The Oligarchy’s Plans for Our Future Keep Getting Dumber

Caitlin Johnstone discards the high-flown dogma around space colonization and challenges readers to accept themselves and life on planet Earth.  

By Caitlin Johnstone

It’s rare to get a billionaire to share their grand plans for the future, which is weird because billionaires pretty much rule the world. Whenever they do, though, it’s always something incredibly sociopathic, like replacing all jobs with billionaire-owned automation/AI and giving people a Universal Basic Income set by the billionaire-owned government. Or loading all the humans onto rocket ships and sending them to live on Amazon Space Dildos.

Billionaire Elon Musk, who hates unions and wants to implant AI into human brains, has been continuing this trend of idiotic plutocratic futurology with a new campaign to detonate nuclear weapons on the planet Mars. This is not because Musk hates Mars, but because he wants to colonize it; the idea is to vaporize the red planet’s polar ice caps and throw carbon dioxide into the air to ultimately make the planet more habitable.

Scientists are voicing skepticism that such a plan could even work, before even opening up the “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should” debate. Sending nuclear weapons into space for any reason whatsoever should receive an outright rejection from all of humanity, since getting nukes into earth’s orbit has been the wet dream of war machine engineers for decades and pretending they went to Mars would serve as an ideal cover story to circumvent international space treaties until it’s too late to prevent it.

Musk claims he wants to colonize Mars because a new dark age ensuing from a third world war appears “likely,” and he wants to ensure that there will be humans living off of the planet to re-populate it after we wipe ourselves out here. Rather than pouring wealth, brainpower and resources into pushing for a change in the status quo which has set the world’s nuclear-armed powers on a collision course for a world military confrontation that will destroy our biosphere, this billionaire has decided it’s better to nuke Mars so that a back bench of reserve humans can live on a desert space rock.

This is the class of people who are calling the shots in our world. These are the minds who are choosing our fate for us. I wouldn’t trust them to run a gas station.

And Elon Musk is one of the saner billionaires.

I’m going to take a lot of flak for saying this, but I honestly believe that the impulse to colonize space is one of the more pernicious cultural mind viruses in our society. I mean, think about it: we’ve got a planet right here for which we are perfectly adapted, and we’re burning it to the ground while looking up at a red dot in the sky going “You know I bet if I nuked that bitch I could build a hermetically sealed house on it someday.” How much more insane could you possibly get?

I’m pushing against a cultural dogma that’s been mainstream doctrine for generations, but I really find all this blather about adventure and the indomitable human spirit of exploration quite tedious and idiotic when it comes to space colonization. We’ve got creatures swimming in our own oceans with brains many times larger than our own, and we’re killing them all off before we’ve even developed any kind of real theory about what they’re doing with all that extra gray matter. There are parts of the moon that are better explored than vast expanses of our own seas. We don’t even know what consciousness is, and science is largely uninterested in answering this question. I don’t believe the spirit of exploration and adventure is what’s driving our longing to break for the stars. I think it’s nothing but garden variety escapism.

We’ve all got that one friend or family member who’s completely miserable and is always quitting jobs and relationships and moving house and changing their diet in a desperate attempt to find happiness. They rearrange their lifestyle for the umpteenth time and they’re barely settled in before their gaze lands on some other aspect of their life and they think, “That’s the source of my unhappiness right there. If I can only escape from that, I’ll be happy.”

Such people are exasperating to be around, because you can see what they’re doing and you just want to sit them down and go “The problem is in you, babe. Moving won’t help; your inner demons will follow you every time. You’ve got to stay put and deal with your issues.”

Looking for Escape Routes

Our species reminds me of that type of personality right now. So many of us are looking forward to some escape route coming from outside of us to rescue us from ourselves; some are looking forward to the second coming of Jesus, some are looking forward to the aliens coming in to save the day, some are looking forward to the Democrats or the Republicans finally capturing the whole entire government and setting things right with the world, and some are looking forward to billionaires setting up a space colonization program so we can get off this accursed blue orb before we destroy it. But there is no deus ex machina here. No one’s going to save us from ourselves. Even if we do succeed in running away from home, we’ll inevitably bring the same inner demons with us that got us into this mess in the first place.

We’ve got to turn inward and evolve beyond our self-destructive impulses. The only way out is through. The mind virus of celestial escapism stops us from doing this, because it offers us yet another false promise of deus ex machina. It lets us run away from doing the hard but necessary real inner work, just like doing drugs or binging on Netflix or any other kind of escapism.

Can you try a little thought experiment for me? Imagine, just for a moment, if we took space colonization off the table. Completely. Forever. We just decided that it’s never going to happen and we all moved to accept that. Really imagine it. Really put yourself there for a minute.

What does that change in you? What does that change about your attitude toward our future? If we’re honest with ourselves, I think it would change quite a bit. For me, when I take space conquest off the table, it takes me in a direction that just so happens to look extremely healthy. It makes me say, “Oh, okay, so we’ll obviously have to get rid of the status quo of endless war and ecocide, since those will ruin this place, and that will mean radically changing our relationship with each other and with our ecosystem. It will mean getting women around the world full reproductive sovereignty and education since that’s proven to reverse population growth. It will mean ceasing to think like a cancer, believing that endless growth is a virtue. It will mean ceasing to believe that the existence of trillions of humans is the best our species can hope for, when we have yet to even scratch the surface of our own potential on a large scale. And I suppose it will mean getting together and figuring out how to detect and neutralize the threat of apocalyptic meteor strikes, too.”


Imagine that. Imagine if instead of trying to figure out how to fill the sky with trillions of mediocre humans we turned inward, healed our inner demons, and realized our full potential. Such a world would be a paradise. I know from my own experience that humans are capable of so very, very much more than what we have attained so far; we really haven’t scratched the surface at all. If we’re going to explore, the direction of that exploration ought to be inward.

I really think the mainstream idea that we can always make a mad dash for the black emptiness in the sky if things go to shit here keeps us from truly confronting our urgent need to preserve the ecosystemic context in which we evolved, and which there’s no evidence that we can live without.

I mean, we don’t even know that space colonization is possible. As of yet we have no evidence at all that humans are sufficiently separate and separable from Earth’s biosphere for survival apart from our ecosystem to be a real thing. Humans aren’t really separate “things;” they’re a symbiotic collaboration of organisms with ecosystems of their own, all of which as far as we know are entirely dependent on the greater ecosystem from which we blossomed. So far all our attempts at creating independent biospheres have failed miserably, and the closest we’ve come to living in space has consisted of nothing but glorified scuba excursions: visits to space stations fully dependent on a lifeline of terrestrial supplies. That’s the difference between flying and jumping. It might be as delusional as our brains thinking they can hop out of our skulls and live independently of our bodies, or some river eddies saying they’re moving to dry land.

And even if it is possible, why would you want it? Do people not know what space is? Are they aware that it’s nothing but boring desert wasteland that’s really, really, hard to get to and survive on? Have you ever been trapped for a long time surrounded by nothing but man-made things, like on an airplane or a cruise ship? Picture that, but way worse and for much longer. It would be a sterile, artificial existence; even if you managed to bring in plants and animals it would be ordered in a man-made way that is no more natural than the saplings grown on traffic islands. At best it would be like being in a mall your entire life. You’d be cut off from the primordial thrum of your home world. There’d be no real life there. No real soul.

Imagine never feeling the starry spatter of a shower of rain on your face. Imagine never ever again hearing the roar of wind on a wintry night or experiencing the thunder of the ocean on a big surf day. Imagine never again being blown away by the brightness of a rainbow or the thrilling crack of lightning or the astonishing beauty of a sunset or the first rays of springtime sunshine fondly warming the back of your neck. Imagine never again coming across a friendly squirrel or a shy possum or a little feast of wild blackberries. Imagine never again lying in the dappled light filtered through a magnificent tree. I don’t know about you but I would just miss the breeze playing in my hair too terribly to ever leave. I love it here and it loves me like a mother loves her child. This is not just my home, I grew from the earth as surely as a mushroom or a seahorse. I am a part of the earth and the earth is a part of me. We belong together. 

It’s easy to feel helpless. The wise ones do not have any money and therefore any power. We are being run by a handful of coddled man-children and it seems like they might have the last word. But I have been thinking about Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas on morphic resonance a lot lately and I’m increasingly convinced that even just one of us bringing consciousness to an aspect of our collective darkness is enough to wordlessly and instantly inform the herd. So, do me a favor if you are willing. Go and run one more experiment for me. Go outside now and place your hand on the ground and say to the Earth these words — “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” Say it as many times as you feel like. Say it, and mean it. 

And then let’s see what happens next. 

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” 

This article was re-published with permission.

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed.

134 comments for “The Oligarchy’s Plans for Our Future Keep Getting Dumber

  1. September 2, 2019 at 21:52

    Thoroughly enjoyed this plea for sanity.
    And – your call is echoed by one of the world’s most prestigious scientists – Martin Rees – .

  2. Skip
    September 2, 2019 at 02:30

    I think Caitlin is being too nice. I have worked for aerospace companies that were extremely top heavy with bureaucrats. It amazes me that anything ever got done. The further up that gravy train they get the stupider they become. It’s almost a job requirement. Musk is nothing more than a super bureaucrat. His fortune wasn’t the result of some brilliant idea, he was just in the right place at the right time when there was a demand for Paypal.

    Then there’s the “brilliant” Bezos:
    “We have the resources to build room for a trillion humans in this solar system, and when we have a trillion humans, we’ll have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts. It will be a way more interesting place to live.”

    Colonize Mars? Give me a frigging break. They can’t get the Biosphere 2 near Tucson to be self sufficient.

  3. Thea Craig-Charity
    August 29, 2019 at 04:23

    I totally agree with the writer. Never mind moving planets. Let’s save the one and stop ruining it. We have the best of everything here if we look after it. I too would not want life without the reasons, wind rain, howling gale bring sun etc., Let u stay here and make things better.

    • Marcusn
      August 31, 2019 at 11:36

      Except that almost no one is talking about “colonization ” of space except Elon Musk, who is known by every rational, sane person alive to be a fraud and huckster with his hand out. Kaitin whatsername is getter weirder all the time.

  4. Abe
    August 28, 2019 at 10:55

    “Musk’s Neuralink represents a private business wading into BMIs [brain-machine interfaces] and eventually linking the human mind to AI, a technology nations around the globe are already racing to adopt, adapt to and dominate. In many ways, Musk’s involvement with Neuralink represents his own personal contribution toward trying to maintain a balance as AI rolls out, as his involvement with OpenAI indicated.

    “BMIs and AI are individually ‘scary’ enough to many, and when used together even more so. But as history has also proven, technology cannot be indefinitely delayed nor can it be ‘uninvented.’ BMIs like Neuralink’s prototype unveiled recently and the mainstream devices it is poised to lead to, are wake up calls to individuals, businesses and governments around the world to prepare for a future where human intelligence and longevity may drastically increase and the balance of power throughout human society may drastically shift.

    “We are faced with a choice of waiting to see what the winner of the AI race does with the monopoly it seizes over the rest of humanity, or ensuring a balance of power between individuals, corporations and nations is maintained to prevent the AI equivalent of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from ever coming to pass.

    “This cannot be done by hiding from this technology. It can only be done by embracing it and ensuring it is in our collective hands, rather than in the hands of the few.”

