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Community asteroid mining  industrial revolution and population growth | Upload Society

Asteroid Mining: Industrial Revolution And Population Growth

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by: Sharai Hoekema
asteroid mining  industrial revolution and population growth | Upload

This final part (part 4 of 4) in the asteroid mining series will zoom in on some of the reasons why we should engage in this futuristic practice of going out to space to find huge amounts of Earth-scarce resources on asteroids. Now that we have explored the background of the concept (in part 1), its economic feasibility, required infrastructure and mining techniques (in part 2), and looked at some of the advocates who are working hard to make it a reality (in part 3), we ought to consider the societal impact as well.

How will asteroid mining impact humanity? And how can it help us in dealing with our growing population and intensifying industry? Those questions will be answered in this fourth part.

Industrial Revolution And Population Growth

We are living on a tiny, tiny blue dot in the vast expanse of space. One of the first things most astronauts will say once they get to look at us from afar, is how small it is. How insignificant, if you wish, in the grander scheme of things. This is why it is so worrying that we are hardly treating her with the respect that she deserves for keeping us safe and sound.

Will the human population ever stop growing?
At the moment (2019) the global population sits at 7.7 billion. But soon - or at least, soon in the context of human history - the number of people on Earth will stop growing. Based on the latest figures from the United Nations, demographers' best guess for when this will happen is about 2100.

The strain that we are putting on our home planet has multiplied in the last couple of centuries. With the kickoff of the industrial revolution in the 18th century, Earth has seen our population numbers explode from 1 billion back in 1800 to 6 billion in 2000 - almost at the same rate at which she found her own resources dwindling. Exponential growth is great when it comes to profits, but not so handy when it concerns the strain we put on our planet.

Population growth graph

Climate Change And Resource Consumption

Growing consumerism is almost as damaging as the growing population numbers. Granted, the former is a logical consequence of the latter. With the population having increased sevenfold, it was to be expected that our consumption of resources would follow suit - although few would have expected the thirtyfold increase in energy that we managed to rake up.

Recommended: Consumerism In ‘The West’: A Society Built On Exploitation

With the Earth’s population expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, you can guess what this would do with our energy consumption - at a time that we should be cutting back instead to prevent the worst effects of climate change. We will have to find other ways of feeding, housing, clothing and sustaining ourselves, all while our numbers are still increasing rapidly.

 

Are we overpopulated?
Depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may or may not have already occurred. Nevertheless, the rapid recent increase in human population is causing some concern. The population is expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the years 2040 and 2050.

 

One of the most popular solutions? To look to outer space and find off-world solutions for our overpopulation and depleted resources. Enter asteroid mining. The great risk associated with this? That we are merely shifting our burden onto a larger environment and, ultimately, creating an even larger problem.

Asteroid Mining: Can/Should We Do It?

The crux of asteroid mining is that, within the immediate future, there is no economically viable way of bringing the obtained minerals and metals back to Earth. Leaving aside the potentially disastrous effects on the resource prices on Earth - if there suddenly were a massive influx of gold, one could only imagine what this would do with the gold price and the gold industry at large -; it is simply too costly to make its infrastructure work.


                                                                 How Close Are We to Mining in Space?
                                              Asteroid Mining: Industrial Revolution And Population Growth

Instead, resources obtained through asteroid mining will rely on customers in space. Meaning, industry will have to be outsourced to space as well. A blossoming space industry economy and its infrastructure is both the supplier and customer. Something that might be profitable in the long run, but for now, it does not get us any closer to obtaining those scarce resources on Earth.

The costs of bringing resources back to Earth are far greater than the costs of producing it ourselves, polluting as it may be. Similarly, the cost of delivering resources obtained in space to a space station or in-orbit factory is much lower than getting it up from Earth. So eventually, if we are able to get a flourishing space industry going, it would potentially reduce the need for heavy industry on Earth - although it will not be the thing that saves us in the short run.

Climate Change, Food, Energy And Resources

What are the 5 types of resources?
Air, water, food, plants, animals, minerals, metals, and everything else that exists in nature and has utility to mankind is a 'Resource'. The value of each such resource depends on its utility and other factors.

Meanwhile, we are still battling climate change, overpopulation, food shortages and resource depletion down on Earth. Perhaps the conclusion that asteroid mining will not solve this in the next couple of decades is a painful one, but it is one that needs to be accepted before moving on with our space activities. 

Recommended: Our Food system Under Threat By Decline In Biodiversity

Our economy will have to transition in a major way to accept space industry as its main driver, while we have to continuously focus on sustainable solutions and green technologies to ensure that our home stays upright. Making Earth a residential zone and moving all industry out into space is definitely something that is feasible - ultimately. Asteroid mining will play a crucial role in this. 

spaceship asteroid mining

And further down the road? Asteroid mining could be the thing that really kicks off space exploration and - possibly - colonisation. So while it will not save Earth by adding to its supplies, it will certainly have the capability of unburdening her from both excessive population and industry.

In the first article in this series, I compared asteroid mining with the Klondike Gold Rush. Actually it really is not that far off. Only instead of settling in the previously unexplored areas of America and building an economy and society on the retrieved gold, we might now be doing so in outer space.

