Monday, April 23, 2018

Terraforming a New Planet: My Strategy for Success

Year: 2144
I've been directed to to spell out the plan for creating a new home for human colonists. This process of transforming a bare planet into a livable one is called "terraforming." And to reduce the amount of trial and error, I will pattern my project after our home planet - based on what is written in the rocks.

Here is my 12 step plan:

Step 1: Find the Right Size, Perfect Distance
I cannot over stress the importance of this step. If we skip it, the project will fail. We need the perfect size planet. If the planet is too big, the planet's gravity will hold too much atmosphere, resulting in crushing pressure at the surface. However, if the planet is too small, the atmosphere's gaseous molecules bouncing off each other will eventually fly off into space, because their average speed exceeds the escape velocity of a small planet's gravity. Mars is the poster-child for that scenario. It had an atmosphere once, but it's gone now because Mars is too small. Now, Venus is about the size of our planet, but she is our go-to example of a planet too close to the sun. A run-away greenhouse effect makes the average surface temperature of Venus 864° Fahrenheit (462° Celsius). We won't get many colonists signing up for that!

Step 2: Send an On-Site Crew
You won't be getting very far without a dedicated team of engineers, scientists and support staff in a comfortable self-sustaining residence. When things go wrong - and they WILL go wrong - you need a crew capable of fixing things before they get out of hand. The distances are far too great for command control at home to do everything remotely.

Step 3: Establish an Atmosphere
The planet will be a barren rock at first. So, without an atmosphere, any water we add would just freeze. And we NEED water. So we must enshroud the planet with life sustaining air. Atmosphere formation will also focus on generating tons of water vapor to prepare for Step 4. In fact, the resident crew won't see their sun for a long, long time. Humidity will be at 100%, with a pea-soup-like fog everywhere.

Step 4: Put Water Everywhere
The resident buildings will be air tight and strong enough to withstand high pressure, because they will now be underwater.  In this step, the foggy atmosphere will release most of the water vapor and precipitate on the planet as liquid water. We will keep this up until the entire planet is covered with water since we will introduce life to the ocean first. We won't wait for the atmosphere to be "human-ready" before introducing life, however. The early stages of our own planet had the same scenario. Part of the plan is to allow time for the organisms to live and die. That will enrich the silt that accumulates on the sea floor. You see, we are thinking ahead to Step 8.

Step 5: Let the Sun Shine Through
As the water settles out of the sky and into the ocean, our resident crew will finally start catching glimpses of their sun. Eventually, they will enjoy blue skies, fluffy clouds, sunrises, sunsets, thunderstorms, wind and the stars at night. They will have to come up to the surface to enjoy the beginnings of these atmospheric pleasures, though, because the ocean still covers the entire planet. We want that valuable sea silt to build up and don't want to leave even one section of land exposed to remain barren. We have important things to do with that organic matter. So let it coat every square foot of the planet.
Step 6: Add Simple Sea Life
Here's an analogy to help you understand why we start simple. Long ago, some humans had aquariums. If they put a fish in a fresh tank it would die. The tank was too barren and had to be seasoned by establishing a cycle where bacteria would convert the ammonia from fish waste into nitrite and then into nitrate. The latter being the least toxic to life. They could speed things along by adding water from an established tank that already had bacteria. As these chemicals came under control, they would add sturdy, inexpensive fish until it was stable enough to add their prized angelfish. We'll need to do the same thing in our new ocean. So, we'll start with bacteria, algae and hardy single-cell organisms like our planet's pre-Cambrian seas. The bonus now is that the algae will start converting CO2 into oxygen.

Step 7: Add Complex Sea Life
Now we'll introduce complex lifeforms a little at a time. Remember, our atmosphere is still not "human-ready" so make sure our lifeforms can stand the current make up of the air and sea. Most of these won't survive the transition to a "human-ready" atmosphere, so don't get too attached to them. In fact, why don't we have some fun and make some really crazy plants and animals. What we are emulating here is our planet's Paleozoic seas. We'll eventually introduce more complex life, in as many varieties and sizes as possible - including giant animals similar to our Mesozoic oceans. The more biomass there is to live and die, the richer the seafloor silt will become.

