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Old 4th July 2018, 01:03 PM   #121
smartcooky
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I'm trying to picture the Earthly political and economic system(s) that would fund such a lengthy and fabulously expensive venture as creating a self-sufficient civilisation on Mars.
Cheaper than ISS in the long term, thanks to the words I have highlighted in your post.

The benefits vastly outweigh the costs. Once we use up all the Earth's resources, humans are doomed to extinction... some care about that, some don't.
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Old 4th July 2018, 01:34 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Cheaper than ISS in the long term, thanks to the words I have highlighted in your post.

The benefits vastly outweigh the costs. Once we use up all the Earth's resources, humans are doomed to extinction... some care about that, some don't.
No, not cheaper. You failed to highlight the words that included "creating" the self-sufficient colony. The project would require spending large amounts on creating a colony that would be of no benefit to the taxpayers that pay for it. Unless, of course, those taxpayers suddenly take an interest in an obscure shot at extending human existence on other planets at the expense of their immediate comfort and economic well-being.

Do you see any sign of the latter being likely? Might the Democrats or Republicans in the USA sign up for such a thing when they baulk at such basics as universal free health care? When they know the next administration will overturn their plans? When the voters reject futuristic schemes in favour of tax cuts?

Do you see any sign of a monolithic, unchangeable, global government that will dedicate centuries and the necessary money and energy to making it happen, when we can't get our act together to avoid climate change on Earth? We'll start extracting excess CO2 from the atmosphere down here long before we start building major colonies on Mars. It's a lot cheaper.
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Old 4th July 2018, 01:56 PM   #123
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
No, not cheaper. You failed to highlight the words that included "creating" the self-sufficient colony. The project would require spending large amounts on creating a colony that would be of no benefit to the taxpayers that pay for it. Unless, of course, those taxpayers suddenly take an interest in an obscure shot at extending human existence on other planets at the expense of their immediate comfort and economic well-being.
Survival of the human race is a long term consideration. Set up costs don't count for anything.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Do you see any sign of the latter being likely?
Yes. There is a limited supply of resources in the earth, and in some cases there are VITAL resources such as Rare Earths that are in very short supply. If we keep using them, we will run out... its that simple.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Might the Democrats or Republicans in the USA sign up for such a thing when they baulk at such basics as universal free health care? When they know the next administration will overturn their plans? When the voters reject futuristic schemes in favour of tax cuts?

Do you see any sign of a monolithic, unchangeable, global government that will dedicate centuries and the necessary money and energy to making it happen, when we can't get our act together to avoid climate change on Earth?
You're the one talking about governments? The future of space flight is in private hands.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
We'll start extracting excess CO2 from the atmosphere down here long before we start building major colonies on Mars. It's a lot cheaper.
Haha, that's funny. How do you know what it is going to cost? You are touting CO2 extraction as a cheaper alternative when we have yet to even find a way to do that efficiently.

PS: When you inevitably Google for a link that shows CO2 extraction can be done, be sure that it includes references to it being cheaper that colonising Mars, and that we will (not "might", not "may", not "can", but will) be able to reverse global climate change. Make sure you include detailed costings of both CO2 extraction and colonising Mars.
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Old 4th July 2018, 05:53 PM   #124
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Survival of the human race is a long term consideration. Set up costs don't count for anything.
Of course they do, because they have to be compared to the opportunity costs of investing those resources elsewhere.



Quote:
Yes. There is a limited supply of resources in the earth, and in some cases there are VITAL resources such as Rare Earths that are in very short supply. If we keep using them, we will run out... its that simple.
We have an energy supply from the sun that will last us for as long as the earth remains habitable. The rest of those resources can be recycled. If it didn't work that way life wouldn't have lasted for billions of years on a finite planet.



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You're the one talking about governments? The future of space flight is in private hands.
It still needs to be funded by someone.
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Old 4th July 2018, 07:22 PM   #125
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Of course they do, because they have to be compared to the opportunity costs of investing those resources elsewhere.
Right, so the human race's survival comes at cost. If the race is is not prepared to pay that cost, then simply dying out does not seem to be an intelligent option.

Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
We have an energy supply from the sun that will last us for as long as the earth remains habitable. The rest of those resources can be recycled. If it didn't work that way life wouldn't have lasted for billions of years on a finite planet.
Err, no. Solar Power is not a substitute for raw materials, and very few raw materials can be 100% recycled without material losses, e.g. the alloys used in the construction of spacecraft generally cannot be recycled into new raw materials again; a ton of scrap aluminium cannot be melted down and made into a ton of brand new sheets of aluminium.

Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
It still needs to be funded by someone.
Yes it does, in the way current economics are calculated. Who is to say this will always remain that way. IMO, the onset of the end of humanity may make us look at economics in a vastly different way... you can't take it with you.
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Old 4th July 2018, 07:44 PM   #126
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Err, no. Solar Power is not a substitute for raw materials, and very few raw materials can be 100% recycled without material losses, e.g. the alloys used in the construction of spacecraft generally cannot be recycled into new raw materials again; a ton of scrap aluminium cannot be melted down and made into a ton of brand new sheets of aluminium.

