On December 4, 2019, the National Geographic Science (NGS) newsletter began with two of many examples of technology outracing common sense and of greed taking on a stronger role in our already sick society.
Citing Spaceweather.com, NGS points to light pollution from the SpaceX Starlink satellites interfering with observations of the Alpha Monocerotids meteors. There are 120 of these satellites in low earth orbit (LEO). SpaceX, in a bid to provide worldwide broadband internet service, plans to orbit 100 times as many satellites (12,000) in LEO. Astronomers have concerns the satellites will interfere with critical observations.
It may be hard to get excited about observations of a meteor shower, but some astronomers warn the light pollution caused by these satellites will also interfere with observations of so-called “killer asteroids.” These asteroids are chunks of rock whose orbits bring them close to Earth. Please remember, it’s pretty clear that an asteroid impact off the Yucatan Peninsula was a significant contributor to the K-T Mass Extinction and the death of all non-avian dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.
It may be hard to get excited about predictions of killer asteroid impacts. Certainly, our global society doesn’t have the political will to mount any sort of defense against an existential threat so unlikely and so difficult to tackle.
In fact, we seem unable to mount a credible, global defense against an existential threat which is far better understood and far more likely to destroy our current civilization – global climate change. And here’s the rub: there are legitimate concerns that 5G service operates on frequencies that will interfere with satellite measurements of water vapor in the atmosphere, and make weather forecasts more unreliable.
Tides with swells averaging five meters (sixteen feet) swept over Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands last week. Hundreds of people evacuated. Inaccurate weather forecasts could do more than spoil a picnic or a baseball game – they could lead to deaths.
But 5G will be worth that sacrifice because it can provide near-real-time virtual reality gaming with players across the planet, 3-D holographic entertainment, and perhaps some support to medical diagnosis. It may allow someone to operate a milling machine in a factory while sitting at home. It may allow a physical therapist (or a prostitute) to provide a rub-down from across the planet.
For those who do not remember, when television was introduced, it was touted as a way to bring culture, history, Shakespeare, classical music, and education to the masses. Think, now, what television has become. To paraphrase Karl Marx: Television is the opiate of the massives.
“Climate change does not respect borders; it does not respect who you are—rich or poor, small or large. Therefore, it is what we call a global challenge which requires global solidarity.” Ban Ki-Moon 1944-_____ CE
2019-12-02 BBC News website (Climate King Tides) “…island nation in ‘fight to death’”
Lentz, Paul. “Holy Fire” Ty Ty Press, Peachtree City, Georgia. Kindle Edition.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.