Aside from the cost, risks, and physical challenges that need to be overcome, space colonization is simply a bad idea. As I read the CNN article about the “16 super-Earths” that had been discovered, the thought occurred to me that these worlds represented a potential opportunity for humans to spread out—to expand our presence in the universe—to up the odds of the survival of the human race.
And then the reality set in. I came back down to Earth and realized that maybe our colonization of space is not such a good idea after all. Here’s why:
1. As we colonized this world, we subjected the less technologically savvy to exploitation, slavery, debauchery, and disease. In some versions of history as viewed through a 21st Century lens, many of our political ills today in third world nations come from their periods of colonial rule. So we fly to another world and find a similar situation—and we do it all over again? Sure! Man can’t help himself.
2. If the new world is uninhabited by any species, it would be barely habitable by humans. Microbes, flora, simple fauna—there would need to be something there in order to support our life. Only a matter of time before it would be exploited into extinction, even before we’d have time to study, appreciate, and conserve it. Consider how we over fish, over hunt, and extinguish whole species right here. So why would this not happen elsewhere?
3. Who gets to go? Does the US government decide who can go to the colony? Does the UN? How does the world avoid creating a “space suburb”, one to which the “new white flight” goes? I can foresee a selection process that weeds out the “undesirables” so that only the “chosen” get to go and create the new off-world society.
4. It would be a matter of time before the new world would be laid waste for its natural resources. Man isn’t just looking for a nice place to go for a few years’ vacation. No, as resources here dwindle, the interest is to go elsewhere. A few weeks back, an online article talked about a world made out of crystalline carbon. Essentially, a world of diamond! Imagine the economic significance of that! Diamonds would be dirt cheap except for the cost of getting them here. And then the idea of a cosmic diamond would probably drive up the cost so that only the elite could own them. First one there claims it and owns it—and thereby controls it. The movie Avatar is a great example of this even though it’s fictional.
Maybe man really laments the stupid mistakes made here and wants a collective “do-over” on another world. But there is no such collective consciousness in man to achieve that. Man will make the same mistakes again and again, facilitated by technology, no matter where he goes. The ships that carry man to another world will have to reach escape velocity to leave Earth but there’s no way the passengers can escape the failings of human nature.