Can Humanity Escape the Earth?

Author: Widdowson, Marc
Almanac: History & Mathematics:Investigating Past and Future

At the time of European discovery, the Old World, Americas and Australia had populations and technological levels that were ranked in the same order as their size. In Australia, population and technology had remained steady for thousands of years. This suggests that the size of an isolated territory limits both the population and the technology it can achieve. Since world population growth is slowing down, it could be that humanity as a whole is approaching the population limit – and hence the technological limit – that a planet the size of the earth can support. The question is whether space colonisation lies within this limit, so that humanity can escape the earth's boundaries, or whether it is beyond the limit, so that humanity will converge to a stagnant, earth-bound equilibrium. Drawing on existing models of social macrodynamics, the author concludes that earth is probably just large enough for escape to occur.

Keywords: social macrodynamics, world population, technological evolution, space colonisation.