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The US ought to establish an independently viable colony on Mars by 2070

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/6/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,640 times Debate No: 110242
Debate Rounds (4)
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Resolved: The US ought to establish an independently viable colony on Mars by the year 2070

This debate is the first round of bsh1's DDOlympics Tournament. If Lannan would like to add any definitions or change rules or structure, he can PM/comment on the debate and I will update it to reflect his requests.

I will be arguing against the resolution. Lannan will be arguing the case for the affirmative.

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Constructive (No rebuttals)
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Case Defense/Closing Arguments

An INDEPENDENTLY VIABLE COLONY shall be defined as a self-sustaining population of humans on the planet Mars with the express intent of establishing a permanent settlement on behalf of and in allegiance to the the constitution, government, and institutions of the United States of America


1. No new arguments in the final round.
2. No kritiks of the resolution.
3. No counterplans.
4. No trolling.
5. No semantics.
6. No forfeits.
7. BoP is shared.

If any of these rules are violated the offender loses the debate.

My thanks for in advance to Lannan for participating. I look forward to his arguments in the affirmative.


I accept the debate and wish my opponenet good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


In space lies mankind's best destiny, but we ought to oppose any proposition to colonize Mars in less than 52 years time as overambitious, hasty, perilous and deleterious to the overall project of humanity"s spaceward expansion. Among the most evident obstacles are legal & political considerations, technological deficits, health & safety concerns, environmental threats, unbalanced priorities, considerable costs and the dampening effect of failure on future ventures.

I. Legal & political considerations.

A. Unilateral US colonization is illegal.

1. The US has ratified and remained party to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Article II of that treaty states: "Outer Space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means". [1]

2. Similarly, the Common Heritage of Humanity principle of international law holds that Space ought to be held in common trust for future generations and protected from exploitation to the benefit of individual national or corporate entities. [2]

B. Unilateral US colonization may be seen as provocative to the security interests of rival states. Human expansion into space ought to be perceived as a project of, by, and for all humanity to avoid becoming an object of jealous antagonism or a symbol of imperial intention.

C. A global project would reduce competition and spread out the cost.

D. Life on Mars is popular in concept but paying for such a project is consistently less popular. Three Gallup polls in 1969 (53%), 1999 (54%), and 2005 (58%) found that a majority of American oppose setting aside funds for a manned mission to Mars (much less the far greater sums required to build and maintain a colony). [3]

II. An American colony on Mars would require permanent production of breathable air, water, food, living space, heat, transportation, resource extraction, Martian and interplanetary communication, and energy on sufficient scale to fuel these requirements. A Martian colony would first require decades of expensive research & development. Examples include:

A. Faster spaceships. At present, the shortest trip to Mars takes 260 days. Shorter trips equal critical cost savings.

B. Mining and extraction technologies that can extract sufficient water elements from the atmosphere or beneath the surface.

C. Martian core sampling and survey.

D. Energy requirements and supply. Maximum solar irradiance on Mars is only 59% of Earth on the best day. Dust storms and orbital eccentricity make solar energy far less abundant and predictable than on earth or in space. We must determine whether solar can meet minimum requirements and evaluate nuclear options.

E. Martian dust is a major challenge. Airlocks, filters, spacesuits must be designed and tested to prevent dust from clogging lungs and essential machinery.

F. Lighter, more flexible, and longer lasting than present ISS pressure suits must be developed.

G. The sun will occlude direct communication for months at a time. A network of satellites at Lagrange points or trailing Mars" orbit must be developed and deployed.

III. Myriad health and safety concerns have yet to be addressed.

A. Radiation. Annual radiation doses on are estimated to be 15 times the maximum Dept. of Energy limits for radiation workers. [4] The longest time any human has spent outside of the protection of the Earth"s Van Allen belt is 12 days. Mars offers little natural defense vs. solar radiation. An assessment of long-term risks of cancer, brain damage, and DNA degradation is required and development of protective strategies.

B. Mars gravity is only 38% Earth gravity. The longest consecutive human space flight is only 438 days but just a few months spent in weightless environments results in muscle atrophy, bone density loss, permanent eyesight and balance disorders, and significant brain changes including loss of proprioception. [5]

C. Historically, more colonies fail due to disease than any other cause Many bacteria like salmonella are far more virulent in low gravity. A Martian colony must be capable of responding to a daunting range of medical crises.

