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STEWARDSHIP: Environment & Energy | August 29, 2002



An E-Mail to a Democratic National Committee Member

I received an article stating in part...

"The [Texas GOP] platform, 22 pages long, contains a huge number of planks. Some are amusing -- space-based solar power is apparently important enough to be mentioned twice..."

...to which I replied, about the author of that article...

...I'm afraid he's hit just about the sorest spot he can with me. Please allow me to explain...

The Clinton and Bush I or II administrations offer stark contrasts: Social issues, like crime and tolerance, typically improve as the economy improves and typically worsen as the economy worsens. Desperate people are more apt to do desperate things, like committing crimes, including hate crimes. It is no coincidence that the Nazi Holocaust followed horrendous economic conditions in Germany -- sick minds found scapegoats.

Milestones in the history of the technological and consequent social progress of civilization have typically involved harnessing new and efficient sources of power. Homo erectus gained an evolutionary advantage over other species with their harnessing of fire. Neolithic settlements were made possible in large part by the harnessing of beasts of burden. Ancient civilizations rose on the backs of slaves. Medieval Europe rose from the Dark Ages in large measure with the inventions of waterwheels and windmills. The Industrial Revolution was powered by steam. The automobile age -- the largest corporations are still GM and Ford -- is dependent upon fossil fuels (Hussein and Bin Laden wouldn't bother with us, or we with them, if it weren't for oil). And the Information Age is nothing without electricity (just ask Silicon Valley during a blackout).

Fossil fuels are dinosaurs, let alone the biggest controllable contributor to the Greenhouse Effect and unhealthful local air quality. Nuclear fuels are too dangerous, particularly in a world filled with terrorists. Wind-, geothermal, and ground-based solar-power, too limited.

The only feasible power source for the advancement of civilization is space-based solar power -- once the dream of science fiction, for years now in the blueprints of pragmatic scientists (as funded by both Democratic and Republican administrations).

As Sherlock Holmes said, "After all the impossible solutions have been eliminated, the only remaining solution -- no matter how improbable -- is the only possible solution."

"Amusing"? Only if war in the Middle East, ultimately over oil, or the continued destruction of the world's ecosystems by Greenhouse Gases gone unchecked, or the continued prospects of terrorists getting their hands on enriched uranium are "amusing".

Sometimes the most mundane and practical considerations are the most important.

There is no issue more down-to-earth to me than the development of space-based solar power. Without it, the economy of the world will ultimately fail and inhumanity will, not surprisingly, run rampant.

JFK didn't just send us into space to thumb our noses at the Russians.

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