[ExI] Terraforming Earth
tara at taramayastales.com
Wed Sep 6 19:24:02 UTC 2017
As part of my research for my novels, I watch a lot of YouTube videos about “bushcraft” and survival skills, and other fun topics like how to build a house for $6000. While I am very pro-technology, I am leery of any form of “Cyber Socialism,” a future in which only a few geniuses will have any genuine work to do and everyone else will live off of “Universal Income” (as serfs lived off the “charity” of their feudal masters in the Dark Ages), distracted by the bread and circuses of Virtual playgrounds. I don’t want to live on the charity of a global cyber-ruling class, and I doubt that the majority of humanity does either.
I’d rather see technology used to empower individuals, and not just the super geniuses, but the ordinary people, even—dare I say it—the kind of people who may have voted for Trump. Or Jill Stein. Or whoever you hate, but who wouldn’t matter as much if the government combined with huge conglomerates didn’t have such power of our lives. People who want to be independent and useful, on their own terms.
It seems to me that the only real way to do that is to use technology to extend land that families can move onto, develop themselves, in the old frontier fashion. Not at a lower technological level, the way most “off the grid” types now, but in a way that decentralizes but extends the grid—in a high tech way. Cheap, easy to use tech that turns dead land, like tundra, desert and empty ocean into territory where people can build houses and towns and new states.
Terraforming other planets is still too expensive, but terraforming the more alien parts of the earth seems within reach. There’s a few organizations out there, like the Sea Steading community, which are thinking along the same lines, but I would like to think in terms of reclaiming the hottest and coldest lands on Earth as well. If you look at a map of the United States at night, there are parts of the West, short of the coast, which are almost as dark as North Korea.
Energy and liquid water seem to be the biggest challenges on land. With energy you can either cool or heat the worst environment, and either collect, store, melt or import water, although the more local you can source water, the better, I think. The other kind of tech which would be useful would be for intense, efficient local farming, mostly automated. While I expect most food production to be dominated by a few huge companies, I think that having thousands of tiny, family owned farms/gardens, which operate autonomously enough to not be the main occupation of the family who owns them, would be fantastic. We already have this to some extent, but there’s huge room for improvement.
A century of practice reclaiming deserts and tundras, creating dispersed energy grids and autonomous urban farms, would be great practice for the skills needed to actually colonize other planets or to live in space. Not to mention a bit of elbow room would help quite a bit to ease our current problems.
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