Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Artificial Environments

Humans have been creating artificial environments for at least several thousand years, and will likely continue to do so for as long as humanity exists. If we were ever to settle other worlds this would be an imperative, since the worlds we know about – as well as the intervening space – are environmentally hostile to our form of life.

The bare minimum requirement for a human habitat is protection from the weather and uncomfortable temperature. This requirement is often extended to include storage for food and water, as well as waste management. Habitats not only protect us from harmful and uncomfortable aspects of the environment, they may also provide the means for much of our activity, including entertainment and work.

The per capita consumption for an average home in the United States accounts for nearly two-thirds of the world average or nearly one-sixth more than the entire consumption of an average Colombian. In a country like Denmark (applying for the ratio of overall consumption), this amount would be closer to the entire consumption of a citizen of Zimbabwe.

Using technology to enhance our habitats to compensate for the loss of natural services would surely cost much more. This compensation would speed the degradation of natural systems and force us to totally divorce our lives from Nature.

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