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kipjohnson03 t1_j8dklq5 wrote


peregrinkm OP t1_j8dl4n5 wrote

That’s really interesting, thank you. Now what if these could be built in relatively safe locations resistant to global wars and climate change? Like maybe in sparsely populated regions in the far north, or on Antarctica?

It seems like as the earth warms, new land will become arable for the first time. As agricultural regions closer to the equator become unviable, it may become necessary to farm areas that were previously tundra.


pinkfootthegoose t1_j8dwvkl wrote

new lands would not become as arable as you think. Though places would become warmer they would still receive less sunlight.


orangutanoz t1_j8hv2h2 wrote

Close to 24 hrs of of sunlight per day gives the arctic circle a short but very intense growing season. I’d be more interested in seeing how much viable farmland there is when the permafrost thaws and how much glacier scarring there is.


DixenSyder t1_j8ea5nm wrote

And agricultural regions closer to the equator probably won’t become largely unviable


AluminumAntHillTony t1_j8f81dm wrote

This response I go back and forth about. I think that, depending on how these equatorial ecosystems change in response to the climate, it is possible for desertification to occur, hindering viability. Deforestation is definitely beginning to take it's toll and could potentially cause an ecosystem collapse, leading to said deserts forming.

But, I think we're still too much into the early stages to form a solid hypothesis one way or the other.


DixenSyder t1_j8f87n5 wrote

There’s so much reforesting going on at the same time, too. Like you said, though, early stages. We’ll see what time reveals


doodoowithsprinkles t1_j8f7ryz wrote

Source trust me bro, we can wait to start fixing things till after I have lived an unsustainable life.


SoylentRox t1_j8gji4k wrote

Would the solution if it came to that be massive solar arrays along the now uninhabitable equator (maintained by remote controlled robotics or workers at night or in air conditioned suits) and vertical farms in cooler latitudes?


pete_68 t1_j8ghqwq wrote

You'd die, just like they would have, had they been actually completely isolated.

These things are incredibly fragile. The ecosystem gets out of balance and you're screwed. And the ecosystem is GOING to get out of balance at some point.

There's no escaping. Earth is our home. Once the environment is gone, so are we. That's not going to change in the next 100 years.


SoylentRox t1_j8gjv91 wrote

You think we would just die instead of rapidly genetically engineering our way of any imbalances? Any protein or nutrient we need, just have bacteria make it.

Bubble boy lived so it's not like this isn't possible. People have lived on meal replacement drinks for years with all synthetic ingredients. What precisely would kill humans?

I am assuming the biosphere collapses and the earth is as sterile as the Moon, but large numbers of humans have plenty of money and resources and the genetic code in compute files for everything that matters.


pete_68 t1_j8gkklr wrote

>Bubble boy lived so it's not like this isn't possible.

Bubble boy would have died if people didn't bring him food, replace his air filters, generate his electricity, etc.

The Earth won't be as sterile as the moon. We'll die off and the Earth will eventually recover and so will life, without us. The Earth doesn't give a shit about us and doesn't need us and while we can do ourselves in, we won't do it in. Life will go on and eventually the Earth will be a nice place again.

And no, we won't rapidly genetically engineer ourselves out of it because that's sci-fi technology we've yet to develop. I mean, we can genetically engineer, but we'd be more likely to do ourselves in that way through our ineptness than to actually improve anything. We're at the infantile stages of genetic engineering.


SoylentRox t1_j8gknwx wrote

Please don't just ignore what i said. HOW would we die. Assume we have better robotics also.


pete_68 t1_j8gl39x wrote

I already said. You're confined in a fragile environment. Anything goes around you'll die. You'll have insufficient oxygen, or too much CO2, or your food will get a disease, or your biosphere will spring a leak. All kinds of shit can go wrong. It's an incredibly fragile and isolated ecosystem. Go read about Biosphere 2 and what actually happened.


SoylentRox t1_j8gwv4n wrote

But why can't we just order robots to grow whatever we need.

