Like many people I believe the current crisis is a wake-up call for humanity. However, unlike many of the voices dominating the discussion lately, I have come to some very different conclusions.
The dirty little secret behind many environmental movements and their followers is a deep wish to see large segments of the human population die off. This way the the Earth can restore itself from the overpopulated human civilization that has drained it. Ideally, these same loyal econauts see themselves as inheriting this New Earth paradise after all the unworthy people have died off. If you think I’m making this up or exaggerating, just ask them. One prominent “visionary” (who shall go nameless) said if people don’t get with the program, they will be turned into mulch. Being an environmentalist myself, I’m not accusing all of them, just many of the louder voices currently dominating the conversation. You’ll hear all sorts of scenarios of doom, gloom, and even glee that when it’s all over, the Earth will have maybe at most a billion inhabitants left (if we’re lucky) by the end of the 21st Century.
They are right about one thing – given our current level of dirty technology, population growth and rates of resource extraction, the human game of continual growth and material abundance cannot continue much longer without a severe environmental backlash from simple resource constraints. You can’t extract what’s no longer there. In other words, unless we find a way to magically transform our society through advanced nanotechnology into one that is 100% regenerative, large segments of the population will die off from a lack of resources necessary to feed, house and clothe them.
The honest truth is advanced nano-enabled regenerative technology is still a distant dream, and until it’s realized, we can’t count on it. Instead we must solve our problems now using tools already available or that can be built without requiring unforseen breakthroughs.
Clearly as long as we continue doing business within a fragile planetary ecosystem, pretty much everything we do needs to change, adapt, ephermalize, regenerate. I just hope that along with these changes, we don’t loose site of the bigger impetus which this all points – which is to continue onward, upward, outward off the planet and become a space faring species.
This is the first time in our planets evolution such a possibility is upon us. Given what’s at stake (massive ecological, economic and population collapse), it’s now or never that a strong push for space development must be made. Those talking about peak civilization and mandatory de-industrialization are a depressing, anti-evolutionary lot.
I think when real-world constraints start culling the population, radical evolutionary pressures upward will re-exert themselves. I’ve never known people to go quietly in the night, especially when bigger, better alternatives present themselves.
My fellow Lifeboat adviser Brian Wang is actively working on some very radical space propulsion designs which could reduce orbital launch costs to less than $1/Kg without the need for any new technological advances.
When billions of lives are at stake from a lack of biosphere support capacity, space migration is by far the saner choice, especially when many if not most industrial processes can be taken off world.
This way everyone wins. The more radical elements in the environmental movement can celebrate as all the industrialized processes they hate so much move wholesale offworld. The Earth, through tender stewardship by those choosing to stay behind, can be ushered back into a veritable garden of Eden without it requiring any devolution or death of the human species.