I’ve always wondered why super villains with weather machines try to go for world domination instead of patenting the technology and sitting back on a sunny beach collecting their Nobel prize and billions of dollars in profit.

The topic for today is Weather Modification and Geoengineering, essentially a second look at Terraforming but with our planet specifically in mind. How do we warm things up or cool things down? How do we make a place like the Sahara Desert a cool forest or the Antarctic a warm jungle? How do we build islands or make inland seas drinkable? How would we build cities on the bottom of the ocean or underground or inside a mountain?

We aren’t too interested in the near-term stuff, that’s not what this article tends to be about. We also aren’t going to be discussing the ethics of any of these projects or climate change. Any tinkering with the planet at this kind of scale has ethical issues that won’t be black and white, it’s not a lifeless rock we’re terraforming, it is our own planet with its own existing ecology.

As to Climate Change, everybody has their view on that already and I have no interest spending my limited time discussing it when so many others have. It’s totally irrelevant for our discussions today anyway, because we’ll be dealing with technologies and projects that could handle the worst case scenarios of runaway greenhouse effects with a casual shrug. It’s certainly an important topic but if you’re doing the stuff we’ll be talking about today it has ceased to be one. We aren’t controlling the weather by seeding the clouds today, we’re doing it by building giant mirrors and shades in orbit or erecting artificial mountains as windbreaks.

These are the kinds of all-in strategies where we’re talking about turning millions of workers and trillions of dollars’ worth of equipment and industry on a problem, and we don’t actually care today if the ocean level will rise in the future or why, just what we can do if it does. And again this article isn’t about the ethics of any of this. Obviously deciding to make Greenland a nice summer resort has lots of consequences and ethical dilemmas. We don’t care about what those are today, though they’re good and worthwhile topics for contemplation, but at the end of the day I don’t have any special insights on them and others can discuss them as well or better than I can. What I can discuss is how to make it a warm sunny day on the Northern Siberian Coast in the middle of December.

We are going to do a little bit of history on these topics and I should add that while it isn’t necessary to have seen them before this, there is material we’ve covered in previous articles which I’ll be skimming over here. The Impact of Fusion Power, some of the simpler megastructures like Orbital Rings and Launch Loops, Arcologies and Ecumenopolises, the original Terraforming article, and even our look at Oceanic Planets in the Habitable Planets series give some of today’s topics a deeper look and viewing them afterwards might fill in some gaps.

As to history, folks have wanted to change the weather and landscape for all of recorded history and doubtless long before that. They’ve frequently been partially successful too, at least for the landscaping.

The weather not so much. Even today a lot of the technologies used for weather control like cloud seeding are viewed as dubiously effective at best. But when it comes to messing around with the ground, we had projects going on in antiquity that make even the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China look like modest endeavors.

We’ve seen artificial island construction all the way back to antiquity and just about everywhere, from far west with the Aztecs of modern Mexico to far east in Micronesia and further north in Nagasaki and pretty much everywhere in between. The Scottish and Irish crannogs were artificial islands. In Mesoamerica, the Aztecs built artificial islands, or maybe more peninsulas, called Chinampas, into their lake to grow more food. Canals to move water for irrigation date back at least 6000 years ago to Mesopotamia and quickly made their way to the other flood plain civilizations in India, Egypt, and China. Those folks also built huge levees to control flooding and eventually we saw dikes reclaiming chunks of land from the sea in places like the Netherlands. And in places with lots of steep hills like the Philippines and Peru we saw terracing to open up new and fertile land. This was all long before we had anything like the tools we have now, often before we even had metal tools. Nowadays we have dynamite and bulldozers and huge trains and freighters to move the Earth. With the advent of those things in the 19th and 20th centuries people began getting a bit more ambitious. And with the invention of the airplane we see some of the first attempts at weather control which didn’t involve asking for supernatural intervention.

Much of human history was one with a constant anxiety about water, not having enough so that your crops wilt, or having too much and watching your home and livelihood destroyed by storms and floods. Water was life and death to them and it permeated every aspect of their culture.

