11 December 2011

The Failure of Durban

New frontiers of physics?  Possible discovery of the Higgs Boson?

An Earth-like exo-planet (Kepler 22b) discovered and top target for the Search for Extraterrestrial Life:

Excellent Counterpoint to the Limits of Growth by Dennis Wingo:

The True Failure of Durban

Guest post by Dennis Ray Wingo
First I want to say thanks to Anthony for providing this forum for the discussion of climate in a different sense, that is to focus on Durban and what this conference means from the wider perspective of the direction of our global civilization.
When I was young and beginning in the world of technology I complained to my mentor, my company’s regional manager, about a bad performance review delivered to me by a boss who I and he thought was incompetent. His response was to say that “a performance review can be used as a tool or as a bludgeon”. The same thing is true about CO2 and its role on the global stage as providing a tool whereby the technocrats of the UN and its NGO’s seek to reorganize our planetary civilization In keeping with their desired future.
The fear of the negative consequences of the emission of CO2 is being used as a tool to bludgeon the developed world into economic and political suicide. We in the west are told that we must commit this suicide because we must commit to a “Fair and equitable allocation of the atmospheric space, taking into account the criteria of historic climate debt and population;” [bullet 33g of the FCCC/AWGLCA/2011/CRP.39 document]. We are told that the only just and equitable way to do this is to transfer large sums of money to the Non-Annex 1 world and that we must have peak CO2 emissions in Annex 1 (western civilization) immediately [bullet 33d, bullet 32].
There are two critical assumptions that underpin the entire Durban conference as well as previous efforts; the first assumption is that we live in a limited world and that this wealth transfer and the immediate cessation of CO2 emissions is the only possible path toward a “sustainable” future. The second is that technology cannot solve the problem but politics can. What are these assumptions built upon and are they valid? Is this the only path forward? Are we destined to leave our global posterity in a state of perpetual semi-poverty? Human nature rebels against this doom and gloom view of the future, and with good reason.
The Assumptions
I do not wish to seem overdramatic, but I can only conclude from the information that is available to me as Secretary-General, that the Members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to defuse the population explosion, and to supply the required momentum to development efforts. If such a global partnership is not forged within the next decade, then I very much fear that the problems that I have mentioned will have reached staggering proportions that they will be beyond our capacity to control.
Who said this? This statement could have very well have been the preamble to the Durban conference but it actually was uttered by UN Secretary General U Thant in 1969 and is included as the introduction to the book, Limits to Growth. The book “Limits to Growth” (LTG) is the touchstone of the environmental movement as well as the ultimate source of the two underpinning assumptions of the Durban conference.
The Limited Earth
The first assumption that the Earth is all we have and that our resources are limited to only what we have here. This is a patently false assumption. In 2005 I was invited to contribute a chapter to a book on “Spacepower Theory” which was commissioned by the defense department as an extension of Clauswitz’s classic “Landpower Theory”, Alfred Mahan’s “Seapower Theory”, and General Billy Mitchell’s “Airpower Theory”. In my chapter on the “Economic Development of the Solar System as the Heart of a Spacepower Theory”, a word was coined and defined.
geocentric” is defined as a mindset that sees spacepower and its application as focused primarily on actions, actors, and influences on earthly powers, the earth itself, and its nearby orbital environs. (available online at the NDU press here)
The underpinning assumption that the Earth and its resources constitutes all the wealth that exists for humans to access and use is by definition a geocentric mindset and has been falsified by the last three decades of NASA, ESA, and other nations scientific probes sent to the Moon and beyond. Just in the last few years we have discovered billions of tons of water on the Moon to support propulsion, trillions of tons of aluminum, titanium, iron, Uranium, thorium and other rare Earth metals along with Platinum Group Metals, Cobalt, nickel and iron derived from asteroid impacts. In the asteroid belt are untold riches of water, metals and other resources yet to be identified. Just a single small metal asteroid, 3554 Amun, has tens of trillions of dollars worth of metals, and an asteroid of the same type, 216 Cleopatra, has a billion trillion times more resources of the same type. We now know that Mars has extensive water resources and the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity, found in just a few kilometers of driving, enough metallic asteroid fragments to kick start industry on Mars. It is absurd to think that the geocentric mindset of LTG and today in Durban is correct.