I just don't see it. Biosphere 2 was small scale, had limited reserves of oxygen etc. A sealed biodome on earth can pull in oxygen still from the earths atmosphere even if it is sterile or full of bioweapons or radioactive etc.


greenman5252 t1_j8gocb3 wrote

Of hunger. The same overproduction of co2 that was seen in BS2 is occurring from the global overuse of N as fertilizer. Increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere lead to heating and increasingly reactive temperatures and precipitation. There will be some bad heat wave days and drought seasons sufficient to create crop failures leading to famine starting among the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy. You see this happening in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan currently while in more economically privileged countries it is only manifesting as higher prices at every level of the food chain.


SoylentRox t1_j8gwy3x wrote

Why would you die of hunger? Just grow more crops in vertical farms. Biosphere 2 had a small growing area and no robotics.


DoktoroKiu t1_j8gyd0h wrote

The things you point to are still dependent on the Earth's biosphere. If you want a truly isolated system with no inputs other than sunlight you are screwed if anything becomes too unbalanced. The systems are complex enough that we cannot yet engineer them to be stable the way the Earth is, despite many decades of trying.

I do think that if it became important enough we might put enough resources into this problem to find a way, but as far as we know it may require a much larger biosphere to achieve it than would be practical.

And all of this is assuming you have fully self-sufficient manufacturing capabilities for everything you need to maintain these systems, which is itself a complex problem, especially regarding microelectronic components or other high-technology tools. They don't last forever, so even if you did figure out the biosphere problem your work is not finished.


SoylentRox t1_j8gypbq wrote

As long as you have some minimum number of people (specialized skills) and enough manufacturing machinery, this won't happen.

I agree there are scenarios where humans might die, but I just don't feel you are arguing in good faith. "despite many decades of trying". What are you talking about? There was biosphere 2. And..........................

What else? Literally when has this ever been tried? The ISS is far too small to attempt a closed loop life support system. So I know of 0 examples other than a small cult effort that hit problems because I recall they had CO2 releasing from the concrete pad the biosphere was built on, no automation (subsidence farming is very labor intensive), no genetically engineered crops to help (hadn't been invented yet)...


DoktoroKiu t1_j8nbh8z wrote

>As long as you have some minimum number of people (specialized skills) and enough manufacturing machinery, this won't happen.

You'd need quite a large number of people with many specialties, I think. The idea of a small self-contained system is more of the problem. You also can't forget about materials (how are you getting them?). Much of our technology relies heavily on the global economy, and there has been no effort put in to try to make these self-contained systems even on a nation-sized basis (except maybe North Korea, and even they rely on the global economy despite every desire not to).

We don't necessarily have a good reason to believe we can for sure make a smaller self-contained system. It may be possible, but it isn't a given, an. it's certainly not an easy problem.


SoylentRox t1_j8nzxgj wrote

We're not talking about self contained per say. We are saying "if the earth is no longer inhabitable" but we still have access to it, so we can send people out in space suits or robots and get water, air, and minerals that have to be decontaminated and then can be used.

Every human not in your hab is now dead.


DoktoroKiu t1_j8znbsv wrote

Odds are in such a scenario you starve to death when your mini biome has some minor issue that disturbs the balance and ends up killing some crucial part of the system. Assuming all life is also dead outside your hab, you are dead.

If it's something that kills animals but not plants/fungi then maybe you'd have options, but it's still a massively complex system that you are trying to keep stable.

Maybe a system of many different but self-contained habs would have more resiliency. If you lose some component to a blight then maybe the other hab has some different strain that is unaffected.


SoylentRox t1_j8znqe0 wrote

Yes. And/or isolated equipment for most life support steps. So far example oxygen processing comes from growth tubes isolated in groups, and their feedstock supply gets sterilized before feeding into the machinery.

Energy and spare manufactured part intensive though.


BlueberryTyrant t1_j8j0rtk wrote

You would need extremely advanced sensors tracking everything. You would also need to automate responses to each misbalance. It COULD be doable, but with so many moving parts, opportunities for failure are all everyone. The code running it all has to be perfectly stable, and a tech team needs to be on hand constantly. You also will still need ecologists on hand to provide an expert human’s eye on the system to catch deviations that the gear can’t.

We just aren’t there yet.

Frankly, unless we can achieve faster than light travel, this has to be developed to survive microgravity anyways, as an ecosphere is our only feasible way to keep people fed and watered and oxygenated and waste manages for years at a time. So you have to not only solve this, but you have to solve this for microgravity as well.


