ASI W9700471r1.0

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#89 October 1995

Section the Artemis Data Book

An Appropriate Environment for Man

David A. Dunlop, LRS, LUNAX, WSBR

_In the July Issue of MMM_, Doug Armstrong and Peter Kokh discussed the space architectural forms of the cylinder, torus, sphere, and helix geometries of space settlements and the economic argument that the cost feasibility of developing such structures is dependent on a phased pattern of growth in small cost-feasible steps. Further extension of this argument was made based on a broader range view of the gravitational standard that is "acceptable" in such designs.

A more basic beginning question should precede all such specifics and serve as a guide to the quest for development solutions. "What is an appropriate environment for man?"

Design Requirements: That question is both a question of design and a question of identity. It can be rephrased as

Man is the animal that needs _____x______ .

When you get to the end of the laundry list you add up the factors and have the environmental answer as to what is appropriate.

_Space Settlements: A Design Study_ (1) This NASA publication of the mid 70's has a section which provides a range of minimum values or design requirement used in urban design. These standards for human urban environmental support system whether we call it space oasis, town, city, are the most obvious set of considerations. They include characteristics such as minimum area per capita of living space, the number of gallons of water per capita per day ( far beyond life support minimum requirements by the way ), a per capita amount of power consumption, a formula for open space and public trans-portation space in relation to all enclosed buildings and so forth.

_The Political Economy of Design Toward the Short Term:_ However this use of such design laundry lists is in the initial stages confronted by the "practical" realities of:

  1. What we can afford
  2. What we can technically provide.

What we "can" afford is in the short term always a political decision. Since the focus on the short term is the most consistent view, the long term requirements are not often well understood until the failure to provide for them has produced failures or problems whose short term significance was not realized or was denied significance in competition which the more "obvious" necessities. This after-the-fact understanding is often the most expensive way of learning the consequences of consistently focusing on the short term "practicalities."

What can be technically provided is another major practical constraint. Our rockets can lift only so much mass and can loft structures of only so much volume. These constraints are the main drivers of design discussion. When we "can't" provide something in the short term and we are "forced" to do without it in the short term, the accountants and cost-efficiency analysts are tempted to ignore as a practical matter that we must provide it especially in the long term but can't say exactly when.

Yet these practical constraints also beg the larger questions of what is the acceptable or even optimal environment for man? Here in the good ol' U. S. A. and especially in the central cities the lack of job opportunities, the lack of positive role models, the difficulty of easily obtaining jobs for livable wages, the difficulties of financing educational opportunities throughout the lifespan, result in a continuing wastage of human capital. This can be measured in terms of opportunity costs and in actual costs of crime, illness, and higher levels of police, fire and corrections costs, the instability of family structures and the problems of poor socialization practices of children.

These tradeoffs have been long understood but little acted upon in earthly urban environments. That human behavior is to a significant extent environmentally determined is well understood scientifically but most often not successfully defended politically. This is true when the individual's share of public expenditures for such matters on one hand are put against individual consumption prerogatives on the other.

The larger context of Environmental Requirements

This question however is still limited by its egocentricity. To define the environment which is appropriate for man in only humanocentric terms is at odds with our history as a species. As Kokh and Armstrong appropriately pointed out over the historical record the environment has changed, and man has changed with the environment. The question has been a continually moving target in evolutionary history. In the evolutionary context we define man in term of his adaptation within an environmental system, an ecosystem of which he is a small though significant part. One cannot properly understand man, man's needs, indeed man's identity itself without this larger context. This need of the larger context is just as true of the laundry list of physical requirements for sustaining man, as well as for the psychological requirements of individual identity and meaning, and well as for the sociological meaning, and political purpose.

Historical Models and Long Term Standards

In the Judeo-Christian religious sphere, man in the Garden of Eden has been defined as the creature whose job was to take care of the Garden of Eden and whose purpose was to fulfill the will of God. In these statements man is defined in terms of the larger context - not the larger context defined in term of man. Yet it has been a most persistent trait to slip into defining the universe in terms of ourselves and it has taken millennia for us to discover our true insignificance in the cosmic scheme of things, thanks to Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Hubble. This discovery continues today, in which our most elegant notions of universe are confounded by significant discrepancies in our model of missing mass, the age of the cosmos, and the difficulties of construction of an integrated model of elemental forces.