No Faith In Technology
The supposed inability of technology to solve our current problems is the other key assumption of LTG and today in Durban. To anyone who understands history and technology this is absurd but here is what the authors of LTG say about technology;
Applying technology to the natural pressures that the environment exerts against any growth process has been so successful in the past that a whole culture has evolved around the principle of fighting against limits rather than learning to live with them. This culture has been reinforced by the apparent immensity of the earth and its resources and by the relative smallness of man and his activities….
(page 156, Limits to Growth)
… We have felt it necessary to dwell so long on an analysis of technology here because we have found that technological optimism is the most common and the most dangerous reaction to our findings from the world model. Technology can relieve the symptoms of a problem without affecting the underlying causes. Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all fundamental problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem – the problem of growth in a finite system – and prevent us from taking effective action to solve it.
(Page 159, LTG)
If you think that this thought pattern is one of the 1970’s, here is what Al Gore said in his book, Earth in the Balance in 1992:
It is important, however, to remember that there is a great danger in seeing technology alone as the answer to the environmental crisis. In fact, the idea that new technology is the solution to all our problems is a central part of the faulty way of thinking that created the crisis in the first place.
Unless we come to a better understanding of both the potential and the danger of technology, the addition of more technological power simply ensures further degradation of the environment, and no matter what new technologies we discover, no matter how cleverly and efficiently we manage to get them into the hands of people throughout the world, the underlying crisis will worsen unless, at the same time, we redefine our relationship to the environment, stabilize human population, and use every possible means to bring the earth back into balance.
(Page 328, Earth in the Balance)
Technology and technological development, in the form of the industrial revolution (the faulty way of thinking according to Gore), has done more to lift mankind out of poverty than all of the political systems tried in the entire one hundred and seventy thousand year history of our species put together. It is amazing that this neo Luddite attitude could exist today, but it does, and as an example of how it influences the Durban conference, only 15% of the money from their massive wealth transfer would be applied to developing technology. That is less than their administrative overhead! At the end of the day, this a key divergence between the NGO’s and technocrats of the UN and those of us who see another way, one rooted in finding solutions to the problems that confront us today.
Developing an Alternative
Let us, for the sake of the hypothetical and to put us on the same page as the delegates in Durban, let us grant the following:
  1. The increase in CO2 and other IR absorbing gasses in the atmosphere are bad and we must do something about it or suffer the secular apocalypse.
  2. We apply the minimum financial resources of the $100 billion per year as set forth in Durban to the problem.
Let us set as the requirements the following as well:
  1. Whatever solution is found, it must in the end result in a more prosperous world for all mankind.
  2. Whatever solution is found, it must also preserve individual liberty and provide opportunity for the further advance of mankind.
Unfortunately the requirements of brevity in this forum preclude an advanced treatment of this but lets lay the groundwork and if the reader wants more it can be provided in the future.
The first area to attack is energy. At the end of the day, energy is the key to the future. Just think that if a megawatt of electrical power was as inexpensive as a kilowatt is today, how many things would be different. A trash compactor could atomize your trash and separate it into its basic constituents for recycling. You could easily create your own hydrogen at home for your fuel cell car. Mining on the Earth could extract metals from base rock with oxygen as the waste product.
Half of the $100 billion per year would be spent on a crash program to develop various fusion technologies, including advanced forms of the National Ignition FacilityPolywell FusionThorium fission, and the “traditional” ITER type Tokomak fusion. Applying this much money to these energy technologies would do far more than all of the political world shaping of the wealth transfer of Durban. Providing advanced energy sources would do far more than solar panels or wind turbines to power a prosperous civilization. Both solar and wind are inherently low energy multiple technologies, meaning that the energy that you get out of either of these is only low multiples of the energy that it takes the make, install, and maintain them.
