Astrophage, Can CO2 Save the World?
Everything started with Project Hail Mary, a science fiction novel written by Andy Wier and published in 2021. In this novel, the world is threatened by an organism called Astrophage, causing the sun to dim. The short-term solution humans have come up with is to increase carbon dioxide as much as possible. This would preserve the heat in the earth’s atmosphere for as long as possible.
Increasing the amount of carbon dioxide would inadvertently increase global warming, preventing the earth from freezing over. The argument might be made that this is the realm of science fiction and has nothing to do with reality. On the other hand, every good science fiction has one eye open to all truth and its possibilities.
The hidden truth in The Project Hail Mary is precisely this. The increased amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere can have some short-term benefits for the world from several aspects. It can positively affect the world of agriculture, commerce, finance, and even the general welfare of human beings.
It’s a well-known fact that plants feed on carbon dioxide and produce oxygen in the process. Therefore, it can be concluded that the more carbon dioxide there is, the better crops will grow. Genetic scientists can further optimize this process by engineer plants so that they would absorb more CO2.
Furthermore, global warming means longer warm seasons. The abundance of daytime and sunlight makes sure that crops would have enough time to ripen and be harvested. Natural selection of plants would also make sure that edible crops are more resilient to extreme heat.
Investment in agricultural technologies and genetic engineering of plant and animal species can be pretty lucrative during this period. Investors can make big money by advancing mass production of unilateral crops and overplanting the earth for as long as possible.
One of the solutions people in the world of Project Hail Mary think of is mass melting the ice in the arctic areas. Polar ice contains massive amounts of methane which is 30 times more potent in causing global warming than CO2. Melting the ice on the polar caps would ensure that the earth would stay warm for 10 to 15 years.
On the other hand, melting the ice in the north has quite a different benefit in the real world. Transportation and commerce companies can use the newly made passageways across the globe to move their shipments more efficiently. Currently, navigating frozen roads and waters is a serious challenge for shipping companies. With no ice to speak of, this problem is solved altogether.
This presents another investment opportunity for people. The process of making ships that move faster, regardless of the pollution and disturbance they cause, can be of great assistance to business people who want to transfer their consumer goods across the earth as fast as possible.
In the real world, the financial sector is the ninth contributor to global warming. The truth is that most of the loans the financial industry gives and most of the investments they make are spent in sectors that are intended to make the most money and cause the most carbon dioxide.
Therefore, it can be logically concluded that investments in the industry directly correlate with global warming. The more global warming there is, the more money investors and the financial sector can make.
Global warming generally means warmer summers and shorter winters. This could cause winter-caused deaths to decrease exponentially around the globe. The world will be submerged in one long summer in which you can work and play every day.
In the next ten to fifteen years, people can enjoy their pools full of freshwater, their drinks cold and fresh, and their lives as lively as a summer evening. Moreover, the reduction of deaths by cold and the general positive vibes of the warm summer makes people think more positively about global warming and reduce their efforts to control its effects, which in turn would cause the long summer to last even longer.
Thinking as a short-term investor, one can be thankful for the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere every day. However, whose job is it to think of the future generations? Our children and grandchildren, who would have to carry the burden of our irresponsibility, certainly would not be thankful to us and our ventures.
Even in the world of Project Hail Mary, what if the Hail Mary actually works and the world is saved from the evil threat of Astrophage? What then? How is humanity supposed to keep living on the earth they ruined on purpose? How can we look at the future in the eyes as they fight to survive every day? Maybe we should just keep praying that the solution wouldn’t work after all, that there won’t be a future generation to suffer at our hands. Maybe Astrophage would be our ultimate savior.