[FoRK] "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

Stephen D. Williams sdw
Thu Jul 7 17:32:49 PDT 2005

Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) wrote:

> On 7-Jul-05, at 1:58 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> [on reversing desertification with the push of a button]
>> Desertification is irreversible? Really? We can plan terraforming of 
>> Mars but we can't add water to a desert? I don't believe it.
> [on gift-wrapping earth's atmosphere to reverse the effects of global 
> warming]
>> You do know that this idea has been proposed many times? (Red Earth, 
>> Green Earth, Blue Earth on Mars terraforming for instance.)
>> Mylar (or similar) can be stretched super thin, the gigantic surface 
>> area allows power production to run ion engines to keep it in place, 
>> etc. Lots of ideas that could work.
> Are you really this naive? Holy shit I am just realizing that you are.
> Space mirrors to reduce global warming and terraforming Mars and the 
> sands of Earthly deserts? We can "plan to terraform" til we're blue in 
> the face, but has anyone "terraformed" even one square foot of desert?

"Human beings survive and prosper by manipulating the natural world and 
by altering their environments. In a broad sense of the term, the *first 
clear evidence of terraforming comes from Sumeria*, part of the Fertile 
Crescent and home to humanity?s earliest civilizations. The inhabitants 
of those ancient cities redirected the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates 
rivers to better irrigate their crops and capture rich silt for use in 
their fields. In that sense, they used primitive terraforming to make 
their land far more arable and productive. In the modern world, there 
have been suggestions that we terraform the Sahara desert in a similar 

*"Masanobu: *Chemical agriculture can't change the desert. Even if they 
have a tractor and a big irrigation system, they are not able to do it. 
I came to the realization that to make the desert green requires natural 
farming. The method is very simple. You just need to sow seeds in the 
desert. Here is a picture of experimentation in Ethiopia. This area was 
beautiful 90 years ago, and now it looks like the desert in Colorado. I 
gave seeds for 100 varieties of plants to people in Ethiopia and 
Somalia. Children planted seeds, and watered them for three days. 
Because of high temperature and not having water, the root goes down 
quickly. Now the large Daikon radishes are growing there. People think 
there isn't any water in the desert, but even in Somalia and Ethiopia, 
they have a big river. It is not that they do not have water; the water 
just stays underneath the earth. They find the water under 6 to 12 feet."


> Has anyone informed you that Arthur C. Clarke is a Science FICTION 
> writer?

Yes, those Clarke Orbits turned out to be a really stupid idea.

Did you really just suggest that Clarke didn't have any innovative ideas 
that changed the world?
Did you further imply that science fiction never provides a venue for 
inventors and scientists who are so far ahead of their contemporaries 
that the only available remuneration is publishing interesting "fiction"?

If so, you are spectactularly uninformed.

> Terraforming is nothing more than the imaginings of creative dreamers. 
> Mylar skins for our atmosphere are an even more humourous imagining. 
> And with no economic incentive to put any of these systems in place,

"Mylar skins for our atmosphere"??? What are you thinking? Mylar is the 
name of a thin, tough, silvered mirror-like plastic that used to be very 
common. I used to hike with a "space blanket" made of mylar. The point 
was to illustrate the kind of material for a mirror, not a "skin for our 

Yea, no one would ever put giant mirrors in space:
"The goal of the day-long Znamya (Banner) 2.5 test is to see whether 
huge orbiting mirrors could light up the dark winters of the Russian 
North, boost agriculture by lengthening the day, or illuminate 
construction sites and disaster areas, officials say.

Sceptics call it a hare-brained scheme doomed to fail."

"Russia's Energiya rocket company which is carrying out the experiment 
says a possible project to light up five cities might cost $340 million 
for development, production and deployment in space. They say it could 
be ready as early as 2003."


> how do you imagine that these thousand-trillion- dollar megaprojects 
> would even be attempted?

Make them commercially viable, build them with self-replicating 
technology, make them have a dual role as a weapon system (plenty of 
budget for that!), etc.

> Philanthropy on the part of messurs Brin and Gates?
> You do realize it's 2005, right?

Yes, just before 2010, just before 2020, just before 2050.... Even 
without acceleration, if we make as much progress in the next 40 years 
as in the last, even my wildest dreams will be far surpassed before I 
die. (of natural causes that is; I estimate I have a somewhat higher 
chance of dying from "really living" than natural causes, i.e. "burn out 
before rusting out". To wit: my first attempt at a Private Pilot Check 
Ride is Monday!!)

> -Ian.


swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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