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Tandem Heating/Cooling

Warm the North, Cool the Southern Hemisphere
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In a distant future, a global economy could benefit by using a pair of statites ("orbiting" structures which don't move w/ respect to the earth because they are balanced by counteracting gravitational forces). Right now, there's a lot of high-latitude northern land which is underused because it's so freaking cold, while corresponding areas in the southern hemisphere are all water, and so can't get used much by humans no matter what temperature they're at. So here's my plan...

One statite far up above the north pole would reflect a significant amount of sunlight down to patches of land between, say, 50-80 degrees north latitude. One variant would be to do this only during the winter month changing the statite's position at other times when the extra sunlight is less needed. The net effect will be to warm the climate of Northern Europe, Russia/Siberia, and Canada, enough to dramatically increase agricultural production, and make these areas more usable year-round with less heating fuel. Human populations of Siberia and Canada would boom.

This would increase global warming; we'll counteract this with another statite which permanently blocks much of the solar radiation would would otherwise strike the earth south of 50 degrees south latitude. This will just graze Patagonia--essentially uninhabited anyway, as well as miss Africa and New Zealand. Antarctica will grow colder and have a wider permanent ice cap, absorbing the extra water released when the Greenland cap and other northern glaciers melt. Rather than simply block or reflect the solar energy, the southern statite could of course also collect some of it with photovoltaics and beam it to earth as electricity.

Of course it would dramatically change the flora and fauna of the affected areas, but with tremendous economic advantages for humans. Perhaps we can relocate some polar bears to Patagonia?

scottinmn, Dec 03 2006


       This beaming of energy to earth that you speak of, would that not A) be impossible, and B) negate the global cooling benefit of the shading statite?
Texticle, Dec 03 2006

       This would probably mess up ocean currents and lead to cataclysmic doom.   

tastycat, Dec 04 2006

       Us Humans seem to do alot of FKING good when we mess with mother nature. (-)
Chefboyrbored, Dec 04 2006

       Texticle, A) I'm not sure why you think beaming energy from space with microwaves is impossible, it's routinely discussed in conjunction with orbiting solar power stations. B) only a small fraction of the southern statite would need photovoltaics to supply all the earth's future energy needs. As discussed by proposals elsewhere in this category, this would actually reduce global warming because electricity from space would eliminate the need for getting it from fossil fuels. The blocked insolation would far exceed the magnitude of beamed energy, which would be directed specifically towards an electric grid for human uses.   

       Ocean currents/unintended side effects: there are already suggestions that smaller satellites could redirect/block solar insolation to micro-manage weather patterns, block hurricane formation, etc. The same efforts on a bigger scale could counteract any side effects of this proposal. And if we lose the gulf stream, just reflect more solar radiation onto Europe and it will be fine.
scottinmn, Dec 05 2006

       So it has been discussed in conjunction with related science fiction? Well, I'm convinced.
Texticle, Dec 05 2006

       The proof of concept for this sort of effort would be on higher-value projects. Such dedicating a large area (a chunk of Arizona?) for photovoltiac use and intensifying the solar input with orbiting mirrors.   

       On an even smaller scale, a few directable mirrors could provide emergency lighting to a city-sized disaster area for rescue efforts or to an area of urban unrest to allow for better policing. A earthquake in China, the flooding of New Orleans, etc. Maybe it could be rented out for (very large) parties in-between humanitarian uses.   

       To increase the Earth's temperature, you'd want them in high orbit. 25,000 miles out and they'd be in stationary positions - always above the same spot on the equator. To cool the Earth, you'd want them in low-orbit so that they blocked the sun (from somewhere on Earth) for about 12 hours each day (periods of 45 minutes, 16 times a day)
DavidinKenai, Jan 18 2009


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