections of over 60 major museums around the world. His film collaborations include Jennifer Baichwal's Manufactured Landscapes (2006); Watermark (2013); and the third film in the trilogy, ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch.

Work/Place is brought to you by Lane and Toronto-based Foresight studio, From Later

Host: Sydney Allen-Ash
Producer: Robert Bolton & Macy Siu with Udit Vira and Valdis Silins
Audio Production: Jeremy Glenn
Sound Design: Dani Ramez 
Voice Actors: Aaron Hagey MacKay, and Maxie Smolters

Episode 003

Naya w/ Edward Burtynsky

Syd: Welcome to Work/Place, a podcast about the futures of where and how we work. I'm your host, Sydney Allen-Ash, currently recording in Brooklyn. And I'm joined today by the founders of Lane, Clinton Robinson in Toronto, and Kofi Gyekye in Brooklyn. You're also joined today by our special guest Edward Burtynsky, a photographer known for his images of the Anthropocene, large-scale views of human industrial influence on the Earth's landscape.Hello Edward, thanks for joining us. 

Edward: Great to be here. 

Syd: In this episode, we're going to be discussing possibilities for future roles and workplaces in light of global climate crises, environmental degradation, and resource depletion. I promise the conversation will not be as depressing as it sounds. In every episode, we hear an audio artifact to kick things off. Um, this audio artifact is from the future, and it's kind of a way to spark a conversation. So, before we go any further, let's listen to this speculative soundscape from about 10 years into the future.



RECORDED AUDIO: You’ve reached Naya, the purposeful placement agency.

Your privacy is important to us. Please note that this call is being recorded so we can better harmonize your profile and match you to a meaningful existence. 

Please hold. Your Transitionist will be with you momentarily.


RIVER: Hi, I’m River, I’m your Transitionist.  I understand you’re looking for a new role. I’ll help situate you with something that’s tuned to your ethic. 

DOM:  Yeah –  I need a new gig. I... have a hard time holding one down. People tell me I’m a bit prickly. But … I got a lot to take care of these days. 

RIVER: That’s why you’re here. You’ll be part of the Just Transition. All of our placement opportunities work toward a regenerative economy.

DOM: Sure, but what can I do?

RIVER: I have three possible paths to show you today. Path one is with Almanac. 

DOM: That’s like the biggest big tech thing out there.

RIVER: Yes..., but this is an exciting opportunity to be part of the Agricultural Computing revolution. 

DOM: Agricultural Computing?

RIVER: It’s a distributed bio-based computing platform — they’re engineering a way to harness the data storage and processing powers of nature. 

DOM: You mean they make GMO’s?  I’m not trying to work for Cashcrop 2.0.

RIVER: It’s the most energy efficient form of computation.

DOM: That’s been the problem — every time we have one of these breakthroughs, we treat it like it’s permission to consume more excessively. ...Nah.. I’m not with this.

RIVER: I thought you might say that. Path two is to join the seawall planning committee. 

It’s part of the Green New Deal. They’re investing 500 billion dollars into the Living Shorelines project. They’ll be installing mangrove plants to strengthen the embankments along the Eastern seaboard. The sea levels are rising fast. Work starts in two years. Right now they need help at HQ. They need people like you to help plan the project.

DOM: Sounds important… but an office job?

RIVER: It’s a reduced-IT office. There’s a no-new electronics policy. Everything refurbished. Only one laptop per 3 people – which has actually made their teams more productive overall. And they do most of their work on the lo-power web — black and white images, plaintext email… no video calls. And everything runs on solar – toggling to different servers, wherever the sun is shining. 

DOM: Still – those wonks don’t understand what people are going through — they can keep planning… but... I want to be in the trenches. 

RIVER: I see. You want to get your hands dirty.

Let’s move on to path three. There’s a precious metals mine in...

DOM: What?! Why would I mess with something like that?

RIVER:  This is different – you’d be relocating to Ghana. It’s an adapted e-waste landfill. They have a safe process for extracting valuable minerals — gold, cobalt, nickel, copper — all  harvested from EV batteries, old solar panels, and consumer electronics.

DOM: So, it’s ... un-manufacturing?….that sounds kinda cool. Sounds like big business too.

RIVER: They’re also rewilding the landscape, using the remaining shells of old devices as a kind of scaffolding for next nature. Here — let’s take a look.