    Geopolitical Impact of Elon Musk’s AI “Neuralink”
    By Ulson Gunnar

  5. August 26, 2019 at 00:46

    Fastidious answer back in return of this question with firm
    arguments and explaining the whole thing on the topic of that.

  6. Kozmo
    August 26, 2019 at 00:07

    Beautiful!! Thank you CJ! Printed, bookmarked, saved for future rereadings!

  7. Lina
    August 25, 2019 at 18:17

    I turn to a vampire any time i want to. i become a vampire because of how people treat me, this world is a wicked world and not fair to any body. at the snack of my finger things are made happened. am now a powerful man and no one step on me without an apology goes free. i turn to human being also at any time i want to. and am one of the most dreaded man in my country. i become a vampire through the help of my friend who introduce me into a vampire kingdom by given me their email. if you want to become a powerful vampire kindly contact the vampire kingdom on their email [email protected]

  8. SteveK9
    August 25, 2019 at 16:39

    If it makes you feel better, 99% of real Scientists are interested in making life better … on Earth and clearly recognize that space ‘colonization’ is so far off into the future, it’s not worth spending time thinking about. That is distinguished from billionaire Science nerds or government flunkies whose income and sense of worth comes from bilking the public out of billions to spend on ridiculous ‘missions’ that mean exactly … nothing. The list of fantastic things that Scientists are working on is very long … and very little of it consists of how to colonize Mars.

  9. L. Vincent Anderson
    August 25, 2019 at 13:14

    Today’s On The Media features an interesting historical precedent of the current planetary projections. The post-continental reach of the U.S. goes back to a famous guano [sic] case, which held that the Constitution reached to extraterritorial islands that exported guano to the depleted fields of the mainland. That is, after a slave revolt on the guano island….

    Brooke Gladstone emcees part 2 of this 3-part series, a 45-min. interview:

    Author Daniel Immerwahr [lit., ‘always true’!] covers the larger story in HOW TO HIDE AN EMPIRE: A History of the Greater United States

    Among other details: White Man’s Burden was intended as a practical guide for Teddy Roosevelt, in the wake of the 1898 acquisition of the former Spanish empire.

  10. R Davis
    August 25, 2019 at 11:44

    Elon Musk has got to be the dumbest man on planet Earth.
    Alas, we have not been to the moon yet.
    Oh, the money has been spent & maybe in a thousand or so years we may get there, then again maybe not.
    Elon Musk is not a billionaire, he owes more than he owns, he is convenient to the establishment MO at this point in time & tries to read his scripted talks as best as he can.
    With the advent of the internet & online banking.
    Money, in today’s world is no longer owned by the old guard, today anyone with business expertise & technological expertise can print money & shunt it across the globe in seconds & not be discovered.
    Mayer Rothschild bragged, “He who owns the money of the world rules it.”
    Today, cashed up Mavericks with self printed millions & billions are also player on the market floor.
    The universe has injected NEW BLOOD into the system, a change for the better I’d say.

  11. August 24, 2019 at 20:21

    I think if you read and watch these your concepts and writings of the future will change.
    The data here just could be accurate.
    – arlen

    The Last Recession?

    Believing what Guy says is depressing but it may be accurate.
    If you need to be more convincing information watch this video. 1.5X speed ok.

  12. Amanda
    August 24, 2019 at 13:40

    Well, this woman thinks the oligarchy is setting up a new global crypto currency:


    “The new Chinese-created ACChain crypto currency blockchain will be the SDR-related world currency that will allow the international banking elite to digitize every tangible asset on earth, and they will then exert total control over all of it.

    Lynette Zang explains:

    “The goal is to capture your wealth, and when the say this is the LAST wealth transfer mechanism they mean it because they want it all. All of it.” Intel Software designer Brad peters takes it one step further, saying: “If a global crypto coin controlled by the Bank For International Settlements (BIS) comes to internationalize PROPERTY onto their crypto blockchain, they get their one world government and one world currency all in the same stroke. This IS your 1988 (2018 prediction) Economist magazine cover.”

    And then you have this:

    This guy is also worried about where they are taking us next:

    “Last September I wrote an article pondering the possibility that cryptocurrencies and blockchain may serve as a red herring gateway to a global 5G-driven electronic implantable currency controlled by the same Rothschild-led central bankers who control all other global monetary assets….The list of the cryptocurrency and blockchain companies which DCG owns is truly staggering. It appears that the Bitcoin cult has been duped by none other than the Rothschild/Rockefeller-controlled New York Fed, which appears to be driving the blockchain train. That probably explains why nearly all Bitcoin “mining” has moved to China. And why David Rockefeller’s social credit-based “China model” is leading to way towards global enslavement one block and chain at a time.”

  13. Vera Gottlieb
    August 24, 2019 at 11:40

    Why do we keep being annoyed by comments from people who are just seeking their 5 minutes of stardom. Why do we keep giving them “air” time? But of course, money will never supply intelligence, etc.

  14. The Eternal Optimist
    August 23, 2019 at 21:33

    This is a wonderful article. Caitlin is so perfectly right on when she points out the absurdity of leaving this world in order to solve our problems in this world; that we would necessarily take with us that within us that has caused all our problems.

    It is just that within us; the inner space that we need to explore; the infinite ocean within, into which Freud dipped his toe and recoiled in terror at its infinity, that Jung felt must be investigated, and which the mystics of this world have always insisted was where we need to (and will) go.

    We need to focus our attention on ourselves; on our motives for behaving the way we do, on our need to increase our understanding of Life and our place in it, in short, on Reality. This nonsense about living in space is foolish; we already live in space, and no ingenuity on our part is going to trump God’s design of our spaceship, which provides everything we need to do what we should be doing. We should cherish that ship, not abandon it to ruin of our own doing.

  15. August 23, 2019 at 19:48

    “At best it would be like being in a mall your entire life.”

    To some people, this sound like paradise. That said, nuking a planet, even quite a bit smaller than Earth, to habitability seems TOTALLY against “elementary astrophysics”. In a nutshell, Mars could be just freezing rather than f….g freezing with more gases in the atmosphere, especially CO2 and CH4. But the energy required, by the same token, should be sufficient to make Earth unihabitable, so we would need thousands upon thousand of hydrogen bombs. Transporting the stuff to Mars would require more effort that making Earth a bit more habitable than it is now by finding ways to produce, distribute etc. stuff needed for decent existence in a sustainable way. Totally futuristically, may be our descendants will learn how to redirect comets and asteroid to smash Mars and provide some fresh water and gases. Detonating nukes on the surface does not seem useful.

    OTOH, this idea is less obnoxious that spreading gospel that the best way to deliver healthcare is to increase personal costs and free competition. Experimentally proven false, and wrecking havoc with economy and human lives. Mars is more lucky, there is a good chance that it will last with no harm.

  16. Donald Sexton
    August 23, 2019 at 18:41

    Thanks for this. I do have some criticism about a few aspects involving engineering & science research (aberrant consequences, risk/reward, cost/benefit, disregarding externalities, including the dubious geo-engineering proposals toward supposedly resolving AGW …) supposed external threats (extra-terrestrial objects as hypothetically apocalyptic but implied deploying nuclear weapons as the protective net …), & perceived gender bias (related to reproduction sovereignty & responsibility …). Although generally the issues & prospects with socio-economics, philosophy, & spirituality (especially relating, respecting, & appreciating the scale, diversity, & dynamicism of ecological & ecosystem function, interaction, & inherent reliance that humans & biosphere inhabitants were derived & can’t escape) are commendable.

    • L. Vincent Anderson
      August 24, 2019 at 17:07

      So, you are also Franklin Blunt? Spare us.

  17. curious
    August 23, 2019 at 18:40

    Thank you Caitlin for a thoughtful article. It doesn’t take a Phd Psychologist to tell us we tend to look outward, rather than inward as the reflection in the mirror disturbs many people. I don’t fault the dreamers who fantasize about other planets or friendly aliens who will solve our ills, but it is indeed escapism.
    I’ve seen too many of our human (bad) behaviors to think they will somehow improve dramatically if placed in a tube, or on another planet. The US cancer is its ability since WW2 to kill millions and millions of people around this orb, and without so much as a hint of remorse. Will this change? No. So no-one from the US should be a space traveller in my opinion. Maybe some good people from Austria, Switzerland, or even Australia as a start?
    Your article has a much deeper meaning that some comments below have missed. It is a call to love and care for ourselves better, our loved ones and friends better, and our environment better. Until that happens, we shouldn’t spread our hate and killing around any other place in space, as we can’t seem to take care of our own here on this planet.
    Two aspects of this fantasy venture also trouble me: If you read the book Area 51 within you’ll find the US wanted to explode a nuke on the moon as a ‘show of force’ or for some other silly reason. They already exploded a nuke in the ozone layer to see if it would punch a hole in it. This is an example of the neanderthal military at their best.
    The second is Musks’ idea of nuking the ice caps on Mars. I’m not a rocket scientist, but Musk has already burnt to a crisp two of his brand new SpaceX capsules while testing the engine designs. Why does he now have the confidence that his rockets could safely take nukes to Mars and detonate them at the desired location instead of on a platform in Florida? They use the euphemism “an anomaly” as a term for unmitigated disaster, as it sounds cute I suppose.
    Combine those with the intense radiation one would be exposed to on a trip to Mars, and the dreamers have a mini nightmare on their hands.
    Thank you for the article, as we do need to clean up our own house first before we pollute and ruin another. The politicians desperately need more distractions for the people, but Mars is foolishness. I still am waiting for the group who spent a year on Haleakala to see how they fared in the trial living in a tent as a human experiment nowhere close to an actual Mars event.

  18. Franklin Blunt
    August 23, 2019 at 18:36

    Thanks for this. I do have some criticism about a few aspects involving engineering & science research (aberrant consequences, risk/reward, cost/benefit, disregarding externalities, including the dubious geo-engineering proposals toward supposedly resolving AGW …) supposed external threats (extra-terrestrial objects as hypothetically apocalyptic but implied deploying nuclear weapons as the protective net …), & perceived gender bias (related to reproduction sovereignty & responsibility …). Although generally the issues & prospects with socio-economics, philosophy, & spirituality (especially relating, respecting, & appreciating the scale, diversity, & dynamicism of ecological & ecosystem function, interaction, & inherent reliance that humans & biosphere inhabitants were derived & can’t escape) are commendable.

  19. Maricata
    August 23, 2019 at 12:38

    “Billionaire Elon Musk, who hates unions and wants to implant AI into human brains, has been continuing this trend of idiotic plutocratic futurology with a new campaign to detonate nuclear weapons on the planet Mars. This is not because Musk hates Mars, but because he wants to colonize it; the idea is to vaporize the red planet’s polar ice caps and throw carbon dioxide into the air to ultimately make the planet more habitable.”

    Musk is a transhumanist and of course, former friend of Jeffrey Epstein who evidently lent Musk monies.

    Do not believe that these people are really billionaires.

    What is true is that they are rabid psychopaths, eugenicists and social Darwinists.

    Add Peter Thiel to the mix.

  20. kiers
    August 23, 2019 at 11:54

    A lot of things “space” are really “military”, with space providing public buy in and funding.
    Take Asteroid “mining”. A laughable concept. But great side effect of technology is space war to destroy satellites. etc etc. rinse wash repeat.

