back to article Considering the colonisation of Mars? Werner Herzog would like a word

Film-maker Werner Herzog has upended the scorn bucket over billionaire electric car and space firm mogul Elon Musk's plans to create a city on Mars. In an interview with Inverse, Herzog described Musk's dream of colonisation as "an obscenity", and compared humans to locusts, emptying one planet of resources before moving on to …

  1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alien

    Fitzcarraldo

    One could argue there are parallels between the tasks Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald and Elon Musk set themselves

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitzcarraldo

    icon: Musk is yet to engage the services of the natives

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fitzcarraldo

      I was thinking more along the lines of

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aguirre,_the_Wrath_of_God

  2. Gonzo wizard
    Go

    There’s hope yet!

    I mean nobody thinks that colonising Mars is easy. And yes, I agree with Werner that from the outside we will look like locusts flocking from planet to planet. I’m also hopeful, though, that being forced to face and deal with global warming and global pollution will bring forward better, less environmentalLy disruptive and more sustainable ways of working that will have a big effect on what happens as and when we start ‘doing more’ off-planet. It won’t stop us using resources elsewhere - I mean, if everything were going swimmingly we probably wouldn’t be thinking about doing it at all, right? Certainly not with the level of urgency Elon is bringing.

    And I love how he’s doing large scale R&D in public. Just awesome to watch.

    Elon thinks big and aims very, very high and I applaud him for that. Even if he misses his original target he’ll still have achieved more for the human race than most. He’s already single-handedly shown us that you can mass produce electric cars (and roll out your own charging network) even though the incumbents are dragging their heels and building hybrid abominations (an emotional term, yes) that allow people to feel good about the batteries they haul around while still polluting and costing a fortune to maintain.

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: There’s hope yet!

      "that allow people to feel good about the batteries they haul around while still polluting and costing a fortune to maintain.". Because you think that building and recycling batteries is non pollutant? And neither is electricity production?

      I agree cars using fossil fuels have to disappear, but battery-powered EV are not the solution for everybody, just for urban people who don't need to travel.

      1. Gonzo wizard

        Re: There’s hope yet!

        Tesla batteries are already good for over 300k miles and the target is 1 million. Battery components are already almost 100% recyclable back into... more batteries. Tesla are also developing batteries that use more common elements that are less polluting to extract. On the fuel front, Tesla are shifting their charging network over almost entirely to solar energy. These facts are easily obtainable and you’re not offering any constructive alternatives here.

        I’m also not sure why you label EVs as suitable only for urban people when there is already a choice of several cars at different price points that can travel 300+ miles between charges.

        1. Gonzo wizard

          Re: There’s hope yet!

          No, I don’t care about the down-votes but if you want to shoot down a company that is having a real and significant impact it’s only fair that you put up an alternative, even if it is a straw man.

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: There’s hope yet!

            I agree he's done a lot towards making life cleaner and yes the batteries have a very high recycle %, the recycling issues are that reprocessing the Ni,Co & Al in them requires some nasty chemicals in no trivial amounts which themselves have then to be disposed.

            With no way to provide an open breathable atmosphere, the first few centuries of any off-earth colonisation will mostly be underground for safety. Natural light on Mars is more or less earth twilight, On the Jovian Moons we'd need permanent artificial light.

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: There’s hope yet!

              reprocessing the Ni,Co & Al in them requires some nasty chemicals in no trivial amounts which themselves have then to be disposed.

              It's not like we've never used nasty chemicals before. The semiconductor industry uses chlorine trifluoride FFS!.

              hypergolic with sand and asbestos.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                "hypergolic with sand and asbestos".

                And test engineers!

              2. Tomato42

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                ah, yes! the chemical for which there is a very simple way to with its fires: a good pair of running shoes

                also, that list is incomplete, it's also hypergolic with ash, concrete and asphalt

            2. MJB7

              Re: There’s hope yet!

              "hypergolic with sand and test engineers" - that's not ClF3, that's the description of FOOF (which is also used in semi-conductor processing and as a rocket propellant).

              1. John H Woods Silver badge

                Re: FOOF

                is that an onomatopoeia?

                1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

                  Re: FOOF

                  From FOOFter: a chemical engineer or scientist who's behaviour mimics that of one portrayed in a 1980 sit-com.

              2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                Nope, definitely not FOOF. For FOOF Wikipedia says Uses: The compound currently has no practical applications, but has been of theoretical interest.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There’s hope yet!

          can travel 300+ miles between charges

          We don't have the same definition of "travel distance".

          1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

            Re: travel distance

            EPA testing showed 391miles. Presumably the car was tested driving round a circuit so the final distance moved on one charge could easily have been half a lap. You are welcome to use your own definition but the EPA range is at least an independently verifiable standard.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: travel distance

              He may mean in comparison with an ICE car. I can do 1000km on one 5-minute fill of liquid fuel.

              A bigger issue with EVs is that the electrticty supply network in places like the UK (and other W. European countries) hasn't got the capacity to generate or deliver enough energy to allow EVs to travel the same total distance as the conventional fleet over a full year.

              1. Mage Silver badge

                Re: travel distance

                Synthetic LPG. Made using waste carbon. Less energy loss in transit. No new infrastructure. LPG been in use for cars maybe 50 year ago.

                Unless you live in Norway, or have as yet not invented fusion power, the battery vehicles are a niche for rich people.

                1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

                  Re: travel distance

                  I would think that, in terms of the total consumer car market, that customers that have to drive more than 300 miles in a day would be in the minority. That's not to say that there would not still be significant demand for cars and other vehicles that have a longer daily range.

                  1. Tomato Krill

                    Re: travel distance

                    No I think you are exactly wrong - so for example I drive around 35k miles/year as does almost everyone else in a similar job. I do 300 mile round trips every week.

                    How many of those are there? Judging by the roads, lots. Lots and lots, and the combined total is of significance

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: travel distance

                  "Synthetic LPG."

                  Where so you get the energy to make sich a substance?

                  This is the fundamental problem. Yes, it;s easy to transport but once you have the resources to make the stuff why not add some more carbons and make a room-temperatire liquid fuel wihch is easier to transport and doesn't risk Bleves in a crash?

                  (Motonui did this. It was an economic disaster due to the energy requirements)

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: travel distance

                > I can do 1000km on one 5-minute fill of liquid fuel.

                Single driver?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: travel distance

                  Single driver?

                  No, usually 2 of us plus a bootfull of holiday luggage, and 70-80MPH on the motorway.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: travel distance

                    How often do you go on holiday?

              3. jmch Silver badge

                Re: travel distance

                How often do you travel 400+ miles in a day?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: travel distance

                  How often do you travel 400+ miles in a day?

                  What does that matter? Why buy a car that only meets 90% of your needs, when you can buy one that meets 100% of them?

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: travel distance

                    Why buy a car which meets 100% of all possible needs when one costing 50% as much can cover 90% of them and you can hire a vehicle (or fly) for the remaining bits yet still have cas left over? (expecially when factoring in that the one covering 100% of your needs costs 3-5 times as much to run for the 80% requirement than the cheaper vehicle (it's not JUST fuel costs))

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: travel distance

                      you can hire a vehicle

                      Only possible if there are vehicles to hire. Fine today, when electric cars are a niche market & most hire fleets are ICE. If 90% on the road are EVs, no hire company is going to maintain a fleet of ICE vehicles which lie idle most of the time, and are then massively oversubscribed for holiday weekends.

