Surviving the Carbon Apocalypse
In 1968 the Earthrise image inspired a new generation of environmentalists to care about the Earth.
In the same year Dr Peter Glaser defined a way to harvest solar power in space. 
When writing about his plans for space settlement, Professor Gerard K. O’Neill wrote of space based solar power, "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,” 
The way was open to unlimited expansion beyond Earth and also keeping a safe Earth, but the way was ignored.
I explored the “Why” of it in a 2013 article, A Deeper Level of Denial. 
Conservationists promptly forgot where the image of the Earthrise, which inspired environmental support, came from.
By ignoring the space way, we now read from leading scientists like James Hansen, that we are on the way to hell on Earth.
Would anyone in their right mind choose to turn the Earth into a hot dead hell?
For some years I investigated the science of climate change and where Earth changes can take us.
The cause is simple chemistry, that has been understood since the late 1800s.
By burning fossil fuel we release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air, where it becomes a long-term agent in warming the air.
Add more CO2 to the air and the planet warms up.
Simple really, but deadly when it goes too far.
The Great Dying that happened 252 million years ago began with an increase of atmospheric CO2, leading to global warming.
Much of the heat in the air is absorbed by the sea and that slowly warms up the oceans.
CO2 in the air is also absorbed by the oceans and this makes the sea more acidic.
The hot acidic oceans were a bad place for life, but great for sulphur bugs, which bloomed in the Sun and released toxic hydrogen sulphide gas, which killed much life on the land and damaged the ozone layer, letting in lethal doses of radiation, killing more life on land.
This was 252 million years ago.
Atmospheric CO2 is now rising faster than at any time in the past 300 million years and there is no end in sight to its rising.
Having warmed up the sea with CO2, we now find the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth.
Don’t worry about sea level rise, however many metres that amounts to.
Focus on the Arctic, where the permafrost is melting, releasing CO2 and methane into the air and the methane hydrate deposits on the ocean floor have been seen bubbling to the surface.
We have done far too well driving global warming and climate change as the Earth is now beginning to release vast stores of CO2 and methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas.
Evolution cannot keep pace with the current rate of change, so apart from our direct role in species extinction, the kick-on effect will see a much greater rate of species extinction in coming years.
If we avoid a global war over the South China Sea, which could slide into nuclear madness, ending our game, we will need to worry about the tropics getting too hot and driving out tens of millions of refugees.
Will they go north?
There is a big empty land in the South and that’s where they will go.
China may encourage this and make sure it happens.
What could we do?
The impact on Tasmania will be great, flooded by mainland refugees.
All too predictable in the future that we are sailing into.
We now face a stark choice.
Keep trudging along the failed ways into hell, or revisit the way that would have kept the Earth safe and our options growing.
What will we do?
It may help to look at some basic astronomy and realise that our Sun is now 35% hotter than at its birth 4.5 billion years ago and has so much fuel in reserve, it will continue to burn fiercely over the next 5 billion years, until expanding to the orbit of the Earth as a red giant star.
So much power just sitting there going to waste.
Life on Earth has no more than a billion years to run beneath a Sun getting hotter and human civilization has less time to run on Earth, if our species should survive.
If enough people on Earth wake up to the stellar solution to the carbon crisis, they could demand action and drive investment toward building the space way.
We need to act swiftly.
With direct access to the power of the Sun, we will have the level of energy that will allow us to extract excess carbon from the air and get our Earth’s carbon balance back under control.
We can win back a safe Earth, using stellar energy and create a stellar economy, with no limits to growth across the Solar System and among the stars.
We could also process extracted carbon into a useful resource for Earth and space industries.
This would be so much better than pumping CO2 back into the belly of the Earth, from where it may leak out again.
With solar power stations in space we would be able to launch industry beyond Earth and build this planet’s defences against asteroids that can take out a city, or end our game on third rock. 
We could also invest in an adjustable sunshade in space, to keep the Earth cool as the Sun gets hotter, which could double as an energy collector.
This would extend the tenure of life on Earth by billions of years.
The space way offers working solutions to all problems on Earth.
Are we interested?
The atmosphere of Venus, which is nearly the size of the Earth, is mostly CO2.
