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totally absent, since the whole economy is state controlled. In the "third world" the turmoil in the Middle East comes to mind. The wars of annihilation waged against certain tribes in the "fourth world" convincingly demonstrate the universality of this tendency.
Let us also remember the simple joy, felt by many which comes from conquering others. It would be one of the rewards of agression. And let
us not forget those select few who would consider it their duty to lead the misguided masses of the solar system to greater happiness against their own will, if need be. Among the many tyrants (whose number, like the total population, can be assumed to double about every 35 years) there will likely be some who will run their space islands with decisions based on black magic, voodoo, or various superstititions of their own invention. Others among them, being only human, may feel rejected, despondent, vengeful, or just plain too old to go on living much longer, so they may decide to "end it all," where "all" means as many people as possible. There will be those to whom the Lord will reveal that He finds certain types of space colonies offensive and wishes them destroyed. And "the One" to whom God might "give the order" to cleanse the solar system of this entire humanity of sinners, and whose "task" it will be to repopulate the solar system with the surviving creatures of his own spaceship, á la Noah, but now on a grander scale.
Need I go on? There is really no reason to anticipate harmony
instead of conflict. On the contrary, the sources of potential conflict will remain plentiful, whether or not habitale areas can be expanded by spaceship construction. Conflict could not be prevented by material abundance, but only by a universally felt deep respect and concern for all human beings. Such a feeling is insufficiently encouraged today. For its acceptance a long range cultural reorientation would have to occur. That may take generations.
Conflicts would not be restricted to conventional warfare. True, we do have a treaty forbidding the use of nuclear and "weapons of mass destruction" in outer space. But the treaty does not define "weapons of mass destruction", and although it does require inspection of all installations on celestial bodies, it says nothing about stations or space colonies in orbit. In any case, I hope you have more sense than to believe that the moral force of this treaty, all by itself, will deter the greedy ones, the bullies, the maniacs, the suicidal types, or the various champions of human "progress," "liberation," rejuvenation," and
Every colony as well as the Earth itself would be in danger from outer space at all times. No matter how many problems we may have today, we can still look at the stars with fair assurance that no immediate
danger threatens us at least from there. But with millions of space colonies roaming the solar system, life could degenerate into a series of preparations for and recoveries from attacks: an updated version of the lifestyle of centuries past when raids of the Normans, Berbers and other seafaring people depopulated Europe's coastline. Except that this time the weaponry would be a great deal more destructive.
Surely, if we are to have the slightest chance of survival, a treaty banning powerful weapons from space would have to be further clarified, then policed and enforced by some global government. Enforcement would require armed force, since most colonies would, by assumption, be economically self-sufficient, so that economic pressure alone could not be effective against them. The history of our own United States as well as that of other colonies illustrates how economic self-sufficiency leads to political independence unless such aspirations are frustrated
by the force of arms.
Economic pressure would suffice if the colonies were to be kept in permanent economic dependence. But in that case the entire scenario based on self-reproducing colonies becomes invalid. And even then it would be necessary to detect and suppress any attempt toward a self-supporting local economy. In either case eventually hundreds of millions of space colonies would have to be monitored, (remember, we are talking about an up to 20,000-fold population increase) with essentially no margin of error since any undetected local mischief could fast escalate into a solar system wide disaster. I am not saying that this could never be done. But at the moment we are unable to satisfactorily supervise even the handful of major powers right here on our small planet Earth. And we are quite unable to keep track of the doings of even just one million without what we
people witness the soaring crime rate in cities
think would be intolerable violations of their right to privacy. How much more difficult it would be to keep watch over just one million space colonies, each one equipped with sophisticated computers designing strategies to outwit observers. Even if we knew how to do it, we would have to agree which of the several rival power centers on Earth would have the authority to do it. As things now stand, that is inconceivable.
We have already shown that without effective control most colonies could easily turn into space variants of the prison island concept, violence would be frequent and could degenerate into global disaster. We have also shown that at the present we have no way to impose effective large scale control on space communities. Regretfully, we have to conclude that large scale space colonization now would be suicidal. The only alternative which a rational person can permit himself to contemplate at this time is a much
more limited program in which at most a very small number of space colonies would be constructed, and each of them would be kept under strict economic and political control by a government on Earth. In practice this would probably mean keeping them in permanent economic dependency to prevent a successful coup d'etat leading to full independ
That brings us to the third item on our list of expected benefits. It is now clear that space colonization cannot solve the population problem, because that would require full scale effort starting immediately, to keep up with the pace of population growth. But that is out of the question, as we have just demonstrated.
The fourth item on our list is more realistic. Although it will not be possible to remove most industrial activity from the Earth's biosphere into the few space colonies envisioned, nevertheless, even a small number of colonies could serve as havens for the bird and animal species endangered on Earth. Of course, if for some reason life on Earth would cease, it would also cease in the colonies which, as we have seen, would have to be kept dependent on the Earth for survival. Since it would be much cheaper to provide havens for those same species right here on Earth, this opportunity does not constitute a real incentive to start even a limited colonization program.
Only the fifth item on our list does constitute a real incentive. One could derive genuine benefits from research laboratories and certain types of industries located in space colonies, where low temperature, high vacuum and zero gravity environment would be easily accessible, sunlight would be plentiful and could be converted into microwave energy to be radiated to Earth. Furthermore, the artificial habitats would have novelty value for visiting tourists.
We see on the one hand, that there is really no need to rush a large scale colonization program: It's foreseeable benefits would be genuine but limited, nowhere utopian in dimension; it would certainly not solve our most pressing problems, such as overpopulation.
On the other hand, we have shown that such a program undertaken at this time would not only not solve our problems, but would be the source of enormous difficulties which we could not overcome in the near future. It should now be clear that before large scale space colonization can be undertaken in the far distant future, we have to solve three problems: First, to settle conflicts (e.g. concerning the distribution of resources) nonviolently and justly. This means, in particular, not merely making deals between powerful groups at the expense of others, because that would postpone but not eliminate eventual violence. Second, to safeguard the right of self-determination of various groups (on Earth and in space colonies) without opening the door to perpetual turmoil. Third, to limit population growth and waste production to avoid finding ourselves in desperate situations leading to desperate decisions.