This material is provided as a public service to support the student Space Settlement Contest. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of NASA or any other government body.
Hot Gaia * Erik Eckholm
Garrett Hardin * R. Buckminster Fuller * Seed
Julia Brand * Better foolishness *
. . . If O'Neill is talking about a 5000 MW energy producer the energy just doesn't get from space to earth through the 5th dimension, it has to pass through the atmosphere (Gaia-breath, remember?) and while I'm sure you can select a region of the microwave spectrum that's relatively transparent, you can't get one that's perfect (you realize this when you speak of Arizona only getting a tenth of the space-flux) so some of that energy is going to be absorbed in transit. Even if it's only one per cent, that is still 50 MW per station. Now by spreading out the beam of microwaves you can reduce the heat per volume of atmosphere, but you would likely lose efficiency, not to mention requiring greater area (=$$$) on earth. Liberating this quantity of energy into the atmosphere at small spots would do bad things to the weather, I'm almost certain....
Another objection I see is funding. Do you really think the govt is going to let a funky rabble on their new space colony? It is a politically open ended sort of thing now, but open ends have a way of being closed rather quickly if you're talking about POWER (polit., energy, $$$ or whatever)....
Planetary Analyst at World Watch Institute, author of Losing Ground.
Justify it as a worthy extension of the imagination's playing field, as an interesting experiment for the mere price of a puny portion of a gross and misshapen national product, or even as bread and circuses. But not as a solution to the demographic, environmental, nutritional, and other sundry attributes of the earthly predicament. Anyone who knows the simple arithmetic of exponential population growth knows the irrelevance of unearthly migration to the reversal of our current downward spiral.
Biologist, author of Nature and Man's Fate; Exploring New Ethies for Survival; Stallking the Wild Taboo.
Sure and it's an intoxicating vision Gerard O'Neill has given us, the dream of creating a shiny new world all of our own out toward the moon. How nice it would be to escape earth's population problems! But we had better be wary of intoxication, even by 100 Proof Technology. The trip may not be worth the hangover.
The image fails. This hangover would come before the trip which probably would never take place. Let me explain why.
I'm not going to spend any time on the technical details, though I think Brother O'Neill has overlooked a few things. But he's done a pretty good job. An exciting job. Let's not carp at trivia.
On the economic side I think his vision fails. We must always measure proposals like his against Hitch's Rule, which says that a new enterprise always costs from two to twenty times as much as the most careful official estimate. The more exotic the technology, the greater the cost over-runs. O'Neill's space colonies are so exotic that the cost will surely go beyond Hitch's Rule.
So what? We're rich, aren't we? Yes, but not infinitely rich. For awhile, the cost of mammoth public works can be met by normal (though painful) adjustments in the economic system. But at a certain level, corrective feedbacks fail and the system goes into the destructive positive feedback mode. Uncontrollable inflation takes over; prices and taxes spiral upward out of reach. Attempts to evade the flop-over point of the economic system introduce new evils.
History has something to tell us. In the 16th century the Papacy became intoxicated by the dream of building a monumental new Saint Peter's in Rome. Hitch's Rule soon ran the cost out of sight, and the Church had to finance the project by the sale of "indulgences" - advance forgiveness of sins yet to be committed. Parish priests pushed indulgences with all the subtlety of second-hand car salesmen on Saturday night television. Resentment of the hard sell led to the Reformation, and the Church never recovered its temporal power.
O'Neill says his space program will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Applying Hitch's Rule we can be sure it will cost thousands of billions. Would such a venture push the economic system past the flop-over point? Would O'Neill's space stations be civilization's Saint Peter's?
But there is a more serious criticism to be made. Let us, for the sake of argument, grant all of Professor O'Neill's technological and economic assumptions. The space station has now been completed. It is ready for occupancy. Question: Who is going to be permitted to move in?
Because of our powerful (though recently developed) tradition of integrating minority groups it is obvious that the complement of the spaceship would, if it were U.S. controlled, have to include blacks, whites, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Indians from Wounded Knee, Wallaceites, American Legionnaires, Weathermen and members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. If the emigrants were drawn from the whole world they would have to include Moslems, Hindus, Irish from both Belfast and Dublin, Greeks, Turks, Israeli, Arabs, Lebanese and Palestinians.
Some of the groups just mentioned are races, some are religions, some are political groups. It doesn't matter. Generically we can call them all tribes, where a tribe is defined as a group whose members pursue one code of ethics in their ingroup relationships, and another code for their out-group.
A libration point spaceship is a precision instrument, far more delicate in its construction and far more vulnerable to sabotage than is our massive earth. How could such a fragile craft withstand the buffeting of warring tribes?
Paradoxically, the creaters of such a spaceship would be psychologically least suited to be its permanent inhabitants. The Professor O'Neills of the world might make brief visits and inspection tours, but they could not tolerate the sort of life that permanent residents would have to pursue there. People of great originality and independence of spirit would he intolerable in the spaceship community, particularly if they belonged to different tribes.
For a libration point colony to survive it would have to have only one tribe on it. (This is a necessary but not a sufficient condition, for even an initially uniform tribe may differentiate in time.) This means that the political system of the spaceship must include progress-stopping features from the first day people go on board. This means totalitarianism.