D. Immunity is also a problem for an isolated community. Children born without exposure to natural populations will significantly immunodeficient. Will new settlers be able to join unexposed populations? Will tourism be supportable? Will Martians be immunologically capable of visiting Earth?

E. Psychological. Life on Mars will mean hard work and profound boredom, punctuated by sudden, life-threatening crisis. Add constant dust management, supply shortages (even famines), cramped space, little privacy, little to no autonomy. Mars will be stressful and some colonists are going to crack.

IV. There are also several environmental considerations.

A. Do we preserve the natural Martian landscape or subject it to colonial resource exploitation, pollution, real estate development, etc.?

B. Colonization may inhibit science"s ability to discover and document evidence of prior microbial life on Mars.

C. Short term colonization may make future terraforming difficult or impossible as Martians object to relocation, disruption, climate change.

D. US Strategic Command estimates that more 170 million artificial objects weighing 6,000 tons are presently in orbit around the earth. Increased density improves the chances of a collisional cascade (Kessler Syndrome), an event with the potential to destroy many satellites and make future launches more hazardous if not impossible, stranding a Martian colony. A sustainable program of orbital housekeeping must be implemented prior to space expansion.

V. There are at least two higher priorities for space exploration.

A. Human populations are already exhausting the availability of many essential elements on Earth, clean water being the most important of these. Mining space has great potential for exploitation but Mars is hardly the best destination. Asteroids have significant advantage over Mars in terms of water and mineral abundance and mining asteroids in zero-G would be far cheaper than the cost of transporting out of a planetary gravity well.

B. The Moon ought to be mankind"s first space colony. The moon is close at hand, cheaper for transport, easier to rescue, easy to communicate with. Most of the important unsolved problems of colonization can and should be tested on the Moon before expanding further afield. Once built, the Moon may serve as an essential base and transport hub for future expansion, lessening the costs of Martian colonization.

VI. Cost

A. Given that so much necessary research and development has yet to be undertaken, realistic cost estimates are virtually impossible.

1. By far, the most relied upon estimate comes from NASA"s 1989 SEI study. Not including R&D, a single round trip to Mars including a 3 year stay was estimated to cost $500 billion dollars. [6]

2. Multiplying SEI"s life support costs for a 3 person, 3 year mission by the minimum number of colonists required to create a self-sustaining population (160) we get something like $300 billion/yr at the outset.

B. Whatever the present estimates, it is clear that the price of a Martian colony needs to be dramatically reduced before it can expect popular support from US taxpayers.

VII. A viable exploration of space will require significant shifts in US priorities and technological capacities. Above all, early space exploration projects must be successful enough to garner support for expanded projects. Goal-setting is important but entirely unrealistic objects like a Martian colony by 2070 create a false sense of scope and priorities. Hasty, underfunded, underdeveloped projects are more likely to fail and each or any failure may likely inhibit humanity"s will to venture further.

Put succinctly, the US is entirely unready to colonize Mars by 2070.

(Please find citations in comments)


I would like to thank my opponent for this debate and would like to wish them good luck. As per rules, this round shall be contested only of my Opening Arguments.

Framework: Utilitarianism

For this case of Utilitarianism I will be focusing on John Stuart Mill's case of Utility here. We have to look at the Greatest Happiness for the Greatest Number of Sentient Beings. This means that we have to look at the needs of the whole vs. a few individuals. Another key thing we have to look at from Mill is Net Pleasure. If the colonization of Mars by the US can create a greater net pleasure than pain then it must be implamented for the betterment of soceity [9]. Many people are becoming more and more concerned with climate change as the world is coming closer and closer to levels of no return. Generally, global warming is when Carbons would build up in our atmosphere to trap heat to help warm the planet so that life on Earth is possible. Recently, this has been becoming more and more problematic as the Ozone layer is deteriorating and Earth's atmosphere is getting thicker and thicker, warming the planet with it. This has only problematic issues stemming from it. As many nations in the West, the US has a high consumption rate of fossil fuels as it accounts for 95% of our transportation consumption and energy consumption is nearly 70% as alternative energy is slowly beginning to emerge [10]. Fossil Fuels have another job, as they are being used, they produce carbon emissions that harm our environment and our atmosphere. The World Health Organization has reported that pollution generated from the excess of fossil fuels has killed nearly 7 million people worldwide, while 70,000 were killed in the US [11].

