Elon Musk Groks Mars Colonization

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

You might have heard that billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. While many are describing it as “ambitious,” not everyone groks this idea. Some on the Left are already mocking it (see The Grist’s “Spaced Out” post), at least partly because they see it as a form of escapism. (Why would we worry about saving the environment on Earth if we can just move to another planet?) And I’m sure that the same conservatives who mocked the “starry-eyed” Newt Gingrich for promising to build a moon base by the end of his second term as president will think this a utopian scheme, if not a boondoggle.

The good news for those who are skeptical of governmental projects is that Musk is proposing a private (not public) venture. The bad news is that, whether it was by John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan, a nation that once challenged our spirit of discovery has lost its sense of adventure. Instead, we just get excited about the newest iPhone.

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider that in the wake of the Challenger disaster, President Reagan explained to America’s schoolchildren that horrible accidents are an inherent danger: “It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave,” he said.

At some point, we quit reaching for the stars. But there are good arguments for taking on such challenges.

During a recent episode of The Tom Woods Show, Dr. Robert Zubrin, founder and president of the Mars Society (yes, such a thing exists), argued there were three reasons to do this: (1) the Science; (2) the Challenge: “Societies grow when they are challenged,” Zubrin said, “And stagnate when they’re not.” He also noted that this growth would create intellectual capital (kids become scientists, engineers, etc., when they get excited about something); and (3) the Future. By establishing the first “Plymouth Rock human settling on Mars,” Zubrin continued, “People 500 years from now won’t think of all our little political rumbles…compared to what we did to open up the future.”

So for the naysayers who can’t imagine the possibility of colonizing Mars, I would say this: the future looks much brighter for those who bravely seek opportunities and possibilities for growth than for those who imagine disaster after disaster.

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