  21. Arthur Wolf
    August 23, 2019 at 07:47

    A previous version of this comment was censored, I am posting it again with some of the more flippant bits removed, concentrating on the factual aspects, with the hope that the problem was the tone and not the content:
    [maybe instead of censoring comments, point out what’s wrong with them, it’s a better way to make the discussion progress]

    Oh boy, this again …

    First off, it has never been, and never will be “go to space, or save the planet”. We can definitely do both. We *are* doing both.
    And space tech ( satellites ) has been a huge part of figuring out climate change. We’d be years back in terms of progress/understanding without it. And it’s only going to get more important as time goes on.
    Not only that, but things like the ISS and microgravity tech is going to become more and more important in understanding the human body, and creating new medicine.
    Same would be true with efforts to go further into the solar system.

    And it’s not just that. Taking the widest possible approach, with very exaggerated estimations, the space industry is a few hundred billion. That’s very small compared to the global economy. Essentially space is a dot in the overall human budget. If you only take the part you are talking about it ( space exploration ), it’s one or two orders of magnitude smaller.
    Maybe you aren’t interested in space exploration. Don’t ruin it for those of us that are. I won’t go ask for research into what you like to be stopped, and you don’t try to stop us space-fanatics. Deal?

    As a species, we are doing space stuff. It’s one of the rare domains where all of humanity is joining together ( look at the ISS ), and there is an argument to be made that it’s worth the cost just for this. There’s a lot of domains in that stuff: earth observation, molecular research, habitat research, space exploration, telescopes, a lot of stuff. What is your problem with us doing a bit of exploring? And if part of that exploring involves setting ups outposts ( there’s only so many robots can do, at some point if you can do it, you should send humans)? And once you’ve got outposts, what is wrong with improving those folks’ living conditions.
    It likely won’t be nukes that will be used in practice, people say that mostly as a way to grab attention. If you look at the studies, terraforming mars is probably going to involve giant micrometer-thick mirrors or redirecting asteroids, or some tech that doesn’t exist now but does when we start needing to do the terraforming ( most likely I think ).
    But right now we say nukes because it’s easy for people to grasp.

    Exploring space is great. It’s going to allow us to learn more about the universe, about our origins, about physics, about medicine. It’s a really awesome path, that is going to cause us to learn a lot, and achieve a lot.
    And yes, one side effect is if we end up with good colonies, we’ll have civilization redundancy. It’s a cool bonus, but it’s really not the core reason anyone is doing all this. But you hear about it a lot because nukes make better article titles than air recycling tech advances.
    I think your position is at least partially fear-mongering, even if it’s not necessarily fully conscious. Also you clearly don’t like billionaire, but maybe that would need to be adressed on it’s own, and not mixed up with the subject of space. After all, if you give me two billionaires, and one builts yatchs, while the other develops new technology, one of those is doing much more for all of us, and if we are to have billionaires, I’d rather we have the second type.

    Earth isn’t on a path to being destroyed by nuclear war. Nobody wants it to happen, so nobody is actually going to push the button. Look at the history/study of it, people who get in that situation don’t actually push the button. They’d rather get fired than be responsible for the end of humanity. Who would have thought…?

    Musk doesn’t think WW3 is likely, he thinks if it happens, a dark age is likely. That’s very different, and it’s a very reasonable position. You are misrepresenting that position in this article I think, maybe by not being able to separate the two?

    This notion that if people stopped thinking about space exploration, they’d start caring more about the earth, is just plain wrong. The notion we might have a shot at space colonies ( meaning in the real world, not in our imagination/fiction ), is super recent, and not widespread. It doesn’t have enough spread/strength to influence how we think about the globe. And even if we could have colonies, 99.9% of people couldn’t get there anyway. Considering that, how limited would one have to be to have space colonies reduce their caring for the earth. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Like zero, none. This position of yours that one influences the other is ( as I see it ) divorced from the reality of how humans actually behave and think.

    I also really dislike the “we’ll inevitably bring the same inner demons with us that got us into this mess in the first place.” bit. Not that I think we’ll ever get to that stupid scenario of needing a backup, but the idea that you can predict what will occur in that case is weird and ( I think ) too pretentious. One important thing in science is that if you don’t know, you should say “I don’t know”. Pretending you can predict the future isn’t productive.

    Not only that, but the notion itself is pretty wrong too even if you put your mind into that scenario: humans *destroyed earth*, they are now all alone on Mars, will need hundreds of years to rebuild a civilization on Mars until they can get to fixing earth, and you don’t think that is going to have a massive influence on the culture/mindset of that civilization … ?
    That seems extremely wrong. Germany has it’s culture completely shaped by the shame of WW2 and the holocaust, but *destroy earth* and you’ll just keep doing the same stuff as always, no change at all. This seems like the sort of thing that would be said by someone who has never met a human being.

    And the notion that a mars colony would have “no soul”. Let’s skip over the fact that you couldn’t define a soul as it’s a very fuzzy and ( I think ) useless notion, are you not seeing that not everybody is like you, and there are plenty of people who would have zero problems with spending their life in a mall?
    Not only that but even if some of the colonists have that same need you have to run in fields, it’d just be a motivating factor for them to make those happen. A large dome isn’t that hard to build and plant stuff in, especially in mars’ lower gravity. This is a pretty simple engineering problem, one that you can expect will be worked on in the very first year of the first mars colony. You talk about this like it’d never happen, must be sad living without an imagination …
    A Mars colony wouldn’t lack fields and nature and space to roam in, it’d lack a blue sky. People would have those things you want, they’d just have domes ( or if they are made transparent enough, the pink Martian sky ). I think it’d be ok with me to have a different sky if I’m on a different planet.

    I think you are not opening your mind enough to how this would practically work.


    [hoping this comment doesn’t get censored again, if it does I’d love some sort of note on why it was, so I can improve it before re-posting it]

    • Em Sos
      August 23, 2019 at 12:36

      Having a theoretician of imagination in command of the space ship Earth, rather than one actually living amongst, and in solidarity with, those on this planet, as it is now; immediately having to face up to and deal with the potential catastrophic issues at hand, for all of humanity, s/he would not be my preferred choice.

      “Earth isn’t on a path to being destroyed by nuclear war.”
      In the one breath the commenter is saying: a genius like “Musk doesn’t think WW3 is likely” … but “if it happens” he thinks “a dark age is likely.” How much genius does it take to recognize that if WW3 happens, before anyone gets ‘away’ to Mars, it matters not a whit about “a dark age following”?
      The commenter seems unwilling “to connect the two” notions. Perhaps he has a conflict of interest between fantasy and immediate reality!

      Fortunately, Earths path is not directed by the human mind, but if the likes of persons with presumed ‘impeccable logic’ – all variables known, then we’re dealing in only unbridled fantasy, which shows a lack of earthly wisdom.

      As far as this opinion goes, it’s a good thing these folks remain ensconced in their ‘Ivory Tower’ academic gated communities.

      It’s the unconscionable, uncontainable, usurping billionaires, we have to be more concerned about!

    • Litchfield
      August 23, 2019 at 14:36

      Honestly, this is one of the most idiotic, naive, and deliberately obfuscatory comments I have ever seen at CN. No wonder it was moderated away. The length suggests that this poster has this bumpf already in his word processor, readly to go.

      Re “Musk doesn’t think WW3 is likely, he thinks if it happens, a dark age is likely. ”

      Well, what extraordinary powers of prediction!
      Musk thinks . . . Musk doesn’t think . . . Musk believes . . .
      Who gives a shit?
      The Musk melons should make their reservations right now for the first passenger transport to Mars. I can imagine the fun of residing in a space ship for 150 to 300 days, with how many others? Or, all alone? Where would the poop go? I guess maybe Musk has thought about this. Maybe the space vehicle would shoot the poop out into space. Musk is already shootin’ s— on Earth.

    • Tedder
      August 23, 2019 at 15:23

      Arthur, you certainly have a lot to say and no one would argue with you about the values of space exploration. Ms Johnstone’s point is that colonizing Mars is a fantasy that distracts from our real work of restoring this much damaged planet, that’s all, and she is quite correct.
      Another point she made or could have made is that these billionaires are really not very smart, but because of their skill at doing one thing well, amassing money and accumulating wealth, they think their fantasies have merit. Their vast wealth gives them the means to attempt to realize them; however, these fantasies are just that, what we used to call ‘pipe dreams’.

      • Eddie S
        August 24, 2019 at 11:57

        Good critique Tedder. These wild fantasies of gazillionaires remind me too much of ‘stoner dreams’ or barroom talk —- long on ignoring basic underlying realities and short on benefits even IF they could happen.

      • robjira
        August 24, 2019 at 12:03

        Excellent response, Tedder; I second it.

  22. Arthur Wolf
    August 23, 2019 at 07:27

    So, since I posted my comment, about 60 new comments have appeared, but mine was always marked as “awaiting moderation”, and now my comment has completely disappeared ( presumably has been erased, that is censored ).
    My comment pointed out several factual errors in the article, as well as argued why some of the points in the article were not logically sound.
    I don’t have much hope for this comment to go through, so this is more a message to the moderating folks: it’s a general rule that if your ideas are good, they don’t need censorship to support them. If you have to resort to censorship, it’s probably your ideas don’t have enough of a leg to stand on by themselves, so you need to erase contradicting ideas that would demolish your position easily. Maybe instead of censoring, work on having more logically sound ideas. It’s better for you too in the long run.

    • Maricata
      August 23, 2019 at 12:39

      I experienced the same thing for comments of no disdain.

  23. Tom
    August 23, 2019 at 06:30

    Caitlin Johnstone’s article keep getting dumber, and you should stop publishing them. They never include any unique information, they’re little more than conspiratorial opinion pieces based on scant evidence and a whole lot of rhetoric. They drag down the standard of this site, which is regularly a source for original information and intelligent analysis.

  24. August 23, 2019 at 06:09

    Mars colonizers lack serious metrics of how to tackle passing the deadly vanAllen radiation belts. It is not the particles themselves but the spray of radiation springing from colliding with the spacecraft that kills and fries you. (unless a craft could be made of either 30 inch lead or cardboard)
    You wonder if the whole Mars enterprise is not a Psy-op – pure and simple.

  25. TC
    August 23, 2019 at 01:56

    This is some great writing. It’s as if the billionaires are trying to distract us from the mass chaos on the planet – the Amazon on fire, fires in Greenland, protests in Hong Kong, climate meltdown, weakening of democracy around the world, increasing addiction to trivia – and then offering – instead of solutions to those problems, the supposed panacea of colonizing Mars. As you say Mrs. Johnstone, why not fix the problems on this Earth rather than daydream about some fantasy that would only be available to the .0001%?

  26. Lily
    August 23, 2019 at 00:46

    These billionares planning to leave this unique planet are completely seperated from the Sophia aspect of their own nature.

    The rejection of the feminine and the destruction of the earth are connected.

  27. August 22, 2019 at 23:40

    Excellent piece.
    I think Ed Abbey and Charles C Bowden would agree.
    “Keep Scribbling.”

    • Sherwood Forrest
      August 31, 2019 at 22:19

      Yes, Caitlin has an intellectual kinship with these too great writers.
      Free the rivers of water and the dammed rivers of elite secrecy.

  28. Paora
    August 22, 2019 at 23:23

    Dreams of Space and science fiction were key to my political development. My father read science fiction to me at bedtime from a very early age. These tales of different worlds and human (or alien) societies taught me is the the World is not something ‘given’ that I had to fight with other individuals for a place in, but instead a human construction constrained only by the laws of nature, that we could create anew along new lines of peace and justice.

