Should we start pushing space travel, to save us all?

The Earth is crowded.

The human species has fouled its nest.

Most attempts to clean up the environment will be met with various forms of hostility, reluctance and probably will do little good unless all nations on the globe pitch in, which they will not.

Humans are everywhere. There are few unspoiled or untouched areas left on the planet. Whole ecosystems are being wiped out under the pressure of development for housing, business or food growth.

Years ago, scientists discovered how rats behaved when jammed too close to each other in restricted spaces. Currently, humans are imitating the rats.

Morality is down, crime is up, poverty is rampant, the wealthy are detached from everyone else, all forms of squabbles keep popping up from neighbors separated by a mere 10 feet to countries divided by miles.

New forms of diseases are popping up faster than cures can be found.

Various forms of organized religion are appearing and most do not agree with the others.

Vital natural resources are being depleted and the renewable ones are not being renewed properly.

People are living longer so the population steadily grows. Birth control is met with resistance.

Wars are a constant form of life and after each one is settled, the environment suffers and the combatants promptly start reproducing to make up for the dead.

The viable alternative? Bleed surplus population off to somewhere else. Mars sounds good, or even the long neglected moon. History has shown that all nations which expanded into new, untamed worlds bled off their most aggressive and usually most criminally prone pioneers. In the new worlds, they had room to expand and enough to do to keep them as productive citizens. Today, the current pioneer stock develope risky, dangerous games to slake their thirst for adventure, join military groups to try to initiate a war or become mercinaries or corporate raiders.

When populations started to drop due to expansion into new territories, conflicts dropped within the home lands. Resources could be renewed, and people started having more than a few square meters to spread out in. In the pioneer worlds, instances of psychiatric crime such as rape, serial killing, child abuse, robbery and general corruption dropped dramatically.

Homosexuality, depression, stress related mental problems and phobias dropped. The dependence on drugs, including alcohol, dropped.

Food surpluses were common, conflicts resulting in wars were fewer, general aggressiveness dropped.

Considering the current laws and regulations we have today, any colony on a new world would not face the monopoly practices illegally visited on pioneers by things like the Hudson Bay company, the rail roads, the cattle barons, oil monopolies, nor allow the taking over of another persons land nor territories. Nor would there be any native/invader wars like the Cowboys and Indians, the British and the Indians, the slave trade, and the corruption of the natives in South America and Alaska. (There probably will not be any sentient beings found within the solar system.)

Building colonies could channel millions out into space and give people of all races and nationalities room to expand and to work together for survival. Vacuum industries could provide all forms of economic bliss, and the decrease in the Earths population could start the healing cycle for the planet.

Once people spread out, they would be too busy to sue everyone for every reason. Ghettos would be shut down. Poverty would drop. Mandatory recycling could assure that the new worlds stay in good shape. New sources of food could be discovered along with new, cheaper farming techniques.

History has shown us time and time again that when a civilization gets too big for its environment, it either needs to expand or start to rot from within. Currently, political squabbling over available funds have brought our space exploration to a crawl, when we should have been on Mars 10 years ago and had bases on the moon by now. Had the space program been left alone like it was in the 60s, we probably would have weekly shuttles to the moon, scientific teams on Mars and plans being made for mass transport to start factories and colonies in space.

But every politician and his brother started digging into the pot of gold that was NASA and crippled it to the extent that the project was so cheapened that a shuttle blew up, plans for the lunar bases were junked and everything concentrated on making money by shoving commercial satellites up into space for big businesses.

We need to expand into space or eventually we are going to have another major world war and there might not be much left to send into space afterwards.

NASA developed a new form of fuel cell, free of any form of oil dependency. Imagine what forms of alternate power could be developed if the space agency could be given full freedom. Roughly 1,000 items used in homes and hospitals have sprang up from space research. Imagine how much more could appear. The computer technology took a great leap because of its need in space ships, and from there it went to the military and then into businesses and homes.

In 1973 I worked in a clinic and there were no computers anywhere in the building. That same clinic today has computers all over the place. Just think about what more could be developed from space technology if we start heading out for new planets.