              4. Gonzo wizard

                Re: travel distance

                That’s like saying 1920’s Britain didn’t have the capacity to supply petrol for all the cars driven in 1990. EVs aren’t going to replace all ICE cars overnight so we don’t need all that capacity right this second do we? Do we need it in the future? Yes. But that spoils your “point”. So you make a false equivalence.

                Capacity can be added. As the government is banning new ICE cars from 2030, capacity will be added.

                Still no constructive alternative suggested. The closest we’ve got to so far is “it’s not my problem I’ve plenty of range”. How many of those 1000km can you safely drive before needing a rest break (legally or just physically)? I can use my rest time to recharge my car; my SatNav routes me via reliable rapid charges automatically.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: There’s hope yet!

            Does it help that I make a 1,200 km trip by road once a month *and* I am going to buy an electric vehicle? I have already checked and it can do the trip in the same wallclock time that I'm currently doing (13.5 hours). And that at lesser cost and in quiet comfort (I hate the sound of internal combustion engines).

            1. Down not across Silver badge

              Re: There’s hope yet!

              Each to their own. I'm rather fond of the sound of a V8. I suppose you could synthesize the audio.

              The charging network is an issue. With ICE, at least you can take along extra fuel in containers should you anticipate scarcity of petrol stations. Not quite so feasible with electric cars unless you pack a genny and jerrycans of fuel for it.

              Another concern I have (I am happy for it to be proven nothing to worry about or pointers given) is with regards to colder climates. Battery performance traditionally suffers as temperature falls and in colder climates you need lot more heating/defrosting and in EV you don't get the advantage of heating as byproduct. So the way I see it, in cold climates your range is reduced, potentially substantially, by effect of cold (sub-zero) temperature on battery and again by needing battery for heating.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                > I'm rather fond of the sound of a V8. I suppose you could synthesize the audio.

                I OTOH hate the sound of my current six cylinders (but love the driving). I did think about synthesising the audio though… of a 2CV, just for the laughs.

                > Not quite so feasible with electric cars

                Never saw one of those wind-up torches? Well…

                > in colder climates you need lot more heating/defrosting and in EV you don't get the advantage of heating as byproduct

                As I'm on the market for a Tesla (they're not great, I've been holding for the last three years for something better to come along, but I've run out of patience), I did research this. It appears that what people do is get the car to warm itself up (battery temperature, defrosting, etc.) while still plugged into the mains. Obviously it's not a car that you can just park out on the street but at their price level not many cars are not properly garaged. There are some Tesla drivers in here that might want to share their first-hand impressions.

                1. Dagg

                  Re: There’s hope yet!

                  EV you don't get the advantage of heating as byproduct

                  The whole process is NOT 100% efficient, the waste is heat and that could be used to heat the passenger compartment.

                  The big issue is in the hot climates you will need to use energy for cooling. It is not fun in a car with no cooling at 40c plus.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: There’s hope yet!

                    > It is not fun in a car with no cooling at 40c plus.

                    Try the Middle East, 50°+¹, no A/C² and too small a radiator to actually cope with the ambient temperature. Then you have to stop, face upwind, and stay inside the cabin revving up the engine slightly to push air into the radiator while turning the heat on at full blast to help cool down the engine compartment. Rinse and repeat every 3−4 km until dusk.

                    The worst bit is that I actually miss those days.

                    ¹ Yes, I know what the official record is.

                    ² Creature comforts are one more thing that can break down so we don't have that.

                    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                      Re: There’s hope yet!

                      Radiators on EVs tend to be needed to cool the circuitry when charging,not when moving - not having a 50kW+ heater upfront helps a lot in hot climates... :)

                      (remember, an IC engine - AT BEST - is producing 2kW of heat for every 1kW of traction power - and that's ONLY at full load, wide open throttle. it's not at all uncommon for it to be 5-8kW of heat per kW of work produced under nortmal driving conditions

              2. GraXXoR

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                Some are calling electric cars fringe vehicles for rich people, but I postulate that having to travel so far that you are required to carry extra petrol in canisters in the boot is actually a fringe case.

                For the vast majority of people who only need to travel two digit distances (in km OR miles) one way, an EV is the way to go.

                Soon, ICE vehicles will be the “vinyl records” of the vehicle world fringe vehicles for aficionados, collectors and military/exploration/service vehicles that are expected to travel off the beaten path or relics handed off second hand to poorer people in developing countries.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: There’s hope yet!

                  > I postulate that having to travel so far that you are required to carry extra petrol in canisters in the boot is actually a fringe case.

                  A few times I had to set off with extra fuel in the form of two 200 l barrels, in addition to the two fuel tanks already in each of the vehicles, for a total of about 600 litres per vehicle.

                  I might as well have been in Mars, I tell you. The landscape looked remarkably similar at times and there was just as much life.

                  Yes, I would consider that a fringe case. Unless you're going deep into the Sahara or travelling across Australia or Antarctica, you'll probably be fine without those jerrycans.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: There’s hope yet!

                    "A few times I had to set off with extra fuel in the form of two 200 l barrels, in addition to the two fuel tanks already in each of the vehicles, for a total of about 600 litres per vehicle."

                    Leyland P76? That much might get you from Sydney to Melbourne :)

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: There’s hope yet!

                      > Leyland P76?

                      Nah, J79 Toyota. Niger, Chad.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                "I suppose you could synthesize the audio."

                Ford already does this in the F150. Apparently a 6-cylinder engine with a turbo didn't sound manly enough for a pickup truck, so they pump sone rumble over the speaker system.

                Kind of like the "millitary grade aluminum" they use on the body.

                Also similar to how (American) footballers and other athletes are occasionally sidelined with a "sports hernia". What's makes it a "sports" hernia instead of a regular hernia, you ask? Nothing except the occupation of the patient. Sports hernia just sounds better. Maybe we should all do that. "Sorry boss, I'm foggy today, I have a programmer's hangover."

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: There’s hope yet!

                  Buy any sufficiently powerful car from any of the usual suspects and you will get a choice of exhausts. I understand that some people like it, but I would have appreciated if they did a version for those of us who like the engine power but detest the noise.

                  I will, not without some embarrassment, admit however that the motor whine in the Tesla Plaid videos sounds fabulous.

                  1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
                    Thumb Up

                    Re: There’s hope yet!

                    motor whine in the Tesla Plaid videos sounds fabulous.

                    I miss the Screaming Valentas of the IC125s on the UK rail network. The sound of the turbo charger on the Paxman Valenta V12 engine

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: There’s hope yet!

                      Funny you should mention, because the Plaid motor noise does remind me of locomotive noise.

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: There’s hope yet!

                  "Ford already does this in the F150"

                  Many EVs have an external noisemaker for low speeds. A favourite mod is to change the sound away from white noise or "engine" to something like George Jetson's flitter.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnT1VgeXOF0&list=PLVktvkAOvSGck9O6aJBLqdcitvjXC5j2e

              4. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                "Another concern I have (I am happy for it to be proven nothing to worry about or pointers given) is with regards to colder climates."

                The standard solution is "webasto" - People who've installed them have found them surprisingly cheap to use as they tend to only be needed for a few minutes at a time

                Newer EVs use heat pumps for warming the cabin instead of electric elements

            2. hoola Silver badge

              Re: There’s hope yet!

              Cost is a red herring and only relevant until fuel duty is reworked.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: There’s hope yet!

                That is true (and not that electricity is so much cheaper anyway). The Danish are already making noises in that sense.

