Assumptions, Part 1: Dirtside

Before we can begin to investigate the possibility of successfully rebuilding civilization, we first need to describe our set of assumptions. For the purposes of this web site, we’ll have two sets of assumptions: one for the situation and conditions of “interstellar” travel (that is, the trip from one habitable planet to another, on what is often called a “generation ship”), and another set of assumptions for what constitutes a “habitable” planet and the situation and process of starting a civilization there.

This post will describe the assumptions for a habitable planet, henceforth referred to (in most cases) as “dirtside.”

First, of course, is the environment. Any planet on which human life is expected to survive will have to be very much like the Earth. The air will have to be similarly composed of nitrogen, oxygen, and other gases, in order for humans to breathe. There will have to be clean, liquid, fresh water (as opposed to salt water), constituting both rivers and lakes, to drink, to use for cleaning, for watering plants (including crops), and, eventually, for transportation. We will limit colonization and normal human habitation to the tropic (between 23.43682° N and 23.43682° S latitude) and sub-tropic (outside the tropics up to about 35° north or south latitude) areas, which will approximate the climate, geology, and geography that would be found in those zones on the Earth in the late 20th century. We might eventually also include some areas in the temperate zones (approximately 35° to perhaps 40° north or south latitude), but for now, we’ll stay with the tropics and sub-tropics. So, basically, we’re going to assume a good environment, with the possible exception of the area within, say, 5° latitude of the equator.

Next is resources. We will assume that the resources are the same as those found in the tropic and sub-tropic zones on Earth in the late 20th century. Furthermore, we’ll assume that the types, quantities, and distribution of metal ore, minerals, gem stones, forests, grasslands, clay, sand, and other resources match the types, quantities, and distributions of those found in analogous latitudes and geographies (mountain, plains, inland, savannas, coastal) on Earth.

Finally, plants and animals – some of which will be dangerous – will exist in, again, the types, quantities, and distributions found in analogous locations on Earth in the late 20th century. This includes both land, aquatic, and avian life.



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One response to “Assumptions, Part 1: Dirtside”

  1. […] Last week, I summarized the assumptions that I’m making about any planet to which humans might eventually travel. Note that this would include Earth, if a generation ship traveled with a constant acceleration long enough to reach a significant fraction of the speed of light, such that the time dilation effect returned them to an Earth significantly older than the ship itself. In fact, this is the premise that I will use as the basis for the spaceside part of the site – that the journey both begins and ends at Earth. […]

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