Michael Wharton There Is Always A Theory: politics, anarchy, religion, atheism and science. now with poetry!

24Oct/170

Noah 2: Ark of The Convenient

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Get To The Lifeboats; The Planet Is Sinking!

Okay, so maybe this is an exaggeration of the truth but many organisations are obsessed with archiving plant seeds and the DNA of animal species in case of a global disaster of some kind. The concept of our way of life being restored from a back-up is a key theme in many science fiction stories, but in reality there are actual back-ups out there. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is perhaps one of the more well known examples of an attempt to preserve biodiversity of plants, whereas The Frozen Ark Project has loftier goals, to preserve genetic material for all endangered species of animals so that if their extinction is caused by mankind then they can be brought back by us too, by cloning them and reintroducing them to their natural habitat. I'm not aware of any projects which preserve human life itself, like the plot of some Science Fiction Television shows, books and films.

This is all very idealistic and obviously doesn't take into account the massive amount of work or time required to correct whatever we did to the natural habitat of such creatures to drive them to extinction in the first instance. My own personal idea of an "Ark" of sorts would be for humanity itself, if for some reason the Earth becomes too hostile to support human life and we can't evolve fast enough or genetically modify ourselves enough to keep up with the pace at which the environment of Earth is changing. This would be to build thousands of city sized airships to live aboard with every resource being produced aboard the airship. The canopy would be a giant greenhouse providing the oxygen required to breathe, and the food required to eat. The main gondola would be residential and leisure with all modern amenities. I have something in mind along the lines of The Laputa Floating City by Wang Nifu which the concept art just absolutely blew me away in terms of similarity to an idea I have had for some time now.

Imagine a city 2.0, untethered by geography, like Cloud City from Star Wars or Cloud 9 from Battlestar Gallactica, a place where people live, work and play in the sky. Immune to earthquakes, floods, droughts, severe weather, wasps at your picnics, hayfever, and even rained out sports events. At first I can imagine that it would only be the very wealthy who could afford to live aboard such luxury cruise ships of the sky, with their own personal flying vehicles shuttling them back and forth from the main ship. Over time they will be holiday destinations that working class families would aspire to save up to get to or even get into debt to visit. Some international business people will be tempted to stay there permanently when they realise that they can travel anywhere quickly from such a high vantage point. After some time I envision that more and more of these giant floating cities will be built, some will love them and want to live there more than anywhere else, but just like the modern city, some will hate them but still live in them for the convenience, or for work, or for the amenities they have, for the school system, even for the culture. Then after the inevitable decline of the monetary system, they will seem like a very logical option for most people who prefer to live in cities, well there is always a theory.

Better Safe Than Sorry!

We have all heard that it is always best to err on the side of caution, or prepare for the worst and hope for the best, better to have and not need than need and not blah, blah, blah, you get it right? Insurance is basically the principal I am getting accross here, if a supervolcanoe at Yellowstone goes off, everyone residing on the surface of Earth will suffer the same agonising fate, whereas the Cloud dwellers may escape the worst impact. The same could be true of an asteroid impact raising a cloud of dust that blocks out the Sun, Cloud Cities would ride above the worst of it and grow their own food and raise their own livestock just above the dust clouds which are choking the natives on the surface. The more we prepare to live isolated from the global ecosystem the less we will affect the global ecosystem in a negative way, if we develop a closed system which is still providing an excellent quality of life, then we can move more and more of the population over to this way of living until no human on earth negatively impacts the environment in any way.

Next Stop Mars!

The project I mention, lets call it Cloud Commuting, is also a fantastic solution to interplanetary travel from Earth to other planets in our solar system such as Mars. Vehicles with powered landing struggle to land on Mars, and the atmosphere is too thin to land wings, or a parachute. Would an airship work? Would we have to make adjustments to the pressures, the lifting gas? Would we be able to land an airship on Mars or would it make more sense to leave the main ship in orbit and send down shuttle craft of some kind? Probably, but that is Elon Musk's problem to work out, which he probably will. In fact;

Dear Elon Musk,
Please build city sized airships, for us all to live in!
kthxbai
Michael Wharton

So if this doesn't work, we can get the Chinese to build them for us on the cheap!

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13Jul/150

Ironing: Why do we still do it?

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I don't iron any clothing and haven't for about 10 years now. Why do people iron their clothes? It certainly isn't to make them last longer, or to save time, or to make sure that people know that they washed them. Is it to make the clothing appear as though it is brand new out of the packaging? It could also be to make sure people are aware that the person wearing the ironed clothing is wealthy enough to afford to iron their clothes; and certainly wealthy enough to not have to work hard enough physically to crease said clothing. At least, that's why the Victorians still ironed their clothes.

People sometimes point out my creased shirt and ask questions, such as "Did you forget where your iron is?" or give advice like "If you roll your shirt up it won't crease up as much in your bag after you've ironed it!". I usually placate them with throwaway lines like "Well, I cycle to work and change when I'm here, so I don't bother.", but this is not the whole truth. I vehemently disagree with ironing on an ethical and ecological level. I am not just lazy...

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

After reading about the history of ironing, I am still bewildered why this custom and tradition is kept up. It is clearly a class issue, those of the upper classes used to be the only ones with ironed clothes, now the lower classes can buy an iron for less than two hours wages. However what is the ecological impact ironing has on the planet, and don't we all hate doing it? I am clearly not the only one out there with such questions:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2011/sep/02/ironing-save-energy-electricity-consumption

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/my-fashion-footprint-is-your-wardrobe-bad-for-the-planet-887027.html

An excerpt from the 2nd article in the Independent sums up what I had already felt on a more philosophical level, I always assumed that ironing used more energy in joules than even the mechanical energy required to spin them in the washing machine:

"A couple clicks of the mouse, then a figure appears at the bottom of the screen. Our household EDUs is 1,282. A breakdown shows that our actual clothing EDUs is quite low at 558. But then there's the laundry, which at 724 EDUs is slightly alarming. It includes 324 from washing and a whopping 400 from ironing.

The ironing is what did us in, more environmentally damaging than our washing. "It's like having the kettle switched on for seven hours straight," says Phil. But more shocking, if we add seven tumble-dryer loads a week. The figure more than doubles..."

Obviously the excerpt and the full article, (well worth a proper read) allude to the fact that tumble drying is also pretty ecologically harmful. I don't tumble dry myself, but I may on occasion have been tempted to as it is a functional device. We don't like to wear wet clothes, we may be forced to wear something soon after washing it, and it won't dry naturally quickly enough. I plan around the fact I don't have an iron or a tumble dryer by washing my clothes before I need to wear them by a few days (usually...). the article then goes on to give bulletpoint advice on improving the ecological impact of your wardrobe:

"iron only where necessary..."

When is ironing necessary? I can't imagine.

I am clearly not the only person writing about this issue:

http://community.babycentre.co.uk/post/a20837015/anti-ironing_campaign

http://h2g2.com/entry/A361522/conversation/view/F44694/T105842/page/1/

http://davewalker.cc/stop-ironing/

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/housekeeping/a1840119-How-to-give-up-ironing-without-crunchy-towels-etc

If there is one thing to take away from reading this webpage, STOP IRONING!

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