          3. Gonzo wizard

            Re: There’s hope yet!

            Your definition of people who will buy electric was “urban people who don’t need to travel”. If I don’t need to travel I’m not going to run a car, am I? And still no constructive alternative offered, I note. Nothing to have a decent discussion around.

            “Urban people” - how big does my town have to be before I’m an “urban person”? Never mind, I live in a suburb of London. And I (gasp) travel a lot by road. All around the country (obvs not this year). Condescending much?

            If all you can do is throw insults... in doing so you’re admitting you’ve no real counterpoint and have already conceded. Thanks for clearing that up at least.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: There’s hope yet!

          100% solar energy for HOW many cars? 10 million in California?

          without going into the details, if there were 10 million cars consuming 15kwH per day of electric power [let's say daily commute and around town travel normalized to a 7 day week], and the sun puts 1.4kw per square meter onto the earth, when you work out efficiencies of conversion and other less than ideal energy conversion, you end up with around SEVEN SQUARE METERS OF SOLAR PANELS FOR EVERY CAR BEING CHARGED (according to my figurin'), if you want it ALL to come from solar panels [and they wouldn't be able to power anything else, and you'd have storage issues for varying demand and sunlight,yotta yotta].

          I'll leave it to someone else to work out how much that infrastructure might cost... cloudy days, seasonality, latitude, and night time notwithstanding.

          [and producing solar panels is NOT an "environmentally friendly" process]

          This is, at least to some extent, relevant to colonizing Mars. Solar energy density THERE would be less half as much, and be subject to periodic dust storms and their aftermath.

          1. John Jennings Bronze badge

            Re: There’s hope yet!

            Not that simple.... That works between the Tropics (Cancer and Capricorn) - you need more solar area further north. In addition, you need capacity to generate surplus during days of no production - add 150% to your 7m^2 for places where consumers actually are. Plus batteries. Infeasible in most places in the world. A more feasible approach is to use Solar/wind (offshore or deserts) to crack water, and transfer the H2 to where its needed. Use the H2 in either fuel cells or turbine generation and use an uprated grid. Libya, and the Med could provide enough surface area to provide Europe with enough to replace all of Europe's energy needs (and likely Africas too at the moment).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: There’s hope yet!

              > Libya, and the Med could provide enough surface area to provide Europe with enough to replace all of Europe's energy needs (and likely Africas too at the moment).

              And those were exactly RWE's plans in Libya, sunk by their own arrogance, stupidity and criminal mindset on one hand, and by the US, France, UK and Germany grossly miscalculating the outcome of a "revolution" (which outcome was a certainty to anyone remotely familiar with Libya).

              From their side, EDF's genius idea at one time was to relocate the bulk of nuclear plants to Morocco. Thankfully, they seem to have shelved the idea.

              As for wind, EU intends to expand wind capacity 20-fold (?) in the next few years. Do search for an exact figure, that's off the top of my head.

        4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: There’s hope yet!

          UK Charging Network woes...

          ‘Why did it take nine hours to go 130 miles in our new electric Porsche?’

          https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/nov/28/electric-cars-porsche-charging-network

      2. gypsythief

        Re: There’s hope yet!

        "...but battery-powered EV are not the solution for everybody, just for urban people who don't need to travel."

        To which I say: John O'Groats to Land's End, in a Tesla Model 3, 855.2 miles in 15h 32m with just 1h 32m for charging?

        Electric cars have gone way, way beyond the original Nissan Leaf and "just for urban people who don't need to travel." With the addition of a rapidly growing network of conventional and fast-charging stations they are more than capable of long distance journeys far faster than certainly I would like to make them.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: There’s hope yet!

      It seems you took the red pill. While there is a lot to admire Elon Musk for, his ability to play the capital markets is probably his greatest skill.

      He’s already single-handedly shown us that you can mass produce electric cars

      Nope, I think you'll find other manufacturers have built more. But he managed to make them desirable. Whether Tesla has net positive effect on emissions is debatable but there's no doubt it's moved the discussion and he's being given ridiculously cheap access to capital as a result. Incumbents did drag their feet, but so did governments and regulators.

      1. Clive Galway

        Re: There’s hope yet!

        I disagree. Once you factor in the million-mile battery and AutoBidder, he's making it so that electric cars will be way more affordable (More upfront cost than ICE, yes, but it makes you money and benefits society when it's not in use)

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: There’s hope yet!

          Electric motors, yes. Batteries less so. They're currently a subsidised way of making the middle class feel good about themselves.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: There’s hope yet!

      The Victorians had rechargable cars.

      I went to school on an electric trolly bus and the milkman used an electric rechargeable truck.

      Musk thinks big with other people's money and has a limitless ego.

      1. CrackedNoggin

        Re: There’s hope yet!

        Yes! I delivered milk in an electric Express Dairies truck in '78 '79. Range: about 20 miles, with enormous lead acid batteries.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: There’s hope yet!

        Now see, an electric trolley bus made sense, and still makes sense.

        If you electrified one lane of a motorway and most A roads then EV's would have effectively unlimited range and would only need a small battery. They would also work for people like me, who in the countryside and need a car, yet live on streets of victorian houses with double yellow lines outside my house, making at home charging litterially impossible.

        Then all you have to do is roughly triple the electrical capacity on the grid to acomodate the additional juice required. Something that there has still been zero discussion of since people are protesting about preserving the current level of power generation.

    4. CrackedNoggin

      Re: There’s hope yet!

      Human are genetically optimized to live on earth. Knuth said "premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming.". Why? Because it makes software inflexible. We are inflexible with respect to the environment we can happily live in.

      Life will be spontaneously created on planets if the environment allows it. The more and complex advanced the lifeform, the higher the degree of optimization.

      For an advanced lifeform to get rid of of that optimization/inflexibilty constraint would require redesign from the ground up. But the result wouldn't be human(or whatever the advanced lifeform is called). If there's something "out there", that's what it is.

      Regardless, how about "feeling satisfaction" at just because somewheres, sometimes, life appears, at least fleetingly - our spiritual brethren?

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: There’s hope yet!

        And why does he call an interplanetary system a Starship?

        Ego and PR gone mad.

    5. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: There’s hope yet!

      So far nobody seems to have mentioned the lack of not just an atmosphere on Mars but a magnetosphere..

      The ionising radiation on Mars that it receives from from the Sun is orders of magnitude more than that seen in the vicinity of Pripyat, Fukushimka etc. and is comparable to earth after an apocalyptic nuclear war, except without a breathable atmosphere.

      No matter how much we have fucked up the Earth, it will be better than Mars for a very long time.

      I for one will welcome Mr Musk to make his home there.. Send Bezos, Zuck and SatNads too!

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: There’s hope yet!

        Exactly - any technology capable of terraforming Mars is easily capable of reversing the damage we have done to Earth.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Humans like locusts

    Using all the resources we can reach... just like locusts, eh? But at least humans can consider other options, and maybe think this is perhaps not the best way to do things... contraception would be a start.

    Living on a single planet when there's all that real estate out there? If a species can get off its home planet, it should. In a wide wide universe, I wonder how many didn't, and succumbed to famine/plague/poison/large rocks landing on their heads?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Humans like locusts

      > Using all the resources we can reach... just like locusts, eh?

      Or cockroaches, or mold, or whatever other example of life there is.

      While I understand Herzog's point of view that we shouldn't just waste this place and (try to) move on, it remains that, as living beings, we are programmed to spread and colonize every biotope we can survive in, however harsh. It's a question of survival, and as a species we evidently like to survive (else we would had gone extinct already).

