The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
Grape
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Humanity Should Begin Efforts to Colonize Mars

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/29/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 21,031 times Debate No: 17029
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (49)
Votes (3)

 

Freeman

Pro

I want to begin by saying how pleased I am to get the opportunity to debate Grape on this very unique and important topic. Though the issue of space exploration isn't much discussed in the general public, it does receive quite a bit of attention in academia. In particular, Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned physicist and the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, has been outspoken in support for the colonization of Mars.[1] I've come before you all to defend Stephen Hawking's proposal and explain to the best of my ability why we should invest the time, money and effort into colonizing Mars. Let me briefly outline some of the reasons why I support this proposal.

C1: Colonizing Mars has numerous practical benefits for modern life.

Have you ever wondered where much of modern technology came from? You might be surprised to learn that numerous technological innovations that benefit our daily lives were made possible by funding that went into the space program. Cancer detection and treatment systems, pacemakers, artificial hearts, non-intrusive ultrasound technology, breast biopsy systems, enriched baby food, firefighter air breathing systems, infrared cameras, cordless appliances, household smoke detection systems which are universally credited for saving numerous lives, energy efficient cars and aircraft, cutting-edge sports equipment, water purification systems, and air purification systems were all technologies originally developed to be used for the space program.[2] All of these innovations were merely byproducts of the United States space program, which doesn't even constitute 1 percent of the federal budget.

These technologies have not only saved lives, reduced greenhouse emissions responsible for global warming, and improved people's quality of life on Earth, they have continued to stimulate the economy and drive innovation.[3] Moreover, there is every reason to think that a similar amount of technological advancement would occur if we were to put the resources into colonizing Mars. Far from being a waste of money, funding for space projects have consistently helped improve life on Earth and create new industries that bring valuable jobs.

C2: There are overwhelming economic reasons to colonize Mars.

Mars has much to offer in the way of natural resources that make it very valuable. For example, there is a large quantity of rare metals on Mars such as platinum, silver and gold.[4] Mars is also abundant in deuterium (i.e., heavy-hydrogen).[5] This natural gas which is comparatively rare on Earth can be used in fusion reactors to produce an inordinate amount of energy. It has even been estimated that a milliliter of liquid heavy-hydrogen fuel would generate as much energy as 20 tons of coal.[6] Likewise, the main asteroid belt near Mars could be mined for its rich supply of minerals.[7] Accordingly, many of these natural resources could be transported back to Earth for a substantial profit.[8]

Robert Zubrin, an American aerospace engineer and the former Chairman of the National Space Society, points out that "Mars is singular in that it possesses all the raw materials required to support not only life, but a new branch of human civilization."[9] Like Earth, Mars has a rich supply of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. All of these elements are readily accessible on the planet in the forms of carbon dioxide gas, nitrogen gas and ice.[10] The amount of ice and permafrost on Mars could even be melted to form vast oceans. In short, Mars has all the elements that allow a human colony to be self-sustaining.

But it gets even better. By artificially inducing global warming on Mars through outgassing, humans will also be able to terraform the planet so that biological life can thrive there without the aid of technology.[11] In other words, terraforming Mars would allow it to become very similar to Earth in terms of its atmosphere and environment. Once we develop the technology for such a project, the vast resources of Mars would likely make this endeavor economically feasible. Although terraforming Mars is not necessary to set up colonies, this possibility shows the incredible potential that the planet has for human life.

C3: Mars has scientific secrets that are valuable and interesting.

While it is true that much of modern science has practical applications for daily life, scientific knowledge is also valuable in itself. Many scientists risk life and limb to explore caves and uninhabited parts of the world for the sheer joy of discovery that comes with such a process.[12] Anthropologist such as Maurizio Bettini spend their careers studying long dead civilizations.[13] This should tell us something. Part of what makes life on Earth worthwhile is the discovery that comes with learning. Knowledge can often be an end in itself and not just a means to an end.

Scientists understand that there may be extinct forms of life on Mars. If life was found there, such a discovery would go a long way to answering some of the biggest questions humans have ever asked about life's origins and the prevalence of extra-terrestrial life in the universe. Moreover, Mars is many billions of years older than the Earth, and it has a surface area of 144 million square kilometers.[14] Even if life was not found on Mars, the enormous canyons, volcanoes, craters and other geological features of the planet will provide us with invaluable opportunities for exploration and insights into how planets develop.[15]

C4: Colonizing Mars helps ensure the survival of the human species.

Mars offers humanity the ultimate lifeboat in the case that life on Earth no longer becomes possible or desirable. Sam Harris, a neuroscientist at the University of California Los Angeles, has argued that the fate of human civilization is placed on a knife edge, especially given the prospects of sectarian warfare with the use of weapons of mass destruction.[16] This is partly why Stephen Hawking has argued strongly in favor of building a colony on Mars. According to Hawking, "Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of."[17]

The distinguished Princeton astrophysicist J. Richard Gott III concurs with Stephen Hawking on this point. According to Dr. Gott, "We should [colonize Mars] soon, because colonizing other worlds is our best chance to hedge our bets and improve the survival prospects of our species."[18] In fact, most of the foremost cosmologists today have come to a consensus on this issue.[19] I think that we ignore the advice of these experts at our own peril.

