Sunday, May 8, 2011

A bit more history

I took the future out to 2150 with about a billion people on earth, and 100,000 in orbit.  Let's get a bit more drastic and specify 500 million on earthbound.  However, with energy constraints removed with fusion power and a century of practice in space development we can take the next step:
  • 200 years - Colonies exploiting Jovian and Saturnian moons.  Earth stabilized and beginning to re-terraform.  Lunar and cis-lunar space a single confederation but one with a lot of tension between components.  Map only barely recognizable.
If we allow 2% growth in space (population is probably young, but childless.  Space is limitless although not cheap) and 1% on Earth (not high; fusion makes energy, and thus fresh water, cheap; but some measure of social pressure to constrain consumption).  Also, let .01% of Earth's population emigrate to space each year (high at the start, but less of a factor later).  By 2250 we can expect to see over a billion people on Earth, and just over 20 million is space -- say Jupiter at around 13 million, 5 million around Saturn, and a couple of million in Cislunar space.

While the one of the historical theme of the development of civilization from about 1000AD has been the consolidation of Nation States and even trans-national entities like the EU, the collapse of the 21st Century has broken those up.  Instead we have a networks of loosely confederated polities retaining extensive rights to self defense and yielding little true sovereignty to central authority.  Some of the effective polities, such and many of the space habitats, are legally closer to corporations than to states as we would recognize them.  In addition, the high level if migration during and after the collapse have left the concept of nation as it was considered normal in the 20th Century entirely unrecognizable.  Overall, the political structures are closer to the 15th Century Holy Roman Empire than anything we are used to now.

The three largest groupings are The Cislunar Union (Earth, Earth Orbit, and the Lunar colonies), The Jovian Confederation, and the The League of the Ring Worlds (aka Saturn).  However, it is not unknown for interest groups across two or more of  groupings to form alliances along fracture lines and compete for resources and power against other members of their own groupings.  These contests generally fall short of full-scale warfare, but that has as much to do with the overall availability of resources and the willingness of the central authorities to draw very firm lines around the rights of sub-groups.  Indiscriminate bombing, ethnic cleansing, nuclear weapons and planetary bombardment in particular are so firmly sanctioned as to be unemployable by any polities who's leaders wish to die in their beds.

2 comments:

  1. Sounds neat!

    One thing though: Fully industrialized nation experience a leveling off of population growth. If the tech is at fusion levels, then overpopulation (planet bound or in space) shouldn't be a problem. This let's one avoid the unpleasant societal/governmental pressure to limit fertility.

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  2. I'd be prepared to defend alternate views on the reason that human population growth slowed in the past century in the developed world. We have, after all, only one data point -- a handful of countries in the European tradition that have accepted a big package of social changes at the same time as industrialization.

    I'll confess that I am stepping back from the timeline above, to something that sees a more 21st-century-recognizable world moving into space. A model like that would almost certainly require outside help, but it would give a venue for retaining current tensions.

    One of the most amazing things about the world we live in is the tremendous diversity of culture; I'd like to explore that both in humans colonizing other worlds, and for that matter in the non-human sapients they find there.

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