Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pentagon and Solar Power Satellites

The Pentagon, it seems, is interested in promoting a project to collect energy in space and beam it down to earth. ( Space Based Solar Power Fuels Vision of Global Energy Security )

The reason . . .

The Pentagon is anticipating two sources of violent conflict over the next 50 years; energy and water. If the United States can do something that will provide the people of the world with cheep energy, then there will be less of a need to fight wars over the energy. The Pentagon is investigating the idea that satellites in space that collect energy directly from the sun and beam it down to Earth will prevent war.

Over at my other blog, Atheist Ethicist, I have been talking about free rider problems. These are cases where people do not contribute what they should to a 'public good' because the benefits do not go directly into the investor's bank account. Instead, they are distributed among a wide population.

Investing in preventing future wars is an example of a public good. The people who will benefit from not having a future war will benefit whether they invest or not. So, everybody has an incentive to do nothing themselves, while waiting for somebody else to take the first step. So, nothing gets done, and everybody suffers as a result.

It will be interesting to see if this particular public good will get the public support it deserves.

1 comment:

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