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Humans like locusts

        Musk's stated goal is to make humanity a two planet species. Plenty of people are working on making humanity a zero planet species. Who do you think will win? Would Mars only be considered a draw?

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: Humans like locusts

          "Musk's stated goal is to make humanity a two planet species."

          I'd be much more impressed if Musk was investing in space elevator research than in his fairground toy tube train ride (how to reinvent a metro system, very badly).

          But his rockets are cool, though.

      2. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Humans like locusts

        The big difference between humans and locusts or whatever other biotic organism is that, whereas they're driven by immutable hard wired imperatives, humans have a brain with the propensity to moderate their consumption of space and resources. It's about time we started using that propensity rather than merely aiming to survive as a species while seeking ways to avoid doing so (in fact continuing to behave like locusts &c.). We can stop doing that, but our societies will have to abandon "growth" as the yardstick of success. It's actually quite a new yardstick - probably no more than 500 years old, against the million or so that humans have been around, so it's eminently feasible to do so if we have the will. For a start, go on using your old iPhone until it actually stops working.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Mike 137 - Re: Humans like locusts

          Way to go, Mike! Oh, and we should tell the military to stop using oil and polluting Earth. Rise your hand all of you who can se US/Turkish/Russian/Chinese armies becoming carbon neutral in the near/medium/long term.

          Humans have a brain and I find that unfortunate.

        2. the Jim bloke
          Headmaster

          Re: Humans like locusts

          I find the constant use of "Humans" as a single entity description.. simpleminded to the point of being childish.

          The human race is divided into multiple cultures - more than races, with different ethical values and priorities, and what is desirable in one is frequently considered rank stupidity in another. These value differences exist not only between nations and ethnicities but also within them, as the fracturing of the USA has been rubbing into our faces recently.

          Bearing this in mind, each of us should act to support what they personally consider worthwhile, -be it interplanetary colonization with or without a 'z', or back to nature environmentalism, militant nationalism or economic or religious feudalism.. whatever.

          Stop tying to fix everything and just do what you can, knowing that other people with divergent ideals will be actively opposing you.

          If Musk can make some progress towards a Mars colony, good on him, and best wishes for everyone involved (plus the expectation they will all die horribly but hopefully provide useful data in the process)

          If some one else wants to restore Earths disappearing icecaps and rainforests.. good for them too.

          Personally I am not a fan of more coal/oil/gas development but there are people who are investing their futures in that... and as such they deserve to die in a fire.. but they have reasons which are valid for them.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Humans like locusts

        Mars would be like "a frontier".

        People who want to be FREE would go there for THAT reason, alone.

        I know _I_ would, if I could.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Humans like locusts

      "Should" is always such a hard word to define. I'd be interestedto hear why you think this is a moral position, as opposed to just a pragmatic one.

      1. cbars

        Re: Humans like locusts

        I dont know about Neil, but for me: morals cannot occur without life. Life is by definition continued, so the only imperative that makes sense is to continue. Living on two planets improves the odds of success in meeting that imperative, so any moral definition would prefer it. The alternative is to not continue, which violates the process of life and is therefore either a contradiction or meaningless.

        Everything is natural, including humans, no need to get all high and mighty. Does it really matter that humans have caused extinctions....? Emotionally yes, literally no. Once you understand that it's smooth sailing, all the way to Mars and beyond baby.

        Though it would of course be nice if people would all stop at 2 kids, eh? (I say that as child 3 of more!) Maybe buy the veg thats not wrapped in plastic and just wash it...? We can dare to dream

  4. iGNgnorr

    Comparison

    If there's one person who is as annoyingly opinionated as Elon Musk, it is Werner Hertzog. However, one makes real progress toward the future and the other makes films.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Comparison

      Having opinions he might, but holding them doesn't get in the way of Herzog bringing other people lives, views and opinions to wider attention through his documentaries.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Comparison

      "If there's one person who is as annoyingly opinionated as Elon Musk, it is Werner Hertzog."

      I see your Elon Musk and raise you a Peter Thiel.

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Who's doing it?

    "I would like to add something about Elon Musk: he is doing the doable – electric cars, reusable rockets, and soon improved batteries...."

    He's not doing it - he's just paying for a lot of very (and in a few cases apparently some less) smart people to do it for him and taking the credit for the results. The two things he's proved himself at are accumulating wealth and self-promotion.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Who's doing it?

      >He's not doing it - he's just paying

      And yet by talking to investors, bringing in money and hiring skilled people he's made things happen faster than they otherwise would have. Without these things, you'd just have some talented engineers without the resources to accomplish anything.

      So, he's not an engineering genius. So what? He sees what is necessary for engineers to work and gives it to them by developing a sustainable business model. That is surely a valuable skill set in and of itself.

      An army matches on its stomach.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Who's doing it?

        Fair comment Dave 126, but what I object to most is his habit of taking the credit for the innovation and engineering. He's their banker, and good on him for that, but the folks that actually create the real stuff (rather than just the blue skies fancies) should get the recognition they deserve.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who's doing it?

          > the folks that actually create the real stuff (rather than just the blue skies fancies) should get the recognition they deserve.

          Not a fanboy, but I've consistently seen Musk give credit to others, take responsibility himself, and literally share the stage with his engineers at both Tesla and SpaceX.

          A different matter is how media may or may not report things.

    2. PerlyKing Silver badge

      Re: He's not doing it - he's just paying

      I disagree, from a position of little knowledge :-)

      What I gather from the Internet is that Musk really is an engineer, but one who recognises his limitations.

      His real genius seems to be hiring smart people, giving them a clear target and (crucially) the tools to achieve it.

      The fact that he's the only name I know from Tesla and SpaceX probably supports the self-promotion aspect, and he's definitely said some dumb things on Twitter (which is, after all, the purpose of Twitter ;-) but he is certainly the driving force which has shaken up a couple of industries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's not doing it - he's just paying

        I'm not sure we can say, that Elon has any notion of what he does or does know anything about.

        It's a man who said there would be close to 0 covid cases by April. Of course that was likely just to push for allowing factories to remain open.

        That would be on brand for Elon - the whole screwing over workers to ensure his own profits.

      2. Mike 137 Silver badge

        "What I gather from the Internet is that Musk really is an engineer"

        Certainly he took a degree in engineering, but considering his financial and social clout I would take any public info about him as at least vetted by the man himself, so his bio is likely to be positively slanted. As to clear targets, I'm not sure he's done that all that often. He frequently seems to fly off on tangential techno-fantasies. Sometimes the smart people he hires find ways to build from these, as in the case of SpaceX, but the rest of his projects still seem very much works in progress, largely because the problems they address are much harder to solve than originally thought. Space flight, after all, is not all bleeding edge innovation - there's lot of prior art to build on, but the autonomous vehicle breaks entirely new sensory ground.

    3. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Who's doing it?

      Okay, but the money is a very important part of getting stuff done. It's not the only part, it may not be the most important part (depending on point of view), but it's definitely a very important part by any reasonable definition. With this kind of efforts, you need either a government or a crapload of money, and governments are dropping all kinds of balls these days.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who's doing it?

      > He's not doing it - he's just paying for …

      Go on mate, I'll hold your beer.

  6. revenant

    "...humans should 'not be like the locusts.' "

    It's a bit hard to descend on Mars like locusts when there's bugger-all to eat there - there won't be any life there (assuming there isn't any at the moment) until humans do descend en masse.

