Spaceship Earth "Where to From Here?"
So many people!
Our amazing journey.
Over the last few hubs we've been looking at the Earth and just how unique she really is, but there are a few things that have come up that we seriously need to take notice of if we want to continue to live here on Earth that is.
Last week we started looking at how many people live here, and how that number is increasing. How things are likely to change with the finite amount of resources we have at our disposal.
Back in the latter part of the nineteenth century, a science fiction writer named Jules Verne wrote an amazing novel called 'Around the world in 80 days' where the main character is bet that he can't circumnavigate the earth in less than 80 days.
Today, one hundred and fifty years later the ISS makes the same trip in 80 minutes, but down 'on deck' you can do the same trip in 40 hours, and wherein the days of Phineas Fogg there were a billion souls on the planet, now there are nearly eight billion and it's still climbing.
The spaceship that has nurtured and looked after mankind for so long is getting a little crowded, and resources are starting to get scarce.
Scarce resources WATER
You'd think that a planet that had 70% of its surface covered in water wouldn't have a problem finding usable water wouldn't you?
You'd be wrong!
Of that 70%, only about 5% is actually 'freshwater' and even less than that is drinkable! The majority of the water we have on the planet is saltwater, good for some species of fish and crustaceans to live in, but not suitable for drinking, taking salt in like that causes the body to leech water out and creates even greater thirst.
Another 15% of the earth's water supply can be considered 'freshwater' but is locked up in the polar ice caps, melting those will give us more freshwater, but at the cost of much worse storms and terrible weather patterns than we face today.
Military strategists admit that the next major conflict the earth will face will probably not be over oil, but over water rights, there have already been a few over it that haven't been widely reported.
- Jordan Built a Dam on the Jabbok river preventing water from flowing into the Jordan, Israel destroyed it in a missile attack.
- Turkey has built a dam across the Euphrates river potentially cutting off water to both Syrian and Iraq, the Kurds in Turkey re-started their guerilla war as they saw it as a breach in the peace treaty they signed with Turkey, thousands were displaced.
- China built a dam across the Yallo river. Entire cities were bulldozed and millions forcibly resettled (but it was within China's own borders so no one really said much)
- Egypt built the Aswan Dam to provide water even in drought seasons. During operation Desert Storm Sudan (who supported Saddam) threatened to attack the dam, Egypt replied that their response would be massive.
And that's just now, in a few years time there'll be more people and more pressure.
That's just one of the resources, then you have the situation with growing food for a growing population, and that's just as dire.
But I don't want to leave things there, because there is an answer, and it's right in front of us, or rather all around us, it's just that we think it's the realm of science fiction, but it isn't, it's a reality that is coming to pass one way or the other.
And now for something totally different, why not visit me on my latest blog post?
Building a wall is easy right? Read how I found out you have to have the right tools, and it's just the same with writing.
Small step, or Giant leap?
Fifty years on
Fifty years ago mankind went to the moon on top of the most powerful engines that had ever been built, but those engines had some limitations, they could only hurl a forty-ton payload as far as the moon, and everything pretty much had to be discarded on the way, there was no way to retrieve the pieces, this made things very expensive.
The Saturn V rocket is still the most powerful engine ever to carry a Human being, but that may change in the next couple of years, the race is on to build a rocket that can take a spaceship out and send in on its way to either the moon or Mars and return for refuelling and re-use.
Fifty years ago the machine that took us to the Moon had so little computing power that the average kettle in your or my kitchen now has more, and the average smartphone has one hundred thousand times the computing power of all the computers aboard Apollo 11!
Did you know that the Moon has water? Only trace amounts, but some think there may be enough to provide for a small settlement, what it does have is plenty of Silica and Aluminium oxide, both of which we here on Earth find pretty useful.
And the moon is only a short 'hop' away.
It took us just over a week to get to the moon and back when we went in the sixties and seventies, it would probably take the same amount of time today, but the difference is we could build facilities on the moon that would enable us to reach further out into the cosmos, let's take a look at where we might go.
Step one The Moon
Only just under two hundred thousand miles away, the Moon could be a very effective way of testing out our equipment as we head out into the solar system.
The Earth has many of the minerals we have here on Earth and a few that we don't have but would love to get our hands on to test out what we think they might do.
Imagine a fuel that's very safe in a nuclear reactor! One that makes Fusion reactions possible (think Medieval Alchemy where the goal was to turn lead into gold, but this might work!)
Helium is one of the most abundant elements in the universe. It has an Atomic number of 2 meaning that every atom of Helium has two protons, two neutrons and two electrons, well almost every atom that is, you see in the samples we brought back from the Moon we found Helium with THREE of each of these!
Helium 3 is very rare on Earth, but seems to be abundant on the Moon!
The price of Helium 3 at the moment is around $2k per litre.
There's also an abundance of Aluminium on the Moon, along with Iron and various other materials.
From the Moon, which has 1/3 Earth gravity we could build craft that would take us out into our solar system using fuel refined on the Moon for a fraction of the fuel expended getting us to the Moon let alone getting out as far as Mars or beyond.
Another thing proposed for the Moon is an observatory for the far side of the Moon, away from the glaring lights of the cities of Earth, a chance to look into the heavens without interference from earth.
And this is just the beginning.
What we thought we'd be doing in 1999 (back in the seventies)
Time for a break
You might be wondering where I'm going with this hub. We started a few hubs ago exploring how unique the Earth is, but now we seem to be going out into space on some 'wild goose chase' as it were.
That's because I firmly believe that while the Earth is unique, we are facing some serious issues, and the only way we're going to really be able to deal with them is by allowing people to move 'off-world' to make space for the other species on our planet to survive, but how do we get there, and why would we go?
That's what I want to explore in the next few hubs, want to tag along? you're most welcome to.
But for now, it's time for me to stop.
Hey, here's an idea, and yes I'm being very cheeky I know, but I put a link to my post on Wordpress earlier in the hub, how about popping along and having a read.
See you next time
© 2019 Lawrence Hebb