Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Our - controversial - future in space

This one will be a mix, mostly about space. Some riffs about a U.S. "return to the moon," plus news about SETI... some interesting snippets! And a wee observation on politics.

Okay for starters, I suppose this counts as “space news.” President Trump announced his intention to send NASA back to the moon!

NASA funding, Forbes
Alas, as Ethan Siegel shows in Forbes, it simply isn’t going to happen: As a percentage of the federal budget, investment in NASA is at a 58 year low, and Trump shows no sign of changing this.  

Oh, there is one way an American will step on the moon in say a decade or so, without much increase in NASA budgets, and I’ll tell you how, below.

Of course, this return-to-the-moon fetish - a GOP obsession - is a debacle that will only do us harm. With this decision to squander NASA resources on the same dumb goal sought by every wannabe Apollo-imitator -- China, Russia, Europeans, Indians and various billionaires -- Trump sabotages our chance to do what none of those others - only we - can do. 

Only the U.S. has the capability to go where the real riches are. Asteroids & Phobos… which also happen to be the route to Mars. That path is not helped an iota by landings on the Moon. Only the utterly delusional think that our path to becoming a spacefaring species passes through that dusty, sterile gravity well.

Sure, a lunar orbital station is valuable for many reasons! Scientific, developing deep space capabilities, and defense, among others. Such an orbital station would be ideal to bring back robotically retrieved asteroidal materials for study and processing, to see if estimates are true... that there are hundreds of trillions worth of resources to be easily accessed out there.

Also, such a lunar orbital station could sell services to all those wannabe groups desperate to plant dusty footprints on the (for now) useless moon! How's that for savvy? Us making a buck or two out of others' obsessive rush to imitate our past glories, repeating Apollo? The Russians can't complain, having charged us vampire rates to launch our astronauts to the space station.

But another U.S. Apollo landing?  Yawn! Go ahead. Name any benefits for the U.S. joining the symbolism craze! Say what? Helium Three? Yippee, let's base space policy on cheap sci fi flicks! But zero facts. (Care to show us this magical substance in samples of lunar regolith, in “ore” concentrations? Show us how to collect it or refine it? Um, care to point out a real life customer who will buy it?)

What? You want to do this out of pride? All that repeating Apollo does is make us part of the pack! 

And now it is prediction time: dig what will happen. As costs mount, Trump will declare a diplomatic breakthrough! Turning the US moon landing effort into a wonderful "international cooperation" like the ISS! A new detente! And suckers will fall for it, kvelling as we subsidize Russian and Chinese footprints and they get access to every scrap of U.S. space technology. A lose-lose-lose for good old USA.

The fact that our political civil war has become dominant even in choosing space destinations is a pathetic sign of our times. Alas.

Just like the coming Iran War, the winners in all of this are the same… those who rake in billions by controlling down-Earth resources in energy and minerals want to divert us from new, sustainable technologies and access to the true riches out there. And as an added bonus, disappointment in the utter uselessness of this boondoggle is sure to associate NASA with both money-wasting and Trumpism, undermining overall support among the US citizenry. Spaceba tovarisch!

== The gold in them thar rocks... ==

The Planetary Resources site can show you a lot of cool stuff about the advantages of asteroids. Many are easier (robotically) to reach than the moon's surface. And the "fractionation of ores" can be a million or a billion times better than we see on the moon.

See also their planned spacecraft, which was to be a partner in NASA's own effort re asteroids, a business-public partnership that Republicans claim they want to see. 

I reiterate. There are zero aspects to this ‘back to the Moon” announcement that serve long term U.S. interests. Indeed, every outcome will favor foreign rivals and legacy mining interests down here, who want us never to access the real riches in space.  

Yes, doggie. Gooood doggie.

== Star Wars defense ==

I was critical of 1980s "star wars" space weapon fantasies – if supportive of the technological research. But this "historical" article is lefty-biased, tendentious and throws out babies with bathwater. 

There was plenty to diss about the Pournelle-led “Citizens’ Advisory Council on Space.” It was too rightwing to see clearly, and would have demolished the one thing (reciprocal deterrence) that kept us alive through the Cold War. We now know most of the required tech was not achievable then or now… though some core goals were! (In a weird way that I won’t talk about.) Fortunately, Isaac Asimov had the whole thing sussed. It was in fact an economic and psychological weapon to shatter the Soviets’ budget and morale. And you can’t argue with such success. (Though one can argue with how Bush Sr. completely blew the ensuing peace, consigning us back into another, even more vicious “cool war.”)

Alas, this essayist also attempts to discredit the “sci fi” notions of space resources and industry, needlessly welding that admirable and achievable ambition to the far-right. And thus the article proves that the left also contains its own shortsighted jerks.

In contrast, some Strategic Clarity: Exponential industrialization of space is more important than combat lasers and hypersonic fighters. This author takes the same position as the Air University Space Horizons faculty, that investing in "take-off" industries in space could secure strategic and economic leadership and safety for generations to come.


Tim H. said...

Building off-planet with what we find out there would be the prize achievement, and would've been the only worthwhile thing to come out of the strategic defense initiative, the expense of all those launches would've made it imperative. The moon would have future value as a manufacturing venue, with relatively cheap, radiation-resistant shelter beneath the lunar surface, but I figure the real reason for a new lunar mission has more to do with Obama didn't want to. Now, let's see if they can wring any funding out of a Congress that's intensely aware of how much their financiers hate taxes.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Combat lasers" could be a valuable mining tools, especially in airless microgravity. We have a keen interest in the composition of asteroids, meteorites, and comets, both for scientific knowledge and for possible commercial use.
The Moon may be something of a dead end, but one day it will be a spectacular platform for astronomical tools, shielded from Earth's emissions.
The Moon's crust is likely to be as mineral-rich as the Earth's, but if it turns out that the "small stuff" has things beyond nickel, iron and water ice, it would be a more attractive venue, both because it could be brought into geostationary orbit, and because it doesn't have the gravity well the Moon does (as Brin points out above).

Winter7 said...

Perhaps, Donald Trump's plan is to create a simulation that they are going back to the moon and that way, Donald Trump can justify the disappearance of trillions of dollars.
Donald Trump will simply throw empty rockets into orbit and everything else will be created in scenarios with great special effects.
No one will suspect that 80% of the money used in the lunar project will go directly to Donald Trump's bank account in tax havens. (No. No kidding, I think it can happen)
Excuse me. I must go to work on an issue.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Only 19% of Americans can name a single living scientist.

Since Doctor Brin is a) a scientist and b) living, the percentage here is probably somewhat higher.

2% of that 19% (0.38% selected "me" as a scientist they could name. Slightly over have of those who could nave a living scientist selected Neil deGrasse-Tyson, Stephen Hawkin, or Bill Nye.

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding asteroid resources, I joined a few friends at Space Frontier Foundation who made a similar argument in a project that had a goal of pushing commercial interests forward any way we could. This was the late 90’s, so that mostly meant studying the problem from a commercial perspective. Some of our ideas are in use among people pursuing actual commercial projects, so I feel that we were at least partially successful. There were two big lessons that came of our work that I’ll paraphrase.

1. The primary hurdle isn’t technical, though technical issues still have to be learned and resolved. The primary issue is that mineral explorations involve borrowed money and investors/creditors charge interest rates appropriate to the technical/political/financial risks they perceive. Whether you float bonds or seek investments from existing mining companies, the mildest year-to-year rate of return they’d demand was likely to be at least 55%. Compound that each year of an asteroid mining mission and you’ll see the problem. Rates have to be that high when one looks at speculative ventures where one can lose everything before an option is exercised to cut one’s losses. Add on to that the fact that NO ONE invests a large fraction of their available capital in a single effort and you have a capitalization problem. Small seed money that can produce the needed rate of return might require 100%+ ownership of the project by the investor or creditor. Many times, the business case simply doesn’t close. When we did our work, one consultant gave us a $$ value for the exploration money available in the entire mining industry world-wide. It wasn’t enough to deal with their need to diversify and our need for up-front money.

2. Until technical issues can be DEMONSTRATED to have solutions, the expected rate of return on these projects will remain very high. VERY high. Prohibitively high for multi-year missions. Ridiculously high for asteroid targets that haven’t even been assayed yet. One of our consultants taught us the difference between a mineral body and an ore body. Ore is a mineral you can get to market at a profit. You could have a solid gold asteroid out there and it would simply be a mineral until we knew we could get it to market at a cost lower than the price we’d receive. That implied the PV of a mile wide diamond out there is likely to be zero at best. Add on the various ways a project can fail and one can convert ‘present value’ to ‘expected present value.’ While interest rates are high, most stuff out there has a negative value. THAT is why no one is going after it yet. (Remember this was the late 90’s.)

After learning these, our project leader turned his attention to our Moon. He really had no other choice. The Moon might be sterile, mostly devoid of volatiles, and have a deeper gravity well than 99% of the asteroids, but it is CLOSE BY. It can be assayed cheaper. We can learn mining techniques and demonstrate them quicker. We can try and fail and try and fail and try again quicker. IF a reasonable concentration of ‘mineral’ can be found, MAYBE we can demonstrate how to get to it and get it back without needing an out-sized chunk of exploration risk capital from the mining industry. Maybe.

It really is about the money. I did not turn my attention to the Moon, though. I was more interested in lowering the cost of launch at that point and about ISRU. Solar sails might help shave some trip time off in special cases at the cost of their own technical issues to be learned and solved, but ISRU is the real game changer once we can get out there.

David Brin said...

Zepp: “The Moon's crust is likely to be as mineral-rich as the Earth’s,”

Actually not. After being formed from a chunk of blown-off Earth crust, the moon did see the heavier metals sink to its core. Its surface is mostly very light stuff. Moreover, Earth has “ores” concentrated by water action over billions of years. None of that on the moon.

