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Moon Power The Almighty Buck

Scottish Academic: Mining the Moon For Helium 3 Is Evil 462

Posted by samzenpus
from the hold-the-cheese dept.
MarkWhittington writes "Tony Milligan is a teaching fellow of philosophy at the University of Aberdeen and is apparently concerned about helium 3 mining on the moon. In a recent paper he suggested that it should not be allowed for a number of reasons which include environmental objections, his belief that the moon is a cultural artifact, and that too much access to energy would be bad for the human race."
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Scottish Academic: Mining the Moon For Helium 3 Is Evil

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  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @08:49PM (#44702629) Journal

    This is probably the most publicity that Milligan will ever have in his life.

    -jcr

    • by skywire (469351) *

      If we're lucky.

    • This is probably the most publicity that Milligan will ever have in his life.

      I'd give even money that he's just trying to punk the academic establishment - seeing what kind of publicity an insane "libtard" position paper can get.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @08:54PM (#44702663) Journal

    Seriously - does this guy have any clue as to how frickin' BIG the Moon is? You could carve a hole in it the size of New York City and it would barely be noticeable. You could carve out the entire dark side of the Moon and no one would ever see it (and misnomer aside, it gets just as much sunlight, thus He3, etc...)

    The environmental angle? Maybe if it all got brought back here, okay... having not RTFA, I hope he isn't worried about the Moon's "environment", namely because it really doesn't have one of note.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      But... but... they're going to RAPE Mama Killa!!! [wikipedia.org]

      (seriously, what a loon)

    • Seriously - does this guy have any clue...

      Not one little bit, it appears.

      When I was in school, I always wondered what people actually -did- with a PhD in Philosophy, now... I know.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      "You could carve out the entire dark side of the Moon and no one would ever see it (and misnomer aside, it gets just as much sunlight, thus He3, etc...)"

      You're confusing the far side of the moon (which we can't see from earth) with the Dark Side which is the side currently not facing the sun.

      Except when there is a lunar eclipse "there is no Dark Side of the moon really, matter of fact it's all dark"

  • Well of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @08:58PM (#44702705) Journal

    Too much access to large amounts of cheap energy would mean that we don't continue to buy it from current sources. We can't have that.

    • Why would fusion energy be cheap?

      Fuel cost is trivial for current fission reactors. Do they produce cheap energy?

      • Re:Well of course (Score:4, Informative)

        by mdenham (747985) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:20PM (#44702841)

        Taking into account assorted opportunity costs as well (including reduced productivity from pollution-related illnesses from other sources), I would say the correct answer is "yes".

        • Re:Well of course (Score:4, Insightful)

          by real-modo (1460457) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:38PM (#44702947)

          Fair enough. Lots of people seem to have in mind the old "too cheap to meter" idea when they talk about fusion. I could never see that.

          I agree: fission is way cheaper than fossil energy when costs are properly apportioned, and people are rational about risk. Wish I lived in that world.

          • by mdenham (747985)

            "Too cheap to meter" only makes sense with government-owned utilities, and then only if startup and maintenance costs (including fuel under maintenance) are both negligible.

            That said, I suspect geothermal power is actually better-suited to being "too cheap to meter", but getting the necessary power output requires significant advances in mining-related technologies anyway (ideally your heat-uptake loop has as large of a heat differential as possible, meaning drilling a borehole near or even into the mantle

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        Do they produce cheap energy?

        Yes they do, but because production from this source is greatly limited by decades of NIMBY politics the price is still mainly rooted on the less efficient methods.

        Supply cannot meet demand.

    • Too much access to large amounts of cheap energy would mean that we don't continue to buy it from current sources. We can't have that.

      Well, to a point. Even if one eliminated all the environmental aspects of creating energy... say we just invented a zero-point energy extractor that ran on dreams and produced infinite electricity, there is still the other side of the equation: Its use.

      I'm not aware of any electronic device that doesn't produce heat, and if we suddenly increased energy consumption by a few orders of magnitude, that might not be negligible in the grand scheme of things. Whenever you put an infinity symbol in any equation, ma

  • I would say that mining the moon is the best thing we as a race can do. No wars of intervention to get at resources "owned" by another nation. No environment damage due to exposure of contaminants or by-products. I guess there is a chance that the most powerful nations might keep the other ones from grabbing a piece of the pie, but there is so much surface area, that it is cheaper to mine than to wage war. Unlimited energy will also allow more time to develop green (direct from solar) technology, but ma
    • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:25PM (#44703271)

      No wars of intervention to get at resources "owned" by another nation.