Microminiaturiation was a direct result of the space programs because room was scarce in a space capsule. Now we have small electric watches that not only tell the time, but act as a stop watch, an alarm clock, keep memos, phone numbers, play tunes, plus display the time in different time zones!

In 1974 I wore a windup watch.

In my opinion, we need to push harder to get further into space.

It’s time to expand before we foul our nest beyond recovery. Either that, or have a massive war that will kill off at least 1/4 of the global population but, today even that is not practical. Our weapons are too great and we would destroy too much usable land and resources. No one would really win.

We have one option and that is to get into space.

What? Me worry?’

For one, the Earth is not in the great danger of imminent collapse that you seem to believe it is. Eco-alarmists tend to exaggerate the supposed peril we pose to our environment, food and water supplies, fossil fuel supplies, etc…

For another, even if the Earth WERE horribly overcrowded, sending people to other planets is NOT a viable solution. It is TREMENDOUSLY expensive just to send one human being to the Moon with enough supplies to last two weeks. It would be exponentially more expensive to send one human being to Mars with enough equipment to create a self-sustaining colony.

The only reason to send colonists to other worlds is to preserve the human species AS A WHOLE from unforeseen annihilation. A big enough asteroid striking the Earth would wipe out all human life on the Earth – but if human colonies existed on other planets, those colonies would continue even if all life on Earth were snuffed out.

Let’s practice by colonizing someplace a little easier to inhabit, though – like, say, the oceans. Or the Tundra.

There are a lot of reasons why I support the continuation of space exploration, including manned exploration in some specific areas. The knowledge accruing to the society is immense, and beneficial. The social value is considerable, as well, in less obvious ways. I strongly believe that it makes us better, as a nation, and as a race, to keep our minds open to the vast expanse of the heavens.

However, it is spurious and inaccurate to imply that actual travel off earth is in any way likely for the overwhelming proportion of even the single percent of us that are likely to be involved in the process. I mean that a few of the one percent will ever leave earth. It is not possible in terms of simple physics to remove any statistically significant portion of the population of even the wealthiest nation on earth from the planet. Whatever realms of utopian splendor those travelers build in the reaches of space, most of us will still be here, and will have to get by on the resources remaining after the prodigious expenditures of material and effort it took to send them.

If there were a Counter Earth, in orbit in opposition our planet, and identical in every way aside from human occupation, it would not solve the overcrowding of our planet. We could not ship folks off with nothing but Buck Knives and canteens fast enough to matter. The fact that we would actually need to send a bit more that a knife and bottle would only make it more expensive. The problem of overpopulation would not be altered at all. None. Not even if we started shipping a thousand a day, buck naked, in reusable coffin sized containers in giant cargo ships.

Ten times that rate would only make the birth rate rise a bit after a few months, and the problem would be back in a decade, if it relented at all. The real event would have other bad side effects, assuming a paradise in space, awaiting settlement at low cost, and wide availability. The able, the skilled, the upper half of a dozen criteria sorting values would leave. The faster the rate of exodus, the greater the loss of skills and efforts for the Earth. Long before the population dropped in total numbers, the effect would be to leave the Earth to the weak, and the opportunistic. Exploitation is not a peril only for the colonist.

Make the world better, then leave. Start with what you can reach with your own hands, and voice.


Imagine my signature begins five spaces to the right of center.

not to mention antarctica, which, hostile as it is would be much easier to live in than mars

Perked Ears indicate curiosity - Know Your Cat

VERY interesting OP. I find myself in agreement with it’s ultimate aim, the exploration and colinization of space, but for a very different reason. The entire first half of the Op is questionable. All of the problems that you list do indeed exist, ( including some that are not really problems, ) but I would be interested in a cite for your claim that expansion lessenes insidences of criminal activity, etc. If history teaches us one thing, it’s that we do these things because thats what humans do. Wars are not really caused by idiologies, resourses or any other issue that we as humans use as an excuse. Put mankind in groups, and they are gonna fight each other. They will find a way to justify it, but it will happen no matter what. There’s a quote from one of my all time favorite songs:

Sadly, that is the human condition. I see us a species changing, but only in the western world for the most part and so very slowly. I am desperitely afraid that this leson will not be learned until there is at least one more major war. Perhaps having to deal with hundreds of millions of dead will make us finally say, enough.

