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Re: The economics of interstellar invasions

From: "Robert W. Hofrichter" <RobHofrich@p...>
Date: Fri, 5 May 2000 20:56:40 -0400
Subject: Re: The economics of interstellar invasions

Regarding shipping water around earth--aren't there plans to do just
I thought I came across a news articlew on that somewhere (now if I
only remember where that was).

Not that I disagree with the basic hypothesis, but I get the impression
transporting things into orbit is not a problem (or rather, not very
in the GZG-verse.  Why do I get that impression?  Well, when you talk
shipping a few regiments (including INFANTRY) and divisions between
(not to mention HORDES of colonists and their supplies) then the basic
premise almost MUST be rather cheap ground-to-orbit costs.  I'm assuming
some mythical anti-grav system here (since I assume, perhaps wrongly,
most places won't have a ground-to-space elevator).

Just my 2 pennies worth.


----- Original Message -----
From: Mikko Kurki-Suonio <>
To: Ground Zero Games mailing list <gzg-l@CSUA.Berkeley.EDU>
Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 12:28 PM
Subject: The economics of interstellar invasions


 First, are we talking in general terms, or are you only interested in
Official(tm) GZG-verse? Well, I'm not, and AFAIK very little hard data
exists on it anyway.


big snip

There are already such items: take clean water -- there are places
where a shortage exists, and places where it is found in abundance. But
still, it's not cost effective to fill a tanker with clean water in
Helsinki and ship it to Sahara.

>It looks to me like you need a better reason for the NAC to take
>that max-tech force out to planet Y to put down the rebellion than
>"Travel is expensive".  I personally would think it would be a
>political thing, "Losing people is expensive politicly".

Well, I already talked about the political cost of body bags.
It is an important consideration. But travel cost is another.

I'm sorry, but "it just is" just doesn't hold water for me.  If I can
"just assume" A, why can't I "just assume" B? There are no signs
suggesting interstellar travel would be cheap.

Heck, just getting off the ground is expensive! Let's assume aliens came
to visit us and placed an automatic jump gate in earth orbit. How many
tank divisions could Clinton send to Betelgeuse? Zilch. He can't get
one M1 in orbit.

Forget FTL for a while -- just getting into orbit is bloody hard. About
the only way getting into orbit could become cheap is if energy was
radically cheaper. But abundant, cheap energy would make manufacturing
things *here* cheaper too. In the end, most economics boil down to

To know what kind of force it is reasonable to send to another planet,
must know what getting there would cost, per ton. This cost also
determines what kind of trade is likely to be made, the kind of planets
likely to be colonized and to what extent.

E.g. assume it's worthwhile to send kitty litter from West Bumfuck
the galaxy to Earth. Bags of sand? The cost of travel must be very, very
low. Travel is energy expenditure. The cost of energy must be very,
very low. Manufacturing is, especially of hi vs. lo-tech items, is
essentially a question of energy expenditure. Since energy is sooooo
it makes sense to import kitty litter from West Bumfuck, making
super-duper hi-tek tanks is also very, very, very, very cheap. Why would
you send anything else?

Assume the only reason there are people on West Bumfuck is that
ultra-rarium, vital to modern anti-matter reactors, is found there and
only there. Even with ultra-rarium, energy is expensive, especially in
levels required for interstellar travel. Thus travel is expensive. While
this does also make manufacturing those super-duper tanks more
it is still cheaper than going to West Bumfuck. How could you not send
best you have?

Is there an equilibrium between these two extremes? Frankly, I don't
know... but I refuse to "just assume" there is.

There's a lot of fuzzy stuff and things we can only guess at, but the
of putting things in orbit is a good place to start.

-- (Mikko Kurki-Suonio) 	  | A pig who doesn't
GSM +358 50 5596411 Tel +358 9 8092681		  | is just an ordinary
Länsimetsä 3B1 02300 ESPOO FINLAND   Hate me? Try |	      - Porco
Rosso      hateme.html  |

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