Let's Talk 2000
"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"
December 1, 1997, Volume 3, Issue 13, a bi-weekly bulletin
Topics covered in this issue:
The Millennium Doctor Speaks
News from the Field:
Talk from the Forum:
New Millennial Sites:
The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
the pulse of 2000 A.D."
It's that time of the year when the media starts talking about the turn
of the millennium. Every new year resolution, new century agenda, or top
person of the past millennium is paraded past us from now till January '98.
But what about the top resolutions, the top agendas, the top possible accomplishments
of the next millennium?
In this vein, two questions circulated on Talk 2000 this past month: "What
is being born in our time, comparable to the birth of the first millennium
or second millennium?" or "What has been born in our time that
future generations of 2099, 2499 or 2999 might look back at and value?"
Our "Talk from the Forum" section carries some responses. Austin Repath talks about the milestone of Mars in the third millennium, while I re-post a message about the symbolic role of the civic/religious celebrations of Bethlehem 2000 in relation to peace.
In view of the years 2001 to 3000 A.D., this issue highlights the ideas and work of Marshall Savage, author of The Millennium Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps. In the past five years, Savage has become a leading voice for humanity to leave its Earth cradle. Let's Talk 2000 rang up this brillant space activist to inquire about his utopian plans. I hope you enjoy this feature. Happy holidays from Talk 2000 and may all your New Years be bright.
News from the Field:
"Here is the
latest news on year 2000 efforts."
OUR NEXT MILLENNIUM IN SPACE--WITH MARSHALL SAVAGE:
In 1992, Marshall Savage awed space enthusiasts and engineers with The
Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps (Little
Brown and Co., ISBN 0-316-77163-5). In a pragmatic manner, Savage set forth
a millennial plan of how humanity could alter its course on earth and reach
distant stars in order to survive. Over the past three years, Savage and
other space activists have constituted the First Millennial Foundation http://www.millennial.org.
Over 200 core members now work via cyberspace and conferences toward eventual
TALK 2000: How did a ranch kid in the Colorado River Valley become a voice
for space colonization in the next millennium?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: Beyond the cattle farm routine, we were exposed to a lively
intellectual life, and traveled a good bit as a family. My father was a
chemical engineer with an interest in the (fading) shale industry.
My interest in space came as a generational thing. Like other kids of the
lost "Apollo Generation," I grew up and cut my teeth on Walter
Cronkite breaking into Saturday morning cartoons to announce the first American
in space or the first orbit of the earth by an American. By the time "2001:
A Space Odyssey" was released, you had the entire cosmic future of
mankind laid out before you.
Back then as kids, we thought we were forerunners of new future. Now we
realize we were just a demographic bubble--just a bunch of mutants altered
by incredible vicarious off-earth experiences!
I began to go down the hardcore engineering path, aiming toward an advanced
degree in geology. My grand plan was to be a hot Air Force test pilot, so
when the crew to Mars was selected they would have to take me, since I could
fly the ship and do the studies.
But by the early '70s, the whole Apollo program folded and sunk down the
drain. It was obvious to this high school kid that I wasn't going to get
to Mars via the NASA space program. So I headed off to the best college
I could find to study literature. And who should show up there but Gerald
O'Neil, the conceptual pioneer of the space colony vision.
After he spoke to students in my department, I went up to talk to him. He
invited me to come to their spring '75 conference. That weekend event was
really the Woodstock of space colonization. Brian O'Leary was one of those
participants, and later created the L-5 Society. Freeman Dyson was there.
Even Eric Drexler, the later guru of nanotechnology, attended.
That conference set me on the whole space colonization kick but, oddly enough,
for the next 10 years I went off in a different direction. I figured I would
seek my fortune first and then emigrate to space later, when those folks
figured things out.
TALK 2000: So when did you set out to write The Millennial Project?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: Throughout much of the '80s I didn't see myself in any
pro-active role. I am not a joiner. I was not a member of the L5 society
or the Planetary Society. After ten years, as my 30th birthday was coming
up, I began to evaluate where I was going.
I took a junket to Europe, and even saw Stonehenge. Basically, I was asking
myself how I could see my dreams come true in the course of my life. I came
to the conclusion that I must set out that dream in as tangible a form as
I could and then communicate it to other people. Maybe together we could
all see a larger dream come true.
I began to work on The Millennial Project in 1987. Between pouring
asphalt and building subdivisions, it took me about five years to set that
dream out and see the book published.
TALK 2000: Do you consider the First Millennial Foundation a millenarian
or utopian group?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: We are certainly millennialists, but not in the religious
sense. The idea of colonizing space is fundamentally utopian. We have a
basic belief of where we are going and we believe it will be better there.
