Author: Owen Lewis

Should We Colonize Mars? The Fate of Humanity May One Day Depend on It

On October 21, U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology that he foresees NASA will land astronauts on the moon by 2035. “We need to learn how to live and work in another world,” he told lawmakers. “The moon is the best place to prove those capabilities and technologies.”  The article that follows comprises the seventh instalment in “Our Martian Moment,” a multi-part Quillette series in which our authors discuss what kind of society humans should build on Mars if and when we succeed in colonizing the red planet. Four years ago, at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, Elon Musk set out two possible paths for humanity. “One path,” he told his audience, “is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event.” He was not foretelling immediate doom, just noting that nothing lasts forever. Inevitably, if humans stay long enough, we’ll suffer some sort of extinction-level disaster, similar to previous mass-extinction events encoded in the fossil record. The universe …