Sunday, 18 January 2015

Issues In Laurinda's Period

Laurinda reflects that her visitor, Omar Hamid, might not "...recognize a symbol so archaic..." as a "...flag of truce." (Genesis, p. 37) She reads a lot although this is an "'Anachronistic habit...'" (p. 38) She mentions this habit because Omar, although educated, does not recognize a Shakespeare quotation. The modern gesture of greeting is to bow heads over bridged fingers. By coaching and counseling, Omar has earned credit "'...over and above the basic issue.'" (p. 39) Time has passed and society has changed.

Global warming delayed glaciation but has now ceased. The Ice advances. There are three proposals.

The Stormseekers:

The Ice will strengthen and liberate, as it did in the Pleistocene. Let it bury the artificial intelligence, Terra Central.

Terra Central proposes:

thicken the greenhouse, thin the clouds, darken the snows;
carbon to be spread over the Arctic;
electrical discharges to force rainfalls so that there are less clouds to reflect sunlight;
algal weed to carpet the seas;
detonations to release methane into the atmosphere;
carbon-storing forests to be burned and replaced by grass;
volcanoes to be induced so that more carbon dioxide and water vapor enter the atmosphere;
a slight reduction in basic credit issue to pay for these measures;
the measures to be reversed when glaciation ends.

Some political opponents of Terra Central:

robots to mine the asteroids and refine their material;
nanotech assemblers to construct large orbiting mirrors to reflect sunlight and melt glaciers.

A Second Problem
In nine thousand years, Sol will enter a denser region of the interstellar medium which will press the heliosphere to within the orbit of Saturn. Deprived of this protection, Earth will receive:

enough cosmic rays to kill many species;
enough hydrogen atoms to deplete atmospheric oxygen;
enough dust to fill the stratosphere with ice particles, causing a long, unprecedented winter.

Terra Central proposes:

manufacture of large quantities of antimatter;
thermonuclear reaction and matter-antimatter destruction to power massive orbiting constructions that will generate forces to ionize atoms and repel the nebular plasmas for the necessary hundred thousand years.

However, such constructions would be incompatible with the proposed sun-mirrors. Mirror advocates argue that civilization will find another solution in nine thousand years. But history is chaotic. The record shows that continued social stability and agreement on a solution cannot be guaranteed so a decision is necessary now.

Imagine living in a period when such large scale issues are debated globally. These texts are extremely dense. Maybe I need to retreat back into Modesty Blaise for a while.

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