Do you think humans should colonize other planets and exploit their resources, too?

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Do you think humans should colonize other planets?


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I am not preaching, nor even teaching, I am stating. And I am stating the models of climate change and its impact on Earth.
But are you really "stating the models"? Or are you stating what you've read from journalists that find the interesting things to say from those who are stating what comes from their model? In astronomy, the difference between the science and accurate reporting isn't that dramatic, but I find the claims and reporting in Climate Change to be sometimes problematic.

I'm not suggesting each claim shouldn't be taken serious. On the contrary, I'm saying each claim should be taken serious but in a scientific manner - with great scrutiny.

Isn't it a little odd that efforts to establish a "red team" for climate science have been thwarted? They would greatly improve the credibility of most claims within the science, IMO.

Read this:

Yes, that's important to understand. The SLR (Sea Level Rise) has been increasing. [Here's a nice page from: NASA SLR. I tend to trust NASA data over some others.]

Notice the graph. It shows that the rise is now at 3.3 mm per year. [This is an average, of course, as some areas are going down in sea level, but most are going up. It's complicated.] That's significant and it demonstrates a steady acceleration rate. We both would agree on this, no doubt. But look closer at the values over the last year and half and you will see only an increase of 1 mm. Why is that? How can that be given all the recent ice melts (and the drama that goes with it)? The answer to this question is important, too, and it would be important to any modeling. Perhaps the models do explain it, but do they?

[If I post again it will be addressing the OP.]
 
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Yes, I had thought to mention the possibilities of life in some moons of the outer Solar System. Not intelligent life - just microorganisms. Where heating comes from other than sunlight (e.g., friction). But then It seems very unlikely that any technology could develop in oceanic life forms.
And I don't believe that humans will be around long enough to need to colonise beyond Mars (if anywhere).
Yes, and moons with liquid water orbiting Jupiter suffer from radiation from Jupiter so much so that, IIRC, the mass for shielding of surface probes and ships would be about double their original mass. Or was it half again as much? :)
 
Mar 21, 2021
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Yes, I had thought to mention the possibilities of life in some moons of the outer Solar System. Not intelligent life - just microorganisms. Where heating comes from other than sunlight (e.g., friction). But then It seems very unlikely that any technology could develop in oceanic life forms.
And I don't believe that humans will be around long enough to need to colonise beyond Mars (if anywhere).

Cat :)
Yes Cat, good point. I had thought about life possibilities on ocean moons like Europa, and it’ll be interesting to see what they find under 20 km of ice. On whether humans will be around long enough to colonize the solar system, I wouldn’t disagree with you. That may depend on what we call “human”.
 
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May 3, 2021
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The question "should we?" assumes that we can. But colonization in the species-lifeboat sense is, to a close approximation, impossible. Outposts -- bubbles of life supported by shipments of stuff from Earth -- are of course possible, but true species-lifeboat independence is not plausibly within our reach. Such independence would entail establishing on another world an absolutely self-sufficient forever economy, from extraction to high-technology product finishing, equivalent to the whole supply and life-support network of Earth itself. And that forever economy would have to be even more durable and redundant than that of Earth because it would have to supply technologically -- without any unrecoverable failure, ever -- the basic life-support functions that the Earth has supplied for free since before the Cambrian. It would have to infallibly (with robustness against unforeseen catastrophies) manufacture from raw materials every crystal, coating, alloy, chip, polymer, gas, reagant, solvent, fiber, ceramic, glass, film, oil, and nutrient (and more) essential to its own replication and to human life.

Those who assume it's within our present or foreseeable power to establish such a system anywhere in the Solar System blip over our civilization's dependence on Earth's vast livable stability, the fantastically diverse mineral wealth of Earth's crust, the sheer mind-boggling scope of our civilization's supply network, the long-term fallibility of complex mechanical and electronic systems, the planetary extent of the human cultural network that makes every widget and bagel possible, and a long list of other complications.

Science fiction conjurs solutions effortlessly. Great fun, but I'm talking about engineering reality. To colonize any planet, libration point, or whatnot in a sustainable, truly Earth-independent way, we would have to duplicate a great deal of Earth itself in an essential fail-proof manner. That's not plausible on any historical timescale this side of the fantasy horizon.
 

