The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

Space Colonization is important or not important?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 315 times Debate No: 89754
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




Space Colonization is important because nay people are already living in skyscrapers, habitats are being destroyed for other life on Earth causing endangered and extinct species, and the world is getting polluted and becoming smogged up, until it's unbreathable. An example of this would be Tokyo, Japan, where there are machines more air.

"Top 5 Reasons why Space Exploration is Important for the World." Planetsave. Sustainable
Enterprises Media, 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.


As your opponent, especially against a premise as ambiguous as arbitrary importance, presumably to society as a whole, I have to ask for clarification on which part of space exploration is important.

I also require that you explain what you mean by Space Colonization, since there are a significant number of technological and physiological difficulties to a number of them would definitely affect relative importance to the rest of society.

I'm presuming society because it is impossible to debate its importance to any single individual.
Thus the argument hinges on how the action of space colonization benefits the society (or the human race). I will readily concede that if an extinction-level-event happens on earth then having a colony off-world would be a good thing... for the colonists. Unfortunately for the rest of humanity it won't matter at all. We'll all be dead. We won't even know what happens to the colonists. Thus, in this case, Space Colonization will only be important to the ones who survive. That would mean until it happens, it's only important to 7.124 billion / (number of colonists). Given all known and predictable human technology for the next 30 years that number can be expected to fall around 50-100, at most. And that would cost trillions of dollars.

You then place the overpopulation and resource pillaging of our home planet as the fundamental reason we should colonize. How is this good for the people who stay behind? Let's face it, humanity doesn't do sharing very well and current technology would make the shipment of resources across interplanetary distances and between gravity wells virtually impossible from a raw resources perspective. As a race we haven't managed to control the impulses of a subset of humanity that actively preys on large portions of our race for personal benefit. Any colonization would be at their choice and for their benefit, not the benefit of the race. Again, important to approximately 0.7% (probably much fewer since that is based on world population wealth percentages and really only 10% of that 0.7% would have enough wealth and power to directly influence a high-profile stunt like colonization).

I challenge the idea that it is important on the grounds that importance, being subjective, must reach a baseline of relevance towards serving the interests and well-being of a majority of the human race. So far, I see no evidence that with current technology and social structures in place colonization can be considered important to even 1% of the human race.
Debate Round No. 1


Referring to what you said about cost wise, there could always be taxes funding the project for space colonization. NASA is already receiving funds for their VERY expensive missions, so why not construct a mission that benefits society, space colonization! Also, as for the people that stay behind to live on Earth, the whole point of space colonization is to spread out the population of the human race. Earth has already exceed is' capacity limit for humans. With let's say a third leaving Earth to live elsewhere, this will leave more room for the people on Earth. Earth can heal itself over time with the aid of promoting going green. This will enable more room for other life organisms on Earth to not go extinct. Of coarse all this can't happen in just a couple of years. It may take about a century before mankind accomplishes this goal. So yes we may not have the resources now, but if space exploration is promoted more, new discoveries will be made and eventually we may end up having the right kind of resource to accomplish this goal. The cost of this may be very expensive at first, but as the years go by, the price of space travel will go down, just has the price of cars and commercial flights have become affordable to the majority of society. The lower class may be out of luck, but that won't mean they'll have to live in a destroyed inhabitable Earth. like I said, with the spread of mankind across space, there will be more room on Earth for the rest.


I think my opponent in this matter does not understand society, economics, or the idea of 'cost'. Money is a medium of exchange for economics, but in arguments concerning space colonization economics have very little to do with direct cost. Economics does have a great deal to do with social acceptance of burden, but that has more to do with resource competition and survival as well as social foundation of authority for decision and is thus political rather than economic. Time and again it has been proven that there is a limit to the burden society will accept. The limit on the burden is directly proportional to the concept of public buy-in philosophically. People will accept austerity measures only when they agree with the goal sufficiently to accept the burden willingly.

Taxes are an inefficient way to distribute resources and proposing taxation as a means of directing resources towards a project can only work for relatively small projects. Even Kennedy's space race initiative for the Apollo missions had far more to do with survival and social dominance than with technological idealism. The truth is that space is frightening from a strategic perspective applied to right of self-determination for a culture. Any society at the bottom of a gravity well in relation to an opposing society is at a severe strategic disadvantage since the energy cost/benefit always favors the society with space dominance. Without the strategic implications society would have refused to bear the burden of the Apollo program when it did. When a government taxes the people, the taxes must directly reduce the ability of the people to acquire goods and services from the market so that those goods and services can be purchased by the government. The only way to meet this requirement for a national mobilization, such as fighting the two world wars, was to implement a combined propaganda and legal restriction on the freedom of society to purchase goods and services. Victory gardens, social pressure to buy war bonds, heavy crack-down on black market services, capital offense codes for peculation... these were all measures necessary to meet the costs of the war because the costs were resource-based and not economic. My opponent"s proposal would require the same thing across the entire globe and global unification of purpose.