Yes, it can. Just needs energy source and entropy sink applied correctly. Earth has both.
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Old 4th July 2018, 08:02 PM   #127
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Yes, it can. Just needs energy source and entropy sink applied correctly. Earth has both.

Only if you disregard melt loss and dross generation which can account for anywhere from 1 to 15% mass loss.
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Old 4th July 2018, 08:08 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Only if you disregard melt loss and dross generation which can account for anywhere from 1 to 15% mass loss.
Uh, conservation of mass? Those don't disappear.
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Old 5th July 2018, 04:24 AM   #129
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Okay, I think that makes more sense, but it's pretty hard to make it work. I mean: global warming makes the situation on the earth so bad that Mars colonisation becomes out of reach. But luckily we've already got a colony on Mars. Of course, the situation for that colony is orders of magnitude worse than the situation on the Earth, because no matter how bad global warming might make things here, Mars is still just a much harsher environment.

But, I guess your idea is that at least we've got a colony there by that point and while maybe we can't do anything for them anymore because of the problems caused by global warming, that colony has reached a point where it's self-sustainable. Now humanity lives on two separate island worlds.

If things get that bad I still find it highly doubtful that the Mars colony will outlast the earth.

There is a future in which I can see a colony on Mars thriving. I actually find that quite likely, but in that future the same things that allow us to thrive on Mars make it even easier to thrive on the Earth.



The set of circumstances wherein it's both possible to have a self-sustaining colony on Mars and not possible to colonise Mars due to global warming getting bad is so narrow that I think it doesn't exist.

By "narrow" I mean that you need things to get bad enough from one direction and good enough from the other and that narrows to zero.
Once again, it doesn't matter if Earth is still "more habitable". You're falsely equating the difficulty of getting established on Mars and that of surviving on Earth. If any given Mars colonization attempt has 1 chance in 10 of success and the first one fails, we can try again. If we have 1 chance in 2 of surviving a disruptive event on Earth and we fail, that's the end, while if we succeed, we then have to survive the next one.

There is no "narrow window" between Mars colonization being viable and Earth survival being questionable. Limiting ourselves to Earth guarantees our extinction, no matter how favorable it is for habitation. The window to be concerned about here is between Mars colonization becoming feasible and us subsequently permanently losing the capability if we do nothing to secure it.
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Old 5th July 2018, 04:41 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Of course they do, because they have to be compared to the opportunity costs of investing those resources elsewhere.
Apart from the fact that the most you could gain is limited by what's on Earth, and you're ignoring a whole solar system full of natural resources...extinct species have no opportunities.


Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
We have an energy supply from the sun that will last us for as long as the earth remains habitable. The rest of those resources can be recycled. If it didn't work that way life wouldn't have lasted for billions of years on a finite planet.
Recycling isn't perfect. Rare substances will end up diffusing to concentrations that can't economically be recovered. And even if it was just a matter of applying practically achievable energy, you are assuming that energy supply and the recycling technologies it allows are permanent advancements. If we lose those capabilities in a civilization collapse, how are we going to regain them when all the easily accessible concentrated raw materials and energy sources are gone?
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Old 5th July 2018, 06:55 AM   #131
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I find it very odd that I'm the one arguing against the colonisation of Mars in this thread. Usually I'd be the one arguing for it, and other forms of space exploration and development.

Anyway, I'll try to respond tomorrow.
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Old 5th July 2018, 09:15 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post

You're the one talking about governments? The future of space flight is in private hands.
With zero return on a huge capital investment for decades or more? And when the 'return' does come it's in the form of improving humankind's chances of survival, rather than money?

You're not describing any private business practices I'm familiar with.

I know Elon Musk put a price tag of $200k per person for delivery to Mars, but that was received with a mixture of eye-rolling and laughter by the space pundits. And not without cause, as a flight-rated space suit comes in at around $12M, while general 'mooching around' suits cost about $2M. Sure, the flight-rated suits could be recycled to an extent, but every Martian will need a basic suit and a spare and those suits have a limited life. Call it 100 years until they create their own space suit manufacturing industry and a 1-year lifespan for a suit. Call it 10k Martians to 'seed' the place and set up basic facilities and manufacturing. I make that $20B per year - ongoing - for delivery of basic space suits alone, though I don't quite trust my counting of zeroes there. Call it $10B with economies of scale. Who's going to fund that with no hope of any financial return?

You might also be interested in the cost of producing iron by electrolytic methods as, in the absence of coke or charcoal, that appears to be the only option. 2000 kWh per tonne, I was reading, and even then the (currently embryonic) process consumes the graphite anodes used.

And so on. Those examples barely scratch the surface of the expense involved.
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Old 5th July 2018, 01:47 PM   #133
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
Apart from the fact that the most you could gain is limited by what's on Earth, and you're ignoring a whole solar system full of natural resources...extinct species have no opportunities.