Although our destination is essentially utopian--it might not seem like
it to those who will one day live in space! I can guarantee you that the
space colonists of the next millennium will complain profusely about their
A while back I was flying to the West Coast with Robert Zubrin, the creator
of the Mars Direct plan. Bob has an intense frontier spirit. He is very
tied into that mythos. As we looked down on that Nevada desert from the
plane, we realized a hundred years ago people had made their way across
that landscape practically on bloody knees. Now we were flying a century
later over the terrain at almost the speed of sound. At that point, we overhead
our third seat mate bitterly complain to the airline steward that the almonds
were too salty!
Utopia will never be a utopia to the people living the experience! If you
were to rewind that tape and somehow show those Conestoga pioneers that
airplane scene, of us three sitting in pressurized comfort, of listening
to classical music, talking about space colonization, flying at 30,000 feet
and complaining about salty almonds--that would be utopia to them.
Utopia is always in the eyes of the beholder. But what the future holds
out to us is utopian. Today, three-quarters of our planet work in an agrarian
economy. By the end of the next century, the majority of them will partake
of an average income of $25,000 a year in an information economy. Lifting
10 billion people up to that standard of living qualifies as utopian.
In the West, our virtual life and working life by 2100 will yield an income
of likely $150,000 a year. It will be contingent on us at the top of the
income-food chain to consider where the new frontiers lie. We will be thinking
about space frontiers.
TALK 2000: In your book you promote the development of floating sea colonies
as a step to space colonization. Why?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: One of problems with the O'Neil vision of the early period,
as I experienced it, was that a gleaming city on the space horizon was envisioned,
but in front of that city all I saw was a Grand Canyon. There was nothing
in those first visions which helped us proceed from where we are now to
that shining destination in the sky. There was no viable game plan to get
us across that gap, and that was frustrating to me.
I wrote The Millennial Project to translate those grand visions into
action plans. It comes down to a matter of economics and physics. Up until
now, whatever system we proposed to create consumed as much of its energy
inputs in the process of creation. This is true of O'Neil's solar power
or space manufacturing visions. There is nothing to build up steps or a
staircase to a space-based civilization.
I felt we needed an earth-based approach to space. We needed a viable toe-hold
to get into space. I asked myself, "What was there on earth of that
scale of creating a new civilization in space?" The oceans were the
only answer. There is no prospect on land to create a new civilization because
the whole thing is already countrified. But before us lies a vast oceanic
frontier, especially the tropical frontier, waiting for someone to unlock
The first chapter in my book addresses that. It asks, "What is the
system, economic and social, which would allow us to create a new system
at sea?" As I laid out the details of that proposal, I saw it was extremely
possible, even alluring, to do that. And if a group were to accomplish this,
they would definitely have the means, social and economic, to create a civilization
in space as a viable proposition within decades.
Any space proposal that doesn't address the "Grand Canyon" is
just blue smoke--it is a fantasy castle, no bedrock. The sea is the footer
to build on, without that colonization and capitalization there could be
limited space exploration, but not the creation of a wide ranging space-based
TALK 2000: Where will the First Millennial Foundation be by the year 2000?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: I have learned a lot since starting the Foundation. Constituting
the Foundation was the first of eight steps I mentioned in my book. Like
Karl Marx, it looks good on paper, but to implement that in a real world
raises a whole new set of questions.
At one time I thought human beings could function as in physics--be part
of a self organizing simple structure. But once you get into the nitty gritty
of group settings, egos enter in. I learned that human beings don't obey
the laws of physics, but of psychosis! They don't proceed from point A to
B on the basis of rationality.
Given our egos, we humans have an absolute drive for structure in social
groupings. If a structure is not provided, as in the military, we will use
any and all means to establish a pecking order, before we proceed onto the
fundamentals at hand.
The Foundation has really taken a life of its own. It has developed its
own internal structure. While I was the spark and instigator, I am almost
a bystander at this point. As a membership body, it has wonderful potential
for showing what is possible, but it is not an iron sharp tool for digging.
TALK 2000: Do you expect the Foundation might inspire commercial spin offs
to become those "iron tools" which create a space-based civilization?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: Perhaps. There is already a Project C, a proto-type space
colony in Texas, who own a piece of land near Austin. They are seeking to
establish a research base. That one would not be in OTEC or oceanic research.
But that project has got a life of its own, and there are other things like
that. We just have to see where seeds from this bush land.
