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Re: starship-design: The Case for Space

> From: "L. Parker" <lparker@cacaphony.net>
> =======
> 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.
Still that longing for impossible "equality",
whose only effect is stifling all development,
and leading only to equality in misery.
As the say in Poland - "Shit, but equally distributed..."
[in Polish it is shorter, and with a rhyme].
Strange the "equalists" here are still wildly popular...

> 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.
Really, they at least rediscovered the wheel?  ;-)

> This may be the most serious problem facing the planet -- not how much is
> being taken away from it, but how much is being dumped back into it.
Pollution is essentially the problem of recycling technology only -
until we are only here on Earth, we really do not either take away 
or dump back anything - we only change the distribution of elements 
between various places...
> =======

> 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.
> 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 on the moon, 
> built, maintained, tended and harvested by automatic machinery.
> Skipping a paragraph, the world's demand for energy... need I really 
> go into detail here? Orbital energy farms, vast collections 
> of solar cells or simple thermal collectors driving heat exchangers, 
> it doesn't really matter which.
> We can make that planet a pleasant place for all of its inhabitants
> while creating a broad based orbital infrastructure capable 
> of supporting 12 billion people or more.

> From: "L. Parker" <lparker@cacaphony.net>
> To: <KellySt@aol.com>, <starship-design@lists.uoregon.edu>
> > ----
> > From: KellySt@aol.com [mailto:KellySt@aol.com]
> > The mining and manufacturing do cause pollution, and moving it off planet
> > would help, but I can't 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.)
> As for exporting a major fraction of our economy off planet, 
> I assume by that you mean that there is a corresponding loss 
> of income on-planet. This isn't true. 
> The profit or earnings still end up in the same place, 
> in Alcoa's bank account, here on Earth.
[etc. etc.]

It seems to me that you all think in this thread only in terms of
"what profit space operations can bring to people living on Earth".
Generally I must say it is a wrong perspective - space operations
will be mostly directed at, and bring profits (and sustenance)
to people living OFF EARTH. Because the real rationale for
going massively into space is to install a self-sustaining
populations of people living out of Earth. And it is not 
the matter of profit or building a comfortable paradise
for growing amounts of people on Earth, but the matter of survival.
Because, as I wrote recently in a discussion with one environmentalist 
(specifically, a leader of an anti-cassini group):

> So, possibly we should simply not go to space? There are many 
> people saying just that, and promising instead an earthly paradise 
> of "living with the nature", or something along these lines.
> However, whether we like it or not, it is completely Utopian
> and sure to lead to termination of the very existence 
> of mankind, and all the life on Earth as well, sooner or later. 
> Proponents of indefinite stay on Earth oversight one single, 
> but all too important a fact:
> Earth is NOT a closed, self-sufficient entity, completely isolated 
> from the rest of the cosmos. To the contrary - it is utterly dependent 
> on cosmic influences: on radiation from the Sun, on impacts of other 
> cellestial bodies, on galactic gamma radiation bursts, 
> and many other forces. Great many of these influences,
> either separately or in combinatiom, may put an end to human 
> civilization, or to the whole life on Earth, at any moment in time. 
> The Earth's biosphere was very lucky to survive several 
> such near-extinctions in the past - the best investigated of them 
> occuring some 65 millions year ago, when, together with dinozaurs, 
> above 70% of all plant and animal species utterly perished. 
> The only chance to prevent an ultimate disaster of this kind 
> is to spread humankind, and the earthly life as a whole, 
> to other places except Earth - that is, to other planets,
> and colonies in space. This is indeed a very difficult, 
> and a very risky business - lots of people will perish in the course 
> of conquering space, but the mankind, and the rest of earthly life, 
> will get a chance to survive thanks to their noble sacrifice.
> It is our obligation, as the most conscious and able species of life 
> on Earth, to spread life elsewhere in the universe and in this way 
> to prevent its extinction in some catastrophic accident that may
> happen to Earth.

Sadly, as it was otherwise easy to predict, 
it did not change his views.

Of course, the way to the really spacefaring civilization
most probably will lead through an earth-bound civilization 
profiting from space exploration, but it will be a comparatively 
short, transitory phase only.

-- Zenon Kulpa

* * *  URANOS: Club for Expansion of Civilization into Space  * * *
http://www.uranos.eu.org/                      uranos@uranos.eu.org
All civilizations become either spacefaring or extinct [Carl Sagan]