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The history of environmentalist thought is structured, as often as not, by too much and too many: too much stuff, too many people; too much deforestation, too many poisoned aquifers. Capitalism, as its supporters and critics alike would surely agree, thrives on exactly this too-muchness. Growth is its sole commandment....

Almost a thousand people stand on Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano in our solar system, and watch as an ice asteroid leaves a gash in the newly minted Martian atmosphere. The asteroid has been commandeered by UN-approved robotic ships that have landed and converted the material of the asteroid itself...