Last year, Dr. Linda Billings, a self-described “expert” in aerospace communications decried the “jingoism” she sees as replete in American #Space rhetoric in Scientific America. The article raised considerable hackles in space policy circles at the time. Dr. Billings has struck again with a post on her blog which ends with the following statement:
“Deep in my brain and in my heart I think and feel that colonizing other planets and exploiting extraterrestrial resources would be immoral at this stage of human development.”
Dr. Billings does not explain how this thought and feeling crept into her brain and her heart. The sentiment runs contrary to a lot of thinking in space policy circles where it comes to motivations for space exploration, not to mention the principles of free market capitalism which regards the creation of wealth as very moral.
The anti-colonization meme is likely a hangover from the record of colonization on Earth which, while it gave birth to nations such as the United States, often was carried out at the expense of native peoples. The only problem is, no intelligent life exists on other worlds in the solar system, such as the moon and Mars, who would be inconvenienced if humans move there and start setting up shop.
The idea that exploitation of extraterrestrial resources is “immoral” is equally puzzling. Mining resources on the moon and from asteroids may or may not make economic sense. But one wonders what standard of morality that the peaceful acquisition of wealth violates. The wealth waiting in the sky for future miners to acquire include platinum group metals that have become increasingly vital for high tech products, helium 3, an isotope that might become fuel for future fusion energy plants whose output would be pollution free, and even water, that could be refined into rocket fuel, thus opening up the solar system to explorers and settlers.
Billings’ recoiling from what most would consider a golden age that would enrich all of humanity does not have any rational basis nor is it informed by any sensible moral code. It is the product of raw emotion, buttressed perhaps by indoctrination that demonizes wealth creation. Fortunately, with commercial space companies starting to flourish and being encouraged by governments, her view is likely to be considered from the fringe, a curiosity likely to be ignored at best and ridiculed at worse. In any case, the argument can be made for space settlements can be made as a way to get away from people like Linda Billings. #spacecolonization #commercialspace