ThePatriotBeast

Stars can't shine without darkness
Apr 9, 2021
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The question "should we?" assumes that we can. But colonization in the species-lifeboat sense is, to a close approximation, impossible. Outposts -- bubbles of life supported by shipments of stuff from Earth -- are of course possible, but true species-lifeboat independence is not plausibly within our reach. Such independence would entail establishing on another world an absolutely self-sufficient forever economy, from extraction to high-technology product finishing, equivalent to the whole supply and life-support network of Earth itself. And that forever economy would have to be even more durable and redundant than that of Earth because it would have to supply technologically -- without any unrecoverable failure, ever -- the basic life-support functions that Earth itself has supplied for free since before the Cambrian. It would have to infallibly (with robustness against unforeseen catastrophies) manufacture from raw materials every crystal, coating, alloy, chip, polymer, gas, reagant, solvent, fiber, ceramic, glass, film, oil, and nutrient (and more) essential to its own replication and to human life.

Those who assume it's within our power to establish such a system anywhere in the Solar System blip over our civilization's dependence on Earth's vast livable stability, the fantastically diverse mineral wealth of Earth's crust, the long-term fallibility of complex mechanical and electronic systems, the planetary extent of the human cultural network that makes every widget and bagel possible, and a long list of other complications.

Science fiction conjurs solutions effortlessly. Great fun, but I'm talking about engineering reality. To colonize any planet, libration point, or whatnot in a sustainable, truly Earth-independent way, we would have to duplicate a great deal of Earth itself in an essential fail-proof manner. That's not plausible on any historical timescale this side of the fantasy horizon.
Igilman has a very good point. I also thought of something else: If life was on a certain planet, we couldn't colonize on that planet, because we might displace and endanger that life. Or it could be vise versa, the life there could endanger our lives. This subject has lots of pros and cons.
 
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May 3, 2021
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Hi Helio,

How can we know beyond a reasonable doubt that the model today is close to anything bullitproof?
By comparing model to reality. This has been done. Result: climate models have been highly successful. See, for example, Hausfather, Z., Drake, H. F., Abbott, T., & Schmidt, G. A. (2019), “Evaluating the performance of past climate model projections,” Geophysical Research Letters. At https://www.dropbox.com/s/3vjpuqcd6d52so1/2019 - Evaluating the performance of past climate model projections.pdf?dl=0 . From Abstract: “We find that climate models published over the past five decades were skillful in predicting subsequent [global mean surface temperature] changes, with most models examined showing warming consistent with observations . . .”

Where there is scientific controversy, it is mainly about whether scientists have been underpredicting the severity of climate change (not temperature rise per se, but its effects, like Arctic melting): see for example Oreskes et al., "Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change,” Scientific American, Aug. 19 2019. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/

Extraordinary claims do, as you say, require extraordinary evidence. The extraordinary claim that the Earth system is being rapidly pushed into a radically altered climate state has been backed by extraordinary evidence, i.e. the agreement of half a century of physics-based calculations with hundreds of independent evidence streams, paleoclimatic and contemporary. The criterion is met. The extraordinary claim must be credited.

Given the models’ superb real-world performance on global temperature rise, I suggest that your concerns about their complexity can be put aside. Performance is proof. We should move on to dealing with the models' predictions.

I'm not arguing that you are wrong, but interested in knowing a reasonable level of probability of a dire future in 50 years. I have kids and grandkids, after all.
Re. “reasonable”: When considering an existential threat, even a fairly low level of probability not only justifies but actually mandates emergency response. If the police assured you that there was a 20% chance that a sniper would blow your head off as soon as you poked it out the front door, you would, I hope, see your situation as extremely dire. You would not require an "absolute claim" or even a probability estimate in the 80-100 percentile range. An existential risk to civilization, likewise.

That said, the probability of existential crisis is very high. Although stating a specific percentage would be an exercise in spurious precision, I offer the following scientific papers in support of the claim that we are with some very high probability (i.e., high by any survival-oriented standard) in a state of existential emergency:

1) Steffen et al., "Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene," Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, August 14, 2018, vol. 115, no. 33. https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

"We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a ‘Hothouse Earth’ pathway even as human emissions are reduced. . . . Hothouse Earth is likely to be uncontrollable and dangerous to many [and] poses severe risks for health, economies, political stability . . . and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans."​

2) Lenton et al., "Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against," Nature, Vol 575, 28 November 2019, 592-595. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0 "

[T]he evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute . . . [T]he intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best."​

3) “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” BioScience 2019. https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/1/8/5610806

“We declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency. The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected . . . It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity. . . . [C]limate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.”​

4) Bradshaw et al., “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future,” Frontiers in Conservation Science, Jan. 2021. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419/full

“The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.”​

Respectfully,

Larry Gilman
 
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I'm not buying the climate change hype

If you don't buy the idea of climate change, then you must live on a very dull and dead planet. Even if human activities had no effect at all, Earth is still a very dynamic world, and it's always changing. One reason the world is warming right now is that we're living in the aftermath of the most recent ice age. Earth is always either warming or cooling. Whether we're exacerbating that is an important question, but the fundamentals don't change.

