HARD limits to growth & reproduction rights

Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@aeiveos.com)
Tue, 6 Jul 1999 07:16 PDT

>> I wrote:
>> We are approaching the carrying capacity of the planet (w/o
>> nanotech) [and and will eventually approach the carrying capacity
>> of the solar system]. Unfettered reproduction reduces the resources
>> available to us all and/or reduces our quality of life by secondary
>> effects when we as indivduals don't pay for damage we cause (such as
>> global warming caused by fossil fuel consumption).

> Elizabeth Childs <echilds@linex.com> wrote:
> Again, read Julian Simon:
> http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/Colleges/BMGT/.Faculty/JSimon/Ultimate_Resource/
> PJ O'Rourke covers some of the same stuff in "All the Trouble in the World".

I am aware of the economics of substitutions and the declining costs of most raw materials. However as Simon points out it really all comes back to "energy", and like it or not there is a finite amount of energy available!

There are *hard limits* to growth.

Yes, we can go off the planet. Dyson did the calculations nearly 40 years ago and I've repeated them for my Matrioska Brain studies. If you don't assume Nanotech (Dyson didn't) you hit the limits in 3000 years. If you do assume Nanotech (I did) you hit the limits in a few weeks. Robert Freitas has done some calculations that show that if stellar disassembly is feasible, we could burn up all of the hydrogen in the stars of a galaxy in a few million years.

The stuff that the "Club of Rome" wrote about and the stuff that Julian Simon writes about revolve around economic limits and they always leave out technology improvements, discoveries, increased productivity, etc. The stuff I'm talking about involves what happens when we really hit the limits.

If humans decide to remain humans, don't upload, etc. then you have a few thousand rosy years before you get to crunch time (unless you squash biotech, you will probably be around to see it). If humans do develop nanotech, do upload, etc. then you will start feeling really constrained in a few dozen years.

Like it or not -- personal longevity forces you to confront the issue of personal reproduction. It forces you to select between 2 of the most fundamental drives built into living beings (the preservation of self and the making of copies). Now, maybe you can say, since I'm here first, I get to reproduce and when crunch time arrives, those people don't. So, you've reserved for yourself a "right" that your children (or great great ... grandchildren) (or your clones or backup-copies) cannot have (at least not without killing you :-))!