New Era Initiatives

New Era Initiatives by David Macfie

Jamie hurried back to the team to bring them the good news of the acceptance of the ideas they had christened the “New Era Initiatives.” The team fitted a planning session, into each day, to discuss and formalize the activities, skills and other resources they would need to implement the initiatives. Meanwhile, work on the Ring project continued apace.

Given the Matriarch’s imperative that project should be completed first, Jenny spent most of her time thinking about the weather control issues and researching as much as she could find on that issue. The committee helped by seconding all their weather specialists to the project until the problems had been solved. Initially, they focused on three major factors, which all caused or influenced wind and its effect on the weather.

First, topography was already being altered through the ridge project and input to the shapes and sizes of the individual mountains in the chain was given on an ongoing basis. These variations affected wind direction in conjunction with pressure influences like the time of day and its effect on differential heating, pressure and air-parcel weights. Input was also provided to the other landmasses, which tweaked their landscaping projects accordingly.

Second, there was already a Coriolis effect caused by the rotation of the planet, but Jenny’s team members were looking at possible modification and improvement of this if the axial tilt problem could be solved.

Third, the team knew that a prime driver of wind direction is atmospheric pressure variation caused by factors like hot air rising as a result of solar heating leading to low pressure areas. Cooled descending air conversely creates areas of high pressure and wind direction moves from high to low pressure. Similarly, during the day land surfaces absorb heat more rapidly than water surfaces and heat the air above causing it to rise, creating low pressure areas. Higher pressure over the cooler water then creates the ‘sea breeze’ wind effect moving inland from the higher-pressure water area to the lower pressure land area. During the night, water holds heat longer than land causing land breezes to blow from land to water.

The team were working on ways to modify and harness all these factors so that they could control winds over the ring continents and hence influence the weather there.

At the same time they were acutely aware that the ultimate success factor in the rehabilitation of the deserts of the ring, was the availability of water to provide the prime ingredient of rain. As a result, they kept a keen eye on the progress of the ridge project and all the teams building lakes, dams and rivers over the whole ring continent. Frequently they were called into meetings to discuss the shapes and inside contours of the waterways, because they affected the ease and amount of evaporation.

Building the ridge centered almost entirely along the midline of the continent from north to south was a very shrewd idea from a weather point of view. The height of the ridge countered the tendency for desert conditions because the elevation cooled air that previously was equatorial in temperature. This contributed to an overall cooling of the whole continent. The canals also helped with this cooling.

Finally, the weather team had input to the project that Robert and Laura were responsible for. To provide yet another weather modifying environment, they recommended that the lower reaches of the mountain chain should be planted with rainforest vegetation. The cooling effects of elevation balancing the heating effects of the equatorial position delivered the hot and wet climate that was ideal for such vegetation. In turn, the vegetation would increase the amount of water vapor rising into the atmosphere, and would also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, a real benefit for the health of the planet.

The only factor that the team had no control over, which was crucial to the final weather management requirement, was the axial tilt of the planet. No feedback had yet been received on this issue.

All this activity had Jenny severely distracted So, Jamie kept himself busy by visiting each settlement on Androm and talking to the human populations about the idea of attracting more people to settle on Androm and possibly on Taurus as well. The idea was excitedly received by those who shared the thoughts that Earth was overcrowded and poorly managed by politicians. These were significantly in the majority. Jamie asked each of them to prepare lists of people to approach as future immigrants.

He also spent time with those who didn’t like the idea. He asked many questions about why they disagreed and probed into their deepest feelings about being on Androm. In the end, he’d divided the humans into two groups. The first being those who loved it on the new planet and were enthusiastic about more human settlers. They were keen to get involved, fully, in the drive to achieve that goal. The second group finally boiled down into those who wanted to return to Earth. Out of the three and a half thousand, who finally arrived on Androm, only one hundred and fifty were in the second group. Jamie promised these people would be taken back by the first ships that went to bring new settlers. With this concession the detractors began to work with Jamie, providing input on all the things they thought would improve the planet in many specific areas. Gradually, Jamie put together a plan for the drive for new settlers. He presented it to the commander, who forwarded it to the Matriarch’s committee for consideration. The plan was approved, and Jamie asked all the humans to start contacting the people on their lists.

