This is a completely silly idea

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However, just speculate with me.

Right now one of the main reasons for economic disparities on earth are climate disparities. We have dry regions, we have hot regions and we have cold regions. The ideal region on earth would be one with temperate conditions, a bit like Florida or the south of France, right? We do not want the world to have to live like in Saudi Arabia or the arid places of Bolivia or Alaska or the tundra’s of Russia. In a perfect world it would all be roughly of the same temperature. However what we certainly do NOT want is to melt the icecaps and flood everything with (what would amount to) 60 meters of water. Provided we could actually even out global temperatures, which is a ridiculous idea to begin with. Or is it? Let’s start with the simple version.

Let’s approach this in the ‘fuck you I can do what I want’ unilateral style. Let’s say I have superpowers and I have a trillion euro. Let’s assume I can teleport stuff in a High Earth Orbit at a whim. Having this ability I could implement just about any kind of engineered structure into orbit. Of course I can’t, and nobody can, and the idea is just idle fantasy, but bear with me for now. It is a flight of fancy making a point.

Let’s say, I live in the Netherlands and I am so fed up with the frigid winters here, and the long depressing darkness in winters I wanted a viable engineering solution. This engineering solution would entail increasing the amount of sunlight in an area over [part of] the Netherlands by an appreciable amount for half the year. So we would need a means to deflect an amount of sunlight, positioned in space, that stays in a roughly predictable spot throughout the winter season, is mechanically predictable, needs very little or no maintenance, would ideally be self-regulating, would be lightweight, economical to deploy. The surface we are talking about is about 30 or so kilometer of very thin highly reflective parachute like material – think of it like a slowly unwapping parasol of gossamer metallic foil (probably thin gold composite foil) not weighing much at all, but as it rotated covering a sunflower area many tens of miles big. The initial structure in space shouldn’t be much bigger than a large building – when deployed such a wrapped up entity could be literally bigger than the province of Zuid Holland. It would be clever use of origimi, and since it floated in space, it would stay there (if placed smartly) forever.

The question is, are there stable geostationary orbits that (accounting for solar pressure) catch the sun’s rays predictably and consistently allowing them to be focused (with minimal corrections in terms of rockets or guidance systems) over years, and allowing a reflection to be cast on a specific spot on earth? If there is

We need just a bit of extra light. The percentage of light we lose annually isn’t so much, relatively speaking. So catching some light, and adding it to a specific spot on the surface (adding a second sun in the sky) would be equivalent to turning that spot on earth into a tempera region all year round. By cleverly making the sunflower arc away in summers (or migrate to a corresponding region on the southern hemisphere?) the benefits would only be relevant when needed. Pay as you go, so to speak. Not only could you do this during the day, you could also engineer an increased daylight time (which has vastly increased benefits from the viewpoint of the 24 hour economy, as well as human psychology). In fact we would be able to locally banish the night into oblivion. The vampires of the world would howl in indignation.

This is of course a silly argument. Or is it? Just think of it. How much would it cost to ferry a self-deploying, self-unwrapping, self-stabilized, smart designed structure in space that is able to reflect a predictable amount of sunlight on a seasonal basis, in a very precise designated spot? Once deployed how many third world dictators formerly shirking pax americana rules would then be wetting their pants that such an array could be focused in a more tight configuration on their capital city..? (burning the ants..). On that same measure, what if Craig Venter launched ten of these things today, what would stop him dictating terms to the world and become emperor of terra in a matter of a year? Once these structures are in space you can do pretty much nothing about them. Oh yes you can nuke them and hope that when you do you don’t paralyze half the world with EMP.

But seriously, this is out of the box thinking. The argument is quite simple – the project is a ludicrous and highly offensive notion, probably insanely expensive (or is it??) that would upset natural order (or would it???) and would not be worth it in terms of benefit (or maybe it would). It is a thought experiment. Just envision the net effect if an area like Boston or Moscow, which suffers from fairly severe winters, would not have very mild winters. Imagine such an area having a second sun between october and march, slowly emerging as a pinprick, brightening over the weeks, and becoming a somewhat diffuse but bright and blazing arc nearly as warm as the sun itself at Yule, then dimming again. The best thing is such a surface could be composed of many surfaces each giving its benefits to many scattered parts of earth. In fact, we could not just benefit northern regions, would could literally also shade the hottest regions around the equator in this manner.

