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Really want to save the planet? GET OFF IT!


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I am feeling a bit "General" today, so I thought I'd toss out something for the dogs to chew on...

Do you hate extreme tree huggers? Are you one? Guess what, I am so far beyond the most rabid environmentalist there is no name for it. It is my firm and unswerving belief, based on fact, that all efforts to fight global warming, environmental rape and pillage, starvation, etc. will buy no more significant time for humanity than the pumps did for the Titanic.

Mass misery and extermination are inevitable. Further, whether from a rogue virus, a wandering asteriod, or "x" other causes, something WILL happen to this planet at some in the future that will either exterminate us or so alter the planet as to render it uninhabtiable. Would you allow your children on a ship with no lifeboat? Of course you would...YOU HAVE ALREADY DONE SO.

At some point early in the Apollo program, one of the astronauts reported to Houston after just having achieved orbit "Houston, we have a lifeboat." Even then the significance of that statement did not elude me. As long as all humankind resided in one tiny little target, survival was not only in doubt but highly unlikely. Surely we'd build on what we learned! I bet a friend of mine at the time we'd be on Mars by 1976 and we'd celebrate our retirement on the Moon about now. God, I was naive...

Within 4 centuries of when the first tiny ships appeared in the new world, tens of thousands were debarking on these shores every week. This time, we probably do not have 4 centuries to wait, but with the increasingly dizzying pace of scientific discovery, I submit we might well be able to settle large numbers of people in various locations in the solar system within a 100 years. There are any number of bodies in the solar system with every raw resource we need to provide food, shelter, water for very large numbers of us. And beyond that, an infinity of stars...

So, tell me why I am wrong. Tell me there are plenty of untapped resources on this planet to support all your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond. Tell me 2 sticks of dynamite strapped to a hydrogen bomb with a place to sit is all the space technology we need.

Or say, "It will last my time" and have another beer.

I am honestly very interested in this forums response.


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Not at all uncheerful, Marvel. I just wonder why I generally get such blank stares when I bring this up with people. It's intimately entwined with my faith...which, as you suggested, I'll leave for pmail.

It WILL last my time, perhaps my children's...assuming no rogue asteriod, bird virus, or whatever, but not forever. I just happen to be a strong believer in human survival and think it less than sensible to wait until the iceberg is struck to count lifeboats. And given that spaceliners capable of carrying thousands safely at a time, as well as places for them to thrive when they get there isn't something you can whip up on the spur of the moment, it seems to me that we need something more than Apollo 2.0 (funded barely at life support levels) to get us there.

I purposely phrased it as rather hard and strident in hopes of creating real thought on the subject...


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Good for you Dave, i'm in the same camp as you. I simply do'nt see how we can ignore all that is going on around us...but we do. I have often commented to friends and family my concerns for this planet, their world, but often as not "i'm taking it all to seriously". I truly am concerned for my grandchildren, i think by the time they see adulthood the impact will be considerable and irreversible. You say "mass misery and extermination are inevitable", do you not think that some of the probable causes of this could also be the answer to the problem. A handy little pandemic that takes out half the worlds population would i'm sure give us a little more breathing space, i apologise to anyone offended by the comment, but the planet surviving with half as many people on it sure beats the alternative.

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Marvel said "Dave, I just have to ask, and it really shouldn't be answered here: Where is your Faith, your trust in God? "

Marvel if the question is asked here then surely it should be answered here. Would comments on this be likely to shut down this thread?

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>I don't totally disagree with you. Western civilization (mostly) has been a very poor steward of earth's resources.

And honestly, I don't have a problem with that. It's only been in the 20th century that any significant numbers of citizens of the planet were educated enough to understand there is not an inexhaustible supply of anything except space.

If you have only a gallon of water and are shipwrecked with no hope of rescue, do you spend your time trying to figure out how to make that water last longer or start building a boat?

My point is that we are concentrating our efforts on that gallon of water, when we SHOULD be building boats...not that we don't want that water to last as long as possible.

