Feeding the galaxy - some thoughts

Spurred on by a recent Galnet article, and some thoughts over the last few weeks, I thought I'd check out whether the population of the galaxy was sustainable given the available land mass on Earthlike and Water Worlds. This of course is all wild speculation and just for fun, trying to understand the situation humanity find themselves in during the 3300s.

** I have spotted a big error! The reference data I was using restricted the number of returned worlds to 37ly of Sol. SO, there are many many more earthlikes. Meaning food is likely outrageously abundant. **

before I did the approximations etc, I expected to find out that without some crazy 3305 intensive farming/calorie production using machines and raw "goop", we were unsustainable.

In the below, I've made some assumptions regarding Earth being an "average" earthlike (not a clue if it is) and food production being at approximately the same level as it is on earth (i.e. we haven't all become vegans, or invented recycled biowaste as food.

SO. Here goes. Someone check my working
As at 3305 there were 6632507957456 people in the galaxy
Using 2019 figures, 0.0006879656 sq km are needed to feed each person
The earth has a surface area of approximately 510,000,000 sq km
Of which, 32% is land
Of which 37% is used for food production
Meaning 60,384,000 sq km is used for food production. We'll set this as "one Earth" of food.

That means that 75 "earths" are required to feed the galaxy.
Looking on EDDB, there are 50 Earthlikes in populated systems within 37ly of Sol
Plus 21 Water worlds (fish are food!)

Plus 2014 stations throughout the bubble listed as agricultural economies that must have food production facilities in stations, agri-domes etc
(I can't get an exact number at the moment, but there appear to be around 1500 systems with earthlikes or waterworlds within 250ly of sol, can't tell if they're populated or not until I do more digging - so - 20 times as many planets as are needed to support the population of the bubble).

So - at current production levels, and ignoring stations and mass produced/industrial calorie production, we have plenty of growing space without needing crazy technological advances like lab grown meat.

So - it's entirely likely that the diet of 3305 for the population is probably sustainable with the same mix of meat and crops as it is at the moment.


The mind boggles. Whether by design, or happy accident from the procgen universe, humanity has the right amount of space to feed itself. If by design, I doff my cap to Frontier's boffins. If by happy accident of the procgen, I double doff my cap at the designers of the algorithm.

In conclusion, as a Hutton Trucker. If there's enough food available, then the rest is just truckin' and as truckin's what we do, we're going out on a limb and claiming that Hutton saves humanity every day just by bringing stuff where it's needed - and of course the blame for ensuring that famine states and the associated engineer materials/data is not available.
 
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Nope. Is all that good trucking going on bringing the abundant food to the places that need it.

The purpose of the exercise was to check that there was enough for everyone.
 
Spurred on by a recent Galnet article, and some thoughts over the last few weeks, I thought I'd check out whether the population of the galaxy was sustainable given the available land mass on Earthlike and Water Worlds.

before I did the approximations etc, I expected to find out that without some crazy 3305 intensive farming/calorie production using machines and raw "goop", we were unsustainable.

In the below, I've made some assumptions regarding Earth being an "average" earthlike (not a clue if it is) and food production being at approximately the same level as it is on earth (i.e. we haven't all become vegans, or invented recycled biowaste as food.

SO. Here goes. Someone check my working
As at 3305 there were 6632507957456 people in the galaxy
Using 2019 figures, 0.0006879656 sq km are needed to feed each person
The earth has a surface area of approximately 510,000,000 sq km
Of which, 32% is land
Of which 37% is used for food production
Meaning 60,384,000 sq km is used for food production. We'll set this as "one Earth" of food.

That means that 75 "earths" are required to feed the galaxy.
Looking on EDDB, there are 50 Earthlikes in populated systems in the bubble
Plus 21 Water worlds (fish are food!)
Plus 2014 agricultural economies that must have food production facilities in stations, agri-domes etc

So - at current production levels, and ignoring stations and mass produced/industrial calorie production, we're only 4 planets short of feeding everyone without needing crazy technological advances like lab grown meat.

So - it's entirely likely that the diet of 3305 for the population is probably sustainable with the same mix of meat and crops as it is at the moment.


The mind boggles. Whether by design, or happy accident from the procgen universe, humanity has the right amount of space to feed itself. If by design, I doff my cap to Frontier's boffins. If by happy accident of the procgen, I double doff my cap at the designers of the algorithm.

In conclusion, as a Hutton Trucker. If there's enough food available, then the rest is just truckin' and as truckin's what we do, we're going out on a limb and claiming that Hutton saves humanity every day just by bringing stuff where it's needed - and of course the blame for ensuring that famine states and the associated engineer materials/data is not available.
LOVE Number crunching like this

So does the population match our current exponential population growth? How long before there is not enough earth left to feed everyone?
 
You totally ignored the cutthroat murderhoboing in ED galaxy. With the rate of destruction of these vital ressources famine should be a way more frequent incident. Along with diseases, unrest, civil war, failed planets, wide-spread anarchy, technological and societal regression.
 
Fair play to OP, that is some nice conception and workings out.

For myself, I expect to turn my FLEET CARRIER into something like this:

143115

I will grow food on mine, then, once we get space legs, I demand the ability to have these radical new NPCs that I can manufacture with mats:

143116

Basically, I want to turn my Elite Dangerous experience into the film Silent Running.