If I have such a dim view of mankinds future, why then do I support the expanded exploration of space? Well, for one, I am not sure the scenario just outlined WILL play out. I think it likely, but not certain. If it dosen’t, then the OP is right, we need to expand beyond one small planet. I think we’ll do it, mankind is composed of explorers. there is something in us that makes us want to look beyond the next curve, over the next hill and across the next sea. If we do have a cataclysmic war…well, then viable colonies are needed for 2 reasons. Number one, to make sure that mankind does not manage to extinguish itself from existance. If we destroy the Earth. but have viable colonies, we, as a race, continue. If we destroy the Earth and it’s all we got, we’re fucked. Number two, after a major war, we will need the resources of the colony worlds to rebuild and recover. Hopefully, tis process will make us realize that such a thing can never hapen again, and springboard mankind to the stars and beyond. ( now, if I could just find that paper I joted down the formula for warp drive on…)

Cecil said it. I believe it. That settles it.

Rainbowcsr wrote:

God forbid we should have to shoulder the terrible social burden of homosexuality. :rolleyes:

Tris, oh sorry.


( :slight_smile: ) I don’t believe overpopulation is a problem, yet. Or more accurately, that it needs to be. We have no idea what the carrying capacity of this planet is, and with clean, renewable energy and food production, that number can be raised again and again. What would free us to do that is the resources of other worlds. Once you have those, the equasion is no longer a closed system. Theoreticily, there would be no upper limit, but not in real life, of course. I would expect the population of Earth to grow 2 to 2 1/2 the times it is now, and stabilize there. A network of colonies would provide materials to support this. A growing network would provide room for expansion. Some of your assumptions about the ease and practicality of going off planet would ease as technology advanced. Think of the number of people coming to the new world in 1492, vs. the number who come to America each year now. Your basic premise is right, I think, that we will never be able to “offload” a signifigant portion of the population into space. Hopefully, we won’t need to.

Cecil said it. I believe it. That settles it.

hmm. 2nd Tris was supposed to be over to the right. Now I see the problem. Oh well.

Cecil said it. I believe it. That settles it.

Yeah, HTML is gone, and I am still bitter.


Imagine my signature begins five spaces to the right of center.

You can sorta fake it, Tris:


The arguement that colonization (of new lands or space) is needed to solve overpopulation is an old one. However,if one looks at history, the nations that were aggressive colonizers did not do especially well-for example, people in Englend in the 1920’s saw East Africa as the place to plant colonists-but no more than a small fraction ever went there, and most returned within 30 years.And, we have the example of the most costly colonization effort in history (Israel)-after 50+ years, and trillions of dollars, it still is not a viable economic entity. The whole history of European colonization (with the exception of the USA), was probably a colossal failure-the moral: stay home and mind your garden!

Shouldn’t we, as a species, fix our bad habits and learn how to live on a planet without destroying its resources before we start colonizing other worlds?

I love that song! I thought I was the only one who liked anything from the eagles besides their radio songs. haha

In fact, that’s one of the few of their songs that I’m not tired of.

There are no dangerous weapons,
Only dangerous men.

Joe Cool

I did over exaggerate the conditions somewhat, but what I mentioned is currently happening. Granted at this time, mass transport into space is horribly expensive, but with more development of space technology, cheaper ways will no doubt become available. We have an ion drive now – which is pathetically weak but actually exists and is in use with a deep space probe, when not so long ago it was a theoretical engine in a science fiction book.

Mass transport across the oceans used to be dangerous, slow, and expensive but once there became a reason for ships to sail all over the place with larger and larger cargos, it became cheap, quick and safer.

The one thing humans have a tendency to do is find fast, economic ways to get somewhere when there is a need to do so. From ships to balloons to aircraft to space ships. From horses to wagons to trains to cars. From steam engines to gasoline and diesel to jets and the current automobile engine is vastly different, more powerful and more economic than the first ones.