    Science fiction and socialism have always gone together for a reason. It is not surprising that the Space dreams of billionaires are foolish or dystopian. They are constrained by the imagination of their dying class, thinking only of escape and a false vision of perfection.

    Anyone who thinks that Mars colonization is inherently reactionary and anti-ecological should check out Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Mars Trilogy’. He was a student of Frederic Jameson (a real ‘Cultural Marxist’), and the trilogy follows the development of a Martian society and its revolutionary movement. He followed it up with a ‘Climate Trilogy’, recently rewritten as a single volume ‘Green Earth’.

    Becoming a spacefaring civilization need not mean abandoning the earth and what makes us human. Expanding our horizons can open up new emancipatory potentials, new experiments in living, and a new appreciation of our duty to preserve the biosphere that began on Earth but need not end there.

  29. Zhu
    August 22, 2019 at 21:28

    Karl, check out Philip K. Dick’s Mars novels . They’re dystopian.

  30. L. Vincent Anderson
    August 22, 2019 at 21:20

    As bjd noted, waaay back (August 21, 2019 at 17:36)
    …Here’s Carl Sagan with Johnny Carson from over 40 years ago: .
    There’s more intellectual wit and sanity between the two of them than the billionaire brigade of Bezos, Musk and Epstein.
    Sagan has repeatedly been lumped with the starblazers, but was quite sanguine about the slim chance of ever establishing intellectual contact with extraterrestrials, largely because of the extra-human scale of a single line of dialog. Noting that ‘this’ broadcast with Carson would be sent into infinite space, or (even) that his famous Gold Record is now way beyond Pluto, it would be some other lifetime in which an (intelligent, maybe!) response could possibly be received. But even on our earthly scale, this is the case, such that ‘Socrates talks to us, [but] we don’t talk to Socrates.’ So, without even getting into ‘universal consciousness and harmony’ topics, Ms. Johnstone’s thesis is valid, sc. ‘…that the impulse to colonize space is one of the more pernicious cultural mind viruses in our society.’ How Socratic.

  31. Karl
    August 22, 2019 at 20:57

    Indentured Serfs dwelling on Mars probably will not be able to own anything and will have to pay rent for everything.

    And pay for all food, supplies, water, and even the air that they breath.

    Will there even be a government on Mars or just plain naked plutocracy? The very ultimate Dystopia.

    And paying for a ride and getting back to Earth will probably be all but impossible.

  32. Martin Katchen
    August 22, 2019 at 20:31

    Has it ever occurred to you that space is an excellent safety valve to relieve Earth society of dissident groups or cults that don’t fit in with the rest of humanity and want the cultural privacy of living far enough from.Esrth (true of Titan, which some scientists see as more feasible to colonize than Mars) that communication with anyone on Earth in real time is impossible?
    Some groups of people want or need a divorce from.the rest of the human race. Nothing good can come of keeping people so.inclined in.a loveless marriage they do.not wish in.

  33. August 22, 2019 at 19:49

    excellent piece – very well said – could not agree more

  34. Harpo Kondriak
    August 22, 2019 at 18:14

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The space colonization nonsense has been one of my biggest pet peeves for decades. And no matter how gloriously you view the Apollo program that took us to the moon, there were scientists and engineers at the that time that thought it was a waste of time. They knew it was doable, just not worth the effort and expense. I’ve enjoyed the films and movies and hype along with everyone else I suppose, but like nearly everything science and engineering has brought us they have left an awful lot of carnage in their wake.

  35. Em Sos
    August 22, 2019 at 17:05

    What actually is the Biggest Climate Change Lie? The short answer: that the difference in the big picture of the universal consciousness of the Cosmos will be affected one whit by the disappearance of the self-delusional, hubristic, Anthropomorphic species!

    According to the latest cutting-edge science, the (approximate) age of the Earth is estimated to be 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years. That leaves us with a slight statistical discrepancy, about – give or take – fifty billion, with a ‘b’ billion years; and further, the Climate News Network article quibbles about “the planet warming faster than at any time in the last 2,000 years, but this unique climate change really does have neither a historic precedent nor a natural cause” – a fact that this historic precedent covers record keeping of an utterly statistically insignificant 2 thousand years, at best, seems to be lost on them.
    The only statistical significance this research has on the Planet is that it is utterly insignificant. The Planet will go on after we, the one and only mindlessly thinking species have left it; and this writer doesn’t mean by their soaring off to Mars.
    So, the only significance of the research papers is that we the people are still on our way to self-annihilation. The only ones who have the power, and can do anything to effect change are those self-same individuals who haven’t given a cr_p about anything other than their own short-term plundering habits, as far back as the first industrial revolution. Wow!
    In the 200,000 years or so that Homo-sapiens has been around on the Planet, how do we even begin to accurately assess whether the Earth climate has always been changing, or not?
    How does a group of latter-day ‘scientists’ even begin to define, with any valid numerical specificity, what the span of the long-term cycle they are referring to, actually means, in the overall picture?
    “This paper should finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural climate cycle”.
    Okay! So, “the recent observed coherent global warming is… NOT… part of a natural climate cycle”.
    If seven billion (give or take a couple of million) – the ninety-nine percent, does not, as of yet, after 2 millennia, have the wherewithal to actively challenge the one percent, what other worse outcomes, than what lies ahead, is standing in the way of action?

    • Em Sos
      August 22, 2019 at 17:53

      Correction: Oops! Miscalculated the arithmetic value of 0.05 billion. It should have read as 50 million, not billion.

    • Zhu
      August 23, 2019 at 02:56

      Lots of earlier societies destroyed themselves by screwing up their environments. Probably they all denied what was happening until it was too late.

      • Em Sos
        August 23, 2019 at 10:34

        So then you’re saying, it’s something other than mere learning, and standing on the shoulders of giants who came before.
        Perhaps it has something to do with a premeditated stripping away, over time, by the sociopathic powers-that-be, of humanities intrinsic ‘essence’ or consciousness; by whatever means necessary!?

      • Litchfield
        August 23, 2019 at 14:44

        Check out Clive Ponting, A Green History of the World.

    • curious
      August 23, 2019 at 18:01

      Em Sos,

      This is a simple answer to a simple question:

      “In the 200,000 years or so that Homo-sapiens has been around on the Planet, how do we even begin to accurately assess whether the Earth climate has always been changing, or not?
      How does a group of latter-day ‘scientists’ even begin to define, with any valid numerical specificity, what the span of the long-term cycle they are referring to, actually means, in the overall picture?”

      I think it’s time for you to read about ice bore samples that can tell the status of the environment throughout the centuries. add that to tree rings, earth bore samples, deep oceanography research, glazier evidence, and new satellites capable of reading Co2 levels and methane levels on earth. The breakup of the arctic may also help you out in your research.

      It’s not difficult to understand if one reads. Even using NASA, or our own Navy in the US as a source could be an easy start.

      • Em Sos
        August 23, 2019 at 22:45

        So, you “think it’s time for (me) to read about ice bore samples … “
        Well, I took your advice and perused only the first couple of articles I came upon, relating to the accuracy of dating ice core samples, and came up with the following pertinent article:

        I have taken the liberty of including it here for your perspicacious perusal.

        Perhaps now, you will do yourself a favor, and read it carefully, and thoroughly, so that you have a better grasp of what I am driving at in my comments.
        Granted the article was written a whole 2 years ago, so I hope it is cutting edge enough, and suffices to somewhat satisfy and still your curiosity about the extent of the value of dating methods available to contemporary science.

        Like you yourself said: “It’s not difficult to understand if one reads” keeping in mind we are talking about a Planet that has been estimated to be 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years. Can the human mind even begin to adequately grasp such an infinite amount of time?

        The previous near planetary extinction, wiping out three- quarters of animate life, occurred some 66 million years ago when a humongous Cosmic Asteroid crashed into the Planet.

        So even the included articles title: Record-shattering 2.7-million-year-old ice core reveals start of the ice ages pales to insignificance in the bigger picture of life on Earth.

        Homo-sapiens is ‘a flash in the pan’ notwithstanding his anthropomorphic sense of self!

  36. elkern
    August 22, 2019 at 16:44

    I agree that Musk is a prime Dingbat, but in the long run (millennia), humanity has the responsibility to extend life beyond Earth.

    In the medium range (decades), yes, We need to change our systems of power (electrical, political, economic, religious, etc) to (1) avoid dangerous changes to Earth climate system(s), and (2) provide a (sustainable) framework for decent human & other Life.

    But long-range, I believe that We should spread the miracle of Life beyond Earth. We are the Flower, flung up by the stationary Plant to fling Seeds over yonder in the hope that some of them find new places to survive! Life exists to make more Life. Our unique abilities – brains & fingers – make us capable of taking that step outside our ancestral Home; we take that step, or abdicate responsibility.

    The silly Billionaires (Sillionaires?) are right about one thing: there are plenty of Chixulubs drunk-driving around the neighborhood, and eventually, another one won’t miss us. We can – and eventually, should – spread “seeds” beyond Earth, to make sure that next Big Rock doesn’t kill off the whole Family.

    But yeah, right now, every space-launch is a small ecological disaster; since the cost is paid by all, that should only be done for good collective purposes (like satellites for weather & communications), not for the whims of some Oligarch.

    Space exploration is not the problem. The problem is excessive concentration of wealth. The solution is simply returning to real progressive taxation. Make America Great Again: revive Eisenhower-era taxation (90% top rates).

    • AnneR
      August 23, 2019 at 07:16

      So elkern, you are a human species supremacist.

      Frankly, this planet could have done very well – primo – without our presence entirely. We – and clearly you subscribe to this pov – over estimate our superiority over other living creatures – at least as regards our so-called “intelligence.”

      We are not the only animals – and, yes, we are animals – with “nimble fingers” or large brains with much grey matter.

      BUT we are the ONLY animals on this planet who have succeeded in destroying countless, innumerable other species, desertifying (my neologism, sorry) great tracts of land, drying out aquifers, let alone causing the Arctic region to melt away. Other creatures live in harmony with their environments, ecosystems – because their lives depend upon that harmony, that equilibrium.

      We in our hubris, arrogance assume that we can do whatever we want, be as bloody greedy as we want, strip mine the whole planet for our insatiable desire for trinkets – and there be no blowback. We are the superior species.

      *And then* there are those like you who think we should take these “blessings” of our superiority to other planets in order to destroy, muck up them??? Truly arrogant.

      • Anonymous
        August 24, 2019 at 08:07

        But it’s that arrogance that really separates us from other animals. We are unique in how our heads are collectively placed up our rectums.

  37. Bret Bowman
    August 22, 2019 at 15:44

    I suspect the biggest attractions to Mars and space travel in general are that they are both “clean,” meaning they represent an imaginal space conducive to projections of self-purity, but also separated from the filthy complexity of humanity by an bridgeable “space moat” that only the extremely wealthy can afford to cross.

    For those not paying attention, this is cooptation of heaven as deserved reward for good works on earth. But I see Musk as closer to Charon and his space moat, the river Styx.

    The most obvious explanation is rather simple. Billionaire oligarchs are made on the externalization of unpleasant reality, on pretending consequences are always the problem of society and not of the capitalists who created them.

