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  1. Is colonizing Mars a good or bad idea? For whom is it good or bad? Why is it good or bad? Elon Musk thinks it's a good idea for humanity. He says we have a choice: stay on Earth and inevitably perish in a doomsday event or become a spacefaring, multi-planet species. (See about a minute of his speech starting here at 1:44.) On the other hand, Jeff Bezos seems to think that colonizing Mars is not a good idea. Compared to Mars, he says, living on top of Mt. Everest would be a garden paradise. Perhaps Musk should try living on Everest for a year before trying to start a colony on Mars. Earth, Bezos notes, is by far the best planet for us. Bezos asks us to consider a different problem. He says that in a couple hundred years humanity's energy needs will become so enormous that we'd have to cover the planet in solar panels. So people in the future will face the choice of stasis on Earth or using the rest of the solar system to produce our energy needs. He suggests that Earth could be zoned for residences and light industry, while the heavy production would be done in space. (See about five minutes of his pitch starting at 1:40 in this video.) Clearly Musk and Bezos see virtue in making space travel more cost efficient, but they're doing it for different reasons. Musk wants to turn Mars into a second home for humanity, and Bezos wants to turn Earth into a residential utopia. I disagree with both of them. I shudder to think of the totalitarian government that would ban heavy industry from the planet's surface. And if we haven't perfected and accepted nuclear energy (or something better) within 200 years, we probably deserve stasis. And as for Musk, I believe there is value in colonizing Mars, but for the sake of expanding human knowledge and testing human potential. We shouldn't look upon a Mars colony as a way to save humanity from extinction, but as a way to experiment on ourselves as a species with physical and mental limits. Of what exactly are we capable?
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