Some may try to argue that colonizing Mars is not immediately necessary to ensure the survival of the human species. There are at least three problems with this rejoinder. First, it's highly questionable whether this is actually the case, especially considering all that could potentially go wrong. Second, colonizing Mars will take decades, so it's important that we begin the process now. Third, even if this criticism is completely valid, there are no good reasons not to begin the process now. I've already shown that colonizing Mars is economically feasible, and it has numerous other benefits.

| Conclusion |

In conclusion, colonizing Mars has numerous practical, economic and scientific benefits for our life here on Earth. In this time of economic hardship, such a proposal would not only help ensure economic prosperity; it would revitalize our commitment to scientific discovery. As President Kennedy once put it, let us do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.[20] And in this challenge, let us organize and bring out what is best about humanity, not just for our sake, but for the sake of generations yet to come.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com...
Grape

Con

Introduction:

Thanks to Freeman for debating on me this interesting and important issue for the future of our civilization.

Technical Issues:
  1. There are lots of ways to skin a cat. Pro needs to explain who should do this and where the resources should come from. We must work within existing institutions and incentive structures. “Bill Gates should donate 95% of his money” is not a viable plan.
  2. Because this debate concerns humanity, would should prefer a utilitarian framework. Feeding hungry people is more important than making rich people richer.

Rebuttals:

C1: Practical Inventions

Pro argues that numerous useful inventions were designed in the pursuit of space-based objectives. This is a historical happenstance. Just because water purification systems were invented to aid in space exploration doesn't mean this is the only reason they could be invented. Perhaps someone would have invented them to purify water.

Here are some incomplete lists of useful inventions that were not byproducts of the space program [1][2][3].

Turns:
  1. The space program has produced many useless inventions that would not otherwise have been designed. A famous example is the Space Pen, which is a privately-developed device designed for writing in space [4]. While there are legends surrounding it, the truth is that NASA paid over $100/unit for mechanical pencils [5]. This objection is not limited to space pens. If expansion into space is not desirable or viable at this time then spacecraft are also wasteful. Each mission costs half a billion dollars [6]. The majority of what NASA creates can be considered superfluous. Surely the beneficial byproducts can be independently developed without devoting the majority of the effort involved to a pointless trip to the moon.
  2. The space program not only produces useless technology, it diverts effort away from the production of useful technology. Food and agricultural sciences that end hunger or new methods of generating electricity are better candidates for government funding. The free market is the best source of innovation because there is an incentive to out-compete competitors and meet consumer demand, but there is no free market Mars program for a simple reason: it's not worth it.

C2: Economic Benefits

I. Resources
  1. Pro has no means of economic calculation to determine if his proposed ventures are profitable. He wants to to design and build equipment to go to Mars, dig up resources, and take them back to Earth to sell. The risk associated with that is very high due to physical danger and the possibility that the venture would fall flat for technological reasons. The principle of time preference also indicates that people prefer immediate to long term benefit. No reasonable person would invest in this.
  2. Silver, gold, and platinum do not benefit humanity. There is more gold than we need for technology already sitting in vaults. The majority of the world's population (humanity) would prefer one more bowl of rice to one more bar of gold in the world. This new supply will also cause the price of those metals to fall and no net benefit will result (since gold is valuable primarily for its rarity and not for practical uses).
  3. Deuterium is less valuable than gold [7]. If gold is not sufficient to drive a Mars expedition than neither is this isotope. There is not guarantee that it will magically solve the problem of energy, creating more risk. There are also better energy solutions that are immediately available. Also, about a quarter of the world's population lives without electricity [8]. These people don't care about the efficiency of power plants, they care about basic amenities that won't be found on Mars.

II. Terraforming
  1. Terraforming Mars would require the addition of trillions of cubic meters of gas to Mar' atmosphere and the increase of the planet's temperature by about 65º C [9]. The most generous predictions suggest this would take 100 years, but other estimates suggest 1000 or 1,000,000 years [10]. No one has a rate of time preference that low, and if the longer estimates are correct then the plan could become irrelevant over the time-frame. Long plans are high risk. There is no immediate reason to begin a project that will take so long when there are pressing concerns on Earth.
  2. Mars lacks a magnetic field, so solar wind allows particles in Mars' upper atmosphere to achieve escape velocity [11]. The atmosphere would be constantly diminishing and unless there was a constant supply of new gas to Mars it would eventually be removed again anyway. This means that using local on Mars material to create the Mars atmosphere is not a long-term viable strategy.
  3. There are unresolvable problems with Mars that make it uninhabitable to humans even if terraformed. Low gravity causes serious health issues, such as muscular dystrophy, low blood pressure, and heart problems [12]. Many of these problems cannot be solved through exercise. The lack of a magnetic field also means insufficient shielding from radiation, which causes cancer and birth defects [13].