If we put the proper amount of resources into these energy technologies, then we would “solve” the CO2 problem as a side benefit and we could build a world energy grid that would do more than all the antipoverty programs in place today put together to improve life on Earth. In researching the history of the industrial revolution, human lifespan has been directly proportional to the amount of inexpensive energy available to us. human lifespans in the west went from 35 years of age in the year 1700 to almost 50 years of age at the peak of the age of coal in 1900. Today at the peak of the oil age that number has climbed to almost 80 years in Annex 1 countries. It is also in the advanced energy countries where population growth has dropped to replacement or even below. There is a direct correlation between wealth and population and it is far more fun to make everyone wealthy than to make everyone suffer in poverty as would be the ultimate result of Durban.
Space Resource Development
In just the past few years the Lunar Recon Orbiter, the LCROSS, and other missions have made a very preliminary map of the resources available on the surface of the Moon. It is inevitable that there are upside surprises waiting us there. Despite the problems of NASA in getting us back to the Moon, to the Moon is our first destination. Let us apply the other $50 billion a year to an effort to begin the industrialization of the Moon. In inflation adjusted terms, this is still only 40% of the budget spent per year at the peak of the Apollo program. If it is that important, then we can increase that budget to the full $100 billion a year (we are talking about building a sustainable global civilization) on a multi-pronged effort in this area.
This would not just be a NASA effort or a NASA, ESA, JAXA effort but an effort that would provide the means whereby private enterprise could contribute through their own efforts and funds. Tax relief, prizes, and other incentives. We begin with the industrialization of the Moon and the construction of a transportation infrastructure to allow humans to easily move about in the inner solar system. The resources of the Moon enable this. We move forward to build infrastructure in geosynch orbit that are many times larger than today, to enable communications and remote sensing infrastructure that would fundamentally transform our global society for the better.
These are not fantasies, these are not science fiction ideas, they are 100% doable today. The problem has been that the financial support has not been there, even considering the $18 billion dollar a year NASA. NASA is not designed to lead the economic development of the solar system, nor should it be, this is something that the American people and our fellows in western civilization are uniquely qualified to do. Dr. John Marburger, the head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Bush administration had a marvelous speech on this subject at the Goddard symposium in 2006. In it he said:
The ultimate goal is not to impress others, or merely to explore our planetary system, but to use accessible space for the benefit of humankind. It is a goal that is not confined to a decade or a century. Nor is it confined to a single nearby destination, or to a fleeting dash to plant a flag. The idea is to begin preparing now for a future in which the material trapped in the Sun’s vicinity is available for incorporation into our way of life.
This is the alternative to the Durban failure that should be investigated and I submit that if we did this, our future would be far better in the year 2100 than even the most optimistic scenarios developed in any of these conferences that focus on how to split the existing pie up in a way that supports their political proclivities. We want to build a far bigger pie. Today the average welfare recipient in the United States lives a life style that Augustus Caesar or the greatest emperor of old China would think of as magic. Our goal should be to create a world in the year 2100 where the poor live a lifestyle that George Soros would envy.
Beyond Artificial Limits
For those of us who work in the space business and who develop new architectures for lunar development and beyond it seems absurd that these false assumptions should underpin serious global deliberations at crafting a better future for the citizens of our planetary civilization. This at the end of the day is my greatest objection to the role that climate scientists play in the arena of solutions to the “CO2 problem”. Whether or not you believe that CO2 is the secular apocalypse, one thing is certain, the people that are trained in the arcane science of climate proxies are inadequate in training and incompetent in execution of something as large as architecting a future for our civilization. We must open up the boundaries of the discussion to include energy development on the Earth and resource development off planet as serious and viable alternatives to plans such as the failed ones being drawn up in places like Durban.
There is a future out there, a glorious one, that while it may not solve all of our problems, it will certainly get us beyond these artificial limits to growth.

