Energy Blog: World of Tomorrow-2035: Terraforming and Colonizing Mars

In a Climate Changed World: Chapter 2 – By Andy Silber
September 11th, 2035
Space City, New Mexico

Orion_docked_to_Mars_Transfer_VehicleI take my last breath of REAL air. Sure, I’ll still be breathing nitrogen, oxygen and trace amounts of most everything else. Eventually it will be made by plants. Or we all die. But never again will I breathe “Earth air”. Never again to see an Earth sunrise or sunset or an ocean. I doubt I’ll even see a lake, but there is some hope for that.

I board the space plane to take us to our home for the next 6 months. The Martian Exploration Program (MEP) calls it the Orbital Transfer Vehicle, but everyone else calls it The Ark. But no animals, though later trips will be bringing eggs and maybe even live animals. Just humans for now, 2 by 2. Mating pairs. Chosen based on our skills, genetic makeup, diversity yada, yada, yada. Oh yeah, political connections and money don’t hurt. We’re supposed to be the best of the best, but many of the most impressive people in the training program just disappeared. One day they’re part of the program, the next they’re gone.

[see author’s note at end][read Chapter 1][Read Chapter 3]
It is amazing how quickly this all happened. When the northern bog fires started in 2027, we all realized how bad things were going to get. We cut CO2 emissions to near zero, but the atmospheric levels didn’t drop. If we put out the fires, then we’d get methane, which is worse, so we let them burn. But the more they burn, the warmer they get, the more the methane thaws and the more the world heats.

Then the jellyfish took over the oceans. Fish stocks collapsed. The GMO kelp and plankton has reversed the trend, so we’re not going to suffocate. The kelp is processed into something resembling chewy tofu called MariFu, which is only a slightly better name than what everyone calls it: Soylent Green. The pH levels in the ocean are slowly returning to normal and we are all hopeful that healthy oceans will return. But for now, the oceans have stopped absorbing CO2. That’s part of the reason atmospheric levels aren’t dropping.NA with ice melted

Ever since humans finished colonizing Earth we have dreamt of moving to Mars. Venus is too hot, the Moon too small, but Mars, there’s hope there. We just have to terraform it: create an atmosphere we can breathe, or at least walk around in short sleeves. The CO2 that has caused such wreckage on Earth would be perfect for the job. Too bad we can’t just carry half of our atmospheric CO2 and methane with us.

Then someone had a brilliant idea. We were already mining asteroids for precious metals; how about water, a powerful greenhouse gas, for Mars. We might get some methane as well. A robot fleet was sent out to the asteroid belt to nudge icy planetoids onto a collision course with the Red planet. Three have already struck and two more should hit before we land. The humidity in the air has increased from near zero to that of Antarctica in the winter, the lowest found on Earth. By the time we arrive, it should be close to Katmandu in the winter. Still no oxygen, but warmer nights and more comfortable “space suits”. From this point on, the meteors will all strike on the unpopulated side of the planet. Some day we might want to mine the minerals from them, but for now we’re just happy to have the water.

Our settlement is named Ylla, though some of the geekier among us call it Terminus. They’ll be 500 of us living in temporary structures while we dig a more permanent home. That’s what I’ll be working on. I think troglodytes might be a better name for us than astronauts. The Martian rock will protect us from the cold and radiation. Since Mars has no magnetic field and a thinner atmosphere than Earth, the surface gets much more particle radiation from the Sun than Earth.

There is lab equipment, shelter, food, water and fusion reactors there already. Solar power isn’t great on Mars since the solar irradiance is one-quarter of Earth’s. We’re bringing enough fuel for 30 years with us. By then we should figure out how to get more locally.

TerraformedMarsGlobeRealisticOur underground village will have greenhouses for air and food and to treat our sewage, research labs, bedrooms, communal kitchens, and a medical clinic. It will also have a nursery. No kids for now, but once our warren is complete, we’re expected to breed.

I’m not sure how I feel about raising kids in a cave, but I know I don’t want to do it here. Over the last 10 years people have been moving to higher ground. Refuges are everywhere. Some places are pretty horrible, like the mountains between Bangladesh and India or Egypt. The most interesting are the 2nd wave Afrikaans, refuges from The Netherlands welcomed to South Africa by the black government: one side gets capital and highly educated workers; the other a home above sea level. Since the US has large amounts of land above sea level, we’re doing OK, but the maps look funny with Florida missing. The food system is highly stressed. The North American breadbasket has moved north, the Sahara desert has expanded south. Scotland is an up and coming wine region, though the melt from Greenland is weakening the Gulf Stream and that is likely to reverse to warming trend in Europe.

