Should Humans Live on Another Planet?

In high school, I was fascinated by the concept of terraforming planets. The idea of humans living on other planets captivated my imagination, especially the thought of terraforming Venus. While my interest in terraforming Venus remains, I no longer believe humans should live on other planets.

The Bacteria Petri Dish Analogy

Consider the analogy of bacteria growing in a Petri dish. In school, you might have observed how bacteria, given a dish with nutrients, grow exponentially. The population of bacteria doubles at regular intervals until they consume all the available food, at which point they die off.

Imagine a type of bacteria that doubles every hour. If we observe them at the eleventh hour, just before they run out of food, their population is at its peak. In the twelfth hour, without additional food, their population collapses. Now, if we provided another Petri dish, you might think it would grant them another eleven hours, but they would consume it in just one hour. They would then need exponentially more dishes to continue growing.

There are striking similarities between humans and bacteria. Both populations are growing exponentially, and Earth is our “Petri dish.” We are consuming the resources of one world. To continue growing without changing our behavior, we would need an exponential number of “Petri dishes,” or planets.

However, unlike bacteria, humans have the technological ability to leave our “Petri dish.” Imagine if bacteria could build spaceships to find new dishes; that’s the kind of innovative potential we possess.

Planets as Petri Dishes

In this analogy, humans colonizing other planets are like bacteria spreading to new Petri dishes. Each new planet represents a temporary solution to the problem of resource depletion. We would be extending our survival by finding new sources of resources, but only temporarily delaying the inevitable resource exhaustion.

The Drive for Space

The current push for space exploration is primarily driven by economic motives. We seek more resources, and space appears to be the most efficient way to obtain them. This drive for resources fuels the desire to colonize other planets.

Addressing Concerns of Growth

To address the underlying issues of growth and resource consumption, we need to stabilize our population on Earth. This involves managing our resources sustainably and reducing our ecological footprint. Exploring other planets should be motivated by scientific discovery, exploration, and curiosity, not by a desperate need for resources.

If we cannot solve our problems of growth and resource consumption on Earth, it makes no sense to colonize other planets for resource extraction. We would only be replicating the same issues on a larger scale.

A Valid Reason for Space Colonization

The only valid reason for humans to live on other planets, in my view, is the pursuit of knowledge. Expanding our understanding of the universe, discovering new scientific phenomena, and satisfying our innate curiosity are noble goals. Colonizing other planets should be about discovery and expanding human knowledge, not merely survival and resource extraction.

In conclusion, while the idea of humans living on other planets is fascinating, it is not a sustainable solution to our problems. We must focus on addressing our growth and resource consumption issues here on Earth and view space exploration as a means of expanding our knowledge and satisfying our curiosity.