Energy vision for the future

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by Marso, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. Marso

    Marso High speed, low drag.

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    I fly over vast tracts of the desert southwest on a regular basis. Empty, barren desert waiting to be exploited by human ingenuity. I bore my copilots with this shit endlessly, when I'm not harping on astronomy and Mars Direct. Here's the idea:

    1. It could be done with fusion power when it becomes viable, or nuclear power today if we could overcome the politics.

    2. Build a half dozen power stations along the west coast, from San Diego to the Bay Area.

    3. Chain 3 desalination plants to each power station. Cracking seawater into freshwater isn't technologically hard- it's just energy intensive.

    4. Pump water into the San Diego basin, the LA basin, the San Joaquin Valley, and begin building inland pipelines: Vegas, Lake Mead, Phoenix, the Colorado River, and projects to turn vast tracts of the desert southwest into a green, 22nd Century oasis of added living space and agricultural awesomeness.

    5. We create jobs up the ass: the power plants. The desalination plants. The pipelines. We create hundreds of thousands of square miles of ripe, settlement ready agricultural farmland in a desert. Excess water flows downstream to Mexico; we can support further immigration and/or a guest worker program to grow cities and agriculture. We can make- and support- twenty more Phoenix, Arizonas.

    6. This technology, once proven, could revitalize northern Africa, the Baja, interior regions of Australia, etc. In addition, we can use energy to explore open ocean mariculture. We all talk about resource limits and Malthusian disasters- there is no reason this planet can't support upwards of 30 billion humans, and maybe more. And by the time it does, we're on Mars, in the belt, the Jovians, and on our way to Rigil K. A single disaster can't wipe us out- we're unstoppable.

    Goddamn it, we can do it. All it takes is guts, vision, some capital investment, and people who are willing to think big- like the Americans who built the Golden Gate and Hoover Dam. It can be be done.

    Anyone else on board?
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  2. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    Or we could encourage forest growth
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  3. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    It takes willful denial of the reality that we're extracting far more from the planet than is sustainable already. This idea just accelerates that without offering any solutions.
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  4. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    My first thought is, water or not, you can't grow crops in sand. Where does thousands of square miles of topsoil come from?
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  5. Marso

    Marso High speed, low drag.

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    Extracting what from the planet, exactly? Water happens on a cycle. Evaporation, precipitation, rivers, oceans, etc. It's called weather.
    Agriculture is also a cycle. You grow something, what's left over is plowed back under and becomes part of the nutrient cycle next time around. What is used and excreted goes back to the environment as part of the nutrient cycle.

    This is all 7th grade physical science. How do you think the ecosphere has managed to survive for billions of years? A few power/desalination plants and some pipelines is not 'extracting more than is sustainable' from the Earth. We're talking about a ginormous irrigation project, essentially. One that would create jobs, living space, food... all those things a growing human population needs. Or I guess we could just abort all the extra humans.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
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  6. Marso

    Marso High speed, low drag.

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    The land out there isn't all sand- it's not the Sahara. Stuff grows there now- not just the stuff we'd want.
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  7. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    "You know what this is?...........it's SAND!" :shakefist:

    sand.jpg
  8. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    The things we do don't happen on a cycle. Deforestation doesn't magically reverse itself. Species don't go un-extinct. Carbon doesn't magically get locked back up again. Plastics don't get sucked out of the oceans. Garbage doesn't disappear. Even nutrients don't get recycled if you keep increasing population.

    Unless and until there's a solution to some of those things, enormous wasteful schemes for multiplying human population are wrong.
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  9. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    They happen in cycles which have worked for billions of years without our interference, yet in a few short centuries of industrialisation we've already managed to destabilise them in ways that may yet prove to be catastrophic. They aren't indestructible, they aren't "designed" to cope with parameters which are being artificially shifted by a species with power but not wisdom.

    Until we can start developing that wisdom our expansion would be akin to nothing more than a plague of losusts, consuming and destroying everything in our paths.