Alfred: “close by depends on definition. By DISTANCE or by TIME to get there, the Moon is closest and hence better (for now) for astronauts. But by ENERGETICS, there are thousands of asteroids much easier to get to by robot. Takes longer and you need to develop good robots! But given that the “stuff” is vastly more refined… water, metals etc… nearly every entrepreneur wants asteroids.

TCB said...

I still think Ceres is the prize out there. SO much water. Combine that with inflatable ships filled with water and spun for an air bubble in the center, and you have the Solar System. Also lots of O'Neill colonies.

You know, any really sensible plan for space development would be worked out a century in advance. None of this 8 year whiplash bullshite. Nothing is happening off-Earth that militates against planning that far ahead. Nothing. All the opportunities that may deteriorate in less time than that are Terrestrial environment/economy and near-Earth orbit (space junk!) Anything past low orbit, on the other hand, is stable and once you have some decent assay of what's out there, the planning should have been ongoing.


I was born just before the start of that graph and spent my formative years during the Gemini/Apollo years. All my attitudes were formed by that vision. Where. Are. My. Space. Colonies!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Blue Planet II may just be Attenborough's best documentary series yet--and that's a library of 60 years of brilliant work. And plastic in the oceans is a dire situtation second only to climate change. Brian Cox is quite literally a rock-star astrophysicist who Attenborough has deemed his heir apparent.

Zepp Jamieson said...

" the moon did see the heavier metals sink to its core. Its surface is mostly very light stuff"

Yeah, OK, that makes sense.

But still a great base for observation.

David Brin said...

I got no grudge against the moon. Build a lunar station and make money servicing the tourism rush of apollo wannabes! If one of them finds something useful down there, we'll still(!) hold the keys!

Longer term? Sure, keep looking for something of value. Everything we learn, doing asteroids, would then help with the moon.

locumranch said...

As I am no Yahoo interested in sparkly babbles or a gem-encrusted crapper, I have no interest in the golden extraterrestrial 'treasure' of which David speaks, especially after reading Spider Robinson's 'Crosstime' diatribe about how 'wealth' (having utility) and 'treasure' (a wealth symbol by proxy) differ; however, I do have a vested interest in space as (1) a genetic repository and (2) species launching pad to other exploitable planetary systems.

NASA has abrogated these responsibilities & now merits its total destruction due to inutility, along with its myriad of civilian government sponsors that squander our collective resources on sociopolitical pork, bread, circuses and incontinence pads for the downtrodden & incapable. A thing either serves its purpose or it does not; and, those things that do not serve their purpose deserve to be destroyed & replaced.

We reside on a metaphorical sinking ship, according to Climate Change Cultists, and the time to has come to STOP rearranging our metaphorical deck chairs, TAKE all of those climatic Doom & Gloom projections and REDIRECT them to life-boat construction: "All hands, Man the Lifeboats, Prepare to Evacuate, Our Planet is Going Down, Ad Astra and whatnot.

And, as we journey forth into the Cosmos, should we proceed with hat-in-hand like permission beggars seeking entrance to a banquet, or should we go forth like rats from a derelict banana boat who seize what we need & only seek permission afterward?

Of course, progressives like David tend to imagine the universe as a Grade School wherein 'leveling up' always requires incessant stepwise self-improvement, O & I level performance goals, the permission of the upper class bully & the indulgence of some imaginary Head Master. Well, Frack that !!!

EITHER the Human Race, ever defiant, comes out fighting, ready to take on all comers at any cost, OR the Human Race retreats to an ever-diminishing ghetto, kneels on command & apologises profusely as some more aggressive culture puts a bullet in the back of its head.


raito said...

Dr. Brin,

Now I think I understand your position better. even though I do think there's a lot to be learned from the moon in terms of environment, I agree that Apollo-style missions aren't worth it.

Alfred Differ said...

@David | If you are raising money in the investment market, the best figure of merit depends more on time than on delta vee. I get it that higher delta vee requirements increases costs because more mass has to be moved, but the compounding effect of investment funds dominates. If the average retail investor can earn [on average] 10% (pre-inflation adjusted) per year from an index fund on the S&P 500, then speculative investments are all scaled relative to that. You’ve played the game for raising speculative funds before, right? You might remember what their internal rate-of-returns (IRR) are and why they must be that high to deal with expected failures in their portfolios. You might remember that an early exit option can reduce the IRR quite a bit. Projects going to our Moon offer such options.

Where I think you are right is that many of the asteroids won’t have to be initially assayed with up-close missions. We already know they are differentiated and can see it in their spectra from here. We had less data 20 years go in support of this, so what we’ve learned since then has tipped the scale back toward asteroids. They still have a serious problem with IRR and portfolio diversification, though. How does an investor bail out of a mission they know is going to fail before the return date of the first ore containers? There are ways to do it, but some ways dramatically reduce IRR.

Some of my friends turned to the Moon. Some remained fixed on the asteroids. I waffled between them preferring to let the investment market decide which made sense. About 10 years ago, though, I made up my mind that both were likely to be incorrect. I was looking at how human migrations actually worked through history and realized the best figure of merit depended almost entirely on access to trading markets. Access can be measured in time delays, so our initial findings still held. What I realized is that we had not taken it far enough. ALL space projects have long lead times. The only way the longest projects get funded is when investors believe the market will still care about the results upon delivery. Over the recent generation, our time horizon has grown shorter and shorter. That means these projects have to be focused upon long term business needs and NOT simply on the return of commodities. If our crystal ball says an industry is going to be faced with an unpleasant problem for the next 20 years, we can reasonably thing on those time scales and expect investors to take our calls. If the problems are too unpleasant, though, industry will find a way around them before those 20 years are up. You know how much of a challenge it is to think that far out. We can sketch the future, but those investors will see that fuzziness as risk and charge appropriately.

What I settled upon is that time matters more than anything... until one spreads out the markets in which we trade. Where a thing is bought and sold matters at least as much as when. That means the asteroid AND Moon people should be asking where they can sell their commodities short of bringing them home to Earth. If they can, the investors have exit options and then the cost-of-money hurdle collapses.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | Ceres is a long way out from the Sun. It’s cool that it has water for our needs, but until there are places to buy and sell stuff that are distributed between here and there, it is an interesting future possibility. Think of the role cities play in trade and you might see the problem. Imagine how different the world would be if all commodities were delivered for trade to Chicago, New York, London, Paris, and nowhere else. The modern world simply couldn’t function. Chicago EXISTS because we needed a relatively warm water port for mid-western commodities to be sent eastward. The rails were put in to Chicago because the port existed. Many of the US cities along the Great Lakes can be explained in roughly the same way. Cities ARE business solutions to long lasting problems.

Space will be no different. There must be trading markets between here and there for this to work. Inhospitable biomes must be converted to ones that tolerate humans or our extensions for this to work. Time durations of futures contracts must cover a range of durations from short to long for this to work.

This all starts close to home, so consider these questions. How do I buy and sell assets or their derivatives in low earth orbit? How about geosynchronous orbit? Where is the market for those? How do I deliver to that market? What PROBLEMS do industries in that market face for which solutions could be worth huge $$?

One of my friends thinks there might be enough volatiles at the lunar poles to possibly supply station-keeping needs for GEO satellites. He might be right. He might be wrong. Either way, though, he is thinking of the trade occurring somewhere between Earth and Moon. THAT is the way forward. That matters more than delta vee or initial assays or 100 year plans that will look ridiculously quaint in less than a generation. That is how private money is mobilized.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | blah, blah, man the life boats or come out gunning.

Am I paraphrasing you right?

You'll get your genetic repository out there IF we treat it as a launching pad. It won't be a single species launch, though. That's now how life on Earth works and it won't be any different in space. We will have to carry our biomes with us.

Your attitude, however, will turn off pretty much anyone who actually wants to work these problems and make their solutions part of a viable future. Keep it and many of my friends will paraphrase you as follow.

blah, blah, life sucks and I feel a little better by telling people what to think.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Locum, your first paragraph gave me hope, your second one less so, then you took the proverbial left turn at Albuquerque.

NASA has been starved of funding for the last 30-odd years, since government space exploration was adulterated from discovery to ROI. You shouldn't expect a bumper crop if you don't give your seeds good growing conditions. Despite all that, they still can produce exceptional results; just look at Hubble.

To go along with that, we got better results when we as a nation had a Soviet carrot to pursue rather than fleeing from the stick of climate change. Either one is a motivator, but people would rather have a worthy goal than a threat.

From your last couple of paragraphs, you seem convinced that we are doomed to become space kibble for some bigger meaner species out there unless we come out swinging. Why?

David Brin said...

Har! "EITHER the Human Race, ever defiant, comes out fighting, ready to take on all comers at any cost, OR the Human Race retreats to an ever-diminishing ghetto, kneels on command & apologises profusely as some more aggressive culture puts a bullet in the back of its head."

So says a member of the cult of cynicism, doing everything in his power to sabotage the can-do spirit, undermine the skilled and fact-using people who might actually DO these things, and pissing in the faces (his intent; ankle-biters can't pee that high) of those who innovate.

hat grand ravings and howls! Funny thing. The innovators who ARE coming out fighting are nearly all Democrats, with a few libertarians. The ones building new rockets and all the other tools. Yet lickspittle slaves or plantation lords, coal barons, petro boyars and sheiks... these lackeys will never open their eyes, snap out of it, and admit...

...your enemies are the ones holding your leash, doggie.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

The innovators who ARE coming out fighting are nearly all Democrats, with a few libertarians. The ones building new rockets and all the other tools.

They (Democrats, i.e., Blue State Progressives) are also the ones who are trying to keep Earth habitable, just in case it takes a long time for us ever to move somewhere else. The one screaming, "Man the lifeboats, and kill anyone in our way!" is the same one who (metaphorically) insists the ship isn't really sinking, and that if it is, we shouldn't try to stop that from happening because it would cost jobs.

Seriously, I can't believe loc is suddenly interested in going into space. He's making fun of us for talking about that as a real possibility. The bit about other races killing us is in the line of, "If you tolerance-worshiping snowflakes ever made it into space, this is what would happen."

