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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Global Warming -- An Immediate Problem -- Further Notes

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Further to the Global Warming -- An Immediate Problem article, here are a few other comments from Dr. Wenger.

Some have pointed out that Earth was molton from its formation 4-1/2 or so billion years ago and again after it's collision with a Mars-sized body a hundred million or so years later which eventually gave rise to the moon. Obviously the world was above the threshhold for release of CO2 and resultant heattrap at that time. But even more obviously:

The atmosphere was extremely heavily laden by droplets of sulphuric acid, from all the bombardment and the heavy early vulcanism. Earth's reflectivity (albedo) of the sun's heat and light must have been extremely high. The renewal of the Late Heavy Bombardment, 3.9 billion years ago, with accompanying extremely high vulcanism, had to have renewed the high stratospheric layer of sulphuric acid, to the point of casting Earth into an early ice age. Since by then the Earth had developed oceans, the process began of oceanic absorbtion of CO2 and turning it into carbon-based rock, long before life got very far in converting CO2 to carbon and oxygen.

Furthermore, the sun was considerably cooler then than it is now.

Hence, if our atmospheric pollution and release of CO2 takes us beyond the point, 8 degrees Farenheit warmer than now, that was hit twice in our geologic record since life emerged, we enter uncharted waters quite literally. If we warm to the point where the oceans begin releasing CO2 instead of absorbing it, very soon after Earth will be like Venus, which once also had oceans before it reached that point, is now. If we somehow were to stop adding CO2 today, the Earth would continue warming for some time from the effects of that greenhouse gas already having been boosted by several times over natural amounts. We don't know how far that continued warming will run, but our best scientific estimates appear to place that at six to eight degrees Farenheit above today's global temperature levels. On top of that, our continuing - and expanding - rate of release of CO2 into the already laden atmosphere carries us further, day by day.

Enjoy your slumbers while leaving this matter to our present leadership, which has already performed so splendidly and responsibly on this issue! - Or at least to someone else, likely unequipped with the problem-solving methods you know very well about or their counterparts from other creativity programs. How many world leaders and experts do YOU know of who are equipped with such problem-solving skills and techniques? Not one.


And further still:

I did select the worst-case scenarios from among the most respected scientific reports, as to volumes and levels, but the original reports on the volumes of ice locked into those caps have not, I think, been seriously questioned and from there sea levels are pretty much a straight calculation. True, as much as 5-10% of the current ice cap in Greenland might remain parked around individual mountains after a general slide into the sea of the main cap, but that's not going to ease the disaster by much, two feet out of that twenty-two if we're lucky. Again, in Antartica, the melt is accelerating only in half of the continent at this time, so at first at least, we should lose only approximately half of the ice there, for an hundred-foot sea-level rise.

Please do keep that skepticism going - an active skepticism, much needed both in and out of science, which results in questioning and examination. Not arms-folded/look-the-other-way skepticism which is as unproductive as is blind automatic belief. Thank you again for your response.

Regarding the idea of towing a comet between the Earth and the Sun as a partial sun shield, Dr. Wenger adds the following comments:
Parking an average-sized comet in a LaGrangian orbit between Earth and the sun should reduce by 5 to 7 % the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth. It'd take a few years for the sun's warming and solar wind to wear out the comet, which could then be replaced by another. We should have some degree of asteroid-deflecting ability in another five or so years, and improve that to where we could have the delicacy to move fragile comets within five years after that. Probably by placing ion drive engines right on the object, very gradually accelerating it into the proper insertion trajectory. If it's a hyperbolic comet coming all the way from the Oort Cloud or beyond, we'd probably have to swing it close in front of either Mars or Venus (a "negative slingshot") to reduce its speed, and it'd then still take several years to ease it into position. But this is something we could reasonably do after other measures have failed or been undertaken too late.


Soc
Future Imperative

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