Step 8: Transfer Organically Rich Seafloor to Land
Next we'll expose some landmass. We'll bend the crust of the planet to form sea basins and continents. Even better! We'll make sure it is one landmass. A supercontinent. That way the dissemination of life will be easier (see Steps 9 and 10). We'll leave the majority of the planet as ocean, however, for a more naturally stable planet. The oceans are the lifeblood of the planet, driving the water cycle, the weather patterns and oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle. The built-up foundation of silt laid down in steps 6 and 7 will now provide some topsoil to support the land life we will introduce in the next step. We aren't just doing this so our colonists will enjoy a beautiful place to live, the ecosystems we are building are the key to a self-sustaining planet.

Step 9: Add Simple Land Life
So now we have some topsoil to work with, but we can't get carried away and plant a rose bush, yet. The soil will barely support hardy plants and small animals. Let's be pragmatic and start with algae, moss and plants that reproduce with spores. We'll save those seed-bearing flowering plants until later. We will include worms, insects and other creepy-crawlies that thrive on scavenging dead stuff, like the Devonian and Carboniferous periods. As we gradually add more complex land life we want something to clean up the mess and add to enriching the top soil.

Step 10: Add Complex Land Life
Now comes the fun part. We'll gradually fill the continent with complex lifeforms. Reptiles, birds, mammals and seed-bearing plants of all kinds. And again, we'll try to include as many giant animals as possible, to speed things along with a large biomass. In fact, if we didn't have to worry about our resident crew's safety, now would have been a great time to create some big, scary monstrous creatures. But, alas, we'll have to be content with more placid predators.

Step 11: Sit Back and Relax
If we did everything right, now all we need to do is take time off and watch our new world establish equilibrium. As more time passes, the more stable the planet will become. The wildlife and their environments will evolve jointly into thriving ecosystems. This would be a good time for our residents - who have grown to be a rather large population by the way - to take a much deserved rest and to enjoy the beautiful world they helped create.

Step 12: Bring on the Colonists!
The moment we've all waited for - and it has been a long, long wait. Terraforming a planet doesn't happen overnight. But all that effort was worth it, because the rest of the humans are coming in their colony ships. We pioneers who first set this project in motion have long since passed away, but our offspring should honor our memory by taking good care of their new home. They have been watching things unfold and waiting eagerly for this time to arrive.

Why does this all sound familiar? Wait a minute, I remember! I read about a similar plan in an ancient book. The first and second chapters had two separate "creation" stories.

The first chapter was the blueprint or planning stage or spiritual creation - whatever you want to call it.

The second chapter had a very scant explanation of the physical creation, yet the order that was laid out was curious.

First, there "went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." (Sounds like my foggy atmosphere.) Then man was created about the same time as plants and he was given a pleasant home. Why? It sounds like the workplace for an on-site manager to me. (Much like my resident oversight crew.) Then man was joined by animals of all kinds. When his job was done, "a deep sleep [fell] upon him"  and he was given human companionship in the form of a mate. He was probably made to forget about his role in the creation, too.

Hearkening back to the first chapter of the ancient book's planning stage, one of the first things discussed was the atmosphere, or "firmament" or "heaven." Then that atmosphere "divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament." This all sounds like my plan's Steps 2 through 4: the atmosphere, it's precipitation and the formation of an ocean.

Furthermore, the "lights in the heavens" were not "created" until the fourth day. Again that sounds like what I expected in my plan about the the sun, moon and stars not being visible because of the thick cloudy atmosphere. Even the mention of the "waters under the heaven [being] gathered together unto one place, and [letting] the dry land appear" perfectly mirrors my plan to start with a global ocean then creating a continent later.

I tried to pattern my plan after the history written in the rocks of our home planet, but it is interesting how closely it imitates the plan written in that ancient book.  That book said the planning took 6 days, however it didn't say how long the physical creation took. I bet it took a long time. Our little exercise in terraforming suggests that it would have taken a long, long time. (Read also: Science and Religion: Both Dating Methods Are Wrong)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Peace and Prosperity without Globalism

There is a problem with the European Union. There are too many diverse cultures lumped together. If you think the United States federal government is out of touch with the common man in the respective 50 states, the EU is worse.