Alfred Differ said...

My friends at the Foundation are a political mix and always tried to avoid the easy labels. I did notice, though, an unusually high number of libertarians... who were willing to self identify as such. years ago, I got the verbal equivalent of a smack upside the head from one libertarian when I demonstrated a basic misunderstanding of the origin or property rights. 8)

In case it helps, we referred to what Trump and some other Republicans have pitched as 'Flags and Footprints' missions.

Also in case it helps, you might find some of them worming their way into Trump's administration. We do it with all of them because we are kind of single-minded about creating a space-faring civilization. Even if all we can do is undermine 'flags and footprints', it is worth the effort. From what we've seen, it is the people under the President who have to be reached and party affiliations don't correlate well with whether they will listen.

LarryHart said...

Charles Blow tells us what we (sadly) already know...

As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
In a way, Donald Trump represents white people’s right to be wrong and still be right. He is the embodiment of the unassailability of white power and white privilege.

To abandon him is to give up on the pact that America has made with its white citizens from the beginning: The government will help to underwrite white safety and success, even at the expense of other people in this country, whether they be Native Americans, African-Americans or new immigrants.
As I have written here before, when Alabama called a constitutional convention in 1901, Emmet O’Neal, who later became governor, argued that the state should “lay deep and strong and permanent in the fundamental law of the state the foundation of white supremacy forever in Alabama,” and as part of that strategy he argued:

“I don’t believe it is good policy to go up in the hills and tell them that Booker Washington or Councill or anybody else is allowed to vote because they are educated. The minute you do that every white man who is not educated is disfranchised on the same proposition.”
For white supremacy to be made perfect, the lowest white man must be exalted above those who are black.

No matter how much of an embarrassment and a failure Trump proves to be, his exploits must be judged a success. He must be deemed a correction to Barack Obama and a superior choice to Hillary Clinton. White supremacy demands it. Patriarchy demands it. Trump’s supporters demand it.

Winter7 said...

Dear Doctor Brin.
It just occurred to me that the appearance of Oumuamua has an extra benefit: Oumuamua is a good excuse for the government to invest in asteroids. You can tell the politicians, that the government should invest more in projects of ships that can intercept and study asteroids; for Oumuamua was like an unstoppable projectile. The size of the space object was not the greatest danger, but all that accumulated kinetic energy.
If Oumuamua had impacted on the Bermudan islands, the entire east coast would have been flooded. (and the flood would certainly not be slow).
(And I continue to think that there is a great possibility that Oumuamua is an object created by another civilization) (The fact that we can not pick up the castaways' bottles when they float past our world, is a clear sign that the space technology of the humanity, is still in a very, very young stage)
If that object is as old as they say, I would have no hope of finding anything other than bones inside Oumuamua. The less I could hope that they are transmitting radio signals or something similar! If we can not even get the cars to work without problem for more than a year; more problematic the matter if we talk about millions of years!
But I must admit that maybe Oumuamua is just an asteroid. (O un proyectil que alguien lanzó contra nuestro mundo; sin acertarnos)

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ Winter 7

There's plenty of items in the solar system that can paste us without waiting for an interstellar object to finish us off. Just the other day an asteroid passed by at .7 light days. A comfortable distance, to be sure, but it was a rather largish, ELE-size rock, and the discomfiting element was nobody spotted it until two days after perigee.
The day that rock landed near Cherlyabinsk, Russia, the scientific community was watching a large fly-by on the other side of the globe. Nobody even saw the Cheryabinsk object until it started breaking windows.
We really need to up our space surveillance.

Winter7 said...

Dear LarryHart.
Maybe I misunderstood. ¿So you say it's convenient to join Donald Trump?
I am Mexican, but I respect the right of the Americans to close the border. I also respect the right of Americans to arrest criminals and drug traffickers without legal documents… But I do not condone the criminal persecution against innocent women and children who behave like good citizens, even without having citizenship. That sows a bad precedent. The friendship of the two nations is convenient, because of the slight possibility that the caldera of the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park will collapse. Americans would need a place without radiation to move to live.
But maybe I misunderstood you. It usually happens, because the google automatic translator is not perfect yet.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry was quoting Charles Blow, but in either case, neither have the faintest desire to ally themselves with Trump. I suspect that's even more true after the 'president's' "shithole" performance today.

Winter7 said...

Dear Zepp Jamieson
Obviously, the aerolite of Cherlyabinsk, Russia; He traveled fragmented by space. We paid attention to the most visible fragment, and we did not look at the one that accompanied the larger rock.
The asteroid that crashed in Cherlyabinsk, Russia. It came fragmented like Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. I suppose this happens when a comet of ice and rock is broken by the gravitational pull of other planets and planetoids.
I think that when an asteroid approaches, we should look in several directions.

Winter7 said...

Dear Alfred Differ.
I think that 95% of the world's population has no idea what is in the asteroid belts.
So, it seems that very soon some people are going to be richer than King Solomon. (and richer than all the kings that have existed)
¿Is not it sad that we can not participate in the matter?
¿Is it really impossible for a small group of people to launch a small rocket in a different way and get out of our gravitational well a robot probe that can return and fall on us with a fragment of 50 kilos of gold? (with parachute)
It seems impossible, but I think we can imagine how it could be possible. (for example, raising funds on the Kickstarter website)
Although ... Maybe there is another way ...

Winter7 said...

Dear Zepp Jamieson.
I had not read the comments that Donald Trump made today.
Uyyy Donald Trump has a severe case of Tourette syndrome.
Undoubtedly, Donald Trump has a team of bodyguards the size of the Iraqi Republican guard. If not; I do not know how Donald Trump manages to continue living in the white house.

Winter7 said...

Dear Alfred Differ.
Returning to the subject of the Moon and the entire solar system ...
Within 1500 years. Who will be the owners of all these new lands? Will we have to pay someone for a piece of land on Mars or for the right to take some water from an asteroid?
¿Have you taken a look in google maps to the border between Mexico and Guatemala? (in satellite view) Only on the Mexican side does everything already belong to someone.
The tendency of human beings to appropriate everything. All. In almost absolute form. It is something impressive. (The Chinese have already depleted the fish from the Chinese coasts and now they are shipping boats all over the world's oceans, fishing on an impressive scale.) The Russians and other countries do similar things.
I wonder how long the settlers can have the opportunity to get to Mars and put a nice farm. Before the big corporations and countries share everything.
¿Do we agree that it is necessary to think about a method of fair distribution of the goods of humanity?
¿How many lands should each family of settlers own?
¿How many tons of asteroid and land does an entrepreneur deserve?
¿Does the one who arrives first have everything left?
¿Should we have only the land that we can cultivate and work? ¿Is that just applied to a common settler and to an entrepreneur who has money to work thousands of kilometers?
The world has changed I feel it in the words of the leaders. I feel it in everyone's actions ... Conflict is possible on the horizon. For humanity tends to forget its own mistakes, and much of what was once learned is lost, since no one lives and remembers it.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | Yes... we have a right to close the border, but it is a really, really, really stupid thing for us to do... and some of us know it. Anyone who pays attention to demographics knows we are going to need you all in a generation at most. Some of those 'white' folks Larry mentions are getting old. They will impoverish the US federal government if we don't cut entitlements OR grow our labor supply. If we aren't careful, we will wind up having to pay to entice you all to come north in a generation or two to save our butts.

I've lived in California where some of our folks made some anti-immigrant headway a couple of decades ago. MANY of us got upset at them and changed a lot of the rules around here. The border obviously isn't open to the movement of labor, but there will come a day when we will need to push for that from our side. Our neighbors to the east aren't going to like that, but California will need to do it. We will need more than basic friendship. 8)

Alfred Differ said...
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Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | Richer than kings? Many of us already are if you compare us to kings of the past. More importantly, though, most of us are rich enough that between us we have FAR more money than ALL the kings of olde. I'm not just saying that as an American. Back up to Roman times when the world had about 200 million people and think about what the average person had and earned. There were some very, very rich people in the world, but most were doing good if they wielded what would be about $3/day. The vast majority of humanity earned/made just enough to get by and famines were spread out just enough that the population of the world slowly grew larger.

By today's standards $3 (60 pesos) doesn't go very far no matter where you live in the world. There are people who live that way, but their numbers are shrinking. Rapidly shrinking. In Roman times it was about 99% of us. Today it is near 20% and dropping not because of charity or government programs or anything we thought would help much.

Oddly enough, this happened because we all began to tolerate innovation and respect the courage of people who risked their small fortunes to make bigger ones. Innovation disrupts people and their traditions, but it occasionally makes them ALL richer.

So... can we launch rockets and bring back the riches of the asteroids? Yes. The problem is merely 'hard to do'. The money is out there to do it IF you look to the right people. Those people are not in the government. In the US at least, the vast majority of the money that can be mobilized for space projects is in the hands of private citizens. The 'hard' thing to do is to get them to notice there are vast sums of money to be made. That's okay, though. That is 'hard' to do for all types of innovation and there is a sure fire way to get Americans to notice eventually. All it takes is for a few of us to DO a hard thing and get stinking rich while doing it. That effort is already underway here in the US. Private money is in play and not just from the richest among us.

As for what happens 1500 years from now, I don't know. Do you think anyone in the year 518 could have predicted what is happening now? Heh. Small Pox was eradicated in the 70's. We've been to the Moon. Our population has grown about 35x and the one prediction they would have made (if they had been given a hint) has NOT happened. More of us have problems with getting too fat than we do with starvation. Who would have thought any of that, hmm?

LarryHart said...

Winter7 (Luis) :

Maybe I misunderstood. ¿So you say it's convenient to join Donald Trump?

The italicized part of my post was quoting the article from the link, not my own words.

But the point the columnist was making was to explain why certain segments of the population continue to support Trump, not to condone that support.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

We really need to up our space surveillance.

We need to build a wall around Earth. And make the aliens pay for it.


LarryHart said...

