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  • A different race: Macro-engineering, foreign aid and social change in the Sahel

    Paper ID



    • Raymond S. Leonard


    Ad Astra Ltd.






    He marches to the beat of a different drummer. Thoreau Space is often perceived as an economic, technical and strategic opportunity for aerospace or hi-tech companies and highly industrialized countries. Space has been and is being used as an arena for the various nations and political philosophies to demonstrate their prowess in a non-lethal fashion while pushing the development of their technology. With a little imagination and a slightly different perspective space can be used as an instrument of foreign policy and foreign aid effecting global change in both political thought and environmental effects. A different race is based on a new concept of strategic deterrence. The concept is one of commercial, economic and technological deterrence based on a nation's ability to pioneer the space frontier. Implementation of this concept would be accomplished by having national assets such as surveillance, command, control and communication embedded in the infrastructure of a robust commercial space program. In other words, strategic deterrence based on: commercial prowess in space; economic interdependence; dispersed, robust commercial space systems and facilities. Global support would be accrued by combining the above initiatives with macro-projects which can benefit mankind and the Earth's biosphere. Macro-engineering projects such as: space based anti-matter production facilities, large international space towers and satellite power systems can benefit lesser developed nations by providing humanitarian aid in the form of energy, information and education and alternatives to subsistence existence. The physical facilities in space would be built to develop technology, foster international cooperation and demonstrate national capabilities of the industrialized nations. However, there is no reason that they couldn't also be the basis for developing local assistance programs. One such program could be using microwave energy from space to supply electricity for a global rural electrification program. Another would be the large scale desalinization of sea water and the irrigation of the Sahel reversing the desertification currently taking place. The mineral by-products could possibly provide income or building materials. There also exists the possibility of introducing a distributed hydrogen economy. Eventually the resulting infrastructure could be and might have to be used to modify the environment reversing the heretofore negative effects our civilization has had on the environment of this planet. The concept of resources such as energy and water being used as mechanisms of foreign aid as opposed to cash, property or weapons is introduced. A project for reversing the desertification of Sahel is presented and used to illustrate how nations can, either singularly or together, use space and the technology associated with space industrialization to benefit mankind and effect massive changes in the environment and social conditions while developing the technological infrastructure for the 21st century. By coupling programs of appropriate technology at the local level to resources such as energy and water made available from High Tech macroprojects developing nations would have the physical resources to effect large scale changes in agricultural practices in such regions as the Sahel. Mankind's ability to beam energy to remote or rural spots should have long range environmental benefits in that demand for fuel will be reduce, trees will be able to grow and dung and crop residue can be left in the field as fertilizer. Social changes similar to those already induced by the extended drought and famine in the Sahel will inevitable occur from the coupling high-tech with appropriate technology. Hopefully the changes will be beneficial when viewed from the perspective of history.