DOM: Yeah — that … actually sounds like something I could get into.RIVER: No path is perfect. But it sounds like this could be a fulfilling future for you. If you’re ready to commit, we can begin transitioning you in our next session. Step one would be upskilling. And then we’d begin community integration. You could be relocating in as little as 3 months. 

DOM: Well … Yeah — I guess I did come here looking for a new path. 


Syd: So that was an audio clip from a speculative future produced by the Toronto-based foresight studio From Later. What we just heard was kind of a recording of a skeptical young man named Dom. He's having some kind of meeting with a virtual reality job placement session, a transitionist as they called him. And he's presented with some really interesting career paths. Let's just start with a first impression. Edward, since you're our special guest, I'm curious, what did you hear? What did you notice from this future? What did you find like interesting?

Edward: Well, that the future means that pretty much all our efforts are going to, uh, towards mitigating, uh, disaster, a planetary disaster so that, you know, I think people are, are really now waking up to the fact that there is no planet B as they say, or planet two. What I'm sensing is that the youth of the not too distant future will not want to work in a dirty industry, will not want to do a job that is adding to the problem, recognizing that their future, and if they want to have children, those children's future are, uh, what we're talking about here. So it's probably the largest existential risk beyond all out nuclear war that we're facing. But this one, it’s like, we're in a pot and it's slowly getting warm, and we're the frog in the pot. So I think it's being recognized now that the pot's getting warmer. The status quo and business as usual is no longer an option.

The corporates are waking up to it. Governments are still lagging, but the corporates and now I think also with the change of government in America, there's a big sigh of relief and we all get back on track here, but the, the first job that was turned down, GMOs, I think, I think right now that that GMOs have a super bad rap because of certain companies. But in the world that we're entering, drought resistant and heat resistant crops are going to be critical. So GMOs and things like replacements for meat. So, so the impossible burger kind of idea, extending that we're going to have to get away from beef. We're going to have to find other replacements other than living animals, and possibly molecular food that we construct in 3D printers from base plant material that is brought to things that are more enjoyable.

So I do think the future is going to be technologically-produced food that may not resemble the food that we're used to eating today. It's a necessary future to be able to feed ourselves without depleting all the soils and depleting all the oceans, and having all those cows producing methane. Like 70% of all the food we grow on farms feeds the animals that we eat. So that's a big problem. So I think there's going to be a lot of development and work in, uh, finding alternatives to the conventional way we're eating today. That's what I heard. 

Syd:  Clint, what did you think? 

Clint: I think of all the soundscapes we've heard so far, this is like the most realistic one. Like the idea that we won't all have laptops in the future. We have to share them. Or that we have to mine e-waste to get resources back because there's a finite quantity of rare earth metals and all the things that we need. It wasn't like we were celebrating the fact that we're doing any of these things. And as Ed was saying, these are like necessities now.

And we've done just a bad job at resource management on a planetary scale that this is the future. I like, the like biological computing, that's something we haven't talked about really in depth. It is really interesting. Like the idea that we could harness biology to do our computation and they're growing agriculture, but at the same time, it seemed to be implied that the agriculture was the biological computer, but also the crop that people would eat.

And I'd actually never thought about that in terms of biological computing. I always thought it would be something kind of different. So that was, that was kind of interesting. 

Syd: Kofi, what were your thoughts? 

Kofi: I think what was quite interesting was how disgruntled he was and also how informed he was. So in each stage he understood, and I think that's something new, whereas…  you know he was informed like, is that a GMO company asking more questions? What's the actual outcome from what you, this perceived job I'm going to be doing? And I thought that's something we've not done too much in the past. People just sort of did things without thinking about the consequences on the planet. And I thought that was quite interesting.

And Naya, you know, might actually be an intergovernmental organization that is trying to solve these big buckets. Like in that second point around, you know, the ocean is getting warmer, we need some brains to be thinking about this stuff. And you know, that was the opportunity he had in front of him. They did mention that these data centers are running anywhere the sun is shining. So there is that idea of solar in there. And so they've actually sort of thought through that process. And then there is this physical aspect that's necessary in that last example of Ghana.

Syd: I literally have this poster on my wall here that says everything that you make returns to the earth as food or poison. Are all of our jobs right now, not also the same dichotomy? They're either helping or they're hurting? 

