Tag Archives: sustainability

Climate Change: Inconvenient Fallacies

Climate Change: Inconvenient Fallacies

© 2017 Michael A Hill
Photo credits USGS

Al Gore, what a guy! First he invented the internet! Then he won the presidential election popular vote, but missed the office by only a hanging chad. As his crowning achievement, he invented climate change. Is there anywhere this man’s imagination cannot take us?

The Dual Premise

Al Gore once asserted, with the support of many climatologists, that the global climate is warming AND that humans are the cause. This two-part premise presents a logical difficulty, although it is not difficult to understand. Cognitive frisson arises because there are three other possibilities, none addressed, producing unexplained complexity. A more understandable approach would have been to first prove that the global climate is, in fact, getting warmer. If so, then prove that humankind causes observable warming. The dual premise is so much harder to prove that it probably has not yet been fully investigated.

glacier_usgs

Cycles of the Ice Ages

What if the global climate is warming, but it is NOT our fault? This is a much more likely scenario, due to Earth’s cycling ice ages. Our wobbling Earth causes cooling-warming glacial cycles. Volcanoes, sunspots, or maybe even internal combustion machines temporarily affect these cycles, but they do not cause them. Also, these climate change processes are not smooth. Spans of tranquility alternate with periods of rapid catastrophic change. Earth has been warming since the last glacial maximum over 25,000 years ago, and will continue to do so. Because the average glacial cycle may be over 80,000 years long, the current warming trend could continue for another 10,000-20,000 years.

Nature Abhors an Ideology

For the past 16 years and more, United States administrations subverted climate science, with the result that no conclusive findings ever came forth. The USGS and NOAA agencies, having the capability to measure unequivocal truth in the matter, were hobbled with politically appointed leadership commissioned to speak only preapproved findings in line with party policy. Not since the time of Soviet Lysenkoism has this heightened level of political ideology been used to force scientific pronouncements. We can only hope that the result is not as disastrous. Nature doesn’t care about our ideologies. It goes on doing what it will or won’t, without asking our input. Meanwhile chasing unproductive programs wastes our time. If global warming is our future, and we can’t slow its progress, then we should bend our efforts to more productive measures, as the Dutch have done for centuries. Seawall and levee infrastructures might be good investments now.

volcano2_usgs

Should we clean up the polluted air and oceans? Absolutely! It stinks and it’s filthy. Any business flirts with bankruptcy if it can’t clean up its own mess as it goes, and doesn’t deserve investment. These are our best arguments! All the rest is vacuous, soul-sucking static. Why shouldn’t we work further toward tangible goals having real chances of success? We live in exciting times. The most exciting thing to do now is get to work tackling the challenges of adapting to a changing world.

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Restarting Space Exploration

AerialSteamHorse1841

Seat of the pants ventures are quite exciting!

The space race heats up again. Commercialization drives this new cycle, fueled by privatization of governmental space projects. Visionaries see vast economic potentials and corporate leaders map out new economic strategies and markets.

Space commercialization ventures may take on any number of forms. Various business models propose to transport passengers, to resupply space stations, to collect space junk, to divert near-Earth asteroid threats, to mine asteroids and the Moon, to colonize the Moon and Mars, to manufacture goods in low-gravity, to construct space-based military defenses, to generate power in space for Earth consumption, to expand communications and information processing, and to explore space further.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce recently launched an exciting public discussion to attract space commercialization ventures to its city. Additionally, the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business launched a Master of Science Program in Space Technology Commercialization this year.  Companies already locating resources to Austin, Texas, include Emergent Space Technologies, Deep Space Industries, New Worlds Institute, and Fathom Academy.

But why should space exploration need restarting? Because progress continues to be slow, programs cost too much, spaceflight risks lives and treasure, and efforts return low rewards and benefit too few people. Essentially, space exploration currently is unsustainable. However, exploration and commercialization are two faces of the same enterprise. So, let’s rethink long term commercialization strategies to expand participation and benefits, building on the successes of the past while employing innovation for the future.

Sustainability

“Sustainability” evokes many different ideas among many different people.

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Deep Space: The Next Frontier

ASTEROID

Asteroids will be mined for raw materials.

Space exploration accelerates now after decades of boringly intermittent progress, driven by private corporations setting up new industrial business lines. SpaceX and Virgin Galactic show us brilliant successes and dramatic catastrophes as they race to commercialize space and to make a lot of money from it. Boeing leads the race to provide new commercial crew transport systems for the International Space Station. Specialized space companies also proliferate to support, supply and service these efforts.

The serious side of space commercialization focuses on industrialization and manufacturing. The idea is to make stuff in space from other stuff we find there, and then sell it to folks back on Earth. Deep space is where the raw materials are to be found and where the mines and factories will be built. “Deep Space” spans the volumes above near-Earth orbits and reaches out to the edge of Jovian interplanetary space. It includes the Moon, Mars and the Asteroid Belt.

Astronauts

Space exploration and development will become increasingly automated and

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