Humanity is heading toward a Full Earth scenario, a population-saturated terrestrial environment marked by severe scarcity. A team of researchers proposed the use of the entire sunlight spectrum to meet the world needs of food, energy, and water.
“… the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” Said late-18th century philosopher Thomas Robert Malthus in his book “An Essay on the Principle of Population”Harvesting the entire sunlight spectrum can solve overpopulation.Click To Tweet
Full Earth: The World is not Enough!
It had taken around two million years for humanity to reach the one-billion-person threshold in the early 1800s. Afterward, it took only a few decades to hit the two billion mark in the 1920s.
In 1960, 3 billion people lived on Earth and only fifteen years later, there were 4 billion. Now we are about 7.3 billion and, by 2050, the number is projected to reach 9.7 billion, and then over 11 billion by 2100.Scientists project the Earth to have a population of 11 billion people by 2100.Click To Tweet
Overpopulation is often referred to as a major threat to Earth as a planet and humanity itself as a species. The growth of global population is so fast that we can’t predict all the ramifications. Our current understanding and level of knowledge in that regard is limited because of the simple reason that such situations have never happened before.
It’s on everyone’s mind, and some have radical propositions.
Take the Georgia Guidestones for example, erected in Georgia in 1980, it’s a structure of granite slabs with 10 “guidelines” inscribed in eight modern languages and four ancient ones: Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian hieroglyphics.
The stones are also a calendar, clock, and compass. They were commissioned by a shady group of self-proclaimed American Protestants, led by a man using the pseudonym Robert C. Christian.
The stones, among other things, suggest that Earth’s human population should be kept under 500 million. Obviously, something catastrophic would have to happen to follow such strict guidelines.
While the Guidestones obviously aren’t a good indication, one thing is for sure: we’re closer than ever to a Full Earth scenario.
Instead of the number of people, it may be more appropriate to speak of the number of “consumers.”
So it is not the increase in population that is the main problem, but the even more rapid increase in world consumption that puts a strain on the planet’s capacities.
Case in point, the United States consumes 3.89 trillion kWh of electricity annually, which is six times more than India, who has almost three times the population.
Sunlight Spectrum, the Panacea for Humanity’s Resources Scarcity and Full Earth?
With current methods, much of light spectrum is wasted because a certain part of sunlight is used solely for one purpose at one time, be it agriculture, energy generation or water purification.
Here’s a table of the entire light spectrum from Wikipedia:
|γ||Gamma rays||300 EHz||1 pm||1.24 MeV|
|30 EHz||10 pm||124 keV|
|3 EHz||100 pm||12.4 keV|
|300 PHz||1 nm||1.24 keV|
|30 PHz||10 nm||124 eV|
|3 PHz||100 nm||12.4 eV|
|Visible||300 THz||1 μm||1.24 eV|
|30 THz||10 μm||124 meV|
|3 THz||100 μm||12.4 meV|
|300 GHz||1 mm||1.24 meV|
|30 GHz||1 cm||124 μeV|
|3 GHz||1 dm||12.4 μeV|
|300 MHz||1 m||1.24 μeV|
|30 MHz||10 m||124 neV|
|3 MHz||100 m||12.4 neV|
|300 kHz||1 km||1.24 neV|
|30 kHz||10 km||124 peV|
|3 kHz||100 km||12.4 peV|
|ULF||Ultra low frequency|
|300 Hz||1 Mm||1.24 peV|
|30 Hz||10 Mm||124 feV|
|3 Hz||100 Mm||12.4 feV|
|Sources: File:Light spectrum.svg |
The concept, as described in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, would utilize specially designed photovoltaic panels to harvest the entire spectrum and maximize FEW (crops, energy and water) production from a given area. Harvesting the whole sunlight spectrum over the same land area for the three purposes simultaneously, the system would save up to 60% of land required to produce the same results with current practices.
Accommodating local communities aside, especially in areas where the most population growth is expected, the novel approach would also reduce the global environmental impact resulted from meeting the needs of energy, food, and water.