    We wouldn't be Starfleet, we'd be the Borg.
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  10. Marso

    Marso High speed, low drag.

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  11. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    Many things can be done, the question is more whether they should be.

    For me you summed it up when you pointed out that things grow in the desert, just not the things we want. I don't think we've particularly made a very strong case for our suitability to make those decisions, not to mention that as a plan to mitigate disaster it sounds distinctly like exacerbating the one we are already causing.
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  12. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    Doesn't it take certain kinds of soil to grow crops? Can the desert soil be schmoozed (elements added, etc) to make it viable on such a vast scale?
    Where's Evenflow when we need him?
  13. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    You could start with plants that can grow in sand or sandy soil, then plow them into the sand, if you do it a few times over you could turn the sand into a sandy soil, once that's done, you could grow crops that can be sustained in that type of soil.
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  14. Marso

    Marso High speed, low drag.

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    If you irrigate the inteior, make it arable, etc... you can plant forests. Farming is whatever you make it.

    Global warming? What if there was more humidity, more green, more life, more trees, and a cooler 'desert.' Yeah, carbon dioxide increases CO2. More crops, trees, forests, and such decreases it. Open ocean mariculture accomplishes the same thing: more CO2 consumed, more O2 pumped back into the eco system.

    You bedwetters seem to think the only thing man can do to the planet is hurt it. Those of us conservationists who live, and yes- hunt, in places like Idaho know better. We're waaaay smarter than that, if we choose to be. We can turn this rock into the garden paradise Roddenberry envisioned. It's just an engineering problem, people. It's all in the math, and the science.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  15. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    Is this something our history suggests is likely to happen? I'm not sure what advantages or insights come from living in Idaho but the world is much bigger and is in need of a collective global effort. What you are saying about reforestation and oceanic bacteria (which produces way more oxygen than plant life btw) is absolutely correct, but it should be the priority, not a side show.

    It's going to take a massive shift in favour of new plant growth to offset the damage we've already done, in fact most models are now showing we're dangerously close to a point of no return after which climate change becomes a runaway process beyond our ability to retard no matter what we do.
  16. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    So you're envisioning that this project would be carbon neutral?
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  17. Bailey

    Bailey It's always Christmas Eve Super Moderator

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    This isn't true for a large part of humanity, and won't be until we get comfortable with processing sewage and incorporating it back into soil. Currently massive amounts of the nutrients we put into the soil go through our bodies and out into the ocean, although it is reused in some areas.

    If you're referring to school-level science, then I suggest looking up salinity caused by excessive irrigation. Vast amounts of formerly useful Australian land (equivalent to the deserts you describe) have been ruined through irrigation that raises the water table and brings salts to the surface where they build up.

    As a mega-project I hope that coming centuries will see projects like this, but in a world where we can't even agree to stop ruining the climate I don't see modern humanity carrying out projects like this in a responsible way.
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  18. mburtonk

    mburtonk mburtonkulous

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    You realize there's a whole ecosystem in that desert right?
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  19. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    How is @Marso's megaproject idea any worse that the renewable energy crowd who want to put windmills and solar panels everywhere?
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  20. Bailey

    Bailey It's always Christmas Eve Super Moderator

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    How is Arkansas different to New York?
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  21. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    So you are suggesting its only a matter of scale?
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  22. Bailey

    Bailey It's always Christmas Eve Super Moderator

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    I never said only, but I would start by reading this thread and the specific concerns raised that don't apply to the examples you gave.
  23. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    Have you just ignored every word in this thread?
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  24. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    Every word that you've posted at least.
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  25. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    Then you shouldn't need to ask a stupid question.
  26. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    You don't need to reply with a stupid answer.
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  27. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    That's all he knows, well that and responding with a stupid statement.
  28. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    :finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger::finger:
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  29. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    Ok.
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  30. Soma

    Soma OMG WTF LOL STFU ROTFL!!!

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    You guys should get a room. But please be careful, the last guy couldn't handle the lovin'.
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