There are several issues that this can cause and many lead to having our planet become very unhospitable. As the Earth heats up due to the constant increase in Carbon in our atmosphere where the Carbon begins to build in layers in our atmosphere. This increases the problems as it will help cause the ocean to 'burp' where the frozen reserves of Methane will be released into our atmosphere which would result in a 44.6-degree increase in our Earth's temperature at higher altitudes [12]. This would completely end all life on our planet as we know it and if we don't try to curtail this then we will be damning our children and our grandchildren. We would see decades of time where the Earth's climate is varying so severely that the plants and animals would die off due to the conflicting weather patterns leading to mass starvation. Food production will see a fall by nearly half by 2050 [13]. The Earth has already breached the 'Point-of-no-return' of 400 ppm which means that if we do not make some sort of effort through the political process of our nation, we, as a human race, will face extinction if this isn't done now. This can start to be curtailed by the US establishing a colony on Mars as, eventually, other nations will begin to follow suit ensuring the peace of Earth and the survival of humanity.

Science Leadership

Over the next 10 years, we are expecting over an influx of about 10 million children to pass through our school systems and this plan, even if it inspires just 1% of them, we would see a massive boom in STEM jobs and as the world is progressing, these STEM jobs are becoming the key jobs of the future that are the engineers and the scientists. This plan to colonize Mars is expected to create 1 million jobs by 2033 [1]. These were previous projections as now with the original time period of the colonization of Mars to be extended to 2070, these numbers are significantly higher than origianally projected. The economic growth is obvious with the Apollo mission we saw a 6% economic growth from that program. The Mars mission will skyrocket the US economy significantly which is something that is massively needed for the US to finally exit the lingering 08 crisis [2]. This program will help solve the current issue as many our STEM jobs are from abroad. There is a key issue that comes here and that is our economy is at risk in the short term while in the long term it is our national security as we will fall behind an aggressive China. Mars is filled with tons of minerals, as I will get into later, and some will help lead to biomedicine and help possibly lead to new cures. If this plan isn't enacted, then we risk a war with China. China is becoming more and more aggressive as seen by their actions in the South China Sea and against Japan. If they reach this and begin to rival US, this would lead to war as Chinese leadership has even been talking about using nuclear weaponry against the US in a surprise attack if war is to break. The death toll from the fighting itself would be 200 million from the US and over half a billion from the Chinese, assuming no one else gets involved [3]. Mars must be colonized in order to prevent weakening US STEM power and a US-Sino War.

Colonization possible now

Contrary to popular belief, we are able to colonize now. Many people will constantly talk about how it would take forever to get there, but the Space-X Falcone-9 Rocket can get us there in 6 months’ time to begin colonization [4]. The cost of the rocket is $100 million per shuttle and this is key as it will help get things transported faster as we will have plenty of rockets to help colonize Mars quicker and faster. They can carry up to 17 metric tons which can help carry supplies and we can see they will be able to do this as many times as they want [5]. Many people are already lining up by the thousands to be the first to go and colonize Mars or even live there, so we already have an ample amount of people willing to go. NASA has already developed food that is able to be grown on Mars and the ability to make the Red Planet a hospital able one. NASA has also projected the Orion Rocket to carry the astronauts to Mars as that is their overall goal and it carries twice the amount of people than much of the previous NASA rockets and missions [8]. The techology already exists for colonization and more advanced rockets are in the mix. As brought up in the previous contention, the increased US activities in space would create a new technological boom speeding up this process and even more technological innovations will be ushered in which would have a significant impact on the aid of the colonization of Mars.

Rare Earth Metals

Platinum is a rare metal that is included in many technologies from military satellites down to a cellular device. Prices of REMs have increased by well over 100%. China, who owns 95% of the world's REMs supply has begun to clamp down on the exports due to new environmental regulations and their new crack downs on illegal mining laws. There will be a 48% increase of demand of REMs by next year and the shortages of some of these key metals are not helping the prices [6]. The current price of Platinum is $1,084.30 per ounce. The reason this is important that the US gets to Mars first is when they begin to mine there is 170 million tons of Platinum on Mars and when you do the math, this comes out to $167 quadrillion in platinum and platinum alone which would shatter the Chinese monopoly and be enough to be used for the entire world for nearly 500,000 years [7]. Please note that by the US colonizing Mars will not ensure they get the entire planet's platinum resource, but will ensure they have a supply of it for the future and create a safety net against a Chinese monopoly on the resource. At the end of the last decade, China placed an REM embargo with Japan effetely cutting them off from a huge amount of key resources. The US would need to lessen Chinese dependence and by doing this, the US could be able to avoid a 1973 Oil Crisis-like event on REMs. Such an event could lead to a US-Sino War in order for the US to acquire these resources when China will bar them from us. Colonization and the mining of Mars is the only way to solve this issue.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks, lannan

I. Framework: Utilitarianism

A. Mars colonization does not serve as a utilitarian solution to climate change. Essentially, Pro"s plan is to save a lucky few and abandon the overwhelming majority to starve and cook on a dying planet. Isn't that the opposite of a utilitarian approach?

