saving civilization and the planetary ecosystem

Mankind's civilization has a basic problem no different than that facing any of the other forms of life on our planet.

That problem is that it alters the biosystem in which it is a part, while it takes from the system some kinds of things such as inorganics (such as the air we breathe and the copper we mine for electrical wire) and organics (such as the food we eat and the petroleum we pump from the ground to power our cars), and in return we produce outputs (such as the carbon dioxide we exhale, the garbage dump landfills full of pulverized unusable stuff, and raw sewage). Notice that these two lists, the input and the output, are not the same. If mankind were all that existed, the universe would become depleted of that which mankind used, and full of that which mankind excreted as part of biological functions and of technology's refuse. The higher the technological level and the higher the number of people comprising humanity, the faster this process goes on. Mankind turns forests and prairies into farmlands which then become depleted of necessary minerals and organics, requiring their artificial seeding of these substances taken from somewhere else; jungles into brief cattle lands then into wasteland, requiring more jungle to be razed and burned so as to have more farmland briefly. Obviously, that which lives by destroying its environment has a limited future existence unless it finds a way to indefinitely have its output become converted back into what it needs for input.

Mankind has achieved this in the past, the Aborigines and the jungle natives produce only that which the surrounding environment can use in its own forms of life processes. Life on this planet has lived in something of balance: plants take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen which is toxic waste thusly to plants, and animals do the reverse, breathing in oxygen and exhaling the carbon dioxide that is toxic waste to them in turn. The energy source that powers this process comes from solar energy, both in providing the energy for plants to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and plant-building structural material, and by driving the weather which pumps the nutrients around this great chemical processing plant that is our home planet.

But mankind doesn't have a built-in awareness of the need for this 100% recycling needed, any more than do the other plants and animals, it just assumes that there will always be something out there that will consume one's byproducts and convert them back into what is needed eventually: it always has done so, right? Well, it always has done so for the kinds of life forms that now exist here, because the kinds of life forms that did not succeed in that recycling and so utterly fouled their nest have already perished, and the ones which are not now blending adequately in with its environments process are in the process of perishing too.

Try bottling up your home, close and seal its doors, cover its windows tightly, shut off the sewer going out of the house and shut off the water going in, turn off the electricity and telephone and other communications going into and out of your home: how well will you live in there (with no air to breathe, no light to see by, no way to flush the toilet) and for how long will you live if you cannot get out or change the situation? Our beloved planet is just a larger such home.

The process can be slowed by cutting down the size of the population and by recycling aluminum cans, but the process continues in the same direction of a dismal end, unless something changes correctly. Becoming aware of the problem is a first step in solving the problem.

One way to restore ones environment is to move out while it is being rebuilt, restored. Is such a thing conceivably possible in the case of mankind's vast complex civilization, fighting and bickering over dwindling resources?

What if a transportation system could be built adequate to move all of humanity up to balanced ecosystem cities in space orbiting around Earth in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit, cities built mostly out of lunar and asteroidal materials, and in constant transportation circulation with the Earths surface by a transportation system able to move a million people a day, along with their household belongings, powered by solar-electric powerplants there in GEO? Utterly preposterous impossible, you say? Maybe not technologically so, read on here; although a mankind that continues to be irresponsible despite the options may may make that "impossible" be unfortunately correct.

Consider a potential transportation system that would continuously move payload between the earth's surface and earth's geosynchronous orbit, 22,300 miles above the equator.

This payload is lifted by momentum exchange between the vehicles carrying it and a continuous upward-travelling stream of mass passing along its path; the vehicles are electromagnetically coupled to this high velocity upward-bound mass stream, and electromagnetically tap off part of the mass stream's upward momentum so as to itself rise up the path.

This mass stream continuously circulates around past the earth surface and up to GEO on the far side of its path, and has its energy replenished each time it passes through the ground location, re-accellerated electromagnetically thrusting against the earth's mass there to re-initialize its velocity by the time it exits the ground terminal site, to continue on around the path again. The mass stream's path must be in a hard vacuum to minimize friction, and travels along magnetic levitation bearings, also to minimize friction. The mag lev bearings form tracks in a structure which is physically connected to the earth's surface and rotates at the same 24 hour period as does the planet. The part of the structure that is within the earth's atmosphere also provides the evacuated tubing through which the mass stream passes as the mass stream grazes the planet's surface, preventing collision with the dense atmosphere as it passes by at over 20,000 mph.

