We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mega Engineering and the Economy

Nature doesn't cut back during an economic depression. The idiocy of infrastructural austerity will remove humans from vast stretches of formerly inhabited territory.

It appears that Washington DC is waiting for a new Dust Bowl style event before pushing for mass scale infrastructure projects. Annually increasing water shortages in the southwest, flooding, and tornadoes remain an abstraction to these congress critter geriatrics. They forget that the only thing keeping our economy still functioning (in the face of mass scale looting, funding cuts, and inflationary policies) is the 1930s-1960s era dams, levees, bridges, etc. Would we consider a country like Saudi Arabia to have any economy without its irrigation, its water infrastructure, and its highways? Without constant and often accelerating human effort, the desert would reclaim the whole country. It is the same everywhere. If the current socioeconomic system doesn't quickly roll back and increasingly dominate the environment where the homo sapien dwells, then the socioeconomic system must be thrown into the dustbin of history.

United States still has a major trick up its sleeve, namely the most massive military industrial complex in the world. This enormous job creation behemoth has done a good job at keeping many domestic high tech factories, research labs, and assembly lines running. As I have written, rather than rapidly dismantling the military-industrial complex as many now want, we need to rapidly transform it to serve in the name of infrastructuralism, of physical nation building right here in North America. National guard and army corps of engineers are already often providing relief efforts during natural emergencies (inadvertently created by neoliberal "economic theorists".) We need to utilize the industrial capacity of the military to begin to mass manufacture tools, equipment, and advanced machinery needed to start reclaiming territory from mother nature and to fortify existing human habitats.

We should remember that FDR asked for emergency powers to begin putting large amounts of humans on the offensive against the elements. Quickly arranged industrial armies began to pro-actively open up entire regions to human settlement and development. In the process, a superpower economy was created. Modern technology and macro engineering allows us to make the efforts made in 1930s look like a beaver dam. iPads and social networking start ups on the other hand are a pleasant superficial distraction, not the basis of building tangible human power.

The future US president (or presidents depending on the country splitting or not due to living through a form of debt default) must put to use the technological knowhow accumulated from trillions of dollars spent on "defense"/empire. They must do so quickly to co-opt brain drain abroad and to prevent former defense contractor blue collars losing managerial skills.

We understand that mass amounts of energy will be required for this type of national rebirth. Energy difficulties and shortages will continue in the short term even if the government takes the necessary steps to nationalize key strategic industries (agriculture, mining, energy, transport, middlemen distributors like Wall-Mart, etc). Such nationalizations will make it easier to begin efforts to mass produce hundreds of small fission reactors which will be vital to the infrastructuralist thrust of the future. At the very least, the factories that assemble military vehicles should begin to work in concert with "government motors" (hur hur hur) to mass produce electric vehicles to be used in strategic sector logistics.

It is not enough to simply prevent a humanitarian catastrophe born out of higher prices for energy, inflation related loss of savings, and tinpot dictator wannabes like Scott Walker. It is not enough to prevent a scenario of millions of internally displaced people once gas goes over $200 a barrel, something that may occur even if food is distributed for free to all (since millions would need to drive to food distribution points, something harder to do with rationed gas).

A "reach for the stars" inspirational goal should be provided by a forward looking faction of the ruling elites to galvanize, focus, and concentrate efforts. Macro engineering provides such a vision. Chinese have already began a long term multi-generational effort to reclaim the deserts for human settlement. The final product will make the Three Gorge Dam look like a footstool in terms of human advancement. Both Russians and Americans have very similar continental scale irrigation projects already planned out and ready to go. Not only will efforts like American NAWAPA and Russian Northern River Reversal create dozens of millions of jobs and build powerful economies of the future, but they will greatly reduce this shameful bullying by nature. Humans will stand on their two feet again instead of cowering like rats before the elements.

It appears that millions of young nihilistic Americans are willing to do hard labor for basically free to "find themselves" and escape the humiliating and meaningless service sector drudgery of the dying capitalist world. Lets give these humans a rallying cry, something like "Screw the Cubicle!". I guarantee millions of volunteers would be found (plus there'd be lifetime stipend of food/shelter and retirement at 40). Once the economic crisis enters terminal velocity, real national or subnational leaders will emerge (who cant even be compared to the current mass murderer in chief).

Nevada desert can be turned into a lush forest and/or farmland. It is only a matter of exponential construction of fission/fusion/solar power sources and technology already in existence. If that is not inspirational, nothing is. Sahara and Gobi deserts are to follow.

"But.. but.. Colonizing the Western hemisphere is too expensive!! Colonizing Siberia is too expensive!! Erie canal is too expensive!! Suez and Panama canals are too expensive! Transcontinental and TransSiberian railroads are too expensive! Hoover dam is too expensive!! Man on the moon is too expensive! We want to live in cheap mud huts! Public education for all is too.. blah blah blah"

Such luddite human traitors always get silenced when their children are enjoying a brand new civilization (that grew out of seeds that turned out to be relatively cheap in the long term).

Stumble Upon Toolbar


  1. The US should be building an irrigated industrial park, filling 15,000 to 30,000 square miles, in the lower Mississippi River Valley for producing biofuel crops such as algae and sugar cane.

    But retirement at the age of 40 (as suggested/guaranteed in the above article) is not realistic.

    Building any large infrastructure is hard work, and not a get rich quick scheme.

  2. 40 year retirement age is more than reasonable considering the type of cutting edge production and distribution technologies that we already have. Plus we need new engineer/builder blood to keep replenishing the old timers (there's 7 billion of humans to draw from, vast majority being made obsolete by current capitalist system)