1. Pro never posited a quantity for settlers but let"s say 7,000. Let"s say the US chooses to ignore our manifest unpreparedness and make colonization of 7,000 lucky Martian explorers in 50 years our immediate and wildly optimistic priority. That makes less than one survivor for every million dead humans not to mention the mass extinction of most flora and fauna.

2. Considering the scale of such an expedition- the requisite trillions of dollars, the shifts in production, the inevitable social disruption; we have to ask ourselves whether such effort would not be better devoted to mitigating climate change and preparing for the survival of the largest possible number of Americans. If we try both and fail, we will wonder whether the Martian effort made the margin of survival less achievable- if Mars might have made the difference.

B. After all, Pro"s argument only works if we accept that climate change is beyond our capacity to curtail or that an unlivable Earth is inevitable. Scientific consensus is hardly so pessimistic. Aren"t our chances for long term survival as a species best improved by sustaining the ecology of the environment to which we are presently evolutionarily adapted?

C. Further, there"s little evidence suggesting that a Martian colony could long sustain itself without re-supply from Earth. Present HI-SEAS simulations are small in scale: 4-6 people resupplied every 2 weeks. They come nowhere near emulating Martian gravity, radiation, dust storms, etc. And they regularly experience failures: the latest HI-SEAS experiment was halted 4 days in to an 8 month test. [1] If we can"t save Earth there"s no evidence that a Martian colony would not fail soon after.

D. Nor is Mars necessarily the most utilitarian alternative. The Moon would be cheaper to colonize, allowing for more rapid expansion. We could save more humans by fleeing to the Moon.

II. Science Leadership

A. We agree that excellence in STEM education is vital to US prosperity. However, that excellence is not necessarily dependent on a Martian project.

1. Alternative projects such as ecological preservation, curing disease, robotics, AI, and sustainable energy are equally inspirational, equally contributive to technological and economic growth and more immediately likely to improve human happiness.

2. Mars suffers a disadvantage to these alternatives in that a failed Martian colony might harm US reputation and by extension, prosperity.

B. Since unilateral colonization of Mars is illegal (Round 2- I. A.) the US would be handing China a fairly solid casus belli, increasing the risk of war more immediately than any deterrence by technological achievement.

1. If deterring China is seen a priority, then defense spending is more likely to produce deterrence than a Martian colony in the way defense spending during the Cold War was a more effective deterrent than the Apollo Program, however much interrelated.

III. Colonization Possible Now

A. Pro"s statement: "Contrary to popular belief, we are able to colonize now. Many people will constantly talk about how it would take forever to get there, but the Space-X Falcone-9 Rocket can get us there in 6 months" time to begin colonization," is wrong on both counts.

1. Most Americans have believed since the Moon landing that the technology exists to establish a colony on Mars.

2. And also the technology does not exist or at least, it does not exist quite yet. Pro cites Falcon Heavy as a Mars ready rocket but even that preliminary is not quite yet true.

a) Falcon Heavy conducted its first and only test launch last month, 5 years behind SpaceX"s originally planned launch date. [2]

b) Falcon Heavy"s main booster was supposed to land on a remotely piloted platform ship in the ocean. 2 of 3 engines failed to ignite so the booster crashed into the ocean at 300 mph, missing the ship but damaging it with crash shrapnel. [3]

c) Falcon Heavy"s test payload was Elon Musk"s midnight cherry Tesla Roadster with a dummy spacesuit in the driver"s seat. SpaceX"s planned trajectory for this payload calculated aphelion to about Mars orbit at 1.5 AU witha near-Earth fly-by anticipated in 2091. [4] However, the test launch actually overshot this target by about 40%. Aphelion will now be around 1.7 AU and won"t approach Earth in our lifetimes. [5]

d) Note that a failed controlled descent would mean quick death for any human payload. Mars colonists on a ship that overshot trajectory by .2 AU would know immediately after launch that they were doomed, committed beyond rescue to a slow death narrated by news television and grim press conferences.