Paul Krugman also tells us what we already know...

So Republican foot-dragging on CHIP, like opposition to Medicaid expansion and the demand for work requirements, isn’t about the money, it’s about the cruelty. Making lower-income Americans worse off has become a goal in itself for the modern G.O.P., a goal the party is actually willing to spend money and increase deficits to achieve.

Zepp Jamieson said...

In this instance, the two were unrelated; the Cherlabynsk object came from nearly the opposite direction. Just coincidence, beating some fairly long odds.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"We need to build a wall around Earth. And make the aliens pay for it."

And the asteroid belt. We can just seize that through eminent domain.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Winter7 A lot of people have wondered how it is possible Trump is still President. Were it not for the cowardly lust for power that most Republicans have, he would have been gone long before now.
There's a rumour afloat that Mueller may drop a bombshell next week that will signal the end to his presidency. There's also strong evidence that he has "turned" Steve Bannon, who doubtless knows where all the bodies are buried.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

There's a rumour afloat that Mueller may drop a bombshell next week that will signal the end to his presidency.

From your lips to God's ear, but everything we've seen so far indicates that the Republicans who control congress have no interest in deposing Trump, no matter what he's done. The Charles Blow column I cited yesterday puts that in vivid detail. Trump's deplorables are with him no matter what, because he represents White Privilege, Patriarchy, and the Zero Sum Game. The means by which he achieves or maintains power are of no consequence--only that he (and therefore they) keep power. And the Republicans in congress are terrified of doing anything to lose this deplorable vote, because they've already lost everyone else.

And the asteroid belt. We can just seize that through eminent domain.

Maybe the more appropriate reference is "manifest destiny".

LarryHart said...

The only way Trump will lose the support he hasn't already lost is for him to betray the deplorables. Obviously, his Wall Street-packed administration isn't seen as such a betrayal. Certainly, collusion with Russia is not perceived as such either. Even the facts that no coal jobs are coming back and that Trump brand products are manufactured in Asia are irrelevant to his support. It's hard for me to imagine anything Mueller could come up with that these people would not either consider irrelevant or rationalize as "fake news".

Maybe if he shot a Nazi on Fifth Avenue.

A.F. Rey said...

For a little fun, a political comic on Issa's "retirement" (although I've heard rumors that he may go after Duncan Hunter's seat in the eastern part of San Diego county). :(

Catfish N. Cod said...


Lose them money.

Seriously. Trump's entire damned resume is that he's a good businessman who can talk smack, that money and deals are his Thing and he won't take sh** from anybody (but dishes it out in half-ton lots).

That, and fear/anger/loathing at Hillary specifically and at the decline of rural America generally, got Trump elected. They were the raw ingredients without which none of the manipulations -- the Russians, Benghazi, Emailz, etc. -- would have worked.

But if the economy tanks and Trump can't resurrect it (which he can't without a stimulus bill that only Democrats will provide), or if Trump screws one or more trade deals that negatively impact one or more of: farming, ranching, mining, or forestry...

Midwesterners are not lewd, rude, crude New Yorkers. They don't like Trump anymore. But he is doing what they want, or so they think. Once that stops working, they will turn on him. If Trump loses the three states that flipped in 2016 -- Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan -- Trump has to run the table of other swing states to be re-elected.

But we can't count on the market saving democracy, so Democrats, libertarians, NeverTrumpers, and independents need to get their rears in gear. Asking if "Midwest whites vs. Southern minorities" should be courted is a mug's game. The answer is obviously BOTH. Fifty state strategy, dammit.

locumranch said...

(1) David is lying to you about the relative earthly value of asteroid resources:

For the sake of argument, let's assume the asteroid mining places a veritable 'Gold Mountain' of precious minerals in earthly orbit at this very moment, the global of value of all those once rare metals will approach ZERO the moment that asteroid minerals flood the global resource market, making those minerals worthless & causing the total collapse of both the terrestrial metal extraction industry & the whole global economy in one fell swoop.

Even though that 'Gold Mountain' is worthless to us as earthly treasure, it would maintain at least a fraction of its purported value if & only if it remained ABOVE the earthly gravity well, serving as base material for off-planet construction -- think shiny gold radiation shields, bulwarks & crappers, too -- all of which would be valueless on the Earth's surface.

(2) David also misrepresents the relationship between NASA (Space) Funding & the so-called War on Racism & Poverty:

There is none, even thought there a clear correlation between NASA funding & Cold War hostilities.

The US Space program was funded at a time (early 1960s) when almost 1/3rd of the geographical USA was overtly racist, desperately poor & NOT electrified; US Space funding peaked during Reagan's apocalyptic 'Star Wars' program, prompted by escalating Cold War tensions; and, the sad truth is that the poor & disadvantaged will ALWAYS be with us because they are a self-replicating resource, regardless of how many dollars, sandwiches or free educations we throw at them.

(3) Social Spending increases are INVERSELY correlated NASA (Space) Funding:

This is simple math, the more the USA spends on touchy-feely social services means that the USA has that much less to spend on Ad Astra aspirations. After 8 years of Obama socialism, NASA is in shambles, being unable to launch even the smallest satellite without begging the aid of either Space_X (kaboom went the last one) or those evil Russian oligarchs. Republican Reagan gave us the Space Shuttle for goshsakes, until Obama retired it execution-style, with a bullet in the back of its metaphorical head, without constructing a suitable replacement.

(4) Space travel will always remain an uncommon & elite enterprise:

It will never be available to the common man. In the absence of anti-matter or a space elevator, it is much too expensive to lift more than a few thousand humans into space, leaving us a very brief window to lift our best & brightest human germ lines out of this here gravity well, accompanied by our earthly biomes of course (thank you, Alfred). Unfortunately, everyone else on Earth is well & truly F'd-in-the-A. Those 7 Billion (or so) will never see space -- they will be 'Left Below' -- having to deal with the consequences of environmental degradation, laisse faire capitalism & rampant consumerism.

Earthly biomass will then become valueless in space, much in the same way asteroid minerals became valueless on Earth, leaving it up to our best & brightest to recreate the earthly environment (using salvaged biome seed stock & extraterrestrial substates) in self-contained arkologies. Or not, if we miss that brief 21st Century window, leaving the human germ line behind, earth-bound, to rot in its own terrestrial filth.

Trekkies tend to forget that the Star_Trek future they long for was preceded by WW3 & the near extermination of terrestrial life, freeing billions of tonnes of resources for Space Travel that would have otherwise been squandered on social services, subsidised housing & free lunches for single mothers.

Ad Astra


LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Lose them money.
Midwesterners are not lewd, rude, crude New Yorkers. They don't like Trump anymore. But he is doing what they want, or so they think. Once that stops working, they will turn on him.

I'm not so sure. Did you read the Charles Blow column I posted upthread yesterday? "Give them someone to feel superior to, and they won't notice you picking their pocket." Or Krugman's from this morning (also posted above)? "Hurting the poor is a feature, not a bug." Both hit the nail on the head.

Carrier (whose hundreds of jobs Trump "saved" last year) is already laying off. WalMart announces they are raising wages due to the tax plan, and then in the same breath closes a bunch of Sam's Club outlets, including one a stone's throw from my house. That kind of thing has been obvious to the most obtuse by now, and hasn't cost Trump his base.

I don't think any hurt to their pocketbooks will be the source of their perceiving betrayal by Trump. The only thing that might produce such a sentiment is if does anything useful for the "others" whom they hate and whom Trump gives them permission to hate.

Helping the Dreamers just might do it.

But we can't count on the market saving democracy, so Democrats, libertarians, NeverTrumpers, and independents need to get their rears in gear. Asking if "Midwest whites vs. Southern minorities" should be courted is a mug's game. The answer is obviously BOTH. Fifty state strategy, dammit.

Now here, I agree with you completely. Howard Dean's 50 state strategy worked in getting Democrats elected in 06 and 08, and then Rahm Emmanuel abandoned both Dean and the strategy for no reason I can perceive.

We need to get every non-deplorable voter to work against the danger that Trump and Trumpism are to this country. But first, we might have to get them to perceive that danger.

Winter7 said...
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Winter7 said...

As you may have noticed, I delay in responding a lot, just like the Ents of the forest. But there are certainly some reasoning that takes time. I wonder if our words will be remembered in a thousand years. I heard rumors that all the information on the internet is being stored by various companies. Maybe that implies that our words become immortal. More. Will someone really, some distant day find them in the future? So great is the ocean of data in the recent history of mankind. Also, as time passes. Knowledge is forgotten more and more to be changed by special effects; the explosions and the pleasures of the world, in the minds of the young.

Winter7 said...

I think Republican politicians are very skilled in the art of cheating. The Democrats have not understood that, if the Republicans broke the rules of the game, then those of the opposing side have the right to cheat. It seems that the politicians do not understand well the language of malice. For while we should be white as doves, (in our purposes) we must certainly know how to defend ourselves when someone starts to heat the cauldron and sprinkle with pepper. If you can advise the Democratic politicians in that regard, then I think that would be great.
I remember a television episode, from the series "mission impossible" in which a team of secret agents cheats a Nazi leader, making him believe that Germany won the war and that he was unconscious in a coma for years. In this way they manage to gain the trust of the type and obtain from him all the secret information they were looking for. The imagination is the limit!
In Mexico there is the expression: I dance to the rhythm they put. So, Democrats must dance to the rhythm that Republicans dance.

Winter7 said...

Zepp Jamieson:
¿Did you notice the existence of this website?:
¿Did you notice where the routes of the Russian satellites are passing?
I wish the Russians would never have had the experience of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. Science is always a two-edged sword.
Regarding your comment that Americans are entitled to the eminent domain of everything in the solar system. I doubt that the Russians and the Chinese agree.
Of course, I will not bother you with that detail. I do not believe that my country (Mexico) made good use of space resources. If we take into consideration the customs of businessmen and the government of Mexico, we can guess that the benefits of the conquest of space will not put a single coin in the pockets of the people of Mexico.
I wonder if the American people will receive a bit of the wealth obtained from space ... I really hope so.