Weather Modification

Weather Modification

Now what causes rain? Clouds of course, and these are made of tiny droplets of water and ice. Very tiny. Now while water melts, at normal pressure, at 0 Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit, it doesn’t actually freeze at that temperature. It can, and will in your freezer at home, but it can remain a liquid to about negative 40, either scale, they cross there. Water in between those temperatures is called super-cooled water, and it will turn to ice at a temperature depending on the type of nuclei present. Water requires some non-gaseous surface to turn from a vapor into a liquid.
When we’re talking about tiny bits of dust or other contaminants floating around in the air, we call those a nuclei, or a cloud condensation nuclei more formally. The size of that nuclei, that mote of dust or whatever, as well as the temperature and pressure, all control the formation of droplets of water and ice to form clouds. This is just condensation, no different from when water in the air condenses on a cold glass of lemonade. But keep in mind these droplets are not universally the same size. In order to get rain you need to make those droplets get heavy enough to precipitate, which means heavy enough to fall down under gravity.

Now any drop of water left to itself ought to fall down, it’s denser then air same as a rock or a person is, but in this case more like a feather or snippet of paper. There’s a rising force of air keeping them up, and the bigger the droplet, the more force is needed to keep it from falling down. Warm air with water in it rises up from the surface and cools, both forming the cloud and keeping it afloat, and the cloud keep getting bigger and keeps forming bigger and bigger droplets until those begin to hit the critical point where they fall down, and you get rain. If the winds pick up, you get turbulence and drops collide and form bigger drops and you get rain.

There’s a lot more too this but we’ll stop there. This is not an article on meteorology, which is good because I’m not an expert on that field. Most of what I know is from when I worked for the Air Force as a teenager and shared an apartment off-base in Dayton with a mathematician and a meteorologist and we’d chat fields over beer and cards or kicking a soccer ball around. I was a civilian incidentally, my roommates weren’t, a junior officer and a cadet, I later joined the Army after grad school but this was back when I was 19 and senior in college.

Meteorology is a sub-field of physics and I’ve picked up more here and there but it’s not something I’d ever presume to claim expertise in. But here we see the key elements, temperature, amount of water vapor, the size of contaminants serving as nuclei, and wind. Cloud seeding revolves around introducing contaminants to work as nuclei. Just after World War 2, Bernard Vonnegut discovered that Silver Iodide crystals were very good as these nuclei and cloud seeding was born. You fly up into a cloud, spray Silver Iodide, and rain falls. Cloud Seeding has a dubious reputation, which it deserves. What I just described absolutely works but keep in mind, a cloud is not a small thing. Your average cloud has about a gram of water per cubic meter, which is about a millionth of the density of water in a bucket at one ton or 1000 kilograms per cubic meter. But they are huge. We usually measure rain in inches and centimeters, and you want something of about 100 cubic meters of water per acre or hectare to qualify as a decent amount of rain for crops. A hectare is about two and half times the size of an acre so an inch of water on an acre is just a centimeter on a hectare, I’m speaking in broad generalities and trying to hit both metric and US standard systems for my mixed audience.

Point being though, if you want to water a town’s parched farmland you need to be delivering millions of cubic meters of water, or millions of tons of water. Anyway even if one molecule of Silver Iodide caused a thousand molecules of rain to fall you’d need about a thousand tons of silver to get the job done, which isn’t much shy of a million bucks worth of silver you will never see again and certainly more than you can squeeze into a small airplane of the kind used for this purpose, which might hold say ten tons’ tops. So the notion is that it is acting as a catalyst that is causing orders of magnitude more water to fall then you dumped in the clouds. This is what makes it controversial because even to today we can’t determine how effective it is. Some regard it as a complete scam, others as a very effective process, the science remains a bit iffy. It works but not much and not worth the cost is the usual notion.

For watering crops anyway, China used it in 2008 with the intent of making clouds rain before getting to the Olympic stadiums and that’s a bit of different matter in terms of cost and practicality. The Olympics is a big deal, both during and long after, tons of money, so if an option offers even a 1% chance of making it not rain on the events when it would have, even several millions dollars on that throw of the dice is worth it.

Geoengineering and Weather Controlling

Geoengineering and Weather Controlling

There’s a character in one of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide novels who is a Rain God, and also a truck driver, and everywhere he goes it rains, he eventually proves this and folks say forget about getting paid to visit places that need rain, think of how much money he could make by agreeing not to visit tourist locations that rely on sunny weather. Now we have some alternative substances like dry ice that can be used, frozen solid carbon dioxide, and sulfate aerosols, which derive in part from phytoplankton in the ocean, our first example of biological rather than physical or chemical weather control.

Key thing is about quantity and timing, we can expect to get way better about telling when, where, and how much as our knowledge of meteorology and computers improves, but on this channel where the idea of flat out building planets often gets discussed, the notion of sucking a million tons of carbon dioxide out of the air and condensing it into dry ice, then dropping it into clouds, is an option on the table. So is leveling a mountain range that prevents a place from getting rain or erecting one to act as a massive storm barrier. The weather of course doesn’t just get effected by the temperature of the planet, it also effects that temperature. When it’s cloudier less light gets in, let water evaporates to make more clouds.

