All Astronautical Evolution posts in 2021:

Planetopolis in an Age of Climate Change (July)

Planetopolis (January)

All Astronautical Evolution posts in 2020:

Stellar Engines (August)

Voyage to the Large Magellanic Cloud (July)

Why the Human Exploration of Space? (May)

Artificial Gravity for the Journey to Mars and Return (April)

Cruising in Space (March)

All Astronautical Evolution posts in 2019:

The Destiny of Civilisations – Fire, Iron and Gold (November)

The Destiny of Civilisations – A Problem for SETI (November)

The Holy Grail of Space (October)

Return to the Moon, 50 Years On (August)

The Case for Interstellar Flight (June)

SpaceX Dragon 2 Success (April)

Killing the Doomsday Fallacy (Feb.)

All Astronautical Evolution posts in 2018:

How Far Can We Take the Copernican Principle? (Dec.)

Dawkins and the McGraths: a Biologist versus two Theologians (Nov.)

The Atheism Question (Oct.)

The Religion Question (Sept.)

I, Starship (June)

Back to 2017:

Scenario Block Diagram Analysis of the Galactic Evolution of Life (Nov.)

Comments by Alex Tolley (Oct.)

Elon Musk’s “Great Martian” (Oct.)

Elon Musk’s Mars Plans: Highlights from His Second Iteration (Sept.)

What is a Supercivilisation? (Aug.)

Quantifying the Assumptions Behind the METI Debate (July)

Five Principles of a Sustainable Manned Mars Programme (June)

Pale Red Dot: Mars comes to Oxford (May)

Back to 2016:

Elon Musk and Mars: Looking for a Snowball Effect (Oct.)

New in 2020:

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AE posts:

2021: New space company Planetopolis…

2020: Cruising in Space…

2019: The Doomsday Fallacy, SpaceX successes…

2018: I, Starship, atheism versus religion, the Copernican principle…

2017: Mars, Supercivilisations, METI…

2016: Stragegic goal for manned spaceflight…

2015: The Pluto Controversy, Mars, SETI…

2014: Skylon, the Great Space Debate, exponential growth, the Fermi “paradox”…

2013: Manned spaceflight, sustainability, the Singularity, Voyager 1, philosophy, ET…

2012: Bulgakov vs. Clarke, starships, the Doomsday Argument…

2011: Manned spaceflight, evolution, worldships, battle for the future…

2010: Views on progress, the Great Sociology Dust-Up…

Chronological index

Subject index

General essays:

Index to essaysincluding:

Talk presented to students at the International Space University, May 2016

Basic concepts of Astronautical Evolution

Options for Growth and Sustainability

Mars on the Interstellar Roadmap (2015)

The Great Sociology Debate (2011)

Building Selenopolis (2008)


Issue 158, 9 July 2021 – 52nd Apollo Anniversary Year

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Planetopolis in an Age of Climate Change

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Following my previous post introducing the concept, I gave a talk on Planetopolis at the British Interplanetary Society’s “Beyond the Moon” symposium on 12 April.

A two-page spinoff article appeared in Spaceflight (July 2021, p.30-31).

A slightly tarted up version of my video talk can now be watched online:

Climate change


A point which I didn’t stress at the BIS, but which is actually a major part of the case for Planetopolis, is its relevance to the climate change issue.

Many predictions of the effects of industrial CO2 emissions show large-scale disruption to human society over the next 50 to 100 years. The UK Met Office points out:

“Nearly 4 in 10 people live within 100 kilometres from a shoreline and are at risk of flooding if sea levels continue to rise. […] As our climate warms and rainfall patterns change, it may be harder to grow enough food in some areas […] We expect most regions will experience more intense heatwaves.”

If these projections are borne out, there will be a need for housing and food production in higher altitude, less fertile areas, or possibly on the surface of the sea: in other words, locations which are warmer or cooler, more arid or more aquatic than those historically able to support large populations. But the world’s industrial energy economy will change only gradually, and fossil fuels will continue to be used for some time to come. So anyone concerned about the possible future effects of climate change would be well advised to invest their time and money researching methods of supporting developed human societies which are more self-contained and less dependent upon a clement local environment.

It would certainly make a lot more sense than campaigning to try to induce world leaders to accelerate the costly restructuring of their economies in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – particularly when the largest national emitter by far is China (helpful charts are provided by the BBC).

The environmental campaign can only be effective if all the great powers take effective action. This is proving to be difficult, and a certain amount of future global warming is said to be baked in by now, due to emissions which have already gone into the atmosphere. That campaign is also based on the implicit assumption that natural climate change is at a standstill, and so humans can control the planetary thermostat merely by adding or subtracting greenhouse gases – a dangerous assumption in the light of past history, as well as in the light of the everyday experience of temperatures going up and down with changing cloud cover.

The programme of a company such as Planetopolis is an effective response to the current concerns with the climate in several ways:

An environmentalist skeptic would no doubt criticise this programme by accusing me of trying to make the world safe for dirty industries and environmental criminals. That accusation might have some force if the environmentalist campaign to ban the use of all fossil fuels was proving to be effective, and if science had reliably established that natural climate change will be unable to harm human society for many centuries into the future.

But this cosy picture is questionable.

More at:

Artist impression of Mars colony

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