Friday, October 12, 2007

Why do Science Fiction writers make stuff up

Posted by goatchurch at 4:55 AM
when they can just look at the Science?

Last February there was a TV program called Five Ways To Save The World, which was profoundly depressing.

There's probably a feedback loop here because if you don't take the information from scientists, you won't believe that the world needs saving, and so their speculatory plans with all their boring numbers and calculations on what would actually need to be done to make a difference -- rather than to establish a plot point -- seem ridiculous.

If I see another carbon sequestration plan in any SF story that is not on the scale one of these proposals, I shall scream. Again. Science Fiction stories should not pale into insignificance in comparison to an equivalent Science story. They should stand up for themselves.

I leave you with part of the transcript. The BBC site has lots of pictures which are worth surfing.
Ian Curtis: November 2006, NASA are playing host to the world’s top scientists. They’re meeting in California to put forward radical solutions to the greatest threat humanity has ever faced – global warming. All believe we may not reduce carbon emissions by enough in time to stop the devastating effects of climate change.

Prof John Latham: We’re approaching a situation that could be absolutely catastrophic...

Stephen Salter: And we need an emergency panic button to stop the damage that it is doing.

Ian: So dramatic plans are now under serious discussion to engineer the world before it’s too late, and many of those whose livelihoods are at risk say it is time to listen.

...

Paul Crutzen: We cannot wait another generation doing what we are doing now, it will really get out of hand.

Ian: The first of five ways to save the world is the most expensive and ambitious. It’s aim? To cut the amount of sunshine which hits the earth.

For as long as the sun has been shining, man has been sheltering from it using sunshades of one sort or another to protect himself. Imagine if you could do this for the whole world. One man thinks he can do just that, by putting a giant sunshade consisting of 16 trillion glass disks a million miles from the earth, diverting the sun’s rays. British born astronomer, Roger Angel, has turned his attentions from looking out at space to looking back at the crisis here on planet earth.

Roger Angel: The issue of our own planet has become so acute, when I’m feeling depressed, I tell my astronomer friends that they’re like the band playing on the Titanic, like this is... you know, so I’m worried about the ship going down [laughs] now. The last thing we want to do is wait until we know that we’re in deep trouble.

Ian: Roger Angel is one of the world’s foremost minds on glass optics. He’s responsible for designing the mirrors on telescopes, like the large binocular telescope here in Arizona USA, the world’s most powerful. He believes glass could be the answer to solving global warming...

Roger Angel: The same laws of optics and mechanics that hold for these enormous mirrors of 20 tonnes, hold for the one gram optics that will make each piece of the sunshade.

Ian: Roger Angel has calculated that he would need to divert only 2% of the sun’s rays to reduce global warming. But even that would require a sunshade an incredible 100,000 kilometres wide. It would be positioned a million miles from the earth, and orbit the sun at what is known as the L1 point, the point of zero gravity between the sun and the earth.

Roger: The reason I went to very small pieces is that I can do all the building of these one gram little spacecraft on the earth, launch them to this L1 point where they’ll orbit in front of the sun, and then don’t have to build anything there.

...

Ian: Roger Angel is convinced the sunshade will work in principle, but he estimates it will cost $4 trillion and take 30 years to complete. He hopes, however, mankind will be wise enough to deal with the now widely accepted causes of global warming and cut carbon dioxide emissions, so his sunshade will remain just a dream.

Roger: We are not happy campers, right? We are not saying: Wow! This is a great idea! Let’s go do it right, that’s the... the feeling is.. you know, this may be a way that we hope will never be wanted, but which we have to think about in case the dire situation comes out.
Emphasis added.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dylan said...

A future inspired by emoticons is a worrying place ... 8-)

11/10/2007 05:58:00 AM  
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