Reference Books

  • George P. Sutton, Oscar Biblarz: Rocket Propulsion Elements
  • John R. London: LEO on the Cheap
  • Gerald K. O'Neil: The High Frontier

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May 20, 2009

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bbbeard

Well, the problem I foresee is that, from a conservative point of view, ecology has been taken over by an environmentalist movement that it fundamentally irrational and anti-scientific.

I have a saying: "Conservation is conservative. 'Waste not, want not' is a conservative slogan." And I believe the rational shepherding of resources is completely compatible with a futurist outlook. As Spock would say, "Excess waste is irrational." The flip side of this is that there is a rational level of waste. A true believer in the environmentalist movement would demur, insisting instead that waste must be driven lower and lower, no matter the cost. In fact one gets diminishing returns, economically speaking, as waste get driven to lower and lower levels, and when the cost outweighs the benefits, one should stop.

I can think of many examples. Let me relate a couple. In the last days of the Clinton administration, an edict emerged that arsenic levels in municipal drinking water had to be driven lower by an order of magnitude, to a level where there existed no data concerning human health risks. I cynically believe this was a little political gift from Clinton to Bush, since the planned change was impractical, unjustified, and expensive -- but made for good headlines. Sure enough, the environmentalists got on board, and soon claimed that the Republican party was out to poison America.

Another example is the branding of the polar bear as an endangered species, for the purposes of providing legal leverage for the government to mandate reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. Now, not only is it unlikely that anything the government can do will slow down the rate of accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, but also the ostensible relation to the threat to the polar bear is tenuous at best. I have no doubt the cost-benefit ratio is much greater than 1 here.

I am sure you can come up with other examples. But my point is that the rational, futurist outlook that is embodied in the space movement is somewhat at odds with the romantic and anti-rational environmentalist movement.

To be my own critic, James Lovelock provides an interesting case study. He, of course, is most famous for proposing the Gaia hypothesis. But he is also an earth and space scientist of some note. He apparently has no qualms about making inflammatory statements based on little evidence -- such as his claim that 80% of humans will die by 2100 because of global warming. I have a negative opinion of Lovelock because of this kind of nonsense. So I wonder how compatible the space movement is with this viewpoint.

BBB

John Bossard

You make a number of excellent points, Bernard. The environmentalist movement, however well-intentioned its motivations, may indeed have fundamental incompatibilities with the Space Movement, especially those elements of environmentalism that take a virulent anti-human stance. I can't say that I hold out much hope for the environmentalist movement as it currently exists. However, my hope is in the upcoming generations, the young people, who are not as cynical, and who have abundant hope for the future. My message, if I have one, is that if you really believe in saving the planet, then your best course of action is to become a proponent of expanding off the planet, and out into the Cosmos. This is where environmentalism has a profound, positive, and logical connection to the space movement. We'll see if this message has any resonance!

Randy Campbell

Old post, but...

I don't suppose you've heard of The Living Universe Foundation? (LUF as we lovingly call it, which was the First Millennial Foundation before that or FMF, before the rights to that name were sold along with the movie rights for the book it's all based on...Gad the hoops you jump through for a tax-free status we never used :o)

It's based on the book "The Millennial Project: 8 Easy Steps to Colonizing the Galaxy" by Marshall Savage.
Sad to say the steps were soon proven to be anything BUT easy but when the book came out in 1990/91 the mix of synergism of Environmentalism in saving planet Earth while simultanously expanding mankind out into the galaxy had a huge impact on a great number of people.

While the Foundation as an actual 'movement' and organization lasted only (officially) about 5 or so years as initial enthusiasm ran smack into reality, there is still a quite on-again-off-again active internet presence that keeps people discovering both the book and the concept of environmentalism and space-colonization not being mutualy exclusive.

There is an active Yahoo! Groups forum, (recently VERY active as new folks are putting new life into trying to organize the very eclectic and rather free-spirited "old-timers" as well as others into a new organization) there is project to 're-write' the book with updated technology and a less 'over-arching' sequence of steps that are more 'do-able' on the budget of a small yet diverse organization of individuals called "TMP2" on wiki.

I'm quite sure that the group and people still involved would LOVE to hear about the Exoenvironmentalism movement if you have time to post there John. Anyway, I thought I should point the book and groups out to anyone in general and you in particular John.

(Wikipeda entry for the book)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Millennial_Project:_Colonizing_the_Galaxy_in_Eight_Easy_Steps

The TMP2 wiki page:
http://tmp2.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

Randy

John Bossard

Randy,
I can always count on you for some interesting posts!

Indeed, I am very familiar with the LUF, and TMP. I got TMP:CTGI8ES for Christmas back in about 1992, and thought it was fantastic.

As you well know, this was in the days before the internet, but there were some BBS's that starting carrying it.

Later, as the www came on-line, TMP expanded, and I followed the TMP wiki for quite a while.

As much as I liked the whole notion, organizationally, it seemed to suffer from leadership problems. Whatever happened to Marshall Savage? He sort of disappeared off the screen.

TMP introduced me to the concept of OTEC, and I actually did a bit of technical development there for some of my own projects.

However, other concepts suffered from incomplete or incorrect data, which caused some of the ideas to be difficult or unworkable. In particular, I'm thinking of the deposition rates associated with "sea-ment" formation.

TMI is a great example of the old adage that "in principle, principle and practice are the same, but in practice, principle and practice are not the same". It's always harder to actually do something, than to conceive of ideas and write about them (NTTAWWT, I'm a ideas and writer person myself!). Nevertheless, I have tremendous respect for the work that was done by TMP, and now the LUF in trying to get something like this going. And as you allude to, "easy" is certainly a relative term.

