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Crisis on Asimov: Lessons from Venus
Analysis & Commentary by Dr. Sheila Ronis

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"There are still lots of ethical and legal questions to iron out. So many people are still against the enslavement of microbes, and even the smartest of microbes has been unable to communicate a consensus of their species."

Yoshiko nodded, saying, "I know."

"It has led to the whole debate over the right and wrong applications of science." Benson said. "You bet, I'm coming to the conference. If for no other reason than to help Jim."

Benson sent a holo message to Jim Swenson. "Just thought I'd let you know that I'm going to attend the Paris environmental conference to hear Yoshiko's presentation. Saw your presentation write-up. How do you expect to deal with the controversy? This may not be a good time...as you know, we are in the middle of a major problem on Asimov."

Jim Swenson came over holo. "Well, the company asked me to make the presentation and tell our side of the story. You think I'm going to have lots of problems?"

"Yes." said Benson. "But, as long as you're prepared, I guess we'll be all right. But, if it's too controversial, it may effect our situation in dealing with the SSEC on Asimov, where we are hoping to get the lucrative contract to develop and manufacture drivable PTVs."

"Don't worry, Benson." said Jim. "I've handled the worst of the MRM (Microbe Rights Movement,) and I'm sure I'll survive this one."

Dr. Saint-Germain rose to introduce Yoshiko.

"Today, I have the pleasure to introduce my colleague, Dr. Yoshiko Einstein Chadwick. Her pioneering work in the 'greenhouse effect,' has enabled scientists today to make quantum leaps in reversing those effects on Earth. May I present Dr. Chadwick."

Yoshiko began, "In the last century, the realities of Venus became evident. For many years, people thought of Venus as a sister planet to the Earth; similar in size, and, perhaps, similar in the atmosphere that surrounded it. But, as the decades of the last century unfolded, and the research mounted, it became very clear what Venus was really like. A rocky surface that is very, very hot - 480 degrees Centigrade - almost five times hotter than the temperature required to boil water on Earth. The atmosphere is crushing; 90 times the pressure people on Earth feel from their atmosphere. The Venusian atmosphere is composed of 96% carbon dioxide. There are other gas traces in the atmosphere, but, the famous clouds of Venus, which people have seen for centuries, are not like clouds on the Earth. The clouds are made up of a concentrated solution of sulfuric acid with a little bit of hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid. Not a nice place to visit, and certainly not a place where people would like to live. Certainly not like a sister to the Earth."

She continued, "Unfortunately, man made chemicals in the last century, and various kinds of pollution, coupled with the devastating effects of deforestation of much of the Earth, especially its rain forests, began to produce the potentially catastrophic 'greenhouse effect.' When left unchecked these began to produce Venus-like effects on Earth. The rain in many places on the planet turned acidic, and forests began to die. In fact, there was some evidence to suggest Earth as an eco-system would die completely, as species began to become extinct at ever increasing rates."

"Fortunately, by the later part of the last century, corporations began to understand the role they had to play to arrest the situation. They began by working with governments instead of against them, to make it profitable to do things that were good for the environment. It was hard work as well as expensive to make industry clean, but this work is crucial and must be kept up at the stringent levels at which it now exists in order to continue to keep the environment of the Earth one which will remain a healthy and safe one for future generations. Today, the people of Earth can breathe a sigh of relief because there is little cause for alarm. The fragile eco-system of the Earth is alive and well."

Yoshiko outlined all her recent work on Galileo, and how the study of artificial environments on satellites and biosphere domes was adding to the understanding of the science.

"...And, in conclusion, I thank Venus. It has taught us much about the Earth and how to keep it healthy for generations to come."

To her surprise, people had lots of questions and comments. Even Benson thought it was interesting.

The whole conference had been great. Jim's presentation was masterfully done. The IBM position was well received. It helped that the microbial spokesperson had much to say that was positive about the wonderful way microbes live in the IBM environment. And, fortunately, nobody asked about the situation on Asimov.

Paris was lots of fun, too, and the food tasted just as good or even better than Chez Pierre!

Crisis on Asimov : Chapter Six : Fred


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