Make WMDs while the sun shines
As a part of my own personal drive to be green1–3, I was thinking about what other people can do to make my world more sterile, when it dawned on me that what this world needs is environmentally friendly weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Let’s face it. Nukes are just so bad for the environment. Not only are they not recyclable and single use, but they probably contain plastic and other nasty stuff. Did you know that more coral reefs have been killed by nukes than plastic bags and drinking straws combined? (Just ask the turtles at Moruroa Atoll4.) I can’t believe that no one has done anything about this.
I think that it is time that we cleaned up our act, and only accepted weapons of mass destruction that are environmentally friendly.
Something solar powered would be nice.
You know enough sunlight hits the earth every day to power a zillion electric cars for a thousand years5, or something like that. Surely there is enough clean energy there to melt the heart of a modern city, or to sink a carrier group in the Mediterranean.
All we need to do is put a few thousand mirrors up in space and use them to direct the sun’s energy onto a small area. It would be like burning ants with a magnifying glass. So then, when some unheard-of country gives us trouble, we just melt them back into the stone age, and all with a clean environmentally friendly, solar-powered superweapon. And maybe we could use it to help along a few of those countries that are having trouble progressing their denuclearisation program.
According to wikipedia the theoretical minimum amount of energy required to melt a tonne of scrap steel is 300 kWh (melting point 1520 °C/2768 °F)6.
But then fortunately, according to the UTIA, At the upper reaches of our atmosphere, the energy density of solar radiation is approximately 1,368 W/m2 (watts per square meter)7. And At the Earth’s surface, the energy density is reduced to approximately 1,000 W/m2 for a surface perpendicular to the Sun’s rays at sea level on a clear day.
So all that we need is a way to get those thousands of mirrors up there, and well then of course – a way to control them. Perhaps Elon could help – we could get him to launch about, oh I don’t know, maybe 20,000 satellites8–11, each with a dual purpose solar panel of say 5 square meters, that can also serve as a mirror when needed.
So let me check this, 20,000 of these satellites would intercept about 136.8 Megawatts (20000 * 5 * 1,368 = 136800000) of sunlight, and let’s say that only 10% of that reaches its target (25% gone due to atmospheric loss, and let’s guess 65% due to everything else – such as mirror inefficiencies and blurring. ) That is still 13.688 Megawatts hitting your target – that is about 78 times more power than the world’s largest electric arc furnace12 uses to melt 6 tons of steel per minute.
Now all we need to do is get Elon to launch the satellites. He will go for it, he does this kind of ridiculously crazy stuff all the time.
Ok, just off the phone with Elon – he says that he’s going to need some kind of cover story to justify launching 20,000 low earth orbit satellites with a custom – never been used before propulsion system13,14 that facilitates the kind of maneuverability that we will need to move these things into position so that they can focus on different targets. Not too mention the big mirrors. You can’t just expect him to get this working overnight. Well, not overnight of course. I didn’t expect it to work at night.
Elon suggested that we claim that we need the satellites to defend the earth against killer asteroids – you know to burn them up light years before they can get anywhere near us, but I think that the “saving the planet” narrative is getting a bit tired. We are already using it to get people to buy multi-use plastic bags that are 20 times thicker – that on average they only use twice. I think that we can do better than that. We need something a little more relevant to the average person.
Hey, what about if we also use the satellites to provide cheap, clean, solar-powered, worldwide, internet access. Everyone knows that we desperately need better Internet access. And, hey hold-on, this gets even better, once we have driven a country’s terrestrial ISPs out of business with our cheap, green, ubiquitous, internet access, then we will effectively control that country’s internet. We can then censor what they read – for their own protection of course, or better yet, turn the whole damn thing off on a whim – Elon is going to love it.
But what about the weather? What if it is cloudy on the day that we feel like doing some world optimization? Well, it turns out that this super green WMD of ours is also great for messing with the weather – it makes HAARP13 look like a weather research facility. You see, rather than melt an enemy’s command and control center, we’ll just selectively heat the upper atmosphere to bring on droughts, floods, hurricanes – you name it – you could even start bushfires. Best of all, you can then blame all of this on global warming, and then send in our troops as a part of our contribution to the international natural disaster relief effort.
I just love being green.
Disclaimer: Nothing contained within should be considered evidence of, or construed to be indicative of the thoughts or views of the author. Or at least, not until I can get myself and all my gear at least 50 meters underground.
What to read next.
Every supervillain needs to be able to win an argument. Never Mind Reality explains how you can fool everyone, including yourself in matters that are at least somewhat controversial.
- 1.Idioms4you. To be green. Idioms4you. http://www.idioms4you.com/complete-idioms/to-be-green.html. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 2.Online Slang Dictionary. What does green mean? green Definition. Meaning of green …. Online Slang Dictionary. http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/green. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 3.AskReddit. What does is it mean when someone says you’re too green? Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1w4ujj/what_does_is_it_mean_when_someone_says_youre_too/. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 4.RNZ. The battle continues, 50 years after first test at Mururoa. RNZ. https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/307804/the-battle-continues,-50-years-after-first-test-at-mururoa. Accessed September 8, 2019.
- 5.Gulf News. Two minutes of sun enough to power a year’s usage of humanity. Gulf News. https://gulfnews.com/uae/environment/two-minutes-of-sun-enough-to-power-a-years-usage-of-humanity-1.1910990. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 6.Wikipedia. Electric arc furnace. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_arc_furnace. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 7.UTIA. The Sun’s Energy. UTIA. https://ag.tennessee.edu/solar/Pages/What%20Is%20Solar%20Energy/Sun’s%20Energy.aspx. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 8.Business Times. SpaceX Gets U.S. Permission To Orbit 20,000 Starlink Satellites. Business Times. https://en.businesstimes.cn/articles/104993/20181116/spacex-gets-u-s-permission-orbit-20-000-starlink-satellites.htm. Published November 16, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 9.Silicon Angle. Amazon goes to space: “Project Kuiper” aims to put 3,200 satellites in. Silicon Angle. https://siliconangle.com/2019/04/04/amazon-goes-space-project-kuiper-aims-put-3200-satellites-orbit/. Published April 4, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019.
- 10.space.com. Amazon’s Project Kuiper will top out at around 3,200 satellites. space.com. https://www.space.com/amazon-plans-3236-satellite-constellation-for-internet.html. Accessed October 16, 2019.
- 11.engadget.com. SpaceX is requesting permission to launch 30,000 more . engadget.com. https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/16/spacex-30-000-starlink-satellites/. Published October 16, 2019. Accessed October 16, 2019.
- 12.millennium-steel.com. Jumbo size 420t twin DC FastArc® EAF at Tokyo Steel. millennium-steel.com. http://millennium-steel.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/pp52-58_ms11.pdf. Accessed December 15, 2019.
- 13.Wikipedia. High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program. Accessed June 25, 2019.