Archive for October, 2008

How to colonize Mars…

October 23, 2008

OK, I won’t go into the debate as to whether we should colonize Mars  (although I love the bumper sticker that reads “Earth First! We’ll mine the pother planets later”). I am making the assumption that life in general, be it sentient or not, likes to expand tho places where it might not be or places where other versions might be.

Granted this comes from terrestrial observations, but hey, you work with what you have got.

Recently , in a missive published by Agence France Presse, former moonwalker Buzz Aldrin stated that we should send people to live on Mars for ever rather than exploratory back and forth trips. He likens this to how the western world colonized the new world (Gee, I hope we don’t just go and kill the aliens , take their land and remember them in a once a year holiday where we feast on farm raised decendants of local wildlife).

I think Buzz has an interesting concept , but I think it needs to be taken one step further.

Most of the current literature and visions involving Martian explorationa nd Martian explotation circle aorund some eventual terra-forming project. I am not sure our soceiteies have ever been stable and reliable long enough to fund , let alone carry through, a project like that (think of an abandoned Jamestown like Mars colony).

Instead our current feasibility is probably closer to something that faces a less daunting barrier: fashionable morality.

What am I talking about? Why genetically altering humans to more readily survive on  Mars. Sure, we should start with Bacteria, Lichen, Guinea Pigs and Dogs first, but eventually, we can probably go about creating Martians rather than trying to change a whole plaent.

The process of duplicating a Mars-like environment and then adapting our vegetables, fruit and fruitflies to live in that venue shoudl be far easier than trying to change th climate of an entire world (we still no so little about the climate of our own orb).

Now why do I say the barrier is “fashionable morality.” Simply becasue it is. Morality changes just as fashion does over time. Historcially, lots of societies practiced activities that we see as morally repgunant today. in Europe, the Middle East and pre-Columbian America, infanticide and cannibalism were seen as standard practices (the Christian Communion ritual of eating Christs flesh and drinking his blood is a remanant of those times in some ways). More recently slavery was seen a normal part of life as little as two hundeed years ago. Morality changes with time and there is no reason to believe that the current view against genetically modified humans (as wellas human cloning)  will hold as a moral position.

So the next time someone asks how we will colonize Mars, tell them, “with home grown Martians, that’s how.”