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This page of answers to frequently asked questions will always be a work in progress. As new questions are asked we will add the answers here.

  • There aren’t a lot of details in this vision. Why is that?
    We tried to make the vision as bare-bones as possible for a couple of reasons. First, trying to define the details of society several centuries from now is just not possible, especially when one expects that society to be culturally diverse. Second, we want to build a broad consensus around the vision, and the more detail it contains the greater chance folks will find things to argue about. There are many flavors of political, economic, technological and cultural systems that are consistent with this vision. We think this proposal contains the minimum elements required for a sustainable civilization and the details can be worked out as we go along.
  • The vision seems very positive, but how are we going to get there?"
    We have consciously minimized any discussion of how we are going to get to this future society. That is not important at the start. What is important is knowing where we want to go. We realize that the journey will not be easy, especially in the next few decades as population continues to grow and problems multiply. The role of the Aspen Group is not to engage in debate about how to design our economy, or reduce our carbon footprint or raise standards of living in poorer countries. Our role is to get people to support a common understanding of our destination that can be used to assess the various pathways forward. Choosing those pathways is up to all of us.
  • Two to five centuries is very far away. Why such a long time frame?
    We consciously chose a distant time for a couple of reasons. First, it makes many things possible that aren’t possible in the near future. Second it makes change less threatening to people and groups with special interests and therefore more likely that they will endorse the vision. For those that feel the time frame is too long, it is important to remember that there will be a long period of easing prior to this proposed target date. Human populations will be falling, the lowest standards of living rising, arable and wild lands expanding, atmospheric carbon levels dropping, etc. etc.
  • Right now things are changing so fast we can’t even predict the future a couple of years away. What on earth makes you think you can predict the future hundreds of years down the road?
    We agree about the rate of change and the impossibility of predicting the future. That is not what we are doing. The Aspen Proposal isn’t a prediction; it’s a target. We will only arrive at the future it describes if a sufficient number of humans agree on the goal and work to get us there. That is what this initiative is all about.
  • I don’t believe in utopia.
    Neither do we. This Proposal is about survival, not utopia.
  • How did you settle on the population number of 1 billion?
    We started with the fact that we are only one species among millions and our use of resources and emission of wastes has impacts on those other species. Although the use of appropriate technologies can reduce our per capita impact it cannot eliminate those impacts completely so the more humans there are the fewer of everyone else. Then we had a look at estimates of historic large mammal populations to see how they compared to our current numbers and found that nothing came remotely close. Then we gave some thought to having sufficient numbers to maintain genetic and cultural diversity on 6 continents and having enough human resources to support big science projects like mega-Hubble telescopes and super large hadron colliders. Based on all of that and a belief that simple is better, we landed on the number 1 billion. Perhaps a century from now, when the long easing is well underway, our descendants can revisit that number and see if it should be lower or higher.
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