Space Exploration and Malthusian Nightmares

October 21, 2010

Back in 1798, Thomas Malthus predicted that eventually we were going to run out of food. Now, we may (I don’t know if we do or not) now have the means to overcome that limitation to our population via technology, but we also have other things that could substantially limit the carrying capacity of Earth for humans, like oil, fresh water, IPv4 addresses, and so on.

I don’t mean to use an argument from authority, but Stephen Hawking is of the opinion that we need to leave Earth, and I tend to think he’s right, not least of which because we’re currently carrying all of our eggs in one basket, but because we know for certain that mass extinction events can and do occur. The C-T boundary event that destroyed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago wasn’t even the biggest mass extinction Earth has had, only wiping 75% of species off the planet. Read the rest of this entry »