Sunday, May 16, 2010

World Belt

A world-building megabelt
This is the third draft of a proposal for an intercontinental mega-Project, part of the section on infrastructure in People Without Borders.

The World Belt

By John Taylor; 2010 May 16, Jamal 18, 167 BE

Precis: My proposal for the World Belt, a world encircling belt of buildings, transport and power lines joining the continents. This combined power line, hillside building project and rapid tube transit artery would pay for itself by energy collection. It would promote travel and mitigate the suffering of climate disruption.

Ambitious railway construction projects formed the modern nation as we know it. Historical accounts are both thrilling and popular, such as Stephen Ambrose's "Nothing Like it in the World," which tells the story of the first transcontinental railroad across North America in the 1860's. Similarly, Pierre Burton's "The Last Spike" describes the great railway whose construction in the 1880's both built and defined the new Canadian nation. Today China is engaging in perhaps the most prodigious infrastructural project in history. This expertise and experience it is presently exporting throughout Africa.

We can expect that the formation of a world government will permit even more audacious initiatives. Projects of greater magnitude are possible that would connect not just national borders but entire continents and the globe itself. Buckminster Fuller was one of the very few designers and engineers to give this eventuality much thought. In the late 1960's he worked on several proposals (which are discussed throughout this book), including the idea of a global energy grid. This idea is still being actively promoted by the Global Energy Network Initiative at, I have collected some of the YouTube videos describing this project that are to be found on this site on my blog, at:

As these sources explain, a global energy grid would eliminate the need for fossil fuels by sending solar generated electricity from equatorial regions towards the poles, and from the illumined day side of earth to its dark, night side. This has become an even more attractive alternative since cryogenic high voltage direct current (HVDC) power transmission technology was developed. This allows for much more economical long distance power transmission. Combined with superconducting lines, long distance power lines can be used as virtual batteries, storing as well as carrying electrical energy. At the same time, if a string of wind turbines were built along the length of the grid, the grid would generate its own power and decrease the wait period that it takes to pay for itself.

This mega-project, like most of Fuller's proposals, was suggested long before its time. By now, the technical difficulties of building such a globe encircling power grid are trivial compared with the moral, religious and political obstacles. Until a world government is formed, they are likely to remain as stubborn and immovable as ever. Or, to put the same point positively, we can look forward to tremendous leaps forward when we finally bow to the inevitable and form a democratic world government.

I would like to see this construction effort made even more monumental by combining Fuller's power grid with an evacuated tube transport artery and a long "stoa hillside" building project. This combined grid, transport and housing project I will call here the "World Belt." The combined effect of power, transport and buildings together would create what Fuller would call a synergistic effect.

Parts of the world belt would be buried underground while other sections would be held aloft. Parts of the belt would keep all three together, power lines, buildings and transport tubes, while other sections might separate them by a short distance. The link would extend across both coasts of the American continent, connect the tip of South America through Central America, the continental United States, Canada, Alaska and over (or under) the Bering Strait to Asia, China, Australia, India, Europe and Africa.

Citizens would travel around the world at speeds of tens of thousands of kilometres an hour -- without the pollution and delays of air travel -- in evacuated tubes. When they arrive at their destination travellers would have right at hand cheap power to energize their activities, and no matter where they go there would be ample shelter and living space. This sheltered space along the world belt would also be available for emergency evacuation of cities in case of disaster. Unfortunately, we have delayed building the power grid so long that climate is running out of control and the seas are threatening to rise quickly. As a result we can justify the expense of building a strip of urban construction running through each continent as a way to accommodate the estimated two billion refugees flooded out of coastal regions by rising seas. The world belt permit them to move from flooded regions with relatively little suffering or job dislocation.

The world belt would in this way play the same historic role for world governance that the railway did for nations.


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