Utopia or dystopia? Humanity is at an environmental crossroads and whether our legacy is one of prosperous abundance or mere subsistence will depend upon the choices we make in this generation. With an ever-increasing share of the human population making the transition to the “developed” world will come increasing stress on the Earth’s environment, natural resources, and her ability to produce enough food.
The modern environmental movement is tackling these problems head-on by promoting energy efficiency, recycling, and renewable resources. While these strategies and technologies are vital, they will be woefully insufficient to provide for a prosperous, long-lived global society with a moderate-to-high standard of living.
The laws of physics prohibit recycling from being 100% efficient – there will always be wasted energy and a loss of materials after the recycling is complete. Increasing energy efficiency will reduce the rate at which our energy consumption is growing, but it will nonetheless grow – eventually outstripping the ability of terrestrial resources to meet the demand. And renewable resources will undoubtedly contribute to reducing the overall strain on the environment; but they, too, will be net consumers of energy. What then, shall humanity do when the inevitable depletion of Earth’s resources occurs? Our civilization will either collapse (through wars, economic decay, or gradual social anarchy) or, if we take advantage of a currently untapped INFINITE set of resources, we may prosper and thrive.
Where are these untapped INFINITE resources? They are all around us – we merely have to move a few hundred kilometers straight up into space to access them. Once there, a literal universe of energy, raw materials and real estate is the province of humanity.
A future in which the environmental movement embraces space exploration, space resource utilization, and eventually space settlement will not only preserve humanity, but potentially all the life forms and habitats that make the Earth our home – and the only place in the known universe that support life of any kind. Our home is worth preserving and the book, Paradise Regained, suggests how we might transform our world civilization so that we can enable our home to re-green and be a park on Earth.
The book, Paradise Regained describes how humanity might use the plentiful resources of space to provide for a prosperous future -- though it will not be without challenges. Check out this YouTube video to hear author Les Johnson's explanation of why he and his co-authors wrote the book.
Paradise Regained - The Authors
Lead author, Les Johnson, is a NASA physicist and the co-author of two previous mass-market popular science books. He's consulted with Hollywood as well as leading science fiction authors. You can see him describing a space propulsion technology called solar sails in this media file: Les Describes Solar Sailing. To learn more about Les, please visit his homepage.
Gregory Matloff teaches physics and astronomy as an Assistant Professor at New York City Technical College, CUNY. He has pioneered the application of gossamer spacecraft to deep-space exploration and has served as a NASA Faculty Fellow in summer. He is the author of numerous popular science books as well as technical monographs.
Artist C Bangs has been exhibiting her work internationally for over twenty-five years. C recently had solo exhibitions at the New York College of Technology Library (March 13 - April 20, 2008) and at the Pratt Institute Library (January 8 - February 20, 2007). In 1997, she created an installation at Audart for "The Art & Technology Circus". In July of 2000, C curated "Messages From Earth", an exhibition in Aosta, Italy's five hundred year old chapel of San Grato. You can learn more about C and her work by visiting her website: cbangs.com