If we wake up in time, I see a future way, way out there when Earth is basically "Human Homeworld Heritage Park." Pack it in, pack it out. See the verdant forests of the great American northwest. Hike old France with her huge packs of roving wolves and bear. See the magnificent ruins of Los Angeles and drink of the pure water of the Danube! And don't forget the great jungles of Africa teeming with life that spawned us all.

Either something like I just sketched will come to pass, or this great planet will wind up one very large landfill.


P.S. Oldenough; Get consensus on your question just posted and I'll OK Marvel posting the email I sent him in response to that question.

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The reason Bruce asked me about that aspect was that we've had offline discussions in the past on such matters. He perhaps thought something had changed in my beliefs...not the case.

The fact of the matter is that atheist or evangelist, we are all in the same boat and will need to row harmoniously to get anywhere.


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The problem?

Simple: to get people to understand that all available resources on the planet must be directed towards a massive, international effort to expand into space as rapidly as possible.

In doing so, we put millions to work, create technology useful right here, right now, create means to feed people, learn how to deal with the most hostile environment concievable, and much, much more. A one stop shop for all that ails us, as well as the ONLY viable answer to our long term success as a race.

Until we have a self-sufficient colony somewhere off this planet our survival is not only in doubt, our failure is certain. It has happened before and will happen again.

Earth is our womb, not our habitat. Let's give mommy a break!

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Western civilization (mostly) has been a very poor steward of earth's resources.

Very true, but 'fraid China is more than catching up and making it worse for all of us: Trucks Power China’s Economy, at a Suffocating Cost to Its Air -- "Every night, columns of trucks invade China’s big cities with exhaust so thick it dims headlights."
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I was under the impression that until forces beyond our control,( ie cosmic), made this planet un-inhabitable we had time running into the hundreds of thousands of years. Yet you seem to favour the idea of abandonment rather than saving. After all most of the predictable events..collisions, virus, atomic events, pollution etc could surely be solved with a fraction of the cost and time needed to resettle to some distant planet (solar system).Somehow even 100 years down the road i do not see us having that technology. Yet we do have at this time answers to our problems as they are now.

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China is perhaps nullifying all that is being done in the West to try to rectify the situation. I was in China in October and it isn't good. Then again, neither is Manila, Philippines; Mexico City, Mexico and on and on. I might lean a bit more towards Marks opinion that we can make a change here, for the better, but also agree with Dave. We MUST not sit on our thumbs and leave space alone.

And in a practical sense, it doesn't matter if we are athiest, agnostics, religious (of any sort), if our likeboat is sinking/has holes in it, etc., we are all in the same position. Our worldview can only help to shape our response to the problem at hand.

Dave, I will try ot email a repsonse to you... although I may have just given the shortest I could. ;-)


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>Somehow even 100 years down the road i do not see us having that
technology. Yet we do have at this time answers to our problems as they
are now.

While not entirely relevant, my view a hundred years down the line is so foggy I can see little. The changes in my lifetime...and my grandmother had no electricity or indoor plumbing when I was a child (and got along very nicely, thank you very much) are hardly comprehensible to me, much less considering the speed of technological advance that continues to climb logrythmically. I believe my children will likely see the end of aging...it's just something we have to find and turn off. When we do it, we will wonder "Sheesh, what took us so long?" Then it won't be long till disease is eliminated, and we'll wonder if these fragile bodies are the best we can do, etc.

Anyway, back on topic, forces within our control will make this planet unhabitable within centuries. Even though population growth is slowing, it's tripled in my lifetime and will continue to accelerate. Once we turn off aging...again, likely in decades...it will explode. That is only ONE thing!

Even if we HAD hundreds of thousands of years (and we don't...just ask Al Gore), it would be pretty irresponsible not to take some steps to provide for survival of the species in the event of unscheduled (and most are) planetary catastrophe.

OK, this IS getting fun now...keep it coming! Make me feel like my descendents have nothing to fear but terrorists and expensive gas...


