Counterview is a series where our readers have debates over the big questions that concern the future of humanity. Our aim is to encourage both long-term and critical thinking about the world in a series of short reflective pieces.
Mansoor Dahri, UK
Where should humanity live next?
For a very long time, people have been saying that, if humanity is going to survive or simply just manage the crisis of overpopulation, we need to head to the stars and colonise other planets e.g. Mars.
There’s even talk of a space race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to see who can do it first.
Yet it’s less well known that there are also people who say that this is leaping too far ahead and that first it would be better to focus on finding a way for humans to live in remote and uninhabitable places on earth e.g. under the sea. It’s argued that humanity won’t be ready to inhabit barren planets that are millions of miles away until we first master the technical challenges of living in inhospitable places that are nearer to home.
There are people who have done amazing work in this area. For example, French architect Jacques Rougerie has designed dozens of underwater habitats over his career.
A diving pioneer called Jacques-Yves Cousteau built the first underwater habitat in 1962. He even built an underwater farm.
That’s a lot more progress than anything we’ve seen so far in the race to colonise outer space.
So, should our next stop be outer space or under water? Should we colonise the oceans first and then head for space? Or skip the seas and head straight for the stars?
Here are some facts to help you decide:
Water covers approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface area of roughly 510.1 million km². The Earth’s water has an average depth of about 3.7 Kilometres. That’s a lot of uninhabited space that’s within easy reach of humanity. Plus, there’s already life under water and thriving ecosystems so we won’t have to start from scratch in the same way as on barren or lifeless planets.
The minimum distance between Earth and Mars is 54.6 million Kilometres (it depends on the orbits of both planets), meaning that a trip takes 7 months. If we establish a colony there and something goes wrong, the nearest help would be very very far away (whereas under water colonies would still at least be on Planet Earth).
In approximately 1 billion years the Sun will be so hot that it will boil away all of the Earth’s oceans and our planet will be completely dry and lifeless. Humanity will die with it unless we move to other planets by then. But a billion years is still a very long time away from now.
So where do you think humanity should go first?
Let us know…
In the COMMENTS section below.
About the author: Mansoor Dahri is an online editor for The Review of Religions. He has recently graduated from UCL in BA Ancient Languages.