    It’s easy for a psychopathic Peter Pan to envision life elsewhere as preferable to life here because he already lives apart and outside the teaming masses of economic slaves destined for miserable lives.

  38. Meremark
    August 22, 2019 at 15:07

    Refreshing to read such lovely plain sense.
    In my extensive science education, like knowing we cannot move at the speed of light, it is my longstanding frustration seeing Authorities able to bluff common people to believe impossible illusions.

    Earthlings are not going anywhere. So little as a Moon camp is not going to happen; possible perhaps, yet undoable.

    Just let it go. Get real.

  39. bardamu
    August 22, 2019 at 14:20

    We will not much work with planets that are not this one, nor with humans who are not these, ourselves, at least not anytime soon. And a lot will happen soon.

    But humans act differently depending on our circumstances. If we want humans to act differently–to repair, perhaps, instead of destroying–we need to rearrange human circumstances.

    Obviously, we have a chicken/egg problem with this: we have only humans in current circumstances to create new circumstances. But not all current human circumstances are identical.

    In general, the planet has everything we need except insight. Where insight–human, limited insight–has access to land and resources, these can be repaired and could even with a larger-than-current population (assuming wa-a-ay more insightful behavior than shown at present). Methodologies are reasonably worked out and documented, though there remains more to do. Ecosystems can regenerate (they have), and ecosystems are the only base-level support for humans: economies just regulate how we divvy the loot–though, sadly, they disproportionately grant options to some of the most maladapted among us.

    Proper human circumstances, like other working ecosystems, are complex, self-driving and self-governing events. That means that there are down sides to trying to accomplish much by top-down commands and coercion, as often as that happens. In turn, that suggests that the moves of governments and wealthy players are likely to never become primary movers for any sort of solution–though either may act better or worse, and it is not as though their actions are not important; it is only likely that they are negative in balance or come late in any positive process.

    Smaller groups need to operate with some independence from the global economy so that people can quit supporting these “masters of the world” or of currency with our daily actions. That means backyard chickens and gardens, property ownership with trusts and cohousing circumstances, alternate currencies or financing, polycentric social conditions and particularly passage of information.

    Some points of information that I have found interesting in this:

    * Mollison, Bill. Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual.
    * Hopkins, Rob. The Transition Handbook.
    * Lietaer, Bernard. The Future of Money.
    * Ostrom, Elinor. Governing the Commons.

  40. Bill
    August 22, 2019 at 13:42

    an entertaining rant, sadly no new ideas. And not one mention of the single root cause of our problems: overpopulation.

  41. F. G. Sanford
    August 22, 2019 at 13:34

    “Are You Loneskum Tonight”, by Elvis Presley:

    Are you lonesome tonight, on that long cold space flight,
    As you drift in that cold dark abyss?
    When you started the trip, did your common sense slip,
    Did you think of the good stuff you’d miss?
    Does the air in your rocket seem clammy and stale?
    Has the weightlessness rendered you puny and frail?
    When you poop in that tube, do you feel like a boob?
    Tell me dear, are you lone skum tonight?
    I wonder if you’re lone skum tonight.
    You know someone said you’d blast your first stage,
    You’d pioneer Martian space flight.
    Fornication in space could become the new rage,
    In space, it could be better yet.
    They offered and you took the chance.
    You donned your space gear, and waved goodbye my dear,
    Then you blasted into that expanse.
    A message or two, then no further from you,
    Did your docking device find romance?
    Now this long distance courtship is through.
    Will your Tesla combust from that Martian space dust,
    Will your rocket produce enough thrust?
    Martian landscape looks bare, but you’re standing right there,
    And that robot has quite a large bust.
    I’ll be waiting right here if you long for me dear,
    And you run out of lone skum space lust!
    Is your heart filled with pain, will you come back again,
    Or has lone skum lust melted your brain?

    • LarcoMarco
      August 23, 2019 at 01:36

      Absolutely brilliant, F.G. Sanford! I could hear RCA Victor’s orchestration during your “sung” part, but I “lost it” in the recitative.

  42. James VanBuskirk
    August 22, 2019 at 13:26

    Hello, just thought I’d make a quick comment after reading through most of this. Elon Musk is trying to ensure the survival of the human race, nothing more, nothing less. He understands how terribly fragile this planet it, and how many countless myriad ways humanity could be snuffed out. The easiest way to ensure the continuity of our species is to make it into a multi-planet species, ideally a multi stellar species. Everything he has done since creating SpaceX is towards that goal. Yes, he has an galactic sized ego, and he does make mistakes as any human is wont to do, but his goal is to get us to the point where if the main basket of eggs goes up in flames, there’s a secondary set of eggs that’ll survive.

    Is it terribly, horribly difficult to figure out? Yes. Could it all end in failure? Of course! Is it still worth attempting? Absolutely. I am not completely sold on the idea of nuking the Martian poles, I believe a combination of solar shields and directed asteroid strikes would be better and less environmentally devastating, but right now we’re all spitballing. The technology doesn’t exist yet that would allows us to successfully terraform Mars, but I do believe we will obtain it one day. And if we can terraform Mars, you can bet we could adapt it to repair Earth. We need to stop looking on single human lifespans and looks at our species as a whole, and what direction we want to go.

    We are becoming more and more of a global village, and as such, we will need a global vision to guide us forward.

    Or maybe we’ll luck out and have some plague or asteroid wipe the majority of us out and give us a few more hundred years to figure it all out.

  43. Michael R Rogers
    August 22, 2019 at 13:20
    August 22, 2019 at 12:27

    THANK YOU, Caitlin, for (hopefully) injecting a bit of SANITY into the discussion about colonizing Mars.
    The mainstream press seems to be pathetically silent on the enormous cost/questionable benefit aspects of ALL MANNED ( and much of the unmanned) space “exploration”. Perhaps because space exploration provides oodles of sexy, FREE PROGRAMMING?? (Free to the press that is, not to the minority of Americans who actually PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAXES. )

  45. Anonymot
    August 22, 2019 at 12:03

    There’s a rumor that Musk’s office is filled with flowers – plastic ones.

    We were promised dumbing down decades ago. We got it. Our elected officials are proof; our unelected officials are further proof; our billionaires (and don’t forget the simply bigtime millionaires) add to the evidence. Both parties’ establishments represent the end results very well, thank you, as do all of us who have failed to live up to oligarchic standards by not even being worth a few mill. Those who aren’t dumb only speak to infinitely small audiences any more.

  46. Larry Payne
    August 22, 2019 at 11:49

    NASA admits they have not yet solved the problem of the Van Allen Radiation belts. They say they must solve this problem before they attempt to send humans through the radiation belts. Since the Apollo astronauts would have passed through these belts 14 times, aren’t they admitting the Apollo missions didn’t happen?

    • Arthur Wolf
      August 23, 2019 at 07:32

      The Appolo missions were designed to have the astronauts pass through the belts at points where they were the least dangerous, and they went through them very fast. This is easy information to find, maybe do a bit of work to seek information that contradicts your current beliefs, it’s how one makes sure they are wrong as rarely as possible.
      Despite these precautions by the way, there were small health effects detected on the astronauts over the years. But future missions might have faster speeds, better shielding, or even might accept the small health effects as an acceptable cost for exploration ( after all, going through the belts has much less impact than say, smoking for a year, and that’s something a lot of people do anyway with much less benefit than exploring space ).

      • Larry Payne
        August 23, 2019 at 16:23

        Arthur Wolf, I’d give your opinion more credibility if you’d supply some links to back up your claims.
        The NASA engineer in the link I supplied says NASA has not yet solved the problem of dangerous radiation.
        He says NASA must solve this problem before any humans are sent through the “dangerous” radiation belts.

  47. pol bel
    August 22, 2019 at 11:00


    i agree with you on some points but disagree on the big picture.
    Though a lot of ideas promoted by billionnaires are half-baked,
    they are inspired by a fundamental urge experienced by living groups to propagate elsewhere. Once a species has spread over the planet it has to master the path across extremely dangerous space towards other worlds to populate. It can be interpreted as an IQ test we need to pass before getting access to the universe. This can be done in simple steps.

    1) since DNA is the best known life structuring information storage, it is important to build planets in our solar system that have similar abilities as earth to sustain DNA and its reproduction. Hard but feasible, if efforts are focused on this task instead of competitions to build another record tallest tower or bigger shopping malls or fighting a bigger world war etc.

    2) build other solar systems that can harbor life.

    3) hitchhike our way to other galaxies using known solar systems that are leaving the milky way at close to the speed of light.

    And i agree with you on having to work first on the biggest room for improvement right now, our local world…

  48. syber_punk
    August 22, 2019 at 10:46

    ok weirdo smoke another doobie the reason for the race of space expansion is to ensure that the human race cannot be wiped out as a single point of failure like the six great extinctions that happened before us, a single pulse from a quantum star could wipe us out in a second or a meteor, let me ask do you take backup of your work of course you do because if your computer dies all your work would be lost its like that but on the scale of all of humanity

  49. George Vukmanovich
    August 22, 2019 at 10:39

    Wonderful, engaging article! I couldn’t have said it better. I have believed for many years that the human race is not always led by its best and brightest, but instead, by a bunch of morons who cannot figure out how to screw in a light bulb. Yet for some perverse reason they still manage to run the show. Life is certainly unfair. In Elon Musk’s case his pocket change clearly outweighs his IQ.

  50. Drew Hunkins
    August 22, 2019 at 10:38

    Indeed, sometimes technocratic arrogance becomes irritating.

    Kunstler has a great book on this called “Too Much Magic”.

    • bjd
      August 26, 2019 at 12:30

      Thanks for the tip!

  51. August 22, 2019 at 10:27

    I just looked it up, and a very liberal estimation of the space industry is 300 billion ( NASA is 20 billion, satellites launch is like 10 billion, a lot of this is “extended” links to the space industry, it includes stuff like companies making alloys used in space hardware, far-away stuff like that )
    The total world economy is 127 trillion
    Divide one by the other and you get 423.
    The space industry is, at the very very worse, 1/423 of what humans do. Maybe don’t say we have to choose between that and saving the planet … no?

  52. Sam
    August 22, 2019 at 10:08

    A great thought: “We’ve all got that one friend or family member who’s completely miserable and is always quitting jobs and relationships and moving house and changing their diet in a desperate attempt to find happiness. They rearrange their lifestyle for the umpteenth time and they’re barely settled in before their gaze lands on some other aspect of their life and they think, “That’s the source of my unhappiness right there. If I can only escape from that, I’ll be happy.”
    Such people are exasperating to be around, because you can see what they’re doing and you just want to sit them down and go “The problem is in you, babe. Moving won’t help; your inner demons will follow you every time. You’ve got to stay put and deal with your issues.”
    She got it right……
    “The great jihad (struggle/striving) is the battle for your own soul, to fight and defeat the demons within yourself. Only then will you find peace.” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

  53. Art K
    August 22, 2019 at 09:47

    BS, FUD and misinformation!

    • An obvious Musk hater diatribe full of accusations and conspiracy theories without a single fact to back them up?

    • Concentrated unfounded attacks on Elon who is actually one of the few people willing and able to improve the livability of the Earth.

    • Elon is NOT calling any shots in this world. It is the idiots such as Trump and his followers that are destroying the Earth and society. Not all of them are billionaires.