Logistics
A typical bridge holds cables that stretch to the moon and back, in terms of length. So engineering wise we can make structures that are big. We don’t need to limit ourselves in terms of lack of imagination. We can make structures that are literally tens or hundreds of miles long, as long as we have a good reason. The good reason is like always profit. To make this work we need logistical assets and materials. The materials are there, in space, in the form of near earth asteroids. They can be reached and mined by spaceships about as or little more convoluted as the current international spacestation, so we can do it. We can literally bring structures in space right now that can do the logistical part of taking engineers, robots and astronauts to near earth astronauts (which in some cases as big as a small mountain) and ferry them back to earth safely. Doing so would take significant investments in terms of training astronauts, implementing structures on earth, launching rockets and building stuff in space. The argument is of course ludicrous – if we can do this ‘build big mirrors in space to illuminate cities‘ we can do far more useful things’, but for the sake of the silly argument let’s stick to this. The cost would be gargantuan. But my point is the revenues would be gargantuan too. Imagine, Boston and Moscow, not having winters. It isn’t about playing god, it’s simply an engineering solution to nature sucking balls.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw8LPn4irao&fs=1&hl=en_US]

The economic argument
What would this project cost? Ten trillion EU? A ludicrous sum of money What would it generate? I would say by any factor, initially far more. And better, in doing this, we would create an infrastructure to create even more value. My argument is that to send astronauts in space to create mirrors that create auxiliary suns in space is ludicrous, but we live in such a ludicrous universe it makes sense. The idea to spend trillions on such a project is grotesque and offensive and an affront to the starving billions, but to NOT do so, may be an even great stupidity and offence and affront to starving billions. The sheer economic benefits of people working in shirt sleeves in an area around Moscow and Boston 12 months every year would be far in excess of trillions, and once we do this with one city, we will probably want to do this with every city north of Paris in short order, if only to save on street lighting, or to be able to have palms growing in our streets, or to save on heating. And this is just the implementation of large suspended reflective strips of foil suspended in space. It is a cinematic ‘bruce willis’ style example.

the Naturalness argument
This is ‘unnatural’. However, the is no such thing as natural. Watch the above video of Zizek again. We risk regarding nature as some kind if iconic deity, or some kind of harmonious ideal. This simply is a misrepresentation. If we define nature as a concrete argology on mars filled with teeming greenhouses as far as the eye can see, then that will be nature. We can engineer nature. Nature is nothing eternal. Nature is constrained and limited and temporal. If we do not act prudently we can just as easily stomp over Nature and destroy our assets, even if we stubbornly or selfishly refuse to believe such a thing possible. We can literally destroy our means to exist by denying our power. In doing so we only prove our stupidity and our impotence.

The Legal Dimension
Right now there is no law, no ruling to stop me from doing this. Ofcourse, from a logistical perspective I can’t. The idea is ludicrous. I am a nobody. I can’t go into space and decide to unilaterally ‘add a sun’ out of sheer celestial conceit. It would be an act of selfrighteous hubris even MORE uppity than the pride of Icarus – we don’t just fly to close to the sun, we would literally ‘create another sun’ at our whim if we could, and ‘think nothing of it. The funny thing, which has me in stitches right now is that IF I did it, nobody could stop me. No international court could sue me. I could bask in the light of a subtropical second sun, in midwinter iceland, with palm trees waving around me on my villa on beach front Reykjavík (which I aquired when prices where very low) sipping malibu’s, with lawyers and environmental groups protesting me on all sides begging me to stop argueing that my solar reflector is disrupting the global climate!, but I’d say, ‘sod it, that has never been an argument – global emissions of CO2 have been disrupting the climate for decades, and THAT has never been an argument either, so you can go and stuff it

Accidentally Freezing The Sudan and Saudi Arabia for the greater Good, Oops
Here is where it gets really funny.. Say we have a climate change so severe, so horrendous that the ice caps start melting. And we need a solution. Well with what I propose we have one (tongue firmly in cheek here..) I propose we freeze a region of Saharan desert from the Sudan to the south of Egypt to Saudi Arabia and bask it in everlasting darkness, take away the suns rays there, so that it is cast in subfreezing temperatures…. and it starts snowing… and snowing… and glaciers emerge… and we accumulate.. a Saharan ice cap. I propose the feeble arguments of ‘those few people living there’ would be of no consequence. The area’s around these ‘primitive places’ would become lush and fertile with vastly increased temperate rains and glacial river systems in a matter of a few decades. I mean, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs right? We’d have to sacrifice Sudan and the Sub-Saharan wilderness and Saudi Arabia to the freezing hells and glaciers, but it would be for the greater good of fighting global warming and sea level rise. And all the increased rainfall would be a great way to increase agriculture and plant growth and carbon sequestration. And it would in effect destroy radical Islamic fundamentalism under several miles of thick ice sheet.

