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OPINION POLL RESULTS
IDEA is a good one
READERS who responded to the September Opinion Poll Questionnaire gave the International Decade of Energy Achievement (IDEA) a strong vote of confidence-75% in favor-with only 16% opposed and 10% having no opinion on the subject. The more-than-2,400 respondents said a clear "No" to the suggestion that IDEA be limited to development of power satellites, however.
While 14% agreed with President Carter that energy conservation was the first line of defense, 83% opted in favor of active R&D efforts into new energy areas and 3% wanted both approaches to be taken simultaneously. Complete results of the poll follow:
1. President Carter apparently favors solving the energy problem thru conservation. Do you?
Agree that conservation is best?
Favor an active R&D effort into new areas?
2. As an alternative to conventional petroleum and pollut ing coal power generating plants, which one of the following do you favor for early in the next century? Low-BTU coal gasification
Light-water nuclear reactors
Ground-based solar thermal plants
Geosynchronous solar satellite stations
No... 16% No opinion... 10%
I understand that the House Science and Technology Committee will hold hearings starting January 24 on the future of the United States space program, including House Concurrent Resolutions 447 and 451 calling for the Office of Technology Assessment to study space industrialization as a national goal.
In connection with these hearings, I urge you to
(1) Give careful thought to space colonization, including space industrialization (the implicitly assumed goals of our space program since its inception);
(2) Study in detail the sociological implication of space industrialization and colonization. This will be more difficult than the evaluation of purely technological questions; it has been neglected so far.
Unless you are able to come to a reassuring conclusion during your hearings (an unlikely possibility) I suggest that you set up a study group whose task should be the evaluation of the sociological impact of space colonization industrialization. Questions raised should in my opinion include those
listed in the attached Appendix.
Enclosed I am sending you two copies of my article "Space Colonization Yes, But Not Now". One copy is typed (University of Oregon, Institute of Theoretical Science Preprint N.T. 060 C/76). The second is a printed copy (The Futurist, 1977, Volume 11, No. 5, October). Except for minor differences, the text of both copies is identical.
The article is popularly written, easy to read, but the questions raised should be taken seriously.
I request that this letter, as well as at least one (or both) copies of the enclosed article be made part of the permanent record of the House Science and Technology Committee hearings on the future of the U.S. space program.
Should you have any questions related to this letter or the enclosed article, please let me know. I will be happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge in writing, by phone or in person.
The Honorable 0.E. Teague
January 13, 1978
Will the presence of space installations be an important source of further conflict between nations?
What would be the most likely causes of conflict involving space installations? E.g. competition for desirable raw materials; attempts by certain installations to violate agreements; space skyjacking or full-scale invasion attampts; psychological motives (national, religious, etc., rivalries, prejudices, individual or mass psychoses).
Can we foresee what weaponry may be used by or against space installations in the immediate future? How much could these threaten conventional social units on Earth?
What types of societies would evolve in space installations? In particular, would the discipline required to maintain life in space be conducive to the establishment of authoritarian systems? If so, should we view this with concern? Would this type of system increase the likelihood of large-scale violence?
Could space installations significantly relieve population pressures on Earth, as is frequently claimed? Or, on the contrary, could they contribute to it?
Would the dominant problems of our times be solved more easily before expansion into space is undertaken (these problems include population limitation, waste control, "fair" resource distribution, how to resolve conflicts nonviolently but justly)?
What national, multinational or international organizations should be created to minimize the undesirable sociological effects of space colonization and industrialization?
SPACE COLONIZATION-YES, BUT NOT NOW.
Paul L. Csonka
Institute of Theoretical Science
If space colonization were to be undertaken today at the
maximum rate permitted by technology, it is likely that instead of increasing the chances of human survival, it would drastically reduce it. Preliminary studies ought to be undertaken, but large scale colonization should be postponed until such a time when (and if) social and political conditions reach the prerequisite state of sophistication. A moratorium on large scale space colonization should be negotiated.