DP said...

At the turn of the (last) century, the race for the poles was the Victorian equivalent of our race for the moon. Once the flags of Britain, Norway, etc. had been planted at the south pole, national prestige was satisfied. Afterwards, nobody bothered much with Antarctica for about another half century, until the first international geophysical year (1959). Since then, the continent has been studded with permanently manned scientific bases and weather stations. But nobody has bothered to try to colonize Antarctica on a large scale.

Mostly because Antarctica is a crappy place to live.

Yet it is far more inviting, far cheaper/easier to colonize and to get to than the Moon or Mars. So if history is any guide, about a half century after the Apollo program (within the next ten to twenty years) we can look for permanently manned stations in orbit, on the moon and maybe on Mars. The ISS would be the first of these stations. But don't expect massive colonization anytime soon. Our species simply won't move in large numbers to anyplace where we can't walk around outside in shirt sleeves for at least part of the year.

However, government funded exploration (Ferdinand and Isabella paying for Columbus’ voyages, Jefferson sending Lewis and Clark westward, Kennedy pledging to land a man on the moon, etc.) is always followed by true colonization being performed by private enterprise (the Massachusetts Bay Company, settlers travelling the Oregon trail, Dutch East India Company, railroads spanning the west, etc.). In fact, the early colonization efforts in the Americas were the work of the world’s first stockholder corporations. Planetary Resources, Inc. (asteroid mining) and SpaceX (private space launches) are just the first corporations being formed to colonize and exploit the “New World” of the Solar System. Which means we won’t be colonizing planets.

Screw planets.

The near term future of manned colonization of space should be the asteroid belt. So instead of Mars, we should colonize the dwarf planet Ceres (the largest body in the asteroid belt) in order to establish a logistical base for asteroid prospecting and mining. Ceres has no significant gravity well to overcome and lots of water for life and fuel.

So instead of Star Fleet planting human colonies on the surfaces of planets, we'll have the Weyland-Yutani Corporation contracting out the asteroid equivalent of arctic oil rig and crab fishing operations - extremely dirty and dangerous work with a high death rate. Think "rough necks in space" performing work that makes investors back home extremely wealthy, mankind more prosperous and the workers themselves a small fortune with each service contract (if they live long enough to return to Earth to spend their money).

Maybe we'll have the occasional scientific base established on Mars or floating in the atmosphere of Venus, but they'll be no bigger than a current Antarctic weather station. So forget about the bright, shiny and clean Enterprise piloted by bright young academy grads, our future in space is the dirty, gritty and dangerous Nostromo manned by blue collar truck drivers. In fact, our whole future in space will look more like the "Alien" universe instead of "Star Trek" (hopefully without face huggers and chest bursters).

DP said...

But what would be the economic benefits of mining the asteroid belt? What industrial activity in the belt would be profitable enough to justify this activity in the first place? Granted it has a wealth of mineral and metal resources that can be obtained and processed without the excessive cost of dragging equipment and material up from a deep planetary gravity well. As such it these resources will later be invaluable for building the infrastructure and transportation necessary to colonize the solar system.

But what would be the initial Earth market for such materials that would justify asteroid mining and give investors a profitable reason to invest? And could this industry compete with its terrestrial competitors? The answer unfortunately is no - it can't hope to be competitive. It simply makes no economic sense to feed Earth bound industries with asteroid resources. Even if an asteroid of solid platinum the size of a mountain could be found and dragged back to Earth orbit, all this sudden oversupply would accomplish is to crash its market value to the point where it wasn't worth getting in the first place (and to create a permanently depressed market value that would discourage further such ventures). And forget about baser metals like iron and nickel. We won't be dropping loads of iron from orbit (the price of which would greatly add to the operating costs of a material whose oversupply has just caused its market value to crash).

So what would be the economic justification for colonizing the asteroid belt? Colonies need to make money or they become expensive and unnecessary white elephants. Spain's New World empire was made economically viable by gold and silver. The Virginia colony survived because it grew tobacco. Brazil and the Caribbean provided sugar. Space colonization will require a similar economic rationale for existing. It would have to provide a commodity that can ignore the costs of climbing up a gravity well or dropping down through an atmosphere.

Only non-material commodities like energy and information meet these criteria. Scientific information brought back from planetary probes is invaluable in its own way, but doesn't have much in the way of actual market value. However, infinite amounts of clean energy from the sun however can transform our economy and our civilization – and it’s all done with mirrors. Mirrors and lenses.

At present, mankind’s annual energy use comes to about 20 terawatts, and is increasing approximately 3% per year. But this is tiny compared to the sunlight received every second by planet Earth, which is approximately 175,000 trillion watts (175 petawatts), or 8,750 times more than our current energy use. Altogether, the Sun radiates 385 yottawatts (385 trillion trillion watts) of energy, or 2.2 BILLLION times more than is received by the Earth.

In space no one can hear you generate nearly infinite amounts of essentially free energy, all you need are simple – if very large - mirrors and lenses. And these are remarkably easy to make in the zero gravity of space.

Making giant lenses and mirrors of different shapes could direct concentrated sunlight to desired locations in the solar system. More than one lens or mirrors in multiple locations seems like a feasible task.

DP said...

Best arguments for colonizing Ceres instead of Mars.

Winter7 said...

Alfred Differ:
You say that it is difficult to predict what will happen in 1500 years. True. Very difficult. That subject is within the art of science fiction. Even Asimov tried to imagine the future of humanity hundreds of thousands of years in the future. The short story, "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov; I think it's a very likely prediction. Maybe inevitable. (impressive prediction, considering how primitive technology was when Asimov wrote the story) (and of course, as you already know, I do not agree with the Big Bang theory)

Winter7 said...

Daniel Duffy:
You say that the asteroid belt will not be colonized soon. But do not take into account something: As soon as some entrepreneurs access the gold of the asteroids, for them, spending a few trillions of dollars to send settlers, will be only a "convenient investment in the long term."
Money changes everything. And some will soon have tons of gold and uranium.
The Russians have mining towns and steel mills in places as cold as Antarctica. (Many corpses from Stalin's time lie under the ice, around those Russian towns) And the Russians still send people to those places.
I imagine that the Russians will be the first to use skins in the space colonies, and not the Tyrell Corporation.
Yes. Activities in space will not be stopped by monsters. Unless someone discovers something under the ice of the Europa moon and pulls it out, and then play with genetic manipulation.
Excuse me. I have to retire to write a bit of science fiction. This talk is inspiring.

Winter7 said...

Correction note: I meant that the Russians will be the first to use skin holders, genetically altered, because Russian leaders lack morals or compassion towards citizens. Of course, some countries have already conducted experiments with the citizens themselves. So that...

Yogesh Dilip Sukal said...

David, do you believe in Friendly nature of Mars?
To change the paradigm from objective dumbness with delusional high intelligence to the subjective curiosity for absolute wisdom

Happy to receive your thought on the same.

Alfred Differ said...

@Winter7 | Science Fiction certainly is the place to try for long range predictions. However, I am mostly unimpressed with most authors who try. What they often do is take our current society and displace it forward and then make projections. What happens between now and then gets glossed over with a simplistic explanation or not even mentioned at all. Some authors are exceptions, but not many.

Vernor Vinge wrote about this gap in some of his supporting material for his 'Zones of Thought' universe. (Our host has written about it too. Quite a bit actually.) Vinge wanted a space opera setting and found a way to do it that barred singularities in certain settings. Our host argues it is a lot harder than people think… maybe impossible. No matter what the solution to the gap is, I'm more impressed by stories that actually face it instead of dismissing it with a war or some such discontinuity. I feel an author who doesn't face-up to the possibility of a human singularity even in the next few centuries isn't being honest about human potential.

Singularities come in more than one form. What modern transhumanists expect probably is difficult and maybe impossible, but that’s because they expect an exponential runaway. There is also the possibility of something like a ‘phase change’ and history shows we are capable of this. For an analogy, consider when new modes of motion become possible and materials experience a fast change in their heat capacities. The first derivatives of heat capacity show a kind of singularity. No exponential runaway occurs when ice turns to liquid water and then again to steam, but the behaviors for H2O change remarkably. Humans have already done this more than once and will likely do so again. I’d argue we are in the midst of one right now.

So, projecting 1500 years with a decent chance of accuracy requires of an author some honesty about the various types of singularity. Fifteen centuries is huge considering the changes in the world underway today. We are having a difficult enough time imagining 15 years ahead. Could another ‘industrial revolution’ arrive between now and then? Our own industrial revolution was at least two distinct phase changes with the first involving steam power and the second involving electric power. The second arrived before the first had fully penetrated our societies. Could the next ‘revolution’ be more than one arriving quicker and quicker? If the limit converges in finite time, the transhumanists could be correct. I doubt they are, but 1500 years is a LOT of time.

Alfred Differ said...

@Daniel Duffy | I’ve learned over the years not to do battle with people over choosing between the Moon, Mars, or any of the asteroids. It all boils down eventually to beliefs and dreams. Beliefs are difficult to budge and dreams should NOT be shattered.

Another thing I’ve learned is the ‘silver bullet’ approach, whether it involves transport of water, energy, platinum, or unobtanium isn’t enough. Markets are ecosystems. To bring back X, we will also be trading in {a, b, c, d, etc}. Whether the business case closes for X depends on everything in that set and on the moods of the traders in the markets. In other words, I’ve come around to the belief that it isn’t about gold, energy, water, or any particular commodity. It is about US being out there being what we are. When we are present, our markets are present.

Maybe your energy argument will work, but I’ll take ANYTHING that gets humans out there behaving across the full range one would expect of humans.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Trippy site. I notice the Russian orbits were high amplitude, if not outright polar. But I only looked at a few of them.
I was joking about eminent domain. The US has no such power.

LarryHart said...


Regarding your comment that Americans are entitled to the eminent domain of everything in the solar system. I doubt that the Russians and the Chinese agree.