It would be a win-win situation !

7 thoughts on “This is a completely silly idea

  1. *damn it, my cat jumped on my mouse and accidentally posted before I was done.*

    Now, because material wealth will cease to have meaning, and because we will make it so that no material resource is “scarce” then the “Value” of material resources will be so low that they will no longer play a role as “Status Symbols” When Lobster and hamburger are equally easy to “produce” then eating one or the other will no longer indicate “status”. When everyone can have a “Lamborghini” by simply telling their “intelligent matter” lump to assume the form of one, there is no value in having one.

    So material goods will drop out of the market, which exists solely to manage “status” exchanges.

    and once it has no value, denying resources necessary to survive to the poor will no longer have any “status” value. and much of the reasons behind all those problems you listed will vanish. Who would need to steal when anything you want is free from your personal “Manufacturing unit” that can take a handful of dirt and garbage, as well as mine organic chemicals from the air, and turn it into anything you want? Who needs to starve when everyone can punch a button and have whatever they want to eat? Who will be “poor” as we define it today, when anyone can build a “mansion” with no more effort than planting a “house seed”?

    We will end nearly all of those problems within the next 20-30 years. And NOTHING I can see anywhere leads me to think differently.

    1. If the world turns out ‘nicely’ I have at my age, demographic position, network, social credit, country and persuasiveness a median chance of about 20% (right now) I break even and don’t like die with a colostomy bag and a diaper on xanax, abandoned and unknown by anyone at age 65+5d6 in some automated clinic.

      NOT dying that way doesn’t mean super much. I can still live like decades miserably and still die, of misery, of suicide, of accidents, of wars, of terrorism, of nano-plagues. But it is compound opportunity squared versus compound risk, squared away year after year. Like positive dice rolls adding constitution, and negative dice rolls draining constitition. You never know which one wins. It’s much like flying west, over some sea, with quite a lot of jerrycans of oil, and hoping for the best. Might be an inland sea, might also be the pacific. I might hit some islands and refill halfway, but I might also crash and die eaten by the sharks halfway.

      The point I am making is – that meager 20% goes down to less than 1% if the world goes to ultrashit. Yanno, children of man, mad max, salute of the jugger, world of darkness. If we fuck up management, if we put blackwater in charge, if the republicans keep winning elections (bla bla)…. then we spiral down and down and down, and it is my sincere conviction we will in fact enter terminal and irreversible decline, and *really bad* things will happen.

      My prognosis – flip a coin. One side is singularity. (And that is yet another coin flip) The other side is decline and die off. Eventually, after a few centuries, maybe a hundred million left, few cities here and there. Some internet, a few cars. Maybe even the odd airplane and TV channel. Lot of radioactity. Sort of like afghanistan everywhere with a sprinkling of pockets of civilization around some blackwater enclaves.

      Please do not flip that coin. Its too risky. Make sure we get the proper result.

  2. Mot entirely true. You cannot endlessly scale materials on earth. You can’t endlessly mine earth or manouver structures in earth’s surface or engage in industrial manipulations on earth’s surface. While your argument is completely valid from a rational perspective it might fail from a logistical perspective – the dome you envision might end up teeming with poverty, crime, gangs and literally fall apart with sabotage, materials theft, terrorism and vandalism. If you want to make such a dome and do not address the underlying problems of poverty, societal exclusion, materials scarcity, unemployment, desperation, low education, untreated psychiatric disorders, misaddressed societal debates, hypocrisy, energy and mineral depletion, the tragedy of the commons, dumping, mass-migration, etc etc etc then you can erect solutions of any kind. My silly idea is one of those silly ideas that show that we need ‘saturation solutions’ – solutions that nobody wants to pay for, but we as a species must SOMEHOW generate.

    Because of we do now, we are in a shitload of problems. In fact I would go the full alarmist road and claim we as a species may actually drive ourselves in a more or less irreversible dark ages. One where we will have to shed about 7 billion human beings in the span of about a century. Try doing that. It won’t be fun.

    http://terasemcolony.wordpress.com/

    1. I see we think along many of the same lines.

      However, being a creature of “primal instincts” I’m very aware of the primal instincts that drive humanity. Crime, poverty, etc, they are all caused because humanity has denied that it has instincts for so long that most people can’t see that they are the primary drivers in nearly every human activity. As “rational” animals, we like to pretend that our rationality controls us, but the truth is that the overwhelming majority simply “run on instinct”.