The ultimate power supply of the Earth is the Sun, it accounts for all but a tiny fraction produced from either fission reaction in the planet’s center, extraterrestrial sources like other stars or light reflecting from the moon or entering from tidal forces, or from direct human generation. All those things have a serious impact on the planet but in terms of raw energy they all sum up to considerably less than the variance in light we get from the sun. The Earth orbits the Sun elliptically and gets about 7% more light when it is closest to the Sun then when it is furthest, that’s not the cause of the season by the way, the Earth is closest to the Sun and hottest in January, but that 7% is a big deal and much more significant than the roughly .1% variance of the Sun’s 11-year cycle, which is itself bigger than most of those other effects I mentioned a moment ago.

But while the sun is the principle heat pump it has little to do with the weather beyond that. It’s simple a power pump that varies in strength in the course of a year by 7%, about.1% in an 11-year cycle, and a bit less on another cycle we still haven’t fully determined that’s believed to last 2-300 years. Other cycles of the Sun, as well as the galaxy, have been proposed but these remain hypothetical due to the very long timelines we’d need to observe them and the uncertainly values of things like ice cores that let us peak into ancient weather. Sun light needs to hit the ground to feed our plants but to get there it has to go through all the air and clouds, and clouds that are more reflective or higher up bounce it away into space. Similarly, a massive tract of white, reflective sand bounces much of it away, while much can be absorbed in the air itself. Something’s reflectivity in this context is called its albedo.

Most of the Sun’s Light is also infrared, an essentially useless frequency of light for the purpose of seeing or powering plants. It’s also how energy, once absorbed, gets re-emitted to radiate away into space and cool us. I should note that Infrared is a huge chunk of the light spectrum and what comes from the sun is very nearly visible while what we and other warm object like trees or the ground or even ice emit is much further away from the visible and materials which are said to absorb or reflect infrared light do not necessarily perform the same for both those segments of the spectrum. We consider a greenhouse gas to be a gas which absorbs infrared light. Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Argon, the three main constituents of our atmosphere, do not absorb it. Water Vapor, Methane, Carbon Dioxide and so forth are. In and of themselves that creates an insulating effect to warm a planet and everyone agrees on that.

The argument is about feedback effects, positive and negative. Warm a planet, add more water vapor, temperature rises more, a positive feedback, but you also cloud, more light gets reflected away, cooling a planet, a negative feedback. No one disagrees about that either. By which I mean no scientists, no one else’s opinion matters in this regard. There’s tons of disagreement about the various feedbacks and their total effects.

The loose consensus is the net feedback is positive but it is very hard to determine the specifics. Needless to say we really want to know those specifics and in the next few decades we probably will get them down or at least get them down much better. This matters a lot for the subtler types of geoengineering because it tends to rely on trying for a tiny change that acts like a catalyst, the same way the Silver Iodide is thought to for Cloud Seeding. Complex dynamic systems like our planet can show huge unexpected changes from minor effects or be surprisingly resilient to them.

Most of our interest isn’t on the subtle at all. There’s nothing subtle about dumping millions of megatons of water on a desert every year to try to make it green. That will produce way more water vapor in the atmosphere and when it does turn green it will absorb more sunlight than sand does, both of which would warm the planet though amusingly it would also suck carbon out of the air to feed those plants. Obviously it sure would be nice to know how much that was impacting temperature. Similarly making jungles down in Antarctica or sunny beaches along Siberia’s coast or the Hudson Bay would have a pretty big impact. One of which would presumably be changing sea levels but that by itself is not too big a concern, relatively speaking. Contrary to what some movies indicate, even if every drop of ice was melted at both caps there’d be tons of land leftover. Almost all of it, but more importantly one can build dikes on a coastline. Which sounds like a huge task, and it is, but places that have hundreds or thousands of kilometers of shoreline usually have millions of kilometers of roads and that’s a fair similar thing. Coastline length is tricky to measure since they generally are not straight lines, making them longer, but that’s good because it gives you more shoreline real estate.

