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How do we know that a low injury civilization exists? Because we have already built one -- the international space-station. Engineers designed the physical and social structure of the international space station to be low injury. To do it they answered questions like. What is its purpose? What is supplied to it? What processes consume its stored or delivered resources? What population, infrastructure, and activities balance with the output of its solar panels, and deliveries from its supply ships? What social structure and behavioral rules prevent social conflict. And, how long can it last?
The descriptors of the space station include:
Now think about the same engineers creating a sustainable design for earth.
Humans replace themselves, as well as expand their numbers, their wellbeing, their inequity, and their conflict. Energy and materials facilitate these activities.
Energy that can do work is removed from the reservoirs and degraded. Materials which are taken from the crust, refined, and used in fabricating infrastructure, are returned to the crust diluted.
Eventually, the energy remaining in those reservoirs will take so much energy to extract and make usable, none remains for human endeavors. We will have to leave what remains in the ground and depend on other energy sources that can still produce net energy.
Baring the discovery of something like Star Trek's "dilithium crystals" supporting something like our civilization will require condensing dilute energy from the sun into energy dense enough to drive our civilization's machines.
Like energy, mineral reservoirs, because we mined the best first, will diminish in concentration requiring more energy to find, mine, and refine. Eventually the crust's remaining minerals will take more energy to obtain than just extracting them from their locations in civilization's waste stream. We will stop mining the crust for materials.
Given these conditions, a sustainable global civilization is defined as follows;
This equation produces many different sustainable civilizations. For example, larger populations with lower wellbeing, and smaller populations with higher wellbeings. Civilizations that have high stratifications of wealth and civilizations that have low stratifications of wealth. Civilizations that divert little resources to conflict, and civilizations that channel most of their resources into conflict. Civilizations that maintain most of their natural environment and civilizations that maintain very little. Civilizations that have resources, leftover after supporting basic human wellbeing, to advance the arts and sciences. Civilizations where few resources are leftover to advance them.
Any particular sustainable design has:
Let me begin by proposing an earth-wide civilization that has the following overarching values:
(This design was written in the context of a space station with balanced working systems. It reflects some of the future aspects of our present earth system, For example, the absence of fossil and fissionable energy products. the replacement of mining with recycling. The analysis ignores possible changes in weather or ocean's levels, or PH, or toxic damage to the environment, or changes in biodiversity. These conditions will affect the final design but are considered zero for this first pass. Also the computed sustainable design is the final state of a complex transition from our present civilization.)
Within these constraints, let me outline the values of variables that describe this new civilization.
Each person's Allocation.
Population (calculated from above)
Locations (3 human "development zones") (each independent -- no trade)
(provided free to each living individual)
for each living individual
Resource usage --
10/13/2014 last rev 10/03/2016
|Jack Alpert (Bio) mail to: Alpert@skil.org (homepage) www.skil.org position papers|