Before you go!

Recommended: Solar Farms In Space: Next Step In Renewable Energy

Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

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Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'

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Asteroid Mining: Industrial Revolution And Population Growth

This final part (part 4 of 4) in the asteroid mining series will zoom in on some of the reasons why we should engage in this futuristic practice of going out to space to find huge amounts of Earth-scarce resources on asteroids. Now that we have explored the background of the concept (in part 1), its economic feasibility, required infrastructure and mining techniques (in part 2), and looked at some of the advocates who are working hard to make it a reality (in part 3), we ought to consider the societal impact as well. How will asteroid mining impact humanity? And how can it help us in dealing with our growing population and intensifying industry? Those questions will be answered in this fourth part. Industrial Revolution And Population Growth We are living on a tiny, tiny blue dot in the vast expanse of space. One of the first things most astronauts will say once they get to look at us from afar, is how small it is. How insignificant, if you wish, in the grander scheme of things. This is why it is so worrying that we are hardly treating her with the respect that she deserves for keeping us safe and sound. Will the human population ever stop growing? At the moment (2019) the global population sits at 7.7 billion. But soon - or at least, soon in the context of human history - the number of people on Earth will stop growing. Based on the latest figures from the United Nations, demographers' best guess for when this will happen is about 2100. The strain that we are putting on our home planet has multiplied in the last couple of centuries. With the kickoff of the industrial revolution in the 18th century, Earth has seen our population numbers explode from 1 billion back in 1800 to 6 billion in 2000 - almost at the same rate at which she found her own resources dwindling. Exponential growth is great when it comes to profits, but not so handy when it concerns the strain we put on our planet. Climate Change And Resource Consumption Growing consumerism is almost as damaging as the growing population numbers. Granted, the former is a logical consequence of the latter. With the population having increased sevenfold, it was to be expected that our consumption of resources would follow suit - although few would have expected the thirtyfold increase in energy that we managed to rake up. Recommended:  Consumerism In ‘The West’: A Society Built On Exploitation With the Earth’s population expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, you can guess what this would do with our energy consumption - at a time that we should be cutting back instead to prevent the worst effects of climate change. We will have to find other ways of feeding, housing, clothing and sustaining ourselves, all while our numbers are still increasing rapidly.   Are we overpopulated? Depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may or may not have already occurred. Nevertheless, the rapid recent increase in human population is causing some concern. The population is expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the years 2040 and 2050.   One of the most popular solutions? To look to outer space and find off-world solutions for our overpopulation and depleted resources. Enter asteroid mining. The great risk associated with this? That we are merely shifting our burden onto a larger environment and, ultimately, creating an even larger problem. Asteroid Mining: Can/Should We Do It? The crux of asteroid mining is that, within the immediate future, there is no economically viable way of bringing the obtained minerals and metals back to Earth. Leaving aside the potentially disastrous effects on the resource prices on Earth - if there suddenly were a massive influx of gold, one could only imagine what this would do with the gold price and the gold industry at large -; it is simply too costly to make its infrastructure work. {youtube}                                                                  How Close Are We to Mining in Space?                                               Asteroid Mining: Industrial Revolution And Population Growth Instead, resources obtained through asteroid mining will rely on customers in space. Meaning, industry will have to be outsourced to space as well. A blossoming space industry economy and its infrastructure is both the supplier and customer. Something that might be profitable in the long run, but for now, it does not get us any closer to obtaining those scarce resources on Earth. The costs of bringing resources back to Earth are far greater than the costs of producing it ourselves, polluting as it may be. Similarly, the cost of delivering resources obtained in space to a space station or in-orbit factory is much lower than getting it up from Earth. So eventually, if we are able to get a flourishing space industry going, it would potentially reduce the need for heavy industry on Earth - although it will not be the thing that saves us in the short run. Climate Change, Food, Energy And Resources What are the 5 types of resources? Air, water, food, plants, animals, minerals, metals, and everything else that exists in nature and has utility to mankind is a 'Resource'. The value of each such resource depends on its utility and other factors. Meanwhile, we are still battling climate change, overpopulation, food shortages and resource depletion down on Earth. Perhaps the conclusion that asteroid mining will not solve this in the next couple of decades is a painful one, but it is one that needs to be accepted before moving on with our space activities.   Recommended:  Our Food system Under Threat By Decline In Biodiversity Our economy will have to transition in a major way to accept space industry as its main driver, while we have to continuously focus on sustainable solutions and green technologies to ensure that our home stays upright. Making Earth a residential zone and moving all industry out into space is definitely something that is feasible - ultimately. Asteroid mining will play a crucial role in this.   And further down the road? Asteroid mining could be the thing that really kicks off space exploration and - possibly - colonisation. So while it will not save Earth by adding to its supplies, it will certainly have the capability of unburdening her from both excessive population and industry. In the first article in this series, I compared asteroid mining with the Klondike Gold Rush. Actually it really is not that far off. Only instead of settling in the previously unexplored areas of America and building an economy and society on the retrieved gold, we might now be doing so in outer space. Before you go! Recommended:  Solar Farms In Space: Next Step In Renewable Energy Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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