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Mark said

" Also, one more quick thought that perhaps Bruce might enjoy. Although I am not a believer in the Christian faith per se, I am an ardant admirer of Jesus the Teacher, and I think his message is among the best the world has ever heard. Anyway, this is what he said: "Consider the lillies of the field. They neither toil, nor do they spin, and yet even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." I should think in today's state of world crisis (as inferred by Dave), this teaching would have enormous power. I wonder what people think he meant by this? "

Mark, surely experience must have shown you that for every person that answers this question they will have their own interpretation.Not one of them will likely reflect the real meaning either.

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mdeneen (It's Mark, isn't it? Sorry, I've been away for a while...the Mad Cow, youknow.)

>Great topic Dave. I am about in your frame, except I think it can be accomplished here on earth.

That's what I am after. Tell me HOW? How do you force people to stop reproducing? That's called slavery, I think.

Your quote from Christ is worth pondering. As a student of Lao Tzu, I understand where He (Christ, not the other Master) is coming from, but given that most of His ministry deals with struggle and labor in the vineyards, it's a bit out of character.

I must admit...though not part of my stated reasons for the imperative of human expansion into space...I cannot at all understand why everyone wants to hang here with Mom. The infinite possibilities of the universe draw me. Other civilizations, plants, animals...THE MUSIC, the mind boggles. All awaiting, and we stew in our own juices. OTOH, even if you don't want to leave home and don't give a hoot in hell about such things you are going to run out of room food, fuel, air, water, and a few other things the universe is rotten with if we don't get off our butts and go!


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  1. The sun, like all stars, will eventually burn out or go super nova taking the Earth and the rest of our solar system with it;
  2. The Universe (space) is infinite;
  3. Earth and its resources are finite;
  4. Mankind can not keep cramming more and more people (including the garbage and pollution that each individual generates) into the finite space of the Earth without disastrous consequences;
  5. The nearest star to our solar system is 4.2 light-years away; and
  6. None of us will get out of this alive.

The above reminds me of the story that is attributed to Winston Churchill.

Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”

Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…”

Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”

Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”

Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”


Everything below is my opinion. No one should feel compelled to agree with me. Everyone should feel free to disagree with me.

No intelligent and informed person can seriously dispute any of the six facts above. Therefore, we should be discussing not whether Earth will become uninhabitable, but rather we should be "haggling" over when and how the Earth will meet its end. We should also be discussing what (if anything) can be done to delay the inevitable and/or to maximize our experience until that time arrives.

In my opinion colonization of space is not realistic. The costs to colonize the Moon, Mars or another body in our solar system are astronomical (pun intended) and success would not overcome the inevitable destruction of the Sun and the solar system.

While the infinite nature of space promises the potential of other heavenly bodies that could support life as we know it, the distances involved make travel unrealistic. Space colonization could, at best, allow a few individuals to survive the Earth's demise briefly.

I am pessimistic about the long term success of the human experiment. Whether "long term" is measured in terms of years or generations is anyone's guess.

To use the lifeboat analogy, we could all agree that the lifeboat will never be able to save all of its current and future occupants so let's just scuttle it now to end the uncertainty. Or, we could decide to work to keep the lifeboat from being over crowded and to make the experience of its current (and a reasonable number of future) occupants comfortable.

As pessimistic as the above might seem, there is no better time to have lived on earth for the following reasons:

· Throughout most of human history slavery was legal and accepted by society. Only in recent times have "civilized" societies finally agreed that no human should enslave another (unfortunately the U.S. was one of the last nations to come to that conclusion);

· Advances in health care allow humans to live healthier and longer, for example, influenza epidemics like the one in 1918 are a thing of the past;

· The literacy level of the world has never been higher; and

· The average citizen of a developed nation lives better and in more luxury than the most powerful and wealthy world rulers of only a few hundred years ago.

The challenge will be to let the Earth's population share the effectively shrinking planet/lifeboat peacefully and fairly.

As the occupants at the far end of the lifeboat learn, through increased literacy levels, the Internet, etc., that those at the other end of the lifeboat are using more of the lifeboat's limited provisions, they will rock the boat in an attempt to get their fair share. Will we be able to limit the number of the current and future occupants of the lifeboat so that we can all get along and prosper, or will the number of occupants and inequitable (real and imagined) use of the lifeboat's resources cause the boat to be rocked to the point of capsizing?

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