Now let's put into perspective exactly what the costs for space colonization on a massive international scale such as proposed would be, realistically, given current and reasonably-projected technological innovations for the foreseeable future.

The current estimate for LEO (low earth orbit) boost is around $4,500 to $8,500 per lb. ($10,000"$19,000 / kg) of payload without including nonrecurring developmental costs. [Frontiers Of Space, ISBN 0-7137-3504-X] This is also at current market estimates using current technology. Including initial habitat materials, initial food, basic terraforming materials (cyanobacteria and tools for dome habitat ecologies along with nitrogenation equipment for the foundation of a biosphere within a domed habitat), it is grossly estimated (by me) to be around 100:1 in terms of support mass per person averaged over an amortization by efficiency over time and assuming self-sustainability after launch for at least 50% of the population during the period of colonization.

I"m grossly estimating here because the level of effort for an exact estimate on the scale you propose has never been done and would require months, if not years, of dedicated effort by professionals.

So taking that gross estimate ratio and 1/3 of the current 7.125-billion population of earth, and using current economics (not even the reality of "cost" of resources I mentioned before), we come to the realization that we are talking about:

Average mass of a human adult: 62kg [Walpole et al. BMC Public Health 2012, 12:439]
Average mass of support materials per colonist: 6,200kg @ 100:1 ratio for 50% of the target population.
1/3 of the current world population at 7.125 billion: 2.375 billion
Mass of 1/3 of the current world population: 147.25 billion kg
Mass of 50% of 147.25 billion kg at 100:1 ratio for self-sustainment capability: 7,362.5 billion (or 7.3625 trillion kg)
Cost of lift to low-earth-orbit of personnel and materials combined: (7.3625 trillion kg + 147.25 billion kg) * $10,000/kg = $2,198,750,000,000,000

If you don"t know the name of that number, I"ll help. That"s about 2.2 quadrillion dollars at current market estimates.

The entire GDP of the United States as of Dec 31, 2015 was 16.46 trillion dollars.

And that estimate is only for getting them into low-earth-orbit, not to mars.

Taxes... no. I think it"s safe to say there isn"t enough tax revenue in the entire world to cover the cost.

We are going to have to solve the problems you bring up before we have a snowball"s chance in hell of solving the much larger and more complex problem of establishing a colony anywhere, even a tiny one with only 100 or so people in a colony that depends on earth and ongoing earth support for survival.
Debate Round No. 2


musicgrl_my forfeited this round.


I'm going to have to presume my opponent has abandoned the debtate.

I believe it is sufficient to say that space colonization is a difficult case to argue from a political, economic, or 'practicality' perspective. Humanity's future in space is a product of our capacity as a species. If we fail as a species in social, economic or environmental challenges then it is reasonable to conclude we will also fail in any serious colonization initiative.

The task is such that we have to unify the species behind the effort. To do that, we must all believe in the task. This is a far greater challenge than the technical questions seem to indicate.
Debate Round No. 3


musicgrl_my forfeited this round.


What's the point of a good debate when nothing comes of it?

I realize Pro's argument got pretty well demolished, but really... it's not the only argument for the importance of space colonization!

This makes me sad. Pro abandoned her position entirely, which leaves a lot of stuff surrounding this unexplored.
Debate Round No. 4


musicgrl_my forfeited this round.


I hope someone challenges me in the opposite direction so I can show why and how it should be approached.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by SkyLeach 6 months ago
damnit I wasn't trying to drive her away :-/
Posted by SkyLeach 6 months ago
Incidentally, I'm pretty much taking 'devils advocate' on this position since I, personally, am in favor of the pro argument. I am not in favor of it for the reasons pro is taking, however. (I think the argument is weak, not the premise.)

Perhaps we can change sides after or in a different debate later on.
Posted by Stonehe4rt 6 months ago
Well with the whole Over population thing, I doubt anyone would think Space Colonization wouldnt be important.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF