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New from the World Future Society

The Study of the Future
By Edward Cornish with Members and Staff of the

World Future Society
World Future Society, Washington, D.C. 1977


320 pages. Paperback.

A general introduction to futurism and future studes Chapters discuss the history of the futurist movement ways to introduce future-oriented think ing into organizations, the philosoph cal assumptions underlying studies of the future methods of forecasting current thinking about what may happen as a result of the current revolutionary changes in human society, etc !! also includes descnptions of the ble and thinking of prominent futurists and an annotated guide to further reading Comment Many people have sought a readable introduction to the futures field None of the books on the market seemed quite sustable. 30 the World Future Society has devel: oped this unique book to speak honestly though perhaps immodestly we bebeve it is the best introduction to futurism now available for the aver. age reader

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This is a guide to individuals, organizations, educational programs and courses, current research projects, periodicals, books and reports, films and videotapes, audio tapes, games and simulations, and other information sources. This book was prepared by the Society in response to the count less Quenes it receives each year from people who want to know where to go for information about forecasting and futurism Supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Congressional Re. search Service, the Society labored more than a year to complete the sur vey of the field on which this volume is based. Comment This is the most complete and accurate guide now available, and is strongly recommended

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Space Colonization:
An Invitation to Disaster?

by Paul L. Csonka
A large-scale space colonization program now would probably lead

1996. Model 3 by 2002 and starting to widespread oppression, violence, and global disaster, argues a sci

about the year 2014 the work force of a

*"parent" colony could build a "daughentist. He believes that only a small, strictly supervised number of

ter" colony within 6 years, relying en space settlements should be permitted until humanity becomes less

tirely on its own resources plus raw violent and forms a world government capable of policing space. materials found in outer space, with no

assistance from the Earth. This doubling The dream of leaving the Earth and be constructed, capable of supporting, time of six years is to be compared with reaching the stars is probably as old as about 10,000 people inside a space cyl- the present doubling time of Earth's the human race. It certainly predates the inder about a mile long and with a population: 35 years. Accordingly invention of writing, as attested by an- radius of several hundred feet this from about the year 2050, the number cient legends and mythologies. Through could then serve as a base to construct a of places available in the space colonies the millennia, the concept of extraterres- larger "Model 2" space colony with would increase so fast that they could trial hfe and travel has proved to be a about 100.000-200,000 people and a absorb the population increase not only rich source of entertainment and inspir. cylindrical volume about 30 times larger on the Earth but also in the colonies. ation. It also has been quite harmless. than for the previous model. That, in Thereafter, population density could be

That state of affairs has changed in turn, could be used to construct Model decreased everywhere. The price of im recent years. Largely as a result of the 3," which would be several miles wide plementing this program would be interesting analysis of Princeton physi- and long and house about a million peo- around five billion dollars per year (in cist Gerard K O'Neill and his co- ple. Even larger models might come 1972 dollars). (For more on space workers in the United States, and other later

colonies, see "Space Colonies: The High scientists abroad, it has become clear Various industries would be estab- Frontier" by Gerard O'Neill in THE that we could now start large-scale lished in the successive models. The pro- FUTURIST February 1976. pp. 25-33.) colonization of space if we wished to do duction costs in some of these industries so The dream of permanently leaving would be less than in similar industries

The Arguments for Colonization the Earth could become a reality. And on the Earth for example, high-strength Why should humanity embark on this therein lies the danger.

single crystals might be cheaply manu- proposed gigantic expansion project? Before presenting my arguments. I factured in zero gravity high-vacuum According to O'Neill and his comust emphasize that I am not against environment, and solar energy would workers, there are several arguments in space colonization. I hope that it is suc be more plentiful. In this way, Model 1 favor of such a plan. I will try to give a cessfully undertaken some day. But could partly pay for itself" starting im- fair summary of these arguments as premankind should not plunge into such an mediately after it becomes operational sented by O'Neill in Physics Today adventure betore conditions are ripe for thus reducing the otherwise exorbitant (September, 1974). (The ordering is it, and I believe that at the present time construction costs of Model 2, etc. The mine) they are not

technology to accomplish this multi- 1 Cultural diversity will flourish. It is not our technological maturity stage construction project is only partly ONeill says that the technical imper which I doubt. In fact. I have high re- available today the rest would have to atives of this kind of migration of peogard for the work of O'Neill and his col- be developed along the way.

ple and industry into space are likely to laborators, who have presented a con- According to ONeill. Model 1 could

encourage self-sufficiency small-scale vincing argument that our industrial be operational by 1988. Model 2 by governmental units, cultural diversity capacity could cope with the task of

and a high degree of independence colonization. Their calculations have

A community of 20.000 people, eager to proved to be realistic, although occa

preserve its own culture

nd language sionally on the optimistic side. My

can even remain largely isolated. Free objections are of a social and political

diverse social experimentations could nature. Under the conditions prevailing

thrive in such a protected, self-sufficient today, immediate large-scale space colo

environment (For such reasons many nization is likely to have disastrous con

young Maoists are now enthusiastically sequences for the human race

in favor of space colonization)