    As far as we know, there isn't any life anywhere else, so until we know otherwise, I look on human colonization of the planets as us spreading life from the one place that it exists, to places that are barren.

    It would help, though, to have some international agreement on what to do if we do find life elsewhere.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: "...humans should 'not be like the locusts.' "

      "It would help, though, to have some international agreement on what to do if we do find life elsewhere."

      I for one will welcome our new ...... oh, you get the idea!

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: "...humans should 'not be like the locusts.' "

        There is an idea that wherever there is liquid water, Enceladus and probably one or more of the Gallilean Moons of Jupiter, there could be basic life, similar to bacteria.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Investigation_For_Enceladus

        https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/jupiter-moons/callisto/in-depth/

        "data from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the 1990s revealed Callisto may have a secret: a salty ocean beneath its surface. That finding put the once seemingly dead moon on the list of worlds that could possibly harbor[sic] life."

        There has been little public discussion of the ethics or legality of humanity colonising an already inhabited world, well, not that I've seen. So to become a 'two planet' species we either need to find out how to survive in a lethal environment that doesn't harbour rlife, or one that already does.

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: "...humans should 'not be like the locusts.' "

          "There has been little public discussion of the ethics or legality of humanity colonising an already inhabited world"

          There was also very little discussion when some of humanity colonised (or invaded, depending on quite how much you want to emphasise it) already inhabited other parts of our own world!

          There'd be some fascinating alternative histories if we had had a United Nations equivalent way back then to prevent invasions. It'd also be kind of interesting if instead "explorers" had had to agree some kind of trade, investment, and legalised immigration deals with the existing locals, and how things might have turned out…

          You do raise a very interesting point, however. At what stage of evolution of life, if at all, would it be acceptable to colonise or, if necessary, terraform another planet? Bacteria, lichen, small furry creatures (from Alpha Centauri or otherwise)?

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: "...humans should 'not be like the locusts.' "

      Indeed, it always seems a bit of a weird argument that because trashing the only place with an actual livable biosphere is a bad idea, it must therefore also be wrong to exploit the resources of a bunch of barren rocks. There are all kinds of issues with the idea of permanent planetary colonies, and people can endlessly argue about which are more important and which can be solved, but the idea that using up some rock on a big rock is inherently bad is just plain weird.

    3. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: "...humans should 'not be like the locusts.' "

      I agree. Besides, *all* life, bar none, will spread anywhere it can find usable resources. I mean, is lichen bad for spreading on a rock now...? From my point of view, intelligence is what life has evolved in order to be able to spread across planets.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        "intelligence is what life has evolved in order to..."

        Forgive me, but evolution does not work like that and never did. There is no purposive mechanism.

        Change occurs, and unless it's sufficiently detrimental it persists. Not, as some Darwinists assert,. only if it confers an advantage. Some evolutionary change confers advantages, but much of it is simply 'also ran' change that does no significant harm, and persists for that very reason. Accumulation of such non-detrimental change sometimes acquires emergent properties.

        The human brain evolved, like all other brains, as a body controller (not "to control the body" though).Abstract thought probably emerged by chance via accumulation of other evolutionary changes, but it persists insofar as it can confer an advantage. However it only confers that advantage if you use it. Rendering Earth uninhabitable and flocking to somewhere less robustly supportive of life to do the same there doesn't seem to be a well thought out strategy for the survival of the species.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: "intelligence is what life has evolved in order to..."

          Flocking to somewhere less robustly supportive of life to avoid rendering the earth uninhabitable, on the other hand...

          Not that it will of course; it seems manifestly impossible that population could be shipped off-planet faster than it expands. But a second planet to live on - no matter how risky or difficult or expensive - will give the species a little breathing room while it discovers that it doesn't have to have more than one child per person...

          Really, give, the promises of the sixties, we should be all over the solar system by now and half way to Alpha Centauri.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...humans should 'not be like the locusts.' "

      > It would help, though, to have some international agreement on what to do if we do find life elsewhere.

      We usually eat it.

  7. frankvw
    Facepalm

    Where's the money?

    Exploration has always been driven by Man's insatiable curiosity, need for expansion and investigation. Colonization, on the other hand, has always been driven by profit and nothing else. America was settled because it was a land of huge resources and settlers could build a better life there than in their countries of origin. The "scramble for Africa" was driven solely by a desire to exploit the resources found there. And so on.

    Mars, on the other hand, has little profitable resources to offer. Yes, Man could conceivably eke out an existence there somehow, but what would pay for the huge investments required for such an undertaking? It's a desert. There's all the dust, sand and rocks you could want, and a little water ice as well (but not too much) but that's it.

    Forget the very real problems of terraforming Mars. What will really make sure Mars will never be colonized (barring a single, small scientific outpost perhaps, which is NOT colonisation) is the simple fact that there's no profit to be made on such a venture. The cost of lifting anything to Mars are so great that you would need to find something like Unobtanium on Mars to make it worth it.

    The moon suffers from similar problems, although to a far lesser degree; it's closer and therefore cheaper to reach, and Helium-3 might (!) be the bonanza that could potentially make it worth it. But what profitable commodities does Mars have to offer to cover the costs of colonization, exploitation and transportation, AND make a profit on top of that? If there is one, I can't see it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's the money?

      And there you have got to the very heart of all our problems, we are obsessed with money and work.

      At this stage we should be able to feed the worlds population, nobody should go hungry, but they do.

      The constant need for 'growth' means we consume resources way more than is needed persuading us to consume way more than is needed than to just to fulfil a need, and polluting the planet in the process

      When humanity has needed to expend great amounts of money, time and energy to accomplish something we have done it, in wars or times of great crisis the accountants are the first to get fired.

      In the West most people should be earning double the amount we now earn if wage increases had kept the same pace with the past increases, instead we get more austerity and the rich get immensely richer.

      Soon human workers may become a rarity, will society change to a more humane way of letting people live their lives?, I very much doubt it!

      We are still a bunch of unevolved ape descendants, just watch advertising to see it's all about shelter, food and sex.

      Foreign policy has barely evolved beyond "We are more powerful than you, do as we say or else" (either commercially or militarily).

      Sad...., as the alien in Contact says about humanity, "You have such beautiful dreams, and such terrible nightmares"

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Where's the money?

      > Mars, on the other hand, has little profitable resources to offer.

      Profitable? It most certainly has the same mineral resources Earth has, so if there is enough water, Mars could be easily self-sustaining. It's not a "get rich fast" place, but then again America wasn't either: It was a place of opportunities and potential freedom.

      Besides, don't mix up biological colonization and Colonization as in pith helmets and rifles. There was no real profit in settling in the sub-arctic frozen wastes where nothing grows, scraping a harsh life from hunting and fishing. Yet, humans did it. Living in or near the big deserts isn't fun either, yet humans did it too.

      So it doesn't matter if Mars will never be the green seashore paradise one would dream of, it remains a place where humans can potentially live. Life will be difficult, but not more difficult than life was back then for those people who colonized inhospitable regions of Earth.

      1. frankvw

        Re: Where's the money?

        "Profitable? It most certainly has the same mineral resources Earth has,"

        Exactly my point. The same stuff as we have here does not cover the cost of going to Mars for it.

        "so if there is enough water,"

        Which remains to be seen.

        "Mars could be easily self-sustaining."

        Possibly, yes. But you're missing the point: colonizing Mars would take a huge investment with near-zero returns. Granted, the spinoff in the form of developed technology will indirectly benefit us all. But that's not the way investors and taxpayers like to see their money being spent.

