Lifeboat Foundation link to SpaceNews report that Biden administration expected to emphasize climate science over lunar exploration at NASA.
[ 13/11/20 ]
If anyone is really serious about managing the earth’s climate over the long term, then getting manufacturing technology on the moon is the only way we are ever likely to achieve it.
The moon does not have an atmosphere, so does not require rockets to achieve orbital velocities – long linear motors can do it.
Thus if you are talking about getting serious amounts of mass into high earth orbit (which any serious attempt to manage earth’s climate requires), then the moon is the logical place to do it from. (Can launch stuff using solar power without use of chemical rockets.)
So if anyone really wants to solve the climate change issues long term, then going to the moon is an essential step in the process.
Working towards global cooperation between multiple levels of diverse agents is also essential, if long term survival is part of the plan (and there isn’t much sense working towards long term climate management if survival is not part of the picture).
[followed by How do you get it back to earth?]
In terms of managing climate, you don’t bring it back to earth, you leave it in high orbit, as large sets of mirrors capable of altering the amount of light reaching the earth by +/- 3% – to manage all the impacts of orbital eccentricities and the occasional volcanic event.
In terms of prefabricating energy and transport infrastructure, then some reaction propulsion is required (ion-drive is probably most efficient – could have ion-drive tugs that push their cargo down half way, then use a linear motor to get the payload to appropriate speed, and get themselves back to orbit as the reaction mass) to be able to reach the upper atmosphere where aerobraking can take over and you essentially land big gliders at sea on calm days. It’s a bit more complex than that, but not a lot.
[followed by … absurd …]
If we are to manage the Earth’s climate long term then we need to be able to vary the amount of solar energy reaching the planet by plus or minus about 3%.
In order to do that we need a substantial amount of mass in high orbit.
Getting mass to high orbit from the earth is difficult.
From the moon it’s relatively easy.
Therefore getting serious remote engineering established on the moon is the only practical way to enable long term management of the Earth’s climate.
[followed by can’t do it, too expensive]
It’s not expensive.
It demands levels of cooperation and responsibility that are not common at present, so it may not happen.
It is essential if we wish to have a long term future of security.
Without it, we are just waiting around for the next extinction event, when we disappear as a species.
If we actually want to survive long term, then we need some serious technology in space, and the only reasonable place to get it there from is the moon.
And I get most people have not seriously considered the options or done much of the math.
Since realising in 1974 that indefinite life was possible, I have spent most of my time thinking about the sorts of social, political and technological systems that actually give potentially very long lived individuals a reasonable probability of living a very long time with reasonable degrees of freedom.
That is a seriously complex problem space, and having been working in it for over 40 years, I am confident beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that there are no fundamentally competitive systems that deliver such an outcome. Only systems based in cooperation have any reasonable chance of doing so.
And it does require some fairly high tech, which is not really an issue, once we get beyond basing our valuations in markets.
[followed by agree to disagree …..]
For me, the whole point of being a member of Lifeboat is entering discussions about effective tools to mitigate existential risk (all levels, all dimensions).
EFT is a factor, but one that has relatively simple and effective mitigation strategies available.
I have been committed to indefinite life extension for over 40 years, for me the logic and the necessity of it is inescapable. To me, that is a big part of “spiritual maturity” across all dimensions.
There are many more levels of risk present than asteroids and solar expansion; all of which need effective mitigation strategies to be developed and implemented, some of them quite quickly (within a decade). Most exist in the strategic domains, well beyond the physical. The most critical at present is the use of markets as a value measurement tool; in the presence of advanced automation they present exponentially expanding existential risk across multiple strategic domains; and we really need advanced automation to mitigate a large set of classes of existential risk that most people have never even imagined the possibility of. Given that all of my family are dealing with anxiety issues, I suspect that very few people have my ability to maintain confidence in the face of the suite of issues I “see” rapidly approaching us. Hence I tend not to talk about them in detail in public fora, and only in small increments in one-on-one encounters.
The take-away message I try to convey is that we have both reasonable cause for long term optimism and reasonable cause to make all efforts to create fundamental systemic change in social and economic systems. And the details are really complex, and deeply dimensional.
I have read your 1989 paper, and am reading some of your more recent stuff.
I am not going to be able to respond in a way that does justice to your excellent work without going more deeply into it, and I am helicoptering into mountains for 4 days work on an endangered seabird in a few hours, and will be beyond internet access.
I will attempt to give you a reply in about a week.
And there are a few major themes worth mentioning briefly.
1/ we are getting better at doing more with less. We can live on less land than hunter gatherers required, though we are consuming more energy.
2/ once we get away from the need to make money, and can just work at optimising delivery of what people actually want (rather than generating demand for demand’s sake), we will see some real reductions in energy use.
3/ doing primary energy capture in space, and sending microwave energy down to high efficiency rectennae systems will reduce a lot of waste heat we currently dump into the environment.
4/ much of evolution is about far from equilibrium systems, complex adaptive systems, and about exaptation.