In the area of environmental support systems, NASA studies have acknowledged that physico-chemical systems are over a 10 to 15 year period probably less cost effective for a small number of humans than a more complex bio-regenerative closed environmental life support system. We will "better" solve the problem of regenerating the oxygen/CO2 balance, of purifying the human liquid and solid "wastes", and providing the variety of biomass nutrients needed for sustenance with an environmental systems of 10 to 15 plant species which have complementary support requirements that interlock with these physical requirements of man.

This "engineering" conclusion seems so self apparent from an evolutionary context that one may wonder why it deserves comment. For one, it ridiculously understates the ranges of plant species that are necessary for long term sustenance of human populations. A suggestion of a 10 to 15 plant species solution to environmental control systems should be considered only a short term solution to an early phase of a development which will last for many generations. The construction of a sustainable biosphere off the Earth is at least the equal in our time to the task of cathedral building in the 10th or 11th century.

The Tyranny of the Short Term Standard

Of course when we start talking about what we "can" afford to fit on a rocket, we tend to immediately revert to the laundry list and then ignore the long term requirements of psychological identity, sociology, and polity much less the grandeur and "grandiosity" of mentioning ecosystems requirements or definition. Because these definitions are so daunting in both complexity and scale they are basically ignored and defined out of the laundry lists that must be taken "seriously" in the short term. Such deferrals in the short term are hard to overcome in the "next" short term list, and so on. This is how the lack of a much larger system vision condemns us to short term expediency and its propensity toward significant design errors and omissions.

We seem to have lost culturally the capacity that existed during the middle ages which concerned itself with "meeting the requirements of God" even if it took generations to fulfill such requirements. The constructions of the great Cathedrals of Europe were the work of centuries spanning many generations. No such clear sense of over arching necessity or purpose exists today for any national or international project which enlivens our designs. Instead we have the increasing anxiety about the need to create or preserve a "sustainable" future for our economy and our environmental system as a reactions to the accelerating destruction of environmental resources.
We aspire to preserving a planetary Steady State! We don't aspire to visions of new worlds. The output of enormous effort in the here and now that will not see completion in one's lifetime is a very alien and even humorous idea in an era which is increasing conditioned to short term expecta-tions of accomplishment and maximized individual consumption. In the 1930's Roosevelt's vision for society was "two chickens in every pot." in Eisenhower's it was two cars in every garage. Today in the U.S. our vision seems to be focused on hanging onto our declining standard of living. We no longer seem to be "on the make."

This loss of the "larger context" is reflected in the accounting system which defines the concept of useful life in terms of depreciation schedules which range from a 3 to 5 year period on "short term" consumables to a 30 year "long term" mortgages for a house. Practically speaking the financial system has no schedule for valuing in numerical terms and financial terms periods of depreciation over 30 years. "Nettlesome" considerations are ignored or defined as "externalities." A corresponding change has been the focus on immediate consumption and the corresponding decline in the rate of savings. This loss of psychological and sociological software is as significant in terms of its functional consequences as the failure to provide for an adequate water supply.

The Value of The Grand Vision and the Long Trajectory

When the opportunity arose for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from the French, the amount represented a substantial portion of the entire budget of the United States in 1805. Yet Jefferson, looking ahead over the course of a century or two, realized that the purchase price was an infinitesimal portion of the true value of what was being offered. Against opposition he persuaded the Congress to take the plunge. On a smaller scale "Seward's folly of purchasing Alaska for 67 million dollars in the mid 1860's was another such uncommon example of the long term view prevailing. The economic wisdom of Jefferson and Seward is now clearly apparent after well over a century has passed; but the territorial gain and economic gain of other planets, the Moon, and Mars has eluded every President and Congress since Nixon!

In the matter of designing space oases the accountants and engineers have controlled and dominated the discussion and therefore the designs. The political position of these groups has been such to portray these space enterprises as being cost-infeasible. This consideration has lead to the morass, stagna-tion, and failure of this generation to aggressively pursue the Apollo initiative.

It would appear clear today that stabilization of the global population, a sustainable environment, and a sustain-able economy providing a high standard of material well being to everyone on Earth, cannot be achieved without relying heavily on the use of space-based material and energy resources.
Kokh and Armstrong argue that the "classical" space settlement megastructures were too overwhelming a goal to approach. I would argue just the opposite! The "mega-structure" of the sustaining ecosystem for man is the only place to start because it is the larger context which demands a more realistic view of the longer context in the accounting system of our species and our immediate politics.

The design considerations from the start must consider the evolutionary trajectory!