      But there is the old fashioned war for control of a resource. We have nice friendly agreements about scientific study and no territorial claims at the moment, however at the moment we can barely get there and there is nothing we can economically exploit. If we get to the point where there is something very valuable to exploit and one or a small number of nations can control access to it then things may change with respect to no territorial claims and free access.

      ... there is so much surface area, that it is cheaper to mine than to wage war.

      Wars/battles are sometimes fought to deny resources to someone else.

  • Short sighted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mechtech256 (2617089) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @08:59PM (#44702717)
    Given a long enough time frame, the human race will either inevitably fizzle out on our single planet, or move on to be an interstellar civilization for at least some period of time. If the second possibility is to happen, utilizing the moon will most certainly be a stepping stone there. Whether it's covering the surface in solar panels, mining it for helium 3, or something entirely different like simply using it as a staging area for longer range launches, we can't say, but it's virtually guaranteed that humans will be all over the moon in some capacity if they are to expand beyond our planet/solar system. On another note, the moon is a boring bland rock compared to Earth. I bet the moon is incredibly desperate for us to do something interesting on its surface... "please, let something, anything happen aside from getting smacked with another space rock and getting a 15 millionth identical crater!"
  • lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:01PM (#44702729) Journal
    teaching fellow of philosophy

    sounds like the sort of individual who's opinion I certainly give a fuck about
    • "sounds like the sort of individual who's opinion I certainly give a fuck about"

      And yet, somebody at Yahoo dug a random paper he wrote out of the Annals of Tedious Philosophy (Volume 167), wrote a quick clickbait screed about it, and now it's on Slashdot...
  • We discover the Moon is actually a giant Egg.

  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:05PM (#44702751) Journal
    too much access to energy would be bad for the human race.

    Ah, so the classic "we should all live in the dark and grow our own food" argument. Beautiful. Give King Ludd my warmest regards.

    Free hint, Tony - Yes, many of the energy booms of human history have come along with a variety of ills. But they have also come along with the single greatest periods of progress as well, both social and technological. The industrial revolution caused a good bit of pollution, but basically made human slavery a net loss, economically. And fusion, as a nice perk, pollutes less than fission (which we already do), which in turn pollutes less than dinofuels (which we also already do because the hippies would rather let birds - and us - die that build more fission plants).

    So in summary - Go fuck yourself, Tony. Live in the dark if you want. I like computers, and air conditioning, and cars, and concrete, and aluminum cans, and cheap plastic bottles.
    • by the gnat (153162)

      I like computers, and air conditioning, and cars, and concrete, and aluminum cans, and cheap plastic bottles.

      Add to that: a greatly reduced birth rate (helping stabilize the population), vastly lower infant mortality, and life expectancies in the mid-70s in the developed world (early 80s if you live in one of those horrid north European socialist countries). None of this would have been possible without the huge increase in prosperity and productivity brought by industrialization. People tend to think of

    • We should all be happy to go back to the pre-industrial ages. Sure it means the vast majority of humans will have to die off, and the ones that live will have much shorter, harder, lives but hey, it would be good for the planet (depending on how you define good)! As such all of us should be happy, no honoured to do that. Excepting for professors, of course. They advance knowledge so they clearly need to be allowed to keep all of their modern conveniences. But the rest of us, back to the dark ages!

      That is wh

    • Ah, so the classic "we should all live in the dark and grow our own food" argument. Beautiful. Give King Ludd my warmest regards.

      This guy is basically arguing (among other things) that because 100% of the energy from He-3 mining would not be used to directly power "a great life-enhancing project" - it is all bad and it should not be done.

      Furthermore, in the absence of a radical alteration in patterns of human behaviour, a good deal of energy from He-3 mining is unlikely to go towards a great life-enhancing project. It is likely to be used for comparatively trivial purposes such as advertising, waste and the enhancement of prestige.
      This is part and parcel of living in a society where choice is valued. However, there are some choices (the choice to be cruel, aggressive, destructive or wasteful) which may not be worth having and which, in some cases, we ought not to have.