SoylentRox t1_j8j4b4y wrote

Hardly. The bigger the system the larger your buffers can be. You are talking about trying to keep people alive in a hab the size of ISS and with I guess just a few hours worth of surplus oxygen.

A multi kilometer long hab with isolated grow machines (so toxins etc can't cause them all to fail) and months worth of food water and oxygen stored in tanks, and redundant power, and redundant manufacturing, and a few other hand nearby within a reasonable travel distance with enough population cap to house refugees... would be much more stable.


greenman5252 t1_j8gzcxl wrote

Vertical farms only really produce water filled cellulose. Nutrient dense foods aren’t really part of the vertical farm program.


SoylentRox t1_j8h1cu8 wrote

Why? Like are you claiming you can't grow nutrients?


nohwan27534 t1_j8h0t96 wrote

Because the land needs per person are a lot more vast than most people realize- looking into that sort of stuff recently, an acre of farmland grows enough food for like 4 people a year. Probably different if year round growing is possible.

Vertical farms can help reduce the space needed, but it's a hell of a lot of effort when you no longer have the help of machines, for the plants per person in the dome, and it's still a lot of space. It's hard to enclose that much space entirely.

Even at like 1/10th the space, it's like 4k square feet for 4 peoples dietary needs. It's like there being a large home with 4 bedrooms and plenty of space for kitchen, bathrooms, living room, dining room, etc. And then double that space for a vertical farm, with you needing to pick like 16 plants per square foot, like every two.months or so.

But shit can still happen, potentially. Biggest issue isn't food anyway, it's probably dealing with waste and clean water - sewage treatment works in an enclosed thing, sure... but I don't think you can just get rid of the smells resulting from it as easily I'd everything is contained like that, including the air getting recycled in a closed system...


SoylentRox t1_j8h3czz wrote

You obviously have to use automation. And high pressure water and heat to break down the sewage to remove odors.

Keep in mind the scale I am imagining: a million plus people. Not 4.


nohwan27534 t1_j8h5jwm wrote

Again - space becomes the issue. You don't tend to easily make a giant fucking dome that big - screw the other stuff, structurally speaking this doesn't work well.

I've thought long and hard about this idea too, specifically in space - rather than bases on the moon or mMars, living in a Dyson swarm ish system with a acre of solar panels and a 1 mile diameter tube living space. That much solar energy will fuel about a million people, the tube could spin pretty slowly to simulate gravity, and it can be as long as needed.

But we don't have quite the strong resources for enclosing like, an 8th if NYC. It's spread around 300 square miles, and the entire state of New York has 7 million acres of farmland - and still only can grow like 30% of new Yorks food. And there's no way to just dome that shit.

It's an interesting idea. But atm we have the ability to do it, if unpleasantly, on a small scale (not just 4 people, lol), but we don't have the engineering capable of doing it on even a decent 50k sized city, really, much less a million people - and it's still not self sufficient. Even if it has enclosed and looped water, air, food, etc, it doesn't have self enclosed production of wood, plastics, fabrics, metals, industry, electronics, etc


SoylentRox t1_j8h5omo wrote

Go check the numbers on spirulina. The math says you need a few LITERs per person of growing algae. Even if it's 10 times less efficient than that it's just not the problem you think it is.


nohwan27534 t1_j8h6on5 wrote

Spirulina iirc is nutrient rich, but you still need calories - something a spoonful of algae isn't chock full of.

Not to mention you presumably also want to diversify your diet in other ways - waters a good idea for both aquatic plants and fish, potentially.

But this post wasn't about that. We literally do not have materials strong enough to easily dome a community this large. One of the biggest can hold like 55k people - not homes, not space for growing food, or businesses, storage, or any of the other minutia of a society, literally sitting space for bodies.

Underground and several story buildings can help magnify the usefulness of the space again, but it's still pretty impractical. It's a nice idea, it could potentially make for new city opportunities in desert or otherwise less than habitable areas, but there's not a good reason to do it, we can't do it very well, or to the degree you=e talking about, with current tech. - and even if we did force the issue, they still wouldn't be self sufficient in all ways.


SoylentRox t1_j8hmnw5 wrote

You wouldn't use domes. Either many underground bunkers connected by tunnels with logistics transport, or many sealed surface buildings. Depending how hostile the surface is. Domes don't provide radiation or blast protection.


nohwan27534 t1_j8jcv98 wrote

So, we'll all be mole people? Given the amount of land I already talked about, trying to put that all underground makes even less sense.

