Humans have always been a migratory race, constantly on the move to find better lands for hunting, grazing, agriculture, and other resources. As long as humans were subject to natural selection, the human peoples had a tendency to evolve new cleverness, while keeping their absolute numbers within bounds.
In the face of the great human escape from natural selection — and the subsequent rapid proliferation of human populations — the quest for new resources is becoming more important, for the intermediate human future at least.
The original Al Fin blog focused on a wide range of topics, including access to outer space. Due to time constraints, in this blog we are forced to focus more narrowly, leaving coverage of many important topics to more prolific bloggers, including Brian Wang at NextBigFuture, among others.
The Space Economy blog began earlier this year, and does a respectable job of covering space ideas that Al Fin would like to cover, but does not have time to do.
Here are links to a recent sampling of articles at The Space Economy:
- Space Water Refinery
- Space Gas Station
- Spacesuit Maker
- The Moon is the Best Start
- Astronaut Camps
- Space Sports Car
- Space Body Guards
- Space Crime (1)
- Lunar Retirement Home
- Micro-Launch Company
- A Company for Reactivating Vintage Spacecraft
- The Danger of E.T. to the Private Space Industry
Space optimism was once a staple of North American society, with the race to the moon in the 1960’s, and the 1970’s explosion of space enthusiasm described at NSS.org :
Excitement over the L5 scenario probably peaked in 1977. That year produced the third consecutive NASA summer study on Space Settlements and Industrialization Using Nonterrestrial Materials. (The study was published in 1979 as NASA Publication SP-428, entitled Space Resources and Space Settlement.) In this study, L5 Director and physicist J. Peter Vajk and others developed the most detailed scenario yet for production of Solar Power Satellites from lunar materials. The scenario called for a space manufacturing facility which would house 3,000 workers in a rotating facility constructed from refurbished Shuttle external fuel tanks. The study identified exactly how many launches of the Shuttle and a Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle would be required, and concluded that the project could have begun in 1985 and have three SPS’s on line by 1992. Unfortunately, this scenario was based on two assumptions that later proved incorrect: that the Shuttle would significantly reduce the cost of space launch, and that it would fly 60 times per year. The scenario did, however, serve as a significant “proof of concept.”
1977 was also the year that two major books came out on the subject, bringing in a new wave of members. One of these was O’Neill’s classic work, The High Frontier. The other was T. A. Heppenheimer’s Colonies in Space. The latter book happened to be my own introduction to the subject. I remember at first passing it by in the bookstore because I thought it concerned things 200 years from now. I finally picked it up when a less expensive edition came out, and in the middle of the second chapter it hit me: this is something we can do right now! I immediately joined the L5 Society, started a local chapter, and have remained active ever since.
In the early 21st century, any type of optimism is generally considered to be naive, and especially space optimism and techno optimism. This is a natural result of the accelerating dysgenic Idiocracy, which necessarily tends to focus on problems rather than solutions. Why “necessarily?” Because as the Idiocracy takes hold, the ability of humans to solve real world problems tends to decay.
10% of the people do at least 90% of the work, and always have. This applies to solving difficult problems at all levels, and it applies to making sure the necessary dirty work gets done. The ongoing Idiocracy is nothing new, although due to the global nature of modern life it is operating on a much wider and deeper scale. It means that “the smart fraction of the smart fraction” is being squeezed by growing dumb fractions inside all populations, as long as humans continue to ignore the lessons of natural selection.
Space optimism — like all forms of modern optimism — relies upon the human ability to learn and solve problems. If the human substrate of difficult problem-solving is allowed to decay in an orgy of politically correct dysgenics and ideological denial of the evolutionary nature of the human race, problem-solvers are likely to be in short supply.
And that is where networks of resilient and dangerous communities come in.