      You know... kinda the way paper and pens should not be produced because not all of them are used to create works of Shakespeare or Michelangelo.

      Anyone willing to dig for more pearls of wisdom, here is his academia.edu [academia.edu] page with his other works.

  • You have loads of fools around here. This is just another one.
  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:18PM (#44702829)

    I'm still waiting on that slashdot article introducing the worlds first working economically viable fusion generator.

    • Cross out fusion generator and add in any of many alternatives.

      My favorite would be flying car.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        Cross out fusion generator and add in any of many alternatives.

        My favorite would be flying car.

        They have flying cars. One even won a Darwin Award.

  • artefact /tfakt/

    ((US artifact) )

    noun

    1. an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest: gold and silver artefacts.

    2. something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure: the curvature of the surface is an artefact of the wide-angle view.

    So, is this guy an intelligent design proponent? Oh wait, that's just the summary. In TFA the word appears once:

    Firstly, the

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:32PM (#44702919)

    The elements in our bodies [wikipedia.org] come from exploding stars. [lbl.gov]

    The earth coalesced from a swirling ball of gas and dust. Which had various quantities of these elements. Then yadda yadda, lifeorms started popping up. Of which man was one of the later variants.

    Man needs this fishbowl of earth to survive in the universe, just like goldfish need a fishbowl to survive in our living room. Imagine if the goldfish could get to the refrigerator.

    We're just trying to get to the refrigerator. Or maybe even go outside.

    The earth is not the center of the universe. It's a smallish planet in the solar system. It's part of the universe. Just like man. Eventually the sun will red giant. If we don't go outside - leave the womb - we're finished. A fruit that died on the vine. Seems like we should be working on that problem now.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:09PM (#44703159)

      The elements in our bodies [wikipedia.org] come from exploding stars. [lbl.gov]

      The earth coalesced from a swirling ball of gas and dust. Which had various quantities of these elements. Then yadda yadda, lifeorms started popping up. Of which man was one of the later variants.

      Man needs this fishbowl of earth to survive in the universe, just like goldfish need a fishbowl to survive in our living room. Imagine if the goldfish could get to the refrigerator.

      We're just trying to get to the refrigerator. Or maybe even go outside.

      The earth is not the center of the universe. It's a smallish planet in the solar system. It's part of the universe. Just like man. Eventually the sun will red giant. If we don't go outside - leave the womb - we're finished. A fruit that died on the vine. Seems like we should be working on that problem now.

      And the problem if mankind dies on the vine? Are we that critical to the universe that the universe will suffer if the human race is no longer here? There are two possibilities one, there is other intelligent life in the universe or two, there is not. If there is, then we are not unique, so our loss would not be a loss at all. If there is not other intelligent life, then our loss makes no difference as what we are trying to preserve is of no use, nobody but us cares about it -- there is nobody to leave a legacy for.

      In either case, when mankind ceases to exist, our actual existence will not even have been a blink of the eye on the cosmic time scale. The Catholics say "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." That phrase was coined long before we knew much about the universe, but has more truth in it than many people realize. At some point in the future, the cosmic dust that created the human race will be returned to the universe. What we are will go on, in new forms, new stars, new planets, maybe even new lifeforms. But who we are will cease and there won't be anybody to care.

  • by _Ludwig (86077) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:34PM (#44702929) Journal

    “Cultural artifact” has a specific meaning: A remnant of something created by a culture.

    Hm, what if he’s on to something?

    ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS, SAVE FOR THE ONE THAT’S RELATIVELY EASY TO GET TO

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:40PM (#44702957)
    I know that Slashdot can be a way to waste time, but IMHO this is below the threshold of interest. The guy is a troll not worthy of notice. This should not have made it to a topic. Let's give it the attention it deserves, which is nothing, and don't post any more.

    I will do my part by not visiting this topic ever again.

  • Here's the call for papers [iaaweb.org]

    Papers are solicited in the following areas: ...

    Ethics
    Ethical aspects of long range exploration
    From exploration to colonization
    Ethical aspects of terraforming
    Robot ethics
    Adaptation of humans to new environments ....

    So he wrote a paper on the ethics of Lunar Mining that actually considered possible ethical objections to the proposed activity. Is that so odd? Wouldn't it be better to hash this all out before the technology exists to strip-mine the moon?