C3: Science

Who cares about old rocks on Mars? Compared to other concerns, the weight of this argument is negligible. I concede that there's cool stuff on Mars. The huge cost of colonization, high risks, and low chance of long-term profitability and survival outweigh.

Counter-Proposal:

There are plenty of scientific secrets on Earth that we can discover without undertaking such a huge project. Less than half of the estimated number of beetle species have been discovered and finding them is not expensive [14].

C4: Survival
  1. Survival on the species level does not matter. If the world is destroyed in nuclear war, who cares if there are a few thousand people alive on Mars?
  2. Besides the opinion of a few scientists, there is no evidence of impending doom. The effects of global warming have been small [15], much progress has been made in nuclear non-proliferation [16], and engineered doomsday diseases are science fiction at this point. These claims are nothing more than a way to get attention.
  3. We can protect humans from massive disasters and ensure the survival of our species at a much lower cost by building giant, underground vaults on Earth in which people can avoid a disaster [17]. These can be constructed on short notice at a low cost, and there is no risk that the effort will be wasted.

Counter-Proposals:

Agricultural Science

Agricultural scientists develop new techniques to produce food and protect crops. This can involve bioengineering, advanced farming methods, development of new chemicals, and a host of other approaches [18]. Major universities such as Cornell have graduate programs and research faculty in AS [19]. Investing in this field of science instead of space technology will decrease hunger and global warming and increase the production of healthy food. There are countless projects in AS don't require hundred-year-long plans and multi-billion dollar start-up costs.

Green Energy

The world currently draws much of its energy from sources that will eventually be depleted. Oil and coal cannot be expected to sustain us for more than 100 more years (less time than it would take to colonize Mars) and will only become more expensive [20]. It also puts political power into the hands of terrorist states that control reserves, such as Saudi Arabia. It is more productive for scientists to work on solar, nuclear, wind, and hydrological energy than for them to work on plans for Mars colonization.

Third World Infrastructure

We can spend money building roads, power lines, wells, and other infrastructure in poor countries. This greatly helps the inhabitants as well as the rest of the world. It will increase trade and economic development.

Conclusion:

Mars is not worth it right now considering the risks and other options. It will always be there and we can colonize it when we are ready.

Sources:

http://5z8.info...
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

Allow me to begin by thanking Grape for taking the time out to have this debate with me. Con has raised numerous arguments in response to my proposal, and he has also offered a different set of projects where the money could be spent. I'll be addressing those arguments. And I will also show why my proposal is actually better suited to my opponent's own goals than the one he has put forth.

C1: Colonizing Mars has numerous practical benefits for modern life.

Allow me to briefly explain where I propose we take the money from in order to colonize Mars. In the United States alone, approximately 600 billion was spent in 2004 on defense.[1] Even reducing defense spending by one fourth would produce more than enough money to begin efforts to colonize Mars. Colonizing Mars could also be an international effort of course. Now, let's take a look at Con's objections.

1. First, Con points out that many useful technologies have not been the product of the space program. He also indicates that space-based technologies could have been developed for different reasons. I simply fail to see the relevance of either of these two points. Moreover, the unique challenges presented by colonizing Mars make it likely that many highly valuable technologies will be developed. I'm going to touch on this point more later on in (C5).

2. Second, Con seems to imply that space-exploration is wasteful. Remember, I've already addressed this point. The space program helps create jobs, and the technology from the space program continues to drive new innovation and the economy.[2]

3. Third, Con seems to suggest that the space program is inefficient and produces useless technology. At best, Con's argument suggests that the space program should be made more efficient or privatized.

C2: There are overwhelming economic reasons to colonize Mars.

I've previously argued that colonizing mars has economic benefits. Con raises numerous objections to this point.

1. First, he claims that I have no way of determining if colonizing Mars is profitable. Well, I have given the expert testimony of the aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin, who is the former Chairman of the National Space Society.[3] Con also says that my proposal can be dangerous. Though this is partially true, many worthwhile ventures involve some degree of risk. That isn't a reason to abandon them.

2. Second, Con seems to suggest that the natural resources of Mars are of no benefit to humanity. I submit that this objection is simply misguided. Yes, it's true that gold has no inherent value, but trading it and selling it helps stimulate and build the economy, so that more people can buy things like rice.

3. Third, Con suggests that deuterium isn't very valuable. Well, deuterium would help drive the economy of Mars as an energy source. And it's certainly a valuable trade item. These materials, of course, are only a tiny fraction of what Mars has to offer.

Colonizing Mars is like a business venture. There might be initial start up costs, but it will eventually pay for itself and become profitable. Con also raises three separate objections with respect to terraforming Mars.

