Agricultural Skyscrapers

David A Musick (
Sun, 25 Jan 1998 22:35:51 -0500

One of the limiting factors in human population is food production. One
of the main reasons so many humans are alive today is because of the
tremendous success of agricultural science. Much of that success has to
do with learning to grow more food in less space. Much work has been
done and is still being done with growing food hydroponically (spraying
the fully exposed roots of growing plants with nutrient solutions), with
excellent results. If the work continues as expected, the costs of
growing food hydroponically will continue to decrease, and agriculture
will no longer be confined to the soil. This would also mean that there
would eventually be no reason to locate major agricultural production
facilities hundreds of miles away from highly populated cities. When we
have the technology to do so, it will make more sense to carry out
agriculture right in the city, in tall buildings; layers and layers of
dense agricultural production. Stacking the layers up, instead of only
using one layer as we do now, will mean we can produce more food using
less land space. Also, the fact that plants can be grown several times
more densely when grown hydroponically will save even more on the land

Besides being able to get fresh fruit and vegetables at low prices all
year round, this sort of agriculture would mean that the amount of
cultivatible land would no longer be the limit to human population that
it is now. Agricultural production could occur almost everywhere. All
we need is the facilities, water and a large supply of energy for the
lights and environmental controls.

The human population could become quite large, indeed. But how desirable
is a huge human population, one several times larger than the current
population? Considering that nothing like it has ever happened before,
it's very hard to predict what so many billions of people will do. It
will mean far more brilliant and hard-working geniuses than ever before.
And it may also mean far more psychopaths and criminals, but it also
means more people to stop them.

Of course, humans can't maintain our current exponential growth rate
forever (we would quickly use all of the matter in the solar system, just
for human bodies, but we have enough resources here on earth and in the
surrounding space (asteroids and near-by planets) to increase our
population to quite a large number. Any speculations on the results of a
population several times larger than the current one?

David Musick (

- Continual improvement is the highest good.