In Defense of Pt 6: Why Building a Mars Colony is a Bad Idea
In recent years, many people seem to have developed a fondness for the idea of building our own colony on Mars. Influenced by companies like SpaceX and their multi-million-dollar marketing programs, the concept of a Mars colony is looked upon favorably by large portions of the public.
The distant red planet may seem appealing with its striking similarities to Earth, supposed potential for life, and the exciting idea of an initial settlement. Nevertheless, it is a fundamentally bad idea to build a Mars colony because there are no real justifications for going to Mars, the dangerous conditions are highly unfavorable for habitation, it may not even be possible with our current technology, it will take a minimum of seven months until resupply or aid can arrive, and there are generally better causes to invest in.
There are countless better scientific causes and space-related technologies to invest in. Building a human settlement on the red planet is not justified in any way and is a massive waste of money.
For one, there are no viable reasons for building a Mars colony, since Mars contains hardly any useful materials.The red planet is a cold, barren wasteland of iron oxide and rocks and sand.
Mars is also not the solution to overpopulation, as the world population is projected to even out at 11 billion, which still gives everyone more than enough room and resources to live on Earth. There is essentially enough space, natural resources, and food on our planet to sustain billions more, but it is simply unevenly distributed.
Proponents of a Mars colony claim that humanity will advance technologically because there will need to be a lot of innovation done to be able to get to Mars in the first place. This is somewhat founded in reality, as we can see past examples of this phenomenon playing out such as the space race between the US and the Soviet Union. However, would it not be better to directly invest in technologies that benefit humanity rather than naively hoping an ambitious project such as a Mars colony produces useful byproducts?
Real justifications aside, the very process of establishing a Mars colony could be impossible with our current technological innovation.
Despite funneling billions of dollars into their programs, private companies such as SpaceX have consistently failed to deliver any meaningful progress. Elon Musk’s predictions of when humans will be on Mars consistently fall short and the entire project seems to be getting nowhere. Instead of blindly pumping billions of dollars into a far-fetched idea that we cannot currently achieve, we should take things one step at a time.
We could first attempt to build a moon colony. It would certainly be much easier as the moon is only three days away, while Mars at its closest point to Earth takes seven to eight months to get there. Additionally, we have been to the moon in person before, so we are more knowledgeable of the logistics required to safely get there. There are useful materials that can possibly be mined on the moon and easily be sent back in a relatively short three-day trip.
Even if we could somehow get to Mars using our current technology, this does not necessarily mean our multi-billion-dollar expenditure that places a dozen people on a barren planet will be sustainable.
For one, Mars has no magnetosphere. Consequently, the planet is completely blasted by ionizing radiation from the sun. This means that even if Mars colonists hunkered down in their base and took extensive precautions to protect themselves from radiation, they would still be at an extremely heightened risk of cancer for the rest of their lives.
Additionally, consider the immense mental stress each colonist would be under. Living in extremely cramped quarters for the rest of your life, knowing that you will likely never see your family again and constantly having to worry about simply staying alive could get to even the toughest of people. All It would take is one colonist opening the airlock door and billions of dollars are down the drain. From both an economic and social aspect, the psychological stress placed on colonists could entirely thwart the existence of a Mars colony.
Finally, backup supplies and assistance, considering Mars’s distance from Earth, could take years to get there (depending on the positions in orbit of the two planets). If an urgent emergency occurs on the colony, aid will take a minimum of seven to eight months to arrive, and everything would likely be over at that point.
In the end, building a Mars colony is a very bad idea. From both a financial and social aspect, it is simply not viable. Not only are there limited justifications for going to Mars, but our current technology may not even be able to transport people to the red planet in the first place. Additionally, even if humanity does manage to put a few humans on Mars, the immense psychological burden, shear distance from Earth, radiation, and complex logistics could undermine the entire mission.
If you view this topic at a basic, surface level, building an initial settlement on Earth’s neighbor might seem attractive. But unfortunately, countless cracks can be quickly identified and there are honestly so many better, more useful and achievable goals that we should focus on.