30 November 2011

Three Space Solar Power Videos

Mke Snead's New Video

The IAA Press Conference

The Georgia Tech Space Power Grid Idea

23 November 2011

NASA inadequate for Planetary Defense

From: http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/IndyBlog/archives/2011/11/14/extra-extra-in-other-news-online

After Charlie Bolden, the administrator of NASA, declared that deflecting a near-earth object (NEO), such as an asteroid or a comet, will be “what keeps the dinosaurs—we are the dinosaurs, by the way—from becoming extinct a second time,” he admitted that the space agency couldn’t afford to tackle that task, even if it wanted to. He explained that the annual federal allocation for “planetary defense” is $5.8 million, which represents a mere 0.03 percent of NASA’s budget and is barely adequate merely to locate NEOs and track their orbits. (The New Yorker)

From: http://www.voxbikol.com/article/quarter-mile-wide-asteroid-coming-close-earth 

Quarter-mile-wide asteroid coming close to Earth

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — An asteroid bigger than anaircraft carrier will dart between the Earth and moon on Tuesday — the closest encounter by such a huge rock in 35 years.
But scientists say not to worry. It won't hit.
"We're extremely confident, 100 percent confident, that this is not a threat," said the manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program, Don Yeomans. "But it is an opportunity."
The asteroid named 2005 YU55 is being watched by ground antennas as it approaches from the direction of the sun. The last time it came within so-called shouting distance was 200 years ago.
Closest approach will occur at 6:28 p.m. EDT Tuesday when the asteroid passes within 202,000 miles of Earth. That's closer than the roughly 240,000 miles between the Earth and the moon.
The moon will be just under 150,000 miles from the asteroid at the time of closest approach.
Both the Earth and moon are safe — "this time," said Jay Melosh, professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University.
If 2005 YU55 were to plow into the home planet, it would blast out a crater four miles across and 1,700 feet deep, according to Melosh's calculations. Think a magnitude-7 earthquake and 70-foot-high tsunami waves.
Scientists have been tracking the slowly spinning, spherical, dark-colored object since its discovery in 2005, and are positive it won't do any damage.
"We know the orbit of this object very well," Yeomans said.
The asteroid stretches a quarter-mile across. Smaller objects come close all the time, Yeomans noted, but nothing this big will have ventured so close since 1976. And nothing this large will again until 2028.
Radar observations from California and Puerto Rico will help scientists ascertain whether theasteroid is pockmarked with craters and holds any water-bearing minerals or even frozen water.
Amateur astronomers would need a 6-inch-or-bigger telescope and know exactly where to look to spot it.
Astronomers consider 2005 YU55 a C-type asteroid — one containing carbon-based materials. "It's not just a whirling rock like most of them," Yeomans said.
Such objects are believed to have brought carbon-based materials and water to the early Earth, planting the seeds for life. The discovery of water-bearing minerals or ice would support that theory, Yeomans said.
This is the type of asteroid that NASA would want to aim for, with astronauts, Yeomans said, especially if frozen water is found. Such asteroids could serve as watering holes and fueling stations for future explorers, he said.
An asteroid is actually on NASA's short list for destinations.
President Barack Obama wants astronauts headed to an asteroid and then Mars in the coming decades. That's why the 30-year space shuttle program ceased this summer — so NASA could have enough money to get cracking on these new destinations.
As for an actual strike by an asteroid this size, that's estimated to occur once every 100,000 years or so.
An asteroid named Apophis — estimated to be 885 feet across — will venture extremely close on April 13, 2029 — but will not strike. It has a remote chance of hitting Earth when it comes around again on April 13, 2036.
Scientists said information gleaned from 2005 YU55, as well as other asteroids, will prove useful if and when it becomes necessary to deflect an incoming Armageddon-style rock. (From Philstar.com)

Excellent Coverage of SBSP from Aviation Week!

