Hail Mary Project

I read the “Project Hail Mary: A Novel” by Andy Weir yesterday.

Compared to the previous books “The Martian” and “Artemis” by the same author, the plot is far away from reality. The basic idea is an “astrophage” life form that eats up the sun and other stars in the vicinity. That does not make any sense.

It is still a fun to read book, which is what the author most wants to achieve when writing.

And it contains some interesting ideas about climate change.

One is the part where they plaster one fourth of the Sahara with energy collecting devices to farm the energy needed for interstellar space travel. I recall being interested in this kind of thing. Energy from the desert, at really large scale.

The other is that in the world of this novel, humanity needs all the global warming it can get to delay the cooling induced by the astrophages until the interstellar space expedition yields some results. So they proceed to nuke the Antarctic ice to release methane stored there.

The project is called “Hail Mary” for its low probability of success.

I believe that in the present state of global warming, humanity needs some kind of “Hail Mary” project as well. Not as impossible as making it to another star, but certainly some kind of high risk high return thing.

The author talks in a recent interview about global warming and identifies the lack of a world government as one of the reasons it is difficult to solve. I share that belief. It would be much easier if the world had for example one currency as a basis to build a solution on. And the solution must look something like Internet governance, which also needs to work without a world government.

He also seems to think that there is no zero emissions technology available that is cheaper as fossil fuel.

Having studied that issue a bit, I disagree. Renewable energy has passed the cost of fossil fuel already years ago. Now it is just a question of how long it takes to transition everything to the new way of business.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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