Friday, October 31, 2008
Are we going to make it as a species?
I have given this some considerable thought. I think it will go one of two ways. Either we will get our act together in the next few decades and solve our problems, and make this planet an environment where we can all have a reasonable standard of living without destroying the life sustaining biosphere we share it with, or we are going to just degrade into wars over resources, living in fear, with our civilization eventually collapsing into something resembling a bunch of medieval enclaves, with possible pockets of more advanced groups, if we dont possibly lapse into a worldwide nuclear war, in which case Humanity is going to have a terrible future at best. It could go either way at this point, I guess it depends on whether reason will oversome emotion. I myself would like to see us off the planet and out into space, with human colonies off the earth smattered across the solar system. That greatly increases our survival chances. If we stay here, we have all our eggs in one basket. But I truly believe we cannot entrust this to some government sponsored program that is only able to send up a few people every few months in a very expensive ship. We need something like what happened back in the beginning of the last century, visionaries who will build craft that can reach space with much the same comfort that commercial aircraft ply the skies today. We have Mr Rutan, but we need a hundred more like him, in this country and in others. We need to get some competition going. Imagine a day where you go to a space shop and buy a space suit like you buy diving gear today, a day where private individuals can decide to head off for the asteroid belt, Mars, maybe the kuiper belt to explore, using proven reliable and relatively inexpensive technologies. There will be rules of course, we cannot be reckless, but as our technology advances, I think it will be easier to achieve. We have to grow these technologies over time, use will spur innovation, which will spur new ideas. We need to take lots of first steps, the X prize is one, but there need to be more. Also our kids need to spend a little less time on the X box and more time studying mathematics and physics, and its up to us to make that palatable for them. These ideas are not new ideas, Gerard O'neill was thinking this way decades ago. But we NEED to get started. We need a horizon beyond the next financial crash, global warming, a crowded violent world. Its time.