(1) Astronomers estimate that solar radiation will burn away the tires, paint, plastic, and leather of the Roadster over the next year, leaving only the aluminum frame to serve as a caution to astronauts who would risk exposure without developing and testing maximal protection on the road to Mars. [5]

3. Musk has confirmed that SpaceX will not apply for a human rating certification for the Falcon Heavy- a necessary preliminary for any manned flight. [6] So Falcon rockets are not Mars ready and not planned to ever be.

B. A 17 metric ton payload is not a Mars colony ready size- that"s only a little more than the weight of an average communications satellite. [7] For comparison, the International Space Station weighs 419 metric tons and we are going to need to send far more equipment and supplies than the ISS. [8]

C: Pro states: "NASA has already developed food that is able to be grown on Mars and the ability to make the Red Planet a hospital able one".

1. No it hasn"t. Preliminary tests indicate Martian soil is mostly rust and alkali salts. [9]

2. There"s nothing organic on Mars from which we might generate fertilizer. Using human waste is a substantial vector for disease. If we take Terran soil and fertilizer to Mars,, we"re going to need a lot. If we go by the old "one acre feeds one person" rule, [9] then each acre in of soil is about 2,024,458 lbs. Let"s say 4 colonists can meet their needs in 5 in of soil, that"s 18,300 metric tons or 1,076 Falcon Heavy payloads. Yes, we anticipate suubstantial innovations in agronomy to solve these challenges but we can't say we have that technology yet.

IV. Rare Earth Metals

A. There are no rare earth metals on Mars that can"t be mined more efficiently or in greater abundance from the asteroid belt. Pro"s own citation states as much. [10]

1. That 170m ton figure assumes that platinum is as common on Mars as on asteroids - an entirely unsupported speculation.

a) We have no geologic samples from Mars- we"ve examined some spectroscopic samples remotely and we have a few probable Martian meteorites. That"s it. Nor has platinum been found in any of these samples. [11]

(1) Russia and China have made 3 attempts to gather samples from the Martian moon Phobos. All 3 missions failed before a landing could be attempted.

2. Seizing precious metals out of territories held in common with rival nations is theft, another potential casus belli with China and/or other nations, perhaps allied against US agression.

3. According to Pro's source, more than half of platinum mined goes into catalytic converters, fossil fuel technology we probably won't want or need in 50 years.

B. Nothing can be mined on Mars that might presently justify the cost of transport back to earth. [11]

I look forward to Pro's counterarguments.

Please find citations in comments.


I thank my opponent for their quick response. As per rules, I shall be addressing my opponent's opening arguments in this round. I appologize ahead of time if I miss something as I'm going to try and consolidate the arguments my opponent has made.

R1: Legal and Politics

The aspects of the legality of the space exploration and the colonization of Mars does not matter. The spects of the debate shall keep things in mind with respects to Utilitarianism and the aspect of Hedonism where we have to focus on the future of humanity. My opponent brings up in 5th Contention where he talks about problems here on Earth and their enviornmental issues. It is these reasons why humanity must go to space and the US is the global leader to begin this. The survival of humanity is significantly more important in this regards.

My opoonent brings up how this would trigger rival states. This has more benefits than harms as it would begin a second space race, though this time it's to the Moon. Just like the previous space race, this one will increase tons of STEM jobs that the US is being starved of and the innovation and increase in technological gains would lead to innovation and the gradual reduction of costs as things would become a lot lower and things will become more effiecent. I do agree that American support is important and it has the support of the people. The poll showed that the American public believes that the US will land on Mars by 2033 (75%), and more than half of all Americans support such a project in a poll from 2013 [1]. The poll also reports that only 5% of Americans believe that we shouldn't go to Mars. (R5 is also included here) Opponent's 5th contention point B is irrelivant to this debate as it is similiar to a counterplan purposal and the aspect of why the Mars over the Moon will be addressed later.

