Sunday, March 4, 2012

Think, People, Think

Through the media we are bombarded by strife and the rumors of strife. Our leaders find it hard to focus on long term issues because of political turmoil, recessions, famine, nuclear proliferation, or civil wars. The very structure of our government and economy is such that problems are dealt with on an election by election or quarter by quarter basis, leaving little time for future planning. We seem to be in a constant state of flux. We should be doing better than this. We must do better than this.


There are some that wax philosophical about the continued existence of the human race. They compare our existence to the dinosaurs and make the argument that all species have a “lifespan.” My argument is that we are smarter than the dinosaurs and, yet, it looks as though they will have lasted about 650 times as long as we will. Okay, we don’t have armor, large teeth, tons of muscles, etc.; but we do have an obscenely large brain to weight ratio. Problem is we’re not using that for the long-range planning needed to give T-Rex a run for the money.

Except for the handrails near the top, this was a typical Earth scene for 160 million years. 
  © Copyright Hywel Williams and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

If humankind insists on keeping all its eggs in one basket (staying on Earth), the universe is bound to make an omelette someday. Whether it be an asteroid strike, a spray of high-energy gamma rays, or a super volcano eruption, the results will be the same. Civilization will go back to a handful of survivors living at a primitive level of existence.

Asteroid Strike

We should be striving now to develop the technologies we need to protect the planet, go beyond our cozy envelope of air, and start extracting resources and energy from the Solar System at large. I’m not talking about further development of rockets. We’ve got enough products of combustion to deal with. We need to develop a space elevator. It is the only way to get significant loads into space cheaply and often. I describe a seriously practical scheme for one in my book Transmat World.

And I’m not talking about a colony on the Moon as our next space project as Newt suggests. Actually, the the prospect of harvesting helium-3 from the Moon could be lucrative but, in general, we want to avoid gravity wells. They are expensive and there are too many alternatives. The asteroid belt contains the material we need to thrive in space and it floats there, waiting to be harvested. We have the technology to capture these asteroids, bring them back to Earth, and sculpt them into space habitats after mining them for useful metals and minerals. These technologies are also described in more detail in Transmat World and other blog posts: The Space Mirror Hack, Asteroid to Habitat: The Transformation Begins, and The Space Egg.

We have to use our huge brain anomaly to consider the simple solutions for major problems that could arise. For instance, a nuclear winter has several possible causes that have nothing to do with war. It can also be caused by volcanoes or an asteroid hit, making it one of the more likely doomsday scenarios. The weather conspires to destroy crops for several years in a row causing billions of people to starve. The solution? The emergency mushroom kit. Mushrooms, a good source of protein, can grow in very little light making it the perfect go-to crop for this disaster. Has anyone investigated the viability of this simple solution? Do our governments have mushroom spores for the multitude stored in vaults along with the Ark of the Covenant? Very doubtful, but it could be a simple, inexpensive thing that would save billions of lives if the worst happens.
Could mushrooms be the go-to crop?

  © Copyright Pam Brophy and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence


This is the simple, mindful type of technology we need to be thinking of and developing for the future of mankind here on the planet and beyond the confines of Earth; a future that is not stark and limiting but boundless and full of energy and promise. So start thinking.


Thanks for your time. My name is Glen Hendrix and I invite you to comment on this blog.

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