This past year has seen an onslaught of disruptions that call into question our ability to coexist with our environment. The devastating effects of climate change have arrived, and show no signs of abating. Flash flooding has swept across China and Northern Europe. The Eastern United States has been inundated by hurricanes of historic size. Record breaking heat waves and wildfires have decimated large swaths of Western North America. And a global pandemic continues to rage on. All of this begs the question, must we look elsewhere in our universe to ensure the survival of humanity? A growing movement of astrophysicists, biologists, and billionaire space enthusiasts believes our salvation does indeed lie offplanet. Supporters of this movement argue that we are on the cusp of technology that puts this possibility within reach, and that exploration and settlement to deal with issues of environmental instability and scarcity is nothing new. Settling the reachable regions of our universe is merely an extension of this age-old trend. But detractors of the plans to settle space dismiss it as an immeasurably expensive fever dream. In their minds, it would be far more prudent to invest our time and resources into fixing the problems here on Earth, the only known planet to host life. Beyond the massive technological advancements required, there are simply far too many unknowns about how and where life originated to assume it can be simply transported through the cosmos.
Arguing for the motion is Milan Cirkovic, Research Professor at the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade and author of Global Catastrophic Risks.
Arguing against the motion is Lord Martin Rees, Lord Martin Rees Astronomer Royal, former President of The Royal Society. He is the author of On the Future whose updated paperback edition is due out in October, and The End of Astronauts due out in March of 2022.
Milan Cirkovic: “There are many human achievements which, almost by definition, could never be realized if humanity remains bound to Earth.”
Lord Martin Rees: “It is a dangerous delusion to think that we could escape the Earth's problems by going to Mars."
Sources: Engadget, Blue Origin, SpaceX, European Space Agency, World Government Summit and 60 Minutes Australia
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