I took Zepp's comment to mean that humans would grab the asteroid belt resources, not Americans in particular.

I think Republican politicians are very skilled in the art of cheating. The Democrats have not understood that, if the Republicans broke the rules of the game, then those of the opposing side have the right to cheat. It seems that the politicians do not understand well the language of malice. For while we should be white as doves, (in our purposes) we must certainly know how to defend ourselves when someone starts to heat the cauldron and sprinkle with pepper.

I couldn't have said that any better! :)

I remember a television episode, from the series "mission impossible" in which a team of secret agents cheats a Nazi leader, making him believe that Germany won the war and that he was unconscious in a coma for years. In this way they manage to gain the trust of the type and obtain from him all the secret information they were looking for. The imagination is the limit!

I'm pretty sure I saw that episode as well.

As an aside, it's kind of amazing now how close the memory of WWII was in the 1960s, and how large the war years still loomed in the fiction of that decade.

In Mexico there is the expression: I dance to the rhythm they put. So, Democrats must dance to the rhythm that Republicans dance.

I've been complaining to conservatives for years, "Pick one set of rules and we'll both live by it." For example, either a president gets to nominate a Supreme Court justice in his final year, or he doesn't. Either a new Senator-elect gets seated before a big vote comes up, or he doesn't. But Republicans won't live like that. They change the rules on the fly to whatever lets them win. And that only "works" because Democrats don't call them on it, and voters put up with it.

In sports, if there's a way to cheat that never gets called by the officials and never gets complained about by the fans, then eventually, it becomes a de-facto part of the game, because whoever makes best use of the cheat has an advantage over those who don't. Likewise, politics.

Jon S. said...

Apparently there's quite a lot of subsurface water ice on Mars, as little as a meter below the surface.


The question then is whether this is polluted with perchlorates, found in widespread areas of Martian soil ( If so, these deposits may become more useful as fuel sources than water sources, making Mars the gas station of the solar system.

DP said...

Too many people want to force a colonization of the solar system - a method similar to the old Soviet central planning - instead of more organic growth responding to market forces. These two approaches are best illustrated by comparing Soviet colonization of Siberia vs. Canadian colonization of their Arctic:

Cities were an important feature of the plans for a Siberian industrial utopia. Cities were developed in Siberia in tandem with industries to provide a fixed reserve of labor for factories, mines, and oil and gas fields. In many respects, however, the cities were not really cities. Rather than being genuine social and economic entities, they were physical collection points, repositories, and supply centers—utilitarian in the extreme. They were built to suit the needs of industry and the state, rather than the needs of people. Indeed, primary responsibility for planning and constructing city infrastructure fell to the Soviet economic ministry in charge of the enterprise the city was designed to serve. Few responsibilities were assigned to the municipal governments.

Still the cities grew, in both number and size. By the 1970s the Soviet Union had urbanized its coldest regions to an extent far beyond that of any other country in the world. (See box on page 25.) At precisely the time when people in North America and western Europe were moving to warmer regions of their countries, the Soviets were moving in the opposite direction.

But the Soviet economic slowdown of the late 1970s would put an end to such ambitions. By the 1980s the massive investments in Siberia and the Far East were offering extremely low returns. Many huge construction projects were left incomplete or postponed indefinitely. At first, the troubles were blamed on disproportional and incoherent planning, ineffective management, and poor coordination. But by the reformist era of the late 1980s under Mikhail Gorbachev, the problem was seen to be Siberia itself as well as the efforts to develop it. Criticism of the giant outlays in Siberia became commonplace. Regional analysts and planners in Siberia mounted a fierce rearguard action. They tried to justify continued high investment by pointing to the value of the commodities produced in Siberia on world markets and the state's dependence on Siberian natural resources and energy supplies. Still, by 1989 the industrialization of Siberia was beginning to seem a monumental mistake. The Siberian enterprise was, in any case, brought to a screeching halt by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the beginning of Russia's macroeconomic reforms in the 1990s.

For more than 50 years, Soviet planners built Siberian towns, industrial enterprises, and power stations—although often not roads—where they should never have been built. Huge cities and industrial enterprises, widely spread and for the most part isolated, now dot the vast region. Not a single Siberian city can be considered economically self-sufficient. And pumping large subsidies into Siberia deprives the rest of Russia of the chance for economic growth.

Canada offers an appropriate model. Canada's North is a resource base, but the bulk of the nation's people are located along the U.S. border, close to markets and in the warmest areas of the country. According to the 2002 Canadian Census, Canada's northern territories have less than 1 percent of the nation's total population. Canada's mining industry—and northern industry in general—relies on seasonal labor, with the labor pool shrinking during the coldest winter months and increasing again in summer.

LarryHart said...

Daniel Duffy:

our future in space is the dirty, gritty and dangerous Nostromo manned by blue collar truck drivers. In fact, our whole future in space will look more like the "Alien" universe instead of "Star Trek" (hopefully without face huggers and chest bursters).

"Alien" was a horror sci/fi scenario, positing a certain kind of enemy which is probably not likely to be part of the near-term space experience in real life. But if you ever saw the movie "Outland" with Sean Connery (1981, IIRC), that seems more like the kind of future you envision.

David Brin said...

Yogesh would you summarize in five sentences here? Subjectivity and “absolute” wisdom had 6000 years to deliver improvement in the human condition and failed in every single generation. Only science and the pursuit (never capture) of objective reality… and acceptance of contingent - not absolute — truth ever brought us to a place where now we can argue peacefully across the planet… and talk about soon going to see Mars for ourselves.

When subjective absolutism can account for its 60 centuries of brutal horror and failure, only then will I listen to its moral lectures.

locumranch said...

The 'Outland' option is still much preferable to our most likely future of 'A Boy and His Dog' which is preferable (in turn) to 'Saturn 3'. O, the horror, the horror.


Winter7 said...

Well ... Certainly, when some American businessmen take possession of the best places in the solar system, we could say that it is humanity that did that. But it seems unlikely that you or I will get a reasonable profit from that event, even twenty years after it happens. Of course, if it turns out that wars begin in space, you can be sure that the descendants of those present here will have to go to fight against the Russians or against some rebellion of settlers with unusual ideas.
Hooo. How bleak is my approach. But no doubt there will be sexy women in the colonies on Mars! (more fragile due to the low gravity) (and more fragile still the girls who live in the colonies in zero gravity) (That's why you have to spin large cylinders with several sections).
But going back to the matter ... To really believe that it is the total humanity, the one that is colonizing the space, I suppose then that a solution would be to consider all the colonies as the property of all humanity. We could have colonies where people of all nationalities could live. Something like the federation colonies in Star Trek.
But ¿how to trust the Russian settlers, after what they have done to us all? ¿How to put the integrity of the sealing of the domes at risk? ¿How to risk the lives of entire families? ¡Ray! ¡How convenient it would be for humans to be as trustworthy as dolphins!
Maybe, someday science will help us to have the option of getting rid of our malice, through genetic manipulation. But, if we abandon the ability to have malice; ¿How could we foresee the plans of the wicked? Complicated matter! We could scream, like Captain Kirk. ¡Do not take away the pain! (I guess the use of remorse is that we are useful not to make the same mistake twice) So, we need our malice to be able to fight defensively, against any violent extraterrestrial race, like the Klingons. (or other humans)
Another solution could be to reach a reasonable agreement, which is signed by all. Of course, it is unlikely to see an international agreement on the use of lands in outer space; It is unlikely that businessmen will accept something like that.
We will simply have to see how the most powerful space technology owners decide the future of expansion in space. Let's hope that they decide with wisdom and sanity. For it is evident that seeking to create a happier society consequently creates a more secure and peaceful society, where it is possible for all to work in peace in their own affairs.

Winter7 said...

Jon S:
¡True! I suppose this is the first time that NASA photographs water on the surface of Mars. (I hope it is not an image coloring trick or a Photoshop trick)
This is the link:

I believe that hydrogen hydrogen from Mars will not be used to send it to other ships. I think it will only be used for the takeoff of ships on Mars, which, once free of the gravity of Mars, could refuel at a station on the moon Deimos. And the fuel in that orbital station would be created in with ice on the moon Europa. For it is easier to raise fuel from the moon Europa, than from the surface of the planet Mars. A trailer could carry the fuel from Europe to Deimos. Deimos is so small that it can serve as part of a permanent orbital station.

Winter7 said...

You mentioned the movie Outland. Yes. A police story located in a space colony. Undoubtedly, where humans go, they will also carry all the good and evil that humanity has. Yes ... There is no doubt that colonies in space and on other planets will have problems of criminality. Especially, in the Soviet colonies. Although, I suppose that every city governed by corrupt politicians and oligarchs is a fertile ground for the birth of all kinds of evil.
But humans will always have the hope, and ingenuity, to survive; even in those places where moving forward seems impossible.

Winter7 said...

Goodnight everyone.

David Brin said...

Guys learn to recognize sings of "progress." When finally cornered by the insanity of their delusional "side," and its betrayal of decent conservatism, some confederates rise up and decide to join the conservative wing of the Union and oppose the Foxite-ologarch-antiscience madness. Others seek refuge in false-equivalence. But locum has done something else.

"All is lost!" And "Get those women and children out of my way, the lifeboat is mine!" Ignoring the pure fact that

(1) the ship can still be saved, if you let competent hands back at the tiller, and
(2) Any lifeboats that function will be built by and run by fact-people. With memories.

Which leaves the final refuge of nihilists. All is lost.

Anonymous said...

In response to the accusations against the Trekkies:
Actually, I am sure that Star Trek fans use the ideals of Star Trek not as a law. Rather, I think the Trekkies use Star Trek as a manual of suggestions on how to create the future human civilization. And certainly, we can all create totally different variations or concepts of civilization, as long as they are based on equal opportunities and respect for the rights of all human beings (among other things).
The space is huge. Each one can create a utopian civilization in each of the colonies in space.
Those of us who respect democracy can create a civilization based on the search for the happiness of all and the search for knowledge, and create the happiest spatial colonies of the solar system.
If the republicans and the Russians want to make nudist colonies, and things like that, we will not stop them. If the Republicans and Russians are happy to run around naked from one place to another, I suppose they have a right to that (as long as they do not harm the rights of others)
Kit Fisto.

