Our Future: Earth or Mars?
16th October, 2020
Each day we are evolving, keeping aside the objectivity of good and bad, we are moving forward each step, day-by-day. We are finding new things, learning to use them, harness their power, and whatnot. Human imagination and creativity know no bounds, but unfortunately, the products at expense are limited. We have come from knowing nothing about gravity to building complex machines like LIGO to find and understand our universe’s past with the help of cosmic gravitational waves in just about 320 years. We are rapidly transcending towards attaining the status of a Type I civilization (a civilization that is capable of harnessing its planet’s energy to the fullest), for example, such a civilization would be able to utilize the entire amount of solar energy hitting their planet and might use it to control or modify the weather. But attaining this type I civilization status isn’t quite as simple as one would think because in the process we can either doom ourselves by destroying our planet or redeem ourselves by transcending into a far better version of ourselves, so just a question as simple as which planet are we going to call home soon is an extreme factor in deciding the fate of the human race.
Human growth has by far been one of the most important and interesting aspects of the history of the universe. We emerged as a species about 200,000 years ago, were just a million in number about 10,000 years ago, a billion just 200 years ago, and now almost about 8 billion. We are growing rapidly, in number and intelligence; we need resources to live and work, which are getting a little out of hand by our constant needs and greed. We are constantly taking from our planet but never tried to replenish those resources and as a result of this, there was a widespread unexpected drought and floods in 1984. It was slowly becoming clear to the world’s scientific community that the greenhouse gases were accumulating in the atmosphere as a result of an increase in agriculture, land use, and the production and whatnot, which increased these calamities in nature, thus threatening our existence. In recent years, we have acknowledged the deteriorating health of our planet and are working towards re-stabilizing it, but sadly the measures taken in this direction are not close enough. The ozone layer, which is depleting exponentially from the past few years, got better this year as a result of lockdown due to the coronavirus and this is a huge tell about how much concerning it is for us to focus on the recovery of our plane to sustain us on it. It’s still not too late for us to give up hopes on our planet ‘cause if we work together we might be able to save it and spend centuries here. Another solution is transcending to type I civilization before our planet is unable to sustain us, but that is highly unlikely to happen as we are just a type of 0.7 or 0.8 yet.
In the event of not being able to exist on earth anymore, our next safest option is Mars. Space travel, space stations, living on another planet sure seems exciting at the first glance, but what most of us don’t understand is that the cost and the resources aligned with it are too high. We haven’t even done a successful manned Mars mission yet, let alone thinking about settling there. As of 2005, the cost of putting anything into near-earth orbit ranged from $10,000- $40,000, even a space shuttle mission upwards costs about $800 million. This cost problem will be reduced in the coming decades with further advancements like reusable launch vehicles. There is another threat associated with space expeditions, which is the threat to life because the passengers are traveling with too much volatile fuel and any failure in the system could prove fatal. People have been giving their suggestions to colonize Mars, for example, comets could be deflected and be allowed to be vaporized in the atmosphere, thereby adding water vapor to it or creating artificial greenhouse effects to raise temperatures and melt the permafrost under the surface, to fill the lakes and the streams. But these suggestions are wildly speculative. But on the bright side, we are rapidly making advancements and as a result, we might even see things sooner than thought. But it’ll be at least a century more before we can start a new journey of the human race at a new home.
In conclusion, we need to grow and thrive but not at the expense of our planet, so we need to work so that it can sustain us irrespective of when we choose to move and we are more than capable of doing so. Either before transcending to a type I civilization or after, we’d have to move to some different place, but let’s make sure we do it by making the most out of the opportunities bestowed upon us and thrive humanity to unexplored and unparalleled lengths.
Emmott, S. (2018, March 21). Humans – the real threat to life on earth. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jun/30/stephen-emmott-ten-billion
Kaku, M. (2006). Parallel worlds: A journey through creation, higher dimensions, and the future of the Cosmos. Anchor.
About the Author
Mukul is a 2nd year physics (hons) undergraduate at St. Xavier's College (Autonomous), Kolkata.