Historians write that mankind grew up as a hunter-gatherer that for eons was not yet top predator among life forms that have to eat other life forms to exist, a phenomenon called "the food chain." With that kind of roots, perhaps the present-day strife ought to be no surprise. History of wars and other kinds of violence against his own kind, seems to follow the pattern.
With an ancient and long term background of requisite predatory behavior, can mankind really have hope of peace?
History also shows that mankind has often created forms of symbolic warfare, that may help divert the violent urges to fight. Symbolic warfare, such as our football games, where one's home team invades the neighboring town and engages in symbolic territorial disputes in the football stadium; the winner "warriors" are given honor and other rewards for their successful symbolic conquest, the attractive cheerleaders dance suggestively for the hopeful winners. By the rules. No bloodshed. Only the turf got stomped upon. Egos got fully exercised, people got to yell loudly, and all go home a bit livelier after the symbolic cathartic experience.
Such symbolic group warfare may have been created to prevent the need to rebuild after the massive destruction and injuries of the all out havoc of warfare. And also to hone the team assault skills symbolically, thus better able to do the real thing with neighbors, if such an eventuality happens. Yet, a step away from war.
Key to strife at both levels, is the identification of who is us vs who is not us.
"World peace," then, might mean that people would consider all people as "us." Nobody to fight; we are all family, one and the same.
Those who solve things by fighting, seem to have a different vision of "world peace": that of themselves conquering everybody else making it so the others cannot fight back. The analog principle of "fighting fire with fire" implies that if everything is burned down, fire will have to cease since there is nothing left to burn. So warfare is applying this principle, with the intent that there will be something left at the end, which will belong to themselves. "Peace' is obtained by breaking "the enemy" so badly that "the enemy" can no longer have strength to do the same thing back to you. And by the way, the "winner" gets the goodies that still remain undamaged, nice reward to reinforce the assaultive behavior. The "law of the jungle" of "eat or be eaten" kind of thing, still playing out in another way.
Mankind's immense brain is capable, however, of other kinds of thinking, the kind of thinking that has built civilization, despite the tendency of having frequent regressions into the mode of assaulting one another.
Again, the symbolizing of the warfare and performing it per the rules as a public spectacle, such as in football games, may be a compromise step in a peaceful direction. The urge of people to "show off" so as to attract the attentions of possible mates for reproduction, also gets symbolized in non-combative sports such as track, where one's person's performance is compared with the other's, while the admiring possible reproductive mates look on. Television's "soap operas" occupy the mind with symbolic strife, visions of winners and losers of lots of kinds of struggles.
The ability to provide for nurture and safety of progeny, also is a mate attractor; thus display of wealth and possessions potentially for sharing, also become symbolic of that aspect. Even birds do this, taking over a potential nest site and forage area, then advertising with loud chirps for a mate to come share and breed.
More efficient and convenient, agriculture makes a nice handy forage area for a farmer. It also is made more specifically for the nutritional needs, by what kind of seeds are planted; thus less forage area is needed for adequate supply. The farmer works hard to provide for the plants and animals there.
The farmer learns responsibility for the welfare of the forage area that is the farm.
And therein perhaps lies the key for survival of civilization.
That agriculture consists of life forms that are built on each other's consumption, the crop vegetation and the farm animals, whose lives are then sacrificed so as to appear on our dinner tables. Purchasing food at the grocery store takes most of the sting out of the process to us. Eating at a restaurant even more so, the path of the food before it got to the dinner plate less obvious to the dignified eater. Yet, it all was living creatures, not long ago. To be aghast at this awareness will bring starvation, however.
We have to get used to it. Is the same true for the predatory behavior of warfare, the lack of peace?
Historically, when reproductive success has filled the local forage area capacity, it is time to go exploring to see what is on the other side. As life has been at it for a very long time here, we usually find there is already something living on the other side, sometimes even people. People with their farms and sharing groupings of bazar and craftsman, all already there. Is there room for the newcomers? Will there be warfare over possession of the developed forage area?
Notice that the process tends to bring life to where there had not been life before.
Science fiction writings extend the belief that there will be lifeforms on the other planets we can see with our telescopes; and write fantasies of adventures encountering these other mysterious life forms and their very strange environments. Yet, as we send space probes to our neighbor Moon and further into the solar system nearby, we find no trace of life. We keep looking, however. Are there other beings over there who might object to our moving in some day? Are they out there maybe thinking of moving in on us some day? Or, have they already done so in some way, and that "we" and "them" are now "us."
The assumption that there will be objecting entities who will contest our expansion into "their" forage area territory on other moons and planets, has been fading as we inspect ever closer those other places.