        "It's not a "get rich fast" place, but then again America wasn't either: It was a place of opportunities and potential freedom."

        And enough people could afford to get there, paying for the trip out of their own pockets. Let me see you do that on a trip to Mars.

        "Besides, don't mix up biological colonization and Colonization as in pith helmets and rifles. There was no real profit in settling in the sub-arctic frozen wastes where nothing grows, scraping a harsh life from hunting and fishing. Yet, humans did it. Living in or near the big deserts isn't fun either, yet humans did it too."

        Because they pretty much had to. So yes, when things become so crowded here that we'll have to spill over Mars, we'll re-evaluate.

        So it doesn't matter if Mars will never be the green seashore paradise one would dream of, it remains a place where humans can potentially live. Life will be difficult, but not more difficult than life was back then for those people who colonized inhospitable regions of Earth.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          "when things become so crowded here that we'll have to spill over Mars..."

          I strongly suspect that things won't get that crowded as natural control mechanisms (famine, plague and a demonstrable natural decline in fertility in most animals that seems to accompany overcrowding) will start limiting growth before than happens.

          But even if we do get that crowded, by the time that happens we'll no longer have resources to spare to colonise other planets, or even maintain previously established colonies on them. Indeed, considering the massive international debt incurred so far through covid just as an example, we'll probably run out of the dosh to even start such ventures long before that.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Where's the money?

          > that's not the way investors and taxpayers like to see their money being spent

          While generally speaking you're right, apparently there is one now.

          I don't like him, but that's as irrelevant as I am. *shrug*

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where's the money?

        People colonise harsh places not because they choose to do it but because they don't have any choice, for various reasons.

        Even North America was colonised mostly because of religious issues in Europe leading people to emigrate so that they could be as intolerant as they wanted, not because there were resources needed there (besides tobacco and castor furs).

        So the best way to colonise Mars would be to deport people.

        One could perhaps ask the Russians how to set up goulags?

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Where's the money?

          > not because they choose to do it but because they don't have any choice

          You forget there are still plenty of people down here who "don't have any choice". Many would, like in the past, gladly leave home and friends forever hoping for "a new chance" (or simply a chance).

          The wealthy and well-established don't usually immigrate, it's the impoverished and prosecuted who do, and we have no shortage of either.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: here's the money

      NASA commercial cargo. NASA commercial crew. NRO secret missions. Space Force launches including GPS upgrades. Commercial satellites that are not OneWeb or Kuiper. Scientific and military payloads too big for Rocket Lab and not stuck with a national carrier (EU, China, India and Russia). If the funding survives the change in administration: bits of Artemis. Then we get to the big two: Starlink and private investment.

      SpaceX runs at a profit despite some big bangs in Boca Chica (Starship SN8 could be making an impressive crater before the end of the year). Private investment has already provided enough to make SpaceX the biggest commercial satellite operator and their is still plenty of money left over for more launches. Starlink will be bringing in a good return on investment before Musk considers raising more money by splitting it out into a public company.

      Musk has the potential income to get Mars started without having to look for something on Mars worth the cost of bringing it back. Remember Boca Chica is not making about making half an SLS every year. It is about making multiple Starships each month (SN9 is about ready, SN10 is in big pieces and bits of SN15 have been spotted).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's the money?

      There is, however, profit to be made from claiming you want to go to Mars.

      That you might use the money to fund developments enabling you to aim for defence contracts rather than Mars is purely speculation I think...

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Where's the money? @frankvw

      While I tend to agree with you on all your points, there is the unknown factor here. We've only explored a tiny bit of Mars. And nothing very deep below the surface to learn what's there. Are there resources below the surface? Who knows.

      Even here on Earth, there's vast so-called waste landds (desert, marshes, etc.) that haven't been fully explored below the surface.

      So the real problem with Mars, etc. and even Earth is that too much we don't know about what is there.

  8. Filippo Silver badge

    I'm disheartened by the kind of mindset that sees taking good care of Earth and attempting to make off-Earth colonies as two opposing goals. In my mind, these goals are on the same side, the other side being composed of the various and insidious forms of general short-sightedness.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      There's no conflict, Earth in 1,000 years could one billion human inhabitants running tours for the many billions living off-world across the solar system (assuming we find a way to fix the long term living in low G problem)

      It's science fiction at the moment, but then 100 years ago Archimedes would've looked at the technology we had and been not the least bit surprised (ok, possibly by radio).

  9. Morrie Wyatt
    Devil

    Locusts?

    They did it to us first!

    Quatermass and the Pit. (1967)

    1. Bowlers

      Re: Locusts?

      Locusts?

      They did it to us first!

      Quatermass and the Pit. (1967)

      And before that War of the Worlds, Day of the Triffids. When we do go perhaps we should take some sea water as protection.

      1. David Roberts Silver badge

        Re: Locusts? Triffids?

        Read the original book by John Wyndham.

        Triffids were of terrestrial origin and from genetic engineering; a crop to produce oil cake as feed IIRC.

        I hear that someone modified the plot to turn it into a film with some bollocks about them dissolving in sea water.

  10. Arbuthnot the Magnificent

    Well, he might have a point, but...

    I'm no Musk cheerleader, I'm glad he's doing some of the things he's doing but as time goes on it becomes more and more apparent that he's a swivel-eyed loon. However, this whole "we shouldn't be going to Mars / building the Large Hadron Collider / whatever while there are hungry kids / homeless people / global warming" argument is pretty tiresome. It's not like the whole planet can just drop everything to work on one problem at a time, we should be doing ALL of these important things. Maybe if we spent a bit less on missiles and drones...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, he might have a point, but...

      Our whole mindset has to change, no one is saying don't go to Mars or other worlds, or carry out any other great endeavour, but if the end result of terraforming and colonising Mars is just more of humanity cold, starving and despised, or at war, just under a different sky then it's all been for nothing.

      Quality of peoples lives is important too, along with technological advances.

      The majority living a life in poverty, or near slavery is not a good future to aspire to.

      1. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: Well, he might have a point, but...

        "If the end result of terraforming and colonising Mars is just more of humanity cold, starving and despised, or at war, just under a different sky then it's all been for nothing."

        That's true, but that actually has very little to do with Mars. You're basically saying that people still can't act nice to each other and think further than their next lunch, and that's a bigger problem than space exploration.

        I agree wholeheartedly, but fixing THAT problem is the job of politicians and philosophers, not scientists. Dropping it at the feet of the people who just want to figure out how to go to Mars is both unfair and unlikely to result in good solutions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well, he might have a point, but...

          "but fixing THAT problem is the job of politicians and philosophers, not scientists. Dropping it at the feet of the people who just want to figure out how to go to Mars is both unfair and unlikely to result in good solutions."

          I'm sure those scientists that worked for the Nazi's and Soviets said the same thing, these things need to be considered, a new Mars colony would be very remote from Earth Government or regulation, scientists have as much a role in this as anyone else, and being a specialist in say habitat creation or recycling does not absolve you from making moral decisions.

          If the person in charge of a future colony decides slavery or cannibalism is acceptable the scientists or anyone else involved need to take a stand or build in safeguards to prevent abuse.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Survival

    I agree that we do have trouble managing the environment properly. I sincerely hope, for the sake of my child and all the children of the world, that we will change our ways and be capable of living on our beautiful planet without destroying it and ourselves.

    But, even if we do, we still have to find another home, lest we become the next dinosaurs when (not if) that rock comes blazing down.

