O'Neill, Gerald K.
There is enough construction material floating around the solar system to build habitats with 3,000 times the surface area of Earth. These habitats would enjoy unlimited virtually free energy and could provide Earth with the same (unlimited free energy) by beaming down microwaves generated from solar power. If we had but begun this effort when O’Neill pointed the way, there would already be the first habitats and a mass migration of population off planet could have already started. O’Neill saw that if we made the effort to move off-planet then by the end of this 21st century, very few humans would be left living on Earth; this planet would have been turned into a nature/vacation preserve. But now it may be too late for humanity. We have gone through our surplus petroleum energy and may now have become too thoroughly embroiled in conflict over who controls the remaining, diminishing resource base that cannot possibly satisfy a still growing planetary population. If this window of opportunity is actually now closed to humanity, then it may be too late for us; our civilization may be doomed.
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