huntkc at gmail.com
Sat Feb 6 01:29:00 GMT 2016
On Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 1:59 PM, Damien Sullivan <phoenix at mindstalk.net>
> On Sat, Feb 06, 2016 at 12:39:07AM +1100, Gwynne Powell wrote:
> > Just wondering why they'd need so much farm land. Most of
> > the Nexus eats vat meat, so all you need is enough land for
> > a lot of big industrial plants for vats, and hydroponics.
For a lot of things, you need to chase the economics around. We don't have
detailed economic studies of the societies of the Nexus (thankfully!), so
we're limited in what we can say, but...
On Kline station, the vats don't work from just anything - they are fed
newt meat (and the flesh of other animals, such as chickens and beef) and
convert the less-desirable protein into something more palatable. Human
flesh goes to feeding plants instead of vat critters because it feels too
much like cannibalism otherwise. I've seen hints that some vat systems
don't need the nice bases to grow their protein from, but from an economic
point of view, those have to be much more expensive to run. Complex protein
generation doesn't come for free.
They also feed 120 thousand people on Kline, not millions. I don't know how
much scaling up they imagine they might do in time, but I suspect the
station is operating near max utilization already. (Their energy/matter
budget has as input: not much from their cinder of a sun, plus whatever
they get from interstellar trade/taxation, plus whatever basic materials
that can be gotten from asteroids and comets. This has to become air, food,
shelter, temperature control, gravitics, patrols to keep out unwanted
critters, and much more besides. Their newt/algae system is supposed to be
operating at max efficiency already, so not much gain is going to be
Farmland has big advantages, such as room to spread out to grow more and
more crops with no need for maintaining kept-up rooms with light and
temperature and gravitic controls (all of that is supplied by the planet
and its sun for no extra effort). I'm all right with believing that the
starter farms for the planets are made up of gro-lights in a room
(especially with a hostile planet's ecosystem competing), but if you can
get farming working, it's got a lot of advantages.
> Vats need inputs. Hydroponics need sunlight or artificial light, also
> room to put them. You can stack plants and gro-lights, and space
> stations like Kline or quaddiespace probably do exactly that. But if
> you're on a planet, farming may still be cheaper.
> OTOH, as I've noted before, the Nexus, or SF colonization scenarios in
> general, require a very different demographic pattern to what we see
> today, with falling birth rates and general urbanization.
Indeed. I'm not sure what one gets in those scenarios.
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