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The Contender
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Humans should colonize Antarctica and not Mars.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/10/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,998 times Debate No: 32334
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
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I will be arguing that the colonization of Mars is not something we should focus any serious effort on, and if colonization of uninhabited places is going to occur, Antarctica should instead be our target.


I will as opposed to pro be arguing that the colonization of antartica is something we shouldn't focus any effort on, and if anything we should instead go for mars.

Antartica is not ideal because:

1 Antartica has already been colonized to a degree by people.

2 If the purpose of colonization is because there is some sort of catastrophe that has ruined most of the planet, antartica would be the last place to go.

3 There is no significant benefit or innovation by colonizing antartica.

The planet mars is a better place to colonize because:

1 It greatly extends the domain to which humans work in as
opposed to antartica where humans already work in, making it a greater feat.

2 There are more resources and room on mars (an entire planet) as opposed to antartica (one continent that is mostly just covered by ice).

3 There are no ecosystem on mars that humans could disturb (or be disturbed by... O_O) as opposed to antartica which has many species (scientist, penguins, whales, different birds, the usual).

4 Colonizing mars will make it one small step further to explore the rest of the solar system... galaxy. And it will be easier to reach other planets.

5 If, worst case scenerio, earth gets hit by a rogue planet, comet, charlie sheen, you name it, we have somewhere else to go.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting! This should be a nice change of pace.

Antarctica is a better candidate for colonization than Mars because:

Significantly lower

1. travel costs

  1. resupply costs

  2. equipment costs

  3. risk of death by:

  • starvation

  • dehydration

  • irradiation

  • lung deflation

And you can get home if you want to!

The cost of travel to Antarctica is low enough that an average visit costs $5000 to $8000 dollars, and, according to my source, a high end berth on a visit would cost around $40,000. I'm guessing that spartan accomodations on the way there, plus room for all your nesseccary belongings, might be about that or double, more or less if you include fees for moving equipment for all your stuff once you arrive. That's only the price of an average house on today's American market, so a 1st world family could afford that if they really wanted to make a colony of it.

But wait a minute, that's kinda expensive, and I didn't even include that much to back up my guesses! I don't think I need to: Even if it's $500,000 per couple to start a homestead in Antarctica, the price of merely launching a proposed 6 man mission to Mars for a mere visit, (video minute 30-39) would cost $144,500,000,000, using optimistic, but fairly reasonable guesses. (85,000 tons x 2000 to get pounds=170,000,000 lbs x $850 per pound= $144,500,000,000. /by three, per couple rate = $48,166,666,666.67) That doesn't include mission support, R&D, the cost of the equipment that is to be launched, and resupply shipments. And that trip only takes them there and back. They don't have enough supplies to stay on Mars for generations.

+There's at least air, water, and food in Antarctica. If your equipment fails, you can get all the nesseccities to live from your enviornment for a while. Elephant Island supported some of the stranded members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition for four months, and all they had was a wrecked sailing ship.

+Mars does have oxygen tied up in other compounds, but it would require sophisticated equipment to extract. The air in Antarctica must only be breathed through a thick scarf on the coldest days, but is otherwise usable as-is. Martian air is also too thin for your blood to not boil, even if the atmospheric composition were right, and the planet's weak magnetic field allows more exposure to cosmic rays than we receive in Antarctica. Not to mention radiation exposure on the way to Mars.

+Water is not readily available at the surface on Mars, except in the coldest regions of an already frigid planet. Fresh water in the form of snow and ice is plentiful throughout Antarctica.

+The soil of Antarctica already supports plant life in the northernmost regions, so under a greenhouse or other climate controlled structure, some supplimental farming could be done with no leap of technology, and larger scale subsistance farming is concievable. There is strong evidence the soil of Mars is toxic, and a heavy oxidizer.

+I will accept it as fair speculation that Mars may have more resources than Antarctica just because of it's size, but the nature of these mineral resources in virtually unknown. Antarctica's mineral resources are also poorly understood due to thick ice sheets, but not to the extent of Mars. We know there are usable deposits of coal, oil, and natural gas. Sea life has also already provided a living for many in the Antarctic for centuries. These resources can be managed carefully as not to irrepairably harm the ecosystem, as we have learned to do elsewhere. There is no known life on Mars.

In closing my half of this round, I will put forth this standard for a serious colony to survive: It must thrive in resources, that is the colonists must be able to get more resources and energy from their work than they put into it. That is not a concievable possibility with Mars right now, but semi-permanent bases and profits have been made around the South Pole for some time, at least in the fishing business.

I will also answer a few more of my opponent's arguments for a Mars colony in brief.

Antarctica has been colonized, to a degree, but not a self-sustaining colony. That would be new. Innovation in at least technique, if not technology, would be required to settle there. And the lessons learned would be useful if we could ever afford to send a colony to another, cold, remote location, like Mars. We've not done either, let's do what we can do, and can afford to do, first. So Antarctica should be considered as a stepping stone to anywhere offworld, especially Mars, since it is the most extreme cold habitat on Earth.