1. First, Con simply attacks a straw man in suggesting that I argued that we immediately terraform Mars. Remember, I said that doing this wasn't necessary to set up colonies. It merely highlights the planet's possibilities for human life. Whether we terraform later will depend on other factors.

2. Second, con claims that Mars' atmosphere would constantly diminish after it was initially set up. This is simply not the case. Venus doesn't have a magnetic field, but it has a thick atmosphere.[4]

3. Third, humans would obviously need to initially wear suits on Mars, so Con's point about solar radiation is irrelevant. And finally, Con has not presented evidence that the gravity level on Mars is so low that it would be harmful to humans.

C3: Mars has scientific secrets that are valuable and interesting.

I think that Con's objection to the scientific benefits of exploring Mars are deficient in numerous ways. For starters, there aren't just rocks there. (See my C3 for round 1.) And though collecting all the species of beetles on Earth might be fun, it would get old after a while. I ask the audience: If there was extinct life on Mars, wouldn't you want to know? Isn't that information intriguing to you? Some of the geological features of Mars are like nothing the Earth has to offer. Exploring those features is definitely a worthwhile goal for those interested in discovery, as many people are.

C4: Colonizing Mars helps ensure the survival of the human species.

Con points out that there is no evidence of an immediate catastrophe on Earth. There is also no immediate evidence that my opponent will get into a car crash tomorrow. That doesn't mean it would be rational for him not to wear a seatbelt the next time he gets into a car. Technology grows at an exponential rate,[5] and we simply don't know what sorts of deadly technologies will be available even 100 years from now. This is exactly what Stephen Hawking was talking about.

Con also says that we can protect against the extinction of the human species at a lower cost than colonizing Mars. And I would agree. Colonizing Mars isn't mainly about ensuring the immediate survival of the species, though it is the ultimate long term strategy. The benefits of (C4) are merely supplemental to the benefits of (C1, C2 and C3), which combined make my plan viable and worthwhile.

C5: Grape's counter proposals are deficient in numerous ways.

As a counterproposal to building a colony on Mars, Con suggests three different ways we could spend the money. I see at least a couple of different problems with this objection. It is simply not the case that my opponent's proposals are so expensive that they would preclude humanity from being able to go to Mars. Moreover, I think that my proposal actually better accomplishes my opponent's own goals than his does.

1. First, a huge part of colonizing Mars would be developing new technologies for agriculture. The colonies would obviously need food in order to survive. So we can see right off the bat that my proposal at least partially subsumes Grape's plan. In fact, the challenges associated with developing agriculture on Mars would present more opportunities for innovation than developing agriculture on Earth.

2. Secondly, the exact same thing is true of green energy. Colonizing Mars would force scientists to come up with new energy solutions. Furthering research into solar, nuclear, wind, and hydrological energy would be part and parcel with colonizing Mars. Of course, this also applies to infrastructure technology as well, since a large part of colonizing Mars will include building living structures for humans to inhabit. And all of this would benefit the economy and increase trade. Con simply doesn't have an advantage in this area.

On top of this, developing this technology in the context of a space-mission to colonize Mars will likely be more productive than developing the technology exclusively for Earth. Neil deGrasse Tyson, a distinguished astrophysicist, has explained how scientific innovation and insight is spurred by tackling new problems and venturing into new areas where science hasn't gone before.[6] The same thing is true with space technology. By grappling with the technological challenges for developing energy solutions, agriculture and infrastructure for Mars, scientists will be in a better position to make scientific discoveries that will be beneficial to Earth.

| Conclusion |

As we've seen, colonizing Mars has many benefits for humanity from a practical, economic and scientific perspective. Even the benefits the Con supposes for his own proposal are largely subsumed by my proposal. It is for these reasons that I maintain that humanity should begin efforts to colonize Mars.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com...
Grape

Con

Introduction:

Kind words. Recognition of debate. Assertion of my correctness.

C1: Practical Innovations

Funding: Pro wants to take money from national defense. The US defense budget funds most of the globe's security. Cutting the budget will limit the US's ability to provide security with, for instance, its fleet in the Sea of Japan. There would be global political opposition to this plan, and it would result in a lose of global trade. [1] Interest rates would rise due to increased risk and globalization would be reduced, lowing the rate of economic growth. These costs clearly far exceed the benefits of Mars colonization.
  1. Extend. It's just a coincidence that some inventions are byproducts of the space program; they could have been discovered in some other way. Dedicated research in a specific practical error is more effective than hoping for byproducts to result from research in some other technology-intensive field.
  2. Pro says the space program is not wasteful because it creates jobs and technology. He commits the Broken Window Fallacy [2]. If the space program is not worthwhile, the labor and research are being misallocated. Counting all the grains of in the Sahara Desert would create jobs and technology, but it's wasteful because it doesn't satisfy consumer demand. Go home, Keynes.
  3. The space program will necessarily produce wasteful technology if its goal is itself wasteful. Pro cannot wave a magic wand and make these agencies more efficient to cut costs. If NASA were privatized, it would not attempt Mars colonization because it's a bad investment. We know it's a bad investment because there is no private Mars colonization project, and the law of demonstrated preference [3] tells us that means there is no demand for such a project.

