The Desert of the Dumb

I saw this on Radical Cartography and couldn’t resist reposting.

Partly this is interesting for the Matrix joke: the story goes that the Wachowskis had several not-entirely-stupid reasons why the machines of the movie would want to hold humans captive and exploit them, but the studio made them reject it for something more watered-down and “understandable” to audiences, which turned out to be quite possibly the stupidest reveal ever. (Then again, that summer kind of unfolded into a delicate manifold blossom of stupid sci-fi gimmicks, as a recent viewing of Deep Blue Sea in the dank depths of late-night basic cable reaffirmed for me.)

But it’s also interesting because of where solar would be most practical. Many of the regions with the highest insolation and greatest amount of vacant land are the desert regions that have seen economic boom and bust cycles and an industrial base based primarily on resource extraction, particularly oil. As oil production peaks and declines, these areas will face dramatic decline – which in some cases, such as the Persian Gulf states, could precipitate violent upheaval. With a substantial amount of investment in improved solar technologies as well as land on which to deploy them, these regions – also including places closer to home, like the Mojave – could see a clean and sustainable source of income.

(This was the gist of Scientific American’s “Solar Grand Plan” last year, a solar “Apollo project” that the Bureau of Land Management is only lately coming around to. Additionally, new advances are bringing down the cost of solar in the developing world, such as a Nepalese teenager’s recent innovations. Though, eww, hair.)

…Incidentally, in “The Second Renaissance” (one of the Animatrix shorts) the AI that ultimately conquers the planet started as a peaceful industrial power squatting on an unused patch of the Arabian peninsula, possibly in Saudi or the U.A.E., taking advantage of cheap land and abundant solar capacity. You’d think that an intelligent actor that started out strong with renewables would switch to wind and hydro rather than reinventing biomass energy in the most backwards way possible – and then having to make up for the net energy loss to this idiotic project with nuclear – but I guess that’s why I don’t work in Hollywood.

BTW, the aesthetics of their complex were pretty breathtaking. I’d recommend a viewing (particularly if it’s between this and Deep Blue Sea.)

*(Also, a brief apology for the lack of posts in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been working in the field and things have been ramping up; I should be back to semi-regular content on Monday.)


~ by J.D. Hammond on September 9, 2009.

One Response to “The Desert of the Dumb”

  1. […] These kinds of gestures can be amusing as part of a larger, more meaningfully self-aware aesthetic statement, but when it’s in the context of a society that doesn’t meaningfully acknowledge (or even allow much discussion of) its many, many costs to the world around it, it’s just borderline-insulting cutesy big-80s pomo. And that is srsly oldmeme in a city-state where the architecture is already entering some kind of Lulz Age, beyond self-parody. The unintentional irony goes even deeper when you realize that its neighboring emirate, Abu Dhabi, is actually starting to develop in a sustainable fashion, rushing headlong to capitalize on its immense solar potential. […]

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