The Gravity Standard

Let us take up to matter of the standard of gravity and the enormous impact on mass and initial costs such gravity standards imply that was raised in the article. At present we do not understand the range of gravity that is necessary for the sustenance of our species either above or below 1 G - except that it seems clear that 0-G conditions are not sustainable biologically for our species because of the extreme debilitation of the cardiovascular systems and bone tissue density that we have observed from "long term" space flight which is currently defined as less than two years! Even such short term exposure to 0-G seems to threaten the individual with significant debili-tation which may be irreversible.

Without some real experience exploring this question there is no intelligent position that can be taken on where limits below or above the 1-G level should be set. Kokh and Armstrong are absolutely correct in the evolutionary context to demand that the limit be pushed in consideration of design options. We may indeed find that a standard of 1/6th G or 1/3rd G is viable for our species. If this is so, it may mean that a considerably smaller scale of mass is necessary than would be the case for a strict 1 G standard. However they have fallen into the trap of accepting the limitations of the accounting and engineering elite that has stagnated our current space effort.

If it turns out that our species does indeed require a 1 G standard or a narrow range thereabouts which necessitates a 1000 meter rotating structure or a 5,000 meter rotating structure then that is what must be build! Even if it is the work of 5 presidential administrations! or five generations! Our financial conclusion should be to accept a longer time frame to achieve what is necessary, not to abandon the effort as financially impractical.

If we had made the commitment to build the space station pictured in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, we might actually have had such a station in existence by 2001 almost two generations later. Since our commitment was not made to a "magnificent grandiosity", we could not hang onto sky lab, design a shuttle effective to realizing such a station, or more sadly see that station in its proper context as a stepping stone to yet a larger ambition. The requirement of such an effort has clearly been within the national technical capability in term of freeing up sufficient numbers of specialists from the sustaining requirements of food productions and other material necessities of the U. S. economy. We have sunk at least that much effort into the Cold War, especially if one views what has been produced and purchased globally in the arms trade since Apollo.

The Value of Animals

Indeed in the real U.S. economy we have sunk that much effort into the purchase of dog and cat food. In fact is it not curious that we deem the companionship of our pets as so important to us in the short term that as a society we refuse to invest a similar scale of effort into the long term survival and expansion of our own species. It is also ironic that few of the utopian visions of man in space put much stress on the companionship of animals. Forgive me! Commander Data has a cat! I was alluding to those more serious biosphere II designs which concentrate on talapia fish and Vietnamese pot bellied pigs! - or NASA Moon Base scenarios devoid of animals. Might not the psychological ministrations of a dog or cat just be crucial to the long term mental health of many of its human occupants and therefore of the stability and survivability of the oasis? I have heard no discussions of any "serious" mention of pets in the context of a Lunar or Martian base. Pets you see are a frivolity that have been left off the "serious" list. If they appear it will be most likely a justifi-cation that they are needed as "lab" animals for biological research, and not because they are important to have around in their own right.

The biological, psychological, political and eco-systems requirements of our species expansion are truly vast in relation to the existing planetary economic base on which we stand. But the gains of planetary expansion to the Moon, Mars, and planetesimals, so completely exceeds the efforts required to obtain the gain that the present limitations of the accounting systems must be revised to a more realistically modeling of this economic potential. The Apollo missions were planning for a few camping trips. We must now plan for an invasion! Only this scale of thinking will be productive!

The Value of Biodiversity

The state of the art hydroponics practitioners claim that 60 to 70 square meters will produce a sustainable basis for human food production in a space agricultural system. This is a very minimal standard that takes a very narrow view of the requirements for biodiversity among the set of supporting species needed by man. The need for variety and diversity can be suppressed for only so long. Such "standards" are merely concessions to the expedience of short term and somewhat arbitrary constraints which are primarily political decisions on short term resource allocations.

In exploring grandly the questions of "What is an appropriate environment for man?" in the context of space environmental design and expanding this consideration toward factors which might be considered "optimal", we can gain the greatest immediate spin-off possible. That spin-off is better management and a clearer vision of what are our systems requirements for this beautiful planet, ourselves included. It is in gazing out toward the long term future of humanity that we may gain the best mirror of our self as a species and the more humble and wise understanding of the vast system of which we are one small but integral part. When we look at how our current economic, political, and planning systems have failed to adequately address these questions of what is an appropriate much less adequate or optimal environment on Earth we have to carefully and skeptically look at a minimalist approach to such questions in space. In this context I am not about to apologize for the label of big spender. Both the demands of entering the environment of space, the time demands of doing so, and the potential returns on the investment require our species to be a big spender. The size of the debts is balanced by the size of the assets! D.A.D.

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