Edward: It's very hard to purify yourself of bringing damaging materials into the world because we haven't been given the options to make it easier for us to make the right choice.  Sometimes there is no choice, so we have no choice. And if there is a choice, it's so much more expensive and if you're on a budget, you go, jesus, I want to do the right thing, but I can't. So it is incumbent that, you know, regulations and government just level the playing field. And that's... leveling the playing field, and you talk to oil companies, and they welcome a carbon tax because they know what they're up against. And they realize that that cost is being externalized.

And that eventually, there will be a day of reckoning. So they would rather know what the future holds for their product and what the surcharges are on their product that then make their product less uh desirable because of the cost of oil versus recharging my car is so much more that I want electric car now.

So it will push people in the right direction, but it's that economic balancing act that you have to do to make sure that it's cheaper to do the right thing. And once you do that, the market just flows like wildfire. 

Syd: Why do we gravitate so heavily towards solutions or tactics that are driven around creation and innovation, as opposed to like de-growth and reducing consumption? 

Edward: Are there jobs in de-growth, can you keep people employed when you're trying not to use stuff, we built a kind of economy that says, you know, if you can provide me this, I'll give you that. Uh, now in a digital economy, you, you can start trading in digital services and, you know, there's all kinds of new products that are not manifested in an object. They're just a digital object, but we still, no matter what, as humans, we need objects. I need the mic that I'm speaking into here, and I need a computer to run my voice through to have this conversation. And I don't see any other option right now that's gonna allow me to do that. So we're, you know, we're still gonna, you know, have an analog in our lives.

Syd: In terms of looking at this kind of like transitionist agency that we find Dom in, how does that resonate with you guys? What does the world look like if we have these agencies that are focused on giving people jobs that are pointing to a regenerative economy? 

Edward: I hope that there is enough work out there that people have that kind of opportunity to pick and choose. You know, we're facing multiple threats going forward, I would say, but robotization Is really one of them. And if all of a sudden we've got driverless cars and trucks and transport and all of that, we may be finding ourselves in a situation where jobs are so hard to come by because so many have been laid to waste. Of course, there will be an extraordinary amount of work to avert the worst on the planet.

In other words, getting us away from carbon, getting us away from plastics, you know, getting us away from wasting metals and felling all the trees that are left. That's a lot of, a lot of retooling it's going to take to do that, but it's not going to be retooled by the guy who's no longer driving the truck.

It's a different skillset. We have gone through these transitions before, of mechanization. But not on this scale, not where you get complete factories without a soul in them and KUKA robots doing all the work. I'm currently looking to capture some imagery from a complete vertical growing farm. And there's not a soul in there, you know, and it's using KUKA robots at the end to actually take the plants off.

So it's end to end in a two acre footprint. They're growing enough food that you would need 750 acres of land equivalent to do what they do in two acres. But if the delivery is happening automatically, too, you can have your food being grown and delivered with just a few people managing the software and the programs and where it should be delivered.

But that is not a distant future world, that world's being built as we speak. 

Clint: Maybe implied in this kind of future scenario is like, it kinda sounds like things didn't go so well. Like why are they getting manual labor to go plant a bunch of mangroves, maybe because we don't have the materials to make robots anymore, and that's why we were like mining e-waste in Ghana. 

Syd: Kofi, what were your kind of reactions about the potential job paths presented to Dom?

Kofi: Honestly, I don't think this as the future at all. These are decisions that we see, we need to start making now. I mean, Ed's mentioned this a number of times, actually we have to be dealing with macro problems and there's only certain routes we can take to solve this inevitability.

Um, or at least to like try our best to preserve humanity to some degree, probably through policy. We need to start picking what our challenges will be, and the picking’s not really about many opportunities, but maybe those are the three parts on the planet. So you kind of have to go do some physical work, you know, figure out how you can join the brain economy and like solve these problems in that, you know, through policy and so forth. Your first option is probably the private sector, which is just evil and like will always rear its head and exist to some degree. And that's maybe what it is.

Syd: What do you think we need to do for the people who are going to need to upscale or deskill or change their skillset in order to take on new jobs? Like how do we convince them to do that?

Edward: Yeah, that goes right back to the educational system. You know, how are they preparing those students to come out of those universities? You know, there is a different phase of work we're in. It was Astro Teller who talked about it once in Thank You for Being Late. There was a period of time where technology was moving slower and you can actually stay in one place and produce one thing for a period of time.