    The survival of our species demands that we colonize other worlds. We certainly can do it in a respectful manner as far as natural resources are concerned. We have the technology, and the tech that we're missing we will create - I am certain of that.

    We are not that bad, it's just the news that makes us look like we are terrible. We should expand. Not like locusts, but like stewards - responsible and respectful of Mother Nature and her resources, and always in awe of the wonders of our Universe.

  12. dirtygreen

    Terraforming

    His Muskiness could perhaps practice his terraforming skills somewhere a little easier to start with, such as the Sahara. Once he's proved he can do that we should all support his ambitions for Mars.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Terraforming

      First of all, people have been living in Sahara for centuries. So, no need for terraforming, it's Earth already. If you mean "make Sahara really comfortable", that's nice, but it's not terribly close to what anyone wants to do with Mars, either in means or in ends.

      Secondly, Sahara has an ecosystem. It's not very much compared to most other bits of Earth, but still. We don't want to destroy it.

      Third, but not least, you do not attempt large-scale planetary engineering on Earth. Not unless you're really, really desperate. Very definitely not just for practice. If we want to start figuring out how to mess with planetary climate on purpose, another planet is by far the best place to do it.

  13. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Why do you want to colonise Mesopotamia, we're perfectly fine here in the African Rift Valley.

    Why do you want to colonise Europe, we're perfectly fine here in Mesopotamia.

    Why do you want to colonise Sicily, we're perfectly fine here in Greece.

    Why do you want to colonise Britain, we're perfectly fine here in mittle-Europe.

    Why do you want to colonise America, we're perfectly fine here in Siberia.

    Why do you want to colonise South America, we're perfectly fine here in North America.

    Why do you want to colonise Micronesia, we're perfectly fine here in Papua.

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    What's not to like and love?

    The film-maker said he was not averse to the idea of visiting Mars with a camera but reckoned the longer term plan of a self-sustaining city was a mistake.

    Maybe Elon Musk has a much better and simple endless plan which has morphed into the the Creative Suburbs of such Self-Sustaining Cities, which you might like to consider are Alien Landscapes ..... where One ends up in Play with Global Operating Devices.

    Such a Perfect Realisation Engenders EMPowerment ..... to be able do practically Everything Everyone Needs and Seeds, Feeds ........... Leading Futures.

    Do think Musk could not monetise that with invested trillions? Think again, for a Few are Almighty Interested Investments and Venture Capitalised Clients.

    Former Voyager team member Garry Hunt told The Register that the concept of terraforming the planet was "absolutely stupid" and went on to detail the numerous problems faced by those seeking to live on or even attempt to make Mars more Earth-like.

    You got that completely the wrong way around ..... the Master Plan is Always make Earth more Mars-Like. Its Much Simpler and Easier and Safer and Perfectly Secure, as surely any all would expect of a Master Plan.

    Laughing, Musk replied: "I think we'll want to offer round trips."

    A Boon to Seasoned Travellers are those Trips. It has Almighty Friends for Vanquished Foe with Zero Depleted Resources in its Journeys with Journals Presenting to Jury Evidence of the Aforementioned Master Plan ........ and Universal Reset Switch 0n

    And is that something Mass Multi Media Players can Ignore and be not Both Prey and Party to Virtual Manipulations. That's a Real AIDoozy of Singularity with Great Purpose Displayed for Playing Out for Real ........ Enact and Energise Early, Enthusiastic Ethereal Entrepreneurs.

    Ok, so that's that up and running mainline and online. Are you doing anything engaging and not at all dissimilar in the field?

    There's a hell of a lot for a whole lot of folk to do a heck of a lot of talking and reckoning with in the above craft drafting scripts .... with Alien Instructions Crafting AI Flight Forces.

    Methinks that is right up Elon Musk's street and for landing slap bang dead centre middle of the floors in an Immaculate Playpen ......... which one would like to think is an AI Default Titular Head Office Space Hell Bent on Enrichment and Enjoyment. :-) A Heavenly Task Beloved of Angel Investors and the Almightily Exceedingly Well Armed and Overwhelmingly Powerful in Equal Great Measure the Treasure that Finally Delivers Secret Goods ....... Gospel Truths laying out the virtual nature of the presentations you see, which are relaying instructions for Future Authorities to organise and energise/0riginate and EMPower/BroadBandCast and Realise. ;-)

  15. Richard Scratcher

    Why actually go to Mars...

    ...when you could take a virtual trip there? I heard that some tech company is working on a way to implant realistic memories of a visit IITRC.

  16. Sparkus Bronze badge

    Self-loathing

    ...........is hardly a good reason to ask your fellow humans to rot in place.........

  17. tiggity Silver badge

    Terraforming

    Terraforming is not easily viable on Mars. (as mentioned, atmosphere would be rapidly stripped away, FA protection from radiation)

    However, people could exist in "mars bases" - ideally underground as much as possible for less grief from storms & temperature changes.

    Also has advantage of more gravity than the moon (though only about 40% Earth - so might lead to a few nasty health consequences in long term, or conversely might have benefits as lower gravity being less hassle on the body - who knows until we try it & do the research).

    So, given there is anon zero possibility of sociopath politicians (or just incompetence / accident) leading to us trashing Earth so its not readily habitable by people for a while (be that a long time, or just centuries) then worth a few self sustaining colonies (and seedbanks etc.) as an insurance scheme on Mars, just in case (though cynic in me does think might be better if we did wipe ourselves out & give evolution a chance to try some new stuff)

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Terraforming with Alien Instruction Sets .....Genuine Original COSMIC Planetary Guides

      Terraforming is not easily viable on Mars. .... diggity

      Quite so, tiggity, however Martian Engineering with Terrain Births for ReBooting on Earth certainly is so .... and always always so ready, keen and able to expand and expound and export the art in all ways imaginable and enjoyable. And that's not so much a Task to Behold and Practise in a Choice of Labour as a Joy to Deserve and Savour//Worship and Favour/Support and Supply ........ although there be surely some and a few able and enabled and emboldened with Interest and Rare Raw Appreciation to Provide Expertise and Experience in Both to Engaging Second and Third Parties ..... ESPecially Satisfying Sensitive Clients, on one side of the fence ..... and Leading Driver AIgents on the others ......... and ideally travelling in parallel on different paths in the same direction to a similar destination for a new starting point .........Virgin Base Homes in New Alienated Plantations ....... AI Virtual Team Terrain for Live Operational Virtual Environments ...... Future Led Space Missions.

      Now please, if you want further clarification on any points of interest or concerns, don't be shy in asking any questions, for there's no real point in racing too far ahead anywhere alone, with everybody trailing in one's wake and basking in old glories, rather than celebrating ones times in the space of novel stories detailing ACTions championing fantastic achievements/Earth Shattering Movements with Greater IntelAIgent Games Players.

  18. Abominator

    Nobody let him see the Expanse. He's going to cry if he does.

  19. HammerOn1024

    No Magnets...

    No magnetic field, no long term atmosphere. Are we clear folks? Earth would not have a usable atmosphere, by humans that is, without one.

  20. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Immortality

    "When speaking about technological utopias that will come to an end in the 21[st] century, I mean not only colonization of Mars, or other planets out there, but also the idea of immortality – as if we could abolish death by modifying DNA sequences in our bodies."

    I heard a quote recently on the radio:

    "People yearn for immortality who are bored on a wet Sunday afternoon."

