In my recent essay Mind and Organization, I stated that:
My hope is that all of the knowledge of our age can be preserved for future generations. Knowing what is coming upon us, I have proposed, for example; placing microwave reflectors (ultra-thin wire mesh, basically) in geosynchronous orbit and using ground based microwave technology to distribute renewably-produced energy around the world as needed. This is existent technology. This setup would also provide for a global internet to continue to exist and link all of humanity into a densely-interconnected whole. Its backbone would be sun powered and 23,400 miles above Earth's equator. Once established it could easily function for a thousand years without maintenance while humanity sorted out its affairs below. Everyone would benefit from, and be dependent upon, the global sharing of energy and information that this would make possible. Shrinking away from technology at this point would be foolish in the utmost extreme!
I have had several inquiries from readers as to how this would actually work. So to more fully address these questions, I have adapted a section on this topic from my book The Path Through Infinity's Rainbow.
There is technology presently available that could safely provide a world-spanning power-sharing network that could make the ultimate difference between total collapse into an unending Dark Age, or survival with an open ended future for human society during the coming years of global crisis and chaos as we reap the consequences of our indifference to climate change and energy resource depletion (peak oil). It would allow for the most efficient usage of renewably generated electrical energy by efficiently transmitting surpluses in one region (such as wind power generated on the night side of the planet) to peak energy demands in another (such as high-demand usage on the day side of the planet).
This energy-sharing system would link together globally distant communities into an integral whole. It would facilitate the emergence of deep group core values of sharing and understanding that all individuals are parts of their communities, which in their turn are parts of a greater, global whole. Because the energy would come from the Earth's natural systems, a civilization with moderate energy requirements would be inherently attuned to and in harmony with those natural systems-and with nature itself. Furthermore, a global network of separate, distinct, societies would be knitted together into an integral global system founded upon sharing and caring-not just because it is a good thing to do, but because it facilitates survival itself. For these communities, life itself depends upon sharing.
Adapting to the mounting energy and environmental crises will facilitate rapid memetic evolution in these communities. Sharing, caring, and understanding that one is a part of a nested system of systems will emerge as survival values.
The single most difficult challenge for any energy production and distribution network is storage. There is no effective way to store large amounts of power. Additionally, the greatest disadvantage of solar and wind power systems is that they cannot operate continuously-the sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. Further, power consumption is greatest during the day and minimal during the post-midnight hours. Seasons also affect these power sources considerably.
Global distribution of renewable power addresses all of these problems. Power would not need to be stored, at least not in great quantities. Wind power from the night side of the world can be sent to the day side where it is most needed. Excess solar power gathered in the summer hemisphere can be sent to augment the weaker intake in the winter hemisphere. Wind power from areas where the wind is blowing can pick up the slack for those that are becalmed.
Additionally, by facilitating Internet communications between numerous cooperative communities scattered across the planet, this world-spanning network would allow for rapid information sharing. No one would have to reinvent the wheel. Once a common problem was solved anywhere, it would be solved everywhere and for everyone. A new culture-a new global civilization-founded upon an intuitive understanding of systems theory and cooperation would emerge. Certainly, the chances of survival for these interlinked communities would be much enhanced, as would quality of life for all.
And this greatly enhanced probability of survival just might allow for enough of the very best of our old civilization-its science, art, philosophy, history, and so forth-to survive. It would provide historical and technological continuity with the crisis-evolved, wiser, and more humane successor civilization that might emerge from the global crises of the coming years, decades and centuries. And that new civilization may someday be able to bootstrap itself into the solar system again.
All of the technological obstacles to this kind of project were resolved during the 1970s and 1980s.[151, 152, 153] The near future's significantly lowered cost per pound for access to space may make it feasible in both economic and EROEI terms for large microwave reflectors to be strategically deployed in geosynchronous orbit. These reflectors could allow for renewable power facilities to be built in remote places-wind farms in the Australian Outback or Patagonia, for example, where wind blows strongly and often continuously, but where there are very few people.
The power generated would be beamed up to an orbiting microwave reflector and then beamed back down to an array on Earth called a "rectenna" (rectifying antenna) that is located near a populated area that is experiencing peak daytime power demand. The reflectors would facilitate energy sharing between geographically distant human communities.
An even more ambitious power agenda would involve capturing sunlight directly in space (where, of course, the sun never sets) using very large but lightweight satellites located in geosynchronous orbit. Construction and materials costs could be massively reduced by essentially catapulting raw materials for construction from the surface of the moon where these materials would be mined, as was first proposed in the 1970s by the late Princeton University physics professor Gerard K. O'Neil in his book The High Frontier.
Although such an extremely ambitious project may not be feasible in our energy constrained near future; I believe that there does remain sufficient time to develop and deploy a network of microwave reflectors in geosynchronous orbit that will allow for renewable energy generated on Earth to be efficiently distributed around the world.
These reflectors are basically just strategically positioned wire mesh. The reflector produces its own operating power with solar panels. Yet, simple as it is, a network of these microwave reflectors could allow for efficient sharing and distribution of renewably produced energy throughout a network of cooperating communities located across the entire planet.
This is not to say that the technological challenges are not significant-they are. Nothing so large has been put into orbit before. The reflective antennas could be as large as one kilometer (nearly two-thirds of a mile) in diameter. However, they would be extremely thin, and so they would weigh only several tens of tons each. The design would allow for an entire antenna to be launched by a heavy-lift cargo rocket folded in one piece and to subsequently unfolded to its full size in space. Only about a dozen reflectors would be required. Thus, with a dozen launches the entire system would be in place.