This KESTS (short for "Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure") resembles an immense rotary motor which is so stretched out that its stationary stator part so encircles the earth that its lowest part contacts the planet's surface, and its highest part grazes GEO, 22,300 miles above the opposite side of the planet. The mass stream becomes segments of the electric motors armature. And the axle of the rotary electric motor is replaced by a combination of the earth's gravitational field and of compression of the trajectory of the mass stream as it circulates within the electromagnetic tracks on the underside of the electric motor's stator.

In other words, KESTS can be conceived of as a kind of linear motor so stretched out and looped around back on itself so as to form a continuous loop rotary electric motor, going all the way around the planet and stretched high above it on one side while touching down on the planet's surface on the other side, with contra rotating pairs of armature segment tracks on the same relatively motionless stator, and with structural support of the stator (and most importantly also of payload-carrying vehicles traveling upon that stator, the whole purpose of the thing) due to the exchange of momentum between the high velocity armature segments inductively dragging upward as they travel in the gravitational field of the planet, and of particular interest in the configurations where the stator encircles the whole planet in an eccentric shape touching the surface in the gravitationally lowest area while reaching GEO in the gravitationally highest area, thus providing a means for solar-electric satellite electrically powered transportation between the equatorial ground surface and geosynchronous earth orbit high in space.

When eventually powered by solar-electric satellite powerplants in GEO, the transportation system becomes self sustaining, creating a powerful continuous transportation system bridging between the planet's surface and the surrounding space environment's enormous resources.

The basic technology needing creation and development for KESTS might be called Sliding Armature Energy Transfer Technology, with an eye toward large scale space access applications, which could provide an alternative path for civilization to reach space, even if mankind has consumed all the economically recoverable fossil fuel resources in the next few decades. Sliding Armature Energy Transfer would electromagnetically interchange kinetic and electrical energy along a structural path, and thus suggests means for momentum transfer even across great distances; also suggests means for structural shaping and support through conforming the path of circulating high velocity sliding armatures to the shape of the structure; storage of energy in circulating paths; as well as another way to transmit electrical power from one place to another. Many of the envisioned basic principles of Sliding Armature Energy Transfer Technology can be seen in the principles of electrical motors, electrical generators, and dynamic electrical braking devices.

To mentally picture the concept, consider dividing up the armature of an electrical motor-generator into a very long series of segments, which slide within magnetic levitation tracks along the relatively unmoving part of a motor generator, its stator. The stator then can also be envisioned stretched out and bent into various shapes which define the path of the armatures which slide at high velocity along it. The forces exchanged between the armature mass stream and the track within which they flow allow means for electrical input of energy to the system through acceleration of the armature mass stream; inductive extraction of the electrical energy throughout the extent of the stator track's path; and through controlled dynamic inductive drag of upward-moving armature segments, a force to support the weight of the stator against the force of gravity; as well as means to provide momentum transfer to payload by inductively dragging upward against payload-carrying vehicles riding the stator structure to lift them up. Some kinds of payload could be directly transported within the armature segments. Additionally, if the size of the structure is so large as to encircle the center of the planet, if the velocity of the armature segment mass stream sliding within the stator is higher than the orbital velocity at any part of its altitude, then an outward centrifugal force is exerted there on the stator, which also resists the geometrically inward force of gravity. Configured as a ground-to-space transportation system, offset so as to touch ground at its low point and GEO at its high point, using differential velocity at the ground contact site to transfer momentum from the contra rotating mass streams flowing within the stator to swing the stator around the planet synchronous with the Earth's rotational period, it may be able to lift the mass of solar-electric power stations into space to thereafter provide all the electrical power needed to operate itself, and perhaps have extra to provide to earthsurface commercial electrical power grids. The ability to use electrical power to continuously deliver payload between the Earth's surface and GEO suggests the possibility of building and maintaining large passively-shielded space habitats in GEO, too. Early research and development of a Sliding Armature Energy Transfer Technology could provide options important to the future of civilization. mglv7dbw.GIF

This page by James Edward David Cline ; updated on 1999 05 08.

Copyright © 1999 J E D Cline