Cleaning up the ‘mess’ is not going to be all that practical anymore because too many nations will not alter their pollution spewing factories because they cannot afford to or because they don’t like being told to. Plus, the single greatest atmospheric pollution source comes from the ever popular automobile. Since the invention of the catalytic converter, there really has been no major improvement in cutting down on exhaust emissions and that includes the newly applied computer fuel controls. Efforts to find new fuel sources have been met with major resistance and eventually virtually abandoned. Like alcohol fuel. It was stated that the alcohol ate up certain plastic components of fuel injectors – but years ago, those components were metal.

It is widely acknowledged that the major oil industries do not want alternative fuels in wide spread use because they would loose money. Until recently, we knew how to make synthetic oils, developed by Germany during WW2, but the claim was that they were very costly yet now, there are several on the market and their price keeps getting lower. They did not appear until OPEC started screwing with the oil prices.

We have millions of acres of lands available still, but much of it is not easily habitable. Plus in several states, including Florida, so many people live there that fresh water is starting to become a problem. In my city, people in many rural areas were offered city water in an effort to close up their individual wells because of the drain on the underground aquifer. Plus, there are more sink holes opening up in Florida due to the drain on the water system than 25 years ago.

In many states, once pure rivers have to be closed to fishing several times a year because of fecal pollutants due to so many people being in the area. Fishing around many nations is becoming harder because the once boundless fish have actually been severely fished out. The Indian River in Florida has been closed to commercial fishing because of the sharp depletion in fish. In some major fishing grounds, including some in Alaska, restrictions have been imposed on fishing because breeding grounds have either been wiped out by drag nets or the fish have been taken before they can replenish themselves. The Sturgon in Russia, which produce that much beloved caviar, have been fished nearly into extinction.

It is also a known fact that as people get jammed up too close to each others in cities, all forms of crime and psychiatric problems arise along with an increase in health problems and disease. Yes, there is also, for some reason, an increase in homosexuality, which, according to nature, is a dead end development. It could be that nature starts increasing the amount of non-breeders to start controlling the population, I don’t know. (I just know I’m going to catch it on this one.)

Alaska is expensive to live in plus the more people who move there, the more natural resources are stripped, like the forest, which is needed to give us pure air. Currently there is a small war going on there with Alaskans who want to strip thousands of areas of old growth forest for job considerations and the Federal government who says no for ecological reasons. There is even a small movement in Alaska to become independent from the United States because of ecological restrictions.

You cannot reclaim the desert either without massive amounts of money. It turns out that deserts are there because of wind shifts when the climate changed ages ago. Plus, they are discovering that there probably is not enough local water in surrounding lands to reclaim much of any desert.

Around the continental shelf in almost all sea bordering nations, human fecal material by the ton has been found to cover the ocean floor miles out at sea, killing off major forms of life. We have known about the hole in the ozone layer for years, but few nations have made major, mandatory enforcement’s to cut down on the pollutants which are causing it. You still can buy freon of the old type and many makers of goods using pressurized cans are still using ozone deadly gasses. America refused to sign an international agreement to cut atmospheric pollutants from industrial gasses within X number of years because major business doesn’t want to spend the money.

In South America, they are still burning off thousands of acres a day of the rain forest, contributing not only to air pollution but removing part of the natural air filtration and replenishment of the world and no one has come up with a solution because it involves billions of dollars.

Unless we can get the entire population of all nations to agree on things – which will not happen – all we are doing is slowing down the inevitable. The alternative is to start now to get out into space and start developing cheaper and better ways to do it. Private enterprises have already begun finding cheaper ways to launch research packages into space and one private concern is well on its way to developing a space craft designed to take people into orbit for a fee.

We had designs and the technology for a reusable space craft long before the shuttle was developed but politics got in the way. (It is a known fact that often, through political contacts, makers of our military aircraft and space equipment, get contracts when they are not the best source or the best makers of the supplies.) I still do not know any other reason, aside from NASA having to turn commercial to replace lost funds, for us abandoning the moon when we had plans for major research colonies to be placed there and the technology already developed.