TALK 2000: What has become of the Foundation's "Aquarius Rising"
proposal to establish a prototype sea colony in U.S. Virgin Islands by 2004?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: I have done what I can to turn the Aquarius Rising prospectus
into reality. That detailed prospectus, finished in 1996, was based on existing
technology. It envisioned a shore-based energy thermal plan from ocean water,
combined with a land-based ocean research colony for 100 people.
The U.S. government has already put $700 million into OTEC research. I firmly
believe if you look at the elements of that proposal, whoever makes that
investment will be unlocking a system of wealth creation enormously valuable
to the world.
But it is a very tough sell for an investor who is wondering where to get
an immediate return on his investment, whether $70 million in microchip
manufacturing or ocean thermal energy research.
Space is a bigger idea than most venture capitalists usually think about.
To carry the Aquarius Rising prospectus further would require economic sacrifices
to my family I am not willing to make. If it is to come about, it will require
someone like me, but not me, to take that proposal and carry that ball up
a steep mountain. This is another one of those things that remain to be
TALK 2000: Where will humanity be by the year 3001?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: Humanity will prevail. Our worst risks are already behind
us. The chance we will blow ourselves up in nuclear war is receding. The
scenario that we will populate ourselves into ecological starvation is not
longer in the cards. We have begun the transition to sustainability.
It is now unlikely we will see Earth bound population ever double again.
Our planet will peak out at 10 - 14 billion people by the end of the next
century. Prosperity will continue to arise at accelerating rate through
new technologies and rapid democratization. Our world will essentially be
a utopian place within a century.
From that point forward, the question for us is, "Where can we find
some challenges worthy of our new found powers?" Twenty years after
WWII, the USA found itself asking this question and decided to have a proxy
Cold War battle with the USSR by sending a man to the moon. That was an
adolescent game of prowness.
Within the next few decades, a driving, mature, exploring spirit will need
to find an outlet. Ultimately, it will carry us into space, onward to the
Where will humanity be by the year 3001? I am a [mid-range] pessimist. I
don't think that human beings will leave this solar system in the next 500
years. If you carry out this line of thinking of what five centuries of
technological growth and exploration will mean in our own solar system,
on the Moon, on Mars, in the asteroid belts or through Dyson shields around
our sun, by 2500 you could have a human civilization which has become a
That young stellar civilization midway through the third millennium could
certainly undertake to send seed colonies out to the stars. It could probably
be done at a cost of capital equal to only a couple weeks of solar civilizational
production. Once that first step toward a galactic civilization has occurred,
it will continue unabated to the start of the fourth millennium.
One thousand years is an incredible short time period when compared to the
time span of the universe. Those new space civilizations, over the course
of two, three or five thousand years, will grow up into solar civilizations,
around their own stars, as we did in the third millennium.
I firmly believe humans on Earth, come the year 4000, will walk out and
look up in the sky and be able to point to a dozen or perhaps fifty stars
as points of human habitation. Your neighbor might well say, "My cousin
Fred's kids live there." When that happens, the sky becomes part of
our human geography.
In just a million years, the entire Milky Way galaxy could become a realm
of human civilization, with fully developed star systems. This will bring
human civilizations to an unimaginable population scale.
Even if the population grew from 10 to 1,000 billion, it could leave vast
stretches of our own solar system uninhabited. But with the economic productivity
that this population would generate, we would be capable of sending star
seed civilizations onto the next star system.
As I say in my book, The Millennial Project, this is not just about
human economics and demographics, but a broad-based question of life as
a force in the universe. That force is compelled to go forth and inhabit
any environment accessible. How life came forth here on this planet, against
incredible odds, will be how life will spread into the wider arena of the
In the future, life will succeed in crossing intergalaxtic barriers. Like
seed pods released from a flower, human civilization will be released into
the far reaches of galactic space.
The nearest galaxies from ours lie two million years away at the speed of
light, but life on the scale of the galaxy is entirely possible. Once life
gets a toe-hold on adjacent galaxies, humanity will become the ultimate
As we look out to the fringes of the Hubble horizon we see some 15 billion
years of space. Instead of waste-land ruled by chaos, that universe itself
will become a living cosmic force. And just think--we may be at the beginning
of that process. It is an exciting time for us and for life itself.
TALK 2000: By the way, what will you, your wife and your 5-year old son
do on January 1, 2001 to welcome the new millennium?
MARSHALL SAVAGE: To tell you the truth, I haven't thought that far ahead!
[To learn more about the First Millennial Foundation, visit http://www.millennial.org]
Source: Talk 2000 firstname.lastname@example.org
MEDITATIONS FOR A MISERABLE MILLENNIUM
When you see inspirational books such as "Life's Little Instruction"
book and its zillion clones in bookstores, what comes to mind?