2 Good "land" will be plentiful. The The Proposed Program for

history of the last 30 years suggests that Space Colonization

warfare in the nuclear age is strongly, How could one commence large-scale

although not wholly motivated by ter space colonization today? O'Neill sug

ntorial conflicts-battles over limited, gests a multi-stage process. In the first stage, a "Model 1" space colony would

nonextendable pieces of land," ONeill maintains the construction of new

living spaces may eliminate the cause of The first space colony could look like a

such contlicts giant wheel floating in space. The burn ished disc that hangs suspended over the

Furthermore, one may be hopeful that wheel is a floating mirror panel that reflects

colonization will be peaceful. "We al sunlight down onto slanted panels and into Author Paul L Csonka warns that disaster ready have a treaty banning nuclear shields that screen out cosmic rays.

could result if humanity plunges into large weapons from space, and the colonies Photo NASA scale space colonization in the near future.

can obtain all the energy they could ever THE FUTURIST, October 1977 285 need from clean solar power so that temptations presented by nuclear reactor by-products need not exist in the space communities


3. Population pressures on Earth can be alleviated. After about the year 2050, the number of new space colonies built per year would be high enough to de crease the population density of Earth and the space colonies to predetermined ecologically sound levels, even if the growth rate of the population persisted undiminished at its present value of 1.98% per year This expansion could continue while there is space to be colo nized in the Solar System: at least a 20.000-told increase of the population could be so accommodated without in creasing the population density At the present rate that would take about 500 years during which time we would hopefully learn to slow down popula. tion growth or initiate space travel to distant stars. There are enough materials for us to use: "If we are so prodigal as to run through the entire material of the asteroid belt in the next 500 years we can even gain another 500 years by using up the moons of the outer planets

4 Industrial pollution on Earth could be greatly reduced. "If work is begun soon, nearly all our industrial activity could be moved away from the Earths fragile biosphere within less than a century from now.' declares O Neill In addition, "bird and animal species that are endangered on Earth by agricultural development and industrial chemical residues may find havens for growth in the space colonies, where insecticides are unnecessary and industry has unlimited energy for recycling

5. The quality of life would be high. The space settlements would offer "new

A small transportation vehicle waits for lift-off from a mining town on the moon Lunarmaterials will be the prime source of metals and oxygen for proposed space colonies At right are mines and living quarters. The smaller tube bins with glass windows are agriculture sheds where food is grown. At left is magnetic track of accelerator which sends lunar me terials hurtling into space.

Photo NASA habitats far more comfortable and tions from the calculated values. To attractive than is most of the Earth, avoid such a delay, we have to start coONeill suggests. In addition, using the lonization right now and if this were matter and energy available in space to the whole story, we would be well adcolonize and build, we can achieve great vised to do so productivity of food and material goods Examples of this type were cited

Critique of the Proposed Program earlier: favorable environment for large But this is not the whole story. Ansingle-crystal growth is difficult to other assumption impliat in the above achieve on the Earth but could be eas- arguments is that human behavior is ily accomplished in space colonies, solar mostly rational and generous in the collectors placed in orbit could gather sense that it furthers the best interests solar radiation for conversion to electri- of the entire human race. This assumpcal energy (which in turn may be radi- tion is unjustified, as any student of hisated to Earth in the form of micro- tory well knows. Those on whose deciwaves)

siong the future of our race depends (During the last year or so publica- muse face the consequences of human irtions dealing with space colonization rationality and selfishness, it would be have tended to stress the fifth item on irresponsible to do otherwise. At the our list of expected benefits. However, very least we must try to foresee all difthe other four have not been repudiated ficulties which we may encounter-and or retracted; in fact, they are still being make sure that we know how to avoid quoted, and by now they have been re- them before committing humanity to peatedly enumerated by the news me- such an irreversible course of action as dia)

space colonization These arguments suggest that we Some enthusiasts take the position should undertake space colonization that space colonization would be a new soon, and on a large scale. Indeed un- venture, so we can never know where it less we do so, ecological damage to the will lead us I reject this argument. It is Earth's biosphere would no longer be re- true that so far humanity has not built versible birds and fish which might large spaceships, colonized outer space, have found sanctuaries in space habitats or lived in isolated space communities would become extinct: the human popu- for any appreciable length of time. But lation density would reach catastrophic mankind has built sea-going vessels, co levels and a pathologically overpopu

lonized distant lands, and lived in more lated Earth could not provide the neces- or less isolated communities for centu. sary financial resources and supplies to ries Our ample experience in these un sustain major colonization effort. dertakings must be considered as an inPopulation limitation would then be dication of the kinds of obstacles we are brought about by other means. Because likely to encounter of the exponential growth rates, even a In this short article my aim is to call small delay would mean large devia- attention to some of the social and poli

