Future Worlds Future Homes

When plotted in the global average temperature versus time into the future diagram (see Figure 2.1 below), there will be a convergence of future terrestrial worlds. By this it is meant that the atmospheres of both Mars and Venus will be terraformed (in one way or another) to support a surface temperature that falls somewhere between 0 and 100°C, and preferably a temperature that remains close to 10-15°C. With these Earth-like average temperatures, Mars and Venus can in principle support plant life and some especially adapted and bioengineered animal populations in hydrated ecospheres.

Although the terraformed worlds will, by design, converge with respect to their temperature, the composition of their atmospheres will, in all likelihood, be distinctly different from the

Temperature

Temperature

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Figure 2.1. A schematic surface temperature versus time plot for Mars, Earth, and Venus. The Earth's temperature is shown to be increasing for the next 100-150 years as a result of global warming. Indeed, the first large-scale terraforming program to be instigated is likely to be that which will oversee the reduction of the Earth's surface temperature. The temperatures of Mars and Venus will increase and decrease, respectively, as a result of terraforming. It is suggested in this diagram that the terraforming of Mars might possibly be completed within the next several centuries, but it is anticipated that Venus won't be fully terraformed for perhaps many thousands, if not several tens of thousands, of years from the present.

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Figure 2.1. A schematic surface temperature versus time plot for Mars, Earth, and Venus. The Earth's temperature is shown to be increasing for the next 100-150 years as a result of global warming. Indeed, the first large-scale terraforming program to be instigated is likely to be that which will oversee the reduction of the Earth's surface temperature. The temperatures of Mars and Venus will increase and decrease, respectively, as a result of terraforming. It is suggested in this diagram that the terraforming of Mars might possibly be completed within the next several centuries, but it is anticipated that Venus won't be fully terraformed for perhaps many thousands, if not several tens of thousands, of years from the present.

Earth's, and the atmospheres will not necessarily be breathable by human beings; indeed, it is highly likely that they may never be fully life supporting in this latter respect. Why terraform, then, one might ask? Indeed, if the resultant new worlds have atmospheres that cannot support free-ranging human beings, then what is the point?

Well, the point, of course, is that the terraformed atmospheres will allow for surface water to exist and crops to be grown, and this, in principle, is all that one needs to make the human world tick. With respect to where human beings might live on a terraformed world, we need look no further than the trend that is clearly evident on Earth at the present time (a topic further discussed in Chapter 4). By the middle of this century, over half of humanity will live in cities, and cities need only two inputs to support their residents, water and food. They also, of course, need great swaths of land to recycle and dispose of their many forms of material waste.

Cities are insular, their inhabitants unaware of the greater world that surrounds them. Urbanized people live, work, play, and prosper within their immediate environments, where (at least apparently, much of the time) they thrive. Cities are cut off from the land that enables them to exist, and the regions immediately beyond the city confines have but one purpose and that is to provide recreation. Increasingly, however, even outdoor recreation is achieved within the unnatural confines of indoor arenas. The West-Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada (see Figure 2.2), for example, not only provides ample opportunity for thousands of people to simultaneously eat, sleep, drink, and, of course, spend their money. It also provides its residents with a funfare, a shooting range, an ice rink, a swimming pool, and an aquarium complete with submarine rides. Once inside, there is technically no reason to ever leave the mall again. All of the basic necessities of life (food, water, recreation, basic health care, commerce, a job, and accommodation) are there.

Figure 2.2. Europa Boulevard in West-Edmonton Mall, Alberta, Canada. Once inside this proto-city one could, in principle, live a complete life without need to ever exit its confines. The mall, which covers an area of some 570,000 m2, provides all the basic necessities, such as accommodation, food, water, commerce, a job, recreation facilities, and entertainment.

Figure 2.2. Europa Boulevard in West-Edmonton Mall, Alberta, Canada. Once inside this proto-city one could, in principle, live a complete life without need to ever exit its confines. The mall, which covers an area of some 570,000 m2, provides all the basic necessities, such as accommodation, food, water, commerce, a job, recreation facilities, and entertainment.

Although West-Edmonton Mall may not be a model upon which to base future city planning, by extrapolating the urbanization trend—admittedly to an extreme—it would seem that the way in which our distant descendents will live on the Earth is moving toward a supermall-like, self-contained, environmentally insulated city existence. Clearly, such supercities will still require an input of food and water and land upon which to recycle waste; but increasingly, for so it would seem, in future centuries there will be little difference between the habitats within which human beings will live, whether situated on Earth or upon a terraformed Mars and Venus.

If humanity is moving toward a lifestyle housed within super-mall-like domed cities, then this can be carried through to the terraforming process. Future humans will presumably be happy enough, perhaps one could argue because they know no better, to live a full and contented life within a domed city whether it be located on the Earth (where there happens to be a breathable atmosphere already), or on Mars or Venus (where there would probably be no breathable atmosphere outside of the city limits). As the ever-challenging architect Buckminster-Fuller argued in his 1969 book, Utopia or Oblivion, Prospects for Humanity, ''domed living is the alternative to doomed living.''

The apparent trend toward urbanization and human encapsulation will clearly require the development of what might be called environmental technologies. An initial attempt at the construction of a small-scale, environmentally self-contained domed city is exemplified by the Biosphere 2 project located in Arizona (see Figure 2.3). The technology designed to fully support human life within a totally self-contained domed city has by no means been perfected at the present time, but the process of investigation has begun, and the Biosphere 2 studies represent an important pioneering step toward our eventual living upon terraformed worlds.

The future for humanity does hold great promise, and it promises a rich and fulfilled life for many tens of trillions of people, provided, of course, that humanity manages to survive long enough to have a distant future. The future will be heavily dependent upon both old and new technologies, some of which, no doubt, haven't even been dreamed of yet, and humanity will have to learn how to wield these technologies in a holistic sense that maximizes future

Figure 2.3. The 1.27-ha (3.15 acres) glass structure of Biosphere 2. Constructed between 1987 and 1991, the interior contained various ecosystem regions, including a rainforest, a coral reef, a mangrove wetland, grasslands, and agricultural land. Biosphere 2 was fully isolated from the outside atmosphere, although in practice the interior atmosphere did require a small amount of external manipulation and was able to support a community of only up to eight people.

Figure 2.3. The 1.27-ha (3.15 acres) glass structure of Biosphere 2. Constructed between 1987 and 1991, the interior contained various ecosystem regions, including a rainforest, a coral reef, a mangrove wetland, grasslands, and agricultural land. Biosphere 2 was fully isolated from the outside atmosphere, although in practice the interior atmosphere did require a small amount of external manipulation and was able to support a community of only up to eight people.

benefits for the biosphere, whether it is located on the Earth, Mars, Venus, or the many additional worlds beyond.

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