Property rights in Space: why I am afraid of another space race

I watched a show on PBS the other night about new frontiers in space exploration. The issue that has me worried is property rights in space.

Who owns what? If you land there first do you “own” it? Should you? If you get there first and claim ownership, does this then automatically give you the right to do what ever you want with it?

Case in point: The Moon. Our Moon. The USA landed first. It now appears that there is a fantastic amount of a special helium that would be perfect for fusion… do we (the USA) own it? Does getting there first give us the right to strip mine it?

And who should decide who owns what?

This isn’t much of a rant so far as I’m posing more questions than ranting but what I am really afraid of is this; by the time my grandchildren get to the moon it will already be stripped and Pepsi ads will be everywhere. One day as an old, old woman I will look up to the full moon and see vast gaping wounds in the face of the Moon. Does corporate enterprise have the “right” to do this?

I am worried that we will continue to trash our Mother Earth and then just find other worlds to trash… rather than exerting control over ourselves we will just find other worlds in order to continue on with our massive over consumption.

Is humanity going to get a clue? Are we going to systematically trash the entire Milky Way? Perhaps I am silly, worried about an issue that probably will not be adequately explored in my lifetime; however, I would like to know if anyone else out there thinks about issues like this.

I think that we do need to have some kind of law in place BEFORE we go any further. I think as a world we need to decide. Personally, I would like us to balance use with preservation and explore conservation before exploitation.

Shortly after landing on the Moon, the US agreed that the Moon should be the property of “all mankind”. I would imagine that the first permanent establishments will be purely scientific ones (like those in the Antarctic), and as colonization/mining expands, more suitable agreements will be made.

From a legal standpoint, yes. I don’t think anyone would be worried about destroying the ecosystem on the moon, as there isn’t one. However, I agree that we shouldn’t ruin the beauty of it, which is why any mining (if any) should be done entirely underground or on the far side. However, I don’t think it’d be too horrible to see twinkling lights on the Sea of Tranquility… I think it’d be amazing, actually, to know that humanity has finally taken a permanent step out of its cradle.

I hope this never happens. I hope that, one day as an old, old woman, you will look up to the full moon and see the beginnings of a new human colony, and know that our species is the first that we know of to leave our Mother Earth.

Why can’t we do both? Compare current levels of “trashness” to that of the '60s, and you’d see that things are improving. And speculation suggests that things will only get better (Mr. Gore’s doomsday predictions aside). Don’t tell me you wouldn’t feel a sense of pride to know that your fellow men and women have taken on the task of building a foothold on the Moon, on Mars, on Europa and Titan, and whatever other planetoids in the solar system are ripe for expansion.

I think it was an article in Popular Science that noted that the asteroid belt could possibly have vastly useful mineral deposits. You wouldn’t mind trashing those, would you? :smiley:

I agree. However, don’t you think that on the lunar surface, or the Martian surface, or wherever, we can find a means of taking advantage of the natural minerals without ruining the place? I mean, let’s face it, those particular areas don’t exactly have much to ruin (although your point is well taken). I, too, would hate to damage to surface of the Moon, but if there really was an important element to be found there, I believe we can find a way to tap that resource without ruining the view.

There does seem to have been work done on this very point .

From the *Treaty on Principles Governing The Activities Of States In The Exploration And Use Of Outer Space, Including The Moon And Other Celestial Bodies
January 27, 1967 *

I don’t know whether this is binding to all countries . There is a lot of stuff on the page .

From :

Spoofe: “all mankind” verbal agreement, isn’t it? And what does that mean? That we all, collectively, have a say? I hope so. I really do. But still, from a “legal” standpoint does it? There are no “laws” that I know of that cover “land” that is not on the Earth. (See later in this post)

I’m not worried so much about destroying the eco system because, as you pointed out, there isn’t one, but still there is a majesty and beauty; do we have the “right” to destroy it? Do we have a right to destroy the “dark side” of the Moon strictly because it isn’t visible to us? Somehow, to me, that still doesn’t seem right.