R2: Environmental and health issues

I do agree with my opponent that there are a lot of issues on Mars that will need to be addressed, but these are going to be addressed. There are several challenges, but a lot of these things are currently being tried and tested on Earth for future colonization and landing individuals on Mars. Like Mars 1 NASA will be doing similiar with their program in order to establish the colony on Mars. They will be training these individuals how to be able to run expiraments on Mars as well as deal with the environmental hazzards [2]. Individuals going to Mars are indeed equpied with the ability to be without other human connection and the ones for the Mars 1 mission set to create these types of bases to pave the way for the colony. The concept and the question for if an individual will be able to deal with the isolation will be irrelivant in this situation in setting up the colony. NASA is currently on track to reach and land on an astroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030 [3]. One important reason that the US should aim for the colinization of Mars over the Moon is that the Moon will be moving towards Venus and this will lead to the extinction of the human race if no other colonization occurs as the sun expands, life will become impossible on the Moon (at that point in time) and Mars will look like a more suitable candidate than the moon when it comes to the survival of the human race, which is what was referenced before in this debate. There are going to be challenges to going to Mars, but the US has the technology to currently deal with these obsticles and in order to establish the colony, these things will be dealt with.

Mars may seem to be more dangerous and further away from Earth than the moon, but Mars has been declared to be a more suitable option as it has a more Earthlike atmosphere and environment. There are significant amounts of minerals that can be found on Mars which help with technological advancement such as the platinum brought up previously in my last round and it is these minerals and the ability to mine Mars which will help continue the survival of Martians. Satellites and other technology will also be deployed to Mars to ensure the safety of those on Mars and the communication between Mars and Earth. Immunity is indeed a challenge due to the bacteria growth in space, but much of the same vaccinations will be made available to these individuals in order to ensure surival and that these colonies do not circum to disease and fail due to these issues. I won't be addressing all of these issues my opponent has brought up as many of them are to be covered by default by any mission to Mars and this debate is about whether or not the USFG should colonize Mars, not necessarially how the USFG is going to do this. Space radiation is indeed an issue, which is why NASA is already starting to study it and develope the technology needed to combat it as they are studying the ISS [4]. They are also planning to launch a study in space in seeing how people can live in space for a year in the near future.

R3: Environmental Considerations

Much of the Martian landscape will likely be terraformed and bent to form whatever purpose that the individuals colonizing it at the time believe is fit. Humanity has done this since the beginning of their existance and chances are that it will likely occur again. Colonization may indeed potentially hinder the research efforts, or maybe it won't, who knows. Chances are they will still be able to do their research, only that their methods would have to adjust to deal with the surrounding colonization of Mars. People may not want to move, but this is something which will likely take place hundreds of years down the road where terraforming becomes more complete. Even so, chances are the US would likely use Eminent Domain to seize these houses if need be. The Kessler Syndrome is indeed something that can pose an issue, but science does have an answer for this as there have been tons of projects that have been purposed to deal with the issue. One of which is the EDDE system, which "catches" space debres and helps clean it up [5]. The system is not at large now, but if Mars colonization is initiated then this type of plan would likely be implamented.

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Debate Round No. 3


Thanks, lannan.

Pro and Con both advocate for a colony on Mars. Pro wants an American colony now but that"s not a realistic option. For one thing, the US has agreed and signed treaties to attest that our approach towards Mars should resemble our approach towards Antarctica: not a prize for the mighty but a lab for the smart, not a mine to make rich corporations more rich, but an environmental and scientific challenge; a place where human life can find a sustainable balance within unsurpassed natural inhospitableness.

There are many ifs to both our arguments for which we can"t pretend to certainty. But I like my ifs better than Pros- if we proceed by rational stages, if we resolve the immediate technical challenges, if we work together, if we"re careful with our money and resources, we can expect success in space.

Pro"s ifs are all short-term, exuberant, unconsidered fixes informed by dominance over China or escape from a dying Earth.
Pro says we should ignore our international treaties because our planet will soon be uninhabitable, we must build a Martian Ark with the US at the helm. If there is war so be it, war is good for science.

I believe the Earth must be saved first, even if Mars must be postponed. This planet is not just our natural habitat, it is our home which we are duty-bound to defend and preserve along with the family of man there living. War and strife between nations may encourage competition but only the victors enjoy the dividends. The more enemies we make by grabbing up shared resources, the less certain a beneficial outcome by force becomes.

Pro and Con agree that Martian colonization is notionally popular but I"ve shown that Americans are also unwilling to increase taxes to pay for such a project. I"ve also shown that a colony by 2070 would require rapid mobilization now, dramatic shifts towards research and development, risking dramatic economic impacts. Pro has offered nothing to suggest that the Americans support herculean efforts on behalf of Mars.