What group would be most suitable for this most recent Brave New World? Probably a religious group. There must be unity of thought and the acceptance of discipline. But the colonists couldn't be a bunch of Unitarians or Quakers, for these people regard the individual conscience as the best guide to action. Space colony existence would require something more like the Hutterites or the Mormons for its inhabitants. Scientists and college professors would, as residents, be disastrous.
The peopling of a spaceship creates an ironic problem for a society like ours. We worship "integration" and consent to forced diversification via ''affirmative action." But integration could not be risked on this delicate vessel, for fear of sabotage and terrorism. Only "purification" would do.
How could we possibly sell a purification program to our people? If residence on a libration point colony was regarded as a plus, then every tribe would demand the right to live there. If it was regarded as a minus, no tribe would consent to be made the sacrificial goat. It seems unlikely that precisely one tribe would view residence as a plus, and all others see it as a minus. Yet that is what it would take to make a selective residence system work.
Let's go back to fundamentals. What was the motivation for this space colony proposal anyway? It was just this: to solve earth's population problems. But there is another way to do this: institute political controls of population here, setting and enforcing limits to the size of families. Technologically, this would be easy - politically, we haven't the foggiest notion how to do it. (We all are appalled by the thought of "a policeman under every bed.")
The principal attraction of the space colony proposal is that it apparently permits us to escape the necessity of political control. But, as we have just seen, this is only an apparent escape. In fact, because of the super-vulnerability of the spaceship to sabotage by tribal action, the most rigid political control would have to be instituted from the outset in the selection of the inhabitants and in their governance thereafter.
So the whole project fails by reason of a pair of paradoxes. (1) The people who can conceive of this clever solution cannot be part of it. (2) The reasons for seeking the solution refusal to accept political control - require that the solution - be rejected.
What has just been carried out is an exercise in futurology. Every discipline has its distinctive techniques. We have just uncovered what is - or should be - a basic technique of futurology. Let me spell out the details.
In Euclidean geometry there is a technique called the Reductio ad Absurdum proof. A question is settled once and for all if it can be shown that the necessary assumptions lead to a logical absurdity (as that A both is, and is not, equal to B at the same time). A Reductio ad Absurdum proof is of overriding power; it puts an end to further investigation. (The only exception: one can look for errors in the proof itself.)
In futurology we have just seen the workings of a Reductio ad Paradoxum - let's call it RAP for short. If the very means of "solving" a problem thwarts the reason for using those means, then the "solution" is no solution. RAP overrides all other approaches - fancy technology, computer readouts and whatnot. O'Neill's colonies run right up against a political rapout. There is no need to look further into problems of technical feasibility once we understand the political rapout.
Will this explication of the rapout put an end to the dream of libration point colonies? Most unlikely. Near the end of the 20th century we still have the Flat Earthers with us. From now on we will no doubt have the Librationists too. O'Neill may have given birth to a new religion.
People don't like to have their dream-balloons punctured. The rapout here explained was first presented (not quite so explicitly) in a paper I published in the Journal of Heredity fifteen years before O'Neill's proposal. In my 1959 paper I criticized an earlier escapist proposal that was rather similar to O'Neill's. The way my paper was noticed was significant. My cost estimate, a minimum of three million dollars per emigrant from the earth, was frequently quoted. But the Reductio ad Paradoxum analysis was (so far as I know) never mentioned. Yet any cost estimate is only tentative, whereas a rapout is final and decisive.
Why should the least decisive result be cited while the most decisive one is ignored? I suspect it is because of our rather decent underlying love of "fair play." A decisive argument stops the game; so we pretend we never heard it, thus permitting the argument - now pointless - to go on. Our behavior does credit to our hearts, but not to our minds. If embarking on a hopelessly escapist program leads to the downfall of a civilization a mere sense of fair play will be a poor excuse for having closed our eyes to the practical implications of a rapout.
R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER
Design scientist, author of Synergetics. Nine Chains to the Moon Ideas and Integrities
Conceptualizing realistically about humans as passengers on board 8,000-mile diameter Spaceship Earth traveling around the Sun at 60,000 miles an hour while flying formation with the Moon, which formation involves the 365 revolutions per each Sun circuit, and recalling that humans have always been born naked, helpless and ignorant though superbly equipped cerebrally, and endowed with hunger, thirst, curiosity and procreative instincts, it has been logical for humans to employ their minds' progressive discoveries of the cosmic principles governing all physical inter-attractions, interactions, reactions and inter-transformings and to use those principles in progressively organizing, to humanity's increasing advantage, the complex of cosmic principles interacting locally to produce their initial environment which most probably was that of a verdant south seas coral atoll - built by the coral on a volcano risen from ocean bottom ergo unoccupied by any animals, having only fish and birds as well as fruits, nuts and coconut milk. First the humans developed fish catching and carving tools, then rafts, dug-out canoes and paddles and then sailing outrigger canoes.
Reaching the greater islands and the mainland they developed animal skin, grass and leafwoven clothing and skin tents. They gradually entered safely into geographical areas where they would previously have perished. Slowly they learned to tame, then breed, cows, bullocks, water buffalo, horses and elephants. Next they developed oxen, then horse-drawn vehicles, then horseless vehicles, then ships of the sky. Then employing rocketry and packaging up the essential life-supporting environmental constituents of the biosphere they made sorties away from their mothership Earth and finally ferried over to their Sun orbiting-companion, the Moon.
