#34 April 1990
Section 184.108.40.206.034.of the Artemis Data Book
Here on Earth, we imagine we can afford the luxury of continued general
ignorance of the way our Biosphere works, and what may be necessary to
maintain its health. We allow our young people to drop out of school, and
allow those who do complete their courses to graduate with empty heads. We
assume Mother Earth will go on taking care of itself as it has from time
immemorial. Those who want to worry - that’s fine, let them do their thing.
The rest of us - let’s party!
In the miniature oases of life that ECOTECTS will design, build, and seed
with life on the Space Frontier, we will have no such luxury of aloofness or
ignorance. Whether we prefer to live in space colonies, in lunar settlements,
in pioneer Martian towns or elsewhere, the carefully established envelopes of
Earth-life, water, and atmosphere that we’ll need to reencradle our existence
beyond our native womb-world, will have minimum tolerances for healthy
functioning. The ecological facts-of-life in the fragile exclaves of
Gaia-Humanity will be immediate in their critical importance.
A Space Frontier BIOSPHERE or Oasis might be described as a closed mini-world
where everyone “Lives Downstream AND Downwind from Themselves”. This means
relentless vigilance in keeping the water and air clean beyond any standards
set on Earth. “Sinks” will also be “sources”. Food chains will be short or
telescoped. And waste biomass and organic materials must be efficiently and
To keep low, both energy consumption and the need to radiate excess heat,
we’ll need to get the most product per energy-input/heat-output as possible.
Recycling, which recycles the energy of original processing as well as goods
themselves, will be essential for all classes of materials.
Back on Earth, environmental consciousness is rising and is now the highest
we’ve ever known. Yet, polls show people only care enough to want “someone
else” to take care of the problem, and to do so without causing any personal
inconvenience or forcing unwelcome changes in lifestyle.
It should be clear that if any such attitudes were common within a Space
Frontier Biosphere, an environmental collapse most likely without hope of
recovery, would follow all too swiftly. Nor will it be enough to have “a high
level” of individual responsibility., everyone within such frontier
communities has to be “oasis-wise”/ It must be “second nature” to the
pioneers to live AS IF the dawn of the next day depended upon their rigorous
respect for the Biosphere-Facts-Of-Life - for indeed, we’ll survive one day
at a time.
The only way to guarantee an oasis-wise citizenry, is to teach ‘Eco-Sense” to
the children - not as an elective - nor as a mere requisite for graduation
that can be put off to the last minute - but as the one “backbone” of their
education. Recycling - of the air, water, and biomass, of organic, synthetic,
and inorganic materials - must be AS IMPORTANT AS Reading, (w)Riting, and
(a)Rithmetic. Children must be taught all-inclusive recycling as the 4th “R”!
Eco-responsibility has to become second nature. For if it is something we
have to “remember” to do, we’ll only do it when it’s convenient, or when
someone else is looking (conscience or conscientiousness not being a very
effective force for most people).
Space Frontier Schools will have then a major role to play in guaranteeing
the survival of the settlements they serve. The pioneer youth must learn not
only how to sort discarded items properly, but have a good understanding of
how used air, water, biomass, and the various sorts of consumer materials are
each routed back into the system upon which their shared lives depend. They
should understand the raw materials and by-products interdependence of
industries and the interrelatedness of all those kind so life that make up
their mini ecosystem.
Students should be assigned recycling chores appropriate to their grade level
to give them hands-on appreciation of how things work. The goal is not merely
to produce good consumers and insure oasis-wise home-economics, nor merely to
produce good entrepreneurs, industrial managers and workers, but to ensure
that each citizen has sufficient appreciation of the Biosphere-Fact-Of-Life
on which community survival depends, to vote intelligently and support only
Biosphere-responsible political efforts. For while”lunacy” can be tolerated
on Earth, there’s no place for it on the Moon itself, or elsewhere in space.
In Primary School, rote learning of the types of things to be sorted and
recycled separately, of their names, identifying clues, and the routes by
which they are cycled back into the system, and of the current market uses of
recycled items can all be gradually introduced. In art classes the students
would use only oasis-wise media and craft stuffs, coloring agents, and
In frontier homes, children could gradually be entrusted with the
responsibility to monitor and manage the recycling chores within their
households. They should be introduced to kitchen and garden composting,
learning which food or garden scraps need to be treated separately., They can
be encouraged to make things of pride from used materials and discarded items.
No small part of early education would be to equip youthful vocabulary with
sets of keywords and phrases having strong positive connotations. “Trash” and
“Wastes”, words of ill-repute, could be replaced with “Freed” used as a noun
i.e. stuff relieved of previous service and ready for reassignment (“Tommy,
please drop off the freed on your way to school.”) The rehabilitation of
“alley economics” must start with the young.
At the High School level the entire curriculum should reflect
Biosphere-Facts-Of-Life. In the teaching of Biology, attention should be
given to natural air and water cycles and the steps at which these processes
may need assistance within the mini-biosphere, The time it takes to
biodegrade biomass waste and various types of organic materials should be
covered. Not only should the Chemistry of atmospheric gasses be taught but
also the nature of toxins, how they are produced both in nature and industry,
and how they can be neutralized or prevented.
In teaching Import/Export Economics, the very critical role of recycling
volatiles and already embodied energy must be stressed. An honest “Materials
Accounting System” ought to be taught with its corrective affect on Financial
Depreciation and Expense Accounting. And as an ongoing class chore/project,
the economics class could maintain a Computer Database on some subset of
recyclables under supervision of the frontier University.
In Industrial Arts, the concept of “whole sheet scrapless design” can be
brought home with school contests and competitions. Entrepreneurialism in the
service of recycling can be encouraged by the J.C.s and in Junior Achievement
projects, stressing the use of recyclables for which the market is slow.
Industry could provide school art classes with access to slag type sources of
“accidental art” to be mounted or set for sale.
A very useful extracurricular activity, with supervision, would be to take in
worn, broken, parts-missing, and cast-off small durable items, especially
including toys. These could then be repaired and rehabilitated. And where
this is impractical, the items could be disassembled so that all materials
needing to be recycled separately, can be. Time can be allotted for
“serendipity” ephemeral sculptures from such parts.
Nor should this “immersion” in the spirit and process of oasis-wise recycling
stop with graduation from high school. In space frontier communities, where
there will be “always more to do than people to do it”, a Universal Civic
Service after high school might not be a bad idea. Manning and maintenance of
streetside recycling nodes, with care for their attractiveness and
efficiency, operating other nodes in the recycling system, and other
“schleping” chores such as accident cleanups and maintenance of parks,
passageways, and other orphaned “commons” are one way a Citizen-Candidate
might pay his or her “dues” to space frontier society.
Biosphere Maintenance is another appropriate dues-paying activity: manning
the water-treatment and air-freshening facilities, various yeoman farming
duties such as sorting spoiled produce and other biomass “freed” into
mushroom matrix, animal fodder, and general compost.
Apprenticeships in the trades using recycled materials might also be
considered for citizen-candidates if there are not enough of the above
mentioned job slots available. Cleaning refillables and other labor-intensive
duties in the various recycling chains may also be in order.
The grand result of this thorough three step education process (primary and
secondary schools followed by a stint of universal civic service) would
produce a Space Frontier citizenry that fully appreciates the fragility of
their particular oasis of life and who forever remained deeply predisposed to
live and act in an oasis-wise manner. We might even put some of these
education ideas to good use right here on our home planet!
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto