Image for Is Space the new Green?

*IMAGE: set on the Earthrise, a photo taken by Apollo astronauts rounding the Moon in 1968.

When the richest man on Earth talks about how space will serve to heal the Earth, many people take note.

Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon and of the space company Blue Origin, spoke in LA recently, at the International Space Development Conference, about the need to move heavy industry into space. [1]

Mr Bezos declared, “We will have to leave this planet. We’re going to leave it, and it’s going to make this planet better. We’ll come and go, and the people who want to stay will stay.” [1]

He pointed out that, “The Earth is not a very good place to do heavy industry. It’s convenient for us right now. But in the not-too-distant future — I’m talking decades, maybe 100 years — it’ll start to be easier to do a lot of the things that we currently do on Earth in space, because we’ll have so much energy.” [1]

The energy that Bezos speaks of, is the power of the Sun in space, where our star is a virtually infinite energy well. Our Sun is slowly but steadily getting hotter as it moves through its fuel cycle, is now 35% warmer than at its birth 4.5 billion years ago, and has so much fuel in reserve, it will burn fiercely over the next 5 billion years, until expanding to the orbit of the Earth as a red giant star.

There are many more places to park solar power stations in space than on Earth, and the closer a station is located to the Sun, the more power that can be harvested, power to do any work, power to create any dream.

Jeff Bezos was in LA to receive the Gerard K. O’Neill Memorial Award from the National Space Society.

Bezos was inspired by O’Neill, who looked to orbital space habitats and industry beyond Earth being launched in the 1970s, but the popular and political support was missing in action back then.

O’Neill looked to the power of the Sun to fuel industry in space, and also supply energy needs on Earth, and once wrote of solar power stations in space, “If this development comes to pass, we will find ourselves here on Earth with a clean energy source, and we will further improve our environment by saving, each year, over a billion tons of fossil fuels,” [2]

If the conservationists of the Earth had united behind the O’Neill vision, we could have avoided the dreadful play of rising greenhouse gases driving global warming, climate change, ocean acidification, sea level rise and fiercer storms.

Heavy industry would be off-planet now, and we would not be facing a monstrous clean-up challenge, caused by clinging to the Earthly nest too long.

Humans have been fat and lazy chicks, refusing to fly, as they have guzzled carbon fuels like there are no consequences.

We are now beginning to see what happens, such as the prospect of losing the Great Barrier Reef. [3]

Such as many food crops grown in a higher CO2 atmosphere having less nutrition, and some becoming more toxic. [4]

Such as the detail that many places on Earth will get too hot for human life, due to a combination of heat and humanity that goes beyond human tolerance, in which people begin to drop dead.

With the power of the Sun in space, and unlimited resources found on Moons, planets and in asteroids and comets, we will be able to use the power stations and factories of space to deal with all strife created by the delay on Earth.

Space will give us freedom, and we can start making that freedom work on Earth now.

Bezos suggests that in a space future, the “Earth will be zoned for residential and light industrial use, while heavy industry will be moved off the planet and powered by 24/7 solar power.” [1]

When we know what the future is that we are working toward, then we can begin creating that future on Earth now.

That is our choice.

THE DARK SIDE

The delay in space action may be far more dangerous than we can now appreciate.

When researching for his article on climate change, David Wallace-Wells found the scientists wondering about the Great Filter theory, which is found in discussions on Fermi’s Paradox to explain why there is no sight or sound of any alien civilizations in the Universe. [5]

If life is as common in the Universe, as it is no Earth, then the cosmos should be buzzing with activity.

But all we see is nothing, and all we hear is nothing, an eerie cosmic silence.

We are on the cusp of expansion beyond Earth, so will we be the first to spread out among the stars, and break the stellar silence with our chatter.

Of all the events that could terminate a civilization on the cusp of expansion from the home planet, the one that could work most effectively, is burning too much fossil fuel for too long, and bring on a dangerous level of global warming and climate change.

Environmental crisis caused by climate change may also serve to trigger nuclear madness.

Any survivors may never recover space technology, linger for a time trapped on their planet, and vanish.

Or a planet could go into a Venus life trap of a runaway greenhouse effect.

Or a radioactive death could end the passage of life on Earth.

