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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the cloud-of-junk dept.

Orbital Use Fees Proposed As the Most Effective Way to Solve the Space Junk Problem:

The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it's an international agreement to charge operators "orbital-use fees" for every satellite put into orbit.

Orbital use fees would also increase the long-run value of the space industry, said economist Matthew Burgess, a CIRES Fellow and co-author of the new paper. By reducing future satellite and debris collision risk, an annual fee rising to about $235,000 per satellite would quadruple the value of the satellite industry by 2040, he and his colleagues concluded in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Space is a common resource, but companies aren't accounting for the cost their satellites impose on other operators when they decide whether or not to launch," said Burgess, who is also an assistant professor in Environmental Studies and an affiliated faculty member in Economics at the University of Colorado Boulder. "We need a policy that lets satellite operators directly factor in the costs their launches impose on other operators."

[...] A better approach to the space debris problem, Rao and his colleagues found, is to implement an orbital-use fee — a tax on orbiting satellites. "That's not the same as a launch fee," Rao said, "Launch fees by themselves can't induce operators to deorbit their satellites when necessary, and it's not the launch but the orbiting satellite that causes the damage."

[...] "In our model, what matters is that satellite operators are paying the cost of the collision risk imposed on other operators," said Daniel Kaffine, professor of economics and RASEI Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author on the paper.

Reference:
Akhil Rao, Matthew G. Burgess and Daniel Kaffine, Orbital-use fees could more than quadruple the value of the space industry", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1921260117


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:02PM (11 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:02PM (#1002268)

    They make as much cents (and dollars) as auctions for RF bandwidth.

    If we're going to get righteous about impact fees for space, how about we start down here in the mud and charge impact fees for things like plastic bottles that end up in the oceans, environmental and human medical costs of mercury emissions from coal burning powerplants, diesel soot from vehicles and highways, downstream medical costs from landmine production, etc.? Oh, wait, I know this one: because the entrenched / established industries have too much influence in government and won't allow it, but Elon and his buddies are rich pussies and Congress thinks they can shake 'em down.

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by DannyB on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:17PM (3 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:17PM (#1002278) Journal

    What if everything manufactured had the cost of its disposal factored in. Along with a "down payment" from the consumer to create incentive for them to return items to the proper recycling places. Especially electronic items with valuable metals.

    The environment is limited just as radio spectrum is limited. We should be managing how it is "used". We've just always thought of it as unlimited. Until we realized it really isn't.

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    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:43PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:43PM (#1002286)

      As population continues to march onward to 10B+, we're going to need to mature to processes that do account for resources like the environment this way.

      If we could wind back human population to 200M or so, we could go back to dilution as the solution to pollution. We'd want to be a little intelligent about bio-degradable packaging, etc. but if humanity consisted of 100 cities of ~1M population, plus 100M people scattered in rural communities of 100-200 people each, landfills could be a permanent renewable solution for waste disposal - let them decompose for 200 years or so, then start recycling them.

      The problem with capturing externalized costs lies in definitions and boundaries. A 25 year old asbestos removal worker dies of cancer at age 35 with a wife and two children - what's the externalized cost of his labor in the asbestos removal? Assuming he should have lived to 75, he lost 40 years of life, his family lost 30 years of his income, if that income isn't replaced his children lost the opportunity of a college education, their children are born into poverty, etc. It's easy(ier) to look retrospectively at things and come up with their externalized costs, it's virtually impossible to look at new or even existing situations and project their costs into the future.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:35PM (#1002490)

      The more excuses get invented to increase the tax burden on real economic activities, the richer the financiers and their friendly politicians get, and the poorer everyone else.
      As is already obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and a brain.

    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday June 03 2020, @06:17AM

      by driverless (4770) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @06:17AM (#1002626)

      And that's the point of space usage fees, it forces operators to think about pollution/space junk because now it has a value attached to it. When it's free you can just dump your junk wherever you want which makes it completely invisible to most organisation, it's only when there's a dollar value attached to something that organisations are forced to pay attention. Look at bunker fuel for an example of this, spewing tons of toxic pollution from the cheapest crap you can burn is free so everyone uses it as much as possible - at best there's a fig-leaf where you're required to burn less polluting crap within a certain distance of land, but otherwise it's a free-for-all because you can't point the corporate accountants at a figure and say "it'll cost this much to burn the polluting crap instead of cleaner fuel".

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by anotherblackhat on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:18PM (2 children)

    by anotherblackhat (4722) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:18PM (#1002279)

    They make as much cents (and dollars) as auctions for RF bandwidth.

    Not really.
    RF transmitters work better the closer they are to the receiver.
    A country can delude itself into thinking it owns the ether over it's boarders up to some height.

    No country is so deluded that it thinks it owns the ocean, or space.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:47PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:47PM (#1002289)

      No country is so deluded that it thinks it owns the ocean, or space.

      The superpowers have a set of rules for the ocean that amounts to group ownership - rules that the members of the group revise from time to time, the way a condo owners' association does.

      Re-elect T(he)rump in 2020 and watch a leader so deluded that he thinks he owns space.

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    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @07:46PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @07:46PM (#1002307)

      China claims the whole South China Sea, despite the fact that this contains a number of islands that belong to other countries, or simply are other countries. As usual, China claims everything it can see, and everyone else must simply be subservient.

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:50PM (3 children)

    by darkfeline (1030) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:50PM (#1002469) Homepage

    > how about we start down here in the mud and charge impact fees for things like plastic bottles that end up in the oceans

    But we do (if you live in one of states with deposit laws)? That deposit is what you're getting back if you return the bottle for recycling.

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    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:13PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:13PM (#1002483)

      Minor New England states are not nearly as important or impactful as they think they are. Plastic bottle deposits never really caught on elsewhere.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:50PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:50PM (#1002499)

      Time is money. All that nickle-and-diming is designed to cost enough of a mark's time that anyone holding a job would lose more, money-wise, if he spends time "getting back" the, in essence, private tax. The result? As designed: the bottles flow to the oceans as before, and money flows to some "green" pockets.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Wednesday June 03 2020, @01:24AM

        by anubi (2828) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @01:24AM (#1002530) Journal

        The exact reason I put my refundable cans into big bags and leave them in homeless areas.

        It's an "economy of scale" thing. I simply don't have time to mess with it. But if I catch someone rooting through a dumpster after cans, I'll offer them mine to add to theirs. Same when passing by a recycling center line. Give it to somebody. Especially if they don't have much. They must need the money awful bad to wait in line that long for it.

        I will very rarely give money, but I will give recyclables, considering they earned what they got from it.

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