I"ll take exception to Pro"s suggestion that a counterplan has been offered. I"ve refrained from offering a more rational timetable or from defining a sustainable Martian project. I"ve stated that Mars is not a rational first step or incumbent priority and I"ve given some more worthwhile examples but that is not a counterplan. Nor has Pro illustrated a plan to counter- what are Pro"s solutions for radiation and dust, transportation and communication? How many colonists make a colony self-sustaining? We"ve seen Pro wants mining but is that all of what Pro"s Martian mission is for?

Pro cites Mars One as source for Martian research and development but I can"t say I"m impressed. Mars One"s first phase was to send a robotic precursor to Mars by 2020 but they couldn"t crowdfund the $200m necessary for Lockheed Martin to build and forward progress mostly stopped in 2015. Mars One"s founders were humbled in a public debate that year against MIT postgrads entitled " Is Mars One feasible?" As one student argued, "If you"re still developing concepts, you don"t really have a plan." [1]

His sentiment applies to every Martian project today: we can"t say whether we can get a colony on Mars because we haven"t even determined what we need yet, much less what it will take to meet those needs, much less how we"ll pay for it.

Pro says NASA is "on track" to land a man on Mars by 2030 but what NASA actually says is that they are "developing capabilities." NASA also admits they can"t do much within current budget constraints. [2] Remember that NASA"s best cost estimate to develop and launch a 4-person Mars Mission is about $500 billion but the 2018 budget for all Mars research is $191 million, at which rate we"ll get there in centuries, not decades. [3]

Pro argues that a Mars settlement is preferable to the moon because the Sun will begin to expand into a red giant in 5 or 6 billion years. Life itself has only been around for 4.3 billion and considering the changes life has gone through in the interim, I doubt planning that far ahead is worth our while. In any case, Mars will be just as uninhabitable as Earth post expansion. [4]

We agree that solutions to Earth"s crowded orbit are now in development. My point is that the successful implementation of such a solution would be a responsible precondition for any large space faring project and we have no timeline for implementation. My point is that there many such responsible preconditions for which a 2070 deadline denotes a failure of accommodation.

And what if our faith in technology fails us? In R2, I pointed out that human physiology experiences profound changes during long stays in the space station"s low gravity, including damage to cognition. What if our brains simply can"t long endure the 38% gravity of Mars without significant damage? Do we propose to learn the long term effects of low gravity on brains by sacrificing the first generation of colonists or do we take the time to study such effects cautiously, humanely, informed by longer term needs? We can generate artificial gravity by rotating in space but on Mars the energy costs of such generation would be enormous. If we lost the first colony to something like brain damage, would the funding for space dry up? That"s just one example, but we should acknowledge that colonizing other planets might require incredible resources we don"t yet even realize we"ll need. Why set a date before we"ve assembled the relevant data?

Terraforming and other colonial politics are probably issues too distant in time to merit much consideration under the terms of this debate but we should note that in the big picture, colonies don"t always remain willing subjects of distant overseers. The age of colonial expansion led to centuries of conflicts between great powers and revolutions, from the Seven Years War to the Second World War, upheavals in which few original governments survived and few colonies remained subject.

This history recommends new thinking, new strategies as we consider the colonization of Space. Pro sees Mars as an American asset, an object to be gained for dominion or gleaned for profit. I prefer to see Mars as one potential waypoint for an entirely new human mission: not merely to conquer the next rock out but to discover, one small step after the next, what it takes to make space our home.



I thank my opponent for this debate and in this final round I shall be defending my Opening arguments and presenting my closing statements in this round.

C1: Framework: Utilitarianism

My opponent is quite mistaken, here in this debate we are debating as to whether or not the US ought to colonize the Mars, not how. Arguments in regards to the very specific details are minute, please throw them out of the debate. Even with a proposed statement of settlers stated by Con in R3, we can still see that this will be substainially better in the long run as the colonization of other plaents is needed in order to ensure humanity's continual existance and moving to Mars is the perfect way to do this. To ensure to continual existance of humanity should be our overall priority as a human race which can only be done through the colonization of Mars. There may be a disruption in the US social aspects, but this is more important than as the continual existance of humanity is more pressing. We are currently racing against Global Warming and Earth's ticking timebomb where humanity may not be able to outlive it much longer. This was a harms that my opponent has completely dropped and should be a priori in this debate as it shows that failure to do this plan results in the total human extinction! My opponent has proposed that it would be better to focus on the preservation of environment, but I have already shown that this is impossible as humanity is/has pasted the point of no return in Carbon emmissions, showing that the ecology of Earth will eventually be unable to substain human life and the failure to colonize Mars will result in Human extinction. With this not being addressed by my opponent, we must see that this should be considered first when looking at this type of mission. I have already stated in my previous round why Mars is a better alternative to the Moon.