MIR, which the press, the money hungry politicians and stupid people screamed was a major flop and bitched about us sending up expensive astronauts and supplies, was a major success. It taught us all how to handle the major problems which can and will happen in space. No one knew how a fire would react in a space station until the MIR caught fire. No one knew what would happen in an actual collision until the cargo ship hit Mir. We also discovered what happens when the crew is not well supported or the suppliers try to economize, or people have been there too long or struggled too hard without sufficient help to make things work.

Mir was a major success and what we learned from it is invaluable. How much more would we have learned if we had more stations up there and more craft running to and from the moon?

Perhaps cheaper, more efficient ways to reach and colonize another world? Look at the millions of immigrants who came to the States with a 50 year period! If there is a need, a way is always found.

What? Me worry?’

I’m all for space exploration. I see nothing but good coming of it.
However, I absolutely do not see off-world colonization as some sort of solution to the ills of society. Dire Malthusian predictions have almost become a parody of themselves, because they never come true. That’s not to say they might not someday, but so far the smart money bets against it. I’m surprised that I’m the first to say this, but do you have any sources for these statements you’re making about frontiers being some sort of societal Balm of Gilead?

Yeah, cities lead to more psychological ills, but I don’t think that shoving people into metal cylinders for months-long trips through a vacuum so they can live for years in spacesuits and more metal cylinders would necessarily be any kind of antidote to that. You make arguments yourself against living in Alaska and the desert, but at least in those places we can actually breathe the air.
And we don’t subscribe to the New York Times anymore; when was nature quoted as saying that homosexuality is a dead-end development? Anthrpomorphizing abstract concepts just leads to problems, and you get enough of those dealing with actual human beings. I certainly can’t support your lumping homosexuality in with depression and disease as a societal ill. You seem to be a progress-minded sort of individual, and I hope you can appreciate that dismissing an entire segment of the population because they love people who have the same parts as them helps no one.
I think I had more, but this is long enough. I shall close asking again if you have some sources for your environmental information, or your frontier utopias, 'cause I’d love nothing more than to see a backed-up case for further space exploration.

“Are you frightened of snakes?”
“Only when they dress like werewolves.”

Check any form of environmental website or report to learn about the current problems. As for ‘frontier utopias’, at first, they will not be. You can check with most articles concerning space travel for descriptions of potential colonies, including those in about potential bases on Mars.

Homosexuality is a dead end. Any being which cannot breed without help is a dead end. Nature generates breeding to make the species survive and creates mutations for adaptability. If one form of a species cannot breed, then it is a dead end. Like a Donkey and a Horse can produce a mule, but a mule is sterile.

When a human gets too old to breed, nature is through with him or her, which is why the body begins to fall apart and change so radically. If you examine most ‘true’ historical records, you will find that the known incidents of homosexuality were low when the population was spread out more and concerned with creating a survivable environment. Incidents of homosexuality began to increase when people started piling up in small areas. The incidents of psychiatric illnesses began to rise also.

Currently, the world is quite splintered. The Christians don’t get along well with each other, nor do they get along well with Muslims, Hindus, Jews, nor any other religion. No religion gets along well with other religions. The world has populations in several markedly differentiated levels of development. Some current populations have been given technology too quickly for them to assimilate it and major problems have arisen creating rifts within nations and whole forms of life.

Americans and the English kind of see themselves as the protectors of the world. The French tend to see themselves as independent from everyone and presumably better. The Canadians tend to be isolated and self involved. The Japanese are in massive denial of their true activities in WW2, plus are still governed by antiquated codes of ethics. China is run by a Communist clique determined to enslave an entire populace for their own gains and power and hostile towards any form of influence which disagrees with this. Russia is in turmoil, with small splinter groups trying to control the masses again and in the mean time, allowing wide spread corruption to flourish. Africa is a genuine mess. South America and Mexico have the most corrupt governments in the world, concentrating on personal gain and riches through any means possible. The Australians are neutral, along with Norway. Sweden is doing a lot of back tracking and trying to justify playing both sides of the fence during WW2 while hanging onto its ill-gotten gains from Jewish refugees. The middle east is involved in holy wars with anyone not Moslem or Jewish and still going nuts over their new and massive wealth while clinging to centuries old traditions. India is involved in political squabbles and still struggling with ancient traditions and beliefs and the cast system while trying to absorb modern technology. Pakistan has new weapons of mass destruction but did not go through the tempering maturity needed to handle them and is now pushing India. Spain and Italy are neutral and somewhat self oriented. Cuba is being held in the early part of the 1900s by an insane dictator who is concerned only with his own wealth and power. In a couple of other small nations, civil wars have started over bigotry.

