As mentioned previously, especially over on my metamorphs (beyond structures) blog, logistics, central place theory and our general ability to supply and distribute resources is important to defining the presence of civilisation. {NB: Supply is resources into an organisation, and distribution is resources out.}

Humans can walk at an average rate of 5 km/h, and at ground level can see for a maximum distance of 5 km. Assuming people need to rest every hour, then the provision of refreshment and rest facilities at 5 km centres would define a civilized area. If assume can walk for 5 hours each day, then would require inn’s or camping grounds at no more than 25 km centres. To keep things human scale, without need of any technology, then the human realm stops when we cannot travel the next 5 km without technology (eg. at a minimum a water bottle.).

For land to be part of a nation, to be part of the human realm then it needs to be held and guarded by humans. For simplicity assume that the land is divided into circular cells, and each cell has one human custodian or guardian. {NB: to completely cover the area hexagonal cells are better, but for simplicity will keep discussion to circular cells.}

One person is assumed to be able to walk 25 km in a day. They can therefore start at the centre of the circle, walk along the radius to the perimeter and then walk around the circle, then back along the radius to the centre. A circle with a diameter of 6.036 km would meet this requirement, with a circumference of 18.964 km. A person a the centre could lookout toward the perimeter, but they would not be able to see across the cell from one boundary point to another. Taking this into consideration and bias for multiples of 5 and 10, make the cell 5 km in diameter. A person can see from one boundary point to another, they can see from the centre of one cell to the centre of adjacent cells, at the boundary they can also see across adjacent cells to the far boundary. This is all assuming that the land is relatively flat and unobstructed.

The 5 km diameter cell, has a circumference of 15.7 km, and radius of 2.5 km, if  divided into 365 sectors, then each sector would have an arc of length 43m, and distance around the sector would be 5.05 km. Various pathways can be arranged to zigzag across and around the cell during an entire year.

This being so, then how many cells and therefore guardians are required for the earth?

Table 1: Number of 5km Diameter Cells

Region Area Cells
km² count
World:Total 510,072,000 25,977,754
World:Sea 361,132,000 18,392,302
World:Land 148,940,000 7,585,452
Australia 7,692,024 391,752
South Australia 983,482 50,088
Brisbane 15,826 806
Sydney 12,368 630
Melbourne 9,991 509
Perth 6,418 327
Yorke Peninsula Council 5,834 297
Adelaide 3,258 166
Hobart 1,696 86
Canberra 814 41
District Council of the Copper Coast 773 39
Darwin 112 6

From Table 1, above, it seem 7.6 million people are required to occupy the land, the current world population is approximately 7.4 billion. Countries like India and China have enough people to place one guardian in every cell on earth.

Taking a closer look at Australia: its population is concentrated in coastal cities mainly on the east coast of the island continent. Australia has a population of around 20 million people, but only needs approximately 392 thousand people to occupy all the land and make it accessible. South Australia, the proclaimed driest state on the driest continent on earth, has a population of around 1.6 million, and to fully occupy the land and make it accessible would require a little over 50 thousand people. Whilst the Yorke Peninsula Council area would only need 297 people to hold the land. But the land is not held, and not accessible and otherwise not opened up.

To put the population into these cells, people could walk from one cell to the next. However each cell needs to be supplied with food and water. Once again a human chain could supply resources from one cell to the next. If we bring mechanised transport into play, then things change slightly. First problem with mechanised transport is that the primary fuel supply is typically transported by ship to coastal ports. Fuel has to be moved inland from the coast. Fuel is rarely transported by aircraft, it is typically transported by land transport or pipeline. Pipelines are wasteful of supplies as the pipe has to remain filled. For small intermittent supplies it is preferable to transport using road vehicles or trains. A typical road vehicle has a typical range of around 500 km before need to refuel, and diesel electric train of around 1000 km: though these distances could be increased by extract fuel tanks. For example a car could tow a 100 litre of 1000 litre fuel trailer. Alternatively  A Westland Sea King helicopter seems to have a range of 1230 km, whilst a Boeing Chinook helicopter has a range of 741 km, and therefore helicopters could be used to get people in and out of the cells. But what ever mechanised transport is used need fuel at the interior to get the vehicles back to the coast.

