Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The most intelligent species on Earth

Humanity is the most intelligent species on this planet.


Scientists can list an impressive list of "existential dangers" lingering  upon our head, some of them auto-created.

Of course, there is no money to be found for any serious attempt at tackling the issue of going to space... the human of the street couldn't care less, and it has its reasons.

The species may survive or not, but if you are dead and your kids too, it is not a matter of your interests.

Species have no real existence of their ow, beyond being  a useful tool for scientific discussion... a species does not decide anything, nor it acts upon its needs.

It's the sum of the behavior of its individual components, following mostly similar patterns, that can give the impression of some coherent active will that many science-fiction writers have been so fond of.

Yet, as  a species, we are supposed to be a notable exception to this situation in that our individual members can know the general situation of the world, and hence act upon some kind of intelligent project to address the issues at hand.

Right now, the greatest current danger for our continued existence seems to be the global warming of the planet.

Either it is solely a product of our releasing excesses of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or a combination of this and general trends in the environment  - an hint... by the established succession of warm and glacial eras to date, we should be in a glacial era, now -  our fossil fuels consumption plays a great part in this process.

At the moment, after the "shale revolution", it is the ability of the environment to absorb our wasted CO2 that is posing the main limit to the quantity of energy that we can use to do, say, everything.

We already know that there are some potential energy sources that could cut down on it, "intelligent" nuclear fission, nuclear fusion and renewable energies.

At the moment, the goal of economically sustainable production of energy by nuclear fusion lays some twenty years in the future, that if there are no more snafus along the road.

One such snafus could be politicians cutting down on the funds dedicated to the research in this fields.

The main project on nuclear fusion is ITER, and it has accumulated its part of costs overrun and schedule slips. 

The "shale revolution" has changed the equation of costs and benefits that was behind the drive toward other energy sources that funded its project.

As always, the doubt is that this money could be spent better.

It is quite a bit of money... some 20 billion dollars, over some fifteen years of development.

If we can pull it off, nuclear fusion promises to solve almost every energetic problems of our civilization... its radioactive downfall is a fraction of that of even the cleanest current fission reactor and it would be intrinsically safe.

Someone points out that, with cheap energy, water shortages can be solved - desalinization is an energy intensive process.

Also, many other commodities shortages could be addressed with a more thorough recycle systems, which usually are limited by energy issues.

20 billion dollars are a lot of money, but it should be an investment with plenty of return..

And, it is the revenue of the teams of the NFL for one year.

So, is our species really so intelligent? It can't even devolve half of the "panem et circenses" budget of one country, for one year, to invest in the most probable technology able to solve its most pressing problems for the next century.

We'll never go extinct soon enough.

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Feel free to point me out conceptual, orthographical, grammatical, syntactical or usage's errors, as well as anything else