But he said, now what's happened is we're in a constant kind of kinetic market. You have to learn how to work while riding a bike because in … but once you get the balance and once you know that you got to go a certain speed, then you're in a more of a dynamic flow of work. You have to move with the needs that are presenting themselves.

And they will, I think, start to become more and more rapid. So you have to be prepared to, you know, adjust. 

Syd: Do you think that's also a product of the culture that we have of planned obsolescence, where we're so comfortable with completely relegating something from our lives, as opposed to having more of like a gradual changing of the relationship?

Clint: I think planned obsolescence kind of goes hand in hand with technology and, and not that I'm for planned obsolescence. I think it's terrible. Uh, I don't think it's always planned though. I think it's just a consequence of how fast technology is rapidly shifting. And we're in an interesting space now where like I adopt technology really rapidly, but then there's other things that I hold onto.

Like I want older artifacts that were made a long time ago that were higher quality. The stove that I want to buy. I want that thing to last like 50 years or a hundred years. Uh, but I've grown accustomed to like the idea that a lot of tech like the iPhone, it's going to have to be upgraded because technology is moving too quick.

So I think we're in the kind of world of both right now where it's like, some things are planned obsolescence and then there's this like resurgence of people wanting high quality products that lasts forever. I wouldn't like things that are like that I can touch that feel good. And like, you know, are made of like an insane high quality.

Syd: Kofi, what’s your perspective on that? 

Kofi: I do think again, this goes back to my whole concept on being aware and being educated. In the last year or so, we've probably gone through 12 laptops between Clint and myself, and maybe one other person at Lane, just cause we can't do what we needed to do anymore.

The difference is this time is I went to fix them and I've never actually done that and I actually found a way to distribute that to other individuals who needed less of that computing power, who needed less within that. So it was like, you know what? You, in high school, you might need this to, just, to like be on Excel and be on Hangouts or whatever it is, here's a computer from like 2015. In the past, I have just dumped it. I think we're just becoming more and more cognizant of that. And it's part of that education system and like us understanding that we just, we're running out of stuff, and we need to like be more and more cognizant of it.

Edward: And that futurecast, the one thing I did not buy is that three people shared one computer, not 10 years from now, everybody's going to have a computer. All the work is going to be done that way. Look how much work is done today. 

Syd: Do you really think that there's no possibility we could ever work in a world where we share laptops where there's like three, between the five of us.

Kofi: Maybe it’s up to us then, especially people creating software to find better ways for us to use the mobile tools we have that may be taken less resources, less power, and the likes in order to do the same tasks.I don't think there'll be a massive net effect, but it will mean there'll be a little bit of reduction in that, in that regard. 

Clint: Yeah. More, more like an ubiquitous computing model where it doesn't, it's device independent. It is just computing everywhere, switching to like biocomputing in the future. That would be relatively energy cheap, uh, and resource cheap way to create something. 

Kofi: Yeah. I think the issue though, and uh his point in that was then more abundance, because we are creating, it’s energy. We're able to like create these amazing computers, and we're just going to make things that are just as wasteful and do it at a more rapid pace. Doesn’t matter if we solve that problem, this is innate in us as human beings to just go and create more garbage. 

Edward: That goes right back to the industrial designers, to the companies that make those products that when they're designing, you don't get a free hall pass for saying this has no future use. It's just junk, but I need it to make this do this. Every material in the thing that you've designed has to have a way to have it extracted and put back in the system. So that becomes a lot of work. That is not an easy problem. And especially if there's some things that would probably be impossible, but if we look at every thing that we make and the prerequisite for that thing is: a hundred percent of it has to go back into the system, and then we create this virtuous loop. I think that is the future work in industry and in industrial design. 

Syd: Similar to how Dom is in this scenario, should we be unaccepting of companies that put forward these kinds of marginal solutions, you know, as opposed to what you're saying, like this complete renegotiation of the full life cycle?

Edward: The problem is that you have to do that, but you also have to do it at a price point that can be affordable. And the problem often is that, you know, in competition, you can be a company or you can be a province, you can be a country to go down one road. But if, for instance, China said, we have no interest and we're going to just keep pumping that same solution out with stuff that goes into the landfill.

You know, then you have, people will say, I can afford $50 to have that object. But if it's a hundred dollars, I can't have it. So, the hundred dollars is the right answer to it. That's the cradle to cradle answer. And the $50 is the one business as usual answer. And so, until it becomes a, kind of, embraced globally, it's going to be very hard to create a competitive marketplace when you're so far out of affordable spectrum that you, you, you, only certain people will buy it.

