Why “Against Mars" — cont'd
As an archaeologist, I have some claim to understanding human evolution. An area of study in archaeology is the emergence of what is called behavioural modernity - the suite of characteristics that make Homo sapiens different from other hominid species or more successful than other human ancestors. Exploring and adventuring have never appeared in all the literature as an innate modern human quality! And of course now, with the discovery of new human species like Homo floresiensis and the Denisovans, and the recent results showing that Paranthropus was making stone tools at Olduvai Gorge, the idea that there is some sort of linear trajectory of evolution leading to the stars seems even more ridiculous. Interestingly, when I challenge the idea of the human urge to explore in space gatherings, it sometimes makes people quite angry. It is for sure a foundational myth for contemporary space 'exploration'.
Thank your for these thoughts, I especially like the characterization of space colonization as "non-science non-fiction" – I am writing my PhD in American literature and I am exploring Indigenous and Postcolonial Perspectives on Outer Space and Cosmologies in contrast to the prevalent techno-utopian logics and discourses of space colonization. And in my thesis, I aim to disrupt the imaginary boundary between "serious" political/technological/capitalist views of outer space and "fictional" ones (that is broadly: SF, poetry, film, etc.) and read legal texts and corporate claims also as texts that performatively write the future they strive for into being.
Anyways, sorry for the long introduction to what I am doing, but your "non-science non-fiction" paragraph has struck a chord with me. Excited where this project takes you and I am glad to be a part of it!
Charting all potential impactors in the solar system and regularizing (via gravity tractor) the orbits of anything threatening is likely orders of magnitude cheaper and easier than colonizing Mars right now. That, and becoming responsible stewards of our biosphere, should give us millions of years. On the billion year time scale, sure, the Sun will eventually turn into a red giant, but if we're somehow still around by then, we can move the Earth into Saturn orbit and keep plate tectonics running with the heat from tidal flexing.