A small enclosed area propped up by the buildings themselves, would potentially make sense, you'd still be able to get sunlight for energy and growing food, it's just not that practical to do that for like a few dozen square miles. But it's a hell of a lot more practical than essentially doing exactly that but also digging out a few dozen square miles of underground territory...

As for blocking blasts - why. Radiation could be as simple as water, tbh. It's what we use in nuclear reactors NOW. Iirc a 30 foot deep pool with nuclear shit at the bottom, you'd be safe from the radiation on the surface.


SoylentRox t1_j8jdry6 wrote

You get the energy from surface solar panels.


nohwan27534 t1_j8jf3wn wrote

Yeeeeah, my mistake responding to you basically at all. I'm sorry.


nohwan27534 t1_j8h85zy wrote

Looking at a calculator, 40 by 10 foot pool by 30 centimeters deep is like 11k liters, 11 cubic feet, 36 square feet. You can get around 6 to 15 grams per cubic meter per day. It's about 660 wet grams per day, 66 dried. Not really a nutrient difference, just the wet is mostly water, would be more filling.

Spirulina per 7 grams is 20 calories, about 3% of your daily salt, 2% potassium, 1% daily fiber, 8% protein, 1% vitamin c, 11% iron, 3% magnesium. Presumably 9ther shit. Doesn't have calcium, weirdly, vitamin d, b6, presumably other shit.

Let's round up to 70 for ease - you'd only have around a tenth of the calories needed, be done with protein and iron needs, everything else iffy. It's only about 10 tablespoons of slime dried out, 70 spoonfuls of spinach stuff otherwise.

Kinda the same issue with food pills - even if you can add all the daily vitamin needs in a pill, calories aren't that easy to condense. It can grow a lot faster, for sure, but it's more than a "few" liters per person, which is fine, but it's also not nearly enough to be the end all be all dietary requirements.


SoylentRox t1_j8hmhvc wrote

You would use brighter than the sun grow lamps and genetically modify it to store calories and make b6 etc.


nohwan27534 t1_j8jco4b wrote

And now it's being ass pulled.

Look, you're just not getting that kind of calories into that small, that fast growing a thing, and that's fine. Even lower calorie plants, aren't great - a solid carrot is still like 30 calories.

Surprisingly, these seemingly miracle foods, cures, etc generally aren't. If it's too good to be true...


SoylentRox t1_j8jdkwn wrote

? So your argument is to compare actual biotech to late night informercials?

Ultimately your argument comes to energy. Each gram of algae can fix so much carbon as sugar per unit of time given max usable sunlight. How many grams of algae do you need to fix enough carbon to keep a human alive.

The algae has not been genetically modified to make more sugar because humans have not needed to do this yet, so I don't know why you have to resort to comparing to random scams.

To disprove my claim you would need to find at least 1 billion USD spent annually on this type of biotech. If it's not being spent this approach has not been tried, and you cannot claim it won't work.


nohwan27534 t1_j8jeyxr wrote

Getting all this calories from a few tablespoons of material just isn't going to happen. We also don't have fucking light bulbs brighter than the God damn sun.

Besides, I've went and looked shit up, you're the one making erroneous claims and when I did the research you just shrug it off with "but i mean it COULD happen you don't know unless you can spend far more than most scientists use for research".


WowzerzzWow t1_j8fk7f3 wrote

Idealistic to think that something humans built where they would have close proximity to one another would be resistant to war.


peregrinkm OP t1_j8g33gp wrote

It would need to have a highly regulated social order, and it would constantly be expanding. They would need a lot of material to continue building prefabricated modules that fit together like legos so you can add layers.


lordtrickster t1_j8gcyzs wrote

The "highly regulated social order" is where it falls apart. You'd have to be absolutely ruthless to maintain it, which tends to cause unrest and eventual rebellion.


greenman5252 t1_j8glfaf wrote

The actual end result of the biosphere research clearly indicated that ecosystems with humans and agriculture are unbalanced and will remain unbalanced. The smaller the system, the more rapidly things go awry. The system comprising the entire earth has been slowly going sideways for quite some time but there has been a very very large buffer. What happened in biosphere 2 at a small scale is essentially what is happening on the earth at a large scale.