If you were diking up your coastline you’d probably want to make it quite wavy, more coastal property. That’s an important point when building artificial islands too, a great big circle is your most landmass efficient method but not particularly ideal for either homes or agriculture. Long snaking islands are better. Landscaping your coasts to maximize their size is one thing you might do, but it’s also a good idea to scape them in a way to minimize runoff. The freshwater and the nutrients in it when a river empties into a sea is quite valuable. How much are we talking about by the way? If we decided to dike up all the planet’s coastline? Scale always matters so it’s worth asking. There’s no agreed on figure for the length of the Earth’s Coast but most place it somewhere around a third of a million kilometers.

The absolute maximum sea rise if we melted all the ice everywhere is about 80 meters, so let’s go quite over the top and assume our dike needs to be 100 meters high and 30 meters wide. That would be about a trillion cubic meters of rock or about a thousand cubic kilometers. That’s around one large mountain, and a decent fraction of Mount Everest. Of course slicing up and transporting a mountain isn’t a cheap thing either, not that we’d use just one for the whole planet. Personally I’d terrace my way up mountains and use the spill for dike filler, two birds with one stone. This must sound insanely expensive and it would be, especially considering we just designed a dike that was absurd overkill. You’d build something like this in stages but we’d be talking about a few trillion tons of rock, some of which would need to be traveling across oceans to low lying islands, costing somewhere around $10 a ton.

So you could be talking about spending something like the entire US or EU GDP for a year. Maybe more, though again our dike was the overkill version and you would have many decades to build something like that. You could end up using more mass to make some nice new coast land which always has a higher property value, ideally such projects should be done at a profit but more to the point you’d probably want the maintenance of the dike to be paid for by the property taxes on the coastal property, so maximizing them might be beneficial. Annual Seal Level rise is usually put at a bit under 3 millimeters or about an eighth of an inch so at that specific rate you’d want to add a couple inches or 50 or so millimeters to your dike height every dozen or so years when you were doing maintenance on a chunk, to stay ahead of it and correct bit sinking and compacting.

Obviously you need to speed that up if you do something to increase the sea level like, say, dumping an entire mountain into the ocean to make an artificial island, displacing that water, or melting the ice caps to colonize those areas. Our oceans have a surface area of about 360 million square kilometers, so just dumping a cubic kilometer of rock into the ocean somewhere would make them sea rise about 3 micrometers, dump a thousand cubic kilometers of rock in and the sea rise 3 millimeters, it’s not a zero sum game but no matter what you do when you screw with a planet there will be changes elsewhere. The art is probably in minimizing those, at least the undesirable ones, and the key is being able to accurately predict them, which we can’t do just yet except in the most general and uncertain ways.

So how would you make land in the Arctic warm? The obvious way is to add heat, but the question is how? We also always want to get the most bang for our buck. For instance, if I want to add a nice tourist beach in Northern Siberia I also want to add in some fishing and farming nearby. We also want to pick carefully how we are adding heat. Just adding sunlight, pure sunlight, means we also get all that infrared light which is useless for seeing by or making plants. In the grand game heat is the enemy and every drop of it you make should be the result of a useful and productive process. Even if you like it warm, it is far better that temperature occur as a result of things which benefit us, not simply being added in. If you heat your home electrically, you don’t turn off your TV and lights to save power, because so long as your curtains are closed every drop of that turns into heat when it is done entertaining or illuminating you, while your heaters are just doing that and nothing else. This matters a lot in any post fossil fuel economy with the exception of one where we are still doing heating with something like firewood or some other biomass.

If you are on solar or fusion for a power source you are using electricity to power your heaters, so you might as well use it first to run lighting or computing or whatever, as it is now free. So now let us talk about solar mirrors and shades. The concept is simple, you put a mirror in orbit around Earth to bounce more light on to a spot or you put up a shade to reduce light. The shade may also be placed at Earth’s L-1 Lagrange point. I also want to emphasize that you never want to think of these as singular objects or massive. A square kilometer of shade made of something a micrometer thick is just one cubic meter, generally a few tons.

The whole cross section of our planet would take a couple hundred million times that much material to shade in its entirety but for a conceptual equivalent that’s around the mass of the Colony Ship Unity that we discussed last month or several large pyramids. It’s a lot but nothing like the mass we discussed for our planet wide sea wall. You would be talking about many thousands of conventional rocket launches though. Of course you don’t need to shade the entire planet nor do you need to source the material from Earth. The moon or a near-earth asteroid would work. They’re also, again, not a single object, not some massive shade hundreds or thousands of kilometers across but tons of tiny ones massing about as much as a person and covering a football field or so. We don’t ever want to beam infrared light down to Earth, it’s useless, so our shades are opaque to infrared light but not to visible light. Not opaque to both. Better to have two shades blocking infrared then one blocking infrared and visible. Same heat blocked but no useful light lost.

