Nuclear fusion has always been the dream of scientists as an ideal energy source, but has so far been elusive after many decades of work. However, two days ago, Lockheed Martin reported that it would have successful nuclear fusion available in a small-sized unit platform about ten years from now.
• Skunk Works Compact Fusion Site at Lockheed Martin
• Reuters Article on Scientific American: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough on Fusion Energy
• Forbes: Lockheed Martin Claims Fusion Breakthrough That Could Change World Forever
If this is true it will change the world as we know it. On the other hand, claims of fusion have always existed somewhere off in the distant future. Is this time any different? We don’t know, but it’s worth considering how it could change the world if this announcement becomes the real deal.
Here are twelve likelihood’s.
1. Desalinated water would become cheap. The deserts of the world could become the farm regions for the world – if located near the sea. Warm regions could grow food year-round. Water woes would be mostly forgotten about and more people could locate in climates which are desirable but currently restricted by water supply. California’s water woes would be gone. So would the Middle East’s.
2. This would be a totally disruptive technology. We would no longer need the grid and would instead have distributed power. Transportation would go fuel cell, electric, and hybrid. We’d have much less need for today’s fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas and could greatly reduce human induced CO2 emissions. We wouldn’t need wind generators, either. Some solar photovoltaic might still be useful. Buildings which are heated with natural gas could be heated with electricity instead. Air conditioning and refrigeration would become cheap.
3. There would be no need for biofuels. Ships would be powered with fusion units. There is speculation that we could have unlimited flight time for airplanes, too.
4. Regions which are currently being farmed could be returned to the wild.
5. Urbanization could continue with much greater confidence. Today’s ideas of city greenhouses and hydroponic growing centers would be far more feasible with cheap available water and energy, especially along the coastlines.
6. Farms would continue to industrialize, but in modern technical ways, as opposed to today’s political-corporate ways. Tractors and combines would be powered by fuel cells. Fusion could be the energy source for producing nitrogen fertilizer.
7. Most of the developing world could advance far more rapidly if fusion becomes available. Computers, robots and technology would continue to advance at an unprecedented pace. Medical advances and longevity advances would be included.
8. Leisure time for humans would become a greater reality. Some economists already believe that it will become necessary to pay people to “exist” because jobs are not available as we become more efficient, as we use more and more robots, and as computers and communications continue to eliminate jobs. We’d need even fewer people to produce food and basic goods. New models would be needed which would pay people to be artists and service workers and other types of meaningful contributors to society. Economies should do well if cheap energy is available reliably since expensive energy is akin to a tax on industrialized nations, though they’d need to adjust to this disruption.
9. Population would continue to grow and grow with fewer limits to growth. Would we finally have the political will to place a value on the natural world and on biodiversity? Would pollution become our greatest problem, then, or could fusion help us to get rid of pollution? Perhaps it could.
10. We wouldn’t need hydropower anymore, so rivers could be undammed.
11. Perhaps every region or nation could become food secure.
12. Increased globalization: The world would become even smaller. So might the Universe. There would be a greater chance for peace. So be it.
What DO YOU think would happen?
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin.