Leaving Earth, in Search of a Better Home…

Vigneshwaran Krishnamurthy shares his ethics & society case study, which he completed as part of our Young Scientist Program.

We, Earthlings have taken our planet for granted. We have come far from realizing that the resources here are limited and finite. From the air we breathe to the water we consume, everything here are perishable. And with the geometrically growing population and the pollution we caused, the day we run out of resources is not very far. We had pushed the Earth to its limit, now she is asking us to an important decision. We can stay back here and clean the mess that we had created. Or look up to our heavens for answers.

The option of colonizing the space and other planets arises out of necessity rather than opportunity. Space has always been hostile. With its extreme temperature and virtually no or very low gravity, it questions the way of life as we know it. But one thing history has taught us is that every new civilization had faced extreme difficulty and hostile environment before they become prosperous during their time. We would have to go through the hardships of space before we can taste the nectars of it.

The first place that we are looking for permanent colonization is our friendly neighbor Mars. With less than half of Earth’s gravity, no liquid water and virtually no oxygen to breathe, this seems to be not that friendly after all. Yes for a normal human species from Earth, who will be the initial settlers, the life would be difficult on Mars. But over the years of settlement, we will evolve into an inter-planet species adapting ourselves to the new environment. As of now many governmental space agencies and private space agencies like SpaceX are eyeing the red planet for colonization. In course of time, there will be multiple individual settlements on Mars, trying to be self-sustained individually. But once again we take from history that we do better when we work together. Establishing sovereignty over Mars can bring about the cooperation we seek. The sovereignty in Mars will just be an extension of Outer Space Treaty configured to
the needs on the red planet.

The next important thing which we have to figure out eventually is to be a self-sustained ecosystem in Mars. We should be able to harvest our own food, recycle and generate water for the Martians and produce sufficient energy to run the civilization. Highly crucial when our Earth finally drains all its fuel or perhaps even before that. Since all the population cannot be relocated to Mars, the majority of us will be staying back on Earth. When there is a need of resources on Earth, the future earthlings might not want to expend their resources to the Martians. Or in the worst case scenario of Earth’s doomsday, the Martians will be abruptly ceased of their help from Earth.

The next and perhaps the most important decision would be to answer the question, who would be going to Mars? Would it be only the elitists, who can afford to go to Mars or will the common man be given a chance? There have been a lot of debate and analysis on this topic.If we want to replicate an Earth like environment on Mars, then we need a large group of people from almost all the fields. An ideal society will be a combination of experts from all the scientific and social fields known to humankind.

For the advanced human species settled on Mars, Mars would just be the beginning. Throughout our human history, we have known to be wanders. We have settled down only in the last and small chunk of time. And we cannot suppress the thousands of years of instincts. So once we became a truly interplanetary species, traveling farther in the solar system and pursuing interstellar travel will be easier and interesting.

Wherever we go, the lesson we should take from Earth is that we should live in peace with the nature and environment. The equilibrium must be balanced and we should never suppress the human interests to explore, for it’s the food for survival.

Humankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.