C2: Economic Benefits

I. Resources
  1. Aerospace engineers cannot engage in economic calculation, only speculation. Without a price mechanism and profit and loss accounting, it is impossible to perform economic calculation. Only a private organization, considering its own goals and resources, could rationally determine if an investment is worthwhile. On this see [4]. Con also concedes that this is risky. Extend my time preference analysis. It is reasonable to assume that firms would consider this a bad investment because of the high costs, risks, and delay of returns.
  2. Adding more gold to the economy will not help people buy rice. First, it is likely that all the benefits of Mars colonization would be reaped by a small group of wealthy investors. Second, the price of gold would just fall in response to the increase in supply and the world's total purchasing power would remain constant.
  3. It is impossible to evaluate the exact utility of deuterium. It costs less than gold, so it is presumably less valuable. Pro says this is a tiny fraction of what Mars has to offer but does not elaborate. He has not given us any definite evaluation of how much revenue would be generated to justify a huge expense, high risk, and long delay of return.

II. Terraforming
  1. Pro says this plan isn't necessarily to set up colonies. The resolution says otherwise. Pro does not address the core of my criticism, which is that he cannot derive benefit for his case from a project that would take thousands of years without taking discount rate into account. We must consider these colonies as miners and scientists living exclusively indoors as far as present results are concerned.
  2. Venus has an induced magnetosphere as a result of solar winds from the sun [4]. Mars lacks any magnetic field. Scientists believe that Mars formerly had a thicker atmosphere and that its atmosphere was depleted [5]. Regardless of why it was depleted, all things being equal the same process would likely occur again. Because Pro wants to spend hundreds billions of dollars, he has to justify that the risk is not too high.
  3. According to this, humans would always have to wear suits on Mars to avoid radiation. Other forms of live may also be harmed. The gravity on Mars is 1/3rd of that on Earth, which is significantly less than what humans are adapted to [6]. My source 12 from the previous round discusses this. Also, Pro should show that this is not a risk instead of just claiming there is insufficient evidence because he is the one proposing the spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a hazardous plan.

C3: Science

Extend my arguments on all of this. Scientific secrets on Mars are not important enough to justify the costs. There are limitless alternatives besides beetles on Earth. No one cares enough about these canyons and volcanoes to justify the expense.

C4: Survival
  1. Pro drops my argument that survival on the species level doesn't matter. We're paying for the potential survival of a very small number of people. This also assumes that the Mars colony can be self-sufficient forever. Because terraforming is basically impossible, it won't be self-sufficient and humans will die out anyway. Pro has the obligation to explain how such a colony could last forever if he thinks otherwise because it's his plan.
  2. There is no guarantee that Pro won't get hit by a bus the next time he goes for a walk, so he should stay home instead? We must take proportionate precautions based on the likelihood of a bad event. Fastening my seat-belt does not cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The sky does not appear to be falling, so there is no need to take precautions against the possibility of an apocalypse.
  3. Pro concedes the superiority of my counter-plan. The only advantage Pro could possibly gain from this is that we wouldn't have to build vaults. But if the world is ending then cost accounting becomes unimportant and we would build vaults with or without a Mars colony to save more people.

C5: Counter-Proposals

We could do these proposals and go to Mars, but I am arguing that whatever funding Pro claims we should use for a Mars colony should go to these projects instead. In any case, I have a much better source of funding than the military budget Pro wants to draw from: funds can be reallocated from NASA to my projects.
  1. The benefits of agricultural technology are not subsumed by the Mars plan. We are not looking for better ways to grow rice indoors in low gravity. Research on agriculture for a Mars colony cannot provide more knowledge about agricultural on Earth than research on agriculture for Earth, so the Pro plan cannot be a better alternative. We need ways to eliminate pests, reduce pollution, and grow food in low-income areas under poor conditions. The research for Mars will not help with this.
  2. Means of producing energy on Mars are likewise not analogous to producing energy on Earth. How can hydrological energy technology be of any use on a planet with no liquid water? We will need magically invent everything by trying to colonize Mars, and, again, research on energy for Mars cannot outperform pure energy research.
  3. Pro drops my point about infrastructural development and just vaguely implies that the benefits of building roads in Third World countries is somehow subsumed by sending spaceships to another planet.

Remember, even if all of this is subsumed by the Mars plan, and it clearly isn't, there are still two clear reasons why these plans are better alone:
  1. Pure research on X will yield more knowledge of X than research on X just will regard to X's usefulness to a Mars colony.
  2. We can research these things without going to Mars at a much, much lower cost. The Mars plan must stand alone without these benefits.

