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Re: starship-design: The Case for Space

In a message dated 10/13/99 4:41:20 PM, lparker@cacaphony.net writes:

>The article included below set me to thinking. I have lately been exploring
>several current trends and how they relate to the case for space access.
>Please read the article and the ideas below it before you respond.
>World's wealthiest 16 percent uses 80 percent of natural resources
>October 12, 1999
>Web posted at: 11:45 p.m. EDT (0345 GMT)
>From CNN Correspondent Garrick Utley
>NEW YORK (CNN) -- As scientists note the arrival of the six billionth human
>being on the planet, they also are warning that 16 percent of the world's
>population is consuming some 80 percent of its natural resources.
>That's the estimated toll the wealthiest populations on the globe -- the
>United States, Europe and Japan -- are taking from the earth's natural
>bounty to sustain their way of life.

We also produce 25% of the worlds natural resources.

>Resources -- at least in the Western Hemisphere -- do not appear to be
>immediately threatened, leading some experts to reason that the real danger
>is not scarcity.

There expected to last for centuries at least.

>This may be the most serious problem facing the planet -- not how much
>being taken away from it, but how much is being dumped back into it.
>Everyone on this list is quite aware of the pace of technology, so I am
>going to start by assuming some easily imaginable advances and expect that
>the reality will be far stranger.
>Let us start with the paragraph "Resources-...", the real danger is not
>scarcity, but accessibility and as they say later, pollution. Both of these
>"dangers" are easily within the means of western hemisphere nations to
>solve. Move mining and manufacturing off-planet. The resources are more
>abundant, easier to get at, and space borne manufacturing is about as
>pollution free as it gets.
>The next paragraph works into the world's food supply. Again, off-planet
>resources could not only supplement planet side production, but possibly
>even equal or surpass it. Imagine millions of acres of hydroponic farms
>the moon, built, maintained, tended and harvested by automatic machinery.
>Within much less than fifty years this is easily realizable.

The mining and manufacturing do cause pollution, and moving it off planet 
would help, but I canít see anyone agreeing to export a major fraction of our 
economy even ignoring cost problems.  (Though I do expect Mining and 
manufacture will move off planet in the coming centuries, for these and other 
reasons, I don't think so in the next couple decades.)

FOOD!!  I'm doubtful space platforms would grow their own food, being able to 
compete with Earths domestic sources in domestic markets?!!  No way!

>Lee Parker