Once our village is complete, we start working on the home for the next wave. The plan is 500 more colonists every year, until…who knows. An interesting thing we’re bringing is a constitution. For the first five years we’ll be run like a forward operating military base with command being MEP headquarters in Lima. For the following five years we transition to self-rule and a Parliamentary system with a preferential voting system. It’s assumed that at some point we’ll have to be totally self-sufficient, no one knows when.

A critical mission is figuring out something, probably a GMO algae, that can live on Mars and make oxygen. That’s where my wife, the biologist, comes in. She was part of the team that worked on the GMO plankton. I know she’s why we’re on this ship. The hope is they can create one that can spread across the globe and form the basis of an ecosystem. Then they’ll focus on something that can eat the algae plus other plants. I’m hoping we quickly get to a grass or something a cow can eat, because I’m not wild about the idea of being a vegetarian for the rest of my life.Blue-green_algae_cultured_in_specific_media
Dam safety briefing. You’d think after 18 months in the training program we could skip the safety briefing. Has anyone in a space plane every used their seat as a floatation device. We’re taking off from New Mexico and headed east. By the time we’ve over a body of water bigger than a pool, we’ll be10 miles up and moving at Mach 3. Time to buckle up and head to our new home.

I’m trying something different than my previous blog posts here. Rather than describing current technologies or policy questions or what I think we should do, here I’m delving into speculative fiction: what do I think might be in store for us if we continue on our current path. This is definitely not a best case scenario, but I don’t believe it’s the worst case either. On a scale of 1 (your grandchildren are going to live in a world that resembles “The Road” ) and 10 (Technology will save the day and it’s not too late), I’d probably give this a … now that would be a spoiler. 

I’m writing this in installments in the spirit of Dickens and Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. Unlike them, I’m not a great writer, so I don’t expect to win a Nobel, Pulitzer, Hugo or a Newbery. But maybe this will be made into a mini-series on SyFy. Also, for fans of classic science fiction, I’ve thrown in some references or out-right theft. 

I hope you enjoy the first piece of fiction that I’ve written that wasn’t assigned in school. – Andy Silber

1st Phase of Westwood, Sunrise Heights Roadside Rain Garden Nearly Complete

raingarden mapKing County Wastewater Division  announces that their 2014 Roadside Rain Garden construction program in Sunrise Heights and Westwood is nearly complete. Construction  will begin begin on two new streets in late June.

King County’s work to build roadside rain gardens on seven streets in Sunrise Heights and Westwood is will finish ahead of schedule. The deep wells on the 15 streets planned to have roadside rain gardens are also complete.

To finish the project more quickly, crews will start work on two blocks scheduled for construction in 2015 (see red circles on map) later this month. Working ahead of schedule will return 34th Avenue SW to traffic this fall and reduce what is left to be done next year.

King County will continue to work closely with neighbors affected by the project in advance of any new work.

What’s left to do this year?

  • Finish roadside rain gardens on 31st Ave. SW between SW Othello St. and SW Elmgrove St.
  • Construct roadside rain gardens on SW Kenyon St. between 34th Ave. SW and 32nd Ave SW.
  • Remove all the bright yellow bollards protecting the deep wells (to be completed by the end of June).
  • Relocate utilities and construct roadside rain gardens on 34th Ave. SW between SW Thistle St. and SW Trenton St. (begins in late June).
  • Protect all of this year’s roadside rain gardens with orange fencing while plants grow for two months.
  • Possibly move all the water and sewer lines on remaining 2015 streets later this summer.
  • After plants are established, crews will test the rain gardens to make sure they work. Then they will be open for business!
  • Monitor and maintain roadside rain gardens into the future

For more information, contact Kristine Cramer at King C0unty Wasterwater at 206-477-5415, or

cell 206-255-7089, or email at, or check out their website


Help Map Polluted Surface Runoff Problems Using Instagram

Waterspotter tagThe Washington Environmental Council and Resource Media have created a new social media project around mapping polluted runoff problems: #WaterSpotter!

