Astronomy

Predicting the Future of Humans Inhabiting other Planets



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Will humans one day populate other planets? I have little doubt of that, though its going to take a while yet. But some people seem to see this as a solution to the population problem on Earth. This is simply absurd.

The problem is the sheer number of people on the planet.

To reduce the Earths population by moving people elsewhere, you would obviously need to move people faster than the population is growing. The population of the Earth is already significantly more than six billion people. By the middle of this century, the world population is expected to exceed twelve billion. At present, the population of the Earth is growing at a rate of 250,000 - thats a quarter of a million - people per day. Every day. And that rate is still growing.

To keep the population stable would mean moving 250,000 people per day, or 912.5 million people in a ten year period. To reverse that trend and reduce the worlds population by one billion people in a ten year period, you would need to move close to half a million people per day, every day.

Now consider that each person moved would require a vast amount of fuel, even if the new 'planet' was just the moon. And even if the fuel could be found, the environmental damage from all those take-offs would be immense. For example, if the fuel were hydrogen harvested from the atmosphere of Jupiter or Saturn, the oxygen needed to burn it (and all the water vapour released as a consequence) would alter the composition of the atmosphere. And if the contrails of aircraft can alter the climate (an effect that was measured after 9/1/1, with flights in the USA being grounded), consider what tens of thousands of spaceship launches every day would do.

Given the scale and growth-rate of the human population, it is clear that the Earths population problem cannot be reduced by moving people to another planet. Even the biggest mass migration imaginable - with millions of people moving each year - would have only a tiny, barely detectable effect on population growth.

I suspect the Earths future destiny is to be one huge slum. Only the richest will ever be able to leave.

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