Mars (was RE: true abundance?)

From: denis bider (
Date: Tue Jan 30 2001 - 18:44:24 MST

Samantha Atkins writes:

> > The reason I am saying this is because some people tend
> > to have a 'perfectionist' approach: let's make sure
> > everything is nice and correct right now, and then we'll
> > figure out what to do next. "Let's not go to Mars
> > until we have Earth figured out." I think that's the wrong
> > approach; by the time we have Earth figured out, it might
> > be too late.
> It is not that for me. It is more practical of how we will
> finance the escapade, how it will become self-supporting
> and whether it will actually do what we would like it to
> do as far as being a "backup" for instance.

Agree. But to start with, a significant increase in the public perception of
the importance of space exploration/colonization would be welcome. Followed
by a significantly increased budget for organizations like NASA, giving them
a more central role as a public project, rather than the obscure position
they currently hold. I think space exploration/colonization projects should
have at least the significance that they had during the 'space race' in the

Regarding who would finance Mars colonization: well, there's 6 billion of
us. Finance == work. I don't have sufficient global overview to claim that
we're ready for colonization immediately, but I'm sure the world can afford
more than 1 human expedition per 10 years. I mean, there's 6 billion of us,
and we've got a whole planet of resources - and doing this is a matter of
preserving our civilization! So, can we afford it? Yes, I think we can. I
don't see resources as a problematic issue - the public perception of the
importance of such a project is the primary limiting factor.

Regarding what we could expect from a "backup civilization": one contributor
to this mailing list noted that such a backup colony would have the same (or
perhaps even more?) technology as we do here, and would hence be subject to
the same dangers as we are. But I nevertheless think there is benefit in
duplication - two come immediately to mind:
 - A catastrophe in one of the civilizations will cause the other
civilization to rethink what it's doing, and act accordingly. E.g.: Earth
wipes itself out as a consequence of action X -> Mars makes sure to prevent
action X from happening.
 - Dangerous technologies (like NT) can be developed and thoroughly tested
in far-away places rather than on Earth, even before a full-blown
civilization is developed in those places.

Sure, you're right that colonizing another planet is a rather large
undertaking. But I don't see a reason why we can't start working on it right
now, and I do see some reasons why taking it too slowly might not be a smart

[I'm quite sure such a project would also be a source of great excitement
for a good portion of the human race - wouldn't you be excited about it? -
but that is not the primary logical foundation for doing it: the primary
logical foundation is in the principle of "not putting all of one's eggs in
a single basket".]



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