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Friday, May 8, 2015

Leftists beyond orbit

I've seen hints over the years that someday anti-space exploration would become a driving force on the left, for example long ago when I reported on the anti-Cassini movement. Well, maybe the day has come. Here's Rand Simberg, writing in PJ Media: "Social Justice Warriors Make Their Claim on Space." Excerpt:
People are starting to take the notion of large-scale habitation of space seriously, and some of the Social Justice Warriors, fresh from their recent bloodying with GamerGate and the Hugos, seem to be switching their sights to a new target. A few weeks ago, Elon Musk, Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson had a conversation about (among other things) the importance of becoming a multi-planet species (one of Musk’s driving concerns, and the reason he started his company SpaceX). 
Well, D. N. Lee, a biology blogger at Scientific American, found the discussion “beyond problematic” (one of the SJWs’ favorite words)...
Rand goes on to discuss a Guardian piece that focused on literal off-planet rape. Rand's conclusion:
There is a moral case to be made for settling space by humanity, warts and all, and we have to be prepared to make it.
Me: I agree, and count me in on the pro-space side. What I wonder, though, is how the political sides will line up over time. Will the liberal space enthusiasts at places like Scientific American defend exploration and (gasp) colonization against the hard left? Or will the hard left manage to intimidate a substantial portion of the political spectrum into at least falling silent amid attacks on "White Colonialism Interstellar Manifest Destiny Bullshit"? Interesting times.

4 comments:

Ray said...

It seems that no activity on Earth is insulated from silly assertions, objections, and speculations that point to some imagined insidious force that relentlessly oppresses women, racial minorities, the handicapped and any other class that one might think of. And now that is expanded to Outer Space.

I am skeptical about humanity expanding to other planets in such a way that it can independently thrive. Surely in a century or two there will be a manned scientific station on the Moon and likely on Mars, but such installations are expensive and completely dependent upon supply lines from good old Mother Earth.

What has been the colonization experience in Antarctica? To the best of my knowledge the science stations there have not been hotbeds of minority oppression. Maintenance of those science outposts is difficult and expensive despite being close at hand, close in comparison to the Moon, and that one can breathe the air and drink the water.

Kenneth Silber said...

I recall reading something somewhere in which a woman scientist complained about the exclusionary male bonding during the long winter at the Antarctica station. Whatever. I'm all in favor of more women in space, science, math and Antarctica.

Tom Billings said...

Ray said:

"
I am skeptical about humanity expanding to other planets in such a way that it can independently thrive. Surely in a century or two there will be a manned scientific station on the Moon and likely on Mars, but such installations are expensive and completely dependent upon supply lines from good old Mother Earth. "

No. Without using insitu resources, there will be no settlements beyond Earth, for just the reasons you list. Fortunately, there are plenty of those. The tech is being developed to use these as and when private groups can, because politicians find those developments politically unprofitable.

Settlement of the Solar System will be done privately, or not at all. Civil government activities will be tagalongs, supported by private settlements.

Ray said...

I suppose there may well be plenty of materials that may be useful on the Moon and Mars but even so the task of extraction is daunting.
Consider water. If a water supply does exist it is likely underground and drilling or mining equipment would be needed. That equipment is heavy and an operational energy supply would not be a trivial matter. Internal combustion engines will not work so the only practical energy supplies are a nuclear reactor or solar panels unless there is some geothermal capability. Those things could be accomplished, but not easily, and if accomplished can they be of useful scale?
And air. There is no air on the Moon at all and very little on Mars. The Martian atmosphere is far thinner than that of Earth and is composed of about 95% carbon dioxide with about 0.1% oxygen. Perhaps if enough electrical power is available then CO2 can be split apart to capture Oxygen.
So water and air are not easily available. And then manufacture of metal and plastic items. Very difficult to accomplish.
And anyway, who wants to live on a remote planet that has imported a misanthropic sexist rape culture?