Tony Fisk said...

@daniel duffy,
The real barrier to asteroid mining is the energy pit we're currently stuck in.
I don't think it will be developed until there is a space based economy looking for cheaper resources.

DP said...

Tony - Perhaps the best historical analogy to asteroid mining is aluminum. Once more precious than gold - despite being the most common element in the Earth's crust - aluminum was costly because it was incredibly expensive to extract aluminum by electromagnetic means. Then a chemical process was developed by which alumina can be extracted from bauxite.

Compared to 19th century prices, the cost of aluminum has been essentially demonetized - allowing it to be one of the most common metals used in industry.

Development of cost effective asteroid mining techniques will do to every metal and material what was done to aluminum. In effect, the raw materials for building a space civilization will be demonetized. Which will allow for he construction of the energy producing mirrors and lenses that will demonetize the cost of energy.

A space based civilization whose essential costs are basically zero.

DP said...

Nothing wrong with going back to the moon and establishing the Lunar equivalent of an Antarctic weather station (something permanent and even self-sufficient to learn how to live off the land). Only in this case the most useful thing we could do is build a giant space radio telescope on the far side of the moon.

But we won't colonize the Moon anymore than we have colonized Antarctica.

Similarly, we should set up a permanent self sufficient science base in tunnels carved into Phobos. From their we can explore every inch of Mars from the high ground of low orbit utilizing rovers, drones and dirigibles controlled in real time.

As for actually landing humans on Mars, that is far more difficult.The Martian atmosphere is too thin for a parachute landing and its gravity is too heavy for rocket landing. To quote SF writer Charlie Stross:

"Landing safely on Mars is hard. The atmosphere is too thin for aerobraking of massive payloads, but thick enough to kick up horribly unpredictable turbulence if you try and use retro-rockets. So for small payloads recent probes have used the bouncy air-bag trick ... but that involves loads of up to 20 gees on impact (not good for humans!) and maxes out at around 1000 kg of payload (or the airbags are infeasibly bulky and heavy). The big sky crane approach is promising (allows retro-rockets while avoiding the turbulence/disruption of landing site effect) but nobody's tried doing it on a payload within an order of magnitude of the size necessary for even an unfueled ascent stage capable of sending an astronaut back into orbit: an ascent stage with fuel on board would be even more massive (on the order of 40-50 tons, minimum)."

20 gees will kill a man.

At only 38% of Earth's gravity perhaps we can construct a space elevator anchored at Mars' equator using automated equipment controlled by humans based on Phobos.

Or we can land automated PFC factories on Mars that will create enough super GHGs to heat up Mars and generate a sufficiently thick atmosphere (mostly CO2) that will allow for safe parachute landings. But that could take over a century to accomplish

Or we come up with insanely more powerful and efficient rocket engines to allow for landing and take off from Mars' relatively deep gravity well.

Or we make all Mars landings by humans one way trips.

DP said...

The "one-way=never-to return" aspect of space colonization is an important point. We should explore with robots and probes. Colonization, by definition, involves humans.

And while Columbus and Magellan eventually returned home after their voyages of discovery, colonists never intend to return. That's the whole point of colonization. The pilgrims who landed at Plymouth never expect to return home to England. They were going to make a new permanent home in the New World. The pioneers travelling the Oregon trail never intended to go back East. The convicts sent to Australia weren't allowed to come back, nor were the indentured servants who avoided the gallows by being sent to Virginia.

The first people to land on Mars will live out their lives and die on that planet - never to return to Earth.

LarryHart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Similarly, we should set up a permanent self sufficient science base in tunnels carved into Phobos

You remind me of something I haven't thought about in the twenty or so years since I read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars". In that book, a science team of some sort was having a difficult time living in the almost no-gravity conditions on Phobos. One of the scientists or engineers (I forget exactly who) suggested creating a high-speed rail car to circle the globe, creating its own pseudo-gravity inside.

My thought at the time, which I didn't then dwell on, was that that would produce the opposite effect of that intended, making gravity inside the car lighter. Or were the people inside the train car meant to walk on the ceiling of the car instead? As I know there are KSR fans posting here, does anyone have a more informed take on this part of the book?

LarryHart said...

Daniel Duffy:

...colonists never intend to return. That's the whole point of colonization. The pilgrims who landed at Plymouth never expect to return home to England. They were going to make a new permanent home in the New World. The pioneers travelling the Oregon trail never intended to go back East. The convicts sent to Australia weren't allowed to come back, nor were the indentured servants who avoided the gallows by being sent to Virginia.

The first people to land on Mars will live out their lives and die on that planet - never to return to Earth.

Interesting point, but there's a difference. Those earthbound colonies were already habitable by human beings. Some might have had harsh conditions to overcome, but the environment didn't require industrial "Angloforming" prior to the first settlers moving in. Colonization of Mars requires a whole lot of prep work, some of which might require "the first people to land".

LarryHart said...

I said:

Those earthbound colonies were already habitable by human beings.

Total aside, but it just occurred to me to wonder why people who get their panties in a knot over the word "inflammable" don't seem to mind or even notice that "habitable" and "inhabitable" mean the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Hola. Soy yo de nuevo
It is certainly possible to imagine more practical ways of colonizing Mars.
We need Mars, as a second reserve of the human species. (It is evident that the human species is in danger of extinction.) Thus, if the plans of the oligarchs cause a war that makes our planet uninhabitable, the colonies on Mars will suffice for humanity to restart a new history .... unless the oligarchs arrive in spaceships of escape to the colonies on Mars and reinitiate the cycle of madness.
But if the objective of entrepreneurs is to exploit the resources of asteroids, is not it more prudent to create a network of refueling stations and emergency shelters with supplies and nuclear reactors in those places. It is not possible to leave the problem of energy at random in places where low temperatures represent a more complex problem than in our world.
On one occasion, an Egyptian king sent a great army across the desert, to conquer distant lands. But they did not investigate well the problem of water supply, nor of provisions. That army was never seen again. They disappeared, buried under the sand of the hot desert.
Space is worse than the desert. We are talking about trips that will take years. Which raises the food; the air; the fuel and the spare parts and repair materials at the same level of importance as the water. Which makes it vital to create a network of refuges and fuel stations and supplies throughout the entire solar system. If we were astronauts on a flight to the moon Europa, and a plum-sized meteor collides with our main hydrogen fuel tank, we will be in serious trouble without a shelter at a reachable distance in a few months.
The army manual: FM 90-3 Appendix G "Desert Operations" It says it all clearly: The forces trying to survive in the desert without an adequate water supply have always encountered a disaster. The more important it is to have all kinds of supplies at distances difficult to imagine!
Of course, it is possible to use only robots and the matter is simpler. Only a money problem. But there is something that the miners of the asteroid belt have not foreseen, and it is certainly advisable that this detail is not yet mentioned. So I serve, only as an oracle. A clue: There will be a change of plans motivated by another great nation. What was insured is about to be lost. Fear multiplies expenses. Chaos and confusion. Nobody will give in The angels now carry swords.
Jo, jo, jo ... I'm not a prophet. Do not; it is not my intention. But everyone can know what another man plans based on his actions. For the lion will continue to eat people and the rabbit will continue eating carrots.

locumranch said...

KF Anonymous spews progressive cant when ze(?) says "we can all create totally different variations or concepts of civilization as long as they are based on equal opportunities and respect for the rights of all human beings (among other things)" which means, among other things, that we cannot "create totally different variations or concepts of civilization" unless those so-called new societies are 'just like us' & abide by our false equalism ideal that has yet to be realised by any existent human society.

David does something similar when he reiterates the Titanic worldview as he REFUSES to build lifeboats while liberally accusing those Confederate nihilists who wish to 'abandon ship' as disloyal, treasonous & ungrateful to the 'Ship of State'.

"The ship can still be saved", says our Union Jack draped Caption who self-identifies as a fact-person, "if you let competent hands back at the tiller", the same competent people who rammed the proverbial iceberg in the first place (??), as long as you pay no attention to the icy waters flooding the lower decks and the verifiable absence of sufficient lifeboats.

Says Captain David, "Remain Calm, the World is Ending (because CC), but we'll get right on it after we end world hunger, perfect humanity & quadruple social spending because only cowards abandon ship, lifeboats are for losers, and we'll build some when we're good & ready, trust us".

@Luis: Read 'The Martian Way', circa 1952, by Isaac Asimov, for an in depth analysis of colonising Mars & asteroid mining.

Jon S. said...

Luis, what I meant about fuel at Mars is that the perchlorate salts found in many soil samples are a crucial ingredient for modern rocket fuels. Those could potentially be refined to refuel chemical rockets (useful for planetary takeoffs and landings). The water might be undrinkable, but still useful.

If there's ice on Deimos, it would probably be more like the ice on Europa - mostly water, probably useful both for hydrogen (and oxygen!) and for providing drinking water. But you could ship up fuel for chemical rockets from the Martian surface.

Kit, I for one don't mind using Star Trek as a template - except that speaking for myself, I'd just as soon avoid the Eugenics Wars, the Bell Riots, and World War Three.

David Brin said...

Okay, back to skim-skipping locum. He's back to: "If I yowl the exact opposite to the blatant facts, that makes it true!!!! His is the cult that has always aimed us at icebergs, from tobacco, smog, ozone, racism, river-dumping, science-hating and carbon-spewing...

... to the elimination of industrial R&D and reduction of corporate ROI (return on investment) horizons from five years to five weeks, sometimes five days.

