What Happens When Earth Can’t Sustain Us Anymore?

Christiaan Patterson

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This planet won’t be able to sustain our exploding population and massive consumption of resources forever. We may be under a false sense of ideals that earth is where we will always inhabit but it’s just not practical. So, what’s after earth?

 The March 2011 edition of Popular Science took readers into a look at the likely possibility of removing humans from earth and living in space. It addressed all the basic questions: where, what, why and how. Its remarkable to contemplate the notion of leaving earth and surviving somewhere among the cosmos, however, this requires much consideration by both NASA and us.

Reasons for removing humans from earth are beneficial to the planet as well as sustaining our species. The World Wildlife Foundation states by 2030, humans will be consuming resources at a rate two planets each year. Currently we are using more resources than earth can renew.

Climate change, coupled with severe water shortages and massive natural disasters could also prompt the exit strategy of home.

Another important component to leaving is eventually the sun will no longer produce radiation for life sustainability; rather it will destroy our delicate atmosphere and evaporate all oceans. This isn’t predicted for about a billion years though.

Continuing on, the National Space Society has been mapping out where we could live in space. Ideas are anywhere from our own moon, to the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, Mars or even a floating space station.

Using extraterrestrial resources could aid in extracting materials needed for our own use, especially on Mars or exoplanets. The Mars Society encourages scientists to consider Mars due to the existence of a thin atmosphere. Some protection is better than none at all.

Space civilizations such as AMES seem the more plausible solution to our predicament. These units would be located where there is continual sunlight and built to buffer away harmful radiation. Inside, living and recreation areas would be placed near the center of the rotating station for gravity simulation.

It was a bit disturbing to read that the population would be kept above 150 people in order to “avoid the consequences of inbreeding, although ideally the rotating inhabitants would exist in socially interactive clusters.”

The next sentence referred to humans being allowed to access “stored DNA” in case more options were needed. Can you imagine being able to create a person the same way we bubble in a scantron on a multiple choice test? A: blue eyes, B: green, C: brown…….

Moving on to how we could possibly achieve this remarkable scenario brings up the challenge of being able to launch cargo and humans into space without it costing billions.

Scientists from NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts and physicists have concocted many ideas from connecting a 62,000 mile long cable to another planet as an “elevator” to reducing the weight of a space craft using nanotechnology.

Other ideas are to create teleportation (like star trek) and being able to go the speed of light. In addition, the usage of nanorobots which possess our DNA could be sent to a planet to construct it for us.

The biggest question that arises is when will this all take place? Most of the funding for these projects are from private sectors. Currently, passenger flights to the outside orbit of earth are scheduled to commence as early as 2015.

President Obama announced manned missions to Mars by the 2030’s and DARPA, Pentagon’s R&D branch released information to the public regarding the building of a “100-year starship.”

So, who is ready to live among the cosmos and hope we don’t look and function like the cartoon humans in Wall-E after 700 years.