Solar, wind, hydraulic energy are all ways we can get natural resources. However, NASA and several other organizations want to move everybody to a new planet? Since the beginning of history, we have been solving problems. One problem is whether or not humans should colonize Mars. With many factors that go into exploring the red planet, NASA is trying to determine if exploring Mars is a worthwhile endeavor. When determining if humans should explore and colonize Mars, the end result will not be beneficial.
The first main reason why humans should not colonize Mars is that there are many other ways to solve ethical earth problems. Going to Mars would cost a large amount of money in which we do not have a surplus of. It is estimated that a trip to Mars would cost approximately $100 billion US dollars (Bazaka). With many families complaining about low funds and high taxes, NASA is spending billions on a trip to Mars which may not even be beneficial with many risks of the journey not being successful. Earth has many issues going on in the world, such as global warming due to air pollution from factories, polluted oceans, and overuse of non-renewable resources. Even though there is a good share of the money being put into helping the earth, there is much more that can be used to put into preserving it. While not all problems can be solved, there are many that have a problem solution fix that would prevent us from ever needing to go to Mars. The first example of how we can fix some of the earth’s problems is to spend more money on renewable resources. An idea on Mars is to use solar panels to colonize it, while the large portion of Earth does not use it. On Earth, we can use hydraulic energy by harnessing water to create energy which is something you can’t do on Mars with the lack of H2O. Some other problems you can solve include taking the garbage in oceans and landfills by turning them into biomass to create energy. That is another use of resources that we can use to make our lives better without having to go to another planet. By using the resources you can reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere lowering the global temperature. Our resources will never need to run out as well. Author, cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees makes a point when he states, “We’ve got to solve these problems here. Coping with climate change may seem daunting, but it’s a doddle compared to terraforming Mars. No place in our solar system offers an environment even as clement as the Antarctic or the top of Everest. There’s no ‘Planet B’ for ordinary risk-averse people” (Dvorsky).
The Second main reason why humans should not colonize Mars is that your bodies will not be able to survive. The first piece of evidence behind the negative effects on humans is regarding the extremely low air pressure. On Mars, the average air pressure is 6-7 millibars, while on earth, the average air pressure is 1012 millibars (Sharp). For reference, the lowest ever pressure from a hurricane in the Atlantic was Wilma back in 2005 which reached its lowest at 882mb and was a category five hurricane (“Hurricane Season 2005”). If you were to live in an environment with low air pressure, you could develop a ruptured lung, swollen skin and body tissue as well as death if exposed to it long enough. While this may not be a problem with a spacesuit, this would be very arduous to live with and will lead to many other problems (Dvorsky). Another big problem due to the low atmospheric pressure is a high large amount of solar radiation and cosmic rays that come into contact with Mars (Lewis). Even with protective gear, the extremely thin atmosphere still leaves you with a high risk of cancer, damage to the central nervous system, which could potentially alter your brain and nervous system functions. High radiation could also lead to vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, cataract, and circulatory diseases (Brabaw). Another problem due to the low air pressure is that while wearing protective suits are a great thing, they can also be a bad thing as well. According to Neurologist Rachael Seidler from the University of Florida, “there are a lot of potential negative physiological consequences.” Most people who have to live in artificial habitats or underground tend to have very little connectivity with the outside world (Dvorsky). In a study done by NASA’s human research program, people who spent time in these environments experienced a decline in mood, cognition, morale and interpersonal relationships (Brabaw). Some other symptoms include high blood pressure and an inability to concentrate. All of these impacts would make it very difficult to survive for centuries on end without genetic adaptation (Dvorsky). While you could technically survive with low air pressure, nothing can be done about the gravitational pull of Mars. On Mars, gravity is 37.5% of Earth. The low gravity can cause many issues on health and fertility (Dvorsky). When regarding the health issues of low gravity with so many changes in the amount of gravity you experience through the journey to Mars. One type of gravity is the normal levels on earth, zero gravity in space and low gravity on Mars. After being in space for a very long time, you will develop bad hand-to-eye coordination, poor balance and very little sense of movement in space. Coupled with the issues caused by the effects of radiation and confinement, humans would have a hard time communicating and moving (Brabaw). The brain makeup of neurons and fluids in humans also change due to the low gravity in which we have very little research beyond a year. Moving beyond the psychological issues, humans may have physical complications. Astronauts that participated in missions lasting a year said that they had a decreased amount of bone and muscle mass. They also developed heart problems, immune disorders as well as problems related to the astronaut’s metabolism. Some of the issues can be solved by exercising, but even then that would be very difficult to do so with colonists constantly solving problems. The final but major issue relating to gravity is the potential for issues with reproduction and fertility. To survive and colonize Mars, one of the main purposes would be to re-populate the earth. Typically radiation reads to high chances of infertility which would slow the exponential growth of the population. Secondly, while carrying the baby, the child would be further up in the mother’s stomach due to the low gravity, potentially harming the mother. The low gravity may also play a role in impacting the baby’s key development while growing in the mother’s stomach, which could harm it. We also don’t know how gravity would sustain a gentle baby’s body due to its low tolerance to the Mars atmosphere (Dvorsky).