In Orbit
Space Solar Power Seen Profitable By 2040
Aviation Week & Space Technology Nov 21 , 2011 , p. 20
Frank Morring, Jr.

Printed headline: Closing The Case
Conventional wisdom typically holds that harvesting “free” energy from the Sun with giant collectors in space does not make financial sense, at least until Earth’s finite supplies of oil, coal and natural gas become so scarce that there’s no other choice. The conventionally wise usually suggest that it will make more economic sense to rely on wind power and ground-based solar cells for “green” renewable energy. But now a panel of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), an elite organization of scientists, engineers and other experts who collectively examine some of the big issues of space exploration, has concluded that space solar power (SSP) could start paying for itself in as little as a decade.
John Mankins, a leading SSP visionary, co-chaired the IAA panel with Nobuyuki Kaya of Japan’s Kobe University, where a lot of the technical ground for SSP already is being broken. They presented their findings at the National Press Club in Washington on Nov. 14, after unveiling them at the International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, last month. Examining various SSP approaches and four scenarios for the way global energy needs will influence the world economy, the IAA panel concluded that “premium niche markets” could support SSP profitably in the relative near term, particularly if some new approaches to assembling the big space-based collectors are followed. Technical hurdles that remain to be surmounted include thermal control, either with better spaceradiators or higher-temperature electronics. But the SSP idea is more attractive now that at any time since it first was conceived in the late 1960s.

“There has been general consensus in every study, both here and abroad, that space solar power is technically feasible, that there are no show-stoppers,” says Mark Hopkins, CEO of the National Space Society, which sponsored a panel discussion of the IAA report at the press club. “But this is the first major study which has come out and said there’s a good chance it can be economically viable.”
Mankins says the study examined three “promising” SSP concepts for positioning in geostationary orbit—a stabilized platform using solar arrays like those on the International Space Station to generate electricity converted to microwaves for transmission to large rectifying antennas (rectennas) on Earth; a modular approach linking solar arrays and lasers beaming down power in near-visible wavelengths, and a modular approach concentrating solar energy with large mirrors before converting it to microwaves.
The stabilized platform was studied in depth in 1979, Mankins says, and is no longer attractive because it is limited to about 100 kw without being “fundamentally rearchitectured.” The laser approach runs into efficiency issues in competition with other power-generation systems above 100 mw, according to the IAA, while the modular “sandwich” microwave architecture is the most promising because it is scalable.
“One of the things which appears very promising now is the idea that through these hypermodular architectures, that you can build fairly tractably, with tens of millions of dollars, a prototype of a module,” Mankins says. “And for a bit more money you can make a bunch of copies of those modules.”
The microwave approach will require more work on thermal control, Mankins said, and any large structure will require advances in on-orbit assembly, in-space propulsion and, ultimately, launch vehicles. But at least initially a 10-mw system costing $10 billion, of the type already considered by the Pentagon for supplying power to forward-deployed bases and disaster areas, probably could be launched with existing or planned vehicles like the Delta IV Heavy and Falcon 9 Heavy, respectively.
The IAA panel concluded that for the rest of the century, growing demand for electricity will call for many new sources of energy. Wind and terrestrial solar power will help, but unlike SSP are subject to local weather conditions. Space-generated power, by contrast, can be beamed to areas where weather is temporarily stilling windmills and blocking sunlight, Mankins says.
The IAA report does not assume that SSP will totally replace other sources of electricity, but finds it can gradually assume a larger role as the global population grows from 7 billion to twice that by century’s end. U.S. military strategists have long seen SSP as an alternative to the “energy wars” they fear as fossil fuel supplies dwindle, while development of SSP technology will place the nation or nations that control it in a strong position to shape geopolitics. Another benefit may come with the jobs generated by large-scale SSP production.
“If you think about the skill set that is necessary to build a system like Orbcomm or GPS, it’s that same kind of skill set, but a lot of them,” Mankins says. “At full scale by mid-century, space solarpower is like the automotive industry, meaning you have a very large and high-tech workforce and a set of infrastructure with factories building pieces of solar power satellites. The reasonable number [for SSP generating 100-200 gw] works out to millions of jobs.”