Employing principles of optics, chemistry and electromagnetics, humans have now gained celestial information at the range of 11.5 billion light years in all directions around our Spaceship Earth. They have photographed equi-deeply into the microcosm. Macrocosmically they have located and photographed a billion galaxies of hundreds of billions of stars each. They have photophed atoms. Humans are now operating successfully in such vast and minute realms of scenario universe that 99.99% of their realistic activity is "invisible" to humans limited range of direct sensing. Clearly, human beings are designed and equipped to operate in both ever larger and more incisive manner in respect to local universe and will for some time base their operations on their Mothership Earth.
I hear many people use my expression, Spaceship Earth, which I invented at the University of Michigan in 1951, yet I find almost all typesetters, editors and authors spelling Earth as "earth" with a small "e." I realize then that they are not thinking realistically about our world as being that of a planet whose name is equally well qualified to be capitalized as are those of Mars and Venus. People are going to keep on writing, earning their livings and enjoying kudos by glibly discussing space activities. I am confident, however, that they will also keep right on seeing the Sun "going down" in the evening and using the words "up" and "down" instead of using the words "in," "out" and "around," as used by the few who are working in cosmic realism. The word cosmic is frequently used to indicate non-realism. The vast majority are conditioned to think of the sky only as disorderly scenery. The only realism is cosmic. Cosmic includes all - macro-micro, - you and I.
I have now traveled around the world 39 times, never as a tourist but only in the course of my work. For the last quarter of a century I have spent 9/l0ths of my time away from my official home. People often say to me, "I do not see how you can stand so much travel." I answer, "You obviously don't know what you are doing. You and all of us are making 60,000 miles an hour around the Sun, which makes my kind of Earthian travel of utterly negligible magnitude." People ask me, "Where do you live?" I answer, "I do not mean to be rude or facetious. but I live on a little planet called Earth. I never leave home. My back yard has become greater and greater until it has proven to be a big sphere, and I can travel in any great circle direction and eventually find myself where I started, ergo: I never leave 'home'." If anyone asks, "How was the trip?" or "Where do you live?" they are not living in cosmic realism, they are "grooved" like an L.P. disc.
To all who are living in cosmic realism, the immediate inauguration of additional Earth-Moon, around-the-Sun flying formations of our team could not be more humanly normal. It is just as normal as a child coming out of its mother's womb, gradually learning to stand, then running around on its own legs.
. . . Analogies: Asimov's Foundations; the medieval Irish monks & others who preserved Latin learning while Europe fought over the Roman remains; the Atlantean legends; any plant packing its essence into tiny pods & scattering them on the verge of its autumnal death. Tell the colonists to carry an ark-load of life more than their support systems will require, & as many whole libraries as they can microfilm. I think it would make the rest of us feel somehow less threatened....
Placitas, New Mexico
Urban visionary, author of The City in the Image of Man: The Bridge Between Matter and Spirit is Matter Becoming Spirit.
On what can be defined the threshold to space "infinity" the human species is going to make momentous decisions. Some of them will be unconscious and irreversible, and some will be conscious and "crucial." For one, if the venture is to be developed, we had better seek a consensus. In this size and kind of undertaking, it has to be a trans-national consensus and we must try to have a knowledgeable one. This will be impossible if the pioneers and promoters are themselves less than clear about the scope and impact of the enterprise. What follows is a tossing in the air of a few points in the form of concerns. Consensus might have to be sought about them, and the sooner the better.
A. The technological concern. It is such that I am not well equipped to tackle its technical underpinning and I, therefore, assume for the sake of what follows that we are capable of doing what the scientist and the technologist say can be done. At the same time, since its end-product will be a habitat, the technological concern is very close to my interest. But ultimately the technological concern is subservient to the eschatological concern and the habitat will have to be imprinted by it and imbued of it.
B. The politico-economic concern. It escapes me in many ways. Besides being not sufficiently knowledgeable on the matter, it is per se a tangled knot to which we respond or react in more and more "empirical" ways because more and more the inertial stresses pervading it seem to be beyond our limited wills and wisdom.
C. The eschatological concern. To my limited understanding, there will be a renewed religious unrest caused by the space probe and it will be an eschatological* concern which will embrace the following: the social, the environmental, the cultural, the ethical. the esthetic concerns. They are all directly operating upon the human condition together with the questions of health and genetic "preservation."
This concern will be mostly unspoken of, but will be also intentionally brushed under the rug of hard facts and techno-political imperatives. And yet, dear "fellow travelers," the stakes are frightfully high and we must, we ought, face what we are about to plan and to implement.
Under the pressure of scientific and technological ''progress'' stimulated by the space venture, the eschatological concern will give rise to new or pseudo new theological models.
Thus, as I can perceive it, the probe of life into space is ultimately not a technological or a political or economic problem but a theological one.
The eschatological implications of "space colonization" are most fundamental and critical and could be considered under the 3 following, but not necessarily equally important, titles:
1) The eschatological concern. The question itself of ultimate aim, the purposefulness of life, that is to say, the eschatological paradigm as such.
2) The Genetic concern. The splitting off the human specie into ''sub" species (see the pre-historical precedent) as a direct consequence of space "invaded by humanity."
3) The urban concern. The space probe is the urban probe on "new grounds" therefore, the urban question looming even more large on the destiny of the species.
Depending on how we will sense the 3 questions. We are in for hope or despair. In despair.
1A) We see ourselves as the (well-worn) apprentice sorcerers incapable of halting our plunge into a technological 'hubris" which will bring upon us more and more forcefully the wrath of our indignant Father, the Lord. and/or the merciless expulsion from nature's bosom.
2A) The human specie, abandoned by such Lord, or by Providence, or by instinctual wisdom, which under the stress of new (evil) environs will tear itself apart into inimical subspecies foreign to each other. Those will find their own nemesis in specialization. genetic and otherwise.
3A) The human specie will make an ever more compromising step into the urban syndrome seen as the sum of all evil's syndrome, since space colonization will be directly informed by those conditions which are per se the definition of the urban context.
lB) We are making (remaking?) a promethean commitment to the spirit, by unleashing it concretely from the gravitational vise of the earth and by doing so, opening the cosmos to "urbanization" that is to logos (see further).
2B) The human family recognizes its own, genetic (and other) limitations and willfully seeks new ("morphologically") cognitive forms for the end of "outfitting" itself for the immense journey into the spirit via the flesh (mass-energy), and in the process going through a lengthy series of "transcendences" of its psychosomatic self.
3B) By stepping off the earthly landscape, man is turning by necessity (to be made into virtue) toward a frugality of environs and "hardware" which are specific to the urban condition to, and with one must add, ever more crucial transphysical longings. In sum, man will opt for the self-containment of his habitats the inward orientation of them, the cooperative and inderdependent nature of the social and cultural texture, the high density of performance, the imperative of integrity and self-reliance and finally, the complexity and miniaturization of the milieu. The space city will, therefore, be unequivocally a test of how ready we are for the vertigo of a new momentous step toward the spirit.
I will deal with the hopeful triade, since there is where I stand and because by dealing with it I will also asystematically deal with the despair triade.
THE ESCHATOLOGICAL CONCERN
I look at it through a critique of the lifeboat metaphor and the carrying capacity thesis. I would offer the notion that their weakness does not come so much from a relativism peculiarly anchored to the consumerism ethos (gross national product) but that the scientific theory on which they stand is quite possibly unscientific, or better, a science which is basically a verification of facts (past) and which shies away from expectations that (to it) appear unscientific since they are only of the realm of the possible (feasible?).
If this were so, if the "science" of the carrying capacity (and the lifeboat ethic) is unscientifically applied, then its use is needlessly vicious. It is the viciousness of inflicting pain and death by the incongruous application of a paradigm.
Let's look at the carrying capacities as they seem to have developed.
The first living thing on this planet had, as a necessary support system, the whole existing cosmos, since only the existence of a specific if unknown cosmic balance made possible a specific if unknown solar system balance, that made possible on earth the appearance of a specific organism (one of them had to be the first). The cosmos in toto was the "territorial imperative" of a bacterial-like organism. No cosmos as such, no bacteria as such.
But at that moment already, or a bit sooner, things were getting "autonomous," that is to say, not purely deterministically generated. (Hopelessly prisoners of a totalitarian cosmic dictum). The solar system was "coming" to life and on earth, for instance physical balances were interfered upon by physiological counterbalances. Oxygen was freed into the forming atmosphere by the initiative of living organisms, etc.
A first massive imploding of "territoriality" from cosmos to solar system, and specifically sun-earth-moon, was taking place. So it came to be that the "territoriality" for each organism was to be that amount of earth bulk which was the proportional fraction of the total "belonging" to it, to which was to be added a similarly defined fraction of the sun energy falling upon the earth and, in addition, relatively "infinitessimal" influences as moon-tides, cosmic radiation, etc.
If now one takes a look at the contemporary scene and one simplifies the model, one sees that for every human being is "needed" the presence and the "use" of a cone of matter defined by the radius of the earth and with a base measured by a circle upon the biosphere, atmosphere included, of let's say l00 acres. This gigantic mass to which must be added its share of sun energy is but an infinitesimal fraction of the "original mass" necessary for the advent of the first bacteria-like organism . . . and we begin to feel crowded!! But we begin to see also the "Providential" tendency of life toward frugality. Providential, since if it were to be otherwise, we would soon be face to face with the fatal dialectic of a self-parting universe (expanding) and a conscientization process that must abide to the fierce rules of shrinking carrying capacity and, face to face with lifeboat ethics, triage, et. al. That is to say, that there would not be the rationale of evolutionary expanding capacity (extension of reach, contraction of needs), but an ontological wall made of undisputable and ultimate stop signs; a dying sun, the size and resources of the earth, and consequently life as a short fireworks of arrogance and opulence.
What if an even more incredible explosion of frugality is in store?
It is in the most frugal (and crowded) mode of all, in the brain of man, that powerful cognitions are working out more miracles of contraction and frugality (the Urban Effect is in full swing . . . see later) and, lo and behold, few hundreds of thousands of years after the invention of divinity, that prophecy of utter economy, the mind conceives a fully-lived, extra-terrestrial existence. The implosion in the brain of countless operations goes, at least potentially, for the numerical explosion of "ecologies" eventually unlimited in number, capable of sustaining and developing life. . . ad infinitum.
