"Can't we all just get along?"
The short answer is: NO.
A simple matter of human nature that we all want what we want and all too often others want something different. This is fine when there is enough for everybody, the conflict is relatively easy to avoid. Unfortunately, it's a small world with an ever-growing population.
As the human population continues to expand, we will find our world more crowded. This will be an issue as we all fight for our individual piece of the pie. Not only will we run out of resources, but we will also run out of places to put our waste materials. After all, people are generally full of it and it all has to go somewhere when it comes out.
Most of our pollution problems are a direct result of the population growth. When there were a few people on the planet, that little bit of waste material was handled by the usual decomposition process. Now, we each generate humongous quantities of garbage. Recycling and conservation are a good step but we need to become much more efficient about it.
The typical ways nature deals with overpopulation are four. First is predation. Predators find it easier to eat the overpopulated group if there is more of that group. This doesn't work very well with humans because we don't have any natural predators. Humans are the only creatures that routinely kill other humans. Few people will encourage that behavior.
Secondly, disease kills off a lot of the population. Overcrowding moves the creatures closer together. The nearness allows disease to spread more easily. When the plague wiped out huge chunks of the world human population, urban areas were hit hardest. The diseases that hit us today tend to flourish in the cities. There are just more people in close proximity and that is an ideal breeding ground for most illness causing organisms.
Of course, the fact that we are a world community helps too. This helps diseases spread across the globe at the speed of the airlines. SARS made it from China to Toronto fairly quick. Monkey Pox, a relative of Small Pox, used to be known only in Africa. Recently we had a few cases here in Midwestern America.
The third way is through starvation. If a population grows too large, they will no longer be able to find enough food. There are places in the world today where people starve. Sure, many times it is because the governments in those places will not allow the food to get to the hungry people. As a species, humans have gotten fairly good at food production. Starvation should not be an insurmountable problem for the near future.
Finally, when a population grows too large, they expand to new areas. Take as an example the Vikings. Scandinavia is not a very friendly environment, in terms of nature not culture, and its population grew too heavy. Their people went raiding into all areas they could reach. Many times they would find an area to be pleasant-ish and would return with families for the purpose of settling. These days, the space exploration people are looking into the possibilities of this for our pending problem.
So what? What does all of this have to do with anything?
It's simple really; we need to apply our intellect to the pending problem of world overpopulation.
First, we need to realize that it is a problem now and not just some abstract, future problem with which someone else can deal. It is the job of the individual and the community to se to the well being of the offspring. Those offspring are both the problem and the victims of the problem. You would want to do things to ensure that your children and grandchildren are provided for, now's the time to start.
Second, we must improve our ability to recycle everything. Not only does this give us more resources but it means we produce less waste. This is very important and will only really annoy lazy people. (NOTE: Lazy persons who are offended by the last line are encouraged to think about writing to me to complain.)
Third, we must decide on the manner in which we will deal with the problem. We have:
- Death through predation.
- Death through disease.
- Death through famine.
- Expansion to new areas.
Since discussing the first three in a rational fashion just makes people upset, I'll limit myself to the last one. Expansion to new areas needs two primary ingredients: new areas, and a means to get there.
There are two areas that humans haven't really gone. First, there is all that under ocean territory. This is a fairly limited territory in terms of size. To make matters worse, scientists have recently started to whine about the severe damage that we have already caused in the oceans. Given these two factors, I would recommend that we look elsewhere.
That leaves space. There's plenty of it to be sure. The question is how much of it is actually usable for human existence? If we can only find tiny little places in which to store people, we may want to reconsider the predation thing. (We have the genetic capabilities to make some really neat predators.)
After deciding the places we want to build, we need only build habitation and vehicles to get it there. But won't that use up Earth resources?
A little, at first, but part of any reasonable plan is to find resources where we are headed. There is a belt of asteroids out there that are chock full of materials just waiting to be mined, and there isn't a spotted owl living anywhere near them. Other heavenly bodies also have resources.
What about all the people who have problems today here on Earth? Shouldn't we devote resources to them rather than some dream of space?
A very good set of questions with an equally good set of answers. Most of the problems of humans have to do with earning a living. That means getting food, clothing, and shelter. They also want a sense of purpose.
Well, if we can get a large portion of the population employed on the space exploration project, they will have all of that. Sure, some people will have to be better educated, but that will happen if we do the predation thing too. There will still be jobs available for those who either cannot or will not learn the latest. Nobody should be required to be part of the team; that would go against his or her personal freedom.
This type of endeavor would need international support to have the most impact. If too many countries have their resources tied up in space exploration then they can't be building up super armies to terrorize their neighbors. The need for shared resources makes for a friendlier world.
Lastly, we can't forget the main reason for space exploration:
All of you! Get the hell off my planet.