Letters: Sci-fi isn’t an energy policy
So, does “human imagination” to find new sources of energy apply only to fossil fuels? Doesn’t it also extend to the ingenuity needed to develop clean, sustainable energy from the sun and other alternative sources?
Maybe before Jonah Goldberg promotes fracking and asteroid mining (did I read that correctly?), he might first consider supporting solar energy. That’s not pessimism because we think we are depleting our source of energy (fossil fuels); it’s choosing a better source.
As Thomas Friedman stated in his book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones; we invented our way out. I hope we can do the same again, moving from a dirty-energy economy to a clean-energy economy.
Now that’s optimism.
As a retired engineer with five years of experience in the nuclear power industry and 43 in the aerospace industry, I took Goldberg’s rosy prognostication that asteroids may one day be mined by humans to exploit their “enormous riches” to mean that he might not understand the difference between science fiction and physical reality.
Mining operations require large physical equipment and an enormous amount of energy. The asteroidal ore we extract would have to be crushed into small particles. Equipment would be needed to separate the precious metals from the detritus.
The cost of doing this in space would greatly exceed the value of any useful materials obtained from an asteroid.
I know, I know, engineers spoil everyone’s fun. They always bring up issues like the laws of physics and having realistic conceptual designs and cost estimates before accepting such fantasy as a real possibility.
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