Well, the category publishers in New York have really cranked out a millennium
doosey. Tickling the funny bone while embracing the cynicism of our times
is Dan Goodman's recent book: Meditations for a Miserable Millennium
(St. Martin's Press, 1996, $7.99) Comedy writer Goodman offers 108 humorous
penses to prove we take ourselves and the turn of the millennium much to
seriously. Here is a "miserable" sampling.
"The year 2000 will have three zeros... four if you include yourself."
"The year 2000 will be a time of growth as your problems grow quickly
into traumas and tragedies."
"By the year 2000, sewage will be treated better than me."
Through its diminutive size and condescending attitude, Meditations
makes a perfect stocking stuffer for "the person who has everything".
It promises to keep new millennium meditators "miserable, hopless and
unhappy in the year 2000 and beyond!" Last time the millennium came,
people thought the world was coming to an end. Those who buy Meditations
should be so lucky. :-) Source: Talk 2000 email@example.com
Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap
of recent conversations"
CATHEDRAL BUILDING ON MARS
On our daily Talk 2000 forum, the question of what leading accomplishments
of the next millennium arose. While some spoke of human survival, Austin
retired humanities professor and sometimes "Millennium Pilgrim"
opened a thread on Mars. Others followed with specific comments about the
debate to terraform the Red planet into a blue one. Here is Repath's opening
> 1) "What is being born in our time, comparable to the birth of
> millennium or second millennium?"
Cathedral building in my opinion was the great achievement of the second
millennium, and this could be the crowning achievement of the third millennium:"Cathedral
Building" on Mars.
Viewing the pictures being sent back by the Carl Sagan Pathfinder from Mars
has been the ultimate in armchair travel, and it has reawakened in me one
of my wildest dreams: to bring life to the barren landscape of Mars. I first
read about the possibility of terraforming Mars years ago in a science magazine.
Terraforming by the way is the term used to describe the process of changing
the lifeless surface of a planet into a warm oxygen filled, water flowing
world that could contain life. It would take several generations, draw on
the resources of the nations of the world: the result -the creation of a
world, sister to Earth -a place of new possibilities.
It would involve a global cooperation beyond anything we have yet achieved.
For what end? To give life to a dead planet--as close to a cosmic genesis
as the collective human spirit is capable of. For what purpose? To give
ourselves a global sense of empowerment, of self-worth beyond imagining.
The Middle Ages spent themselves in building cathedrals that took generations
to build. They left behind them fluted towers of delicate beauty -- a source
of inspiration for those that followed.
Our age has spent itself in weaponry. Silos with nuclear missiles pointed
skyward, warplanes, tanks, "smart" bombs: sources of fear and
terror have we built for ourselves.
And yet it is not too late. We could yet offer our children a legacy of
a great possibility -beyond anything ever dreamt of before. We could pass
on to them a task of real awe and beauty: a task of cosmic "cathedral
The challenge then for our generation is to have the courage and foresight
to initiate a Mars genesis project. Of course the reaction of many people
would be swift and overwhelming. "We must first deal with matters here
on earth." There is global pollution, deforestation, homelessness,
abuse, overpopulaton. The list is almost endless--all legitimate reasons
why such a venture should not be undertaken.
But perhaps even the attempt at such a project is by its very nature an
essential part of the solution to the earth threatening situation we find
ourselves in today. We do have to deal with pollution, wars, the economy,
but such a Mars project would create a larger context.
It would balance the sense of desperation surrounding the world's problems,
by offering all of us a part in a task that has new possibility, new creative
challenges, and a new frontier. The human race needs a larger vision, something
to draw out from each of us something larger that our own self interest--a
purpose truly worthy of our best effort: a creative act of daring and magnitude.
Imagine the people of earth cooperating together to bring into being a sister
planet for earth. We, the people of earth, taking a planet that is barren,
without a protective atmosphere, with no apparent life, and warming it:
turning its subterrean ice into lakes and rivers, wrapping it in a protective
blanket of cloud and gas, planting its surface with plants and trees, bring
to it forests, animals, and of course as caretakers and "parenters"--human
beings. All possible, some scientists at NASA claim in four to six generations.
What an accomplishment for our species!
But think of the impact such an enterprise would have on the human consciousness.
Herein would lie the major return for the people of earth for their investment.
At present we appear to be gripped by negativity and hopelessness. We see
the need to change, yet seem unable to act, unsure if we can, in truth,
make a difference. This could all be changed.
