Will we do it at some point anyway or do we need to be trying a lot harder now to achieve it? On a similar note, does planetary protection of Mars matter? Should we be THIS careful, or should we just go up there and explore in the hopes of colonizing it someday and nevermind what is there now? 

My own thought is that a) we need to be trying harder and b) we can be careful enough to explore what is up there initially (just in case some alien form of life is right under our noses- we don't want to miss it), but our MAIN goal should be colonization. At some point we need to forget planetary protection and start colonizing!

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Actually, more than a goal, it is a necessity. As the population grows, and our needs grow as well, the time will come when earth will no longer be able to support her population. I'd call it an urgent priority
I agree that it is a necessity. The Earth and the Sun may have many more millenia to survive, but unfortunately Earth's population is increasing at an alarming rate. To be able to support ourselves, we /have/ to move elsewhere and be flexible.
While it might provide some hedge against total extinction - space does not represent a release valve for over-population. Think about it - we are looking at ten billion people on Earth in the next few decades. Even if we miraculously got the current population of the United States (300 million) off planet - that would barely be a dent.

What I do think is that the things we learn from space colonization will help us survive on earth in a more sustainable way.
Hmm, that's a really interesting point you bring up. It's a bit worrisome that our population might increase to an unsustainable level before we can truly colonize other planets!

Could we discuss the ways in which we might learn to sustain ourselves from space colonization? Recycling fresh water? Modifying microbes to be the "tastes like everything" food source?
Hence "manifest destiny" is in quotes. More so I meant, is it inevitable? WE will do it, it has nothing to do with god ultimately.
Terminology aside Mrina I think we must go to Mars for the reasons already stated. As a species we will not survive here on Earth alone. We must spread out!
Until humanity has moved to another system we are vulnerable. Once we have colonized another planet it will begin a new era for humanity, because we will be free of catastrophic event extinction. It would cement our place in the universe.

Personally I am not one to give special status to what is already there. Nature is not some magical, perfectly balanced creation, it is simply what it is now. I can't help but look at it in a kill or be killed nature; however, should there be something out there that tries to reason with us, I'm sure humanity could come to some agreement.

No apologies, life is truly not that civil.
Exactly! Intelligent alien life - we'll improvise as we find it, and microbial life will flourish around humans, it doesn't care. Microbial life on another planet is probably much better adapted to its environment than any Earth contaminants we bring in. We should get on with it!
I agree. When I saw that term, I cringed.
Not really. The term pretty much fits what I meant- minus the god implication (since we're all atheists here, that doesn't even factor in). What I was asking is: are humans "meant" to spread out no matter what? Is it inevitable at some point? Everyone else saw the substance of the question
In fact, now that I read more about it, I think the term "manifest destiny" might be even more relevant than I thought (set aside the god-given or imperial-right connotation here and think a bit). Except it won't just be advocated by Americans, it'll be advocated by all humans. Once we develop space travel and space colonization, I think humans will consider themselves superior and entitled to anything they can take over. Read Brady's comment above, humans, and living things in general, are not civil.

I, personally, am not saying it is "our manifest destiny", I am saying the majority of our human species will say it is once we start colonizing space. Negative connotation or not, that feeling will probably prevail.
It would seem only natural that any species will do what it has to do to survive. For Humans it means leaving this planet and eventually this system. But like most discussions with Atheists we are going to haggle over terminology. I think the problem is bigger then a couple words. I think the concept is MUCH bigger than two words.

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