If for a moment, we assume that we will make the step and do it without diminishing man, then what do we have? An utterly new relationship with the world of "matter." We will literally mine the universe, the solar system at first, rearranging and processing matter into hollow urbis of all kinds of sizes and types and populations.
The order of the Christian God, "go and multiply," would see an unimaginable degree of realization and the carrying capacity of the cosmos would grow exponentially. With it, the lifeboat theory for all realistic purposes would be blown to bits since at best it would serve an acciduous and self-righteous society unwilling to get down to tasks and construct new boats one after the other, on and on "forever."
But why such explosion of life'? For what purpose? The answer is theological. Before going into it, let's repeat what would happen to the "territorial imperative."
With the space venture the bulk of matter necessary tor each person would dramatically shrink from the individual earthly cone, together with the corresponding ecological veneer and the sun energy, into a bulk on the scale of a home attached to an urban landscape to which would be added an open space of some acres or a fraction of an acre (and some energy from the sun, stars, to which the city might depend).
In other words, it would be as if the earth or any other celestial body were to be peeled off into successive skins,** each one of which would contain an "interiorized landscape" (cityscape) of minimal physical bulk. A characterization of the human environ as exponentially frugal. Thousands upon millions of hollow worlds, inner-oriented worlds because of locally produced gravity would invade the universe (from as many points of it as there are conscious centers of it similar to earth.) Eventually, each galaxy would have the carrying capacity for four thousand millions of consciences (the earth today) billions of times over, a true explosion of consciousness throughout the physical universe.
What is so desirable in such model? On the personal level one could ask oneself if one would choose not to be born. If the answer is no, then to negate the birth of others, provided there is a carrying capacity, is rude to say the least. On the ontological level, it would seem clear that it is only with the intensification of reality by the presence and action of life, that "we" might eventually bring compassion and grace to the whole cosmos, the integrated universe.
The Theological Answer:
What is implied in this kind of process, insofar as life and consciousness can find as normative. It is implied that. . .
It is only half true that such are only the potential powers of consciousness. since a cursory survey of life's evolution is already, if coarsely a demonstration of such power. Those are all "versions" of the fact that the eschatological imperative is pressed out from reality as an inescapable command: Do unto matter (the mass-energy universe) what you do unto yourself. Make it into "conscious matter" into logos. That is demand and force out of an ephemerally conscious universe that which ultimately will be a child God of infinite conscience, infinite integrity, infinite love.
Once more, let's take a step back and then a jump ahead.
Once the biological has reached dimensional limits, the size of organic molecules, and furthermore, the biological has not been as yet supplanted by a "better" media, and since only that which can congruously plan and operate, *intellection, can also put more understanding, design and will in ever smaller amounts of mass-energy, space-time (miniaturization), it is in the "space city," the urbis et orbis in one, which is to be sought the next step toward logos. This is also and at the same time a statement of "feasibility" and of desirability, since to work against the process is ultimately to work against logos itself (and consequently against the spirit). This feasibility is imperatively demanding implementation. The open question remains. . . when?
(*That it can operate incongruously is a well known fact, therfore, our constant condition of emergency. But what if we were to loose our intellectual capacity?) It would then be for the sake of logos that life must free itself from the "earthly prison." And if it is possible for life to free itself from the earth, isn't it then a "mortal sin" not to do so'? And isn't the fact that life could not even conceive of leaving the earth before the appearance of consciousness, and that thousands of years ago the first step toward this leaving expressed itself in metaphorical, that is religious form, a proof of sorts that it is the task of life and specifically of consciousness to do just so?
From a "territoriality" of the whole cosmos necessary for the appearance on our earth of the first living cell to the ecological cone necessary today for each creature populating the earth to the minute "territoriality" of a space city, we can measure the powerfuI trend toward frugality and concurrently the not-less powerful opening of the whole universe itself to the spirit. Once upon a time a whole cosmos for one infinitely puny life, now eons later, now that intellection is grasping at the alchemy of matter and makes it deliver its latent energy and potential conscience, comes the possibility at ruining the cosmos, of making a moon into "large numbers of earths," etc.
The ape, leashed by gravity to a tether pulling down toward the center at the earth, has its "territorial" imperative defined by the ecological capacity ot the earth. With the appearance of the human mind the tether is (potentially) cut. The ecological capacity is (potentially) transferred trom the limited earth to the endless universe.
But for this potentially quasi-infinite growth of liveliness, two things seem to be indispensable: an eventually quasi-infinite growth of will and a quasi-infinite growth of reverence. Then divinity is expectant there in the future.
1) How much or how little we make of liveliness and consciousness-spirit is in a way not relevant since no matter what opinion we have of them, to have an opinion, any opinion is per se an identification of ourselves with them. One option we do not have is to give them up without giving up life itself. Then the fostering of them turns out to be a "law of nature" which tautological "block" is that the ultimate meaning of the ensuing process will not disclose itself before the exhaustion of itself. But this late disclosure is not due to secrecy but to "incompleteness." To reveal itself (to itself) before the "end," the Omega condition, would be an anticipation and as such they are an important exercise in futurism. But by necessity, those exercises fall short of target since the target is not there as yet, since it will be there only at the "end."