Same for the mirrors, you make them reflect visible light but not infrared light. You might also want to block some Ultraviolet light too but that does have some uses. You can also be selective, blocking just part of one of those frequencies, like blocking some of the green light plants don’t use but not all.

For current climatological concerns we need to block at most 1% of the sun’s light. Incidentally, you’d never be able to tell we were doing this unless you were looking right at the sun, and it would be hard to tell even then especially if we decided to block 2% of infrared rather than 1% of all light. Of course you’d not be able to tell looking at the Sun anyway since you’d rapidly go blind and hardly see clearly while you did this, and you wouldn’t put up one big shade or a bunch of small ones all together, you’d spread them out more evenly. This is probably your fastest climate change fix, get a big factory base on the moon and churn out thousands of tons of shades. Pack them into pods and launch them with a mass driver to unfurl when they get to their position.

Each one will occasionally need replaced, maybe every decade, maybe every century, but you’d be maintaining a few million square kilometers of shades, and depending on their lifetime that means you’d be manufacturing between 100,000 to a million tons of shade every year. Sounds like a lot but that’s less throughput than a large car factory and you’re manufacturing something a lot simpler than a car. I’m also using very approximate numbers, an aluminum Solar Sail is about a tenth of a micrometer thick, but I don’t think you’d want to go that thin. We don’t actually care about the mass that much, it’s just that a lot of times when I discuss these concepts folks figure I’m proposing some Herculean tasks we could never do.

Obviously setting up a moon base staffed with thousands of workers and robots mining and manufacturing shades and mirrors isn’t cheap, neither is employing a million people to excavate rocks and transport them hundreds of kilometers to make and maintain seawalls.
It might be cheaper to just stop screwing our environment, but it is the reason I don’t worry too much about some things. Global warming? Solar Shades and dikes and seawalls. Extinct species? Get samples of their DNA, freeze them and transcribe them digitally, and clone them back when it’s safe to have them again. These are not great solutions, much better not to make something go extinct in the first place, but it removes some of the stress when you know it can be fixed. So what about Arctic and Antarctic Colonization? What about weather control with solar mirrors and shades?

The former is simple enough, conceptually, you just aim a mirror or dish or lens, or of course many of them, at that spot you want to warm. Keeping that on target is a bit trickier but not only do we have tricks for that like Molniya or Tundra orbits, but you wouldn’t need to. Again you’re not using just one, and they’re on all the time whereas I don’t want light on a spot all the time. I could use a series of mirrors in one orbit to light three spots around the planet, like some place in Canada, Eastern Siberia, and Sweden, and just swivel each between targets, sometimes they’re almost all on one point, for its noon, sometimes its half on one and half on another for later in the day. This lets you circumvent the times of the year when those places would be completely dark too.

By the way, since some of you will be wondering, no these are not good weapons. Anything making power in large quantities can be weaponized but it’s sort of like stealing a thousand flashlights so you can aim them all at one person and burn them to death, it’s a lot easier to just steal a gun and shoot them. You could focus a bunch of them on one spot but you’d be building them to focus individually on large spots in the first place so like the flashlight you’d have to turn tons of them on one place to light it way brighter than noon-time sunlight. Which you might do for weather control. Needless to say being able to add and subtract sunlight where you want it with shades and mirrors is a pretty effective weather control system. Problem is that we don’t have the calculation power yet to really do that with precision. Hypothetically you can focus mirrors on a place and heat up, evaporating water or warming up a cold front. But when it comes to stuff like Hurricanes you don’t want to brute force it. These are definitely the right tool for weather control but they need to be accompanied by tons of supercomputers figuring out the minimum energy to apply at just the right places. We will get there, probably before we even have solar mirrors or shades, but in the meantime your best protection in terms of geoengineering to protect yourself from things like tidal waves is sea walls, specifically sea walls not the dikes we mentioned earlier.

Probably artificial reefs placed just over the horizon from the coast so they don’t interfere with the view, good for fishing and marine agriculture too. Of course people could live there too, I mean we can make both ships and buildings that can handle hurricanes, especially with some newer materials and techniques. Personally I like the biological approach to this stuff, you don’t just make a wall you make a reef or farm. More food for people and the fish too.

