We are now farther from the year that humans first landed on the Moon than we are from the year that the maximum number of human beings will be alive on the Earth. The established models put that population peak at 9.2 billion in 2050. This is the most important thing that has happened to our species in 64,000 years and is the apex problem for the 21st century.
About 2 billion of these people will live in mega cities similar to present-day Mexico City and Rio de Janiero. They will not have decent housing, automobiles, health care, or even sufficient water. What they will have is a life style that places little stress upon planet Earth, much lower than their more fortunate brethren.
If you cannot buy a house or car, you obtain, somehow, the most impressive things that you can. For our mega-city dwellers, things they can get will include cell phones, video games, and computers. What today would be top-end electronics will then be widely distributed, to the point of being ubiquitous.
A Good Life with a Low Carbon Footprint
Living then and there will be like some combination of "Blade Runner" and Second Life. The social network can be what keeps people safe, and virtual living can be what keeps people sane.
Survival in such a place will depend on one's community. Your door may not lock securely, but there are people at home all day and all night, and they see who comes and goes. Add to that coherent virtual communities, and nothing happens un-witnessed.
Stable Human Population
Stabilizing the human population at a level the planet can sustain is an achievable goal. In fact, we are already headed in that direction through giving women power over their lives. We need only support an already raising trend, and that is much easier than starting one.
Design of the Social Network
The required hardware and software for the social network can be designed now. Its basic qualities are understandable and include:
* The information needed by every woman on Earth to control her reproductive health.
* A support network for children on Earth (there will be amazingly few of them) to provide the physical and emotional resources needed to grow up -- a virtual village--.
* The necessity for a local neighborhood watch to provide local personal security for everyone.
* The truth watch needed to ensure that all people of power and authority are held accountable to ethical standards.
* Armed forces that are trained to provide security with one hand and rebuild broken governments with the other.
The Present State
Nobody is saying the task is easy. I am saying it is possible, we have the technology; it ethical, when many other approaches are not; and it is absolutely necessary to save our species. We can start today -- there are plenty of places on Earth to test our design--. We can save 1.4 billion people from lives of desperation.