Often in an organization people are bounded by a set of ideas. New Mars is no exception. The dialog emblematic of the organization concerns the Journey of Human kind, past and future and though this theme is constant the conclusions are not. The Mars society was in a large part a consequence of the controversial ideas of Robert Zubrin which included history, philosophy economics, climatology, propulsion and mission planning.
Zubrin began publishing his ideas with the formation of the MARS underground which was formed as a consequence of a backlash to the unrealistic approach to mars exploration proposed in the 90 Day Report by NASA. Zubrin, later presented his ideas in the book, “The Case For Mars” and because of the massive response he got in terms of letters and emails as a consequence of the book, the formed the MARS society.
While his ideas for mars missions (Mars Direct) are now incorporated into NASA missions plans (NASA reference mission), some of his interpretations of history (Mars as a New Frontier) remain controversial because of what some see as an American centric interpretation of history. Yet one can not help but wonder what is the lure of a frontier? How does the frontier benefit and hinder progress, in our technology, our social systems and our political institutions?
Robert Zubrin is not the only philosopher to write about progress. On philosopher once compared nature to technology and devised an ethic centered on enhancing that esthetic. A more wellknown philosopher/economist was Malthus. Malthus was the first person to bring the idea of scarcity to the forefront of academic thought. Malthus predicted an ever declining quality of life because of an exponentially growing population and an ever decreasing return in the agricultural yield of the land.
Malthus is important even though the members of the Mars society do not share his pessimistic view of the future. To many members of the Mars society Mathus represents what it means to fail. To give away our ingenuity in favor of having less and less. To ration what we have instead of seeking out new resources.
History has proven Malthus wrong. But his ideas are ever present in the social dialog of our society. At what point does scarcity bring down our quality of life and how will we combat scarcity. Some schools of environmental thought would point to how technology has enabled us to consume resources faster. They would argue that this does not sovle the problem of scarcity but compounds the problem. Well others would say that technology has continued to improve our quality of life. The green revolution although to the disdain of environmentalists dramatically increased the yield of agricultural land and that technology is a necessary tool to enhance the carrying capacity of the planet.
Some Questions to Ponder
The questions are: How will technology effect our quality of life in the future? How will technology effect the carrying capacity of earth? What ethics do we attribute to the environment? How many trees, panda’s and elephants is on man worth? Does the number of people on earth decrease the value we attribute to each individual? How long will the oil last and what alternatives will we use in the future?
Although there are many earthly solutions to combat the Malthusian doomsday philosophy, Mars represents the finishing blow, the knockout punch. No longer are resources finite. Mars is an untouched world with the surface area equal to the area of all the countries of earth combined. Mars has all the resources needed to support life. And even though the resources of mars can be compared to the resources of earth at least in a real-estate since, the resources of the asteroid belt dwarf the resources of earth and mars combined.
The conflict between progress and extreme environmentalists is best exemplified in nuclear power. Nuclear power has given us an alternative to fossil fuel and is much cleaner the coal yet it is fought tooth and nail by those who wish to find problems and not solutions. Our ability to extract resources from places far less hospitable then earth depend on copious quantities of power. Nuclear power gives us this ability and will be required to take us to the light scarce regions of the outer planets.
And Now Some Poems:
Unnatural Homeopathy ref
Barren Rock, more natural than grass
Overtaken by roots, and leaves
The waste of the conquering trees
Covered, forsaken by organic trash
The natural way is to the ground
The fire burnt out the ashes returned
To dust becomes of passions which burned
The cycle of life is not profound
The laws of nature are unforgiving
Life is unnatural
And not perpetual
To believe otherwise is misgiving
Unpasturized Milk can make us sick
While poison ivory makes us ich
And pretty lupids kill no trick
A snake plants oil can make a con man rich
To believe we found the way
To live superior and say
We have life figured out
The answers we know without a doubt
eat this and it will make us well
Stay away from medicines unnatural spells
That filtered air we breath
Kills the germs we need
The death of nature I greave
To live natural is to die
The pardox of the homothetic lie
On a rocks thin crust in a desert black
Nature is death Unnatural is our track
by John Creighton
author's note: To challenge the notion of what is Natural