top of page

10:55-11:15    Alan Johnson Half-Earth, the 1/8 Principle, & Ethics of Collective Restraint


Live Discussion

Chat log

10:59:30 From Nick Nielsen : Can you spot the dog that didn't bark in the night? 


10:59:40 From Kathryn Denning : Carlos: but were they better than nothing?


11:00:54 From Carlos Santana : @ Kathryn: they tended to be worse than commons and their other pre-industrial predecessors


11:01:23 From Carlos Mariscal : @Carlos – all of the examples of successful self-regulation I can think about are ones in which various groups with competing values were pitted against each other. It’s hard when nobody will speak for the environment.. 


11:02:00 From Abhik Gupta : I would like to plead for preservation of not only the integrity of life, but also landforms and go with Leopold (and others in several other cultures). There is an element of  evolutionary justice in recognizing the right of a landform / geological formation irrespective of whether they harbor life or not. 11:02:24 From Linda Billings : Alan, you are right on! The 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty is still valid space law.


11:02:53 From Dan Capper : There have been some successes in both timber and fishing industries in which there has been some self-regulation the way that William describes.  There have been local indigenous examples of self-regulation, too.


11:03:20 From Linda Billings : And Alan, you are correct, it was in the Obama administration that the U.S. government really stepped up advocacy of minimal regulation for space exploitation.


11:03:52 From Carlos Santana : @Abhik: I agree. There are good arguments against the biocentrism of mainstream conservation in the geodiversity and geohumanities literatures.


11:04:54 From William Kramer : As Dan Capper referenced, indigenous resource management provides some excellent examples of conservation (e.g., fishing in Hawaii, taboos on taking certain species in certain seasons or from specific areas that are nursery grounds)


11:05:46 From Caleb Hylkema : @William, Dan Surely self-management on such small and local scales isn't a great representation of the possibility of such regulation on international scales


11:05:50 From Carlos Santana : I agree about (some) indigenous resource management systems, but these generally aren't coming out of capitalized industry


11:05:55 From Kathryn Denning : Many traditional cultures have had effective management systems. Preindustrial systems varied enormously. And so do systems today. But most historical systems have been predicated upon approximately equal access to resources, which is clearly not the case now. Reverting to a real commons would be a nice option but I don't see it on the table now. (Besides, the agricultural commons was inherently self-regenerating, contra extraterrestrial minerals.) The choice now is self-regulation vs no regulation.


11:05:59 From Abhik Gupta : @Carlos: exactly. We have revised our views on sentience and moral agency since the times of say Descartes and Bacon. So I think the natural course is to expand our intrinsic value net wider.  


11:06:11 From Daniela de Paulis : there are examples of space art being set on the Moon. Does art justify the permanent placement of these artifacts on extraterrestrial landscapes?


11:06:38 From Andrew Kennedy : conservation of biological stuff is easier because of the free productivity of the  biosphere. Fish breed, trees grow without ny help. this is not true anywhere else in the solar system.


11:07:25 From Kathryn Denning : Elvis and Milligan's paper was carefully argued numerically, and has had quite a lot of supportive uptake. 


11:07:58 From Robert Kennedy : ah, but the distribution of those resources is *highly* non-uniform


11:08:09 From Joe Gottlieb : what is the justification for the 7/8ths figure exactly? Why THAT number??


11:08:38 From Andrew Kennedy : there’s not that much stuff in the solar system  500 solar masses maybe. thi s is all gone after 4000 years of 1 percent growth


11:08:48 From Carlos Santana : @Andrew: But we've made successful arguments for conserving non-biotic valuable entities in the past, such as for not flooding the Grand Canyon. Similar arguments can be made for not, say, strip mining Olympus Mons, even if it's lifeless. 


11:08:53 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen : Until we encounter a little more of that ethical evolution: I'm not sure we can rely on Space X (and others)  to quietly restrain itself "for the common good". Greed is still more powerful than the abstract idea of somebody else's welfare. Especially if profits are big.


11:09:35 From Daniela de Paulis : I agree


11:10:53 From Kelly Smith : The invisible hand will provide, regardless of the terrible motive of some of those behind it.  I mean, I am not an unrestrained capitalist, but there are good arguments for free market approaches here, in terms of providing goods to people efficiently.


11:11:39 From Kathryn Denning : Does the invisible hand manufacture more rare earth minerals?


11:11:40 From Carlos Santana : @Kelly: the barriers to entering the market in space mining undermine the invisible hand. 


11:11:57 From Kelly Smith : Do they?  As long as there is competition…


11:12:34 From Carlos Santana : Barriers to market entry stifle innovation and favor oligopoly, drastically reducing market efficiency 


11:12:34 From Chelsea Haramia : @joe yes, there is always the worry of arbitrariness with this kind of thing, and I'm also curious what the justification is for that number (but if there's a good argument that there should be *some* fraction preserved, then the response might be that, while there's no non-arbitrary number, there is still some reason to favor this number over others)


11:13:30 From Jim Schwartz : I suppose another question...if what you want to do is expand into space, will the market realize that?  It seems like free-market enthusiasts just assume that all of this will be enabled, as opposed to the market preferring resource acquisition that doesn't result in going further out than the Moon or NEAs.


11:13:38 From Andrew Kennedy : i always thought the invisible hand of Smith was one of restraint.


11:13:50 From Kelly Smith : Carlos: sure, barriers reduce competition, but don’t eliminate it. Since people are predicting the first trillionaire will be made in space, I suspect there will be plenty fo competition, despite the costs…


11:13:52 From Eric Hughes : @Kelly Competition in the market isn't the only scenario. There's another where resource extraction is done for complete self-sufficiency and disconnection from the terran-based market.


11:14:12 From Kathryn Denning : Elvis and Milligan's paper was partly just to get people thinking about the possibility that there *should* be a limit, because space is frequently portrayed as a limitless reserve of goodies...  which it may be, but our solar system is finite.


11:15:01 From Abhik Gupta : @William Kramer: this (deep sea law) is very interesting and apt.


11:15:04 From Kathryn Denning :


11:15:26 From Lodder : Thanks for the link!

11:16:28 From Kathryn Denning : "At a 3.5 percent growth rate for the space economy, comparable to that of the iron use from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until now, the 1/8 point would be reached after 400 years. At that point the 20 year doubling time of a 3.5 percent growth rate means that only 60 years would remain to transition the economic system to new "steady state" conditions. The rationale for adopting the 1/8 principle now is that it may be far easier to implement in principle restrictions at an early stage, rather than later, when vested and competing interests have come into existence."


11:16:32 From Robert Kennedy : 2% growth is doubling in 36 years not 20; three of those is a century, more or less


11:16:42 From Kelly Smith : Native Americans could have said the same thing about other resources at the time though, right?  The fact that it seems like an intuitively massive amount of resources based on a terrestrial economy seems a weak point


11:17:46 From Abhik Gupta : @Kathryn Denning: I strongly agree. Some limit is definitely necessary.

bottom of page