What matters for us, of course, is to realize that all of human history, and a good bit of pre-history too, has taken place during a very, very brief moment (if considered on geologic time scales) when Earth has been a hospitable place for creatures like us. We either got lucky that the world was hospitable for us when we happened into existence. Or we happened precisely because the world was fit for us to evolve on. Either way, the planet's hospitality isn't endless. Some day, this will no longer be a viable place for current-version humans. Earth will change. It can't do anything else. To survive, we'll have just three choices.

1. Adapt - we'll need to change ourselves (intentionally or by gradual evolution) to suit the new conditions Earth offers.
2. Change the Earth - we'll have to grow technologically so that we can shape and change the planet to suit our needs, and also maintain it consistently.
3. Find other places to live - maybe space habitats, or maybe worlds whose hospitable periods are just beginning, so that we can take full advantage of their longevity.

And, of course, we'll need to do at least one of those things before we all die.

Bad news is, if human activity is hastening the closing of our brief window of opportunity to stay alive on this planet (I happen to think it clearly is), then that's sort of a big deal. The available paths to long term survival are already kinda demanding. Not wise to make things even harder.
 
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There are no planets (or moons) within reach that can support human life.

That's too bad, because I think we have about 10-20 years before the planet is destroyed.

The earth's population numbers are unsupportable. I read somewhere that within 10-20 years, we will need a second earth's resources to support present day consumption of natural resources. And I don't see any way earth's population will decide to take the extreme measures necessary to save the planet. And IMO, there are no possible measures we CAN take to save earth.
That means we all know, we're destroying the earth. That's why we're hoping to find out another planet to live. Then what!! We'll destroy that again. This not a solution.
 

Catastrophe

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Do you think humans should colonize other planets and exploit their resources, too?

This is a complex question. Would colonisation be driven by self-inflicted over population which is making our planet uninhabitable for the human race. One example is that we are killing off vegetation which is necessary to perform photosynthesis. Plants function by taking in carbon dioxide and providing oxygen which, of course, we need to stay alive. It may be possible to reverse this, but there is one point of view that this, and other factors, will prevail.

The second reason for colonisation would be imminent danger from an asteroid too large to divert. The human race, and probably most species on Planet Earth would follow the dinosaurs. Of course, such a large undertaking would not be possible at short notice. It would take years of planning and only a tiny proportion of the human race could take the "Ark" to another destination The only such destination available at the moment would be Mars. Mars could never be terraformed - it would not be possible to overcome the problems involved, but a relatively small colony might be able to survive without support from the home planet.

If as the question suggests, colonisation would solely be for exploitation of resources, then another planet might not be the best option. If the requirements are for metals, then mining asteroids might be a better solution. When Earth formed, heavy metals sank through the mantle into the core, where they are inaccessible to us. On asteroids they are nearer the surface and more accessible. Some asteroids are the remains of collisions and are parts rich in metals, and would be particularly useful. This can be seen from where a metallic asteroid has hit Earth in the past. One town has grown up by locating close to such an impact with ready access to metal recovery.

Finally, there is the matter of whether humans should colonise other planets. This has been answered in part by pointing out that the human race is making Earth uninhabitable. This will continue as long as humanity continues to overpopulate the planet, so the decision may already be too late to take. From this point of view, it may be argued that humanity should not be allowed to destroy other planets. Unless some alien race arrives, and has the capability to enforce that decision, then that decision can only be taken by humanity, if it is not already too late.

Cat :)
 
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I suppose that sooner or later humanity will have to travel to other planets (I mean when the Earth will become uninhabitable), and living on another planet without exploiting its resources is impossible.
 

Catastrophe

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CC, "I suppose that sooner or later humanity will have to travel to other planets (I mean when the Earth will become uninhabitable), and living on another planet without exploiting its resources is impossible."