As we discussed in the Ocean Planets article, the deep sea doesn’t have a lot of life in it because while there’s plenty of sunlight the nutrients are all deep down where the light doesn’t reach. The other problem about such planets where this just no land is that nothing breaks up the storms, so there is a lot to be said about us deciding to build tons and tons of thin islands which supply those nutrients and break up those storms. You could just knock over lots of mountains for such purposes, making those places nice to live while adding islands with the removed mass, but we should keep in mind that the same type of super-materials we contemplate for things like space elevators make great skinny anchor tethers or support pillars for floating islands or ones that just sit on some thin pillars and widen out near the surface. As a similar concept you can hollow out mountains using those same types of materials if you want to keep them as storm barriers and for their aesthetic look. You’d have to bounce light inside them though, but you could probably make a glass topped dome that an orbital mirror could send extra light through that would look like a snowy cap from a distance. You could do similar tricks if you wanted to make warm oases in arctic areas.

Weather Modification and Geoengineering

Weather Modification and Geoengineering

If you’re thinking about thawing out tundras for living area but want to keep a lot for natural habitats, you can increase the food supply in those natural habitats with oases like that. It lets you keep your tundra, desert, and ice sheet habitats in smaller quantities but housing more of the natural life. Polar bears need a couple hundred square kilometers of sea ice habitat each for their food supply but if you’re enhancing the local biomass with the occasional warmer, fertile oasis you get higher polar bear density. Essentially just a big greenhouse with lots of entrances designed to minimize heat leakage, with light shining down on it. Easier to use fusion of course, which also opens underwater habitats like the kind we discussed in the Ocean Planets article. Fusion if you can make it work and make it cheap, is way better than orbital mirrors for getting these jobs done. It lets you put grow lamps down at the bottom of the deep sea to do that oasis trick again and lets you use those tether anchors, if you’re doing the floating islands, as the vertical reefs I’ve discussed in other articles. Those tethers don’t have to run exactly vertically either, you can run a few out a tangles to anchor something more like guy wires. You stick some grow lamps on those and some places for dirt and nutrient to collect and you’ve got another new food supply for people and fish, doubling up too because that ought to increase the marine snow that feeds all the critters that live in the black deeps of the bathypelagic and abyssopelagic zones.

You’d still want the shades though, prevents overheating when you’re basically producing Kardashev 1 scales of energy. The shades are always handy. You might even intentionally cool your planet more with those shades than you normally should just to ramp up the amount of carbon dioxide and water vapor you can have; plants love both of those. So if you can increase them while keeping the photo synthetically useful wavelengths of light the same and temperatures the same, you’d have quite the biomass explosion.

We do not necessarily want to remove the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not if we can keep temperatures the same, although we do not necessarily want to do that either. One can make the argument that what maximizes biomass, both the total present and the production rate, is the best option. You also do not have to put shades up in space, balloons tethered to the ground can be floated up to reflect light away just like the orbital shades. If these are infrared reflective on their top so much the better. Probably not a bad power generation method either. Probably cheaper than the orbital variety if you have to build on Earth too. Balloons need to be sturdier, thicker, more expensive to manufacture, but you save on the launch costs. If you’re building up in space probably the other way around. We also have some biological options too, especially if we open the door to genetic engineering though a lot of existing species will do the job with judicious usage, helping to control runoff and erosion. We discussed some of the more far out options for that in the Gene Tailoring and Bioforming article and we’re running long on this article so I’ll refer you there, but imagine for the moment being able to grow your seawalls or island by using plants to do carbon capture and use that to make the structures in question.
But even if you’re building them out of concrete and steel you can still drop some dirt and plants over top them.

It’s sort of like in the Arcologies and Ecumenpolises articles, which this article is pretty tied to, how we saw that a planet wide city wasn’t some smog filled hellhole covered in concrete and steel packed with a trillion people but rather a lot of forests not very packed with people at all, even though it would probably have a couple trillions of them, because it basically comes down to getting rid of heat and making the most use out of your energy before it turns into heat. Same thing today, we were just looking more at the planet then the places we’d live on it. Obviously a lot of these techniques discussed today won’t be practical for some time, maybe never. They all have consequences too, that’s what happens when you’re terraforming your own planet. The ethical issues for each I leave to you to consider, and you’re welcome to talk about them in the comments section below or over on the Facebook group, The EduQuarks Club.

In future, we’ll be looking at Crazy Aliens, and unlike in the Stupid Aliens contents, we won’t be discussing misconceptions about aliens from fiction but rather how many of things we’d think of as crazy might be normal to actual aliens or how they might view us as nuts, and each other too.

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