Re: [gundam] The economics of the Universal century

-Z- (
Sat, 20 Mar 1999 13:45:19 -0800

At 21:15 3/20/99 +0800, you wrote:
>The apparent existence of a trade system makes sense. Then I'd guess
>that trade relationships will be somewhat reminiscent of Europe and its
>colonies back in the Renaissance: heavier industries like mining and
>agriculture will have to be farmed out to the colonies while "higher"
>industries like art, media and entertainment, and most luxury goods will
>still be largely earth-dominated. In such a system, both sides will have
>some economic "chip" as political leverage.

You're forgetting that the physical characteristics of interplanetary travel.

Earth is at the bottom of gravity well. It take a change in velocity
(delta-V) of 8600 m/s (28,215 ft/s) to get to low Earth orbit (LEO) and
another 3800 m/s (12,467 ft/s) to get to geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO),
for a total delta-V (with maneuvering) of 12,700 m/s (41,667 f/s). Ditto
for the return trip.

But it only takes 1700 m/s to get from geosynchronous orbit to L5 and
another 700 m/s (2297 ft/s) to get from L5 to lunar orbit. The Moon's
gravity well is a lot less steep the Earth's -- about 2200 m/s (7218 ft/s),
not much more than going from GEO to L5. Getting to and from the surface
of the Earth is a very expensive process relative to travelling along the
Moon's orbit.

Once you're in space, it takes about the same delta-V to go from any
Lagrange point to another or to lunar orbit. L3, L4 and L5 are all in halo
orbits around points that are in the lunar orbit and L1 and L2 are just
60,000 km (37,280 miles) to either side of the Moon. Since the velocity is
fixed by the orbital dynamics, so is the travel time -- you can't get from
point A to point B in less than X hours or more tha Y hours.

For a diagram of the geometry of the Lagrange points and a travel timetable
for the entire Earth Sphere, browse my Mobile Suit Gundam: High Frontier
web page:

>The few heavy industries on earth will probably be relocated below
>ground (e.g. Jaburo), but these would have to be heavily regulated to
>preserve what's left of the planet's environment.
>This results in a slightly skewed balance of trade--with the ball thrown
>in the spacenoids' court. Any one of the colonies could simply threaten
>to cut off industrial support to earth to assert their independence
>(even the JEF was implied to have done this). The One Year War wouldn't
>be necessary, since the earth would have become more dependent on the
>Sides than the other way around.

That depends on how you define necessity. It wasn't enough for Zeon to be
autonomous from Earth -- they already had autonomy, albeit unrecognized by
the Federation. But Zeon had been economically sanctioned by the
Federation since UC 0059, a year after it first declared independence as
the Colony Republic. Luna II was militarized a year after that, as part of
the Year 60 Armament Reinforcement Plan, to try and "contain" the
independence movement. In UC 0067, the Federation was faced with a motion
for colonial autonomy by the entire Side 3, which it rejected. Zion Zum
Daikun died a year later, Zavi filled the void and the Zeon Dukedom was
declared a year after that. The Federation's response was the Year 70
Armament Reinforcement Plan and even stricter sanctions, including an
economic blockade. Zeon had its won JEF, but the other Sides were
forbidden to trade with them. They still did, of course, but it was a
black market, with inflated prices and limited supplies. (Side 6 was
probably in the forefront of all this profiteering, a pratice it continued
as the only "neutral" in the One Year War) In any case, Zeon needed
resources and raw materials and it needed them badly. After 20 years of
embargo, it had no real choice but to occupy Earth and take them directly
from the source.

>Of course, the Zavi's needed to make a political statement by dropping a
>colony on earth. But that single act alone would have effectively
>neutralized the earthnoids' productive capacity for good--I think the
>full implication of Operation British wasn't explored enough on a global

Definitely not. But I don't think the colony drop was a political
statement. The occupation was the supreme political statement. It said,
as Giren himself pronounced, that Earth's day was over and that Zeon would
lead humanity to the stars. It was the inevitable end of the course that
began when the Colony Republic declared autonomy and the Federation slapped
an embargo instead of sending the Terrenes to force the wayward colony back
into the fold.

The same thing happened here in the US when the Confederacy was allowed to
secede. The Civil War became an unavoidable consequence, as the Union
couldn't tolerate the secession but didn't have the chops to stop it. As
with Zeon, it was the Confederacy that fired the first shot, but the
conflict was already in the offing long before the CSA shelled Fort Sumter.

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