Space travel and space colonisation are common topics in English essays because they are fantasies that continue to fascinate us, even after acknowledging the limits, perils and unjustifiable costs associated with leaving our planet.
While they are indeed fascinating topics to contemplate and practice essay writing skills about, the reality of space travel and especially the business around it is a lot darker (pun intended).
The aerospace industry, epitomised by the likes of Elon Musk with his SpaceX company, have very strong financial incentives for keeping the potential for space travel alive in the public imagination because it gives these companies a way to make billions of dollars through public and private investments into projects that often have a very low likelihood of success, not to mention a lack of relevance to most of the population of the earth.
The author of this article himself dresses up concerns highlighting some of the main issues associated with settling on Mars as overblown, while he is actually writing with the intention of convincing sceptics of the viability of space travel.
There are several serious issues that the author raises, despite casually dismissing all of them in his last paragraph, surreptitiously turning the entire article into a pro-space-travel piece by insisting that the answer is to just keep spending money on developing the aerospace industry.
However, the issues he raises cannot be dismissed as simply as he attempts. Let’s just examine one of his supporting points for starters – the contamination of space – to demonstrate how destructive human space travel is.
The human capacity for destroying all environments we inhabit and even ones we don’t live in is very well-documented – think of the enormous islands of trash floating on the ocean and covering the ocean floor, or for an example closer to home, open your window and you can smell the contaminating fumes of the post-Industrial Age.
Even in space though, despite only very few countries, humans and missions out of our atmosphere, there are already dangerous levels of space junk circling the earth.
Publicity stunts such as Musk’s totally unnecessary and widely criticised launching of a Tesla automobile into space aside, it is inevitable that wherever we go, we irreparably degrade the environment, and the sooner we acknowledge that and try to deal with it on our own planet before it is too late, the quicker we will realise the futility of planning for space colonisation.
The case against Mars colonisation