Why Elon Musk Should Stop Pushing Humanity Towards Mars
And so should everybody else ( for a while ).
A farmer watches the horizon with dread. He can see a cloud coming, and it is not a rain cloud. He has received dire tales from his neighbours. Their fields are ruined, crops eaten. The farmer knows what will happen next, and there is nothing he can do about it. The cloud is locusts: millions and millions of them.
The stories above are stories that come to my mind when I hear anybody speaking about going to mars or settling on the moon. Harvesting resources from the solar system to feed the needs of the earth. It reminds me of what we have done to the earth in the search for more and more resources, and it reminds us that we have learned nothing from experience. Yet, not everybody thinks like this:
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great — and that’s what being a spacefaring civilisation is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
-Elon Musk (source: https://www.spacex.com/human-spaceflight/mars/)
I’ve been a fan of science fiction for as long as I can remember. I’ve devoured books by Dan Simmons ( his Hyperion and Endymion books are my favourites ), Iain M. Banks, Brandon Sanderson, Neal Asher, Stanislaw Lem, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Peter F. Hamilton, Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, Neal Stephenson and many, many more. I’ve always loved the adventure, which Elon Musk also seems to love. His message about going to Mars speaks of the great experience. Dangerous but rewarding if successful.
Recently, though, while I still love the books I’ve read, I’ve come to realise there is a severe problem with those books. They all describe humanity, albeit technologically advanced, as having the same issues we have today. And this is the reason why I think we should concentrate on something else and no push us towards exploring the solar system.
Below are some of the reasons I think we should stop pushing us towards Mars.
1. We will take our problems with us
A recent report by the British Ministry of Defense highlights some problems we face (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/771309/Global_Strategic_Trends_-_The_Future_Starts_Today.pdf). Report highlights some the issues like growing inequality, the threats that global corporations pose to our political systems and so on. All these problems are based primarily on the unequal distribution of resources — due to our greed. Throwing more resources into our current population will make things even worse. Things are as good as they are only due to governments regulating things and keeping those big corporations in check. If you unleash the greed of us and our corporations into space, then things will only become worse for humanity as a whole.
Economic inequality is just one of the problems. Lopsided distribution of resources will also mean that technological advancement will also be adopted first by people with money. These days this means benefits from the latest longevity research, DNA modifications and interfacing with machines. Which, in turn, will mean more dangerous inequality that cannot be overcome if it happens. The richer will become more like a different species altogether.
Plus, think of what kind of social problems do we take with us! We still have not overcome our behavioural issues, and we still mistreat our fellow men. Every day, you can read stories about how people abuse their children, husbands, wives, coworkers, etc. Put people with these problems into a high-stress situation where one controls if others live or die. Knowing earth is so far away, and they do not have to face the repercussions of their actions anytime soon, can be pretty liberating for certain human beings.
2. We will learn the wrong lesson as humanity
Life will not be easy on Mars first. But it still means leaving some problems behind. It will hide hard work fixing problems of the mother earth behind hard work that will have to be done on Mars.
Humans seem always to think that grass is greener on the other side. And what the age of social media has taught us is that we will willingly believe our friends’ lives are as rosy as social media shows us. For this reason, when global warming makes life harder on earth, there will be thousands of people yearning for a place we could go to, a place where life would be better. And it would be effortless to paint life on mars better by showing it in a good light. Once there, though, you’d be a slave with no way of returning. It’s not like you can hop on a bus or hitchhike your way back to earth.
But still, a lesson would be ingrained in our global consciousness — when things go wrong on one planet, we can move to another. We can spread like a plague from planet to planet, from the solar system to another, without learning to habit one system in harmony with the earth.
We need to grow as whole humanity to a different level to be able to coexist in harmony and being able to overcome our issues. Pushing us towards other planets will not help us grow as humanity.
3. We need to learn adventure in improving ourselves
We need role models who push us towards other adventures. Elon Musk is excellent at pushing us towards technological advances. Neurallink, SpaceX, Tesla — they are all fantastic, and I like what they represent. I like how he is trying to make things better through technology.
I feel that we need a global leader who will not push us towards technological or biological advancement but rather towards the betterment of humanity. We need to learn how to improve ourselves. Otherwise, we cannot fix the problems we have right now. We can learn to control the weather. We can clean up the oceans if we come together, but if we will not understand what in our nature caused those problems, then the next issue is just behind the horizon, waiting to appear.
What we need is someone who defines this as an adventure. We need someone who, instead of Mars, sets a goal of improving ourselves. We need a spiritual leader who is not religious but rather lifts us all up higher. And I know we can do this. We can overcome our circumstances and our nature. There are so many success stories in the past about people who have overcome their circumstances: Harriet Tubman, Anton Checkov, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Milton H. Erickson, and so many more. Read their stories and find out what they overcame. Injustice, slavery, abuse, paralysis — we can overcome so many difficulties. We need someone who sets the right goal.
Not Mars but Earth
Our goal needs to be much closer to us. I agree that there is a lot to learn from going to Mars, but I disagree that this is the lesson we need to know. We need to learn how to fix the problems with ourselves and become better people to make the earth a better place. I can only suggest that you start with yourself. Think about how much you can improve your and others lives by fixing issues with yourself.
But it is hard to start with improving yourself if you do not make time for it. So do it. Take some time for yourself and work on improving yourself.