world is already getting dryer. Reports of draught conditions are evermore
frequent, interspersed also with unexpected flooding as the weather
patterns are changing while the world is getting cooler. Our world has
been in a cooling trend since 1998. Nobody knows if the trend will
continue towards the already overdue next Ice Age transition, or is just
another anomaly as the last Little Ice Age in 1600s and 1700s and things
will get back to normal over the next decade. Some credible scientists in
high places suggest that the transition could happen any time, and might
happen quickly or take half a century to unfold. Others insist that we
still have a thousand years left of current interglacial warm climate that
has supported agriculture ever since agriculture was developed more than
5,000 years ago. What will happen when the cooling climate no longer
offers the needed conditions for agriculture? That's when we need to think
of advanced infrastructures. These infrastructures will have to achieve
what has not been achieved before.
first option for responding to this kind of unfolding situation would have
to be to irrigate the Sahara and Saudi Arabia, and develop these into the
bread-basket of the world, and also South Africa, and Australia. To
develop these presently arid regions, especially the Sahara, would have to
become the combined effort of all the northern countries that would be the
first to loose their agriculture, including Canada, the USA, Europe,
Russia, and China. To develop the Sahara would have to be an industrial enterprise
of gigantic proportions. The water for it would have to come from the
Amazon and the Congo via an Atlantic distribution system, which is easily
possible (see: NAWAPA).
order to make the needed development possible a floating bridge will
likely be build from Florida to Morocco, a bridge across the Mediterranean
to Europe, and from Saudi Arabia to China and Australia, thereby putting
Africa at the center of the world map. (see: The
this infrastructure in place Africa can be developed with advanced
transportation and nuclear power systems. Nuclear power is key to this.
It's either nuclear power on a large scale, you mankind won't eat. It
takes massive amounts of power to uplift water into the dry regions. The
Sahara covers an area 3,000 by 1,200 miles, that is three times larger
than the food producing region of the USA. Most of it is covered in sand
at elevations ranging from 600 to 1,600 feet, with some plateaus reaching
3,500, similar to the American Great Plains. The transport of water to
these elevations, from sea level, is impossible without nuclear power
being applied on a massive scale. And even then, turning Africa into a
'garden' is a 'formidable' task, and not likely possible without a
concerted world effort. But it is either that or starvation for most of
mankind when the Ice Age transition begins and rapidly disables northern
agriculture. At this point Africa will become the new home for all the
northern populations that the Ice Age climate will increasingly displace.
this would likely be a better option in the long run as the northern part
of the Sahara is far enough north to be ultimately affected by the cooling
climate. A better option would be to develop 'floating gardens' near the
equator extending south from the intercontinental bridges. High strength
fibers can be extruded from molten basalt. With these, fashioned into thin
mats, one kilometer square in size for example, impregnated to become
water tight, floating flats can be created (with up-tuned edges), filled
with a few inches of sand for drainage and a few feet of top soil,
tropical agriculture can be created that no amount of Ice Age cooling can
touch, and which would be irrigated from the Atlantic distribution system
with just a few inches of uplift required.
kind of system will most likely be built, because it can be 'easily'
created with automated, high temperature industrial processes. In the USA,
currently, 1,200,000 square kilometers of land is devoted to agriculture.
If half of it would need to be relocated, a mere 600,000 floating flats
would do the job nicely. With automated processing this seemingly huge
task wouldn't be a big deal. And so, some of that will likely happen.
concept for this is indoor agriculture. The concept is not new, but it can
yield a highly efficient infrastructure with high-powered high-technology
and science input. If one were, for example, create a building one
kilometer square 11 stories tall, for indoor agriculture, this facility
would yield the equivalent product volume of 10 square kilometers of open
farm land. But it doesn't have to stop there.