The goal is to solicit photo contributions from community members to document and map polluted runoff problems such as

  • Street flooding;
  • Pooling of water;
  • Sheeting of water;
  • Oil sheens on pavement; and
  • Clogged storm drains throughout Puget Sound.

It’s as easy as taking a picture and sharing it using InstagramHere’s how it works:

  1. Spot runoff (water in a puddle, overflowing drains, water with an oil sheen);
  2. Photograph it with Instagram;
  3. Hashtag your photo with #waterspotter and then drive folks to #waterspotter via Facebook and Twitter.

The website, ( has more info including a Frequently Asked Questions page to learn how to use Instagram to locate and hashtag your photos

Take photos today and Instagram to #waterspotter, the photos can be of runoff or of any stormwater solutions you see in buildings. 

The goal is to solicit photo contributions from community members to document and map polluted runoff problems: street flooding, pooling, sheeting, oil sheens, and clogged storm drains throughout Puget Sound. Upload to Instagram with the hashtag #waterspotter and your photo will appear in the digital swamp of water behaving badly.

Their website, ( has more info, sample photos and a section dedicated to Solutions to Pollution, notice the 12,000 rain garden challenge.  They are also developing a Google map program to start mapping the photos!

For more information, contact WEC Puget Sound Advocacy Manager Rein Attemann by phone at 206-631-2625, or cell 206-334-6472, or email

Re-discover Seattle’s Trail System on National Trails Day, Help Restore

seattle trails dayRe-discover Seattle’ trail system on National Trails Day, June 7.

The first Saturday in June is traditionally an excellent weather day in Seattle and a perfect time to discover, celebrate, and learn about trails in the city as part of National Trails Day.  This year, Seattle Parks and Recreation, together with community partners such as the Student Conservation Association, are coming together to raise awareness around trails and to restore and maintain them.

“National Trails Day is a time for Seattle to celebrate and enjoy their trails by engaging the public in not only the recreation side of trails, but also restoration,” said Parks Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams. “With more than 100 miles of trail in the city, there is always some place for you to explore. Our trails are enjoyed by all for everything from forest restoration, transportation short-cuts between neighborhoods, and plain old walks in the park.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation will celebrate National Trails Day with restoration projects at the following parks on Saturday, June 7th:

Parks is also encouraging Seattleite’s to get out in the parks and explore the trails in their neighborhood park and tell others by using the hashtag:  #SEATRAILS on Twitter.



KC Waste Division Produces Eco-Videos Featuring Seattle-area Icons

KC ecoconsumerKing County Solid Waste Division has a new program for eco-awareness.

What happens when you ask local celebrities to film their own videos about how to protect the environment? Tom Watson, the EcoConsumer, decided to find out.

The results – featuring well-known Puget Sound icons from award-winning chefs to sports stars to musicians – are a quirky, funny, heartwarming display of how small steps to care for the planet can have an impact on all of us.

See both videos, Why Do You Care About the Environment and Our Climate: One Goal, Many Solutions, at

Here’s some quick links (twitter friendly)

  • We’ve only got one Earth, so take a couple minutes to think about why you care –
  • King County asked a few well-known residents what they do in their everyday lives for the environment. Check it out, you’ll be surprised by how many different actions you can take –

Help Kick Off Volunteer Weekend: May Day in Garden, DIY Bike Repair in High Gear

Get ready for a long and prosperous growing season. Start by building your soil. This week at COWS, (Community Orchard of West Seattle) we will be showing how to build rich and lasting soil beds using the lasagna garden method. The lasagna garden method is a layered approach to soil building using stuff you already have. This May Day edition of our usual Thursday Health and Harvest starts at 5:00 pm with the soil building class between 5 and 6:00 pm. 
The Community Orchard of West Seattle is located at the north end of the South Seattle College campus, 6000 16th Ave. S.W.  For more information, contact Stu at, or visit the website  at

And, to continue through the weekend, DIY Bikes will be starting their non profit repair facility at the West Seattle Tool Library this Sunday May 4th from noon to 4:00 pm. This schedule will continue each Sunday through out the summer months.

DIY Bikes continues to teach anyone how to keep their bicycles running smooth and safe by using hands-on repair sessions. The tools, materials, facility and knowledge are all free. Major parts replacement for a particular bike may have a necessary pricing element,  and, as always donations are accepted.

