Author Topic: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?  (Read 1456 times)

Offline Proponent

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The lack of colonization of Antarctica is sometimes mentioned as evidence that people are unlikely to be all that keen to colonize space.  A common rejoinder is that treaties prevent colonization there.

There are groups lobbying against the Outer Space Treaty, and the lobbying by the L-5 Society may have been a factor in the US's decision not to agree to the Moon Treaty. 

Question:  is there any significant lobbying against the Antarctic Treaty, especially on the grounds that it inhibits colonization?

Could we please stay narrowly focused on the question above and here avoid, for example, discussion about whether colonization of Antarctica is a proxy for space colonization or whether the Argentine Antarctic presence constitutes a colony.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 02:03 PM by Proponent »

Online Eerie

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #1 on: 09/30/2017 04:36 PM »
I think we should not single out Antarctica, but consider other places that are almost as inhospitable, but have no international treaties preventing colonization.

The far north of Canada and Russia is pretty desolate. Greenland, too. Nobody rushes to colonize Sahara and other great deserts. The oceans are not colonized yet, either.

Forget Antarctica, let's colonize the interior of Australia first! I bet you could fit at least a billion people there with modern technology.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 04:38 PM by Eerie »

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #2 on: 09/30/2017 09:09 PM »
I had been assuming that all the bases on Antarctica had a political component.

This isn't exactly agitating against the treaty, but I expect that when the treaty fails we will find it has all been divvied up long ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Antarctica

Offline Star One

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #3 on: 10/01/2017 02:23 PM »
I had been assuming that all the bases on Antarctica had a political component.

This isn't exactly agitating against the treaty, but I expect that when the treaty fails we will find it has all been divvied up long ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Antarctica

True. But it least it should keep the majority of people out of the place weve damaged it enough indirectly without any further direct interference. One of the strongest arguments for planetary colonisation is to stop humanity further damaging the Earth with population spread.

Offline Lar

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #4 on: 10/01/2017 02:32 PM »
Can't prove that there is no one agitating against the treaty, (it's a negative and therefore unprovable easily) but I have not heard of anything serious....

https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&q=antarctic+treaty+opposition

This Google search comes up pretty empty of serious recent things, to my way of thinking

Limiting it to news shows even less..
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Online launchwatcher

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #5 on: 10/01/2017 03:03 PM »
As an example of settlement in an extreme environment that seems to be surviving, take a look at Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago.   Similar climate to the Antarctic peninsula if I'm not mistaken. 

Offline Proponent

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #6 on: 10/01/2017 04:04 PM »
User savuporo kindly brings an article on Antarctic claims to my attention.

Perhaps the most relevant analogue for space colonization would the be an attempt to colonize a part of Antarctica that's not claimed by anyone.

Fun fact:  various nations have assigned postal codes to their Antarctic territories.  For example, 96598 for the US and BIQQ 1ZZ for the UK.

EDIT:  Actually, the US (like Russia) does not claim an Antarctic territory.  The zip is simply that of the one US post office in Antarctica.
« Last Edit: 10/03/2017 01:21 PM by Proponent »

Offline Star One

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #7 on: 10/01/2017 04:17 PM »
User savuporo kindly brings an article on Antarctic claims to my attention.

Perhaps the most relevant analogue for space colonization would the be an attempt to colonize a part of Antarctica that's not claimed by anyone.

Fun fact:  various nations have assigned postal codes to their Antarctic territories.  For example, 96598 for the US and BIQQ 1ZZ for the UK.

I doubt any colonisation will ever as its effectively a series of military zones in all but name. I imagine this is tacitly acknowledged by all concerned and hence the lack of discussion.

Online Eerie

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #8 on: 10/01/2017 04:18 PM »
I had been assuming that all the bases on Antarctica had a political component.

This isn't exactly agitating against the treaty, but I expect that when the treaty fails we will find it has all been divvied up long ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Antarctica

True. But it least it should keep the majority of people out of the place weve damaged it enough indirectly without any further direct interference. One of the strongest arguments for planetary colonisation is to stop humanity further damaging the Earth with population spread.

Except that to have planetary colonization you need a technological level that will allow you to have hundreds of billions of people on the planet.

Why? Basically, to have really cheap space access you need either fusion powered spacecraft or an orbital ring. And both technologies solve the energy problem on Earth. Fusion is fusion, of course, and orbital rings covered with solar panels are a first step toward Kardashev 1.

Offline tdperk

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #9 on: 10/01/2017 05:00 PM »
I had been assuming that all the bases on Antarctica had a political component.

This isn't exactly agitating against the treaty, but I expect that when the treaty fails we will find it has all been divvied up long ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Antarctica

True. But it least it should keep the majority of people out of the place weve damaged it enough indirectly without any further direct interference. One of the strongest arguments for planetary colonisation is to stop humanity further damaging the Earth with population spread.

Except that to have planetary colonization you need a technological level that will allow you to have hundreds of billions of people on the planet.

Why? Basically, to have really cheap space access you need either fusion powered spacecraft or an orbital ring. And both technologies solve the energy problem on Earth. Fusion is fusion, of course, and orbital rings covered with solar panels are a first step toward Kardashev 1.

"  to have really cheap space access "

You need fully refuel-to-reuse chemical rockets.

Online Eerie

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #10 on: 10/01/2017 06:12 PM »
I had been assuming that all the bases on Antarctica had a political component.

This isn't exactly agitating against the treaty, but I expect that when the treaty fails we will find it has all been divvied up long ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Antarctica

True. But it least it should keep the majority of people out of the place weve damaged it enough indirectly without any further direct interference. One of the strongest arguments for planetary colonisation is to stop humanity further damaging the Earth with population spread.