Recycling isn't perfect. Rare substances will end up diffusing to concentrations that can't economically be recovered. And even if it was just a matter of applying practically achievable energy, you are assuming that energy supply and the recycling technologies it allows are permanent advancements. If we lose those capabilities in a civilization collapse, how are we going to regain them when all the easily accessible concentrated raw materials and energy sources are gone?
And as for solar energy being the unending power source for 100% recycling, well, solar energy still has to be engineered, and that requires raw materials and an engineering level society. If civilisation collapses, we won't have that.
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Old 5th July 2018, 01:52 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
With zero return on a huge capital investment for decades or more? And when the 'return' does come it's in the form of improving humankind's chances of survival, rather than money?

You're not describing any private business practices I'm familiar with.

I know Elon Musk put a price tag of $200k per person for delivery to Mars, but that was received with a mixture of eye-rolling and laughter by the space pundits. And not without cause, as a flight-rated space suit comes in at around $12M, while general 'mooching around' suits cost about $2M. Sure, the flight-rated suits could be recycled to an extent, but every Martian will need a basic suit and a spare and those suits have a limited life. Call it 100 years until they create their own space suit manufacturing industry and a 1-year lifespan for a suit. Call it 10k Martians to 'seed' the place and set up basic facilities and manufacturing. I make that $20B per year - ongoing - for delivery of basic space suits alone, though I don't quite trust my counting of zeroes there. Call it $10B with economies of scale. Who's going to fund that with no hope of any financial return?
Well, they just might have to play the long game....the total collapse of civilisation is not good for business!

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
You might also be interested in the cost of producing iron by electrolytic methods as, in the absence of coke or charcoal, that appears to be the only option. 2000 kWh per tonne, I was reading, and even then the (currently embryonic) process consumes the graphite anodes used.

And so on. Those examples barely scratch the surface of the expense involved.
Which is more expensive in the long run... the massive cost of a colonisation programme, or the end of the human species.

You choose!
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Old 5th July 2018, 11:22 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
You're falsely equating the difficulty of getting established on Mars and that of surviving on Earth.
I don't think I did anything of the kind. Can you explain how you think I equated those things?

Quote:
If any given Mars colonization attempt has 1 chance in 10 of success and the first one fails, we can try again. If we have 1 chance in 2 of surviving a disruptive event on Earth and we fail, that's the end, while if we succeed, we then have to survive the next one.
Let me put it this way: if you can't win a fight against Pee-Wee Herman you're not going to win a fight against Cain Velasquez. And if your plan for surviving that fight with Pee-Wee Herman includes fighting and beating Cain first, well, I think you need a better plan.

Quote:
There is no "narrow window" between Mars colonization being viable and Earth survival being questionable.
This is the narrow window: If we can't thrive on Earth then there's no way we can survive on Mars.

Quote:
Limiting ourselves to Earth guarantees our extinction, no matter how favorable it is for habitation. The window to be concerned about here is between Mars colonization becoming feasible and us subsequently permanently losing the capability if we do nothing to secure it.
Here's what I'm trying to say: any argument that supports the idea that we will enter a decline on the earth that means our timeframe to colonise the solar system is short will also imply that we can't colonise the solar system. Any argument that we can colonise the solar system will also imply that we can solve the problems we face on the earth and the time-frame for that colonisation can be much more long term.
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Old 5th July 2018, 11:33 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
Apart from the fact that the most you could gain is limited by what's on Earth, and you're ignoring a whole solar system full of natural resources...
Absolutely, and I think that we will reach a point where the earth is developed to such an extent that off-world resources become a much better investment opportunity in comparison. This will be both because exploiting them will become cheaper and earth based opportunities will become more expensive to grow. Once you've layered the planet with solar panels you've got plenty of energy but if you want more you have to invest that energy into expanding elsewhere.

Quote:
extinct species have no opportunities.
Sure, but we do have opportunities that any attempt to colonise Mars has to be compete with.




Quote:
Recycling isn't perfect. Rare substances will end up diffusing to concentrations that can't economically be recovered.
The earth is an (almost) closed system so they can only diffuse so much. The diffused things become the more energy will be required to harvest them, but that's still just a matter of energy.

Quote:
And even if it was just a matter of applying practically achievable energy, you are assuming that energy supply and the recycling technologies it allows are permanent advancements. If we lose those capabilities in a civilization collapse, how are we going to regain them when all the easily accessible concentrated raw materials and energy sources are gone?
Even a "civilization collapse" doesn't imply that those technologies would be lost. I think they are the least likely technologies to be lost as people will always require them for their lives.
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Old 6th July 2018, 12:10 AM   #137
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
Limiting ourselves to Earth guarantees our extinction, no matter how favorable it is for habitation. The window to be concerned about here is between Mars colonization becoming feasible and us subsequently permanently losing the capability if we do nothing to secure it.
Only in the sense that the sun will one day burn us to a crisp, but that also applies to Mars. Asteroid impacts can also happen on Mars and might even be more likely. Major degradation of the Earth's environment doesn't guarantee extinction, just a very different life. Moving the centre of operations to Mars creates 'a very different life' anyway, and not one that a lot of people would be happy with.