Learn-Fix-Ride. See more at

DIY Bikes also will be doing bike repair and bike repair teaching at Alki Summer Streets, May 18th.

Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Hosting Special Sustainable Practice Walks

Rain2RiverExperience your neighborhood on foot while discovering how you can make it a better place. The event is called Rain2River and there are two dates when you can participate:

  • April 27, Sunday – Rain2River Walk South Park
    • 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
    • Duwamish Waterway Park, 7900 10th Ave. S, South Park
    • RSVP by clicking here, participation is free
  • May 4, Sunday – Rain2River Walk West Seattle
    • 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
    • Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, West Seattle
    • RSVP by clicking here, participation is free

The event consists of two different parts: a walk and a boat tour. The focus of the walk will be to learn about grey and green infrastructure, sustainable practices, polluted runoff (stormwater), easy solutions to keep contamination from reaching our rivers and Puget Sound, and what’s being currently being done by local neighbors/organizations to prevent this from happening. In addition to informing and educating, the program will also be providing tangible, realistic solutions to this problem.

Everyone who attends the walk also gets to go on a two-hour boat tour on the Duwamish River on a later date roughly two to three weeks afterwards.

For more information contact Anna Mines, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group, by email at, or by phone at 206-427 1475.

Seattle Parks Month-Long Earth Day Celebration: Help Clean, Restore and Improve City Parks – Pick A Park, Sign Up

EarthDayEverydayCelebrate Earth Month with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Seattle Parks and Recreation, works toward improving the quality of life for Seattle residents every day. Because open spaces and greenspaces provide tremendous educational and recreational opportunities, it is vital to maintain them.

For example, our own Camp Long spent 2013 training the next generation of environmental stewards, helping 2,500 participants enhance their teamwork and leadership skills at the ropes challenge course, training 32 teens and 36 adults to teach outdoor experiential learning and hosting 22 immigrant families for a camping immersion weekend.

Parks and Recreation is choosing to celebrate not just April 22 as Earth Day, but all of April as Earth Month. Join Seattle Parks and Recreation in giving back to our parks and helping sustain and celebrate the City’s outdoor classrooms. Events kick off this Friday, April 4.

  • April 4: Remember the Earth at Ravenna Park, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon
    • Celebrate Earth Month by removing invasive plants at Ravenna Park with EarthCorps. Tools, gloves, light refreshments and education about local ecology provided. Register by April 1 at
  • April 5 and April 19: Earth Month at Seward Park, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon
    • Bring your family and friends to celebrate Earth Month at Seward Park and restore shoreline habitat with Friends of the Cedar River Watershed through the Green Seattle Partnership! For details, call Amy Kaeser at 206-297-8141.
  • April 5 and April 25: Earth Month at Camp Long, 10 am to 2:00 pm
  • April 6: Celebrate the Earth at Little Brook Natural Area, 10 am to 1:00 pm
  • April 12: Celebrate the Earth at Kingfisher Natural Area, 10 am to 1:00 pm
  • April 16: Specialized Programs Starlight Social at Miller Community Center, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
    • This is a fun weekly social program for special needs individuals 18 years and older at Miller Community Center. The theme for April 16 is Earth Day Cleanup and Craft. To register, call Specialized Programs at 206-684-4950.
  • April 17: Plant Exchange at Miller Community Center, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
    • Celebrate springtime in Seattle with fellow gardeners at Miller Community Center. Share plants, seeds, tools, supplies, yard art and knowledge. Everyone is welcome, especially new gardeners. You don’t need to bring anything, but recyclable containers will help carry away your treasures. For details, call the community center at 206-684-4753.
  • April 19: Earth Gay 2014 at Cheasty Greenspace, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm
  • April 19: Earth Day Celebration at Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
  • April 19: Earth Day Service Project at Seward Park, 10:00 to 2:00 pm
  • April 19: Beach Cleanup at Discovery Park and Lincoln Park, 10:00 am to 12:30 pm
    • Celebrate the Earth by making a difference in the health of Puget Sound. Puget Sound beaches get trashed (literally) during the winter months and need cleaning. All needed supplies and safety instructions provided. All children must be accompanied by an adult. To register, call the Discovery Park Visitors Center at 206-386-4236.
  • April 19Are You Bloomin’ Mad? at Discovery Park,  1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
    • Celebrate the Earth by learning about Pacific Northwest forests at Discovery Park. Enjoy the beauty and wonder of spring wildflowers and learn some of the local plants that make our habitats healthy. This program designed for ages 5 and older. All children must be accompanied by an adult. To register, call the Discovery Park Visitors Center at 206-386-4236.
  • April 21 through 27: Earth Week with Friends of the Burke-Gilman, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
    • Celebrate Earth Week on the Burke-Gilman Trail digging out blackberries with your neighbors. For details, email Jim Corson at
  • April 22: Earth Day Service Project for Youth at Rainier Beach Community Center
    • Join Rainier Beach Community Center in giving back. All youth ages 12-17 are encouraged to attend. This project may qualify for school service learning hours. For details, call the community center at 206-386-1925.
  • April 26: Earth Month at Westcrest Park, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
  • April 26: 34th Annual Carkeek Park Earth Day, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
    • Looking for ways to get involved at your favorite park? Visit Carkeek Park to learn about short-term and long-term opportunities to keep the area thriving. For more information, call Bill Malatinsky at 206-684-5999 or email

