As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

You Will Go To The Moon

This article was written by in People. 32 comments.

MarsStephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time, says that humans should consider colonizing the moon, Mars, and eventually another star system, in order to ensure our species’ survival. Here on earth, our risk of being wiped out by a natural or man-made disaster is increasing. The scientist cites “sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of” as causes for alarm.

Regardless of how high the risks are, even one who is less of an alarmist will agree that the risks are increasing. However, space travel introduces new risks, so we rely on intelligent analytical people to study the risks and determine what is best for society.

Looking beyond the problem of not yet knowing how to migrate a community and colonize a location above the Earth’s atmosphere, there are still a few questions. Even if we can begin colonizing the moon in 20 years as Hawking predicts, who will be able to go?

Lunar real estate and space travel are bound to prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthiest millionaires (and entertainers). Those who can afford to escape the pollution and crime on Earth will be able to leave terrestrialism behind and create a better life for their families.

Is this the normal course of historical colonization? Societies leave a secure location for only a few reasons that come to mind: lack or resources or immediate danger. It takes money and strength to travel; migration has never been for the weak unless the less fortunate happened to be enslaved by other societies.

It would be interesting to live to see colonization on the moon or other planets. Although I imagine the first colonization attemps might not be successful, I’m curious to see if the option is only available to those who can afford private space travel at a ridiculous price. This is speculation in its purest form. Feel free to share your thoughts. Who will go to the moon?

Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published June 14, 2006.

Email Email Print Print
About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

so if our society / human makeup is one that will destroy itself, why should we be interested in methods that will preserve it?

Reply to this comment

avatar 2 Anonymous

If governments will fund it, there will be no want for volunteers to go. There are plenty of people who would consider the adventure the chance of a lifetime, but they are not the wealthy.

If individuals have to fund it, no one will go because those who can afford it would never give up life here for the dull and difficult work of building a new society on a completely undeveloped territory. The wealthy might be willing to pay to go visit, but never to give up life here and start over as pioneers on a new ball of dust.

Unless of course there was complete upheaval on earth so as to make it a prize to escape the planet.

Reply to this comment

avatar 3 Luke Landes

Two thoughts. First, evolution. Supposedly the human race will learn from its mistakes (at the conscious and genetic levels) and continue to evolve, and migration creates a selection process (though not fully natural in the Darwinian sense).

Second, virus. If the human race is something inherently destructive, it can be considered a virus. While “antivirals” like cancer and AIDS have tried to kill us off, we keep mutating (learning, adapting, developing technology, migrating) to stay alive.

In either intepretation, organisms have one overarching goal: preservation. How would a society come to the conclusion that it is better to become extinct than to preserve the best qualities of that society (whatever “best” happens to mean)?

Reply to this comment

avatar 4 Luke Landes

Qw said:

If individuals have to fund it, no one will go because those who can afford it would never give up life here for the dull and difficult work of building a new society on a completely undeveloped territory. The wealthy might be willing to pay to go visit, but never to give up life here and start over as pioneers on a new ball of dust.

Why not? There have been wealthy pioneers throughout history. Even in the last few centuries, wealthy Europeans came to North America to settle in a land they knew would be hostile and inhospitable to building a “European” life. Yet, the desire to leave their problems behind (and the promise of more wealth) brought them over.

As time progressed, it became more affordable to immigrate, which I think is the core issue behind the “immigration issue” in America today.

My guess is the pattern of colonizing beyond Earth will be similar — especially if people are drawn to the prospect of increasing value of colonized real estate.

Reply to this comment

avatar 5 Anonymous

Yes the wealthy who came to America came for 2 reasons. To escape the problems of Europe and for the promise of new wealth. So that goes to the point I made about conditions that would make it a prize to leave the planet.

Perhaps those conditions will exist but I really doubt it. I stick by my statement. As an example. If we were trying to colonize Mars today, are you going to find any of the top 1000 richest people in lands of opportunity giving up everything here to go there? I contend 0 chances in 1000 of that.

Of course we won’t know because we are a long way from trying to colonize anything. They are talking about trying to get a manned mission to Mars by 2025. That will be a miracle to even achieve that I suspect. Actually setting up a colony will require a strong need to do so. Scientist like to talk about things in the theoretical and make predictions about when they will happen. Scientists tend to overlook economics and market forces which tend to make things happen much slower than they technologically could if we put all resources and efforts needed towards it.

As example, HDTV has been heralded for a decade now. It was predicted in the 90s that by shortly in 2000’s everything would be HDTV. Finally it was mandataed that everything go digital by 2003. Then it got pushed back, now its mandated by 2008 or 2009 (not sure which). Most TVs owned and many sold are still analog. And that is being pushed along because the government wants to take over the analog frequencies and use them for other things some of which are homeland security so 9-11 is actually pushing the move to Digital TV. Without the government mandated shutdown of analog frequencies, TV signal would still be broadcast in analog in many areas well past 2010.

No one will care but I can’t see any way to colonize Mars in this century or the Moon in the first half of this century. And once we are able to colonize something I doubt it will happen til much after that either. The scientific hurdles of colonizing stellar bodies without atmospheres and water supplies are vast and extremely prohibitive.

Thats just my opinion of course, but if there was a way to bet on it and see the money before I die, thats how I would bet.

Reply to this comment

avatar 6 Anonymous

We’re going to run out of oil long before we can even consider colonizing other bodies in space. And after we run out of oil we will burn all of the trees. And then after we have effectively killed ourselves and our planet it will look like Mars.

Reply to this comment

avatar 7 Anonymous

Optimism vs Pessimism? Choose Realism.

We are a long ways from running out of oil even if we can’t seem to pump it fast enough to keep up with daily demand. And when it does become more scarce there are many other sources of energy (nuclear, solar, wind, hydrogen, and countless others we can’t yet use or don’t yet know about) almost any of which are far more efficient than burning trees.

Lack of oil and trees will not prevent us from colonizing other bodies in space.

Reply to this comment

avatar 8 Anonymous

What if the reason we haven’t blown ourselves up yet is because psychologically there is no other place to go…In other words, if people were located on the moon, earth and mars, the moon people would be more willing to use nuclear bombs on earth because they have the moon to live on. Whew, now I’m pooped.

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.