Except that to have planetary colonization you need a technological level that will allow you to have hundreds of billions of people on the planet.

Why? Basically, to have really cheap space access you need either fusion powered spacecraft or an orbital ring. And both technologies solve the energy problem on Earth. Fusion is fusion, of course, and orbital rings covered with solar panels are a first step toward Kardashev 1.

"  to have really cheap space access "

You need fully refuel-to-reuse chemical rockets.

Not cheap enough.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #11 on: 10/01/2017 08:58 PM »
Not cheap enough? $50-100/kg to Mars, $50-100,000/person is almost certainly cheap enough. Possible with chemical rockets, and I doubt fusion would make it cheaper.

Anyway, we CAN already have hundreds of billions of people on this planet. We don't need fusion to solve our energy problems. We already have space based beamed fusion.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2017 08:59 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online Eerie

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #12 on: 10/02/2017 04:34 AM »
Not cheap enough? $50-100/kg to Mars, $50-100,000/person is almost certainly cheap enough. Possible with chemical rockets, and I doubt fusion would make it cheaper.

I am skeptical about those numbers.

Quote
Anyway, we CAN already have hundreds of billions of people on this planet. We don't need fusion to solve our energy problems. We already have space based beamed fusion.

I'm gonna assume by "space based beamed fusion" you mean solar power. And no, it is not a solution yet, as it requires either a world wide electric grid (to power the night side from the day side, which is something orbital rings can easily provides) or a much better storage solutions. Personally, I'd bet on storage solutions (batteries) getting there first.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #13 on: 10/02/2017 04:57 AM »
Not cheap enough? $50-100/kg to Mars, $50-100,000/person is almost certainly cheap enough. Possible with chemical rockets, and I doubt fusion would make it cheaper.

I am skeptical about those numbers.

Quote
Anyway, we CAN already have hundreds of billions of people on this planet. We don't need fusion to solve our energy problems. We already have space based beamed fusion.

I'm gonna assume by "space based beamed fusion" you mean solar power. And no, it is not a solution yet, as it requires either a world wide electric grid (to power the night side from the day side, which is something orbital rings can easily provides) or a much better storage solutions. Personally, I'd bet on storage solutions (batteries) getting there first.

I guess you haven't heard.  Batteries already exist.

Online Eerie

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #14 on: 10/02/2017 09:57 AM »
Not cheap enough? $50-100/kg to Mars, $50-100,000/person is almost certainly cheap enough. Possible with chemical rockets, and I doubt fusion would make it cheaper.

I am skeptical about those numbers.

Quote
Anyway, we CAN already have hundreds of billions of people on this planet. We don't need fusion to solve our energy problems. We already have space based beamed fusion.

I'm gonna assume by "space based beamed fusion" you mean solar power. And no, it is not a solution yet, as it requires either a world wide electric grid (to power the night side from the day side, which is something orbital rings can easily provides) or a much better storage solutions. Personally, I'd bet on storage solutions (batteries) getting there first.

I guess you haven't heard.  Batteries already exist.


A-ha-ha, aren't we funny...

/s

Seriously now, you can not base a power grid of a developed country solely on Solar+Wind+Batteries, because you need a plan for a week or more of overcast windless weather. Go ahead and calculate the amount of modern batteries needed to power, for example, Germany for a week. You'll quickly realize why their solar production is rising, but fossil energy isn't really dropping...

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #15 on: 10/02/2017 10:20 AM »
Seriously now, you can not base a power grid of a developed country solely on Solar+Wind+Batteries, because you need a plan for a week or more of overcast windless weather. Go ahead and calculate the amount of modern batteries needed to power, for example, Germany for a week. You'll quickly realize why their solar production is rising, but fossil energy isn't really dropping...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_phase-out#Germany
"In 2014 Germany's coal consumption dropped for the first time, having risen each year since the low during the 2009 recession"

..but they are still burning other hydrocarbons I think. Here in nz we are apparently 80% sustainable (probably more due to an abundance of renewable resources and small population)

But anyway, I think you have to provide a much more detailed reason why energy storage is not feasible, with some numbers. There seem to be a huge number of options and advances right now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_energy_storage
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_storage

Don't believe the heavily funded propaganda. These are perfectly solvable problems.

Those lists are pretty cool.. I didn't know that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity was 70-80% efficient! Some countries have deserts a km higher than sea level that could do with a huge lake.. there was also a mention of versions that just float in the ocean! there is a whole lot of unused space. Maybe you could build some enclosed fish farms at the same time.

Tidal energy is one sustainable energy source that I suppose is pretty reliable.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2017 10:49 AM by KelvinZero »

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Re: Is anybody agitating against the Antarctic Treaty?
« Reply #16 on: 10/02/2017 10:19 PM »
As you probably know if you've done a little research on the treaty, it was originally intended as a cold-war era arms control measure.  But now the geopolitical environment has shifted quite a bit and there's more of a push and pull between environmental interests and oil exploration interests, with the territorial expansion element still at play.  You might find this article interesting for a little more in-depth discussion: https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/12802/diplomatic-chill-politics-trumps-science-in-antarctic-treaty-system

The oil reserves there from what we know would likely be fairly expensive to extract, although I have no idea how high oil prices would have to go before it was viable.  I'd bet if you go back and look at when oil prices are the highest, the discussion over re-doing the treaty regime peaked (someone mentioned 2008).  But now that natural gas prices are making energy relatively cheap, the economics aren't favorable, and certainly aren't compelling enough to for folks to want to take on all the geopolitical baggage and territorial fights (possibly ultimately leading to full fledged war).

So I think one interesting take away from the Antarctica analog that might be relevant to space settlement is that absent a compelling economic case, there probably won't be a tremendous amount of will.

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