Given the choice, would you choose to live a life of high-tech luxury in a prison in preference to a simple life of self-sufficiency on a patch of farmland? A Mars colony would be the prison option. Can you imagine never being able to step outside without climbing into a space suit? Never seeing a forest, a cloud, a flock of birds, a river or the sea? Life on Mars would be utterly sterile. You'd get plenty of volunteers to go, no doubt, but they would be the weirdos that you wouldn't necessarily choose to found a civilisation on another planet.
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Old 6th July 2018, 01:51 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
You'd get plenty of volunteers to go, no doubt, but they would be the weirdos that you wouldn't necessarily choose to found a civilisation on another planet.
So your argument comes down to ad-hominims and prejudging the people who would go.

OK. Whatever floats your boat
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Old 6th July 2018, 02:33 AM   #139
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
So your argument comes down to ad-hominims and prejudging the people who would go.

OK. Whatever floats your boat
I think that particular sentence just added some colour to his post and wasn't related to the actual argument he made. Read the rest of the post without that sentence and see if there's anything you find worth replying to.
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Old 6th July 2018, 03:23 AM   #140
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
You'd get plenty of volunteers to go, no doubt, but they would be the weirdos that you wouldn't necessarily choose to found a civilisation on another planet.
In general throughout history, haven't those been exactly the sort of people who always go off and found new countries? The people who fit in and prosper at home tend to want to continue fitting in and prospering.

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Old 6th July 2018, 03:29 AM   #141
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
So your argument comes down to ad-hominims and prejudging the people who would go.

OK. Whatever floats your boat
No, it's just an additional observation.
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Old 6th July 2018, 03:47 AM   #142
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
In general throughout history, haven't those been exactly the sort of people who always go off and found new countries? The people who fit in and prosper at home tend to want to continue fitting in and prospering.

Dave
Quite possibly, but they've tended to go to places that are somewhat similar to their homeland, and those who migrated more locally were obviously migrating to a similar environment. The Pilgrim Fathers went from England to New England, which was no big change. Those who crossed from Asia to N America faced much the same conditions in both places.

I can't think of any Earthly equivalent to a colonisation of Mars. Even moving from the tropical regions to Antarctica keeps you 'closer to home' than a move to Mars.
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Old 6th July 2018, 06:55 AM   #143
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Here's what I'm trying to say: any argument that supports the idea that we will enter a decline on the earth that means our timeframe to colonise the solar system is short will also imply that we can't colonise the solar system.
That sounds like an argument to colonize *before* we enter a decline of quality of life on Earth.

Quote:
Any argument that we can colonise the solar system will also imply that we can solve the problems we face on the earth and the time-frame for that colonisation can be much more long term.
Not true. The Earth heating up to the point of a runaway greenhouse effect is probably completely unavoidable, while Mars and destinations further from the sun may never have that problem.
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Old 6th July 2018, 07:12 AM   #144
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Originally Posted by phunk View Post
That sounds like an argument to colonize *before* we enter a decline of quality of life on Earth.
I think you misunderstand me. If such a decline can happen then we will never colonise the solar system, even if we start now.



Quote:
Not true. The Earth heating up to the point of a runaway greenhouse effect is probably completely unavoidable, while Mars and destinations further from the sun may never have that problem.
I didn't suggest that there was going to be a runaway greenhouse effect on Mars. But surviving on Mars will be much more difficult than living on the Earth after a runaway greenhouse effect. Hence, if we can survive on Mars we can thrive on earth, and the supposed time-frame in which we might be able to colonise Mars doesn't exist.

If that timeframe does exist it's because we can't thrive here, and given that then we also can't survive on Mars.
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Old 6th July 2018, 08:42 AM   #145
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I think you misunderstand me. If such a decline can happen then we will never colonise the solar system, even if we start now.
Why?
Quote:
I didn't suggest that there was going to be a runaway greenhouse effect on Mars. But surviving on Mars will be much more difficult than living on the Earth after a runaway greenhouse effect.
You think surviving on Mars will be harder than surviving on an Earth with conditions similar to Venus? Because unless we can move the entire planet to a new orbit, that is what's coming.
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Old 6th July 2018, 08:52 AM   #146
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I don't think I did anything of the kind. Can you explain how you think I equated those things?

Let me put it this way: if you can't win a fight against Pee-Wee Herman you're not going to win a fight against Cain Velasquez. And if your plan for surviving that fight with Pee-Wee Herman includes fighting and beating Cain first, well, I think you need a better plan.

This is the narrow window: If we can't thrive on Earth then there's no way we can survive on Mars.
You literally just did it again. That statement is false. No matter how favorable the environment is for us, staying on Earth guarantees that we will die out here. The only relevance to the conversation is that Earth being more habitable means that an off-planet civilization will more easily be able to recolonize it.


Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Any argument that we can colonise the solar system will also imply that we can solve the problems we face on the earth...
What you are missing is that this doesn't guarantee that we will solve those problems on Earth. The existence of other civilizations that made sustainable usage of their forests didn't help the Rapa Nui.


Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Absolutely, and I think that we will reach a point where the earth is developed to such an extent that off-world resources become a much better investment opportunity in comparison. This will be both because exploiting them will become cheaper and earth based opportunities will become more expensive to grow. Once you've layered the planet with solar panels you've got plenty of energy but if you want more you have to invest that energy into expanding elsewhere.

Sure, but we do have opportunities that any attempt to colonise Mars has to be compete with.
If we're desperate enough for energy that we've carpeted the planet in solar panels, we certainly won't have any resources to spare for getting off the planet. Colonizing off-planet locations is something that's only possible for a civilization that's not struggling to obtain energy and material resources for immediate survival.


Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
The earth is an (almost) closed system so they can only diffuse so much. The diffused things become the more energy will be required to harvest them, but that's still just a matter of energy.
There will be other demands for that energy. There will always be a point where it isn't economically viable to recover trace quantities of some rare substance, and this is especially the case on Earth where there is much more matter for the available energy, and much more low-value matter for valuable materials to get lost in and diffuse beyond practical recovery.

It is much more likely that technologies dependent on that a given substance will be refined to use smaller and smaller quantities, making the recovery problem harder, and then abandoned once easily accessible supplies are exhausted.


Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Even a "civilization collapse" doesn't imply that those technologies would be lost. I think they are the least likely technologies to be lost as people will always require them for their lives.
That just means a lot of people, potentially everyone, will die when they are lost. Something being necessary is no guarantee that it won't be lost. Assuming that bad things won't happen because they would be bad and all good things will happen if they are at all possible is not a good long term survival strategy.
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Old 6th July 2018, 08:56 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by phunk View Post
Why?
Because the combination of wealth and technology that would allow us to colonise Mars will also allow us to thrive on Earth. If we lack that combination then we will not be colonising the solar system. If we have it then we will be thriving on the Earth.

Quote:
You think surviving on Mars will be harder than surviving on an Earth with conditions similar to Venus? Because unless we can move the entire planet to a new orbit, that is what's coming.
Really? The IPCC disagrees:

http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session31/inf3.pdf
Quote:
Thresholds of type II might be those that are linked directly to the key intrinsic processes of the climate system itself
(often non-linear) and might be related to maintaining stability of those processes or some of the elements of the
climate system discussed earlier. Some thresholds that all would consider dangerous have no support in the literature
as having a non-negligible chance of occurring. For instance, a “runaway greenhouse effect”—analogous to Venus--
appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities.
So our focus will be on those events
that the literature suggests have a non-negligible chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities. For example,
stability of thermohaline circulation or the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) or the Greenland ice sheet, the
mobilization of biospheric CO2 stocks, changes in the Asian summer monsoons, loss of mountain glaciers, coral reefs
and ENSO all appear to be of global or regional significance, respectively, and thus these are some of the natural
bounds, which if exceeded, would lead to major potentially irreversible impacts. It is very likely that the irreversibility
and scale of such changes would be considered “unacceptable” by virtually all policy-makers and would thus qualify
as “dangerous” change. It would be important for the IPCC to perform a comprehensive identification of such
potential thresholds or irreversibilities at various spatial and temporal scales, which would help in setting the
boundaries for high-impact change in the climate system. More examples of different key elements of the climate
system and critical thresholds can be found in (Dessai et al., 2003; Mimura, 2003).
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Old 6th July 2018, 09:01 AM   #148
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
You literally just did it again. That statement is false. No matter how favorable the environment is for us, staying on Earth guarantees that we will die out here. The only relevance to the conversation is that Earth being more habitable means that an off-planet civilization will more easily be able to recolonize it.
Can you be clear about the timescales that you are talking about?


I appreciate your post and, again, I'll try to reply in more depth tomorrow, I need to try to get some sleep now.
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Old 6th July 2018, 10:33 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I didn't say anything about anthropogenic, I'm thinking longer term. The sun will get hotter with age, and the Earth will cook. We leave or we die.

The only question is, when do we leave. We have a long time before that particular end of the world happens, but others could happen sooner. Tomorrow even. So I say we start learning how to live elsewhere as soon as we can.

We have the technology *now* to start taking small steps, and those steps will help develop technology to take larger steps. How it won't happen: waiting until it's urgent then trying to do it all at once.
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Old 6th July 2018, 12:23 PM   #150
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Can you be clear about the timescales that you are talking about?


I appreciate your post and, again, I'll try to reply in more depth tomorrow, I need to try to get some sleep now.
Civilization on Earth might learn to control the climate, go ten thousand years, and then collapse due to exhausting some resource we've become dependent on or getting blindsided by an interstellar impactor. We could wake up tomorrow to an ongoing nuclear-biological war that demolishes enough of our industrial base to cause a crash in our agricultural productivity, resulting in a crash in population and loss of high-tech know-how, followed by spending the next hundred years or so recapitulating the Industrial Revolution and turning much of the remaining easily accessible fossil fuels into atmospheric CO2.