By mastering atmospheric carbon extraction, we can look toward mining the air of Venus, as the first step toward making a second Earth, which would be a whole lot healthier than allowing the Earth to become a second Venus, where the rocks glow in the heat and lead melts on the surface.
With a stellar economy with unlimited wealth generation, we can design a social economy on Earth that delivers a healthy and creative life for all Earth’s children.
In the space way we send poverty into history.
In space there is no population problem.
We can build orbital space settlements anywhere in the Solar System that serve as arks for life and begin some really serious stellar exploration.
Why haven’t we found ET out there yet?
Some cosmologists conclude that in a galaxy as vast as the Milky Way, 30,000 alien civilizations could have found their way to the Solar System by now.
Where are they?
Do ETs have a really bad habit of following our path and create a carbon apocalypse on home planets?
Are we determined to join the silence of the stars with our own extinction event?
That would be so stupid.
Why is the world frozen in the headlights of the carbon truck?
We have the knowledge, the reason and the technology.
We need to act.
It has oft been said that ten determined individuals working as one with a shared vision can change the world.
Ten determined individuals could inspire a movement of ten million keen people.
What if they all demanded action and drove investment in the space way to win back a safe Earth?
It is now possible to use an extension of the Internet, with virtual worlds like Second Life, to meet globally and plan local action to create an amazing future, which will include a safe Earth.
With this global reach now at our fingertips, those ten determined individuals could all be living in Tasmania.
Elon Musk is planning to establish a settlement on Mars and he may be open to the space way to win back a safe Earth.
We should ask him.
If ten determined individuals were to extend that invitation, he may listen.
The future we face on Earth could be compared to a human settlement on Mars.
A Mars settlement would face two main problems.
Firstly, they would need to build a sustainable industrial presence.
Secondly, the Martian colonists will need to make sure they are not trapped on Mars.
By maintaining the liberty to rove around the Solar System, space settlers will have access to the energy of the Sun and the resources of the Solar System to meet all needs and wishes.
As the Earthrise image inspired a new vigour in the global environment movement, what would happen if we got serious about a sustainable industrial and human presence in space now?
This dynamic has been overlooked.
With a vision for the space way, a movement would rise that knows how to deal with all problems on Earth, as an amazing future is created among the stars.
We only have one starship at present, called Earth and we are wrecking the life-support systems.
By learning to manage space settlements, we will also learn to manage the Earth.
We can begin that learning now, by building working models in the virtual world and using those models via avatars to test the future we wish to be living in.
In case anyone missed the sale, a couple of years ago FaceBook invested $2 billion acquiring the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset.
FaceBook could see the future and this year, VR headsets are being conmercially released, including the Oculus Rift.
VR headsets allow users to see through the eyes of their avatar.
Developing a virtual space program is now open to anyone.
Tanks are already being driven using the Oculus Rift, so tank drivers don’t have to look out and get their heads shot off. 
Using a VR headset, anyone on Earth will be able to gain a view from space, via the eyes of a robot in space and move around and use the robot’s hands.
Billions of people will soon be using VR headsets, as well as computer screen access to virtual worlds.
We have the tools to be bold in a global campaign to win back a safe Earth.
To achieve this, we must fly the space way and build solar power stations in space.
By reaching to the Sun we can save the Earth and create an amazing future among the stars.
The alternative is as black as the carbon path we have been treading for too long.
The Challenge ~ How can the space way solve all problems on Earth?
Present me with a problem in comments, and I will respond with a working solution.
In the race for survival, any species that fails does not survive. The Elysium Room of the torus space station that I built in Second Life.
 Space Solar Power
National Space Society
 P.162, 'The High Frontier' by Gerard K. O'Neill, 1977
 A Deeper Level of Denial
Kim Peart, Feb 2013
 Defending Earth from Space
Kim Peart, Apr 2013
 Will Gaming Save the Earth?
Kim Peart, 12 May 2014
FURTHER READING ~
Creating a Solar Civilization
Kim Peart, 2006, revised in 2012
Celestial Solutions to Terrestrial Strife
Kim Peart, Mar 2016
ABOUT Kim Peart
Kim Peart is the director of Space Pioneers, located in Ross, Tasmania. There are unlimited opportunities for anyone interested in our future among the stars. If curious about our virtual space program and winning back a safe Earth, folk are welcome to contact us ~