C2: Science Leadership

Mostly my opponent agrees with me here, but there are a few key areas where we disagree. One of those areas being the aspects of how the potential of how the failure of a Martian colonization would harm the US reputation. It would actually do the opposite by inspiring other nations to follow suit and this would create a space race to Mars for other Martian colonies to be established and lead to a more futuristic "Scramble for Africa" in terms of Mars. The technology that would come out of this would be substainal as I have brought up in a previous round that the reduced costs of some of the ships can come down to $200,000 and other and newer technologies can develope which are innovative and can help reduce cost as well as speed up technology across the board. The Sino-US war potential outbreak here would be less likely than a US-Sino War that I have shown in my 4th Contention over REMs and that one is one that has a higher probability and will likely happen if we elect to not go to Mars in the near future. The risk of war over REMs outweighs the risk of a Sino-US War over US colonization of Mars. The Cold War scenerio would be the worst case scenerio and is simply an outcome of the "Scramble for Mars" aspect that I have talked about. Technology is completely expanding as even the Orion Rocket is found to be the potential successor the the Falcon Heavy in the search for Mars by NASA. Other companies have also been looking into the colonization of Mars such as the Mars-1 project run by the Dutch who plan a similiar colonization effort in the future. My opponent sites failures by Falcon Heavy and this is a great thing that he had pointed out as it shows how technology can and will improve throughout time as the need for technology increases. The Orion Rocket and other types of technologies are emerging that reduce cost and increase effeicency as I have shown with the potential for such a rocket to decrease from its current price to only $200,000. The increase room, transport, and decreased cost will work wonders for the program and its aid to help colonize Mars.

C3: Rare Earth Metals

I do find it interesting that my opponent states that there is a great deal and abundance of minerals on Mars as there is the astriod belt, but then also states that there isn't any samples in terms of evidence that has come out. These are contradictorary statements, please throw them out of the debate and result to the concession by my opponent that in that there is a great abundance on Mars. The amount of minerals mined on Mars and bringing them back to Earth would be substantial and compltely offsets the harms, as I have previously shown. The amount of platanum, which is found in everyday electronics to military satellites and high speed technology which is the key area in why the ability to bring these resources back to the US for production is important. China would not declare war against the US as they are a highly valuable trade partner and, as I have previously brought up, this would likely result in another "Scramble for Mars" or Cold War-esk standoff between the two nations. The risks of not doing this mission would result in a US-Sino War over REMs which would lead to potential nuclear war and human extinction, this is a significant harm which needs to be avoided at all costs.

Here in this debate we have to look at the Utilitarian aspect of humanity. With humanity staring at extinction, whether it be through Global Warming already exceding the point of no return or nuclear war over REMs with China, one thing is obvious, humanity must do what it takes to survive, with that, the US must colonize Mars. It is the most Earth like planet, has the minerals and resources needed to prevent a global crisis and a Sino-US war over lack of REM exports. My opponent had ignored these key areas of the debate and I would like to ask the judges to consider these important impacts and harms in the case of what would happen if the US does not colonize Mars, which would result in human extinction.

With that I thank you and ask that you please vote Pro!
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by lannan13 3 years ago
Well, this is a conundrum.
Posted by levi_smiles 3 years ago
I added it to voting thread a couple of days ago but getting folks to vote is like pulling teeth from grizzly bears
Posted by bsh7000 3 years ago
You should ask someone to vote on this. As the tournament organizer, it's not appropriate for me to vote on it.
Posted by Nd2400 3 years ago
Good debate form both of yours.

It was a good read. I will tend to lean toward levi_smiles, Because i just think it will be unrealistic to actually live up there in Mars by 2070.

By the way thanks Levi for the link.
Posted by lannan13 3 years ago
In the finial round I condensed C2 and C3 together.
Posted by lannan13 3 years ago
I'm going to try and finish it by tonight.
Posted by bsh7000 3 years ago
Please let me know when this debate concludes and then again when the voting period is over with.
No votes have been placed for this debate.

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