I appreciate you bringing this up, and feel free to forward links to LUF folks if you think they'd be interested.

Just for clarification (and not trying to be a pedant!), the term is "exvironmentalism". This word is not a "Portmanteau", it is (or was at least meant to be) a strict etymological creation using the same rules which were used to create the word "environment". This is important because I believe that having a solid linquistic basis for an idea helps to be more meaningful.

Randy Campbell

>This is important because I believe that having
>a solid linquistic basis for an idea helps to
>be more meaningful.

Well I believe that if you make up a word and use it often enough, it will confuse people to the point that they will tend to agree with you just to shut your annoying butt up :o)
(This is helped along by my inability to spell correctly even if my life was actually dependent on it AND the word was in front of me the whole time... You can see where this is going can't you :o)

This will also teach me to NOT read the blog in reverse as I just finished reading you quoting Marshall in the first post :o)

What happened to Marshall? He stepped down from the board of directors into an advisory position within a few years of the FMF's official 'in-corperation' and left the group pretty much entirely a few years after that.

We (the yahoo group actually) were given an 'update' on him a year or so ago from a high school teacher who had had contact with him and his family a few years ago. He went into real-estate and had built a housing division on some family land around the time he left the FMF, that consumed a lot of his energy and time. Along with getting married and starting a family :o) One of his sons introduced the teacher to the OTEC concept and the teacher had made up a board game based on the concept of operations and his research on the technology led him to our Yahoo group. Marshall and family are doing well but he doesn't want to contact the group nor have the group contact him.
We pretty much figure he wants his 'space' after he was almost canonized by some members in the early years. I visited him at his home in Colorado in 1994 or so when I got back from Germany and he seemed both frazzled and over-whelmed by the amount of work and attention the book had drawn to him.

By that time the "leadership" problems you mentioned had grown enough that the overall organization was fragmenting anyway. We never hit, (and probably really couldn't have as Marshall had overestimated the impact of the internet on organizational ability) the 'magic' number and could never have supported the "core-and-cladding" organization suggested in the book let alone the financial ability to bring about a starter Aquarius project.

By the mid-90s the group had had several false-starts with several promising ventures, (we actually had a "deal" worked out by Marshall and the board of directors around 1993 with assured backing by hotel venture capital if we could get the land for development of an "Eco-Resort" in St. Croix, but if fell apart when the land owner sold the property to someone else for cash-up-front) that fell through for various reasons. Each venture scaled back the 'scope' of effort and financing needed from the group as it was found while support and enthusiasim were high physical presence, required skills, and funding especially were actually in short supply.
The 'final' official venture of the FMF was a planned "Poly-species" aquarium and combined aquaculture set up that had been arranged with NELHA (http://www.nelha.org/) that fell through due to inability to raise financing.
(Laughable in a way because part of the reason we couldn't get funding was the rumors that the lab and OTEC was going to be shut down by the Federal government, the state however took over many of the lapsed federal programs and look at the place now :o)

By this time polarization had taken hold in the overall organization with various sub-groups pulling membership towards various sub-goals and positions such as (really basic descriptions here please note :o) "environmental action-now" or "space-now" or "Aquarius-now" etc, advocating that the group DO-SOMTHING now, instead of endless internet and BBS email discussions and talking sessions. Membership began to decline as various segments split off towards organizations more focused on action now and not some action in the 'fuzzy' future. Around this point we lost the tax-free status, and had to close our offices in Rifle Colorado as we couldn't afford the rent or to pay the 'staff' most of whom were living in a basement and working two "other" jobs just to make ends meet.

Probably around 1997/8 the group basically 'split' with one half arguing for the establishment of a "Land Based Colony" as an intentional community of FMF, (now the LUF due to Marshall having sold the book rights and name to a movie studio) members. The members at the LBC, (eventually named Space Environments Ecovillage or SEE)being employed in the local area or by business at the LBC and donating time and "extra" income from the figured cost-savings of living at LBC towards the "next" step of the build up to Aquarius. LBC/SEE would also show-case "green" living, along with a planned closed environment greenhouse, and other projects related to long term living both on and off Earth.
Oh and somewhere along in here the chosen location would allow people to commute to work outside of SEE and also be isolated enough to begin Marshall's idea of "re-training" people to live on a frontier.
The other 'half' of the organization never really 'gelled' into an opposition with an alternate plan, but more objected to the idea of an LBC as not being workable within the limited funds still available to the organization, nor having enough 'real-world' physical and financial support to be carried off.

The LBC folks "won" by default. We litterally had a long-time member die and leave money to buy land for SEE to the LUF. So SEE was 'established' in Bastrop Texas in 1999.

Richard Crews, (SEE-1's first and only "resident" colonist from start to end) was quoted in the Book "Rocket Dreams" on the plans and concepts behind SEE. Link here (Start at page 119)
http://books.google.com/books?id=N3x1PyJmbz4C&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=Space+Environment+Ecovillage&source=bl&ots=exz6DpiLPN&sig=SpgTG52OLqPBAhEDJlCCZ39tB5I&hl=en&ei=brqJSs2TKYeosgO66qzlAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=Space%20Environment%20Ecovillage&f=false

It failed. Richard was the only resident and he couldn't go it alone. Eventually the money ran out, the effort got to be too much and the LBC was deeded back to the family of the member who donated the orignal money.

At that point the only "presence" the LUF had was now a un-updated website and a set of yahoo groups. Which is where we've been for the longest time. Recently (last year) Eric Hunting had opened a discussion on renewing the original book and updating it along with more personal visions of the "eight-steps" which motivated people to respond and comment on his version and establish the TMP2 project.

Which I believe is probably MORE information than you needed or asked for but brings you "up-to-date" with what has happened to both TMP, and Marshall.

Randy

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