The Earth is a dying rock and time is running out. You only have 10 years to plan your escape. How could we evacuate as many people as possible?
What resources would we need to take to survive? And where would we go?
If we found out that Earth only had 10 years left before it was destroyed, we’d need to figure out a plan for humanity to survive. And with a global population of 7.8 billion people, our survival plan would have to be as colossal as possible.
Today’s space shuttle technology can only transport five to seven people into space at a time. That means we would need over one billion shuttles to carry everyone off the planet. That’s not very feasible. We’d need bigger spacecraft, and fast.
To design and build the spacecraft at breakneck speed, we would all need to work together. We’d need to set aside our wars and conflicts to help make the plan succeed.
We’d need to bring the best and brightest people to our new home, including scientists, doctors, engineers and maintenance crews. Everyone would need to keep the ships and future settlements up and running.
Oh, I imagine the selection process would be very strict. So if you wanted to be one of those survivors, you’d have to find a way to stand out. And now that you have more chances to be picked as a survivor, you might wanna know what would come next.
There would have to be intense screenings to make sure only healthy people relocate off Earth. A single outbreak of disease could spell the end of humanity. But it would be impossible to bring everyone. We’d have to leave a lot of people on the dying rock. But how many could we save?
By some estimates, we;d only need to save 98 people. That would be enough for humanity to survive and maintain a healthy population. But other scientists argue we’d need at least 14,000 people.
Let’s round this up and say we’ll aim for evacuating 15,000 people. But how would we choose them?
It could come down to population sizes here on Earth. For example, India could send 2,700 people to account for their 17.7% of the global population, while the U.S. could send 600 to match its 4.25% of the population.
Or would we choose people based solely on their skills and qualifications? This would perpetuate many of today’s inequalities. Who we choose would have huge impacts on humanity’s cultures and attitudes in the future. To maintain all of the cultures on Earth, we would need to find ways to preserve them.
Now, let’s get to technical side of things. To carry 15,000 people to refuge in space, we would need an enormous ship or many smaller ones. While constructing one ship would be most efficient, there would be significant risk if that ship became damaged or malfunctioned.
Two of the biggest challenges would be figuring out how to build such a complex spacecraft and where. Building it in space could give us more freedom. We could optimize the ship for space conditions rather than engineering it to survive the brutal trip from Earth.
And it could help if we transferred the raw material to space before beginning construction. But that could take a while. Currently, SpaceX rockets can carry a maximum payload of 63,800 kg (140,660 lb). And we’d need a lot more than that.
The next huge challenge to overcome would be considering how many vital resources we would need to carry with us. We would need to build our space vessel to become self-sustaining. Solar power would be the primary energy source. After all, it’s free, and the Sun will keep burning for billions of years.
But everything would need to be in perfect balance to produce oxygen and water, grow food, process waste and regulate the temperature and pressure. But first, we would need to stock the ship with enough food to keep everyone alive before we can start growing food in space.
To survive the first two years, you alone would need up to 400 kg (880 lb) of food. And that food would need all the carbs, fats, proteins and fiber you’d need to stay healthy.
You’d also need 1,726 L (456 gal) of water per person. Now, multiply those numbers by 15,000 to supply everyone onboard with enough food and water. That would be a lot of water. So our ship would use cutting-edge methods of recycling to make a renewable water system. But where would we go?
First, we’d establish a pit stop for deeper space exploration. Luckily, by the time the evacuation began, we’d already have one orbiting the Moon, designed to resupply astronauts with food and oxygen.
Then we might head to Mars, where we could orbit it for a while. But we’d need to figure out how to get everyone down onto the red planet. Could we accomplish all that in a mere 10 years? Well, we already have the drive, technology and financing to make civilian space travel possible in the near future.