The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oil Wars For the Next Century: The Possible Importance of Oil to Space

This month of January 2008, The Cepia Club’s Project 6 has been conducting research into the course of the future of US policy in the oil basins of the Persian Gulf/Caspian Sea. Club writings on previous research in the fall of 2007 had posed some of these future policy concerns for US national security. Our current focus is called "Operation Scimitar," a simulated game and modeling of a US war in Iran. Here is one bit of complete conjecture on which we have theorized a horrendous world of conflict for oil for the next century or more.
In our gaming research, the Club encountered a huge disconnect: When humanity’s governments, scientists, and markets can construct a world in which alternative fuels to replace oil CAN be a reality in a relatively short time frame, and since enough reserves of oil exist until such time (even when projecting possible exponential growth of oil needs by globalizing Asia and Africa) why could oil be such a concern to threaten world war, and a war with nuclear weapons use a possibility now and in the future? Indeed, some stakes must be at play in this global conflict the game research clearly shows has intensified in the last 8 years. This essay may not necessarily be a great assumption for the present politics, but what of 20 years hence?
Regardless of the short-term politics of war and peace, oil needs and oil wars will be with us for the next century at least, if humanity even survives predictable or unforseen-as-yet dangers and events.
First, The Cepia Club "grand model" clearly shows that humanity has a destiny in space. US public disinterest in space, and a 40-year old space shuttle notwithstanding, any number of factors–a Noah plan for an extinction event, resource exploitation off-world, overcrowding, disappearing landmass due to global warming, a polluted atmosphere–humankind’s destiny is to rise above (and possibly descend below) the earth’s surface. The most likely reasons for space travel and colonization of the solar system, for which the Club accepts the philosophical "Strong Anthropic Principle," are as simple as the politics of war and peace, the needs for prosperity, social advancement, or cultural expansion. The fulfillment of individual liberty and freedom, or the spirit of Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, even without an apocalyptic occurrence, does not require any imagination on "Why go to space?" We have been and are already there. The only real question remains: Where do we go from the here and now into the human experience of the near cosmos? If the Club accurately sees this, how does oil fit into this theoretic model?
In looking at the either/or, (binary 0/1) options IF oil was important to the long-term political future of earth, we modeled in our qualitative process the following points:
First, the existing technology for getting craft, personnel, equipment, and cargo orbital from the earth’s surface is via ram-jets. Ram jets are both advancing in theory and used now in practice. The first civilian entrepreneur to achieve "space flight" in the Richard Branson-sponsored prize contest used essentially ram jet technology. The US non-military space program plans to replace the "ancient" shuttle fleet with craft using such technology. All one has to attain to reach orbital path is a break-away speed at a certain angle to the atmosphere. Ram jets, using the basic technology of early jet experiments (the World War II German Me-163 "Comet") is a self-contained system that does not require free-air mix combustion. In other words, ram jets are sophisticated jet engines. They can run on a super-super form of jet fuel, refined from oil. If engineers can get the new European Airbus to fly (a wingspan almost three football fields wide), and can even build and fly such a "freakish" planes as the B-2 Spirit bomber, the imagination should not be limited in the size or type of craft into space, or limit a conceivable amount of things a ram jet can put into orbit. Oil, already the most plentiful and realistically cheap transportation fuel, has a large future in space, civilian or military or other.
In current military airborne and air-mobile operations, like in 1991's Operation Desert Storm, cargo planes regularly drop large rubberized fuel "bladders" (with or without parachutes) to troops on the ground. Instead of delivering helicopter fuel for a forward base deep behind enemy lines, what stops a craft-system from delivery massive amounts of fuel to an exploration mission or remote base on earth’s own moon or Mars itself, to provide ground transport or return-to-earth fuel (where water-fueled propulsion reactor engines cannot be refilled)?
In another strain of reasoning, the Club conjectures that oil, on earth in a dire circumstance, or on the moon or other solar body, can be used for terraforming. What is terraforming? It is the process of creating a "earth-like" life-sustaining system on planetary or planetoid bodies where none exist. Oil is a hydrocrabon. Current theories believe that, no matter what effect overuse of oil burning on earth might or might not do, oil, gas, and coal are believed to be derived over eons from organic matter, once living plants and animals. Hydrocarbons are hydrogen, oxygen and carbon–more or less water and what composes our own bodies (carbon-dating can be used only on un-fossilized once-living matter). Oil creates thicker amounts of particulates in the atmosphere, and might be able to create atmosphere for life on the moon–water vapor, carbon and oxygen. It can be turned into soil fertilizer that might be able to change moon dust into dirt, growing plants for photosynthesis. Hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. Monsoon seasons on the moon? Weather?
Would the moons or asteroids of the solar system have atmospheres if they had oil? Can humanity create atmospheres, weather- and life-cycles with the properties of oil? We can certainly travel to space to experiment on the moon, and beyond. The moon is an entire laboratory for humanity in space. If oil can really do these things, then oil can change the local demi-verse circling the sun. Or can oil save our own planet from our overuse of it if it is needed to sustain atmosphere? What if "Martians" millions of years ago used all their oil? Is that why Mars has so little atmosphere now? But let’s not be fanciful in our own science-fiction sciences.
These theories are oil are just plausible at this point. But we here in the present spaceship Earth have a more immediate challenge, which solves any of the conflict arising from these plausible potentials: Preventing the politics of war and peace over oil (?) from stripping humanity of the liberty, freedom, justice and fellowship--the god-given natural rights--we lose by war and conflict. If oil is a problem for the next century, humankind can find a solution for the common good by peaceful means, if we try.


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