Their solution is to import immigrants and destroy the identities of these member countries so that a superpower can be born after homogenization is complete. The problem is that it won't work. They are heading down the road to destabalization and violence. Another failed state like the USSR and Nazi Germany. But instead of wars between countries, they will have internal wars. Civil wars drag on forever and never reach an definite outcome. They just continue to smolder.

Each country must retain their sovereignty and make their own laws and their own trade agreements while preserving their cultures and languages because "multicultural" really means "monoculture." What a boring world that would be.

But going it alone in this world doesn't seem to work anymore. The smaller countries will not be able to compete in the global game of politics and economy.

One solution to a gargantuan, ineffective union like the  EU, is to allow groups of countries with similar customs, languages, religions and heritage form smaller unions. They'll benefit from block trading, unified group treaties, and common defense. Much in the same way as the United States of America. The success of the United States lies in the fact that the diverse 50 sovereign states are similar enough that they can forge a united, national character.

That will never happen when you try to put dissimilar countries like, say Turkey and Belgium, under one umbrella.

If similar countries would unite in the same way as the Visegrad Group (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary), then we would have the best of both worlds. These medium-sized federations can protect each other militarily and benefit from a shared economy. It would be easier to attract tourism, too.

This would decrease the chance of war. You won't have violent border disputes with someone on your own team. And non-allied countries would think twice about invading a given country when there are 4 to 8 other countries watching their back.

This is a map showing the possible breakdown of the various unions. The key is that they voluntarily form these unions. The larger countries are already a union of smaller states, provinces or departments, so they have no need to unite with anyone. Beyond a certain size, bigger is not better. It is actually worse - having reached a point of diminishing returns.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Faith, without Works [in politics] Is Dead

Voting alone is not enough.

I'm a little disappointed as a Mormon towards my fellow Mormons in the following way.

 Many have the tendency to believe that since the LDS church stays out of politics, the members themselves should also remain apolitical. And that is in spite of the church leadership’s repeated encouragement to get involved. Oh, yeah. They'll vote. But that's about it.

Further, many will say, “It is in God’s hands. So I don’t have to worry about that.” But this is a classic example of “faith without works, is dead.” Can you imagine how disappointed God would be if we had that attitude toward our fellow man's needs? "Have faith my brother, but I think I'll stay my hand in helping you in your time of need because God will take care of you." Nope. It doesn't work that way. We are the instruments in God's hands to further his work.

Take the current attempt for state legislatures to call a Convention of States to propose much needed amendments to the Constitution that the US Congress will never propose. Article V spells out that process clearly. And it will only work if the citizenry is engaged.

The Constitution was inspired to be USED, not hung on a wall.

One of the best loved LDS scriptures on the subject is Doctrine & Covenants 101:80
And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

Many stop reading there, but look at these nuggets in the following verses, Doctrine & Covenants 101:85 to 90.
Thus will I liken the children of Zion.
Let them importune at the feet of the judge;
And if he heed them not, let them importune at the feet of the governor;
And if the governor heed them not, let them importune at the feet of the president;
And if the president heed them not, then will the Lord arise and come forth out of his hiding place, and in his fury vex the nation;
And in his hot displeasure, and in his fierce anger, in his time, will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers;

God will bless our nation AFTER we have exhausted our efforts.

This is clear to me. God won’t bless our nation and restore our self-governing principles, until AFTER we do the work. The Lord will not “come forth out of his hiding place” and “vex the nation” until we have exhausted all of our own efforts. The silent majority has to wake up and DO something!

Politics can get dirty. But like farming, you have to get your hands dirty if you want to reap the harvest. And the harvest I speak of is the restoration of the Constitution's original intent that has been lost by the Federal government’s unchecked usurpations.

What if Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson and the other founders decided to leave the politics of their day entirely in the hands of God? What if they never lifted a finger to fight the uphill battle for freedom and self-governance. Were would we be today?

Friday, December 2, 2016

It's Getting Better All the Time: Global Cooling?

