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Saving humankind by a mass exodus from the Earth

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Earth Park FAQ

What is Earth Park?

The Earth Park concept is intended to rescue humankind from ecological extinction by means of a mass exodus from the planet. The posulate behind the concept is that ultimately the only workable method to preserve the biosphere of the planet from the alterations of mankind is to remove humanity from the surface of this world. This will produce a sustainable environment that will preserve the biodiversity of the planet for future generations to enjoy.

Since humans are at present entirely dependent upon the terrestrial ecosystem, a transfer to artificial and sustainable habitats will ensure long term survival. This will serve to protect the human species from large-scale disasters, such as nuclear conflict, asteroid impacts, or an outbreak of a devastating plague.

Under the Earth Park concept, virtually the entire human population of the world will emigrate to artificial habitats, leaving the earth as a wildlife refuge that will gradually recover its proper ecological balance and diversity. To be successful over the long term this must be a universal migration, and no pockets of reproductive humanity can remain on the surface of the earth.

Isn't the Earth already too damaged to recover?

Some areas of the Earth that have been given the opportunity to recover from the impacts of human technology have shown a remarkable ability to return to a pristine condition similar to the historical state. However, if the goal is to restore the earth to the primordial condition in which it was found prior to the evolution of mankind, then it may require extensive repairs and cleanup of heavily damaged areas; the re-introduction of extinct species; and short-term ecological management by remote caretakers.

Certainly the restoration of a natural ecosystem will be greatly accelerated by the removal of various constructions, such as buildings, fences, dams, and roads. However even if left to recover on its own, the planet will inexorably return to a completely wild state over a geological time scale, provided we have not inflicted excessive damage before the general exodus is underway.

Who will remain behind?

A small population of humans will need to remain behind in order to continue archeological and other scientific studies. Selected monuments may be chosen to be preserved and monitored by caretakers, perhaps in sealed environments so as not to interact significantly with the surrounding wilderness. There will also be a strong economic incentive to provide tourism for visitors, so a group of specially trained guides will need to remain in residence. Those individuals who are unable to leave, or prove unwilling to be relocated off the planet, will need to be housed in carefully sealed deep underground habitats so that their interaction with the biosphere is minimal.

Any planetary cleanup programs will need to be managed from orbit, but most of the labor can be performed using robotics.

How do we prevent the earth from being resettled?

Given the natural fecundity and destructive habits of humanity, any resettlement of the surface environment of the earth would inexorably result in another degradation of the ecosystem. As a result some form of temporary or permanent sterilization would be a mandatory requirement for anybody dwelling on the surface of the earth. This will keep the surface population manageable and provide a strong incentive to dwell off planet.

What types of habitats will be needed?

The concepts of self-contained orbiting habitats has been extensively explored elsewhere. Habitats can be located deep underground, in various orbits around planets or the sun, or located on the surface of the moons, asteroids, or planetary bodies. The habitats must be self-sustaining with their own protected ecosystem to support the people who dwell there. The habitats will need to provide all physical requirements needed to sustain humans in good health for long durations. Thus they will need to be shielded against all harmful effects of the surrounding environment, while providing all of the necessities of living.

In all probability there will also be habitats created specifically to provide recreation for people living in the vicinity. These can be seeded with life forms from the earth, and will provide an opportunity for people to experience the outdoors without requiring a return to the planet. Such habitats also provide a safe location for the introduction of experiemntal crops and other life forms that might endanger the ecosystem of the Earth.

Is this a feasible plan?

At present the technology required to implement Earth Park does not exist. Nor can the current economy support or sustain such an effort. However the requirements needed to undertake this migration can be readily conceived and, given the current growth rate of technology, should be available within several decades. When matched against the current rate of decline of the earth's ecosystem and the rate of population growth and non-renewable resource consumption, that leaves a window of only a few decades when this can be implemented. Beyond that time slot the inexorable result will be an increasing probability of disastrous outcomes, both for humanity and for the survival of the ecosystem of the planet.

The biggest obstacle to the Earth Park program will be political. It is highly unlikely to be implemented until the situation is sufficiently dire to warrant such a measure. The exodus will also require universal concurance by all nations and peoples. Given the circumstances under which this is likely to be implemented, the available time for the exodus will be short, and the condition of the Earth is likely to be grim.

If an emigration plan can be implemented during the available window and the necessary habitats constructed and inhabited, there is every reason to believe that the solar system can sustain a large human population at a high quality of life while preserving the earth as a natural heritage.

What new technologies are required?

The immediate need is for a cost effective launching system to transport settlers and their possessions to low earth orbit. This will most likely require reusable launch vehicles with low maintenance requirements and rapid turn-around time. Once the launch cost is brought down to be competitive with the mimumum required energy rates, large scale migration will become feasible.

Constructing the habitats will require self-replicating technology on a massive scale. Solar energy can be used to supply the power requirements, but large quantities of materials will need to be relocated and processed. The only realistic method of implementing such construction in a short time frame is through robotics and/or nanotechnology. Once the template for a suitable habitat is completed, the construction can proceed at an exponentially increasing rate until all required settlements have been completed.

Those remaining on the Earth in underground habitats will need to have their power requirements met through efficient geothermal energy. All other needs can be met through recycling of materials using nanotechnology.

Self-replicating robotics could conceivably be used to accelerate the restoration of the terrestrial ecosystem by eliminating most artificial constructs from the surface. The robots can also be used to construct any required underground habitats needed by those who decline to leave the planet.

Any materials that can not be directly recycled could be destroyed by sinking them into the ground at the foot of various subduction zones. This step can most likely be achieved by large scale application of current underwater robotics technology.

Finally all domesticated species may need to be removed, either through species-tailored sterlizing diseases or through a robotic search and collect program. Extinct species can only be restored by means of advanted technology and the collection and preservation of genetic materials. Thus libraries of such samples will need to be maintained up until the Earth Park program is implemented.

Bob Hall