What we need is an undertaking that would galvanize us into action, that
would give us a better sense of ourselves as a species of greatness and
power--worthy to be who we are. Involving ourselves in something so daring,
so grand in its concept and design as giving birth to another earth-like
world would transform the negative view of ourselves that has filled the
collective unconscious over centuries of war and inhumanity.
Would we not, when we look towards Mars, have reflected back to us from
the heavens a view of ourselves so empowering and positive that the world
around us could not only be restored, but transformed into the best of both
We need to risk sending out the life form that we are with all its weakness
and imperfection into the heavens with the hope and expectation that the
life form, of which we are hopefully only an early imperfect model, will
evolve and grow. I believe that this is more than my wildest dream. I think
it is the task of the next millennium.
WILL PEACE COME TO BETHLEHEM 2000?
Another thread on the millennial event, "One Day in Peace?" emerged
this month, sparked by Steve Diamond. In response, I posted this thread
on Bethlehem 2000. This is probably about as close as we are going to come
on Talk 2000 to a Christmas meditation on peace. Enjoy.
On Wed, 19 Nov 1997, Steve Diamond wrote:
> Jay Gary wrote:
>> Ironically, the troubled peace process among Israelis/Palestinians
>> underminded and marginalized the civic/religious efforts of Bethlehem
>> to prepare for nativity commemorations in 2000 of the "Prince
> --ahh, i see that word "peace" jay, i hope you're not turning
radical on us now?
Maybe I am getting radical. Thanks to Bob Silverstein, I just read your
book, One Day in Peace: January 1, 2000. I like how you tell the
story from a kid's point of view. I think you should keep your focus on
children and schools for the millennium. Microsoft just sponsored the USPS
in their effort to let children choose U.S. millennial stamps. The concept
of a children bringing peace is a great part of our millennial lore.
The "Prince of Peace" derivation comes from words of the Prophet
Isaiah: "To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; . . . and his
name will be called . . . Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6). No doubt he
was referring to the son of King Hezekiah, but the gospel writers saw a
further fulfillment in Jesus. When we think of what the millennium will
mean in England, we think of time, when we think of Australia, we
think of Olympic sports. In Germany, the year 2000 will be identified
with trade. But in Bethlehem, where the first millennium was born,
the question will be, "Two-thousand years after the angels first sang
'Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All,' how close (or how far) are we to finding
The background into which Jesus was born in the first century was the so
called 'Pax Romana' or booming Roman economy. This urban growth was at the
expense of rural life, which was characterized by debt foreclosure, land
loss and increasingly impoverishment for the rural peasant class. Not much
"peace" for the underbelly populations, including Palestinian
Rather than advocate revenge or millennial violence to the Roman oppressors,
Jesus envisioned a future of peace and justice. He launched a peasant millennial
movement built around healing the sick and eating with landowners.
He spoke about the Kingdom of God in a way that caused people to think,
"What would our world look like if God, instead of Caesar ruled?"
Ironically, within five centuries, this people-based "peace movement"
turned the tables completely around--Christ replaced Caesar as the organizing
story of life.
With rare exceptions, such as Francis of Assisi, very few followers of Jesus
have followed his program of non-violence, reconciliation and pacifism.
It took 15 centuries for a Christian peacemaking movement to arise in the
Moravians, the Mennonites and Quakers, all modeled on Jesus' "suffering-love."
This is the peace tradition that Bethlehem should celebrate in the year
2000. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called childen
of God." I have a hard time thinking that Benjamin Netanyahu or Yasser
Arafat can live up to this peace legacy during 1999 to 2001. Of course,
anything can happen...
Irrespective of political initiatives, I think the message of Bethlehem
for 2000 could be that a peaceful world is not born in the palaces of Herod,
or places of power, but in the cradle of ordinary life.
Peace and social change can come from below, not just from above. Every
person, no matter what their background, gender or economic station, have
the potential of being a "christ-child" or a gift to those around
Peace can come as we enter the third millennium as pilgrims. It won't happen
by waving a wand or through magic ritual. It won't just happen through a
commemorative caravan of peace like the Journey of the Magi 2000 project.
It will happen as we become the peace and reconciliation we dream about,
and value those for whom the celebration of civilization has largely overlooked.
New Millennial Sites:
new sites in cyberspace"
HOLY LAND 2000: Come where the first millennium was born
A tourism consortium features news, events and issues relating to millennium
celebrations "where heaven touched earth" some 2,000 years ago.
Best sections yet on Bethlehem and Nazareth to appear on the web.
"Your link to
the third millennium"
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Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
Publication keywords: millennium, society, future
author, The Star of 2000
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