I would love to look up to the full moon and see evidence of our colonization; but not in the spirit that we have “civilized” the Earth. I do not trust mankind to be kind and gentle in his approach; I see vast billboards, mining and landfills with no concern to preservation. Where do I get this idea? Why, let us look around our own Earth!

I guess I just do not trust mankind not to make the same horrid mistakes again. I think we have the ability to do both (use and sustain) but our very treatment of Earth doesn’t support that we have done this now. 60’s or not, just look at Texas… environmental concerns are thrown out the window to sustain and encourage corporate growth, even at the expense of human health and safety, not to even mention animal life. I FEAR corporate greed.

As for trashing the asteroid belt: Do I support this? No. There is much to be gained in mining it, yes, but who will benefit? Who will obtain the rights and at what cost?

As for mining the Moon or Mars or any other body, “…we can find a means of taking advantage of the natural minerals without ruining the place? I mean, let’s face it, those particular areas don’t exactly have much to ruin” I guess it depends on how you look at it. And how you look at what we’ve already done on Earth. My answer is no, we do not seem to care how we mar and ruin; we only see the ends to the means. And THAT is what horrifies me.

I do think we see eye to eye on some points but you have a much higher estimation of humanity as a whole than I do. For this I credit you. But I do not trust humanity to be fair, just and compassionate. I see corporate greed even MORE fully exploited in space than it already is here on Earth.

yojimbo – an excellent web site, thanks for the link! I searched but that one did not come up. However, it seems to me that it is not binding. The UN doesn’t truly represent all. And in this show the real issue was private enterprise laying claim by launching their own vehicle into space. Everything in that site seems to be about nations, not private enterprise…

As you know, any “space exploration” has been carried out by governments. But this show was talking about private companies entering the “space race” and staking their “claim”. Much like the Gold Rush to California way back when. THAT is the issue that really scares the shit out of me. I see corporate greed rearing it’s ugly head and taking over anything they can land on…

Thx Byzantine .

Here’s a corporate view .
I would say your fears are indeed shared by a lot of people including myself . As we all know once there’s money to be made companies and governments do not have the best track record . Even if laws are in place , that is no guarantee that anybody will listen to them . Just look at all the stuff that is happening on Earth .

Once there is a military advantage all rules will be off IMO.

Of course, the Earth has an ecosystem which, when changed, is often changed for good. Our mistakes here can wipe out species of life. The Moon, let us not forget, is just a big rock. No atmosphere, no life, no erosion, no seismic activity, no nothing. The Moon doesn’t even have a magnetic field.

There aren’t any mistakes to be MADE on the Moon. There is nothing there; it is completely, utterly dead. Strip mines - which the naked eye couldn’t see anyway - wouldn’t be any uglier than what’s there.

A can appreciate your concern that the Moon can become overcommercialized or something, but there’s no downside to it apart from… well, to be honest, I don’t see ANY downside unless they can actually make the whole Moon have a big Pepsi logo, which I’ve heard is possible. I don’t see anything wrong with strip mining the hell out of it. It’s a rock.

What makes you think governments would be any better at it? If anything, they’d be worse.

Rick, some of us worship that rock!

Boy, another church and state thread. :wink:

Anyway, just to put dear Byz’s fears to rest… I wouldn’t be holding my breath about any rush to colonize space. Heck, just figuring out how to build a small, viable colony would take decades, and we’re nowhere near the consideration of permanent settlements. And even then, it’d take another few years to find good mining sites, and even longer to actually start.

That’s the beauty of it. There wouldn’t be any need to “trash” the asteroid belt, just send a few shuttles out there to haul rocks back to processing centers. It’s speculated that the asteroids are mostly composed of heavy elements (read: metals).

Of course, in this case, the concept of “trashing” is subjective :smiley:

Heavy Metal Moon Rock-

I think that the name of the next WhiteSnake album