The Cassandra Prophecy: population problem

from the billions-of-billions dept.
David Coutts writes "I enjoyed reading the recent CNN article about Stephen Hawkings' predictions for the human colonisation of our solar system in the next 100 years. In particular, he narrows it all down to 2 possibilities: (1) either we destroy ourselves )2) we engineer one or more species which surpass us… [About] option 2, at least I wrote an article recently with a similar view, called The Cassandra Prophecy. This is only the second draft, so I would appreciate constructive criticism:" CP: Read more for an excerpt from Engines of Creation pointing out that space colonization postpones but does not solve the problem. From Engines of Creation, chapter 10. The full, searchable text of the book is available free at:

"Some people now note that exponential growth will overrun the fixed stock of Earth's resources, a simpler argument than the one Malthus made. Though space technology will break this limit, it will not break all limits. Even if the universe were infinitely large, we still could not travel infinitely fast. The laws of nature will limit the rate of growth: Earth's life will spread no faster than light.

"Steady expansion will open new resources at a rate that will increase as the frontier spreads deeper and wider into space. This will result not in linear growth, but in cubic growth. Yet Malthus was essentially right: exponential growth will outrun cubic growth as easily as it would linear. Calculations show that unchecked population growth, with or without long life, would overrun available resources in about one or two thousand years at most. Unlimited exponential growth remains a fantasy, even in space."

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