We might manage to regain spaceflight and suitable long-term energy sources after a couple crashes, or we might never again get electricity and clean water supplies available to the general population after the first. Whatever the case, once we get to the point where we can't acquire the resources required for extending our reach beyond Earth's gravity well, that's it.

If there's multiple reasonably self-sufficient and isolated (which they will be, due to the distances involved) civilizations in the solar system, just one of them has to survive, and civilization can rebuild from that. They don't need to be more habitable than Earth, they don't need to be so isolated that they are unaffected, they just need a decent chance of surviving to rebuild when Earth's civilization has collapsed.

And recolonizing Earth is a worst case scenario. It's entirely possible that high-tech off-world assistance could keep Earth-based civilization from collapsing. Just providing weather, communications, and navigational satellites would make an immense difference in agricultural and transportation efficiency on the ground.

Maybe we'll develop a stable, sustainable, super advanced civilization with cornucopia machines and uploading where traveling to Pluto is a high school science project. Don't bet the long term survival of our species on it.
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Old 6th July 2018, 01:19 PM   #151
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Can you be clear about the timescales that you are talking about?
Timescales are irrelevant to the discussions except to say that time is running out at varying rates.

Time to the Sun wiping us out is a long time, a few million years perhaps, or longer.
Time until living on the Earth could become unpleasant, maybe 100 to 1000 years.
Time to the next planet killer asteroid impact; unknown - could be a few thousand or a few hundred thousand or a few million, or it could happen in the next ten minutes...

When... not if, when we get hit by a large interstellar asteroid, or another Chicxulub impactor, then it will be too late. Given the recent discovery of Oumuamua (Pan-STARRS didn't discover it until it already passed through and was on its way out of the Solar System), we also now know its possible we will never see it coming. Every year that goes by is another year closer to the next asteroid impact; another narrowing of the available window to spread civilisation beyond the Earth. The tiny Tunguska was a warning and the tiddler that was Chelyabinsk was a gentle reminder. We need to start learning how to live, survive and thrive in space and on other planets as soon as we have the capability; i.e. now, not in another 100 or 200 or a 1000 years when it might be too late.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Given the choice, would you choose to live a life of high-tech luxury in a prison in preference to a simple life of self-sufficiency on a patch of farmland? A Mars colony would be the prison option. Can you imagine never being able to step outside without climbing into a space suit? Never seeing a forest, a cloud, a flock of birds, a river or the sea? Life on Mars would be utterly sterile.
In 2013, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere surpassed 400 ppm, higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years. Like it or or not, global climate change is looming... the planet is heating up and while the conditions might be liveable and survivable, they are likely to be very, very unpleasant. We will not be able to adapt to the changes in any evolutionary sense, there simply isn't time for that. Your suggestion about never being able to go outside without a spacesuit suit might turn out to be very close to what happens here on Earth.. Already there are predictions that parts of the Earth's surface will become unsurvivable (60C+ temperatures) within 100 years, and it is only going to get worse, much worse. Massive crop failures, starvation on a global scale and the extinction of varieties of cropping plants may mean that your suggestions about "a simple life of self-sufficiency on a patch of farmland" is likely to be a fantasy.

In the spoiler is a gif showing the global temperature rise in the 63 years from 1950 to 2013. Its a consolidated version of NASA's 14 second video which you can see here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaJJtS_WDmI



I'd hate to see what another 100-200 years of this trend will do to our planet.



Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
You'd get plenty of volunteers to go, no doubt, but they would be the weirdos that you wouldn't necessarily choose to found a civilisation on another planet.
Your "wierdos" will be scientists, technicians, engineers, botanists, geologists, and experts in many other fields of human endeavour, but most importantly, they will be people who care about the future of the human race, and are prepared to risk their lives and get off their chuffs to do something about trying to create a chance secure that future instead of curling up in the foetal position in front of the fireplace with their thumbs jammed in their mouths while they wait for the end to come.
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Old 8th July 2018, 02:59 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Timescales are irrelevant to the discussions except to say that time is running out at varying rates.
The issue is that he is making the argument that we may find ourselves currently within a window of opportunity in which we can colonize Mars that may be closed by some future event (a catastrophe, a decline, whatever it is), which suggests that we should do so while we can because that opportunity may be lost.

If that window is tens, hundreds, or even maybe if it's thousands of years it suggests that we should get started now. If it's hundreds of millions of years I think we can afford to wait.

I accept that there is some validity to an argument based on those shorter time frames, but that argument should not be conflated with one based on longer timeframes.

However, I think I misunderstood, and he is making an argument that includes both. The shorter time-frame limits our ability to colonize mars, while the longer timeframe is for the extinction of our species if we don't colonise mars within that shorter timeframe.

