An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian:Great swathes of the solar system should be preserved as official "space wilderness" to protect planets, moons and other heavenly bodies from rampant mining and other forms of industrial exploitation, scientists say. The proposal calls for more than 85% of the solar system to be placed off-limits to human development, leaving little more than an eighth for space firms to mine for precious metals, minerals and other valuable materials. While the limit would protect pristine worlds from the worst excesses of human activity, its primary goal is to ensure that humanity avoids a catastrophic future in which all of the resources within its reach are permanently used up. "If we don't think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now," said Martin Elvis, a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Once you've exploited the solar system, there's nowhere left to go..." Working with Tony Milligan, a philosopher at King's College London, Elvis analysed how soon humans might use up the solar system's most accessible resources should space mining take off. They found that an annual growth rate of 3.5% would use up an eighth of the solar system's realistic resources in 400 years. At that point, humanity would have only 60 years to apply the brakes and avoid exhausting the supply completely.Read more of this story at Slashdot. Click here to read full news..