Jamie’s other main task was to establish the team that would address the problem of stabilizing Taurus and making it suitable for habitation again. It started small, with a specialist group of scientists, some Taurians, who had been involved in the problems for some time, together with relevant humans drawn from the new immigrant population. The first thing they initiated was the systematic removal of the Taurian wildlife and domestic birds and animals still alive on the planet. After that had been completed, they began a systematic analysis of all the information that had been collected on all aspects of the Taurian crisis.

Meanwhile, Rob and Laura had established botanical nurseries close to each major settlement. They had formed small teams of specialists, drawn from the local populations, who were gradually collecting specimens, cuttings and seeds of all the plant types identified in the overall landscaping blueprint for the ring. These were sourced from existing landmasses on Androm as well as from Taurus, where teams of courageous people braved the unstable environment to save enough of every botanical species to replicate the biodiversity when the situation was under control again. Each nursery had a target for the quantities of each type they had to reach by the time the ring was ready for mass planting. At the same time all the conservation areas had been delineated and fenced to provide protected areas for the current inhabitants of the ring. The conservation plan was to restock the ring with appropriate animals, birds, reptiles and insects once the landscaping and weather management projects had created new biomes, where there had only been desert before. Included in the brief was the goal to restore Taurus to its optimum condition if the planet was brought back to normality again.

Six months after the approval, in principle, of the New Era Initiatives, a breakthrough was achieved by the Taurian scientists, who had been working on the idea of creating a moon for Androm. They identified a small planet that was at the far reaches of their own solar system. It fitted the analysis of Earth’s planet-moon configuration in terms of relative size and shape. It was barren and not affecting nearby celestial bodies with its gravitational pull. The scientists decided it was ideal for their purpose and worked out how many of their star ships would be needed to tow it into the required orbit round Androm, get it moving and set it loose. The required number of ships were allocated, and the scientists were told to get on with it. The mission began immediately with an expected duration of three months.

Another group were busy with the axial tilt problem. They had studied Earth’s situation and researched on the internet, much as they had done when studying earth in the first place. They found the theory that the tilt had been caused by a collision between earth and another celestial body about the size of Mars. The debris from the impact coalesced to form the moon. Once the tilt was established, there was no force around to change it back, so it settled into its tilted configuration, which was stabilized by the gravitational fields of the sun, moon and other nearby planets.

Working with this clue, the group did some serious calculations involving Androm, Taurus, the sun and the new moon. They worked out that, by slightly changing the proposed orbit of the new moon, they could replicate the necessary stabilization. The problem was that they couldn’t hit Androm with another planet to create the tilt. It took a while, but eventually the penny dropped. If they could tow the new moon from its old orbit to a completely new one much closer to the sun than before, then they should be able to use star ships to cause the tilt.

In great excitement, they began to build a series of mathematical models, refining as they went. Finally, they reached an approach that would theoretically work. It involved two fleets of twelve ships each, on opposite sides on Androm and aligned in the plane of the required direction of tilt. The ships on one side were to pull the planet ‘down’ while the ships on the other side pulled it up ‘up’. The combined actions would then rotate the planet in the direction of the required tilt. The process would be monitored and measured until the required angle of tilt was achieved. This process would only be followed once the new moon was in place. Minor adjustments would then be engineered until stability was achieved. The obvious questions were voiced by the commander.

“How will you alter the tilt of the planet, without messing up everything we’ve achieved there already? I imagine that rotating Androm in that way, would cause much perturbation on the planet’s surface. And the problem isn’t as simple as two-dimensional, because Androm is rotating about the axis you’re trying to tilt. How will you combine that into your calculations?”

These questions caused much anxiety among the scientists, who said nothing and scurried back to their models. They had neglected the potential for surface damage in their calculations and were embarrassed to admit it. However, after only a week, they came back with revised models, which considered the rotation of Androm and answered the damage question. The new models required some very precise maneuvering of the ships and very slow rotation of the planet into the tilted position. With all the robotics aboard the star ships, this didn’t present a problem. All the calculations and the models were checked and rechecked by other scientists, who pronounced them accurate. It was decided that the same ships that towed the moon would be utilized for the tilting since the two actions had to be done in that order anyway.

All this information was fed back to the weather team who factored the new intelligence into their plans and confirmed that they would be able to manage the weather as a result. The final problems had been solved.

Now all aspects of the Androm project were in progress, the new settlement initiative was building lists of committed new settlers and the Taurus reclamation project was in the initial stages of analysis and problem solving. Everyone was busy including all the people who were involved in extending the settlements to cater for an influx of immigrants.

The original vision was taking shape.