Conclusion:

Pro proposes an extremely costly plan with dubious benefits. Almost every benefit he suggests can be achieved at a much lower cost and reduced risk. There is no compelling reason to begin colonizing Mars at this point in our history.

Sources:

http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

I appreciate my opponent's response to my arguments. In his previous round, Con seems to have raised some questions about whether or not colonizing Mars is economically feasible. With respect to this main point, I don't think that Con has been successful in demonstrating any real difficulties for my position.

C1: Colonizing Mars has numerous practical benefits for modern life.

Apart from mere assertion, Con hasn't provided any credible evidence that a decrease in the defense budget by one-fourth would cause interest rates to rise and also slow economic growth. Linda J. Bilmes, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, who teaches budgeting, applied budgeting and public finance, has estimated that the War in Iraq alone cost taxpayers as much as 1 trillion dollars.[1] The U.S. also has military bases all over the world, even though it has ended combat in those areas.[2] Ron Paul, a distinguished congressman and libertarian, points out that this is a poor way to allocate resources.[3] If anything, it's reasonable that the United States' bloated military budget hampers economic progress by diverting resources away from science and technology.

Moreover, I don't think it's really an objection to say that many technologies from the space program could have been invented in a different context. The space programs unique focus on aerospace practically guarantees that lots of useful technology will be developed. Of course, this criticism also ignores the value of the core aerospace technology that comes with the research.

Con then seems to suggest that I've committed a fallacy because the space program isn't worthwhile. Well, I submit that the goal of the space program is certainly not wasteful. In particular, the space program helps create valuable technology based jobs that drive the economy.

Con goes on to suggest we can know that colonizing Mars is wasteful because there is no private Mars colonization project. I fail to see the logic behind this point. If investors were presented with a rational and compelling argument about why colonizing Mars is a good investment, they would be on board. I think that I have such an argument.

C2: There are overwhelming economic reasons to colonize Mars.

Despite what Con has claimed, the people best able to make economic calculations about the value of colonizing Mars are the people like Robert Zubrin and the National Space Society.[4] Remember, to know the benefits of a scientific mission (economic or otherwise), you have to first know the science. As I've said previously, the fact that going to Mars may pose some risks is not a compelling argument against going to Mars. Lots of things worth doing carry some risk (e.g., driving a car).

The real bulk of Con's objection is that short term gain is better than long term gain. That is simply false. Many business ventures take years (and even longer) to become profitable.[5] An intelligent investor is rational to put his or her money in a project that is profitable, even if that project takes a while to turn a profit.

Con claims that the economic benefits of colonizing Mars would likely go to a small group of wealthy investors. But he offers no argument to defend this view. Moreover, the economic value of materials like gold and deuterium would be a net gain from Mars. They would only be worthless (or come with no net gain) if the market became too saturated with them, which obviously wouldn't be the case.

Con then claims that terraforming Mars is part of the resolution. But that's simply incorrect, as I've pointed out in my very first round: "Although terraforming Mars is not necessary to set up colonies, this possibility shows the incredible potential that the planet has for human life."

Con now maintains that Mars' atmosphere would likely be depleted if it were built again. This objection is without merit. Given enough time, our atmosphere on Earth will likely be depleted, too. If Con wants to maintain that Mars' gravity levels represent an insuperable obstacle to life on Mars, he is the one burdened to demonstrate this. Of course, his objections here (and elsewhere) are all prima facie implausible because they aren't recognized as being valid by the actual research scientists who study Mars.

C3: Mars has scientific secrets that are valuable and interesting.

Con keeps attempting to argue that colonizing Mars doesn't justify the cost. I've already dealt with this argument. Science not only drives the economy, it brings value to life. Learning whether or not there is life on Mars is worthwhile. And getting information about such a fascinating distant planet is valuable.

C4: Colonizing Mars helps ensure the survival of the human species.

With respect to Con's first argument, he seems to assume that only a few thousand people could survive on Mars. I think that's false. The number would obviously continue to grow and multiply as the planet becomes further developed. Obviously no planet can be self-sufficient forever, including Earth. We would have to keep expanding to other planets in the long run.

I completely agree with Con that "We must take proportionate precautions based on the likelihood of a bad event." My point here, which Con has not responded to, is that technology grows at a rapid rate; and we're ignorant of what sorts of deadly technology will be available even 100 years from now. Therefore, given the common occurrence of human conflict, preparing for the worst isn't unreasonable.

Remember, I acknowledged that there are cheaper ways to preserve human life in the case of a worldwide catastrophe. I went on to say that C4 alone doesn't carry my argument. But the combined weight of C1-C4 does.

C5: Grape's counter-proposals are deficient in numerous ways.

You'll remember that I raised two basic objections to Con's previous argument. First, Con's plan is not so expensive that it would preclude us from doing my plan. If my plan is good enough on its own merits, his argument is simply irrelevant. Second, my proposal actually subsumes much of Grape's proposal.