I have a darn good memory. And one thing that has stuck in my mind is the fear we had during grade school of the pending disaster of a coming man-made Ice Age in our lifetime.

We heard predictions like, "By 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half." and "Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will affect the earth's temperature, leading to mass flooding or a new ice age." Life magazine

Well, 1985 came and went and that never happened. What really happened is that human ingenuity found ways to make our water and air cleaner. And our standard of living much, much better and environmentally friendly - in spite of population growth and increased levels of CO2 being released worldwide.

(Some history revisionists online are tying real hard to convince us that the scientific community and the media never warned of an ice age. Bah!)

Earth's climate has been been warmer during most of written history than it is today. Our climate today is similar to the worst of the "Little Ice Age" in the middle ages. That dip in temperature wreaked havoc on farming. So, I can understand the fear in the 70s of an ice age with that steady downward trend. But the current global warming hysteria makes no sense to me. Today's temperatures are still relatively cold.

 We are not perfect and we have room for improvement, but I think I'll tune out the strident voices that tell us we need to make unreasonable and drastic changes, NOW - OR ELSE! I think you should, too. They are obviously profiting from it somehow and don't want their cash cow to dry up.

Don't let the current predictions of doom keep you from investing in your future. Use the trends of the past to predict the future. Not computer models. The past shows us that things usually get better.

Wikipedia: Global Cooling
Science 09 Jul 1971: Vol. 173, Issue 3992, pp. 138-141
Is Most Published Research Wrong?

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Friday, November 4, 2016

It's Getting Better All the Time.

More and more people today are developing a sense of dread for the future. Did you know that every person in every age felt the same way? For some reason human nature tends to think the present seems worse than the "good old days" and the future looks even worse.

But I feel it a duty to point out to all reasonable, thinking adults that there is no reason to fear the future. And I have the facts to prove it. Please ignore all the negative news and doomsday predictions. You are old enough to remember, if you take the time, that there have been dire predictions for as long as you can remember. Right?

And did those predictions come true? Absolutely not.

In fact, things got better. And that is exactly what will happen again. The end of the world predictions will not occur and things will again get better. So rejoice! The future looks bright.

Julian Simon changed my life.

I think I began my life of optimism after learning about Julian Simon around the early 1990s. We were starting a mail order business so I read his book,  How to Start and Operate a Mail Order Business. It turned out that this book was a one-off for him. He was an economist and most of his books where about the historically optimistic side of economics. He used his years of data research to try and plead with the people to not listen to the doomsayers because the Ultimate Resource as he put it was human ingenuity. Which historically ALWAYS solved man's problems and made things better for EVERYONE.

Think back to the 70s. The pessimists in the media were predicting ecological catastrophe, overpopulation, a coming man-made ice age, running out of resources, drought, famine, etc. - yet amid all that bluster, the cool mind of Julian Simon argued the opposite.

He even put his money where his mouth was. In 1980, he challenged any and all of these doomsayers to a bet. Choose any number of precious resources that you think would be depleted in a ten years time and he would bet them that they would be wrong. Simon was so sure he would win, he even let them choose which resources.

So Paul Ehrlich, the media's darling go-to for ratings-boosting scary predictions, took up the bet. Ehrlich chose 5 resources that he thought for sure would go up in price due to high demand and scarcity in the industry. 10 years later he lost the bet. All 5 went down in price (adjusted for inflation). The negative thinkers are still arguing that Simon was just lucky. But he wasn't. History has shown repeatedly that, overall, we as a human race consistently progress and make things better. And the more minds at work, the better. So bring on the population! There is room for all of us on this beautiful planet.

Think of all failed predictions we've seen in our lifetime. Examples include overpopulation, running out of resources, the end of civilization, man-made ice age and other catastrophic climate events, mass starvation, mass extinctions, and more. Julian Simon understood our world better than the prophets of doom. And every one of these scary predictions have not even come close to coming to pass - the world is consistently becoming a BETTER place in which to live. Thanks to the human race coming together and solving problems.

So have faith in the future. Make plans. Invest in yours and your children's future. Things are getting better all the time.

Is Most Published Research Wrong?

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