Throughout the history of man there has never been enough to go around for everyone---there has always been scarcity. Therefore, the basic problem was: who gets what? Who survives and who doesn't? Every society has had a different system for deciding that question, and which group survived was usually decided by war!
But just because it has always been that way doesn't mean that it always has to be that way in the future. Just because there was scarcity in the past, does that mean that there has to be scarcity in the future?
No! Mankind now has enough knowledge to be able to invent our way into a future of plenty. We are just not aware of the fact that we now have that possibility. According to the engineers, the world's industrial system is now operating at only about four percent efficiency, but it could easily be improved to an average of twelve percent. In other words, all we have to do is start using already existing inventions and stop being so wasteful!
Ok. That sounds great, but having two or three times as much wealth would not do much good if the world's population keeps growing. Luckily, it just so happens that as industrialization increases, the global birth rate decreases. As the amount of energy per person increases, the birth rate decreases, so that if the world is completely industrialized by about the year 2025, the total population should peak at about 8 billion & then start declining.
Therefore, if we only double the average efficiency we could easily take care of the world's present one billion poor (the other four billion are already "making it" now). And if we triple the efficiency we could not only take care of any future population growth, but dramatically raise everyone's standard of living.
(The figures that I have used are very conservative. The efficiency could probably be raised much higher, complete industrialization could be achieved much faster, and population growth slowed down much faster. It is better to understate than overstate.)
So, we are not on a treadmill; there is a way out. There is a practical strategy. How, specifically, can we raise the efficiency? How can we get more energy, use less materials, & use less time to provide for our basic needs? What do we need?
Lots of renewable energy, plenty of food, decent inexpensive housing, medical care, education, transportation, & communication, to name the basics.
Energy first: We need to develop about a dozen types of renewable sources of energy & we need to develop ways of distributing that energy.
We now have the know-how to connect together all the world's electrical generating plants. That one project would almost double the amount of energy available in the world because right now most generating plants run at about half capacity & use the other half for peak demand only. By interconnecting they could all swap power (especially between the light & dark sides of the earth) and therefore be run at almost peak capacity most of the time--without building any new generating plants.
We must also phase in all the various types of renewable energy as the fossil fuels start to run out. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from: solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass, alcohol, geothermal, tides, photovoltaic, hydrogen, waves, etc.
All these alternatives, when fully developed, would not only replace the non-renewable, polluting, and dangerous sources, but give us three times as much energy as we have now (not counting the gains through interconnecting).
So, we can have plenty of energy if we want it. There is no energy shortage! There is just a shortage of awareness of what is now possible. The crisis is a crisis of ignorance!
Now, what is the story for food? Much the same. We produce more than enough food for everyone, but much of it rots or is eaten by rodents because we don't have the means of storing, preserving, and transporting it. But, with adequate energy we could grow, preserve, and distribute plenty of food for everyone. In fact, if needed, we could probably grow two or three times as much as we do now.
And so, if we solve the energy & food problems, how do we provide good, inexpensive housing for everyone? Simple. Shelter people in mass-produced, self-contained, surplus-energy-producing, geodesic dome homes which would be helicopter-delivered to anywhere for a tenth the cost of conventional houses.
A geodesic sphere is the lightest, strongest, and cheapest way of enclosing space ever invented. Domes can not only house individual families, but they could cover whole cities---and even float in the air or be anchored on or under the oceans. Domed cities use about 1/90th the energy of uncovered cities, and have perfect climates all year round---no matter what the outside climate.
So, if people have adequate food, energy, shelter, etc., they are bound to be healthier. The easiest way to control disease is to eliminate its causes, such as malnutrition, bad water, exposure, vermin, etc.
As far as transportation is concerned, we need to mass-produce already-invented ducted-fan air cars that can go on roads or rise vertically on jets of air. This would allow personal transportation just about anywhere without roads.
Also, we need to develop personal, modular transportation pods which could go on roads, be hooked together in groups, be loaded onto trucks, trains and boats, or put into airplanes for transport anywhere, with the whole global system scheduled by computer.
Development of wireless, satellite relayed, two-way communication systems will enable great numbers of people to work at home, wherever that may be in the world, thus cutting down on the expense of commuting to the office.
Also, education will return to the home because students will have two-way multimedia access (the Internet) to all the information banks of the world. They will be able to call up the best and latest information presented by the best teachers in the world. Two-way voice, data and fax will also be transmitted by satellite, thus cutting down on the use of energy and materials and speeding up the exchange of ideas and information.
All this vast increase in wealth and decrease in waste (time, energy, materials) will make it possible to have a minimum level of guaranteed annual income for all which should gradually increase with time. People will have to work less and less and will have more and more time to do whatever they want---study, fish, travel, think, etc.
Also, the fear of not having the basic necessities of life will be gone, & that should eliminate a lot of worry, stress-caused illnesses, & crime.
But most of all, if people no longer have to fight each other over limited resources, then the basic reason for war will be gone and war will become obsolete. The oldest dreams of mankind--peace, prosperity--will have come true.
People living now, for the first time in history, have the opportunity, privilege, and responsibility to help to make all these things come true. All of humanity has struggled, dreamed, hoped, worked, and prayed for this moment in history. It is up to us to help make it happen.
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