Should We Colonize Other Planets?
Adam Morton Polity £9.99 z PB
What exactly is the point of human space exploration? This timely and wellwritten polemic examines the arguments for and against human colonisation of other planets, in particular Mars, in the light of various ambitions to establish future colonies there. Scientifically, it’s going to be a challenge. Adam Morton reminds us just how difficult it will be to protect humans against all the hazards of a months-long journey, and also of the huge quantity of resources required to support any successful colony. The surface and atmosphere of Mars will also have to be terraformed to support humans and Morton estimates that this will cost trillions of dollars, arguing that this money might be better spent on reversing existing environmental damage to Earth.
SpaceX and Mars One are promoting their Mars-bound missions as a way of ensuring the future of the human race. Morton takes issue with this line of thinking, arguing that perhaps we’re too wedded to the concept of humans as a biological species and that we might do better to consider the idea of colonisation via robots uploaded with our memories. As well as offering some practical advantages, he points out that humans are continuing to evolve and perhaps robots with human thought processes are simply a future stage in our evolution.
This book’s brevity makes it a surprisingly easy read, but some readers may prefer more detailed arguments. What’s not in doubt is that it’s essential we discuss these important and difficult questions before we go any further down the road to Mars.
PIPPA GOLDSCHMIDT is an astronomy and science writer