Escape to Mars to solve our problems? How absurd













[ Go to Mars?  Really?  We tried that already, in the three acre sealed Biosphere complex, which is far larger than anything we could hope to construct on Mars.   And there are dozens more reasons to be found in the highly amusing “Packing for Mars” by Mary Roach.

Even if we figure out how to make a Mars Biosphere, by then we won’t have enough fossil fuels for more than a handful people to get to there. Rocket propulsion still depends on fossil fuels. 

Ugo Bardi points out in his book Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet. that we already have gone to another planet by exploiting Earth so ruthlessly that we have already changed our planet into another place:

“The planet has been “plundered to the utmost limit, and what we will be left with are only the ashes of a gigantic fire. We are leaving to our descendants a heavy legacy in terms of radioactive waste, heavy metals dispersed all over the planet, and greenhouse gases—mainly CO2—accumulated in the atmosphere and absorbed in the oceans.

It appears that we found a way to travel to another planet without the need for building spaceships.  It is not obvious that we’ll like the place, but there is no way back; we’ll have to adapt to the new conditions. It will not be easy, and we can speculate that it will lead to the collapse of the structure we call civilization, or even the extinction of the human species”.

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”]

Biosphere is a 3.14 acre closed environment of several sealed greenhouses north of Tucson, Arizona that cost $250 million to build.

It was meant to show how colonists could survive on Mars and other space colonization.

Eight people sealed themselves inside in 1991, planning to live on the food they grew, recycled water, and the oxygen made by plants.

But it didn’t work out. Some of the reasons the Biosphere failed are:

  • Oxygen fell from 20.9% to 14.5%, the equivalent of 13,400 feet elevation
  • Wildly fluctuating carbon dioxide levels
  • Pests ran riot, especially crazy ants, cockroaches, and katydids
  • Not enough food could be grown
  • It cost $600,000 a year to keep it cool
  • Extinction: The projected started out with 25 small vertebrates but only 6 species survived   (including those expected to pollinate plants)
  • water systems polluted with too many nutrients
  • morning glories smothered other plants
  • The level of dinitrogen oxide became dangerously high, which can cause brain damage due to a lowered ability to synthesize vitamin B12

For more information see the 2013 NewScientist article “Biosphere 2: saving the world within the world” and Wiki.

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2 Responses to Escape to Mars to solve our problems? How absurd

  1. Here’s a TED talk (Jan 14, 2016) on the inadvisability of looking to Mars as a place we could live:

    “Stellar astronomer and TED Senior Fellow Lucianne Walkowicz works on NASA’s Kepler mission, searching for places in the universe that could support life. So it’s worth a listen when she asks us to think carefully about Mars. In this short talk, she suggests that we stop dreaming of Mars as a place that we’ll eventually move to when we’ve messed up Earth, and to start thinking of planetary exploration and preservation of the Earth as two sides of the same goal. As she says, ‘The more you look for planets like Earth, the more you appreciate our own planet.'”

  2. If humans ever go to Mars, it would likely be a one way trip.

    A suicide mission.

    A friend who worked at Greenpeace when the “Biosphere 2” was built wondered if it was really meant to test if the billionaires could build domed cities for themselves. Surely the smarter members of the elites understand we’re wrecking our atmosphere …