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: Contact Information

The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
"Taking 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."

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 space colonization.

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 circumstances.

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 box.

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 civilization.

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 seen.

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 stars.

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 solar civilization.

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 galaxy.

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 cosmic force.

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 talk2000@rmii.com

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 talk2000@rmii.com

Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap of recent conversations"

On our daily Talk 2000 forum, the question of what leading accomplishments of the next millennium arose. While some spoke of human survival, Austin Repath millenniumvigil@hcol.humberc.on.ca, 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 volley:

> 1) "What is being born in our time, comparable to the birth of the first
> 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 building."

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 worlds.

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.

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 has
>> underminded and marginalized the civic/religious efforts of Bethlehem
>> to prepare for nativity commemorations in 2000 of the "Prince of Peace."
> --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 peace?'

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 Jews.

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 them....

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:
"Here are 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.

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

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Editor: talk2000@rmii.com
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
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Publication keywords: millennium, society, future
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