It would seem the horizontal (east-west) width of Australia is 4042 km, whilst its vertical (north-south) length is 3155 km. A Lockheed Hercules aircraft  has a range of around 3800 km, a Lockheed Galaxy has a range of 4440 km, whilst a Boeing 747 (Jumbo Jet) has a range of 8000 km to 12000 km depending on the model. So aircraft can certainly get from coast to coast, they can also get from coast to the interior: the question is can they get out off the interior and back to the coast?

To get resources into the interior to occupy the land, need to consider multiple levels of networks. My suggestion is start with a network of railways with nodes/stations at 1000 km centres. Trains can then deliver fuel in bulk to the 1000 km stations. From these stations, road trucks can transport fuel to nodes at 100 km to 500 km centres. From these nodes cars and small vans can deliver resources to nodes from 10 km to 100 km centres. Once the 1000 km network has been constructed then it is possible for distribution to be by a human chain of walkers.

Given there are approximately 715 thousand people unemployed in Australia, and the land is not properly occupied and need 391 thousand to occupy the land, then could reduce unemployment by appointing national custodians, coast guards and the likes to all the 5 km cells. Also compare against Australian defence force at around 80 thousand personnel: it is clearly not occupying the land and is relying on machinery to hold it.

Similar networks are required to open up the interior of EurAsia, Africa, and South America, whilst North America likely has adequate network and access to its interior though its population is concentrated in a few coastal cities. Whilst Britain and Japan are potentially the only fully developed land masses. EurAsia is heavily developed on its western coast and eastern coasts, but needs more development moving toward the interior.

Aircraft have permitted us to jump from coast to coast across the oceans, and to criss-cross continents from coast to coast reducing travel around the coastline,  but aircraft remove the need to occupy and develop the land between the nodes. Without fuel for aircraft these nodes can become isolated ghost towns.

Now I am not advocating that humans occupy and wreck the whole planet. The objective is simply to compare human population against the resources of the planet: and to consider the human scale distribution of those resources. Many of the 5 km cells would be uninhabitable, and it would not be any benefit in pushing resources into such space to make them habitable for just one custodian. Large open areas also have little to observe. So large open and or barren areas rather than having permanent resident custodians, would have travelling teams of custodians. The number of custodians being based on the number of 5 km cells in the region. For example a 10 km cell is 4 times the area of a 5 km cell, and therefore would have 4 custodians. (eg. Area[circle] = π x d² /4, if double diameter then quadruple area)

Assuming a rescue helicopter can travel 1000 km node to node, then it can travel 500 km between the nodes pick up someone and return them to the point of origin or travel onto the next node. Therefore we keep the maximum width of unexplored and unoccupied territory to 1000 km. Africa for example is approximately 7009 km wide and 7248 km long, once again long range aircraft can get from coast to coast, but still have a need to get fuel and other resources to the interior.

Assuming a truck can only achieve 1.75 km/L, then a 100 L tank would only get the truck 175 km, whilst a 1000 L fuel trailer would get it 1750 km. Assuming a car can get 7 km/L then with a 40 L internal tank it can travel 280 km, with a 100 L fuel trailer 700 km (ignoring the internal tank due to increased consumption hauling the trailer), with a 1000 L tank  trailer then can get 7000 km. {NB:  100 km / 56.9 L = 1.7575 km/L } With smaller more fuel efficient cars then likely to increase rate to 10 km/L and range to 10,000 km. So with an appropriate size fuel trailer, cars have the potential to trek across continents from coast to coast, and carry their own fuel. Trucks however do not appear to be the most appropriate means of getting fuel to the interior. It seems diesel-electric trains achieve around 0.25 km/L but typically have large 4000 L or larger fuel tanks to start with. The fuel consumption of trucks and trains is heavily dependent on the weight of cargo they are transporting: trains are typically built to carry more cargo than trucks in the first place. Trains therefore tend to require regular trips shifting large volumes and/or weights of cargo.

At present the world seems to have a network of long distance nodes at 10,000 km and 5000 km centres, these are the coastal ports and harbours and the airports which really only connect major cities of the world: not the people of the world. To connect people they either need to be able to walk from node to node, or drive a car. The 1000 km node to node railway network, is to get food, water and fuel to primary distribution points. From these nodes resources are then distributed by truck and foot to more localised communities. There is little point in a truck distributing resources 500 km back down the line. Therefore once the 1000 km network is built, intermediate nodes midway between the primary nodes would likely emerge initially along the railways: then a node would emerge at the  centroid of the triangle formed by the railway lines. Each new triangle formed by roads, would be further subdivided by more roads and foot tracks, until the 5 km cells are served.

… I will add some sketches later.