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movement happens only as a result of the spectacular social changes usually referred to as revolutions and more of ten than not, even these changes merely generate another autocratic system replacing the old one

In view of the foregoing, we must assume that most isolated space communities will almost certainly, eventually develop some non-democratic form of

tical problems to be expected on the ba- ing cliques crystallizing around domisis of historical analogy. I plan to con- nant personalities still appear when the vince you that we are in no position opportunity arises: children on a playnow to handle the difficulties which ground unattended by adults, or adoleswould emerge. I intend to demonstrate cent gangs in and out of school, constithat in view of the many unsolvable tute prime examples of this phenomeproblems, the above listed five benefits

non expected from space colonization are These everyday observations are of largely illusory. Furthermore. I will ar- limited scope, but, in conjunction with gue that not only is the proposed space our brief historical analysis, they show colonization program unlikely to alle a general pattern and cause one to won viate our difficulties, but it will inevi. der if such behavior might be genetically tably amplify them and move us closer preferred. The formation of hierarchies to general disaster

definitely has survival value for group Let us start our argument by exami- animals living in the wild because it ning one by one the previously listed insures group formation around the five expected benefits.

strongest leaders. It seems unlikely that

behavior that is common to almost all An Invitation to Tyranny

higher animal societies would be totally 1. Diversity. How realistic is the hope absent in human society. Whether the that space colonization would indeed

reason is genetic or otherwise the fact encourage small-scale government remains that, in the cultures prevailing units, a high degree of independence, from ancient times until today, there is and free diverse social experimentation? a strong tendency toward authoritarian

If left to themselves, what kind of so- hierarchies cial structure would the spaceships like Nowadays the tendency to form hierly develop? The most reasonable as- archies seems to have lost much of its sumption is that they will develop along primeval value it is unpleasant for the same lines as small self-contained those who are relegated to the lower social units in the past have tended to echelons and it also appears to be harmdo. Probably the simplest example of ful to the leaders who occupy the higher such units is a ship on the high seas. levels. Perceiving this change, people What societies evolved on sea-taring in many societies have strived to make vessels of the past? All of us have heard the transition to democracy, but only a about pirate ships roaming the high small minority of countries have sucseas, each under the control of its ty- ceeded in achieving an acceptable aprannical captain. But how many ships proximation of it. Despite the many setwere inhabited by a democratic com- backs, there are still those who hope munity of gentle people who minded that democracy will prove to be viable their own business, did harm to no one in the long run and perhaps some day and made their living happily fishing even come to be accepted by many on the high seas under the bright clear more countries. But even where demotropical sun? None that I know of cratic societies exist they seem to be in More generally, how many peaceful, constant danger of sliding toward a democratic pluralistic communities more autocratic system. The reverse have evolved since sophisticated weaponry became possible with the discovery of ways to forge copper? The history of Europe shows that whenever central authority has weakened, countries have tended to disintegrate, and

In recent issues. THE FUTURIST smaller geographically determined

has published several articles which units have emerged each ruled by a

look favorably upon the idea of strong man reigning over the local population-but also detending it

large-scale space colonization in the

near future against exploitation by outsiders With

Space Colonies. The

High Frontier" by Gerard K O'Neill the notable exception of certain Swiss

appeared in the February 1976 issue cantons and some cities, essentially all regional governments were autocratic

and Designing a Space Communi

ty' by Magoroh Maruyama apuntil quite recently. This phenomenon is not limited to Europe, the experience

peared in October 1976

This article draws attention to of Asia, North Africa and Central Amenica is similar. Nor is this tendency

Some possible drawbacks of large

scule space colonization now limited to the past Hierarchies and rul

Csonka, a physicist anticipates that
About the Author

some may tend to dismiss his argu-
ments as

Unscientific because he
Author Paul L Csonka, a physicist, is direc 15 neither a historian nor a political
tor of the Institute of Theoretical Science,
University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

scientist. However, he contends that 97403

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A Dialogue on Space Colonization


his presentation 18 justified because "the choices which will have to be made will attect the future of all of

In addition, at present there is no generally accepted practicable scientific method in the social SCH ences which could prove wrong, his opinions he says In such cases, expertise must be supplemented by other considerations he concludes There is dearly room for opinion

Csonka believes that the subject of space colonization is such an im portant one that a dialogue must be started in which all of the possible ramifications tor society brought out into the open betore a commitment is made


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