Most of the objections to SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s Mars colonization plans have delved into its technological and financial aspects. Can Musk build the BFR launch vehicle and operate it as advertised? Will he be able to afford it? Linda Billings, a self-described communication expert and a frequent critic of space settlement schemes, offers a few objections that are not in either category.

We need to protect Mars from Earth life forms

One of the objections to sending humans to Mars at all, not to mention having them live there, is that they will contaminate the red planet with Earth microbes, thus complicating the search for native life on that world.

Some scientists have pushed back on that objection, suggesting that genetic sequencing will allow us to distinguish between organisms that came from Earth and those that evolved on Mars.

The terrorists will try to blow up the BFR

Terrorists have been so active and so imaginative in creating death and mayhem, it is a wonder why they haven’t (so far as is known) tried to sabotage a space launch. Billings names an obscure eco-terrorist group called the Earth Liberation Front as a possible opponent of Mars colonization. One would think that ISIS would be a bigger threat, mainly because it has proven more adept at creating massive explosions.

Some other country might object

Billings wonders if some country would object on the basis of the Outer Space Treaty.

The issue has already come up concerning asteroid and lunar mining and is being finessed with laws that grant private companies ownership of the minerals they extract. In any case, a country that regards Mars Colonization as important would be more likely to join in such an effort rather than stop it. On the other hand, Russia might try a disinformation campaign against Mars colonies similar to the one it is conducting against hydraulic fracking.

Space launches cause global warming

Billings finishes by bringing up the tiresome subject of climate change. Not only does colonizing Mars smacks of abandoning Earth, in Billings’ view, but the BFR will likely spew out tons of greenhouse gases.

A public service

Billings has conducted a public service by laying out in advance some of the less serious objections to colonizing Mars that, nevertheless, some people will entertain.

One cannot be aware in advance how strong such opposition will be. However, Billings is right in the suggestion that they need to be dealt with lest they become a problem.

Either Musk needs to hire some good PR experts, preferably with some government psych ops experience, or he needs to outsource the task of selling Mars to a firm with some expertise in these matters. Musk has thus far presented his Mars plans to audiences of appreciative, enthusiastic space geeks who are predisposed to accept them. He needs to sell the idea to a much wider public as well.

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