First, Con argues that "Research on agriculture for a Mars colony cannot provide more knowledge about agricultural on Earth than research on agriculture for Earth." How does my opponent know this? The challenges associated with growing food on Mars are far greater than the challenges associated with growing food on Earth. The scientific knowledge that comes from solving those challenges, therefore, would be greater.

Con asks how hydrological energy can be researched on Mars because the planets' water is all frozen. Apparently the difficulties associated with unfreezing ice are a real problem for my plan. As it turns out, unfreezing ice is actually quite simple.

I've argued that research into infrastructure technology is also an important part of colonizing Mars. Building technology sturdy enough to handle the environment of Mars has real benefits for Earth. Moreover, who is going to pay for these buildings that Con wants to build in the Third World? The poor people of the Third World? The government? The private sector out of its own kindness? I think that Con has some explaining to do.

Con then argues that pure research on (X) will yield more knowledge of (X). Yes, this is true. But all the research yielded from the various areas of study necessary to colonize Mars are worth more than pouring lots of money into one specific area. Any cost benefit analysis must take this into account.

| Conclusion |

The bulk of Con's criticism of my argument has been that my plan would cost a lot of money. While this is partially true, it overlooks the fact that many investments worth making initially have a large start up cost; however, the money comes back in natural resources, technology and all the jobs that are created in the process. Taken together, all of these arguments provide a strong cumulative case for colonizing Mars.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com...
Grape

Con

Grape forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Freeman

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for giving me the opportunity to argue with him. I hope that you all have enjoyed this debate as much as I have. Of course, I won't be able to defend myself against any new arguments or evidence that Con may bring up in the last round. So I would ask that any such arguments be disregarded. As far as I can tell, all of the objections that Con has managed to bring up so far have been soundly refuted. Having said that, allow me to briefly summarize my case once more.

C1: Colonizing Mars has numerous practical benefits for modern life.

Con has made wild speculation about what would happen if the United States decreased its defense budget to help colonize Mars. I think it should be clear that he has not managed to carry any of his contentions. Indeed, the United States heavy emphasis on defense spending diverts money away from technology based industries that help drive the economy and create jobs.

You'll remember at the outset of this debate I listed numerous scientific innovations that have come from the space program. As I've indicated previously, cancer detection and treatment systems, pacemakers, artificial hearts, non-intrusive ultrasound technology, breast biopsy systems, enriched baby food, firefighter air breathing systems, infrared cameras, cordless appliances, household smoke detection systems which are universally credited for saving numerous lives, energy efficient cars and aircraft, cutting-edge sports equipment, water purification systems, and air purification systems were all technologies originally developed to be used for the space program.

Con's main objection has been that this technology could have been developed in a different context. However, this objection overlooks the fact that the space programs unique focus on aerospace practically guarantees that lots of useful technology will be developed. More than many other fields of technology, the unique challenges associated with aerospace technology guarantees that lots of scientific innovation will occur. Moreover, Con's objection has completely overlooked the value of the core technology that has come from the space program. The benefits I've listed were merely byproducts of that core technology.

Furthermore, the technology and innovation that accompanies expansion into space drives the economy and creates jobs. Con has yet to respond to this apart from the loose insinuation that these jobs are comparable to 'counting grains of sand.' I submit that Con is demonstrably wrong on this point. Likewise, Con is incorrect in suggesting that colonizing Mars isn't worthwhile because no private firms have taken steps to colonize Mars. This presupposes that these investors are virtually omniscient and completely rational. Clearly, this isn't the case. These investors "should" put money into colonizing Mars because I have given them rational reasons to do so - reasons that Con has not managed to refute.

C2: There are overwhelming economic reasons to colonize Mars.

As I've argued previously, "the people best able to make economic calculations about the value of colonizing Mars are the people like Robert Zubrin and the National Space Society. Remember, to know the benefits of a scientific mission (economic or otherwise), you have to first know the science." Also, the fact that some activity may carry some risk is not an argument against doing that activity. As I've said, driving a car carries some risk.

Con has also continuously insinuated that short term gain is better than long term gain. As such, Con has argued that Mars shouldn't be colonized because it is a long term investment. This is refuted both by common sense and the economics that govern business ventures. Many businesses take a long time to become profitable; that doesn't mean that they aren't worthwhile investments. It would be like saying that people shouldn't go to college because this is a long term investment that won't become immediately profitable. Mars' abundant natural resources clearly make it valuable.

Likewise, all of the alleged difficulties that Con has put against my plan have not been shown to be correct. Terraforming Mars is not necessary to set up colonies there. And the problems Con has claimed come with terraforming Mars haven't been substantiated. The same thing is true of the difficulties that Con has claimed come with living on Mars in general. Apart from mere assertion, we've not seen any good evidence to think that these criticisms are valid. If Stephen Hawking, Robert Zubrin and the top scientists over at NASA have overlooked some fatal flaw in their position, stronger arguments are needed to demonstrate that.