Size is not really an issue with Antarctica vs. Mars. Both are huge, and have virtually nobody there. Right now, and into the concievable future, they both have abundant space for settlements.

As far as the ultimate fallout shelter, Mars is much closer to the main asteroid belt in our system, and would be more likely to suffer a planetary disater from the cosmos than Earth. Besides, a fallout shelter we can't afford, and in a location we can't reach, isn't worth anything.

I'll concede it would be a better choice to get away from Charlie Sheen than Antarctica.



Pro highlights that antartica is an economical and easy solution where as mars is not.

I would argue that is exactly why we should not colonize antartica, it is like putting in effort to colonize your backyard.
Everything is handed to you like a baby, there is no serious effort, problem solving, or learning when you setup a tent in your backyard like there is when setting up a tent in the middle of the dessert. It may be more safe to be in your backyard and close to your refrigerator, but it just shows you are sheltered and afraid to make real progress when it comes to surviving outside of your house.

Great advancement is always going to be expensive, but that doesn't dissuade NASA's from making leaps in advancement.
The leaps in technology and problem solving that it takes to colonize mars is much more prospective and greatly extends
what humans can do.
Debate Round No. 2


I have no problem with a challenge. Antarctica is very much an inhospitable desert, and a permanent, generational, SELF-SUSTAINING colony there is a challenge that has not yet been met. It is not a safe place by most earth standards. I would contend it would be the difference between setting up a tent in Alaskan wilderness where there are bears, but also berries, and setting up a tent on the crater edge of a very active volcano, in the middle of a North Korean prison camp, where there's nothing to eat.

Also, the cost is quite literally, astronomical. Colonizing Antarctica is something we can do, and can afford to do, without government help. Colonizing Mars, at a projected launch cost exceeding the wealth of 5.8 million average Americans per dozen colonists, is nothing we should seriously consider right now. (And that's just the cost to launch the weight of a one time visit for a dozen, not the cost of the equipment or long term support.)

What I am highlighting is that Mars colonization is not just uneconomical, but unaffordable and unsustainable, whearas Antarctica is affordable, and concievably sustainable.


A lot of places are spoken of as "inhospitable", when they are nowhere near the assertion. Antartica is a hostile environment for a person, but not a inhospitable desert.
Also there will never be a self-sustaining colony because it is just not realistic in any sense. Any colony will have to derive energy, food, and materials from a source other than itself. A self sustaing colony would simply collapse from canibalism and unusable energy, and therefore can not be permanent, generational (well depends how they start I suppose), and self sustained. People in antartica right now live off of the life surrounding them and food brought to them overseas just like every colony on our planet.

"It is not a safe place by most earth standards.
I would contend it would be the difference between setting up a tent in Alaskan wilderness where there are bears, but also berries, and setting up a tent on the crater edge of a very active volcano, in the middle of a North Korean prison camp, where there's nothing to eat."
The backyard is not a safe place to house standards. But actually, that is not that far off. The point is the latter environment is more of a challenge and requires far less dependency on home base. In the no food hostile dessert you have no choice but to be completely independent of home base, you have to set up a green house, solar panels, and extra steps for protection from dangers. In the alaskan wilderness (much like the backyard) your environment is more hostile than your used to, but it already presents itself with food and raw materials that are easier to work with, and is much easier to accomadate for the others because it is so much closer to home.

"Also, the cost is quite literally, astronomical. Colonizing Antarctica is something we can do, and can afford to do, without government help. Colonizing Mars, at a projected launch cost exceeding the wealth of 5.8 million average Americans per dozen colonists"
The colonizing of mars would have a long period of preparation. Government would help because it would be a project of interest to all people. I'm not sure there is any reason to colonize any hostile environment for the luxury of it (that wouldn't have common interest for everyone), not many people want to really live in a hostile environment permanently.
Besides, colonizing mars is totally feasible, it just requires more effort, resources, energy, and of course making the colony equipt with independency from earth.

"is nothing we should seriously consider right now."
Who said anything about starting to leave now? It is not an urgency to colonize anywhere, and if colonizing anywhere were to take place it should be out of necessity.

"What I am highlighting is that Mars colonization is not just uneconomical, but unaffordable and unsustainable, whearas Antarctica is affordable, and concievably sustainable."
A mars colony is totally concievably sustainable, it's just the technology and systems it would take are very sophisticated. I honestly think whether it being economical (affordable) or not is a small factor when it comes to whether serious effort should be focused on it. I feel like I've already explained this though...

Less space, already has inhabitants.
A human colony would probably destroy the ecosystem antartica (it would essentially be another country, countries do not tend to remain frugal with their environment and want extras.)
No new skills or technologies are needed to be acquired by the human race. (it is and has been done on small temporary scales for research, could be permanent but there is no need and little desire for it.)

lots of room, no inhabitants.
Requires innovation and independency from earth.
Long term benefit to human race.

Debate Round No. 3


Starting off with apologies to my opponent and the audience: The hyperlinks I imbedded in my rounds so far did not work, and I just now realized it. I am away from the computer I saved my debate drafts on, but when I get back to it on Friday, I will post the links to my sources.