      We have two prime instincts, both of which drive us to form “collective societies”. The first is a survival based one, “The Pack” We form collectives because collectives allow for division of labor, shared resources, and a “government” that allocates shared resources to ensure all individual NEEDS are met.

      The second is a reproductive instinct, “The Pecking Order”. This drives us to compete against each other to “prove our worth” as a mate, and stratifies the collective into High status and Low status. High demands tribute from low, and High Denys resources to Low. Low defers to high because of instinct, and Low seeks to become high given the chance.

      If we had just the survival Pack instinct, we’d be fine, and everyone would be well fed, prosperous, and need to work maybe a few minutes a month to provide all material resources needed to survive.

      But the competitive reproductive instinct instead forces everyone to play status games. Money, the Market, Politics, nearly every single activity humans engage in is directly related to the status game.

      We’re never going to “stop” the status game, but that won’t matter much longer, because material based “wealth” (i.e. tribute taken out of the common pool of shared resources created by the collective) is about to be replaced by “Non-material wealth” (wealth CREATED by individual mental effort using no resources).

      This “recession” is a symptom of this transition. And it will continue to drive the value of material wealth down, because in their desperate struggle to survive, manufacturers are going to have to automate, change to “printing” technologies to make things faster, cheaper, and more flexibly, and begin using less and less raw material to do more and more (primarily by switching to graphene and carbon as primary raw materials)

      This is going to be a vicious circle. As the “middle” class becomes poorer, the demand for products will fall, so manufacturers will have to find ways to reduce costs, forcing the above changes so that they can make things cheaper, and it will force them to make smaller lots, with more options, more customizations, at a faster pace, with shorter production runs, and shorter “turn around times” to get a new “line” out. Which will make the cost of “owning” a manufacturing “plant” cheaper, which will allow more competitions, driving prices lower, etc.

      In an effort to remain rich, the rich will drive us to abundance. That’s what most people fail to see. They can see the corporations desperately trying to “take over” and fail to understand enough history to realize that it’s THEIR LAST DESPERATE CLUTCHING AT STRAWS IN AN EFFORT TO SURVIVE. They are already over the cliff and falling, and seeking any desperate handhold they can to try and stop their demise.

      And every action they take is merely hurrying them along.

      And, the best that they can achieve is a momentary handhold that will crumble beneath them. They are beyond saving. Material Wealth is losing it’s value daily, and I believe by the end of this decade, we will have seen much of that “value” in material wealth eroded away.

      But rather than causing a “catastrophic disaster” that destroys society, we will be exchanging “material value” and an economy of scarcity for “non-material value” and an economy of abundance. It’s not going to be without turbulence, but it isn’t going to come to “Mass genocide of 7 billion people”

  3. Oh, and the solution to radical islam is not extermination. If you really want to shatter the hold it has on the middle east, forget violence or war, or “putting them under an ice sheet.”

    Drop 100 million iPads that are designed to link to each other to enable any single table to access any other tablet within a dozen miles, to daisy chain to the internet, and let them be. Within a year, I will lay you odds that the people themselves will eliminate the problem once they have unfettered access to the rest of the world, unfiltered through what their religious leaders choose to tell them is “the truth”

    No tyranny of any sort can cope with free access to information. Iran is already suffering from this truth, though there are not yet sufficient numbers of smartphones in the country to finally end the insanity.

  4. The problem is that it’s needlessly complex. Why spend trillions making a mirror in space when you can achieve the exact same effect by, say, taking the material you would use for that mirror (which would have to be primarily graphene for strength and lightness) and building a “dome”, and probably for less cost.

    Based on the current trends in technology, by the end of the decade, I think it is likely that we could make such a dome, make it impervious to the elements, but also make it selectablely “permeable”, in essence covering it with micro pores that can allow venting, or let the rain through, while blocking snow, bad storms, etc. With the ability to cover the surface with various meta materials that could control how light travels through the material, it’s even possible that in the winter it could increase the amount of infrared it traps, and provide a “Virtual Sun”

    And yet even this might be unneeded, as the very same material could also be made into a “skinsuit” that keeps the body comfortably regulated regardless of external temperature, and “lenses” that could provide a “daylight” view even at midnight.

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