- Why ‘one‘ finite planet’?
- For the foreseeable future, we only have one planet for humanity, and support of life is fragile.
- The Mars Projects And A Lunar Colony Could Only House 0.02% Of Humanity At Most.
- An Earth 2.0 could, like Earth did, take billion of years before supporting life on land.
- Why ‘one finite‘ planet? Because We Forget It is Full.
- We often forget or ignore that the planet is finite.
- Population Finite Planet Mistake: Not Realising The Planet Is Yet Full.
- Why is the entire site called ‘one finite planet’? The History.
- Why A Website? Exploring And Sharing Surprises.
Why One Finite Planet?
For why the site is labelled ‘One Finite Planet’ and how the topics are connected, see this page.
For the foreseeable future, we only have one planet for humanity, and support of life is fragile.
There is no replacement, and the ability of Earth to support life is far more fragile than most people realise.
- Only in the most recent 10% of the 4 billion year history of the Earth, has life on land been possible.
- Only 10% of the of time the Earth will support life on land remains.
We do not yet have the science to house any significant human population anywhere else.
Neither The Mars Projects And A Lunar Colony Could Only House 0.02% Of Humanity.
While there is talk of colonising mars, and of potentially a base on the moon. Elon Must, not well know for overly conservative estimates, has projected it could take 100 years to have a colony of 1 million people on Mars. If this is achieved it would be an amazing and valuable achievement, but for a world that at time of writing adds over 80 million more people per year, a home for 1 million people, even if built at the fastest rate imagined of 40 years rather than 100 years, won’t make much difference. This would be 0.01% of the worlds population having a new home.
The goal of Mars colony, is to make humans begin to be a multiplanetary species. This is a beginning on a very small scale, and without forests beaches, oceans, rivers or even the ability to walk outside. Life on Mars will be far from experiencing ‘another Earth’.
Mars and other locations in the solar system can house perhaps a total of 1 months of population growth at the 2020 population growth rate. Expansion of population in our solar system beyond those small numbers, requires not only science beyond our current level, but perhaps also even genetic engineering of the people to live with the artificial environments. Any people living in a location other than the Earth is a huge milestone, and an insurance policy on the future of humanity. But it is not a significant factor in providing for increased population, nor does it provide anything like the life we have here on Earth.
But what about Earth 2.0?
In this galaxy of over 200 billion stars, it seems logical there must be at least one other Earth like planet?
The catch is, humans could not live on Earth as it was originally, and it took over 3 billion years of life to transform the Earth into a planet that could support oxygen breathing life on the surface, and shield that life on the surface from ionizing radiation from space.
Do we find the image on the left, or the right?
- Left: A planet with a surface already full of life, and ready for humans as long as we displace some of that existing life.
- Right: An planet with a lifeless surface as Earth has been for most of its existence. (Although most of the time having oceans and lifeless land masses).
Even Earth, only recently supported life on the surface, and wont for much longer. If there is life on any finite planet, that planet will already be full of life, so in a familiar pattern, colonization requires replacing ‘the locals’. This raises questions on both ethics and practicality.
If a planet has no existing life, then the planet would be more like the Earth on the right before it was transformed by life. A lifeless rock, with an atmosphere still full of only CO2. Without plants to convert the atmosphere from CO2 to O2, the planet will not be habitable.
The planet would be no more ready for life than Mars is right now. It took around 3 billion years for life to transform the Earth from the original state to being ready for us to settle, and for Earth, we did not have to solve the problem of Earth being light years away from us.
We may solve these problems, but it not going to be fast. It could be as fast as 500 years if we discover enough new physics, or more than the at most 100 million year left for the Earth.
Why One Finite Planet.
We often forget or ignore that the planet is finite.
To a single individual, it is easy to forget or ignore the fact that even though very large, the planet is finite. That fishing could exhaust all the fish, that our waste will be sufficient to cause global problems, or that we could even change the air with our exhaust gasses.
The common theme to these pages is looking to the future. As we look to the future, the implications of the planet being finite are very real.
Population Finite Planet Mistake: Not Realising The Planet Is Yet Full.
At one time, I thought that humans were growing in population, on a planet that would one day be full and the population would need to stop growing.
I took a long time to realise how wrong that idea was. When you do the maths, it becomes clear that starting with just two humans, at a reasonable rate of population growth such as the average oft he 20th century, in just 5,000 years, you get enough humans to have cover ever square metre of the Earth, both land and ocean. arpet the planet.
where perhaps one day will we reach the capacity of the planet, and population growth will then have to end.
- 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.
- 100 doublings would not take long, for example pandas happen quickly for any organism, and even us humans could totally carpet the Earth within 3,000 years.
- Yet, No organism reaches 100 doublings, therefore every organism reaches a capacity constraint.
- Every niche for life, is full to capacity, except following catastrophes or major disruptions.
- Population growth of any species, requires an evolution and the population decline of other species.
- Population can only continue while the continued elimination increasing numbers of other species if possible.
