Designing for Cosmic Survival
Looking at all problems that we face on Earth and the need to consider our raw survival options, the key challenge is energy ~ with which work can be done.
When Dr Peter Glaser proposed building solar power stations in space in 1968, an alternative energy option appeared and of this Professor Gerard K. O’Neill wrote of in his 1977 book ~ The High Frontier ~ "If this development comes to pass, we will find ourselves here on Earth with a clean energy source, and we will further improve our environment by saving, each year, over a billion tons of fossil fuels,” (p.162).
Instead of energy transition to the Sun, burning too much fossil fuel for too long has created a problem that James Hansen fears could send the Earth into a hot and dangerous hellish mess.
James Lovelock warns that the shift to a permanently hotter environment on Earth could happen swiftly, in part because the Sun is 35% hotter than at its birth 4.5 billion years ago.
Over the next 5 billion years the Sun will continue to burn fiercely, until expanding to the orbit of the Earth as a red giant star.
Life on Earth may have less than a billion years to run and human civilisation much less, unless we self-harm, as now appears too starkly on our horizon.
Hansen suggests that we need to keep the Earth’s temperature rise below 1.5C and the nations accepted this in Paris in December 2015, but to achieve this, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will need to be brought below 350 parts per million (ppm).
The problem is, CO2 in the air is now passing 400 ppm and rising, with places like a fast warming Arctic region releasing greenhouse gases from permafrost and ocean floor methane hydrates.
This release could become rapid and explosive.
Do we know if the tipping points we seek to avoid have already been passed?
If we have passed too many tipping points, beyond which Earth changes are irreversible, our situation is rather stark and in need of radical action.
When James Miller suggests carbon can be cracked from CO2, I am very interested ~
'Why not split harmful carbon dioxide into harmless carbon and oxygen?'
James E. Miller, Scientific American, 9 July 2009http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=splitting-carbon-dioxide
The trouble is, this approach demands a heap of energy to undo the work of burning too much fossil fuel beyond the 1980s.
If direct carbon extraction is the ideal option, could the energy to do this work be drawn from the Sun, by building solar power stations in space and beaming the energy to Earth?
This engineering option has come a long way since 1968 ~http://futurism.com/caltechs-2500-orbiting-solar-panels-provide-earth-limitless-energy/
Considering the need to get atmospheric CO2 below 350 ppm ASAP, simply to begin to win back a safe Earth, then drawing on the energy of the Sun to do this work would appear to be the best and swiftest option.
The cost of inaction is unthinkable, but well imagined.
The reward for success will open many other doors.
With solar power stations in space, industry can be launched beyond Earth.
With the power of the Sun, extracted carbon could be processed into a useful resource for Earth and space industries.
With industry beyond Earth, we will be able to build this planet’s defences against killer asteroids, which often arrive with little warning.
With industry in space, we can build orbital space settlements, space cities, located any place in the Solar System, like the one seen on the movie Elysium.
Space habitats can be quite large and offer an Earth gravity via rotation.
We would also be able to build a sunshade for the Earth, which could double as an energy collector and extend the tenure of life on Earth by billions of years.
With the air mining of carbon and using a sunshade, we could even begin the work of making Venus a second Earth, which would be so much better than the Earth prematurely becoming a second Venus.
The lust for wealth from fossil fuel has blocked the future we could be in, like a thick brick wall and now we find ourselves in a race for survival.
Like a canary in the coal mine, will we learn from the coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.
When I focused on the Earth alone from 1987, I could find no working solution to problems on Earth.
Only by including a sustainable industrial presence beyond Earth, could I begin to see solutions to every problem on Earth.
My observations and insights are included in my 2006 document, revised in 2012 ~ Creating a Solar Civilisation ~
Sadly, the nations have pursued space development on the cheap and now we face the price.
So we may be in a race against the space junk maelstrom as well, to get a sustainable industrial presence established beyond the space junk zone, which could be the Moon’s orbit.
Once established in space, we would be able to deal with space junk from above.
To get there ASAP, I wonder about a mini robot space program, to work small and build large later, using remote control systems from Earth, which the Oculus Rift and other virtual reality headsets can help with.
The key to the action is numbers in support, so I wonder how we could inspire ten million and more people to the party, all demanding action and driving investment.
The Oculus Rift began as an idea, took off as a crowd-funded development and was later purchased by FaceBook for $2 billion.
I met Palmer Lucky at the first Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference in 2014.
We have Emails and web sites to put to work, but will this be enough for the need thereof?
Now we also have virtual worlds, where folk can meet globally to plan local action toward building space futures.
With the current explosion of virtual reality, it will be possible for ten million and more people, from anywhere on Earth, to rent or own a virtual apartment, just like the one that could be built in space and go there any time they please, visit the virtual community centre, attend virtual meetings and check out the notice board, to see what work there may be on offer in the global space industry.
Virtual world space pioneers could also be active in real life in every which way.
Robots could be trained in the virtual world, which are later used in space, either in real form or as a virtual presence.
We can keep pushing the same old wheel, which has not worked at keeping a safe Earth, or we can test a whole other approach.
We do not need to make a last stand on Earth like General Custer, as Nature going mad overwhelms us.
We can rise to the space challenge and with the power of the Sun, tame the wild beast that we are making of the Earth.
In Ross we are applying hands on action, as well as working with virtual worlds as a neat way to mobilise global action ~
We are keen to hear from anyone who would like to share this challenge, work for a safe Earth and help build the way to much greater prosperity beyond Earth.
Poverty on Earth will be history, when we accept the challenge of the stars.
Humans on Earth may be history, if we fail to accept that challenge.
With a cosmic future before us, why do we fiddle on Earth?
We fiddle and the Earth burns.
This is a recent update of our situation on Earth and how developing in space is the key to solving problems on Earth ~
Celestial Solutions to Terrestrial Strife ~
Creating a Solar Civilization ~
A Deeper Level of Denial ~ exploring the cause of the carbon crisis ~
My avatar in Second Life, Starfarer, in the torus space station that I built and where we hold meetings. I have set out models to demonstrate the torus environment. In the Space Pioneers embassy building in Second Life we have a simple chatbot robot in the crate next to the sign. Space Pioneers Visinda and Starfarer are with a model that could be the form a robot in the virtual world.