    • Contrary to your assertions, Elon has single handedly changed this world for the better. He created the movement to transition to electric vehicles which will soon replace the CO2 spewing, climate destroying ICE polluters of today. Are you a climate denier? He is also making significant inroads on displacing fossil based power generation with renewable solar power. You obviously do not credit him with “pouring wealth, brainpower and resources into pushing for a change in the status quo”. Why not? Because it would contradict your thesis? Are you a big oil proponent or protector?

    • Elon’s quest for multi-planet humanity has nothing to do with war. It is insurance against catastrophes such as being hit by a large asteroid. There is recently discovered one due in about 10 years that will pass within 20K miles of Earth. That is only 10% of the distance to the moon! Just a hair’s breath away from another near dinosaur extinction event. And there is nothing we could have done about it.

    • Elon does NOT “wants to implant AI into human brains”! Are you just reading clickbait headlines or knowingly and intentionally spreading FUD? He is developing an interface – a communication link – between a human brain and computers to enable humans to compete with the oncoming AI world. Along the way it will enable paraplegics and other disabled people to live a more normal life. Or would you have them remain bed-ridden or confined to wheelchairs for life?

    Good luck with your Utopia! History has shown how many of them succeed.

    • Smedley Butler
      August 23, 2019 at 03:30

      Elon is a conman. He’s not innovating anything. Electric cars that run on batteries are older than gasoline cars. Make one with a miniturized reactor then that is something new. Space X is still chemical rockets whcih have been around since Robert Goddard. Nuking Mars’ poles is actually one of his more idiotic ideas. The reason Mars has very little atmosphere is b/c it has no Van Allen belts to protect it from solar radiation. Nuking the poles will not change that.
      Elon Musk is nothing more than a carnival barking acid head with delusions of grandeur.

    • Ash
      August 23, 2019 at 13:36

      Please tell me this is satire…

  54. Jake
    August 22, 2019 at 09:46

    This is a hot pile of idiotic garbage. Go learn something real.

  55. Reilly G
    August 22, 2019 at 09:24

    Good article Caitlin, reminds me of my favorite book series “The Ringing Cedars of Russia” by Vladimir Megre, here is a quote:

    “Perfect the dwelling land means perfect yourself. “All that exists within the Universe and on Earth represents through itself a united dwelling land, inseparably interconnected, and with man in the center.
    “Perfect the dwelling land means give birth to and raise children who are more perfected than you yourself. Each generation should be more perfected than the previous. For this to come about, the generation that comes before should present the following generation with a more perfected dwelling land. “In perfecting the dwelling land, man perfects his own thought. The perfected dwelling land quickens and refines man’s thought. “In perfecting the dwelling land, man comes to know immortality. “In perfecting the dwelling land, man turns the Earth into the most perfected planet of the Universe. “Earthly perfection permits and helps man to perfect other planets of the Universe. “Universal perfection permits and helps man to create new worlds. “‘Where is the edge of the Universe? What will I do when I come to it? When I have filled everything with myself, when I create that which I have thought?’ a man of the wellspring people asks God. And replied to His son: “My son, The Universe is thought. A dream was born of the thought, and it is partially visible as matter. When you come to the edge of everything, a new beginning and continuation shall your thought discover. Out of nothing will arise the new, beautiful birth of you, and of the aspiration, reflecting in it- self your Soul and your dream. My son, you are endless, you are eternal, your creating dreams are within you.”

    -“Four words from Universal Law” “Anasta” Book 10 – Ringing Cedars of Russia Series by Vladimir Megre.

    Of course the elite have no spiritual connection with life on Earth, they are too engulfed in artificial systems which they themselves and their predecessors have created.

    A grassroots Russian political party called “Rodnaya Partia” roughly translated into Natal or Family Party has successfully advocated for a free hectare of land to be allotted to every willing Russian citizen (not to be bought or sold, only passed on through inheritance). This is an essential first step in legally giving the people back the literal Earth. The 2016 Russian homestead laws were predicted in Vladimir Megre’s books.

    Vladimir Megre also predicted this arms race and a disarmament race in his books.

    Over 400 settlements consisting of Family homesteads have since appeared all over Russia. These are settlements where each family has sovereign creative control over their own hectare. This makes the settlements fundamentally different than eco-settlements, intentional living orgs or communes. There are no family homestead settlements of the sort yet in the English speaking world, only lone homesteads and eco communes.

    P.S. be advised that there is a distorted English translation of these books designed to make it look like a cult which it is not. Just encourages people to create a living space on a small plot of land to pass on to future generations and helps people who read understand the true value of each square foot of land. Russians seem to appreciate land (and life) more than westerners which is why they’ve successfully campaigned for free land while over here the activists can’t come up with even clear enough goals or demands to accomplish anything.

  56. mia story
    August 22, 2019 at 09:13

    ironically when we do finish restoring earth, which we must, we will have the tools to terraform other planets. we are going to have to actually terraform earth if we are going to survive.

    that said i have sympathy with this article. pie in the sky is not going to happen. unfortunately the human will to counter our evil will not manifest without sufficient cataclysm.

    personally i am at peace with mother nature. i enjoy earth and dont worry about the sky. it took decades of meditation and a break with religion, but im definitely different now. the cataclysms to come will be horrendous. migration will occur. cities will disappear. many will die. i feel fortunate to be in a good place. many arent. i hope the horror isnt too horrendous and people get the message soon. but im not counting on it!

  57. P1xl
    August 22, 2019 at 09:04

    If you think Elon Musk is “the oligarchy” then you’re too stupid to exist.

  58. Conservative Writer
    August 22, 2019 at 09:04

    I love your writings Caitlin as always very interesting. However, you do realize that there are 7 billion on earth AND GROWING right? You do realize that much of what you write is largely IGNORED.

    1. You’re not going to stop people and the calling of Mother Nature from fucking and thereby reproduction. No amount of education is going to stop it.

    2. Technology is not going to stop advancing. Just as with the generation of electricity, the delivering of food, advancements in communications, improvements in health and our way in living, air and automobile travel, the very real dangers of space travel and colonization on another planet will be solved.

    3. Despite humanity’s best attempts to harm the earth’s environment, there are plenty of people here right now determined to find solutions to clean and heal it.

    Boyan Slat is one such person. So is Michael Shellenberger. I suggest you talk to them.

    Instead of writing and using this and other media platforms to divide all while monetarily gaining from it, how about you come up with actual solutions to improve your part in society?

    What have you contributed to improve society for the betterment of humanity?

    • bjd
      August 23, 2019 at 09:45

      The most insulting thing you could do to somebody is to school them. But the gall coupled to cluelessness to ask Caitlin Johnstone of all people “What have you contributed to improve society for the betterment of humanity?” is injurious.

      • Conservative Writer
        August 23, 2019 at 20:50

        I used to live in one of the most progressive states in the USA. California by all measures sees and prides itself as “forward thinking”. In most cases that is true, however once a person leaves the costal cities and heads inward the state in many is conservative. San Francisco was one such place that was quite shocking because of its very open, liberal views that took quite a few years for me to adjust. So was Silicon Valley, and the rest of the Bay Area. Los Angeles and San Diego further south were more conservative however I never understood why north versus the south of California rivalry existed.

        One thing I saw consistently was homeless people everywhere. The one thing I could not understand is why in a state that is considered the world’s 6th largest economy why isn’t anyone doing something to get the homeless off the streets, why wasn’t anyone trying to help? Neither liberals nor conservatives on either side of the state was willing to do something.

        In 10 years of living in that state there have been many proposals one that suggested building tiny houses for the homeless as statistics showed that it is cheaper to house them rather than calling police to remove homeless encampments. No proposal has passed.

        I realized that the population (liberal/conservative) simply did not want to.

        I find it amusing of you accusing me of trying to insult by schooling. Isn’t that what you and Ms. Johnstone are doing? Trying to lecture people? I see no difference in what she is doing versus that of fringe far right figures such as Ben Shapiro, Gavin McGuiness and worse monetizing from it.

        Yeah. About that.

      • Conservative Writer
        August 23, 2019 at 21:34

        A gentleman man Art K. above wrote a response that deserves an A+.

        To Caitlin, say what you will about Musk, but the electric car is mainstream because of this man. Watch the films “Who Killed The Electric Car?” and “Revenge Of The Electric Car.” If you want to discuss conspiracies I have yet to see any articles of you mentioning oil companies and automobile manufacturers who have done little to nothing in getting electric vehicles always with the excuse they will have something in 20 to 30 years in the future.

        Yet, there are countless articles of oil companies that knew that petroleum and it’s byproducts are contributing to poisoning the environment.

        SpaceX has innovated and help commercialized space travel AND has made it cheaper while improving safety and getting astronauts closer to the moon and eventually to Mars and beyond. Last time we landed on the moon was over 40 years ago.

        Speaking of the climate change, Bill Gates is trying to bring advanced new nuclear energy and has dedicated millions to reactors that generate electricity AND help to destroy nuclear waste leaving so little of it that the radioactivity lasts less than a century instead of thousands of years.
        Nuclear power has its controversies, however it is clean energy that does not emit CO2. Despite three major accidents of Chernobyl, Fukushima, and three mile island, it is one of the safest forms of energy production. Unlike wind turbines it does not kill birds or bats in strikes. And with the new generation of reactors being proposed they are designed with destruction of radioactive waste as a key element.

        You are a resident of Australia. Gina Rhinehart who is the heir to coal and is the country’s main source of electricity, you have a problem with pollution and extremely high costs. Elon Musk has brought in large batteries to assist in Australia’s grid.

        You call yourself a progressive? Research this yourself.

  59. Cristian
    August 22, 2019 at 08:59

    While I’m a fan of space exploration, I agree with Caitlin that this is not the key to solving our immediate problems: over-population, wars, pollution, selfishness and general stupidity. Also, I wouldn’t want to see these horrible issues spreading outside Earth.
    In my opinion, first we have to put our house in order, then, when we are wiser and better behaved, we can think about visiting and maybe settling down on other worlds.
    Thanks Caitlin, for a beautiful article!

  60. August 22, 2019 at 08:46

    Logic totally escapes the oligarchs’ shriveled brain…

  61. August 22, 2019 at 08:40

    We should definitely learn to not soil our own bed. But the “primordial thrum” is far more ancient than life on this planet, more ancient than the sun, perhaps more ancient than the universe itself. We would do fine in the desert of space as long as we stay connected to that. But

  62. August 22, 2019 at 08:38

    I like the criticism of select billionaire ideas. Natural selection of an unsustainable consumerist society with unreformed capitalism stifling actual democracy has promoted a restricted ensemble of maladapted political-economy paradigms upward. Oligarchy, corporatism and plutocracy end the egalitarian marketplace of ideas. Even so, I.M.O. spatial exploration and colonization paradigms are simple and worthwhile utilization of potential. I believe some of the parameters are wrong.

    Ecological Economics 2nd Edition is a great primer on why traditional human economic practices are obsolete. That is what politicians do not realize. Even Piketty’s ‘Capital in the 21st Century shows cyclical, demographic historical behaviors of huan economic patterns, and those prevail today.

    Fundamentally people just go wrong. The reason is that democracy and even socialism promote status quo ideas that sell product and repress individual intelligence until its too late to reform. Politics is about power and promotion rather than electing candidates with the best ideas.