    A

    • by Arker (91948)

      "So he wrote a paper on the ethics of Lunar Mining that actually considered possible ethical objections to the proposed activity. Is that so odd?"

      Not in abstract, but the specific objections seem odd, to say the least.

      "After all, do we really want whalers on the moon?"

      Whalers are people too.

  • Need that energy for the laser on the moon to destroy Washington D.C and I will destroy another major city every hour on the hour. That is, unless, of course, you pay me
    one hundred billion dollars.

  • Then this fellow will begin to say that access to energy is a good thing.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:52PM (#44703039)

    Sounds like the plot of Red-Mars. Environmentalists don't think we should be messing with mars and sabotage efforts to terraform it.

  • by Dereck1701 (1922824) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:29PM (#44703295)

    I wonder if this nut was with that group/movement a few years back that was trying to get some resolution passed (in the UN maybe?) designating the moon (and eventually all celestial bodies) as some kind of nature preserve to prevent any kind of utilization/exploration. I agree completely that we need to be conscientious of our actions as we spread into the solar system and perhaps one day the galaxy, but we should expand the reaches of our understanding, exploration and habitation. Large swaths of the moon should be left alone for future generations and we should go out of our way to prevent any significant alterations of a celestial body without careful consideration. That said the universe is not some static art-piece that should/could be preserved in a single state. 600 million years of our own planets many massive changes should have been more than enough evidence for this idiot.

  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:30PM (#44703297) Homepage Journal

    We are burning all oil here, probably getting out of that not renovable resource in this century or next. And that, in just 200 years of a civilization that been around for 10000 years, from a species that exist since 1 millon years ago, and will be out for anyone/anything here in the next billon years. And is it not just an energy source, it have a lot of derivatives that will be hard/expensive/impossible in practice to get from other sources. Compared to that, the limited amount of He3 that we could bring from the moon, and in a not very fast rate, won't count a lot.

    Regarding the energy surplus, getting the same amount of energy from the sun (i.e. collectors in the desert, or satellites that somewhat beam down the energy) would have a similar effect.

    The real problem is the civilization or the current culture, not using the moon as energy source or not. The current agenda is to use everything as if would be no tomorrow (thing that will happen if we keep acting like that). If you don't fix it, the moon won't matter anyway.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:35PM (#44703597)

    What the subject says.

  • by gargleblast (683147) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @02:01AM (#44704071)

    Mining the moon for helium-3 is merely stupid. (1) there are no fusion power plants, (2) helium-3 is crap fuel, and (3) there is hardly any helium-3 on the moon anyway.

    Oh and Hanlon's Razor [wikipedia.org] comes to mind: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

  • by xenobyte (446878) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @02:30AM (#44704149)

    ... and that too much access to energy would be bad for the human race.

    Rubbish! - With unlimited energy we could easily fix both the CO2-related issues from centuries of burning various fossil fuels, and any byproduct from having all this energy.

    With unlimited energy we could control the weather for instance. All the damage from extreme weather would be only in history books.

    Oh, and of course mining Helium-3 is evil. That's why the nazis hiding on the back side of the Moon is doing it. They went to the Moon because is was the evil thing to do, and the nazis - being ultimately evil at heart - thus had no choice but to go to the Moon and do the evil thing: Mine Helium-3. Returning to Earth in a huge flying saucer called "Götterdämmerung" to set up their nazi-utopia is actually less evil than mining the Helium-3. They even made a film called "Iron Sky" about this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034314/ [imdb.com]

  • by 32771 (906153) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:56AM (#44705133) Journal

    History says otherwise:

    "Besides, of all ways whereby great wealth is acquired by good and honest means, none is more advantageous than mining; for although from fields which are well tilled (not to mention other things) we derive rich yields, yet we obtain richer products from mines; in fact, one mine is often much more beneficial to us than many fields. For this reason we learn from the history of nearly all ages that very many men have been made rich by the mines, and the fortunes of many kings have been much amplified thereby."

    From here:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38015/38015-h/38015-h.htm [gutenberg.org]

    So we are mining energy instead of metals now, anybody know a good book about energy?
    Beyond that I first want to see a space efficient fusion reactor that works. What ever happened to Bussards wiffle ball reactor the US Navy swallowed?

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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