Failure to allow me to do this will make me sad.

143117
 
Don't forget Synthetic meat from High Techs too
That was considered in the 'agricultural economies that don't have earthlikes or water worlds'. Those systems must have an output that is synthetic rather than via traditional agriculture. Lab grown meat! The 2014 systems with the right economy must in theory be plugging the missing 4 Earths of output with something.

LOVE Number crunching like this

So does the population match our current exponential population growth? How long before there is not enough earth left to feed everyone?
Population doesn't appear to be appreciably growing at an alarming rate from the few years of data we have in 3305. On Earth in 2019 we are seeing a 1.1% increase per annum.

What isn't in lore is the lifespan, effect of space travel on fertility or any socioeconomic factors affecting birth rate.

One would expect the trend to lower birth rate to still hold true in developed high tech systems and potentially colonies to have higher birth rates.

I will have to revisit in 12 months and tot up population stats again.

We might need another eartlike to be farmed in the next 12 months though. A small one.

You totally ignored the cutthroat murderhoboing in ED galaxy. With the rate of destruction of these vital ressources famine should be a way more frequent incident. Along with diseases, unrest, civil war, failed planets, wide-spread anarchy, technological and societal regression.
It appears, however, that those shenanigans only apply to space based civilisation. As all the murder hobos are limited to living on their ships and never leaving them plus atmospheric planets being off limits, the maximum risk is the 2014 agricultural facilities out there.

OK. Shipping, but pirates just want those opals and juicy bio waste and not the food.

The figure for earth takes into account our planet's astonishing ability to have fractured economies, localised famines, widespread wastage and wars.

Yet we still currently feed ON THE WHOLE the population of the planet whilst still being total bamstons and perpetuating food inequality and a rich/poor divide.

So. Localised internal famines are possible, but it looks like active trading and prosperity means that system wide famine appears to be nigh on impossible unless caused deliberately.
 
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Of course there are considerations like Earthlikes being rather foolishly put over to industry or massive population centres but you never know, the enlightened humanity of the 3300s might have seen sense and used the 49 OTHER occupied Earthlikes as agricultural non industrial paradises.

Other than fossil fuels (SO last millennium and outdated) it appears that the rest of the mined materials we need can be obtained out in space, so it is reasonable to assume that other than planetary habitation, food production is possibly the most valuable asset from an Earthlike.

The wealthy live planetside and the poorer live in space?
 
Updated 1st post.
One glaring error.
The eddb search limited earthlikes count to 37ly from Sol.

So. The inner planets ALONE could feed the bubble. Famine is even less likely.
 
Famine has little to do with how much food is produced.
Research has shown (I apologize for not remembering the actual sources) that during past famines (after WW2) food production actually increased in affected regions. That may (or may not) have been because of some of the help. However, the distribution of all the food did totally not work. All this due insufficient or damaged infrastructure and/or corruption.

Also: We should expect a huge output in grown food. Who do you think the #2 food producer (in amount, not just in money) is? Spoiler: it is the Netherlands.
#1 is the USA, but they have gigantic areas for food production. The teeny tiny Netherlands don't have so much space for growing food. But they have poured a lot of money into agricultural research since decades. They have a world famous agricultural university and they do stuff like "under which angle does the light need to come from for highest yield"?
Three examples of the things they have achieved
  • tomatoes can be grown with 90 % less water consumption
  • they've developed edible plants (I know specifically of green salad) that can be grown in salt water (not sea water, but this is a huge thing nonetheless)
  • the methods they develop can easily be modified to work in little or not developed countries; the yield will go down but is still a lot better than traditional food growing methods.
And all of that without genetically modified plants.
Why is that so little known about this? Well, Nano-something-something or Digital-foo-bar seems to be more "sexy" for the news :(

So, as much as I enjoyed reading about your calculations, it is likely that some of your basic assumptions are already today becoming obsolete … which is a good thing of course :)
 
I agree! I used the "current" date as a reference as we have accurate statistics on it, plus we appear to be in a period of our own civilisation where we're living unsustainably, it was a start point to compare how things were in the galaxy

It's all about the distribution of the food and access to it all. With no apparent trade tariff problems, a centralised universal marketplace whose prices don't wildly vary, no effective way to blockade a system in war - in fact the most effective blockade (the thargoid attacks that actually set fire to a station), we just evacuate everyone and put them somewhere else - it all boils down to simply transporting it around the place. The empire sells to the federation, which sells to the alliance, and everyone sells to independents with no consideration for politics.

With so many locations capable of growing foods - any famine is likely a supply issue or a localised disaster (such as crop failure on a grand scale) but with the numbers available, a short CG would solve even the most pressing crisis and food stores/long life emergency supplies should be in absolute abundance just about everywhere.

I suppose what I'm saying is that humanity's expansion has led to an era of abundance and plenty of room for everyone! The shenanigans that go in in space are of little concern to dwellers of the various gravity blessed, atmospheric locations who must be, in effect, living in a paradise of plenty! It's those poor souls who live in grotty stations who have it bad.

To carry on the analogy - humanity, by means of space travel has obtained the kinds of abundance that characterised the era of the dinosaurs on earth - which allowed megafauna and megaflora to flourish! Now, where's the nearest giant asteroid?
 
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