I mention this last one NOT to refute him -- that is futile. Screeching ""It's opposite-to-true, and therefore true, yippee!" is his cult's thing. No, his usefulness is in continuously getting me to refine my list of Things That 99% of Liberals Are Too STupid To Notice and Use As Weapons. The deliberate shortening of corporate ROI is a lobotomization that the feudalists have used to demolish the IQ of capitalism.

But the other Opposite To True (OTT) is just hilarious! While grabbing the tiller back from raving, spittle-spewing lunatics WE are also the ones building any lifeboat capability. In parallel. These morons will not get seats.

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

I for one don't mind using Star Trek as a template - except that speaking for myself, I'd just as soon avoid the Eugenics Wars, the Bell Riots, and World War Three.

All of those were retcons, although some were quite early ones. When "The Cage", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Man Trap", etc first aired, none of them required an explanation of the steps by which the 1960s progressed into the then-unspecified future of the Enterprise. Star Trek was not written as a mystery in which the early episodes leave you wondering "How did this ever come to pass" until clues are revealed in later episodes. No, the elements of past history were established as they were needed to launch a particular story in ST's present time (Khan, for example, or the guy who invented warp drive) without regard to how they all fit together into a coherent history.

Point being, there's no reason to insist that the path to a Trek-like future requires passing through the individual plot elements that were later established in the series.

As to he-whom-I-shouldn't-read-but-sometimes-I-still-do above, I'm confused as to whether he accepts that climate change is a real thing that we must escape from, or if he sides with the Rural Red-Staters and the Republicans they support who think the whole thing is a liberal hoax.

If CC is a real danger and we've passed the point where escape from earth is humanity's only option, then the liberals were right all along, and the ones who metaphorically rammed the iceberg that they insisted was not there are the Rural Red Staters. And in that situation, most of mankind is simply doomed, because there are no lifeboats and no place to row for if there were.

If CC is a real danger, but there's still time to save earth as a habitat, then doing so makes a lot more sense than indulging escape fantasies. Again, the liberals are correct in everything they urge, and they must be allowed to patch and right the ship without distracting chatter about arming the imaginary lifeboats against imaginary aliens who might prevent us from prospering on their imaginary escape routes.

If CC is not a real danger, and all of this is just a nanny-state liberal excuse for nagging us about what to do, then the iceberg itself is imaginary, so there's no point talking about who rammed it or what to do about it. The whole point is that the Rural Red-Staters are right to keep drilling for oil and burning coal so as not to freeze in the dark. In that case, the hysteria over lifeboats and aliens is really just hysteria.

So I'm just a bit curious as to exactly which way your metaphor fails to make sense.

locumranch said...

Forget about me, read Isaac Asimov's 'The Martian Way' instead as it's prophetic on many levels, including politics & balkanisation. David may be good egg but, like most progressives, he imagines centrally planned incremental progress in the absence of discomfort, dissent, hardship or sacrifice.

It's hard to argue with success, and CC scare-mongering has been very very successful but accomplished nothing besides encouraging the separation of paper & plastic. Pffft !!! Why not aim high if you're willing to encourage a panic to galvanise public opinion?? After all, the Red Scare got the USA to the Moon which suggests that the CC catastrophe could be used to scare humanity all the way to Saturn if properly applied.

What I suggest is a Right & Left Cooperative Alliance to make Space Travel topical again as there is little or no difference between the two apocalypses prophesized by either the Biblical Dominionists or the CC Scientists. NO difference!! So be afraid, be very afraid, purchase our products & give generously to the Religion-of-your-Choice or the Atheist's Interstellar Escape Fund.

Of course, David confirms that the Left can only be trusted so far when he states that "These (deplorable) morons will not get seats" on any progressive-built lifeboat. Not a surprise though, as progressives everywhere continue to insist that there is NO room for the random confederate deplorable dissenter in any of their all-inclusive progressive utopias.

We'll just have to build our own progressive-free Confederate Utopia: NO PROGS ALLOWED.


David Brin said...

Argh, it's like a train wreck, I cannot look away! "What I suggest is a Right & Left Cooperative Alliance to make Space Travel topical again as there is little or no difference between the two apocalypses prophesized by either the Biblical Dominionists or the CC Scientists. NO difference!! "

No difference except for being exact and diametric opposites, in every conceivable, logical or scientific way. Except for that, then sure: "Opposite-to true, means my howl is true!!!!!!!!!"

David Brin said...

The purpose of the GOP moon obsession is to take what little space effort we have, and fritter it away in futile symbolism, and giving away all our space tech.

David Brin said...

VITAL (non-Brin) Weekend reading: The most recent edition of The World Post (carried on the WP site) is one of the most important ever, compiling a dozen links about how not-helpless we are, to deal with climate change. Hope can be more disturbing and demanding than "all-is-lost" nihilism! But in fact, we may be able to turn the corner on this, if our ship's tiller can be yanked out of the hands of rich morons.

--- EXAMPLES: "From the oil belt of California’s San Joaquin Valley, Bridget Huber reports that climate policies are not killing jobs, but creating them. Through the prism of on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs of the ironworkers’ and electrical workers’ unions in Fresno, she traces the return of robust job and wage growth to what had become a depressed economic zone. This is largely thanks to state mandates to meet requirements for renewable energy production. “Solar saved our bacon,” one veteran ironworker told her. Also contributing in a major way to high-wage employment, she reports, are the construction jobs associated with California’s massive high-speed rail project running through the region.

"Brian Barth reports from farms in eastern North Carolina where pork production giant Smithfield Foods — the largest producer of pork in the world — has rolled out efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of its meat production “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” writes Barth, “agriculture accounts for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, roughly the same as the combined total for electricity and heating, and well above the transportation sector, which contributes just 14 percent. Add emissions from refrigeration, shipping and other activities required to get your dinner from farm to plate, and the food system’s share of global greenhouse gases climbs to roughly a third, making it easily the most climate-unfriendly sector of the global economy.”

"Barth discusses Paul Hawken’s book “Natural Capitalism,” in which the environmentalist lays out the top 100 solutions to climate change. Of these, “11 are related to food systems, seven to energy systems and none to transportation systems. Electric vehicles are #26, while ‘tree intercropping’ — planting strips of apple trees throughout a corn field, for example — is #17. The top food-related practices — reducing food waste (#3) and switching to a plant-rich diet (#4) — are largely consumer-driven solutions.” Yet Barth’s reporting suggests that farmers and producers play a crucial part in reducing emissions as well. Barth also discusses silvopasture — a “mashup of forestry and grazing” — which is the highest-ranked agricultural solution to climate change in Hawken’s analysis.

"The challenge for all these distributed cases of climate action is how to scale them up to realize the potential for massive change as the clock ticks. The political roadblocks of vested interests which always resist change aside, what has been true throughout history is that, in the end, scale and resources follow cultural commitments. That commitment will only grow deeper if society becomes more fully aware of the whole picture of what it is already doing."

LarryHart said...


there is little or no difference between the two apocalypses prophesized by either the Biblical Dominionists or the CC Scientists. NO difference!!

I doubt that the Dominionist version can be avoided by simply leaving the planet.

So be afraid, be very afraid, purchase our products & give generously to the Religion-of-your-Choice or the Atheist's Interstellar Escape Fund.

This list might be the only place where space colonization is even discussed as linked to climate change. Most liberal/progressive discussions of climate change are directed toward mitigating the harm so that we can continue to live on earth. Which is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing of what you accuse us of here.

Not sure why you've suddenly become a believer in the harm caused by climate change, but then insist only on a fantasy remedy. I get that you're attempting to ridicule us by parody, but the joke isn't working.

Of course, David confirms that the Left can only be trusted so far when he states that "These (deplorable) morons will not get seats" on any progressive-built lifeboat. Not a surprise though, as progressives everywhere continue to insist that there is NO room for the random confederate deplorable dissenter in any of their all-inclusive progressive utopias.

It's not about political dissent. There's no room for those who insist to the last minute that no lifeboats should be built and who actively block the planning and building.

If he had said "Those grasshoppers will not get any seats on ant-built lifeboats," you'd be forced to understand.

We'll just have to build our own progressive-free Confederate Utopia: NO PROGS ALLOWED.

Would you please? And all go there already? I'm tired of waiting for the Rapture. I'll even pretend to be disappointed I can't join you if that will make it more pleasurable.

David Brin said...



Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me, again.
Jon S:
I had not thought of that ... Use solid fuel rockets. I suppose it is convenient, whenever possible to separate the perchlorates from all the impurities.
It is unfortunate that there is great contamination of perchlorates on Mars; because perchlorate reduces the production of thyroid hormone in the thyroid gland How did this happen? Did excessive radiation cause electrical storms that produced perchlorates when it rained on Mars and there was water? (rain water + chloride + electric discharge of rays = perchlorates). The evaporation of all surface water causes the remaining water to be saturated with salts and minerals.
I wonder if it will be enough to distill the water to rid it of all toxic substances. Anyway, we must disinfect the water perfectly. Our organisms could not defend themselves from the viruses and bacteria that exist in the caves of Mars and a few meters underground in some places on Mars. After all, we do not want a larva of Mars to grow in our brain and go out and open up to bites. It is fortunate for us that Mars has a sterile and lifeless surface. Maybe that will prevent the colonists from contracting some unstoppable virus or bacteria. But I would be very surprised if nobody ever gets sick of a Martian virus. I hope that the first colony anywhere in the solar system has a laboratory-hospital, with everything necessary to face a deadly epidemic.

Yes. Onward

Jon S. said...

The good news, Luis, is that the presence of perchlorates appears to eliminate the possibility of even microbial life on the surface of Mars - it's inimical to all organic life. If it's not present in the water, well, there's some question as to whether alien viruses would even find Terran biology compatible in the least. After all, there are a large number of viral diseases on Earth that can't even pass from other Terran life forms to human (to the best of my knowledge, no human yet has come down with parvo or tobacco mosaic virus). Viruses from non-Terrestrial sources, emerging from a completely different evolutionary process, should be no threat whatsoever, Wells' Martians notwithstanding.