2) A word about "compatibility." Each generation has its own environmental compatibility, that is to say, a person is hard put if he is asked to reject those conditions with which he has grown up. But each generation is piggy-backed on the proceeding one. The individual cycle demands a return to the infancy grounds (reentry into the mother, we call it the father), but for each infancy such grounds are the maturity grounds of the parents (the preceeding generation). This is providential since it secures both change and continuity. In fact, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to come up with a better "scheme.'' This dialectic of change versus continuity makes conflict inevitable. It follows that it would be not only unrealistic but down right unjust and cruel to want to thrust the "space move" upon the present generation as if it were a pleasure trip or a palatable prospect. But that could be so for our grandchildren.
The fact remains that notwithstanding the incompatibility parameter, the parameters of territory - carrying capacity and environmental development are in constant flux (and growing).
2) THE SPLITTING OF THE HUMAN SPECIES INTO SUB-SPECIES
One of the most momentous outcomes of the space colonization successfully carried on will be the appearance of human mutants that will more fittingly perform in not just a new environment but in a variety of new environments. (We are children of our environment).
A most critical area of decision (or non-decision) is, therefore, the genetic pool area, and with it new conceptions of human values, justice, equity, hierarchy, fairness etc. Are we able to withstand the thought that quite possibly, I would say inevitably, the human kind might become fractionalized (fractured?) into for instance, living fossils (the earthlings''), psycho-technoman (cyber), superman (an intellect-relayed multitude constituting a single creature?) similar but on a different ledge of evolution to the "insect colony''? (see further).
Since the future is not a process of deployment like the unrolling of a (sacred) scroll but instead a process of creation, nothing that we might conjecture or plan for, will ever turn out to be the future. Therefore, as it is quite possible that we never leave the earth, it is also quite possible that a polarization on this planet might eventually force upon us some "strange" variances from the human kind we are now accustomed (or resigned) to. That is to say, a genetic schism might be not only a consequence of, or peculiar to, a space colonization, but could be in fact the cause for a space colonization.
Isn't indeed what is going on now with the mystique of technology a kind of pilot work for a mutilation in the making, which in turn urges man into its space probe? Technological man, the enfant terrible of the 21st century, would be the mutant that as yet has to find a sound justification for his appearance. Now or soon, as a form, a container filling itself with purpose, he would cause life to extrude itself into a new set of parameters. A new universe authored by consciousness and its prowess in understanding, guiding, transforming, metamorphosizing. Are we in for a new radiant creature or are we in for life's abjection? The question is open and will be open for eons, In fact, from our earthly prospective, from our present, that possible radiant creature would be a "monster" anyhow since we could not withstand its sight (Bible). Whatever the case, we cannot escape the future and thus we might as well become conscious of some of its possibilities.
A) Since it will not make sense eventually to copy earth's environment "over there,'' environments more congruous to the space situation will eventually define new morphological characters of fitness and response. Eventually, the physiological makeup might end ifs own usefulness, but well before such definitive and "radical" dismissal of the organic (see "Mass Transit - Mass Delusion"), we will probably mutate ourselves into cybers of sorts (we do already in the push-button syndrome).
B) Will there be in the meantime a transformation of the mother-lover. . . son-lover drive* in favor of a ''scientific'' intrusion in the immensely chancey but immensely rich genetic pool afforded by the bisexual mechanism? But might not this powerful and unpredictable (as yet) genetic pool be the best if not the only insurance policy against any cosmic emergency? Should we then dare to take such a step?
(*I refer to what I consider to be the Christian hypothesis about the fatherless birth of man presented in the myth of the Virgin Birth.)
C) What will eventually make spaceman, besides the ability to think, like earthlings? And what if the thinking apparatuses become extravagantly different?
D) Will there be a "change of hearts" about slavery since sooner or later the notion of superior and inferior might be fostered among genetically different sub-species and peer groups? A "benign" version of such discrimination would make way for the earth as the living museum. The earthlings and their beautiful earth visited now and then by chartered space fraternities, a benign hypothesis in the restricted sense of doing away with violent confrontation, bloodshed and genocide. . .
We must beware and not make humility into insularity and eventually into bigotry. If it is true that man is unique, it is also true that he is uniquely isolated and confined (possibly isolated because confined). But what if he were to explode at first into the solar system, then into the Milky Way? Would not there be then good reasons for the specie to venture into new, unthinkable explorations of the psychosomatic potentials we are carriers of, in view of encounters with other centers of consciousness and grace?
If then one has to admit pure terror vis a vis the opening of a galactic trap door under one's humble but arrogant, venturesome but cowardly, compassionate but bigotted self, one must also not be blind to the possibly infinite radiance of the future on which such trap door is opened.
3) THE SPACE PROBE IS THE URBAN PROBE
Are we then really working at the creation of a Son God, the "masterpeice" of evolution, or are we deviated in the process and are we becoming the authors of a monster? To get an answer I think we have to consider that normative mode I call the Urban Effect.
It states that the transformation of the cosmos in the direction of the spirit is the Urban Effect. That is to say, the Urban Effect is an eschatological imperative. It states also as a corollary, that divinity is the Urban Effect and third that since the Urban Effect is as yet at an embryonic stage of development, neither is the city any closer today to what it will be (ought to be) nor is God any closer to being the monistic and absolute center of love we (religion) anticipate it to be. But there is an immanent Urban Effect which incarnates a limited divinity, the immanent God** (The God of the present).