For more work party events, please visit

2014 GreenLife Application Now Available

GreenLife RegistrationSustainable West Seattle and the West Seattle Junction Association are pleased to announce that the application for the 2014 GreenLife section of West Seattle Summer Fest is now available online:

The mission of GreenLife is to to raise awareness and equip our community with tools, knowledge and capabilities to create a more sustainable West Seattle. We are looking for local businesses to showcase merchandise, products and services related to these goals.

Organizations, including many local non-profits, contributing to this Expo will provide information, demonstrations and products in these areas:

  • Home gardens – grow your own food, capture your rain water
  • Composting – how to do it in your kitchen or yard
  • Permaculture – what is it and how your garden can be sustainable
  • Bee keeping and honey – how to raise a hive and harvest the honey
  • Backyard chickens – learn how to raise and keep them
  • Community fruit harvesting – learn how you can help the Food Banks
  • Puget Sound and local streams – learn how you can help clean them up

The application requires a $20 application fee. The tabling cost is $250 for commercial vendors and $75 for non-profit vendors. The application deadline is April 15th, but we usually fill up prior to this date so get your application in early.

Please contact Christina Hahs at or 360-269-0332 with questions.

Seattle Public Library Featuring Edible Garden Classes @ Variety of Library Sites

SPL Edible Garden logoJoin the Seattle Public Library in April and May for classes in gardening, composting, beekeeping and urban gardens. The Edible Garden Series includes events and presentations for all ages on edible gardening, food advocacy, and sustainability at locations around the city.

The first several classes are listed below, click here for the complete schedule of classes.

Edible Garden Series Kickoff

  • Saturday, April 5, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center
    • 440 Fifth Ave. N.
  • Get your gardening and food questions answered! Help kick off the Library’s Edible Garden Series at the Gates Foundation’s “Food for Good” event.

Choosing the Right Home Composting System for You

  • Saturday, April 5, 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
  • Beacon Hill Branch
  • Want to compost food and yard waste at home but don’t know where to start? Let the experts at Seattle Tilth help you get started

Composting for Apartment Dwellers

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
  • Central Library
  • Have limited space, but want to recycle your food scraps into rich compost? Come see how easy it is to get started composting in your apartment or condo.

Update on Friends of Seattle Public Library Used Book Sale:

Since 1997 Friends of The Seattle Public Library Book Sale operations has been located at Warren G. Magnuson Park. In late 2012, their book sale operations needed to move out of Building 30 at Magnuson Park so that structural renovations could be made to the building. They’ve since relocated to 2015 9th Ave., Seattle – the floor above the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library on the corner of 9th Ave. & Lenora St.

As you can imagine, moving materials and setting up for a sale is a bit more challenging now that they’re not located in the same building as the hangar. In 2013, Friends of Seattle Public Library held two small sales at the North Seattle Community College in the spring and went back to Magnuson Park in September to put on their Big Fall Book Sale.

This year, they will continue to have their Big Fall Book Sale at Magnuson Park, and a one-day holiday sale at North Seattle Community College, with a goal of going back to a Spring and Fall Sale at Magnuson Park in 2015. There will be no spring sale this year. If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, feel free to contact Alice Springer, Book Sale and Administrative Director, at