  63. Don Megill
    August 22, 2019 at 08:33

    For many years I was a fan of science fiction. Slowly, the great – and even good – authors disappeared. Other than that, I have never been and am not now a fan of anything. I concluded long ago that humans are collectively driven by greed to the exclusion of anything else and that for humans to consider themselves to be the highest form of life is such a jaw dropping, insane ideology that there are no words to express my disgust. I mean, what other animal destroys its own habitat?

    No, I’m not going off on a rant here. However, being mentally void of fandom (Elvis was tempting) for so long, I just want to say that I may become a fan of yours. I totally enjoyed this article.

    Thank you,

  64. TomG
    August 22, 2019 at 08:30

    The prophetic Ms. Johnstone hits the nail on the head. Here is a snippet from a piece I wrote that ‘the creators’ would say to we earthlings.

    You earthlings have the most
    remarkable gift. Try to imagine
    anything better. As far as your eye can see
    and telescope can reach there is no better.
    The awesome beauty
    and gift of love you are endowed with
    in this home, your blue celestial orb,
    ought to be enough to inspire great lives of
    unceasing gratitude.
    It ought to instill great care and
    continuous marvel.

    If you can’t see it now,
    will you ever? Stop trying to
    get to heaven. Recognize heaven now.
    You are in the nightmare of
    greed and destruction.
    Creation has dawned, and
    you are missing it!

    • August 22, 2019 at 08:55

      Very nice, Tom

  65. Paul P
    August 22, 2019 at 08:27

    You need to left justify the entire article. It looks goofy and gaped……

  66. Edward Roby
    August 22, 2019 at 06:45

    “It’s rare to get a billionaire to share their grand plans for the future, which is weird because billionaires pretty much rule the world,” according to the author’s very first sentence. Wonderful, but…

    Friends, Ropersons, countrywomen, lend me her CN editor’s ears! Is it no longer possible in the age of feminist grammar to write, as our literate forebears did, that a male who is “a billionaire” has only “his grand plans”, not “their ..” unless he has somehow managed to clone himself in the space of half an opening sentence? Or is there some new, politically correct Internet guideline, preventing a pronoun from agreeing in number with its antecedent, if the correct word might violate gender neutrality?

    Apart from ensuring ideological conformity in the selection articles, an editing desk usually has a basic mission to facilitate communication and understanding. Unless, of course, CN has come to bury English craftmanship, not to praise it.

    • August 22, 2019 at 19:11

      Nice piece. Musk probably watched the movie
      ” WALL E “.
      I’m happy I made it to 64 and was blessed to drink from a garden hose ( without paying a water bill )
      not having to pay extra for fruits & veg without
      roundup added. Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico
      minus redtide , (caused by toxic run off.)
      Musk’s ego will hopefully get satisfied by creating a space colony and thereby all the Epstein’s
      can cohabitate happily. I’ll be long gone into another

    • Tim
      August 24, 2019 at 13:48

      Edward Roby: While I agree that, in this case “his ideas” would be better, the use of “their” even for a single person has been well-established usage for several generations….

  67. Antonio Costa
    August 22, 2019 at 06:30

    A truly moving and beautiful display of deep love.

    “We may go to the moon, but that’s not very far. The greatest distance we have to cover still lies within us.” Charles de Gaulle

  68. Zhu
    August 22, 2019 at 04:26

    I suspect Musk has read too much of Larry Niven’s science fiction and taken it too literally.

    • August 22, 2019 at 08:29

      I suspect he has taken too many opioids…

      • Zhu
        August 23, 2019 at 03:05

        Other drugs, too

  69. Lily
    August 22, 2019 at 03:40

    Great article! Very much needed and with a beautiful ending. What a wonderful solution to all our problems. Mother Earth is our greatest treasure.

    Thanks ever so much, Caitlin!

  70. Alois Mueller
    August 22, 2019 at 03:17

    Buddhism, its four truths and the Eightfold Path are the manifesto for this good article!

  71. Sean Murrie
    August 22, 2019 at 02:20

    Hi Caitlin,
    Your articles are among the best it is possible to read. You are quite the visionary! I always read articles with your name attached, in the same way I always read John Pilger or Noam Chomsky. You are right up there with them!

  72. countykerry
    August 22, 2019 at 00:57

    Neuralink must be a toy for a control freak. Someone totally bereft of the beauty of nature and instead loves the artificial .

    But then it must be an escape as Ms. Johnstone writes .

    An escape imo from ethics, beauty and love.

  73. CitizenOne
    August 22, 2019 at 00:40

    How exactly are we going to get there? Astronaut Scott Kelly who served over 500 days on ISS returned with altered gene expression which slowly returned to normal. Despite NASAs denials about mutation of his genome there is little discussion of the reason for it. The root cause of the anomalies observed are no doubt due to the high radiation levels in space. Passengers on a transcontinental commercial flight receive the equivalent of a chest X-Ray worth of extra radiation from cosmic rays compared to people on the ground.

    The Van Allen radiation belts are anywhere from 400 to 36,000 miles out from our planet and consist of trapped and deflected radiation coming from the Sun and Cosmic Rays which have intragalactic origins or emanating from within our Galaxy. It was once thought that passing through the Van Allen radiation belt would be lethal to astronauts but the Apollo missions revealed that humans could survive. But back in the 1960s and 70s there was no technology to assess the damage to DNA and also there were no controlled studies such as the identical twin experiments using modern DNA analysis tools performed on the Kelly twins.

    Astronauts on a mission to Mars would face potentially life threatening exposure to radiation if a Solar Flare were to cast off a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) aimed at the spacecraft ferrying them to Mars. NASA admits that. But the effects from a normal Solar Wind and average Cosmic Rays would make any expedition to Mars hazardous at best in the best case scenario.

    Not only that, once on the surface astronauts would be continuously exposed to high energy gamma rays emanating from the Sun since Mars does not have an Oxygen atmosphere capable of generating O3 or Ozone which is a powerful Sun blocker like SPF 900 protection for the entire planet Earth afforded by our Ozone layer high in the atmosphere. Another powerful protection from the harsh X-Rays coming from the Sun is the Earth’s magnetic field which traps high energy subatomic particles and funnels them down to the magnetic poles where few people live but are at least protected by the Ozone layer. The Northern Lights are the visible effect of all the charged particles from space crashing into the atmosphere near to the magnetic poles.

    Mars does not have a strong magnetic field and the surface of Mars is constantly bombarded with high energy radiation making living on the surface of Mars hazardous. From the minute that astronauts escaped the Earth on their way to Mars they would see much higher radiation levels shortly into their trip than Scott Kelly experienced far below the protective Van Allen radiation belts. The ISS orbits only around 200 miles above the Earth well within the protective shield afforded by the magnetic field of Earth.

    It is quite probable that the anomalies between the gene expression of the Orbiting Kelly and the ground based Kelly observed from 500 days in a protective low orbit well shielded from the harsh solar winds and Cosmic Rays would be magnified on an interplanetary voyage. There could be no recovery period in which gene expression returns to normal as in the case of the space faring Scott Kelly once he returned to the low radiation zone on the surface of Earth. A space faring astronaut traveling to Mars would experience radiation levels far higher than Scott Kelly and those doses would not decrease once the Mars traveler reached the surface of Mars.

    Even if colonists managed to form an enclave on Mars they would be confronted with high levels of Calcium Perchlorate in the dust and soil on Mars which it thought to be a wide spread phenomenon across the Red Planet. The presence of perchlorates would render Martian soil toxic to life such as plants making growing food a big challenge. Optimistically there is a huge amount of subsurface water on Mars which colonists could theoretically use for sustenance but they would need to have the technology to render the water nontoxic before they could use it in any way. Plants are not the only possible source of home grown veggies on Mars but the alternatives such as bacteria and algae or mold as a food source seem remote. It is doubtful that even if the colonists had abundant clean water they would also have to figure out how to have clean soil. All this while somehow avoiding the radiation which would pose a big challenge for survival of anything.

    Another challenge would be how to survive at some location that did not experience the super cold conditions that allow Carbon Dioxide snow to fall at below minus 200 degrees F and where there might be enough subsurface water to allow colonists to harvest the water. Surviving Mars where there might be abundant water might mean facing cold worse than the worst Antarctic Winter on Earth. Growing food under these conditions would be like gardening in Siberia in the depth of Winter that was one hundred degrees below the worst Siberian Winter.

    Even if through a massive undertaking somehow underground dwellings could be excavated and built to protect Mars Colonists from the harsh environment and radiation on the surface it is not clear how they might form a durable sustainable ecology that would allow for long term habitation on a Hoth like planet minus all the snow cover.

    Science fiction stories about Terra forming the Martian Atmosphere and creating an atmosphere are also without any scientific merit until a power source of unimaginable size is found to undertake such an experiment.

    Most visions of colonization of Mars leave out the daunting challenges and insurmountable obstacles facing hypothetical Mars colonists trying to create a sustainable environment so they too might survive. It would be far easier to colonize the Moon where theoretically space shuttles cold routinely deliver vital resupplies of food and water. It would also by orders of magnitude be easier to colonize the top of Mount Everest and create a sustainable colony of humans there.

    If the notion of a gleaming city on the top of the tallest mountain in the world seem fanciful then the notion of a colony on Mars is even less likely by orders of magnitude in the difficulty of accomplishing that.

    On the other hand, while we dream a pipe dream of launching humanity off to colonize the planets and onward to the Galaxy we seem incapable of agreeing on the solution to stop climate change that threatens our own planet. How would we transport our current inept and feeble ways of working to protect our environment to a hostile planet and use that half baked and compromised approach for survival on Mars when we cannot address the ways and means to create a sustainable future here on the Goldilocks Planet where everything is just right and life has existed for billions of years? It seems logical that before we attempt to leap to surviving on other planets we must figure out how to prevent the destruction of our own environment since it is already basically hospitable to life.

    Another fact is that even if we sent a mission to Mars it would be a one way trip. It is hard enough launching a mission to Mars but establishing a supply chain for continued survival and a possible return to the Earth is not even something currently in the works. Popular fiction movies like “The Martian” seriously downplay the practical ability to have spaceships loitering around the Solar System ready to pick up any stranded Mars Colonists who might need rescuing. It is hard enough getting supplies to a destination only 200 miles above the Surface of Earth let alone reaching Mars which at its closest approach is 34 million miles away and up to 250 million at max distance. By comparison the Moon is only 250 thousand miles away and we have never launched a rescue or resupply mission to the Moon. It has never even been a seriously considered option even when we sent people to the Moon. Mars is potentially one thousand times farther away. In an emergency we would not have the luxury of timing Mars closest approach for a rescue or resupply mission. Even if optimal, the mission would involve months of travel time to reach the Red Planet not to mention the months before an optimally fast trip to Mars would occur.

    What would be the goal of sending humans to their death on Mars? To say “we did it” like the Moon missions? What knowledge could their lives provide humanity that would benefit future Mars colonists? What valuable scientific missions could humans accomplish that robots could not accomplish at a fraction of the cost and also not involving human sacrifice?

    I guess you know where I’m going here?

    • P1xl
      August 22, 2019 at 09:05

      Insane. Where you’re going is insane. You are a nutter.

      • CitizenOne
        August 22, 2019 at 19:18

        I stand corrected. You are right. Mars is a lovely garden. We should all move there immediately.