100% artificial environment the biological power can most likely be
increased, such as with a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the
air. During the age of dinosaurs the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere
was over 30 times greater than it is today, with correspondingly
more-vigorous plant growth that supported the giant colossuses that the dinosaurs
became. CO2 has an enormous impact on plant growth. Plants need CO2 to
exist. Without it they die. It is unknown what the optimum concentration
level is. It might yield a ten times greater. The Earth is presently
dangerously leans in CO2.
same factor evidently applies also to all the other goodies that a plant
needs, from nitrogen to minerals, moisture, temperature, light, and
duration of light. For all we know, the combined optimization might give
us a 100-fold increase in yield. If this was to be, a single indoor
facility might yield us the equivalent output of 1,000 square kilometers
of open farmland. In this case 600 facilities would be sufficient
to replace half of the U.S. farm output. Nuclear power, of course, would
supply the energy for the system, even though the need wouldn't be all
that large for running one of these facilities.
the characteristic of the humble chlorophyll
can see in the diagram below, the light-energy abortion of chlorophyll is
concentrated typically in two narrow bands of the light spectrum. Light
energy outside of these bands appears to be largely wasted. With properly
tuned light 80% of the input energy might be saved.
presently delivers roughly 1 KW of energy per square meter. For the above mentioned
10 story facility 10 MW of electricity would provide the same light
energy. A typical nuclear plant of 1GW output would be able to operate 100
such indoor agricultural facilities. As you can see, power wouldn't be a
big factor. When the available light-power is concentrated at the spectrum
where it is most effective, the power of the biological processes might
well be increased significantly, maybe more than we imagine as possible.
It appears we have just begun to understand the chlorophyll on which all
life-processes ultimately depend. This makes science and technology key
elements of advanced agricultural infrastructures.
been discovered, for example that chlorophyll is
essentially a tiny ring of chlorine atoms with an magnesium ion at the
center, and side rings protruding from it that function like tuned
antennas for the absorption of certain wavelengths of sunlight. Chlorophyll molecules are specifically arranged in and around pigment protein complexes called
photo-systems that contain up to several hundred molecules that absorb light and transfer the light energy by
a process of resonance energy transfer to a specific chlorophyll pair in the reaction center of the
photo-systems. The function of the reaction center, and the chlorophyll
there, is to use the energy absorbed for a process of charge separation in which the chlorophyll donates an electron into a series of molecular intermediates called an electron transport
chain, to a process of molecular separation. The complex operation, for example involves the oxidation of water into O2 and H+ through several intermediates. The electron flow produced by the reaction center chlorophyll is used to shuttle H+ ions across
a thylakoid membrane, leaving behind free oxygen gas while setting up a chemiosmotic potential
for a reduction process that also reduces CO2 into sugars and other biosynthetic products.
line is, that when the return of the Ice Age hits our planet, and all evidence
suggests that it will in the not so distant future, not a single person in the
world will need to starve. If the three advanced infrastructures are implemented
to some degree, as they most likely will, enough food resources can then be
created to keep everybody alive, and in a richer world with a vastly higher
standard of living than mankind enjoys toady.
standard of living is dismal. Over a billion - one sixth of all people on
our planet - are forced to live in chronic starvation, and this right now
while the world still enjoys its idyllic interglacial warm period, called
the Holocene - our holiday from the cold. What prevents us from developing
our world sufficiently right now, is not a lack of resources, but
mankind's devotion to the insanity of empire and its policies of looting
the world and mankind wars for the purposes of looting. Thus the greatest
infrastructure that mankind will ever build, should it have the wisdom to
do so, is the political infrastructure that banishes empire forever and
sets mankind free to develop its creative and productive, and also
A. F. Witzsche
NAWAPA - part 1 - greening the deserts
NAWAPA - part 2 - infrastructures for the Noosphere
an exploration of the 1960s plan
NAWAPA dialog - how to raise it to a higher level?
Wells or FDR
- contrasting orientations
a FDR NAWAPA - how would Franklin Delanor Roosevelt have responded to
- what increases the power of humanity
Infrastructures - the power at hand to snub the Ice Age
Age Collapse - a challenge to mankind to raise its humanist power
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