The UN has not yet been able to get all of the members to agree on any major issue.

I think we’re showing signs of being too close to each other. Colonies and vacuum industries are a viable alternative. Bleeding people off into space does not have the same effect on birth rates as war does. When a human faces a major conflict in which many die, nature kicks in and requires that the species replenish itself. Voluntary immigration has a different effect. The population of Ireland did not have a baby boom when hundreds of thousands fled to America during the potato famine.

No new colony will be easy, so, naturally the rugged individualists will be the first out there to do the ground breaking, something like the far walkers, mountain men and early pioneers were. Once the rugged ones established a base of operation, then came the rest. This time, though, Earth law will follow and any such colonies will no doubt be under military control for some time so the ‘Wild West’ attitude will probably not develope.

Even if colonization is a hundred years off, vacuum industries, space exploration, low gravity hospitals and nursing homes, research stations and more could be placed in orbit or on the moon. We have the technology, but our space program keeps getting raped by congress draining off funds for special interest groups.

What? Me worry?’

Rain, I don’t know what world you live on or what history you have read, but you are way off. We as a people are healther and live longer than any that have come before us. We walk taller, spit farther, and fu*k longer. Egyptian mummies that have been examined showed no signs of cancer, guess what they died around 32 years old even today its rare to die of cancer at 32. I suggest that you read a book “All the Troubles In the World” or go to this web site as they say the good news is that the bad news isn’t true. However I would like to point out the most basic problem of putting people on the moon or mars, all the food water and air would still have to come from earth, so what would be the gain.



Gypsy: Tom, I don’t get you.
Tom Servo: Nobody does. I’m the wind, baby.

Like I stated before, I’m picking out the bad points. As a whole, yes, we are living better lives than ever before, living longer, senility for whatever reason is being pushed back by years, have made massive leaps in technology in merely 40 years, have the ability to grow enough food to feed one third of the world (in the States, that is), have major efforts in action to prevent and to clean up pollution and have learned incredible amounts concerning our own planet and nearly everything in it. There are also recordings of at least 4 new species – not older, mutated ones, but brand new types.

Still, the other conditions exist. I live in Florida. When I was a kid I could go to an intersection and see for miles down a road I know. Over the years, a tiny patch of gray appeared at the very, very end. It grew in size as time passed and the distance I could see dropped. It dawned on me that I was seeing the creation of local air pollution. Now, the fog starts within 2 blocks.

Fishing in the Indian River used to get one major amounts of fish of good size, buckets of shrimp, clams, oysters and crabs. One could live off of the river. Today, commercial fishing has stripped it so badly that restrictions are placed on even the amount of lesser grade fish, like mullet, that one may catch. Several times a year the river is closed to taking oysters and clams because of fecal pollution. Commercial crabbers had depleted the crab population so badly that the once great Blue Crab, normally 12 inches wide is now being caught at a measly 6 to 8 inches and the harvest has dropped by 50% since the 1970s.

Water in the major canals used to run clear all year long and kids swam and people fished all of the time in them. Now the waters are dark and stinky. Polutted. Not many fish and kids don’t often swim in them anymore. I used to trek for miles in the Pine woods and not find any sign of anyone ever having been there before but now I can find beer cans or rubbish almost everywhere I go, in what is left of the great pine woods.

We used to have Florida Panther, Bobcat, Cougar, Gopher Turtles, and lots of raccons around my families home, but not anymore. Freah water was never a problem, but it is now at times.

Action Jackson wrote:

Only at first.

There’s a hell of a lot of oxygen bound into the Martian “soil,” in the form of iron oxide. There are also oxygen-bearing molecules in Lunar dust. It would take a good deal of power (derived from, say, very large solar collectors), but this oxygen could be liberated from either source and used for breathing and making water.