We have delayed space action, missing our chance for a timely survival break, so if we are to join the silence of the stars, a terminal event must lie in our very near future.

The leading climate scientist James Hansen looked at the carbon problem and concluded that atmospheric CO2 needs to be below 350 ppm, to keep planet temperature rise below 1.5C, which he saw as the trigger for a runaway greenhouse effect, which he calls the Venus syndrome. [6]

The author of the Gaia Theory James Lovelock looked at the Earth problem, and could see that due to a steadily warming Sun, raising the CO2 level so swiftly can disrupt the Earth life-support systems, sending the planet into a permanently hotter environment, hostile to life as we know it. [7]

Emeritus professor of the environment at the University of Arizona, Guy McPherson, has looked at all the science and come to the conclusion that humans will not survive beyond 2030 and says, “It will probably be earlier.” and “I’m not a fan (of the information), I’m not promoting it. All I’m doing is connecting the dots. I’m forced to come to that solution.” [8]

McPherson sees a sudden rise in heat, driven by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the air, making the planet too hot for life, and making it very tough to grow food.

When we can no longer grow food at the level that will support the Earth’s population, global systems will begin to unravel, as panic sets in, followed by conflicts, which can all too easily tumble into nuclear war.

Is there a pinch of truth in the warnings of McPherson, Lovelock, Hansen and others?

When we look at the level of atmospheric CO2, the truth begins to pinch.

During the last ice age CO2 in the air was at around 180 ppm (parts per million), rising to around 270 ppm over the past few thousand years, along with a few degrees of warmth, the melting of ice, and 130 metres of sea level rise.

That CO2 rise amounts to 90 ppm.

Add another 90 ppm, and we saw that level of 360 ppm passed in the 1990s, as CO2 continued rising to the present 410 ppm, and with no end in sight, going up by 3 ppm per annum.

By the simple CO2 sums, will the 1990s level CO2 be quite enough to generate future heat the melts all remaining ice on Earth?

Will all CO2 rise after the 1990s simply be future heat increase?

Those simple CO2 sums indicate the potential for a rapid heat pulse happening on Earth, which takes our collective breath away, along with our future.

In a state of delayed action, what we do now is absolutely critical, if we wish to assure our survival.

A POLITICAL PROBLEM

Though Jeff Bezos and others are determined to open the high frontier for human survival, and then use the power gained in space to save the Earth, all their efforts will come to naught if national governments block space activities.

Blocking space could happen as environmental conditions deteriorate on Earth, and government bring a total focus to dealing with the planet’s strife.

Space development may be seen as a distraction from the needs of the Earth.

Conservationists may focus on the Earth crisis, and also see space as a dangerous distraction.

Fossil fuel companies may object to losing their grip on power, which would happen with space based solar power, and may push hard with Earth based solutions to Earthly strife.

Seeing these political realities on the home planet, anyone who sees the space option as the best way to win back a safe Earth, must consider the need for popular and political support.

What is the critical level of support, and how can this be won?

Will Jeff Bezos’ declaration help to raise the game for space, and inspire conservationists and environmentalists to rise to the challenge of supporting space, so we will be able to look toward securing the future of life on Earth, along with human survival?

If space is the way to win back a safe Earth, then is focusing on the Earth alone simply empowering the fossil fuel monopolies to keep on flogging fossil fuel?

A PLAN FOR EARTH AND SPACE

In a recent document, Rising to the Challenge, I explored the strife we face, and how concerned individuals could mobilise globally to engage in space and Earth action. [9]

I explore how teams could form and connect globally via avatars, using the virtual worlds like Second Life.

Team members could be located anywhere on Earth.

Projects can include working with robots, which can happen in the virtual worlds, presenting exhibitions, and making working models that could be built in space.

A team network in a virtual world can be expanded to ten million and more participants, in a fully democratic structure, all striving for a shared vision.

In real life participants could engage in promoting a future with a safe Earth.

As the vision includes space, robotics, rocketry, astronomy, and flying drones, there is an excellent activity that can hope to inspire.

As participants reach for space solutions, they can also engage in Earth needs.

In this way, Earth and space become partners, making space the new green.

HOW SOON?

