Astronomical waste

Warning: this is an unusually unusual post.

Previously I argued that human activity is only useful on net to the extent that non-human activity is harmful. This raises the question: how harmful are events in nature? I think that the big things to have in mind are disasters, resource use, and decay. But another possible problem is that natural resources throughout the universe may be slowly running out through no fault of humanity’s. Galaxies are receding, time is running out, stars are burning down. Intuitively this doesn’t seem like a big deal. The universe is very old, and our entire history is less than an instant from its perspective, while our behavior on earth is having big effects on short timescales. But it seems worth checking anyway. Read the rest of this entry »