Meanwhile, the potential "forage area" on those other places, has not had the benefit of eons of life forms having modified the place, to make our potential living easy there. Yet the farmer capacity in us is familiar with the concept of working over the land so as to make it able to host the lifeforms that are our food. We work to support the food chain of which we are top predator. What will it take to do such a thing to the surface of other places out there in the solar system? The planet Mars has been suggested as the most likely place for such colonization by mankind and the myriad of other lifeforms which host his/her life. We have been to our Moon, and its reality looks tough indeed to farm; yet it does have lots of stuff from which to build; and has sunlight, but its day-night cycles are 28 or our days long. The farmer takes on challenges with cunning, prowess, and knowledge.
The great cost of energy and materials to get to such places, makes it far too costly in resources to even get there, for even a few people. Same goes for the machinery that could make life possible in those other places. Rocketry has a huge price, when used to get up off the Earth's surface and reach distant space. Thus few people could have the opportunity to go to, say, Mars, to begin a colony there, even with the adequate technology equipment along with them.
People are so familiar with the incredible spectacular fiery roar of huge launch rockets leaving the ground, just to deliver a few people to space, provide the belief system of what it takes to go to space.
However, figuring out technology that would provide for the transportation off of the Earth into space, that has an energy efficiency and throughput capacity to lift and sustain a sizable portion of humanity, is a way to approach the problem.
Instead of the Moon, Mars, asteroids as the only places to set up shop, another option was widely thought about, back in the mid-1970's, when Moon landings were a reality fairly frequently. These would be large living spaces entirely built by and for man and his many farm critter friends, growing up where sunshine is ten times as abundant as is typical here on the ground. You just have to take all your camping stuff with you. All of it. Several detailed designs for such self-sufficient man-made cities in space were created back then. Gerard O'Neill, a professor at Princeton, had his students do an exercise of designing such space floating habitats, and found a new focus for human endeavor. A NASA sponsored summer workshop at Stanford in 1975-6 produced very detailed plans for mile diameter self-sufficint space settlements to be located in places in space above the Earth, with earth like living conditions in them for 10,000 people apiece. (See online http://www.nas.nasa.gov/About/Education/SpaceSettlement/75SummerStudy/s.s.doc.html for details; also see http://www.nas.nasa.gov/About/Education/SpaceSettlement/ )
So the problem now is this big first step, getting up out of Earth's planetary gravitational well, so as to get somewhere else. To do it with reliability, low cost including energy cost, and sufficiently abundantly to do the job. A million times or more than what rockets are doing. The actual energy costs of lifting payload up there are not severe, about the same as that of a jet trip coast to coast. It is just that the rocket is so incredibly inefficient for that particular job, throwing away millions of times the energy in the process, in the fiery blast and rumble of just lifting its own fuel for the trip.
Historically, when a city is established across a wide river, ferries ply the river water path to swap people and goods across the gap. Eventually, although it is more difficult to build than ferry boats, bridges are built, and people then carry on with commerce across the bridges almost as if there were no obstacle river to be crossed thereafter. Equivalent structures have been envisioned for the gap between ground and high earth orbit, too. The expense, hazards of construction, and difficulties of building a bridge across deep swift river waters, has not prevented the construction of the many great bridges around the world that are now taken for granted by the millions of users daily. So perhaps also can the lifting bridges to space be.
These lifting bridge structures to space could have at least two basic forms, as defined by the mechanisms for supporting their huge bridge mass across the gap. One is that of a tether, lightly anchored to the earth surface, that is balance supported by the centrifugal force of a counterweight out beyond GEO, all swung around by the planet herself in the 24 hour a day rotation. The tether material must withstand the stress of supporting its own weight across the gap, so its strength to density ratio is critical and hard to achieve. The other basic form creates its own centrifugal force through a loop of material that encircles the whole planet, spinning fast enough around the planet so that its weight is offset by its outward centrifugal force.
Both of these potential transportation mechanism have potential for providing an adequate transportation capacity for extending mankind's forage area at least up to that orbit where things stay stationary over the planet's equator, called GEO, where our communication and weather satellites are located already: we have been there and done that so let's get on with the big job next. We could build those Stanford Torus 10,000 person each cities there in GEO, the first few out of materials lifted from the ground; and use reinforced water ice for their non-rotating passive shielding. Given that a success, most of the materials for lots more of them could then be gotten from other places up there, some from our Moon, some from asteroids and the as yet lifeless moons of the outer planets. We can bring life to where life has not gone before.
Wouldn't that be more fun and interesting than beating up on our neighbors for goodies? Even if that activity is far less familiar to us than bashing others?
Just beware of the gladiator types that are compulsively striving to drag us back down into the pit with them for their sport. Like some kids, they just don't seem to know any better.
To most of us, war is grievously ugly and horribly messy. Alternatively, life expansion activities are fun and have endless possibilities for variety and accomplishment to be displayed, to attract those prospective mates.
We can make the whole food chain fully honored and dignified, from lichen to turkey to taco, integrated and satisfying lives for all of them, up there where we can intelligently build from scratch. Amazing, that we now have the choice! Now, do we have the right stuff?