"Raping the planets" and other PR disasters

From: Corwyn J. Alambar (nettiger@best.com)
Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 12:33:04 MDT

Following the recent Mars threads, and the parallel though unrelated outburst
of heaton the >H list, I feel I have to speak up about the public relations
gap futurists, and especially >H and Extropians are facing.

"Why live in a gravity well when you can disassemble the planets and
distribute their mass..."

"You can't own real estate on Mars, but you can rape it for resources..."

"Pave the Universe"

Even though these statements might be intended flippantly, sarcastically, or
simply in poor taste, these are prime examples of the problems that the
populace at large has with the radical futurist movements (of which
transhumanism and extropianism are a part, fortunately or no) - the total
affront to what are accepted as aestheticaly pleasing to many people.

Consider the movement to ban forestry and strip mining. "Great claws and
gouges ripped into the earth"... "Poisoned rivers running crimson like blood
from the mine openings"... "denuded hills, blasted into a seemingly post-
apocalyptic wasteland"... And people are talking about disassembling entire
PLANETS? During the 70s and 80s there was ahuge industry involved in painting
beautiful and alien vistas based on data collected from astronauts on the
moon and the various Voyager and Mariner probes.

Claims like these, even if made in jest, will turn what could be a very strong
public relations asset to a serious disadvantage - instead of "tour Mars: see
the majestic cliffs of Olympus Mons" the slogan would be "don't return to the
1900s - save space from the industrialists" or "Don't repeat the mistakes of
Earth - Don't mine Mars!"

We have enough of a problem with negative PR, and no amount of dismissing
"the masses" will keep them from pressuring government to make laws that
hamper our cause, or save us from international governance that would make
some of our tools illegal to even pursue, let alone possess. If we fail now,
and turn public opinion against us, the best we will be able to do would be
to pick a small nation with enough resources to support our goals, move in
and basically try to get the people to go along with us enough to get into
space ourselves - as refugees. Our grand leap forward would be the desperate
casting of a ship to the waves of an unforgiving ocean into an environment
impossibly mre hostile than the last time n exodus of faith like this took
place. And the governments we leave behind will still have the ability to
reach out and smite our habitations from afar.

I am not an advocate for censorship - self- or externally imposed - even though
at first blush it seems that way. With the essay by Joy and the favorable
responses, however, is it wise to continue to feed the flames? Choose your
word and phrasings wisely, so they say what you mean - nothing less, nothing
more. Talk of "raping" a planet carries images that are unpalatable to even
some of your fellows.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:07 MDT