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Immortality

      “... millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

      ― Susan Ertz

      (Although Robert Heinlein stole it too I think)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Immortality

      When I was a kid many years ago (1960's) I can remember excitedly reading my Eagle comics with their depictions of life in the 21st century, there is no more work as machines do it all, someone sits with their back to a tree in a lovely park reading, while a couple stroll to the tennis courts, with a futuristic city in the background and humanity devotes itself to learning and the arts.

      Well that went well didn't it?

      Oh, there are also established colonies on the Moon and Mars by now too! lol

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. six_tymes

    successful egos FIGHT! joking aside, the only one that I would trust to know what they are talking about is Garry Hunt, in regards to mars. That said, I hope I live long enough to see masses make the attempt to move to mars.

  23. DJ

    How very convenient...

    An atmosphere that supports multitudes of living things.

    Not too close, not too far from the Sun.

    An invisible shield that protects it all from lethal solar radiation.

    Almost like someone designed it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How very convenient...

      ....or just roll a couple of trillion dice over an unimaginable number of years and every so often you roll all sixes....

  24. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Living Off Earth

    Humans, as we currently exist require oxygen under pressure, water, food, decent gravity, low-radiation levels, and temperatures in a quite narrow range from our environment. None of these exist on Mars or the Moon or in open space. So, if we are to survive off Earth, then first we need to solve these. Once they are all solved, then Mars is no better than say the Asteroid Belt with the possible exception of it's 3.711m/s² gravity field.

    If we want to survive away from our home planet then Mars is just another resource, but the Asteroid belt has those resources in a nice cheap low-g environment where they are comparatively easy to get at and exploit. Mars is irrelevant. If we are to survive off Earth then the first step is bigger orbital environments where we can tackle most of these challenges near to home. Grab a decent sized mostly solid asteroid, carefully put it in orbit around Earth, then mine it for resources whilst learning how to live there.

    We could also modify ourselves to be able to survive in space, or more likely create our successor species (AI/AS anyone?) such that they can survive anywhere.

    I'm with Agent Smith w.r.t. how to label Homo Sapiens' effect on it's environment. Virus is a much better description than Locust.

  25. joe bixflics

    Why not make the Antarctic habitable? It's closer, there's plenty of oxygen and water. Or is that too boring? Mars makes a lot more sense.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > Why not make the Antarctic habitable?

      Because same planet: Risk management dictates backups to be stored in clearly separate locations, since whatever wipes out humanity in the temperate zones of Earth will most likely impact the poles too (asteroid, supervolcano, nuclear war, Covid-22, pick your poison).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree that developing Mars is going to be a centuries-long process...

    Its not going to be done in the next 100 years, given that we don't seem to have any prospects for at least the next 20 or 40 years for a vastly more efficient way to move people and materials off of the Earth than are available now.

    But I think it is worth pursuing. The real question is whether we as a society have the same willingness to face and accept death in great feats of colonization that our forefathers had. I just watched a documentary on the Pilgrim's founding of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts. A bit more than 50% of the people who left Plymouth, England on the Mayflower were dead from diseases within one year. Contemporaneous colonization of Jamestown in Virginia had already proven an even higher death rate among Virginia colonists, so the people leaving England on the Mayflower accepted that many or most of them would not survive the establishment of the colony.

    If it comes to that, are modern-day humans and our legal and governmental structures ready to support a colonization effort on Mars that involves double-digit, maybe mid-double-digit, death rates among the colonists?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: I agree that developing Mars is going to be a centuries-long process...

      > an even higher death rate among Virginia colonists

      That's no problem, as you know bad things only happen to other people... Everybody knows they will survive and prosper.

      And anyway, those Pilgrims didn't leave for a pleasure trip, they left because they were facing persecution back home. As I already said further up, it's not the successful middle/upper class who will immigrate, it's the poor, the refugees, the people for whom this could be a chance to a better life, it's a double or quits game.

  27. rcxb Silver badge
    Trollface

    went on to detail the numerous problems faced by those seeking to live on [Mars] or even attempt

    Perhaps we can round-up some volunteers from Australian prisons and give them the option of transportation to Mars.

    Might even be seen as a slight improvement over their homeland, as there are no deadly native animals out there, and the Kiwis aren't invited.

  28. TeeCee Gold badge

    Well he's dead on trend with the message. Self-flagellation of the human race is where it's at, right down to revising history to denigrate anyone who looks like a good example.

    Maybe, one day, we can leave the pessimistic hand-wringing losers behind and just bugger off to do the locust thing.

    We really need an "opinionated wanker" icon, the "Twitter bird" would do nicely.

  29. dr evil

    who is he to lecture?

    I'll take no lectures from a man who wants to drain baby yoda of his blood to make super-soldiers!

  30. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
    Alien

    It's not a colony...

    It's a first line of defence!

    Better than a moon base cos it's further out, and with low g it's much easier to launch surface to space anti-ufo missiles than it is from earth.

  31. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Martian Reception Centres ....... Secure Quarantine Posts/Forward Operating Bases *

    China appears to know what needs to be initially done in order that one survive in an alien landscape with future testing facilities/utilities ...... https://www.humanmars.net/2019/04/chinas-c-space-mars-simulation-base-in.html

    Is it likely they be only ones entertaining living in strange worlds with alien beings? And would you be able to recognise someone/anything from a distant foreign planet? Would you have any clue as to what to look out for, to prove what you would only be thinking of as normal whenever one can only still just imagine what would be a welcoming traveller, at one end of the bright spectrum, or visitors to be made unwelcome and extraordinarily rendered extremely dangerous and almightily invincible whenever treated as foe and/or opposing competition for Earths abundant resources and live assets, at the other end of the dark spectrum?

    *Who and/or What is doing What for Whom and/or What in those Establishments? What/Who Leads with Experience in such Fields of Novel Endeavour? Who and/or What pays the investment bills that makes all things appear and appear to disappear and reappear somewhere elsewhere interesting and even quite different and considerably more powerful than was ever before realised and able to be planned for? Them for Us?

  32. David Roberts Silver badge

    A few points

    For those saying effectively "well we colonised America, how hard can it be?" I could point out that America (and Australia for another example) were already populated by humans when the modern invaders arrived.

    There were abundant supplies of food and water and plenty of raw materials to build shelters and the climate was agreeable for most of the year.

    Survival required little more than basic tools to get started, although you did need some survival knowledge and tool making and agricultural skills would help (remarkably lacking in a lot of early expeditions I read).

    Those talking about masses of people moving off Earth. This is not the most fuel efficient way to populate a new planet. Far more efficient to move well engineered production facilities out and replicate humans on site. Ovaries and testes are remarkably compact compared to the finished product and you can screen for (in your view) desirable traits in the producers. Compare this to our planet where the "bangs per buck" made it cost effective to move humans in bulk to provide labour in the colonies. Hence prisoners and slaves.

    The poor aren't going to get a look in either. The high cost of shipping humans to orbit and beyond and sustaining them will almost certainly lead to an indentured elite living off Earth under conditions dictated by the financiers who provided the transport and accomodation.

    So for the race overall it makes sense to move off planet and spread the risk. For all but a vanishingly small minority it will make no difference. We are stuck on this polluted mud ball and so are our descendants.

    The planet will most likely survive in some form whatever hits it. It has so far. Life will also survive, although not as we know it (Jim). Humanity is a fly speck on the timeline of Earth.

    Anyway, go Elon. Humanity needs to infect the Universe before this local infestation gets sterilised.

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