|View down a skylight revealing magma racing through a lava tube in Hawaii. When lava stops flowing in tubes it cools and forms a smooth surface [photo by Mark Robinson].|
A metaphor I like for Humanity and our Nukes is a 12-year-old boy given a semi-automatic weapon for his birthday with plenty of ammunition and told to "go out and play. Have a blast."
Are we there yet? Is "Grown-up City" just over the horizon, or are we still hours away? Weeks? Months? Years or Decades? Never?
Can't answer that, too many variables. So the best answer I can come with is years, decades, or never.
ONE way to "grow" our species is to have purpose. Have a goal. If the 12-year-old is interested in firearms from a purely Physics point of view, never points the weapon at anyone, feels being a soldier is his calling, or wishes to build better weaponry on the principle that a good defense is a great offense, and keeps his weapon clean and locked in a vault when not using it, I say fine, let him keep his tommy gun.
The analogy to humanity is pretty clear: build cities on the Moon. Lots of cities. Don't think small. Run them like military operations, with the "enemy" not being other humans, but the hard vacuum of space, the solar and cosmic radiation, the challenge of recycling body waste, and plain old entropy. And Murphy, who always shows up for work. Ask us Engineers how to get around that one, we like our factors of safety. And Psychologists. They'll screen out the less-than-optimal.
My point is that WITH a clearly defined goal, we'll be too caught up in the Grand Adventure of Space Colonization to war with each other. It will be expensive, it will require a lot of manpower. It will create new jobs right here on Earth, and THAT is where the money will come from.
New jobs equals new taxpayers as opposed to those who live off charity and the state, and new taxes equals the money we'll need. You needn't read a textbook on Macroeconomics to figure that one out.
I know, I know, it seems like an impossible dream. So did the colonization of the New World in the early 1500's. But we did it. The Santa Maria, the Nina, and the Pinta weren't cheap, but slick-tongued Christopher Columbus managed to talk himself into them. Where are the slick-tongued devils of today? Where are the Ciceros? Wasting their talents on arguing for lower taxes on the rich? On drilling in the arctic tundra? Denying climate change? Attacking Obama? Yeah, that's what I see. Why not re-direct their efforts?
Toward that end, where will we live, at first? It seems plain that being the cave-dwellers that we are, the Moon offers up many hidey holes to escape the first enemy: radiation. We live in caves now, albeit those with fancy names like "houses", "apartments", "condos," and "homeless shelters." Man-made ones. The moon has plenty of natural caves, which will save greatly in excavation costs. So where are they? Where indeed.
Here they are!:
Click here for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera page.
Click here for some pics of cave openings in the Sea of Tranquility.