(**This whole eschatological argument is absurd or blasphemous unless we are to make a distinction and keep it constantly in mind between the potential and the actual.)
This choice of terms, Urban Effect, divinity, God, is not casual or sensationalistic. It puts an eschatological thrust into the human condition by going at the tick of the human performance (where it becomes social, cultural, civilizing), the civic man. The civic man is not an experiment from which life might or will derive some advantages. It is instead the manifestation of the same kind of thrust that throughout evolution has and will keep the living stuff working upon raw matter at the cutting edge of conscientization.
The Urban Effect is the casual stress which forces the production of enclaves of consciousness, starting with the most ephemeral of them, the original micro-organism which appeared on this earth thousands of millions of years ago. Those enclaves of consciousness are to incorporate eventually all of the universe in ways and expressions as multiple as are the world involved in the process and the time in which they perform. (There will occur then a further synthesis into the oneness of Omega). The frugal (miniaturizing) character of the process insures that the "end" will not find itself short of means by seeing that the equation end-means will exponentially grow to the final point where the nominator is near infinity and the denominator is near zero.
The enclaves of consciousness would eventually join together thanks to the implosive force of the complexity-miniaturization paradigm which will be enabled by cognition to warp the cosmic laws into the "divine law."
It could be said that it is not so much the case of increasing the amount of spirit-consciousness that might exist scattered throughout the cosmos (the Taos) as the endowment of each particle, but it might be the case instead of the desegregation and conjunction of each particle of consciousness to one another by way of the Urban Effect and of the creative process which ensues from it.
This original atomized spirit, the atoms of consciousness, which can be conjectured to be composing the universe, this Alpha 1/l080 God is prisoner of its own iron cage of determinism together with the other l/1080-1, and it is one of the 1080* (polytheistic) deities of the pristine universe. (*The number of particles in the universe according to some calculations)
What is the logical thread that causes the Urban Effect to be the eschatological thrust? It is the common rule that any discipline (the eschatological thrust in the present case) has to be such as to foster that which has originated the conditions that have allowed for its birth. If the Urban Effect was the causa prima for the advent of consciousness-spirit, then the enhancement and the impregnation of the cosmos by conscience-spirit is dependent on how forcefully the Urban Effect goes on in multiplying and reinforcing itself throughout the cosmos.
There is a sort of premonitory situation which must be read even though it justly (but unjustly) sends shivers down one's own spine. It is written in the invertebrate, on land and sea societies of insects, in slime mold slugs, in the various (and infamous) ants or termites colonies, wasp and bee nests. They form aggregates of acting matter and why not thinking matter, perhaps comparable more to the mammal brain and its own specialized hierarchy than to anything else.
Up or down, side up, side down, gravity itself seems for the time being forgotten so much is the living matter inner-oriented, totally absorbed into itself, pure living matter flesh, thinking flesh. They are the proto-conscious cities anticipatory, if brutishly so, of urbis where the dependence on matter becomes less and less measured on bulk and more and more measured by arrangement and discrimination, complexity and miniaturization-intensity and transcendence.
If there is an eschatological guide to turn to for assistance in our decisions and actions, and if this guide is predicated on the emergence, via creative genesis, of the divine, then the breathing away from the earth's bondage is indispensable. It is not indispensable in the sense of being also aufficient, in fact this break away could end up being a run away from responsibility and "grace," but in the sense that there is no access to "full divinity" without the "concrete" intrusion of consciousness into all corners of the universe. Call it, if you like, redemption of matter whose sin is not to be as much as it ought to be: spirit. Or call it, as I prefer, the creation of a new and divine universe where each and all things are a radiant and transparent synopsis of each and all for each and all of all times and all places.** This assertion is not a breaking of one's own bridges from (ecological-minded) "salvation" but it is a reinstatement of the concept that the bridge between matter and spirit is matter becoming spirit and the process cannot be halted at any accidental moment, the present.
(**A state where time and space have collapsed and, therefore a condition of total resurrection. And resurrection is total or it is not.)
That the notion of the breaking away from the earth is contemplated in most religions shows the anticipatory power of theological thinking. But usually this anticipation is not seen as entailing a physical migration of this life from the planet to other places. But if this is the interpretation, then the anticipation is wanting and the prophecy does not fit the eschatological grid. It would not suffice that the cosmos might sit in "adoration" around earthly magnets of intellection, as many of them might there be, scattered throughout it (thousands of millions)?! Intellection must move into the cosmos and consume it into consciousness, make it suffer the intellection of itself and so cause it to transcend itself and create the "not yet," the divine.
The reaching for the divine (the work of the spirit) demands this "inexhaustible" bridge of matter, all matter consuming itself into its own entelechy. But this is essentially the imperative of intensifying the Performance of matter (mass-energy) that is to say, it is to cause the Urban Effect to become the universal concern, the rule and not the exception and, ultimately, cause not so much the City of God but instead and indeed the God-City, the Omega Urbis et orbis . . It might indeed be indispensable that our anthropomorphic god be reinvented into the God in the likeness of the city with the massive reservation that both the Urban Effect and the ultimate (entelechy) expression of it in divine terms are inconceivable, unimaginable for our limited conscience and grace.
