The government has been passing laws regarding the protection of the Earth’s most vulnerable places from the ravages of different industries, but a new study suggests that our planet is not the only one that needs protecting from human exploitation.
A study published on April 16 in the journal Acta Astronautica makes a case for designating at least 85% of the solar system should be protected wilderness similar to the Earth’s national parks. This leaves just 1/8th of moons, asteroids and eligible planets free to be mined or developed by human interest.
In the study, it mention if the growth of space economy is similar to the exponential growth of terrestrial economies since the Industrial Revolution, then humans could deplete the solar system of all its iron, water and other resources that are mineable, in a matter of centuries. This could potentially leave the solar system all dried up in just 500 years.
“On a timescale of less than a millennium we could have super-exploitation of the entire solar system out to its most distant edges,” the authors wrote. “Then, we are done.”
Limiting the exploitation of resources on other planets now, before the space economy progresses, is needed to avoid what the authors call “a crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions”.
Limiting the galactic consumption to 1/8th of the available resources may sound like a bad deal, but space is a huge place and even a small fraction of our solar system’s bounty could set humans up for generations.