The Third main reason behind why we shouldn’t colonize Mars is because the environment and supplies are not nearly sustainable as on earth. On Mars, due to the far distance away from the sun and the low air pressure, Mars is extremely cold. On average, Mars reaches a frigid -80°f but it can down to -195°f at the lowest (Sharp). For reference, to get hypothermia on earth meaning that it gains heat faster than it can lose it, the temperature needs to be at -40°f for five to seven minutes. This can be very dangerous and a large problem, especially if humans want to grow crops throughout a large area. If humans were to mass migrate to Mars due to a disaster, due to the cold temperatures and extremely low air pressure, most of the human race would not survive with such a high demand for suits (Dvorsky). What would happen when children were born and there were no suits left? It would be very difficult to get a supply probe up to space. If a group of people was to manufacture suits in space, that would also be challenging since most engineers would be on earth. There probably wouldn’t be factories or materials for it to be made either. Other essentials such as medicine, robotics, and electronic systems would likely not be there in demand as well (Bazaka). To continue with resources, it would be extremely difficult to grow foods on Mars. While you can colonize it with domes and grow foods within it, the high amount of solar radiation would prevent plants from growing. Also, Martian soil is very toxic which contains perchlorate chemicals so growing in the outside world would be near impossible. Furthermore, you couldn’t even grow plants without genetically modifying them in the first place so that it can survive several other elements (Dvorsky). Another reason the environment would be extremely unstable is because of the dust devils that develop on Mars. Even though Mars has little atmospheric pressure, it still has enough to create wind. It is theorized that with the high radiation, any dust caught in the air will gain heat and momentum leading to some of the biggest dust storms in the galaxy, potentially lasting several months. This is furthermore dangerous because the leading energy source would most likely be of solar energy. With a dust storm, the powering of equipment would be dangerously low (Sharp). You may say that since Mars has CO2 in the atmosphere, we can configure the surface and raise the air pressure enough for humans to travel without spacesuits through something called terraforming. While it is true that if we were to create an oxygenator-like device for a small centralized habitat, it may not be true for the entire planet. Chris Mckay at NASA’s Ames Research Center says, “If there is enough carbon dioxide, we could warm up Mars in 100 years once we start. We know how to warm up a planet – we’re doing it on Earth. The fundamental question is, is there enough stuff?” That question was answered in a research paper done by Bruce Jakowski at the University of Colorado and Christopher Edwards at Northern Arizona University in which the answer is no. In the study, the duo tried to find how much CO2 is on Mars using several spacecraft. They set out to see if all of the CO2 was released from the ice caps if it were to stabilize the atmosphere enough to thicken it. Since the pressure is about six millibars, to be able to breathe, we need roughly one bar of atmospheric pressure or 1000 millibars. After the study was completed, the team concluded that there was only enough CO2 to raise the pressure to 26 millibars, roughly three percent of 1000 they needed. Even if there were enough CO2, it would have taken centuries to build the correct amount of oxygen to support life without breathing with an oxygen mask (Crane).
Most folks would agree that there is a lot still left to learn about Mars. However, from what we do know, most evidence points towards colonizing the red planet being dangerous and risky in which we can use for many other resources. Mars also has an atmosphere that would be difficult not just to colonize but for the human body to survive and stay healthy. While on Earth there are still many problems we are yet to solve, the problems resulting in colonizing Mars would be much bigger.
- Dvorsky, George. “Humans Will Never Colonize Mars.” Gizmodo. 30 July 2020, gizmodo.com/humans-will-never-colonize-mars-1836316222
- Levchenko, Igor, et al. “Mars Colonization: Beyond Getting There.” Global Challenges, Volume 3. 25 October 2018, Wiley Online Library.
- Lewis, Owen. “Should We Colonize Mars? The Fate of Humanity May One Day Depend on It.” Quillette, 3 February 2020, quillette.com/2020/02/03/should-we-colonize-mars-the-fate-of-humanity-may-one-day-depend-on-it/, 3 April 2020.
- Crane, Leah. “Terraforming Mars might be impossible due to the lack of carbon dioxide.” NewScientist, 30 July 2018, www.newscientist.com/article/2175414-terraforming-mars-might-be-impossible-due-to-a-lack-of-carbon-dioxide/
- Sharp, Tim. “Mars’ Atmosphere: Composition, Climate & Weather.” Space.com, 12 Sept. 2017, www.space.com/16903-mars-atmosphere-climate-weather.html, 3 April 2020.
- “Hurricane Season 2005: Wilma.” NASA.gov, 27 October 2005, www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/h2005_wilma.html, 3 April 2020.
- Brabaw, Kasandra. “From Radiation to Isolation: 5 Big Risks for Mars Astronauts (Videos).” Space.com, 7 January 2020, www.space.com/42918-big-space-risks-mars-astronauts-videos.html, 3 April 2020.