Maybe what you have to do is put a surcharge that we'll have to deal with if recycling in a less efficient way. So it's like an environmental tariff. And if you want to compete with other companies that are doing it cradle to cradle, then you lose the tariff. So there has to be some way in which you can make sure that it doesn't go to the lowest bidder every time, because then you'll never get there. 

Kofi: And you think governments are the right people to administer that?

Edward: Well, who else can do it? Right? It's in those, you know, country to country agreements that you say, this is what where trying to go.

And this is what we're trying to get to. And these are the things that are wasteful and damaging to the environment and therefore anybody who doesn't comply has to pay a price. 

Clint: So are we at the point now where planetary resource management is an issue? Can every human, can all 8 billion humans have an iPhone 12? Is there enough raw material to make 8 billion iPhone 12s? And is there enough to give every person too? Because we seem to go, like every three years, we all buy another one. 

Edward: Uh, I'd say we're a long ways from actually running out. It goes back to the, why did we leave the stone age? It's not because we're out of stones. There's lots of material in there. Where there's money to be made, the human ingenuity is phenomenal. And I think that there's so much to be spent in to make sure I get that bit of market. that they'll figure out a way. But we can't figure out a way to get the CO2 out of the air or to cool the oceans down, or to get 500 year trees back without 500 years. Our real problems right now are the ones that we can't engineer our way out of.

Syd: Should we actually continue to engage with these companies that are proposing, like half-way solutions that do result in more jobs? Cause that kind of like mitigates one of the problems while like exacerbating another one?  

Kofi: Let’s talk about that e-waste place in Ghana. So I think Ghana imports kind of like 150,000 tons or so of e-waste. And of that, for every thousand tons, we get about 15 recycling jobs and about 200 repair jobs. So there's an economy in this recycling, there's work being made in a place where these jobs are not existent, and they are contributing to the recycling and so forth. So maybe to Ed's point, we needed to start putting pressure on the governments to recognize places like that, to come up with safety and like rules and some protocol.

And, and that ingenuity that we’re speaking of can actually help accelerate those kinds of skills. And those, you know, like to get more and more people working. So I think there are jobs in that scenario. If we can actually get the government involved, get people, recognizing it, and then figure out what we really need to be picking from that e-waste. 

Clint: I do feel every time we automate away jobs, they were jobs that like, we didn't really want. And every time we automate away something, it opens up a new area. We wouldn't have art and culture if we were all working in a field growing weed all day, what happens when we unleash the creativity of millions of people who are just doing manual labor and give them UBI.

Edward: I think we're hitting the note of base energy. Like how do we get the base energy we need? And when you start looking at all of these solutions, whether, you know, if you do solar panels while you're taking vast fields, unless of course, Elon's got a good idea with rooftops and that's, that's really interesting. So it's near the urban center. Nuclear is non-carbon producing. It's pretty safe. That's a, a good energy source based energy source. I was at CERN and right beside CERN is ITER, I T E R, and it's the fusion lab. And I was talking to a bunch of physicists who were talking about fusion energy, and they say, we know it's going to work.

And we actually, one of the guys said, you know, if the governments were prescient. This is like about five years ago when I was there. Uh, even like for 30 years, if they would have at least given us a billion dollars a year to start iterating a fusion power generator, we would probably have one working by now, but we need to test it.

We need to put it out there. But if a fusion power station can be done, let's say it’s like a nuclear power station, a thousand megawatt or something. You can pop them all around the city where you're going to use it. And we'll never think of power again. It's infinite power. The inner temperature of a fusion reactor was at 13 million degrees.

It's the temperature of the sun. We're creating many suns. We'll never have this conversation again, if we solve that problem, because that is at the level of base load energy, because when you look at base load energy, that's where all the other conversations collapse, because there's just like nothing that can pick up the slack.

If we went full on full on with everything we could do, like a world war II kind of effort that the United States did on producing windmills and solar. Generally, the theory is you'll stop the growth of fossil fuels and you might start chipping away 1% a year with a kind of a, a war measures approach. If fusion work, and you built them around all the major cities of the world.

Bingo you're in. So, but we're a little late. I went to ITER on the last project in Anthropocene. I said, how soon before we can actually see these popped up around the edges of the city. And he said 2060. So that's like, that is too late. 

