Thursday, September 07, 2006

Breed! BREED! Breed to the Moon!

My father and I have frequent discussions about how to make the world a better place. We are half serious and half joking when we say the first step must invariably be killing half the population. A great many of our problems arise from a choking over-population, so, step one is just off a good, round three billion.

Like I said, we're not actually advocating genocide, it's just that it seems the most direct route to solving a pretty big problem. Most importantly, genocide never seems to work. Humans, for all our long gestation period, and 15-20 year path to maturity, are really, really good at breeding quickly.

I was thinking about one of my previous posts related to SETI. I said that I consider it more likely that we will construct things like Dyson spheres or things like Larry Niven's Ringworld (Yes, Halo counts, too) before we achieve interstellar travel. What I realized is that, even with immense numbers of robots performing work, to achieve those levels of construction would require a gargantuan population.

In fact, I consider ringworlds scattered throughout the solar system as the most viable option for long term space stations. They provide everything we could need. But even a small ringworld, say, a diameter of a few hundred miles, would require hundreds of thousands of workers and a budget likely in the quadrillions. In this very real sense, we don't want a smaller population. We want a much larger population.

Even small ideas, say, a station on the Moon, would require large numbers of skilled workers. Assuming our lifespans continue to increase, and we don't seem to show any sign of a slowed breeding, we're going to need other celestial bodies to hold our ever increasing mass. The moon is the first stop, and most importantly, a large presense on the moon only makes it easier to hop to the rest of the planets. No atmosphere and little gravity makes it much easier to launch.

No, instead of killing them, I think the correct path would instead be to invest billions, perhaps trillions, into the advanced education of as many people as possible. Only then do projects such as ringworlds and Moon stations become truly viable. And regardless of population pressures, for us to consider ourselves a truly advanced race, I feel, we must expand onto other planets and moons. The speed of light limits our ability to travel and communicate with other star systems, but our own is all fair game.

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