Did I get that right, cjameshuff?
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Old 8th July 2018, 12:56 PM   #153
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If a high-tech civilization can't survive on a climate changed Earth (in the 50-200 years from now timeframe),

but only a high-tech civilization can survive on Mars,

and the climate on Mars is worse than that of a climate changed Earth,

then the logical conclusion is we're screwed. At least, within that timeframe.

But on Earth, we don't need high-tech civilization to survive, for the species to survive. Collapse, scatter, adapt, remember, and try again.
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Old 8th July 2018, 01:18 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
If a high-tech civilization can't survive on a climate changed Earth (in the 50-200 years from now timeframe),

but only a high-tech civilization can survive on Mars,

and the climate on Mars is worse than that of a climate changed Earth,
Define "worse"

Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
then the logical conclusion is we're screwed. At least, within that timeframe.

But on Earth, we don't need high-tech civilization to survive, for the species to survive. Collapse, scatter, adapt, remember, and try again.
A big part of having a colony on Mars is being somewhere other that Earth when it gets hit by a big, planet-killing asteroid.. and remember, this not a case of may or might happen, this is a case of WILL happen.

I don't know if it makes sense to you to have all your eggs in more than one basket, but it certain makes a lot of sense to me given that the stakes are as high as its possible to get.

If I had to choose between living in

A. a sterile environment under a dome in a large colonial city on Mars.

B. living on post-apocalyptic Earth, in nuclear winter type climate after an asteroid strike.

C. living on globally warmed Earth in temperatures up in the 50C region, with super-storms and flooding every week and where you cannot go outside with breathing equipment.

I would choose A.

And if you think C. is far fetched, have a look at what is happening in western Japan right now, where four and a half million people (that is almost the whole population of this country) have had to be evacuated. These types of extreme weather events are getting much more violent and much more frequent with every passing year. You have to either be Blind Freddie or have your head buried in the sand to not see this.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...limate-change/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...tly-worldwide/

https://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/glob...s#.W0J1qp4wHcs
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Old 8th July 2018, 02:03 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Define "worse"
Well, can we extend that to 'environment'?

An atmosphere that has been described as a 'laboratory-grade vacuum', and even that is mostly CO2

Deep cold, even in the nice places.

No magnetosphere to protect from radiation.

No freely-available water.

No natural foods.

Doubtful (at best) supplies of trace/radioactive elements, including those vital for power production for a self-sufficient civilisation.

No infrastructure. Earth's high-tech civilisation was gradually built on existing relatively simple infrastructure, but on Mars it's straight to high tech with zero roads, railways, water transport, and where air travel is all but impossible except with heavyweight rocketry. You discover rare earth elements 2000km away? Tough luck, as you have no ability to haul equipment (or even yourself) such a distance over savage terrain. Find the same in Mexico? No problems, they have roads there and can easily build new ones.

(How would you build a road on Mars, btw? Limestone (for cement) is a biological rock formation, I believe. Oil-based products are obviously unavailable ... Just wondering out loud here.)

Mars is a hell-hole. Even Earth after the ice caps have melted or the asteroid has struck is more survivable. And an asteroid can just as easily strike Mars, wiping out the population there by covering the habs and solar panels in 5m of dust.
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Old 8th July 2018, 02:35 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
A big part of having a colony on Mars is being somewhere other that Earth when it gets hit by a big, planet-killing asteroid.. and remember, this not a case of may or might happen, this is a case of WILL happen.
I'm in favor of moving humanity off of Earth (Mars isn't my first choice, but that's beside the point now) but we could conceivably build a system capable for protecting Earth from planet killers without establishing a huge presence off Earth.
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Old 8th July 2018, 02:37 PM   #157
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Old 8th July 2018, 03:38 PM   #158
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Well, can we extend that to 'environment'?

An atmosphere that has been described as a 'laboratory-grade vacuum', and even that is mostly CO2

Deep cold, even in the nice places.

No magnetosphere to protect from radiation.

No freely-available water.

No natural foods.

Doubtful (at best) supplies of trace/radioactive elements, including those vital for power production for a self-sufficient civilisation.

No infrastructure. Earth's high-tech civilisation was gradually built on existing relatively simple infrastructure, but on Mars it's straight to high tech with zero roads, railways, water transport, and where air travel is all but impossible except with heavyweight rocketry. You discover rare earth elements 2000km away? Tough luck, as you have no ability to haul equipment (or even yourself) such a distance over savage terrain. Find the same in Mexico? No problems, they have roads there and can easily build new ones.

(How would you build a road on Mars, btw? Limestone (for cement) is a biological rock formation, I believe. Oil-based products are obviously unavailable ... Just wondering out loud here.)
Quote:
If I had to choose between living in

A. a sterile environment under a dome in a large colonial city on Mars.

You are thinking about the beginning... pre 21st century thinking. You don't seem to have the ability to think beyond next week, or next year or next decade. You are denying the possibility of air travel at a time when the Wright Brothers haven't even invented the aeroplane yet; you're denying the possibility of rail travel at a time before Watt has invented the steam engine... and at a time before Stephenson has built his "Rocket", you're denying the possibility of passenger liners and oil tanker at a time when we haven't yet learned how to sail!!