Unfortunately this seems to read "when we have destroyed this one, we'll have to find another" :) :) :)
 
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CC, "I suppose that sooner or later humanity will have to travel to other planets (I mean when the Earth will become uninhabitable), and living on another planet without exploiting its resources is impossible."

Unfortunately this seems to read "when we have destroyed this one, we'll have to find another" :) :) :)
It's hard for me to admit it, but it does not just seem to read, but actually is...
 
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I want to speak up for our climate scientists and our institutions of science; they have given us something beyond price in the foreknowledge of the harmful consequences of excessive fossil fuel burning, that give us a window of opportunity to limit the harms. I trust our institutions of science and believe they are uncorrupted. I believe the vast majority of climate scientists are competent and uncorrupted and that global warming is real and very serious. I think it is important for everyone to take the consistent top level expert advice seriously - and I don't believe there really are reasonable grounds for doubting the competency of that advice.

We've had studies and reports to check the results of studies and reports - decades of them - and they all say the same from about the 1980's onwards - after 1970's hype about global cooling kicked off some science programs to find out what was really going on. Fears of imminent ice ages were put to rest, but just exactly why was... a really big warming problem.

I don't doubt that Presidents and Prime Ministers hostile to emerging recognition of climate responsibility have sought the advice of Intelligence and other agencies about the veracity of climate science advice and the political activities of climate scientists - but to no avail; our institutions of science are uncorrupted, climate scientists are competent and uncorrupted and they are sticking with their advice that global warming is real and very serious because it is true, as they should.

The Red Team/lets-get-skeptical thing has already been done; global warming science got all the legitimacy it has now - enough to move skeptical governments - the hard way, legitimately.

Space technology, I note, has been vital in observation that confirms real world climate change and consequences like ice mass loss and sea level rise. There are a host of satellites dedicated to climate observation. For example, month by month global sea level that besides showing the distribution of sea level rise around the world shows the counter intuitive sea level fall nearest to Greenland and other places with significant ice mass loss, a consequence of local gravity changes. I recommend a look.

As for colonising and exploiting other planets - I think it is, like Igilman says, effectively impossible. As a hypothetical, as thought experiment I still find it interesting.

I too think that when we have to do by industry what we have for free from this world of rich biology - air, water, productive soils, productive living species adapted to them - we start at a great disadvantage. Different in that respect to all historic colonisations. The scale of a human economy and society that will be capable of making everything essential looks very large and diversely capable to me and that is a fundamental reason I think Mars colonies won't succeed; whilst the globally connected Earth economy can make almost every technology for survival there I don't believe a small population and economy in such difficult circumstances could do so.

Hypothetical planets with life? I would be very surprised if we would be biochemically compatible even if the atmosphere was breathable. I think if we had the tech to reach such planets... we won't need them to live on; we ought to be able to get by, in greater security and comfort, with artificial habitats. The greatest value of such a world will probably be that exotic biology and biochemistry, intact and uncontaminated; ownership, to clear and displace the native vegetation and farm earth crops and livestock, just like land ownership on Earth, seems indulgent to me and outdated thinking even now.
 
Nov 3, 2020
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Perhaps, if humanity no longer has sources of minerals on Earth, then the active development of the Moon and Mars is possible. Of course, it is much easier to implement all this on Earth - the installation and maintenance of drilling rigs and metallurgical enterprises, but humanity is too greedy to use the resources of the Earth not to consider the possibility of developing the nearest celestial bodies.

As for global warming, this is a reality. You don't even need to think about whether politics influences the judgment of climatologists. It is enough to look at climate changes around the world, at the increasing frequency of abnormal droughts with fires and periods of heavy rain that washes all crops out of the soil.
 
Feb 11, 2021
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Perhaps, if humanity no longer has sources of minerals on Earth, then the active development of the Moon and Mars is possible. Of course, it is much easier to implement all this on Earth - the installation and maintenance of drilling rigs and metallurgical enterprises, but humanity is too greedy to use the resources of the Earth not to consider the possibility of developing the nearest celestial bodies.

As for global warming, this is a reality. You don't even need to think about whether politics influences the judgment of climatologists. It is enough to look at climate changes around the world, at the increasing frequency of abnormal droughts with fires and periods of heavy rain that washes all crops out of the soil.
I suppose people want to colonize other planets exactly for this reason — to have a place to escape from the Earth.
 

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