Some Australian academicians have expressed concern that if humanity starts exploring outer space, we may take the wrong attitude towards the celestial environment:
Dr Toni Johnson-Woods says she and her colleagues found there is a prevailing belief that other planets and their natural resources are there simply to be exploited.
“The focus is on exploitation of the minerals. Basically, it’s just Australia all over again,” she said.
…”There’s also an idea that there’s nothing already on Mars, which I presume there isn’t, in the same way that Australia had that terra nullius, like there’s nothing in Australia, so, ‘we’re just going to go there, take what we need and leave’,” she said.
Instead, the group urges that we practice “sustainability”:
The other thing is that space is not an infinite resource. If we go to the Moon and litter the Moon and wreck it, there’s not another one just down the road.
Even though space may not be infinite, it’s pretty darned large. But the article does show the silliness of the view that there is a natural environment that has some sort of intrinsic value which must be preserved at the expense of human interests, even when there are no other valuers besides human beings.
As blogger JF Beck points out, the real (but unstated) message of the panel is “Humans are evil”.
As an aside, when private commercial exploitation of the moon, Mars, and the asteroid belt becomes commercialy viable, it will raise some interesting questions about how best to implement property rights and rule of law in an area where currently no government claims any jurisdiction. I’ve always had a fondness for the fiercely independent asteroid miner “Belter” culture as portrayed in Larry Niven’s science fiction novels, so I wouldn’t mind seeing something like that come to pass.
And the Objective Standard will also have to update its t-shirts to read, “Exploit the Universe or Die”.
(Via Rand Simberg.)
P.S.: Jim May points me to this story from the British press that expresses similar sentiments.