Clint: It's too late. If you have enough energy to throw out something that's cheap enough, it's actually some problems aren't hard, like pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, or as you're saying, desalinating water, like, yeah. That's not a problem now, we can totally do that.

Edward: Yeah. You don't have to burn fossil fuels. You're not burning fossil fuels to get massive amounts of energy. 

Kofi: So once again, we have to get the governments onboard is what we're saying, because essentially they're trying to get the short term value of what they consider like for energy today versus investing in that future, because then energy will be worth nothing. Not nothing, but...

Clint:  It will be worth not, yeah, It could potentially be worth nothing, which I think is scary for a lot of like power structures, right? Like when you say like, we're going to create infinite free energy, well, it's not infinite, but it's practically infinite. That probably scares a lot of people, cause I've, we've all got some oil ETFs that we got to make money on. Right? 

Edward: Well, Elon’s got a bit of an idea. I've been looking at those solar roof panels. So there's ceramic tiles on your, rather than asphalt. And if you're in a suburb, you've got a home, you can put those on. You have a Tesla power wall. And so it collects all the power to the power wall.

You can use LED lights. You're not using so much in your house anymore. You can sort of use that. And then if you're making enough, if you've got the whole roof and you can make enough, you plug your car and bingo your car’s an electric car. So you are now a self-contained energy system and it's far more resilient by the way, because if the grid goes down and you go, oh, I'm, I'm fine.

As long as the sun’s shining and the wind, you know, you can have a wind turbine to augment if you want it. But I think that that's another way to think of it is to break down these central structures as much as possible, distribute it in a different way, and that builds resilience. I think there's something in that way forward that is very rich, especially in rural and suburban kind of communities. In the high density cities with skyscrapers, of course, you've got different issues and that's where fusion comes in handy. 

Clint: Industrial, uh, needs way more energy than residential. You can totally power your home on solar and wind, uh, it's industry and like manufacturing and resource extraction that's insanely energy intensive. I actually saw that Finland is using data centers because CPU's… So uh, so like a computer chip is, is hilariously the most efficient heater that we've ever created. And they're actually using data centers to heat homes because there's huge heat waste from data centers, right?

It's a lot of electricity, it generates an insane amount of heat, and we've got to do something with it. We've just kind of moved it out of sight. Like why not heat a city with, cause no matter like what we do with the Earth, like Canada will be cold, we need to heat our homes in the winter, why not use waste heat to do that though? That’s a great idea.

Edward: Yeah. Telus did that by the way, the Telus head office in Vancouver, the whole tower is, um, heated by the data center beside it. And they have excess and they're heating other buildings with it too.

Syd: This idea of like actually accepting the responsibility on our shoulders for what we consume in what we produce, like does there need to be a massive mindset shift in order to accommodate that type of decision-making?

Clint: Decentralized, but standardized, is probably the best approach for the future, because the last thing we want is everybody creating their own pod, energy pod, with their own format and they don't plug in together.

So like power went out. I'm fine. Syd’s next door and says, you know, Syd’s freezing to death. And I'm like, sorry Syd.

Syd: Brr, stuck over here. 

Clint: Yeah. You're on Android. I'm on iPhone 

Edward: Governments have a particularly outsized role in this,  because when you think of what governments can do best is, uh, they can tax the behavior that we don't want, and they can incent the behavior that we want.

And so they can flip market forces. So the world’s changing very rapidly, but if you want to see rapid change, a little bit of incentive from the government goes a long way. A huge way.

Kofi: Or the government's first, it gets into a dedication system. Like let's get people understanding what our effect is and like we actually contribute.

And then in second, it's revisiting all the, these old government policies like that exist on a, on a unified global scale and like make sure to Ed’s point we're taxing. We're thinking through it in a, in a much more futuristic state versus trying to solve policy that's in place today. We should probably scrap it. Or at least learn from it in my opinion. 

Syd: So I feel like this is a good place to end it. Work/Place is brought to you by Lane and Toronto-based foresight studio From Later. My name is Sydney Allen-Ash, and I was joined today by Lane's co-founders Clinton Robinson and Kofi Gyekyei. This episode is produced by Robert Bolton and Macy Siu with Udit Vira and Valdis Silins. Audio production by Jeremy Glenn. Sound design by Dani Ramez, and voice acting by Rashid Sobers and Robert Bolton.