O’Neill once said, “Almost anything can be done in a ten year period, when we set our minds to it.” [10]

When we consider how swiftly the Allies won World War Two, how swiftly the Manhattan Project delivered the nuclear age, and how swiftly the Apollo program reached the Moon, O’Neill has a point.

If a critical number of people on Earth engaged in the action for Earth and space, we could lift our game from Earth to space in a decade.

If McPheron is right in his conclusions, then we need to achieve the impossible within a decade, and we need to start that action rolling now.

Success in the mission would connect us to the power of the Sun in space, which could then be used to deal with all strife on Earth.

Reaching to the stars will inspire many to join the challenge.

Solutions to survival in space, can also be applied to survival challenges on Earth.

AT WHAT COST?

One simple detail of space development, is that once we have secured a sustainable industrial presence in space, there will be no further call on resources from Earth.

We will be launching a stellar economy, where we can design a society free of poverty.

Liberating human society from poverty can begin on Earth now, as a new stellar society is created.

As in space, so on Earth, to ensure that all people have homes, have work, have proper income, and have creative career paths through life.

Creating a stellar society free of poverty on Earth, will also help to build peace on Earth.

Having space in space where nations can expand, will also help build peace.

A total focus on Earth alone is beginning to look rather dangerous.

Will Jeff Bezos’ call to a space future serve to inspire a new direction to a safe Earth?

Will space now prove to be the new green?

NOTES ~

[1]  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wants to build a permanent settlement on the Moon
ABC News Online, 29 May 2018
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-29/jeff-bezos-wants-to-build-a-permanent-settlement-on-the-moon/9810460

Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin space venture go all in on moon settlements
Alan Boyde, 26 May 2018, GeekWire
https://www.geekwire.com/2018/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-space-venture-go-moon-settlements/

[2]  The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill, 1977, page 162

[3]  Great Barrier Reef survived five climate change ‘death events’ but may not bounce back this time
Joanna Khan, 29 May 2018, ABC News Online
http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-05-29/great-barrier-reef-coral-death-event-climate-change-sea-levels/9801634

[4]  Researchers find rice grown in high carbon dioxide environments may be less nutritious
Jake Sturme, 24 May 2018, ABC News Online
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-24/scientists-warning-rice-may-become-less-nutritious/9792822?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=%3a8935&user_id=ba520dff3eeb28ed636c99a1223eb57cf8d1be6ca9a784fd234ff25f8ffeebc6&WT.tsrc=email&WT.mc_id=Email%7c%7c8935&utm_content=ABCNewsmail_topstories_articlelink

[5]  The Uninhabitable Earth
David Wallace-Wells, 9 July 2017, New York Magazine
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html?utm_campaign=nym&utm_medium=s1&utm_source=fb

[6]  Storms of My Grandchildren
James Hansen, 2009, Bloomsbury

[7]  The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning
James Lovelock, 2009, Penguin, pages 100-120

[8]  ‘End of Days’ is just around the corner, says American professor Guy McPherson
Kevin Werner, 31 October 2017, Flamborough Review
https://www.flamboroughreview.com/news-story/7764848—end-of-days-is-just-around-the-corner-says-american-professor-guy-mcpherson/

McPherson in New Zealand ~
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0yd1avJrV8

[9]  Rising to the Challenge
Kim Peart, February 2018, Space Pioneers Forum
https://stargategrid.forumchitchat.com/post/rising-to-the-challenge-5-feb-2018-9643421

[10]  The High Frontier
Gerard K. O’Neill speaks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kyt5W812hCQ

ABOUT KIM PEART ~   Kim Peart undertook environmental studies in 1975, meeting and learning from visionaries, including Bill Mollison and Ted Trainer. In 1976 Kim engaged with space settlement concepts proposed by the Princeton professor, Gerard K. O’Neill, and over the years has wondered how a space future will eventually happen. In 1987 after discovering the meaning of Battery Hens in long sheds in Murdunna, Kim began a long journey seeking to know how we humans could live in harmony with Nature. Drilling down into evolutionary dynamics, Kim came to see the need for expansion beyond Earth, so that we humans could live in harmony with Nature on Earth. These observations were included in Kim’s 2007 document, Creating a Solar Civilization. In the years since, Kim has continued to work on exactly how ten million and more keen individuals could rise to the challenge of securing a space future, so we will be able to win back a safe Earth.