Exploration vs. Colonization. Mars would also have semi-permanent and temporary bases as a precursor to colonization, just as Antarctica does today. Visits and surveys would be needed before colonization could occur. The European powers established military/trade posts, and sent explorers and surveyors before establishing colonies in the Americas. Entrepreneurs and adventurers (i.e. fur trappers) arrived and lived alongside the natives before official colonies with families were established. This was all an inevitability once the New World was reachable, and a necessity before colonization. So I am not belittling Con’s eagerness to explore at all. But his requirement that no one should be living in a place before it is colonized would rule out any location, because it must be explored before it is colonized.

A clarification on what I mean by inhospitable: I use it in the proper sense, not the colloquial, which seems to mean “death zone,” or “uninhabitable” these days. Inhospitable merely means not friendly or lacking hospitality.

Like most all colonies, an Antarctic or Martian colony would initially require supplies from the outside. But like the early New England colonies, their goal would be to learn enough about the surroundings to be reliant on as few necessities from the homeland as possible. Most of us recall how the Pautuxet Squanto helped the Pilgrims in learning to do this.

The basics for any settlement are air, fresh water, agriculture and/or hunting and gathering, fuel for warmth and simple chemical processes (cooking, smelting, drying, etc.), shelter, and the ability to make tools from materials in your environment to acquire these things.

+Mars probably has extractable metals, and possibly CO2 that could be used in synthetics, but the soil is too toxic for agriculture, there are no known life-forms to eat, water is elusive, no known native fuel source besides solar, and there is no breathable air.

+Antarctica, on the other hand, has breathable air, abundant fresh water (frozen), usable soil, fossil fuels, edible life forms, just as probable as Mars extractable ores for metal, and animal parts for food, tools, and shelter.

Furthermore, it would be profitable to trade resources gathered from Antarctica. That’s my next point: Profitability.

When people arrive at a colony, they must have profitable jobs. This is true whether you’re talking dollars for a new car or storing up dried fish for winter and producing flint tools. Profit might seem like a crass motive, but if the colony wants to grow and become something other than a mining camp or outpost, it must be able to grow in material wealth to support growing families to meet the social needs of people. We already know of resources in Antarctica that can provide profitable jobs, such as fossil fuels. We only have a vague idea of resources on Mars, and no conceivable way to make a profit from them because of shipping costs to get the raw materials to people with money on hand to buy them on Earth.

“A human colony would probably destroy the ecosystem Antarctica (it would essentially be another country, countries do not tend to remain frugal with their environment and want extras.”

I think this is a popular belief in the West, but still unwarranted. Of course we would have an effect on our surroundings. But this does not mean all humans will always, and have always had a bad effect on our surroundings. In many countries, lots of money and effort are expended to care for our environment, and in many places it is tradition to live in a way that cultivates the surrounding nature. My father manages my Grandmother’s land, and thins out select numbers of trees in the woods to make up for the lack of forest fires, and also to discourage them, as well as provide healthy undergrowth necessary for certain animals. People also provide artificial habitats, such as purple marten and bat houses to increase biodiversity by cutting down on over-abundant insects and increasing the number of insectivores. People with large plots of land in my area often regulate what type of wild game by species and gender, can be harvested from the land to keep certain species from becoming a burden on crops, other animals, and spreading local epidemics amongst their own species. As a Christian, I don’t believe we are animals, but we were put here along with all other life with the ability to manage it in a healthy way, so in that sense, we are an integral part of nature, not a blight on it if we don’t choose to be.

Furthermore, what else is a colony than a state in infancy?

I think I’ve answered all my opponent’s objections except for the last one: Long term benefit to humanity.

The practical colonization of any unexploited land would open up new opportunities for individuals for earning a living and access to resources. That would be the long-term benefit, because those are what every human in humanity needs for survival.

Antarctica appears to be a practical target for a colony. Mars still needs exploration and technological advances to determine if it’s viable. Mars is out as a colonial candidate for the same reason Alpha Centauri is out. Current insufficient evidence of feasibility. When we are talking human lives, feasibility is important, and Mars is still in the exploration stage, and I believe the exploration itch is what my opponent wishes to scratch, not the colonial itch.



yuiru forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


My opponent's account is no longer active. I don't know why, maybe he'll come back for the final round.

As an additional benefit, Antarctic currency is already in print, one less thing to worry about when choosing between Martian and Antarctic colonial life. [1]


Here are the sources I promised from my previous rounds:

Cost of travel to Antarctica:

Cost of 6 man exploration visit to Mars: (Minutes 30-39)

Near future launch cost estimates:

Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition:

Martian soil toxicity:

Known mineral resources of Antarctica:



yuiru forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by yuiru 4 years ago
"The middle" also has the capacity to support life because life is there.
Posted by TN05 4 years ago
I always wondered why there isn't any colony in Antarctica. The middle is pretty freaking cold, but the outside edges can support life.
Posted by Ragnar 4 years ago
Seems like a great test site!
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