I’ve done much work on my Future History and the revised Voyagers setting in the past weeks, and it’s time to refine one of my first design choices: Earth’s population growth.
Since there are no major catastrophes in my timeline – no comet impacts, no nuclear wars – not even any truly severe climate catastrophe – I now feel that the 22nd Century drop in population was a little too drastic. Originally, I had the Earth’s population drop by over a billion in 50 years; that’s a lot of unborn babies. I am still convinced that population of Earth will decline in the long run because of the expense of feeding children, and increased education of women, which is known to cause them to have fewer children, and to have children later.
Now, for the rest of the system: So far – that is, until the “current” date in our little “simulation”, 2172, Mankind has visited most of the solar system, but settled only very little of it:
- Luna: Some outposts very late in the 21st Century that expand to colonies by 2150.
- Mars: First landing in 2137, which builds the first outpost. Slow growth until the discovery of the hyperspace jump, and then growth is limited by the rate at which housing can be set up.
- Space stations: Several medium sized space habitats at Earth’s LaGrange points.
The moon is initially settled by outposts – counted in dozens of people.
At the beginning of the 22nd Century, they have grown to about 200 people – something you can barely call mankind’s first extra-terrestrial colony world.
Population explodes between 2150 and 2200 as launch capacity is increased on a massive scale, and price goes down in consequence. Most of the population growth benefits the moon; in fact, the number of volunteers is far greater than the Lunar colonies’ ability to house and feed them. Population of the Lunar colonies climbs to 17500, and continues to skyrocket until growth finally ebbs off in the 2300s, after the colonies reach half a million inhabitants.
The first expedition to Mars doesn’t simply land there, it was designed to establish a permanent base from the get-go. Travel times and cost of the expedition were simply too large for a “throw-away”.
After the 2170s, space ships become capable of traveling within the system using microjumps, and the Martian colony’s population is increased to 5000 people: The red planet is not exactly overcrowded in the 22nd Century.
From this point on, population of Mars will increase sharply while Lunar settles into a more organic growth: With the Terraforming project kicking in after decades of planning, potential colonists will more likely view Mars as a long term home than living a life as cave-dwellers on the moon. Mars finally has enough workforce to start building shelters at an accelerated pace, and Mars will become a major source of materials for space ship construction as Mankind begins to colonize other star systems, leading to the Martian Ore Rush.
Finally, looking at the longer perspective, things look less optimistic for Mars: More attractive options outside the solar system will become available, and the Martian population won’t see a major increase.
Mankind build a number of permanent space stations early – as launch cost goes down, these installations become downright cheap. There are factories, hotels, military installations, shipyards, and many other types. Early in the 22nd Century, the construction of the first O’Neill cylinders begins.
Orbital habitats become less popular as better options – habitable planets – begin to attract settlers.
|Year||Sol System Tot.||Luna||Mars||Other|
Update, June 10th:
I’ve updated the text and, above all, messed with the population numbers. I thought about them and in the end I just felt Ihad to lower the initial number, as I think it would not be trivial to build housing and food processing plants for millions of people within a few decades. Probably better to err on the side of caution.