      • Sam F
        August 22, 2019 at 20:39

        Fear not, citizen, a Pixl forms not an image, let alone a vision.
        The space speculators are marketing an infantile dream to recruit young engineers.
        Their vision is shallow, only of childish dreams and and aggrandizement.
        They are blinded by selfishness to the vision of human progress.
        They want weapons for our gangster government, not JFK’s space program;
        They want endless wars for Israel and against socialism, not an Alliance for Progress.
        Above all they want distractions, to create the illusion of progress that kills progressivism.
        See my early comment below for the next two paragraphs.

    • bjd
      August 22, 2019 at 11:24

      Most people have no idea of the vastness of space.
      Take a table tennis ball and a marble and put them approximately 4 feet apart, representing Earth and Moon, to scale.

      Tell them humans went to the moon 5o years ago.
      Now ask them where the space station ISS might be, roughly.

    • Lulu
      August 22, 2019 at 11:44

      Evidently not to Mars.

    • Robert Morency
      August 22, 2019 at 20:07

      I would add to these well-reasoned points, that the organisms developing the plans (us homo sapiens) need to recognize that we are, at present, thriving here and now, because our phenomes are suited to the conditions on this particular planet (“Earth,” in the English language), under these particular conditions (temperature favorable for useable water, magnetospheric protection from solar wind particles and other cosmic energetic stuff, and the state of the Sun, all being the most critical.)
      Those who venture forth away from Mother Earth, will quickly find themselves out of luck, and their last thoughts would have something to do what a bad idea the whole thing was.
      We as a civilization need to realize this ASAP, and cease wasting human and financial resources on this crapola. Let the people engaged in this farce work on something that will benefit their communities, rather than rob them of funds that could be better spent on real-life problems. It’s time to cut off government funding for this charade. But, if the private sector, with only private monies, wants to continue, and can show that there is no risk to the rest of humanity (from sending fissile elements into the atmosphere on the way into orbit, for example). I suppose they are entitled to throw their money away and kill any one foolish enough to take the ride (with the appropriate legal releases, of course.)

    • Eddie S
      August 22, 2019 at 22:21

      @Citizen One : Excellent scientific critique of these Mars mission dreams that are so casually thrown out. I would also add that Mark Kelly experienced significant muscle reduction from the weightlessness and wasn’t able to even walk unaided for at least 6 hrs after returning to earth. He was literally working-out 2+ hrs per DAY and still had those negative effects—- can you imagine regular people on Mars with its 38% of Earth’s gravity and the shape they’d be in within a year or two of their arrival? Also, there’s an extremely fine red dust (like talcum powder) that often blows around and would play havoc with any friction surfaces of machinery. You can’t breathe the atmosphere (it’s 96% CO2 and only .15% oxygen & 2% nitrogen, vs 21% oxygen & 80% nitrogen on Earth). Liquid water doesn’t exist on the surface since it quickly evaporates away.

      I see the Mars Mission as serving several purposes: public distraction, NASA funding source, rationalization for politicians to avoid big problems on earth (“We can always go to Mars when we trash the Earth”) yet appearing technological in the process, and as an extravagantly expensive research lab for a small group of scientists.

    • David Otness
      August 22, 2019 at 23:03

      Thanks Citizen One.
      P1xl s another of the johnny-come-lately’s to Consortium News that have made the comment thread an all-too-frequntly unpleasant experience compared to what we once had on this site.

    • Smedley Butler
      August 23, 2019 at 03:56

      You seem very convinced that we landed on the moon. I have 2 simple questions for you. The surface of the moon in sunlight is 250+ degrees Fahrenheit. The “lunar lander” sat on that surface for 3 days with 2 humans that needed to be cooled down to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
      Since you would never be able to compress freon into a liquid at those temperatures.
      How was that done?
      And, what energy source could possibly have accomplished that?

    • Litchfield
      August 23, 2019 at 14:51

      Thanks for the balloon puncturing.

  74. Robert Morency
    August 22, 2019 at 00:29

    Thanks, Caitlin. Your writings, and especially this wonderful essay, are an (unfortunately) rare Voice in the Wilderness. You’ve hit the main points very well!
    Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea, after all, to allow these space colonization idiots to launch themselves to galaxies “far, far away,” no? Our parting words should be something equivalent to the old “Drop us a postcard every now and then.”

    • Lily
      August 22, 2019 at 06:03

      And may they never come back. Nobody needs them.

  75. geeyp
    August 21, 2019 at 23:46

    Refreshing to read a piece today with a happy ending for a change. Thank you, Caitlin.

  76. August 21, 2019 at 23:07

    It’s not a “geek dream.” The powers that be realize they’ve flushed the world down the toilet and actively seek to figure out how to simultaneously escape the shitstorm they’ve wrought as well as maximize their profit from creating it. This “apocalypse bunker in the basement” mentality isn’t just the Mormons next door stockpiling Twinkies and Beanie Weanies any longer. It’s the rich folks buying New Zealand or Greenland or wherever the hell they think they can hide when the shit hits the fan, including Mars.

  77. Seer
    August 21, 2019 at 22:22


    It’s really at the heart of the matter. I’ve thought about this for a LONG time.

    Old Stealers Wheel song, Stuck In The Middle With You …

    Clowns to the left of me!
    Jokers to the right!

    On one side there are the religious escapists.
    On the other side are the technological escapists.

    To these Clowns and Jokers: [In the voice of Clint Eastwood] “Get off my planet!”

  78. Marko
    August 21, 2019 at 21:33

    I hope the oligarchs do find some planet paradise they can escape to. I’d wish them all a heartfelt ” Bon voyage ! ” , followed by an equally heartfelt ” and don’t let the screen door smack you in the ass on the way out. “

  79. Carroll Price
    August 21, 2019 at 21:16

    For those who have not figured it out, Elon Musk is a joke, a fraud.

  80. Tom Kath
    August 21, 2019 at 20:35

    Beautiful writing and certainly a vast improvement on the current 2000 year old delusion that we can create a better world than the one we were born to or evolved from. There are however still a couple more steps you must take Caitlin to confront true reality.
    1/Men and women are actually just PARTS of one organism like head and arsehole.
    2/ Curbing or stopping reproduction is as unnatural as moving to Mars. Real life is in the creation of it and the constant replacement of it. – Breed more and die younger ! – I’ll probably take a lot of flack for saying that.
    3/ I think it’s time we examined our besotted obsession with “love”. There is actually some sound sense in mastering or controlling our emotions rather than this pathetic “love conquers all” submission to being ruled by it.
    4/ Living naturally is not just rainbows, sunsets, and beauty, but it has its compensations compared to thinking that it could be all lovely.

    • AnneR
      August 22, 2019 at 08:30

      Tom Kath – I don’t think that Caitlin was saying that reproduction is “unnatural.”

      What she did say was that education of females together with their ready access to safe, reliable methods of birth control reduces the numbers of children that any given female will choose to have (with the unstated but to my mind clear corollary that it is and should indeed be her, the female’s, choice).

      Females are not here simply to fulfill male needs for demonstration of masculine virility. And if you think that I’m exaggerating, raising a non-existent cultural reality, I can assure you that I am not: there are indeed cultures in which it is believed that a male’s virility is demonstrated by the number of children “he” – via his wife’s/wives’ body/bodies – produces. Her body does all of the months’ long work; his input – a handful of seconds.

      • Tom Kath
        August 22, 2019 at 20:03

        I’ve always had a kind of horror of sterilisation, even though I admit that “educating” people to do it voluntarily is a bit better than making it compulsory.

  81. Sam F
    August 21, 2019 at 20:04

    Space imaginings are fine for young minds who yet presume that a greater range of exploration will fulfill greater dreams. Mature minds see that the avenues of personal and societal development are in human understanding, little assisted by physical range. All adventures are adventures of the mind, whether their physical range be great or small. Adventures that explore truth and justice are the most arduous, and bear the greatest fruit.

    When the wealthy pursue such fantasies they pursue selfishness and exploitation of naive young personalities. When we see that all progress is through truth, mutual understanding, and humanitarianism, we pursue justice. That is very rare among the wealthy, because they gain wealth by selfishness, and see no meaning beyond that. They become surrounded by flatterers and scammers, unable to communicate about anything but themselves and their possessions, deeply unhappy.

  82. John Wright
    August 21, 2019 at 18:29

    Even though I have very strong “escapist” tendencies myself, I make this very argument all the time.

    Very well written, incredibly important and very timely.

    Thank you, Ms. Johnstone!

    Be well.

  83. August 21, 2019 at 18:12

    That’s the Hawaian Ho’oponopono tradition: “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”

  84. Spike
    August 21, 2019 at 17:49

    Sending humans to Mars is a “geek dream” and I don’t see the bulk of people needing to be talked out of it.

    In addition to the incredibly bleak, soulless, inhuman existence the article describes, even traveling to Mars (with anticipated technology) would leave the traveler half dead and severely insane.

    There are other geek dreams, such as autonomous cars downtown instead of just on the highway, and flying cars. I ask anybody reading this to consider all the ramifications of what these technologies would do.

    The population seems to accept that the powerful geeks will be given unlimited license for self-indulgence concerning these dreams. It gets more serious when government allocates huge sums in cooperation with the dreams. Since this is all relatively small potatoes and geeks are not viewed in the same light as other misanthropes, the pursuit of these dreams continues without much objection.

    • Litchfield
      August 22, 2019 at 23:15

      “The population seems to accept that the powerful geeks will be given unlimited license for self-indulgence concerning these dreams. It gets more serious when government allocates huge sums in cooperation with the dreams. Since this is all relatively small potatoes and geeks are not viewed in the same light as other misanthropes, the pursuit of these dreams continues without much objection.”

      This is a good addendum to Caitlin’s calling out the madness of the puerile fantasies of Musk, Bezos, and their ilk. These dreams and plans are not just harmless fantasies, as Bezos’s comments make quite clear. They are evidence of a desire to “solve” earth’s problem via totalitarian types of mind control over “the masses.”When push comes to shove on planet Earth Musk and a few pals take off for Mars? Or, they pack some pesky mass of humans off to Mars so Mush and co. have a bit more room and resources? A bit more “space”? ? The population is right to feel quite helpless in the face of these nutty onslaughts from powerful men. Interestingly enough, Jeffrey Epstein was interested in the same types of weird sides of science that do not further the good of Earth or humans, but instead play games with humans’ heads to control their thoughts and in the end, evolution and the fate of the Earth.

      Can we send them to camp somewhere where they can play with themselves in private?

  85. bjd
    August 21, 2019 at 17:36

    “I’m going to take a lot of flak for saying this, but I honestly believe that the impulse to colonize space is one of the more pernicious cultural mind viruses in our society.”

    I agree wholeheartedly!

    Here’s Carl Sagan with Johnny Carson from over 40 years ago: .
    There’s more intellectual wit and sanity between the two of them than the billionaire brigade of Bezos, Musk and Epstein.

  86. August 21, 2019 at 17:26

    Our so-called thought leaders have no alternative to the neoliberal economics of the last four decades. Thus they insist every problem has a tech solution and all we need is the capital to finance it. They are insane.

  87. John Sanguinetti
    August 21, 2019 at 17:18

    Excellent Caitlin ! Thanks Again!

    • Zhu
      August 22, 2019 at 04:34

      I’d rather US leaders would waste our money on space research than on new wars every year. Space research might benefitvus somehow, invading Burkina Faso or China, never.

      • bjd
        August 22, 2019 at 11:09

        Note that the idiots discussed are NOT leaders. Other than that, I fear the ‘us’ you speak of doesn’t include you.

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