X-Message-Number: 6142
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: To Peter Merel
Date: Sun, 5 May 1996 16:00:13 -0700 (PDT)


This note is to answer a question which I never got round to answering before
I was pulled away by other activities.

I had stated that in terms of centuries (but not decades) we probably were
close to the limits of the Earth, and would have to either move into space or
become static and eventually die off. Peter Merel asked me to explain, so
here is why I think that.

Very simple, really. Thermodynamics, as in waste heat release. There has been,
historically, a very long trend in which the energy used by each individual on
earth has increased. Certainly there have been periods in which it temporarily
went down, but they've been followed by others in which it went up even more.
I can no more predict the REASON for that energy use than someone 300 years
ago could have predicted automobiles, trains, and airplanes, but I think this
increase is NOT going to stop --- nanotechnology, conservation, new materials,
or whatever. After all, even if we make devices which use far less energy than
similar devices do now, that just means we can do more and have more at the 
same level of energy. Does any reader, especially any cryonicist, believe that
we will then happily stop right there?

Some years ago I wrote an article on everyday life in the future for Pat
Dewey's old LONG LIFE MAGAZINE. I didn't so much look at particular technology
but instead just looked at historical trends. For energy use, our waste heat
output will equal about 1% of the Sun's input to the Earth about 300 years
from now. Do I "believe" that figure? Well, not exactly, but I do think it's
telling us something. 

And I hardly think this is a pessimistic point. After all, as so many 
conservationists seem unable to grasp, we live in a Solar System, not just 
on a planet. And if and when that transition from living on the Earth to
living in the Solar System happens for everyone, they will probably not
notice it as a painful event (they may not notice it at all) but be glad 
because now they had an entire large satellite to live in with their 
friends (or even alone) ... much more real estate per person than on Earth.
Our very own O'Neill habitat, for ourselves and our friends.

So that's why I think that we will pass the limits of the Earth. And I'm
if anything a technological optimist. 

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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