C3: Mars has scientific secrets that are valuable and interesting.

Apart from suggesting that we spend all of our time collecting beetles, I don't think that Con has managed to come up with a viable refutation of my argument. Mars' scientific secrets are valuable from a historical perspective because of the unique makeup of the planet. They would also provide us with insights about the nature of life elsewhere in the universe. And all of this would go a long way to answering some of the largest and most profound questions humans have ever asked.

C4: Colonizing Mars helps ensure the survival of the human species.

Con has not managed to refute my argument that it is rational to plan for a catastrophe given the rapid development of technology and the history of human conflict. Please extend that argument and my other arguments that have gone unrefuted from (C1 - C4).

With respect to my fourth argument, Con is partially correct in saying that there are cheaper ways to secure the human species from extinction. However, this objection overlooks the fact that (C4) is only one of the reasons for colonizing Mars. It merely adds weight to my overall case. As such, it is irrelevant whether or not there are other possible ways to secure the survival of the human species.

C5: Grape's counter-proposals are deficient in numerous ways.

You'll remember that I raised two basic objections to Con's previous argument. First, Con's plan is not so expensive that it would preclude us from doing my plan. If my plan is good enough on its own merits, his argument is simply irrelevant. We've yet to see a response to this. Second, my proposal actually subsumes much of Grape's proposal. Indeed, Con's own arguments are more beneficial to me than they are to him.

Investing in agricultural and energy technology would be a large part of colonizing Mars. As I've argued previously, "The challenges associated with growing food on Mars are far greater than the challenges associated with growing food on Earth. The scientific knowledge that comes from solving those challenges, therefore, would be greater." This also applies to energy technology.

Moreover, Con has also not managed to explain who is going to pay for these buildings and roads that he wants to set up in the Third World. Nor has he managed to explain how this objection even properly negates my plan to begin with. So, neither of my objections have been properly refuted. We can clearly allocate resources to fulfill Con's plan an my plan at the same time. And Con's plan is largely subsumed by my plan to begin with.

| Conclusion |

In conclusion, I think we've seen at least five good reasons to colonize Mars. By contrast, all of the objections that Con has put forward have come up short. The alleged difficulties associated with colonizing Mars have not been shown to be accurate. Nor has it been demonstrated that Colonizing Mars is a waste of money. Indeed, all of the evidence thus far has shown that colonizing Mars would likely have a positive effect on the economy. Given all of these arguments, I think that we have good grounds to affirm that humanity should begin efforts to colonize Mars.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com...
Grape

Con

Grape forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
49 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
And congratulations on an awesome debate by both sides. This has definitely been one of my favorites.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Overall, I think Pro's plan is a stretch at best. He shows how useful colonizing can be but doesn't really show how it can be done. We can't exactly take a quarter of the military's budget and spend it on colonization of Mars. The point about benefits was equally argued by both sides. It is a really good question whether we should pour money into individual inventions or whether we should focus on space exploration and let the by-products take care of themselves. My opinion on whether we should begin to colonize Mars: We SHOULD, but we CAN'T right now.
Posted by RogueAngel 5 years ago
RogueAngel
forfeit*
Posted by RogueAngel 5 years ago
RogueAngel
Wow, a forfiet? Too bad.
Posted by VocMusTcrMaloy 5 years ago
VocMusTcrMaloy
Maybe we could send White Nationalists to Mars and make EVERYBODY happy!
Posted by Freeman 5 years ago
Freeman
Grape, I absolutely love your #17 source. I was wondering what that was going to be.
Posted by CiRrK 5 years ago
CiRrK
ah Grape used turns :D
Posted by Freeman 5 years ago
Freeman
Thanks. It was actually Grape's original idea, and I suggested we debate it.
Posted by Procrastarian 5 years ago
Procrastarian
A less-discussed topic being debated by two great debaters. I'm very excited. Props to whoever's idea it was to debate this; I hope to learn a lot!
Posted by tvellalott 5 years ago
tvellalott
BUY DELL! nac
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by mee2kool4u369 4 years ago
mee2kool4u369
FreemanGrapeTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: The forfeit of Grape made me lost all interest
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
FreemanGrapeTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Awesome debate. At least for the first two rounds. Wish I could have seen a completed one. Pro does a good job showing that colonizing Mars has long term benefits but Con was more convincing on the practical issues such as where the money will come from. RFD is obvious as Con forfeited multiple rounds, but the debate was great (while it lasted).
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
FreemanGrapeTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: How much wouod it cost to *begin* efforts? Pro said $150 billion or less and Con didn't contest the number. Pro had weak expert evidence of ultimate profitability, but Con had no solid evidence to the contrary. The "lifeboat" argument was won Pro. Con won the Defense budget argument, but didn't have compelling alernatives. Args and conduct (Con forfeit) to Pro, voted as 7 pts as a tournament debate. BTW, gold has substantial industrial value.