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Number 1,071, June 7, 2020

Survival With Style!

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The Norseman’s Diaries 2020
A Belated B’Errf Day Special:
Survival With Style

by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Dateline 04/22/2020
Earth Day again. (See last years edition)

As I gear up in the wake of a hard freeze that was not as hard as predicted I came up with a title for the 2020 B’Errf Day Special featuring the ideas of the dearly departed Jerry Pournelle pitted against the Green New Deal.

Long before AOC was a gleam in her daddy’s eye SF author and tech visionary Jerry Pournelle created a concept for a real Green New Deal. He wrote an essay called “Survival With Style” that publisher in the late 1970s / early 80s on how to overcome the limits to growth imposed by a finite planet and the even more finite minds of Malthusian ideologues and policymakers with their faulty computer models predicting inevitable overshoot and collapse scenarios of modern civilization unless draconian controls are imposed on society.

Beating the Middleman might also be an appropriate theme as when it comes to Earth’s atmosphere and weather plus the downtime of being on the dark side of a planet for roughly half a 24 hour day—Planet Earth truly is the middleman when it comes to getting the energy necessary to maintain biological life and civilization. This nasty stretch of unseasonably cold and cloudy spring weather that may be related to a recent uptick in volcanic activity is making O’Neill cylinders an appealing option. That and Solar Power Satellites and nukes and another option called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) to make electricity so cheap and abundant that we might be able to heat with it instead of burning stuff and use it also to make synthetic hydrocarbon fuels which are a great alternative to battery storage and a more reliable source of portable power for personal transportation.

Energy is the lifeblood of modern civilization. Jerry Pournelle was also on record for noting that we essentially convert energy onto social structure. In other words cheap energy is what makes the prosperity and stability of our way of life possible and anyone looking to disrupt that by way of terrorism—either the physical kind involving bombs and various forms of sabotage to production and distribution infrastructure- or snarling the industry with environmental lawsuits and fear mongering propaganda—is more or less trying to destroy our way of life so they can build their vision of an ideal social order over the ruins.

The Green New Deal is the latest rehash of the same with a more sophisticated twist. It’s actually a somewhat coherent vision for a national policy far more comprehensive than Al Gore’s call for a vague vision of a global Marshall Plan in his book “Earth in the Balance” to transition the world into a “sustainable” economy. And more dangerous too. The Green New Deal is essentially Hydraulic Despotism warmed over. It’s advocates are manufacturing a crisis and are setting themselves up as the solution with themselves in control of all the channels of distribution.

The space visionaries have a much better one:

Putting aside the defeatist vision of the Green New Dealers that is too depressing to detail right now on top of the dreary weather of the Coronavirus Winter- that may be the sign of another Little Ice Age in the making. We can follow their bad advice- which will make us poorer and less capable of dealing with existential crisis and ultimately mire us down in our planetary cradle that will eventually become our grave or we can go up to the High Frontier to live above those nasty clouds and dangerous weather phenomena- where energy from the sun can be captured directly and used to illuminate and heat artificial habitats tailor made for optimal climate and comfort- and also beamed to Earth so people who remain here can do the same in hardened indoor living spaces or turn entire warehouses into farms or green spaces with banks of LEDs. Like my Florida Room on steroids!

This sort of future is far better than one based on the shortage economies hallmark of environmental doomsday propaganda and dystopian science fiction novels like Orwell’s “1984” and that memorable 70s film: “Soylent Green” starring Charlton Heston. No thanks. The ongoing chronic shortages wrought by the impact of the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic on supply chains are as close as I want to go to the Green New Deal. And make no mistake—those empty shelves in the supermarket and lockdowns are a foretaste of what life will be like under such a system and socialism in general.

I’m a diehard anti dystopian.

I’ll take Buck Rogers over Big Brother any day!

Editing this on a Saturday morning. Before I close I must make one more salute to Mr Pournelle for turning my attitude toward the future around at a time when the world was drowning in defeatism. It was when I read one of his essays in my college days circa 1984 and he said “You either opt for socialism or you opt for freedom”. That was the beginning of my turn toward a new hopeful vision for the future that we need to embrace again now more than ever.

Currently the sky is nice outside but the chill lingers and it does not look like it will get much better fir the foreseeable forecast. I’m on the verge of giving up on seeing a 70 degree day anytime soon. LEDs powered by electricity generated by solar power satellites or atomic fission or fusion plants are the way to go.

Survival With Style!


Dateline Saturday 5/9/2020

Been a couple weeks since my initial submission of the special edition of the diaries commemorating Earth Day. My condolences to the dear editor for his loss. In the time since the journal was put on hold some noteworthy developments have taken place in the grand scheme of things.

Perhaps the most significant is the persistence of the unseasonably cold weather phenomenon that I dubbed the Coronavirus Winter. It’s the middle of May and the chill is unrelenting.

Late afternoon yesterday and it was dreary and rainy like so many day’s since last entry with sun and decently warm days few and far between. Normals this time of year are in the 70s. It got to that last weekend and a few other times and then right back into wintery conditions more the norm for March.

On the road to Greensburg we had snow mixing in with the rain.

Clouds cleared out around dusk setting up for another cold night the likes of last week when I had to move or cover some tender plants and push some of the emergent pond plants out onto deeper water in the center of the pond for protection.

As I head off to work Saturday morning it is still near freezing.

A skin of ice on water in containers left out in the rain the previous days.

In spite of it all the rhododendrons are still gearing up to bloom on schedule. Living things can be impatient when it comes to being constrained. I see a similar phenomenon in the people around me and the nation at large. Will touch on that in the next installment.

A dusting of snow lingers on the heights above Kecksburg. To think this is the middle of May! While the World is focused on the pandemic there may be something else afoot that may need our attention. If this continues on into June it could be indicative of something significant messing with the climate. Either a weak solar cycle or injection of volcanic dust and aerosols into the atmosphere. This has potential to shorten the growing season and reduce crop yields- on top of the current problems with the supply chains. Not good. Will give more extensive treatment to this in the next instal also.

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