Lunar urbanism 7: Being post-terrestrial


[Image: "The Alliance to Rescue Civilization differs from other so-called doomsday projects. It envisions a lunar base where, in the event of global catastrophe, humans could carry on, protecting DNA samples of life on Earth and maintaining a bank of human knowledge." They will all be avid readers of BLDGBLOG].

"What kind of feeble doomsday would leave London safe and sound?" the New York Times asked this morning. Indeed.
After all, any doomsday deserving of the word would surely destroy London – as well as every other city along with it. Perhaps even the whole planet.
Thankfully, then, there's the so-called Alliance to Rescue Civilization, or ARC. According to the New York Times, ARC is "a group that advocates a backup for humanity by way of a station on the Moon replete with DNA samples of all life on Earth, as well as a compendium of all human knowledge – the ultimate detached garage for a race of packrats. It would be run by people who, through fertility treatments and frozen human eggs and sperm, could serve as a new Adam and Eve in addition to their role as a new Noah."
It's interesting to read Biblical metaphors in the context of what amounts to science fiction, I have to say; at the very least, this raises the question of what officially banned Catholic heresies might once have existed – whose practitioners were all burnt at the stake for simply having reimagined the Bible as a kind of space opera written by Isaac Asimov. Emerging from the desert is a machine, full of light, called The Transubstantiator. Satanic anti-churches of dark matter spiral through magnetic voids...
In any case, the "mission" of the Alliance to Rescue Civilization is, in their own words, "to protect the human species and its civilization from destruction that could result from a global catastrophic event, including nuclear war, acts of terrorism, plague and asteroid collisions. To fulfill its mission, ARC is dedicated to creating continuously staffed facilities on the Moon and other locations away from Earth. These facilities will preserve backups of scientific and cultural achievements, and of the species important to our civilization. In the event of a global catastrophe, the ARC facilities will be prepared to reintroduce lost technology, art, history, crops, livestock and, if necessary, even human beings to the Earth."
The near impossibility of choosing exactly what "species [are] important to our civilization" is an issue for another day.
Finally, the idea of building a post-terrestrial earth surrogate that will save – or even mischievously re-direct – the human future is nothing new; a somewhat similar project, for instance, is Asteromo, Paolo Soleri's space-based drifting utopia, an artificial asteroid within which astral pilgrims will breed.

(Earlier: Lunar urbanism 6, Lunar urbanism 5, Lunar urbanism 4, Lunar urbanism 3 – and so on).

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Blogger Matt said...

There's also the minor issue of whether you really can recreate a species, and ensure it behaves like its extinct forebears, purely from its genes...

August 01, 2006 3:35 PM  
Anonymous cenoxo said...

It'll never work unless the Alliance also has the power to destroy the Earth so they can save it. Politics back on good old Terra Firma won't let a space-based ARC stay in the running otherwise.

Tightly engineered utopias are doomed to fail because humans always want to redecorate the place or cut across the new grass. Take people out of the loop, hire a few laid-off drones at minimum wage to weed the regolith, and it might stand a chance.

But why spend all that time and money to design, build, launch, land, staff, and maintain an extraterrestrial colony? Use it instead to change terrestrial hearts and minds.

August 01, 2006 4:39 PM  
Anonymous David from DC said...

Here's what I can't understand about these type of projects:

If the earth is destroyed, why would humans even want to survive as a species? We are so specialized, evolutionarily speaking, that life anywhere but earth would be a constant pain in the ass.

If we can't live sustainably on our own planet (and I'd say that we can't), it goes without saying that a small number of folks wouldn't survive long on the moon. It would be like Jamestown, only without air.

The main reasons people enjoy living, (i.e. sex, laziness, and toys) would be nonexistent in the moon colony. The sex would be horrible for lack of gravity, we'd have to be always toiling about to survive, and none of our toys' manufacturer's warranties would stay valid.

August 01, 2006 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

"The sex would be horrible for lack of gravity"?

People have no imagination. There's still the same amount of inertia, but one sixth as much resistance to changing positions! Do it standing on your head and not be uncomfortable. Just do it standing and have less weight to hold up.

We are one of the least specialized animals on earth. We can't swim or run fast or far, can't fly, and don't like temperatures or weather outside a fairly small range. Our big brains and adaptability make a location like a lunar base more ideal for us than any other creature existing.

August 01, 2006 6:31 PM  
Blogger Captain Ned said...

Call them loonies you may, but the long term survival of homo sapiens is literally not on this Earth.

Those that wish us to remain here on Earth are inherently calling for mankind's destruction. I know that some of the dodgy left agrees with this; let's take a census.

August 01, 2006 11:19 PM  
Blogger duarte1 said...

HELLO MIKE DAVIS: Hugo Chavez Frias said it very CLEARLY and STRAIGHT-FORWARD--> Humankind has 2 options: Socialism or death of the human species. We as humans must unite into a single goal, i know that capitalists will bash us as being totalitarian, stalinists or whatever they want to call us. But we can see that capitalism is a disaster in every aspect: Economically, mentally, physically, architecturally, aesthetically, etc. Capitalism fails in every aspect to fix human problems !!

August 01, 2006 11:46 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Captain Ned - While some of the dodgy left certainly wish for a kind of species-wide, history-changing slap in the face, i.e. humans being suddenly, shockingly, and cruelly put into their simian place, whether that's because of bird flu, peak oil, or nonlinear climate change; there are also a whole lot of people on the dodgy right openly salivating over the prospect that the Biblical end of the world has come rapturously nigh, especially now, as Israeli bombs detonate each morning inside Lebanon and the Holy Land goes up in flames from Hezbollian rockets. So the death drive is active on both sides of the aisle. Both sides have dodgy wishes for mankind's destruction.

The guiding question, in some ways, is: which adventure story captures your fancy? Environmental collapse followed by an agonizing post-civilizational holocaust of cholera, pollution, cancer, hunger, and weed-choked urban ruin; or a thunderous Second Coming torched by hurricanes of fire, multi-headed Leviathans emerging horn-first from lakes of blood to tattoo unbelievers with the mark of Hell...? Personally, the first story interests me more. At the very least, it might actually happen.

Having said that, of course, my real preference is that neither vision will come true – and that I can continue updating BLDGBLOG for years to come.

And is "David from DC" the David I know through Jim W.? If so, hello; if not, just bring loads of batteries with you, and a Leatherman. Then you can fix any toy.

August 02, 2006 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Dave (DC) said...

1. Sex in Space. Why it would Suck.

Sex is no good in space for two reasons. Firstly, the lack of gravity would greatly decrease the friction, which many experts agree is quite essential to the sexual act. (Remember, Friction = Mass x Gravitational Pull X Coefficient of Friction)

Secondly, at least one of the participants must be harnessed, strapped, or otherwise bouyed to create any rhythmic motion between the parties. While this adds a new dimension to the activity, it is definitely a "resistance to changing positions." More in the realm of my retreiver humping a tree trunk.

I think people are confusing "specialized" evolution with "adaptable."

"We can't swim or run fast or far, can't fly, and don't like temperatures or weather outside a fairly small range."

These are all examples of specialized evolution. We have evolved to fit the circumstances of a life where we don't need to do those things.

While we probably have ideas about a lunar base that is always 70 degrees with 8% humidity, chances are that humankind, in its final, grasping lurch for survival, will have to deal with conditions that are quite variable.

PS. I know a Jim M, but not W. I suspect there may be another David in the city.

PPS. A Leatherman is great for fixing irrigation heads and blenders. Not so good for fixing microprocessors and LCD screens, the stuff from which our toys are made.

August 02, 2006 11:31 AM  

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