In 1970 there were roughly half as many humans as in 2016 and the growth continues. The 7.4 billion that are on the Earth in 2016 are on average living longer, more materially better lives than the 3.7 billion in 1970. The people of 2016 are more connected and more empowered, have better access to food, clean water, and information than those in 1970. Some people are concerned about needing to limit the population growth but Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, recently talked in an interview about the possibilities of having a trillion people.
It is difficult to imagine Earth sustaining a trillion humans. But when you consider all the resources and real estate in our solar system alone, a trillion might be a low number. Consider Mars, Earth’s moon, the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, big asteroids, and all the empty spaces in between. Perhaps we will even develop the technology to tame Venus and turn it into another Earth. At that point it would be difficult imagine anything that we could not overcome.
When we have a fully developed and fully connected solar system, it will be possible to shift around where goods are made, food is grown, and energy is produced. Perhaps all industrial activity will be moved beyond Earth with the finished products delivered in an ecologically benign way. Earth as a whole might become a protected garden. A place for people to come and admire a natural world that was the cradle of all known life; that gave rise to an intelligent species that would do intelligent things.
What about the trillion people with experiences unlike anybody today? How many great people there will be! There will be Newtons living on worlds with 1/3 gravity from birth and will develop a completely different view point on life than their Earthly cousins. Aristotles growing up on Jupiter’s moon with the giant red storm constantly in the sky and new thoughts about the meaning of life. Einsteins living in weightless environments with a completely new insight into the laws of the natural world. Edisons living in places where water and air are not as easy to come by who develops new inventions to make it stretch. Unique life experiences lead to unique perspectives develop new insights. Impossible for us to understand today much less imagine.
Today when we are stuck on earth, the some see the nearly 8 billion people like a problem that needs to be managed. But when we open up the heavens and move as freely between planets as we move between continents today, then a trillion people will be just the beginning.