20 November 2011

Near Earth Object Media/Risk Communications Experts Gather

From: http://www.newswise.com/articles/near-earth-object-media-risk-communications-experts-gather

Newswise — An expert group of scientists, reporters, and risk management specialists have taken part in a Near Earth Object Media/Risk Communications workshop.
Output from these professionals is helping to draft a report for the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, the Working Group dedicated to organizing an approach that counters the potential threat posed by Near Earth Objects, or NEOs.
Specifically, that UN Working Group in its deliberations is appraising establishment of an Information, Analysis and Warning Network (IAWN).
The team of workshop participants included leading journalists and writers, hazard communication authorities, artists and NEO researchers. The invite-only setting for the meeting – held November 14-15 – was the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
This NEO Media/Risk Communications Workshop was convened by Secure World Foundation and the Association of Space Explorers.
Reach, teach, and motivate
Among issues discussed during the two-day workshop:
-- What are effective tools to empower audiences with a tangible outreach and education plan, one that fosters accurate and timely information about the possible effects of a potentially hazardous NEO and what actionable steps can they take?
-- How best to inform the public regarding NEOs and any Earth-threatening object in a way to avoid misinformation?
-- What steps can be taken to develop an outreach and education plan, one that offers accurate and timely information about the possible effects of a potentially hazardous NEO?
Counteract consequences
Secure World Foundation has a long-standing interest for maintaining a vigilant eye on NEOs, as well as the establishment of a Planetary Defense strategy.
The consequences stemming from a NEO plowing into the Earth depends on its size and trajectory. Damage could range from destruction of an area the size of a city, to creation of tsunamis, to far greater after-effects.
“Establishment of a Planetary Defense strategy includes a number of components, from finding potentially hazardous objects, predicting their future locations, and providing warning about future impacts with the Earth,” said Dr. Ray Williamson, Executive Director of Secure World Foundation.
Furthermore, a Planetary Defense strategy also includes missions to deflect impacting asteroids by changing their orbit, as well as disaster preparedness management and, in the event of a NEO strike, shaping a mitigation and recovery plan to counteract consequences.
Resources and contacts
The need for an IAWN had been identified in Asteroid Threats: A Call for a Global Response, a report prepared by an expert panel convened by the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) to assist the work of the UN COPUOS Action Team on Near-Earth Objects (AT-14), which was established in 2001.
That report is available here:
Additionally, you can review Executive Summary of the Workshop on a Near-Earth Object Information, Analysis, and Warning Network (IWAN) here:
For further information on Secure World Foundation and this week’s Near Earth Object Media/Risk Communications Working Group meeting, contact:
Dr. Ray Williamson, Executive Director
Secure World Foundation
Email: rwilliamson@swfound.org
Phone: 1-303-554-1560
Cell Phone: 1-303-501-0430
Leonard David, Senior Research Associate
Secure World Foundation
Email: ldavid@swfound.org
Phone: 1-303-554-1560
About Secure World Foundation
Secure World Foundation (SWF) is a private operating foundation dedicated to the secure and sustainable use of space for the benefit of Earth and all its peoples.
SWF engages with academics, policy makers, scientists and advocates in the space and international affairs communities to support steps that strengthen global space sustainability. It promotes the development of cooperative and effective use of space for the protection of Earth’s environment and human security.
The Foundation acts as a research body, convener and facilitator to advocate for promoting key space security and other space related topics and to examine their influence on governance and international development.
Secure World Foundation is headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, Belgium.
For access to the SWF website, please go to: