Why We Must Colonize Planets
Global Issue: Climate Change
A big population results in a greater need for resources. Another global issue stated by the UN is the climate change. Understandably the climate change will not be stopped if more resources will be consumed. BP analyzed the world energy consumption from 1993 to 2018 and concludes that energy consumption in the world is still rising as seen in figure 8. (BP, 2019, p. 10)
Figure 8 Worldwide primary energy consumption (BP, 2019)
But it is remarkable that the highest energy consumption of primary energy per capita goes to the more and most developed countries of the world, while Africa has the lowest energy consumption per capita. Problem with that is, that the SDGs, discussed in the previous chapter, have the goal to develop a bigger industry in undeveloped countries like the ones in Africa (See figure 9). This implies that industry in Africa should be near the same level of industry in North America and Europe, which do have the highest consumption of primary energy per capita. If these industries would not get more efficient in using resources, the total energy consumption worldwide should increase far beyond its state in 2018.
Renewables as a Solution against Climate Change
With a higher energy consumption, CO2 production and with that the greenhouse effect would increase. But BP also shows with their data that the consumption of energy transformed from renewable energy sources increased by 14% by 2018 and shows approximately a 10-year average growth of 16%, which is very good in terms of reducing CO2 pollution. (BP, 2019, p. 50)
BP also shows that the most energy converted into electrical energy for consumption is contributed by wind with 142 TWh, followed by solar energy with 131 TWh. (BP, 2019, p. 50) It seems like a good path to a pollution free atmosphere, but are renewable energy resources really saving the world of climate change consequences?
A team of professionals of the world-known Harvard University found in a study that using wind power as an energy resource can cause non-negligible climatic impacts. They simulated a windfarm supplying the total energy needs of the US and studied the environmental influence. In a 3-year scale temperature at daytime rises in some locations in the US up to 0.8°C higher than usual and at night up to 1.4°C higher than usual. Just in three years a total supply of energy out of converting wind energy would have a faster increase of temperature than with conventional energy conversion. (Miller et. al, 2018)
That is not surprising. The law of energy conservation says that energy can’t be produced out of nothing. Whether it is chemical energy which will be converted into kinetic energy while burning coal and moving turbines with the produced steam or it is kinetic energy in wind, which will be removed by the blades of a windmill to produce electrical energy by moving these blades. The problem is that wind is caused by natural equalization mechanism between low- and high-pressure areas. Wind is needed to equalize the temperature between land and atmosphere. If the velocity of wind will be taken away by such a big amount as shown in the simulation for the US, temperature equalizations will not occur in the regular speed they originally do. (Forinash, 2017)
The team also simulated the influence of solar panels for generating energy for the total covering of US’ energy needs. Although it does not result in the same height as if using windfarms, it still increased temperature for a certain degree. (Miller et. al, 2018)
Climate Change and Mega Population
As discussed, the issue we have with energy consumption and climate change will not be simplified with getting a bigger population. Most likely the worlds energy consumption will increase. While the climate change is affected the most by getting more and more CO2 into our air, renewable energy will also not be a solution for the long term. The best solution could be that industries and people must be more efficient, waste less energy and achieve a higher degree of transformation. But these improvements must be way faster than the growth of population, since climate change is already affecting the earth and population growth is continuing.
Maybe we need to escape the boundaries of our finite earth. Endless growth and resource consumption are not possible with an earth which has its limits.
But why should the sky be the limit?
Maybe the resources of our universe are not endless but in comparison to our tiny earth do seem like. Since population should stop growing after a certain amount, we could maybe live on multiple planets and use the resources on them? And with that relieve our earth.
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