- Every species must find population stability while limited to one finite planet.
Rule 1: 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.
Since 1 million is 1,000 times 1,000 such an organism could double its population 1,000 times in a million year timeframe, but doubling population even 100 times is more than enough for any fully populate the Earth with that organism. A doubling of population 1,000 times is , and double 63 times in 63,000 years.
The ‘wheat and chessboard problem‘ illustrates how large numbers grow by repeated doubling, also known as exponential growth.
The wheat and chessboard considers doubling 63 times, in 63 steps from step 1 to step 64, doubling each step. One grain of wheat on the first square (20=1)as the starting value, leads to 2 grains on the 2nd square (21=2), 4 on the 3rd (22=4), 8 on the 4th (23=8), all the way to 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 on the 64th and last square (263). So a single living organism would result in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 organisms after 63 doublings.
Given the total land and ocean surface area of the Earth 510,064,472 km2, and each square kilometre is 1 million square meters, the 63 steps results in 18,082 organisms per square metre of the entire surface of the Earth, which for those who do not speak metric, is over 180,000 organisms per square foot. Not very comfortable for humans, possible for something very small. Allowing the 100 doubling steps 2,485,275,234,437,872 organisms per square metre ( over 25 quadrillion per square foot) or 2,485,275,234 organisms per square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth.
So 2.5 billion organisms for every square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.
So 25 quadrillion organisms for every square foot of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.
Rule 2: 100 doublings need not take very long, even for humans.
Relative to length of time life has existed on Earth, 100 doublings of even slow population grown animals does not add up to very long time, relative to planet over 4 billion years old.
Every organism requires a mechanism to multiply in order to create their current population, and to recover than population in the event of catastrophe or disruption. Any past population growth can be used to calculate a population doubling time. For example, pandas have been shown to be able to increase population 17% in a decade. A 17% increase means 117 pandas for every 100 after 10 years. Since 1.17 to the power The ability to increase population
Humans are The slowest , or there would only ever the same number that first appeared. PEvery living organism must have the capability to increase population, as mechanism is required to create this is required to generate an initial popuOrganisms with predators need a quite short doubling time, as they need to reproduce at a rate that allows for predation without becoming extinct.
As an example, even humans could totally carpet the Earth within 3,000 years.
If every couple has 5 children, which is below the historic average prior to the 20th century, and if 4 of those 5 children live to have their own children, then humans would double in population every generation. y this doubling does not normally happen, although such a rate of population growth did happen worldwide between 1965 and 1972, and was close to that rate between 1923 and 1972.
Such a rate of growth would have seen 100 doublings during the time of Ancient Egypt (over 5,000 years with almost 30 centuries as the leading civilization).
The takeaway is that every living organism, even us recently evolved homo sapiens, have had far more than enough time to double 10x and overrun the earth.
take very long, yet no organism has reached population levels of billions or organisms for every millimetre of the planet that would result from 100 doublings of population.
Rule 3 , so there are always other constraint(s).
Even relatively recent species such as ourselves with a long time between generations, has had way more than enough time to completely carpet the Earth if population growth did not meet some constraint at which point growth stops.
would have be capable of completely ‘carpeting’ the Earth within arounEvery organism has a potential for population growth. Without that potential, the population would have never expanded from the in ‘population doubling time’, which is the time period for population doubling in the absence of predators or environmental constraints.
Rule 3: Excepting for shortly after catastrophes or major disruptions, Every niche for life is always full.
Every organism on Earth has had sufficient time for 100 doublings of it population, but no organism has reached the incredible population number that would result if they kept doubling unconstrained.
Every niche of life on Earth would reach its maximum possible population well before 100 doublings, and as every organism has had time to reach 100 doublings, every organism has reached the maximum possible population.
This also means that even apex predators and even us humans, face population constraints and do not just keep multiplying.
, which on a finite planet, has constraints .
have soon reached the maximum possilbe
Even apex predators mee, which means every organism has had time to reach the maximum population the possible given the environment and the competition.
Reality is doubling every generation, like humanity between in 1965-1972, or even every 50 years as happened during half of the 20th century, could not have happened over most of history. Homo Sapiens have existed for at least 200,000 years, which is sufficient for 4,000 doublings of population, yet if there were only 2 people 200,000 years ago, and 8 people billion now, that represents on 32 doublings, over 200,000 years. That would be a doubling at an average rate of less than once every 6,000 years.
To take 6,000 years to double the population requires an annual growth rate of around 0.0116%. A rate so close to zero growth, that is far more likely the growth has mostly been exactly zero, with occasional periods of real growth.
This means, most of the time, even the human population has had zero growth. But then, sometimes even populations that have reached a previous plateaux, experience additional growth.
Rule 4: Population growth of any species, requires an evolution and the population decline of other species.
Short term population grows and declines for a number or reasons, related to weather and the number of predators present, but long term population growth requires some form of evolution. Despite every population having had time to reach the maximum possible, there are times when populations expand. Certainly animals with predators