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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, @06:43PM

    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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