A Drift to Nuclear War or the $700 Quintillion Alternative?
Since the dawn of humanity, the human race has squabbled, disputed, and killed over resources to fund their own particular way of life. We have no record of the first conflict between humans that led to the first death in combat between groups of humans in the ancient past. Whether it was for rights over a water hole, or a fight over food, women, or gold, we will never know. The only thing we can be sure of is that there was human conflict long before there was a means of writing and preserving the events of a particular time or epoch.
War as a means of public policy probably did not evolve until the beginnings of the Neolithic Age. The Neolithic Age began at the end of the hunter-gather society and the beginnings of humans cultivating land and acquiring surplus food. When the ancient human race began to acquire surplus food, it could allow for the growth of other professions that were not dependent on farming. For example, someone who did not have a good harvest, for whatever reason, found that by offering their labor, or specialized skills, could obtain food to survive without farming. This eventually led to the creation of a professional labor class which depended on the ability of others to grow more food than they consumed. The surplus of food then led to the creation of means of exchange instead of barter, or for lack of a better word, money. The accumulation of wealth brought about conflict when other bands of ancient humans decided to obtain that surplus of wealth through organized violence or war.
The use of war in politics can be found in Mesopotamia as early as 10,000 BC through evidence of cemeteries from northern Mesopotamia to Egypt. Fortified cities have been excavated in Uruk and in Jericho from 7,000 BC.
The first time we can view a recorded history of war between nations comes from the area of Mesopotamia. In 2,700 BC, there is a recorded history of a war between Sumer and Elam. The Sumerians, under the leadership of the King of Kish, defeated the Elamites and carried away their weapons as a triumph. At the same time, the King of Uruk, Gilgamesh, attacked his neighbors in order to procure a supply of cedar that was to be used to build a temple. As the human race multiplied and became organized and centralized in nations and empires, the tendency of the human race to engage in warfare has only grown. From the use of clubs and stones to the modern nuclear age, humans have murdered each other aided by the creation of new weapons in ever-increasing quantities.
The Nuclear Age and the Possible End of Humanity
The detonation of the 1st atomic bomb used in warfare on the Japanese city of Hiroshima heralded, for the first time, the ability of the human race to destroy itself. The man credited with the development of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, uttered the words “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds” from the Hindu sacred text the Bhagavad-Gita.
From that day on 16 July 1945, when the world’s first nuclear weapon was detonated, the number of countries that have developed nuclear weapons has grown from one to nine. Of these nine, the United States and China are at loggerheads, with Russia involved on the periphery, but still involved. India and Pakistan have fought several wars since partition in 1947 and are currently involved in an undeclared conflict over the province of Kashmir. India and China have recently come to blows with soldiers using clubs wrapped in barbed wire which has led to the death of several dozen soldiers in the mountains separating China and India. While the world has managed to avoid a nuclear conflict, the dangers of the world being devastated by a nuclear war has grown since the end of the Cold War.
While the stockpile of nuclear weapons has been reduced as a result of the end of the Cold War, 70,000 nukes at the height of the Cold War, and currently measure some 14,000 nukes, that number has begun to climb due to China and North Korea adding to their stockpiles. The remaining weapons are being upgraded and their destructive power enhanced. More nuclear weapons in the world means a higher chance of them being used in a conflict. Once a nuclear war begins, it is uncertain if it could be contained, or lead to all-out nuclear war and the destruction of world civilization. There has been speculation of the possibility of what has been termed the Thucydides Trap that would tilt the odds in favor of war between the U.S. and China.
The effects of a nuclear war on the Earth, and its population, would be devastating. The first consequences would of course be the destruction of major cities and economic zones as the result of the first blasts of nuclear weapons. Immediately after would come the effects of radiation poisoning, and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people from that aspect of nuclear war. With such widespread destruction, the availability of trained medical professionals would soon be overwhelmed by the immense numbers of injured and dying populations. A nuclear winter would soon follow, with crops failing and widespread famine as a result. Needless to say, there would be an immediate breakdown of law and order, and the subsequent decline into barbarity unchecked. Indeed, the living would envy the dead.
The $700 Quintillion Alternative
Alongside the development of weapons of war through science, technology that was developed for war can also be used for peace. With the natural resources of the Earth being overwhelmed by the growth of the human population, which will eventually lead to global conflict, the technology exists today to enable the human race to venture into the solar system. This would allow the human race to populate other planets and seek resources not only from the Moon but from the $700 quintillion prize, the asteroid belt that orbits between Mars and Jupiter.
One of the pre-requisites for the development of the asteroid belt would be the establishment of a mining support facility on the planet Mars. Such an endeavor would require funding in the trillions of dollars. New space vehicles, inter-planetary vessels (IPVs) would need to be designed and constructed out of the Earth’s atmosphere to be of sufficient size to transport the supplies and building materials that would be required in order to build a mining support facility. The construction of smaller vessels needed to do the actual mining of the asteroid belt would also have to be manufactured.
Construction of an International Space Dock
Scientists at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics have long advocated the construction of a space dock in a low Earth orbit (LEO) for the construction of deep space IPVs to facilitate the growth of space exploration and colonization. The funding of the construction of the space dock should be international in nature so that every country would have a financial interest in the space dock.
The construction of the space dock could be done in conjunction with the current NASA project Gateway.
With fusion power becoming more and more likely with the technological breakthrough by MIT, and the establishment of Commonwealth Fusion Systems by the scientists who made the breakthrough in fusion power, the mining of helium-3 has become a matter of great financial interest. Helium-3 is used to ignite the fusion process in the CFS tokamak under construction by CFS and is critical to the growth of fusion power on Earth. According to NASA, there are 1 million tons of helium-3 on the Moon. With one pound of helium-3 worth $705,000, 1 million tons of helium-3 would be worth $1.4 quadrillion. Such wealth is worth mining but should be done by all the nations of the Earth to prevent warfare from spreading out into space.
Stepping Back from the Nuclear Abyss
Today, with world political tensions rising worldwide, the human race is on a path to destroying itself. From the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey is making aggressive moves to capture the natural gas fields shared by Israel and Egypt, to the Himalayas where India and China are rubbing up against each other, and to the South China Sea where the United States and China conduct missile drills with their navies, the world is drifting into armed conflict. And all of these military confrontations are over who will gain from the natural resources in those areas of the world.
With the asteroid belt worth more than $700 quintillion, there is more than enough wealth for every nation on Earth with trillions left over. And if the nations of the world worked together, instead of insisting of fighting over the meager wealth of the world, there would be no reason for war, or the suffering war brings.
Let us step back from the nuclear abyss. Let us turn the world’s attention to the promises of wealth that wait for us in the solar system. Let the technological revolution be used for peace instead of war, and let humanity spread its seed among the stars.