While you are busy trying to see past the end of your nose, I am thinking about 100, 200, 500, 1000 years from now. If want to end up with established colonies on another planet WE NEED TO START LEARNING HOW TO DO IT NOW, as in between NOW and the next 50 years, the sooner the better, not in 100, 200 or 500 years time NOW, because the door is closing, and once it closes, we're done. We need to learn how to do this; the Wright brothers didn't invent the aeroplane by building a 747 from scratch.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Mars is a hell-hole.
You are handicapping yourself by limiting your thinking to the surface.

Quote:
Even Earth after the ice caps have melted or the asteroid has struck is more survivable.
If you think human civilization can survive a Chicxulub impactor type event, you are dreaming. It WILL wipe out everything except possibly really small mammals (like last time). Much bigger, and only microbes are likely to be left

Quote:
And an asteroid can just as easily strike Mars, wiping out the population there by covering the habs and solar panels in 5m of dust.
That's true, but that is no more reason not to go that it is a reason to remain only on earth. Its probably a good reason to spread ourselves even wider through the solar system.
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Old 8th July 2018, 03:42 PM   #159
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
I'm in favor of moving humanity off of Earth (Mars isn't my first choice, but that's beside the point now) but we could conceivably build a system capable for protecting Earth from planet killers without establishing a huge presence off Earth.
It would have to be really comprehensive, because we now know for sure that potential impactors can come from any direction) not just near the plane of the ecliptic and we may not see them coming in time to do anything about it, even if we have a missions "on standby" ready to go. We need years of advance warning (we didn't detect Oumuamua until after it was already on it way out.
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Old 8th July 2018, 03:53 PM   #160
Myriad
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Define "worse"

"Less suitable for maintaining a biosphere, either through natural happenstance or by human artifice, that can sustain life based on the current global gene pool."

Quote:
A big part of having a colony on Mars is being somewhere other that Earth when it gets hit by a big, planet-killing asteroid.. and remember, this not a case of may or might happen, this is a case of WILL happen.

I don't know if it makes sense to you to have all your eggs in more than one basket, but it certain makes a lot of sense to me given that the stakes are as high as its possible to get.

Have you noticed that none of the earth's past planet-killing asteroid impacts have actually killed the planet?

An asteroid strike or nuclear war or Yellowstone eruption or other "extinction" event can change global conditions so that many, perhaps most, species can no longer survive. Mars gives you far worse than those changed conditions, right off the bat.

If you can create sustainable habitats with underground farms, power plants, a self-contained industrial base, robotic mines, and all that, to survive such extreme conditions on Mars, you can do it for a hundredth the cost on Earth. (One that actually gets hit by the asteroid won't survive, but you could build twenty with 20% of that Mars budget. I'd suggest scattering them around.)

The only scenario for which Mars is a more secure alternative basket to put eggs is the long-term (500 million years) one, or a highly improbable strike by a dwarf-planet-sized impactor. There's no rush. And our current civilization is not ready for transplantation to Mars. It's not a workable model anywhere on any scale yet. Give us a few more cycles to work out the whole how-to-use-technology-sustainably thing.

Quote:
If I had to choose between living in

A. a sterile environment under a dome in a large colonial city on Mars.

B. living on post-apocalyptic Earth, in nuclear winter type climate after an asteroid strike.

C. living on globally warmed Earth in temperatures up in the 50C region, with super-storms and flooding every week and where you cannot go outside with breathing equipment.


I would choose A.

And if you think C. is far fetched, have a look at what is happening in western Japan right now, where four and a half million people (that is almost the whole population of this country) have had to be evacuated. These types of extreme weather events are getting much more violent and much more frequent with every passing year. You have to either be Blind Freddie or have your head buried in the sand to not see this.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...limate-change/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...tly-worldwide/

https://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/glob...s#.W0J1qp4wHcs

Guy McPherson's runaway rapid greenhouse warming scenario (and other similar ones) don't hold up to scrutiny. There's not enough carbon. All the carbon that's now in fossil fuels and methane hydrates etc. has been in the atmosphere before; it didn't warm the planet to 50C then.

As far as I can tell, what's going to happen is that all of the extractable fossil fuels will be burned; there will be severe climate change impacts which may or may not help push our civilization into collapse; the current mass extinction event will run to completion; humans will survive; and in geological time, the next couple of thousand years until the greenhouse gases weather out of the atmosphere will be an anomalous warm blip in a much longer term ongoing cooling trend.

Deep time perspective isn't easy. But it doesn't make sense to be planning for million-year and hundred-million-year scenarios, and then suddenly get all impatient about what's going to happen in the next few thousand.
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Last edited by Myriad; 8th July 2018 at 03:55 PM.
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