To make a pale metaphor: to think of Omega urbis et orbis as a redeemed Detroit is comparable to the mystification one would be in for if one were to be presented with a tiny blob of tissue, an embryo, and were told that one beheld a beautiful, mature person. But the mystification would be even greater if the embryo turned out to be not of a human but of a fly. Detroit stays to the God-City as the embryo of a fly stays to the full-grown person. Between the two is the demonism of the evolutionary metamorphosis with its own cul-de-sac and its own triumphs.
Therefore, what we will weave in space is going to be a series of cities that will be adding new force, new degrees of eventfulness, new situations to the Urban Effect. One, quick to come to mind, is the riddance of the gravity burden (and as a consequence, genetic alterations). Another is the physical interiorization of the environs (and consequent psycho-social-cultural alterations), and another is the "crowding syndrome" coming to fruition with new force.
Crowding in this use of the term is not the bunching together of people, things and time, but the highly selective, discriminating coming together of disparate and per se less intense elements, in similar but not identical ways as it is done within an organism (plant, animal) or associations of organisms. "Crowded," living, durational events incredibly full of interdependent processes responding to the needs and the "hopes" of the organism. Since crowding is a divine attribute, co-presence, co-creation, understanding, knowledge, reverence, fullness radiance. . . then the Urban Effect (the crowding effect) is inexorably present whenever and wherever there is a thrust toward such condition of grace.
1) Space "migration" is in the human agenda.
2) Is space migration now a responsible act, a diversion, or pure escapism? A careful scheduling of our means, intellectual, ethical and otherwise, might show that the best defense against the squalor of the lifeboat theory and the carrying capacity "miscalculations" is the ultimate frugality of a life thrust, which can and if it really can, must also pervade the cosmos.
3) True frugality is the antithesis of mediocrity. (See "Relative Poverty" Summer '75 CQ). Therefore, a vivification of the cosmos which cannot but be frugal, is bound to move man on a higher ledge of the evolutionary pyramid.
4) To this end there is no escaping the need for a more reverential, urbane, civilized sense of the human experiment and, ultimately, the need for the eschatological vision of a universe in the process of self-divinization, the Urban Effect.
CQ editor's mother, 72.
Space Colonies? Feasible, certainly. Inevitable, soon.
As you know, I thought years ago (20, 25?) we would have a space station before going to the moon. Gravity from centrifugal force, solar heat, algae for oxygen, recycling, etc., etc. O'Neill has extended & refined all those old ideas, added so many new ones, envisioned a beautiful and productive colony.
Remember the exhilaration of the moon-shots & the chagrin when that marvelous assembly of trained and talented men was largely disbanded & the whole space endeavor diminished? Now at last a space shuttle is under way. I hope all will move faster and that at least one of O'Neill's colonies will get off the drawing board & into space. What marvelous possibilities!
Meanwhile my fascination holds for the far out probes to & beyond the planets. What wonderful surprises, what lovely mind stretching. Keep me posted. Remember what I asked you and the grandchildren. When I'm long gone, try saying to the wind, "Grandma, guess what!" & maybe ....
Space Colonies are a good idea because they're bold but not Utopian. If my taxes are going to be spent on foolishness, this is the kind of foolishness I want them spent on. None of this trying to develop a frisbee that'll fling antipersonnel grenades or training porpoises to perform kamikaze missions, I want to go. I need a home for my imagination. If I didn't go how could I bear to sit down at the Space Cowboys (Cowpersons? Asteroidpunchers?) Bar and Grill in my old age and listen to the other geezers reminisce. Then they'd ask me what I did in the olden days before there were Golden Arches on the moon, and I'd have to hang my head and mumble, "I coulda gone, but my roots was too deep."
I want to help, particularly on food production/waste disposal or anything else my talents might be used for. I have my doubts about the immediate usefulness of lunar materials for growing food. Perhaps the best bet would be to start out depending on hydroponics and/or dehydrated food along with some algal reactors. (See Shelef, et al. "Algal Reactor for Life Support Systems," Journal of the Sanitary Engineering Division, ASCE, Vol. 96, No SAI, Proc. Paper 7105, February, 1970, pp. 91 - 110.) This algal reactor looks pretty good for use at L5 because of the availability of sunlight at L5, (or the cheap energy available for powering electric Lucalux lamps as in the model used for this study.) Graham Caine's algae cycle might be useful if it works. See Stop the 5 Gal. Flush! [EPILOG, p. 487.]
If water is used for washing, or some kinds of manufacturing; perhaps a ground water recharge system or trickle filters would be useful for purifying it. See Bouwer's article in the previously cited journal for one recharge system design.
Maybe composting privies could be installed to provide for enrichment of the lunar "soil." There is also the question of bringing up the microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, nematodes, yeasts, etc.) necessary for establishing an Earth-like cycle. It might be wise to screen out some of the nastier pathogens, but I'm for keeping some garden variety diseases around to keep us on our toes.
Incidentally, a soils professor (Prof. Hole) who is a friend of mine once told our class, "There is no soil on the moon." His definition of soil is, "the portion of the environment providing water and nutrients for plants." Under this definition soils depend on their vegetation (or lack thereof) for their characteristics, and the oceans and atmosphere are soils. The fungi which provide water for the algae in lichens would be soils, hmm, maybe the algae are soils too, providing nutrients for the fungi. Until plants are grown on it the lunar sand/silt/clay isn't a "soil," as O'Neill called it.
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Curator: Al Globus
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