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CBA of space exploration: Some ethical considerations Synergies of Earth science and space exploration R. Sukara & E. Silber October 8, 2010 Planetary Science Seminar, The University of Western Ontario Instead of Introduction

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CBA of space exploration: Some ethical considerationsSynergies of Earth science and space exploration

R. Sukara & E. Silber

October 8, 2010

Planetary Science Seminar, The University of Western Ontario

instead of introduction
Instead of Introduction

cost benefit analysis of space exploration some ethical consideration
Cost – Benefit Analysis of Space Exploration: Some Ethical Consideration
  • Why should humans go to Moon and Mars?
  • Lets ask “ethical” question-should we preserve extraterrestrial planets in their native form?
  • Bottom line, what should be our decision making paradigm? And can that paradigm contain ethical as well as other considerations beside just dollar sign?
  • In our modern world how exactly is decision making paradigm approached and how are any other factors beside CBA represented?
up front
Up Front
  • While widely used by both governments and corporations, CBA cannot withstand ethics litmus test.
  • Thus can we allow it to be primary deciding factor in humanity's quest to explore, exploit and colonize space, especially in the light of arguments that will be presented later
  • Here we explore ethical and other considerations in CBA as they pertain to urgent need to engage in space exploration
the cba paradigm
The CBA Paradigm
  • Cost vs. benefits, e.g. physical cost of space travel such as physiological effects on humans... (can you think of few)?
  • We will not engage in pointless philosophical discussion examining the meaning and origin of CBA
  • Numerous publications are discussing policy, CBA and space related issues, especially in recent years, but not widely accessible nor discussed in wider scientific community
the cba paradigm6
The CBA Paradigm
  • There is always a discussion about how to measure loss of human life… but no mention about countless lives lost in wars and other intentional human activities
  • How can we even begin to quantify the cost of some global catastrophe such as large meteor impact - or can we even afford to take that path
  • Can space exploration be viewed in terms of profit and can that be a guiding factor
the cba paradigm7
The CBA Paradigm
  • The solution to the questions posed in previous slides can not solely be pursued through the lens of CBA
  • So is the CBA, which is conducted in non-monetary units, i.e. units of human life or ecosystem, the right answer?
  • The answer is: not necessarily
  • Why? Ideas please!
  • However philosophical arguments such as in the paper are really irrelevant
reasons for space exploration
Reasons for Space Exploration
  • Overpopulation
  • Depleting resources
  • Climate change?
  • Hostile aliens?
  • Catastrophic impacts
  • Neutron star, but c’mon?! Not everything is all that depressive and dark
  • Now lets recall cold war space race and the race to the moon - what can we conclude
additional considerations
Additional Considerations
  • New discoveries and technologies that can be immediately applied to the life on earth (think problems of pollution, recycling, transportation, energy, health just to mention a few)
  • How about you, agree or disagree? Can you think of some more?
  • Can you think of the future where as a result of perhaps CBA influenced government policies, the space exploration is ignored?
business aspects of space exploration
Business Aspects of Space Exploration
  • Lets not really forger business side of the space exploration. Ok, how about 3He mining from the moon for beginners
  • Asteroid belt mining
  • Colonies and settlements
  • Space tourism, but that is not news is it
  • Now we come full circle and we are beginning to see the importance of seeing the bigger picture
  • So our reasoning must be multifaceted and multidimensional
But the bottom line is are we mature enough to think about species survival and propagation and to hedge against the existential threats
  • Isn’t that the main reason to actually leave confines of the Blue Sphere?
  • Ah, but let’s not forget that the price of human survival - according to judge Posner is 600 trillion, but can you really put the price on the species as a whole? Is that ethical? Thoughts?
  • Does this mean that CBA will potentially be deciding human survival
some thoughts
Some Thoughts
  • Should we really talk about “standing” and “discounting” as described in the paper?
  • Enough philosophy, the logic has already won the argument, or hasn’t it?! What do you think?
  • But wait - there is more!
so how are we progressing
So How Are We Progressing?
  • Lets look at some population projections
overpopulation good bad and ugly
Overpopulation - good, bad and ugly
  • Why do we care?
    • Food
    • Diseases
    • Scarcity of resources
    • End of democracy as we know it
    • Pollution and destruction of environment
reality check
Reality Check
  • Water stress is defined if country uses more than 20% of its available water resources.
  • Recall that ground water is only 0.28% and readily available from all sources is only 0.009% out of total volume on Earth
reality check16
Reality Check
  • Critical level in 2032
so how are we really progressing
So How Are We Really Progressing?
  • Yes, we invest in war and more war, but what if the funding priorities are shifted
  • Let me rephrase: the technology that has been developed for war can be certainly modified and improved for much more noble purpose
  • Some of that is already being done
  • Lets review some examples
so how are we progressing18
So How Are We Progressing?
  • New strategic delivery systems adopted to new launch platforms (some might recall Aurora secret project from 80’s – think of new generation space shuttle), space station and satellite technology
  • There are more examples, covered nicely in Chung et al, (2010), which are beyond the scope of this presentation, but there is always impeding factor
  • Geopolitics is the enemy of space research
  • What factors do we need to overcome this almost insurmountable obstacle (have you ever seen Reagan speech at UN)?
  • Any thoughts on this?

if we overcome all the above what are our options
If we overcome all the above …what are our options?
  • As far as we know Earth is the only planet within our reach that can support life
  • Astrobiology to the rescue! Any specialists in the public?
  • Teraforming, but where?
  • Mars perhaps? Yes we know, magnetic field is the problem, but is it really the one that can not be mitigated?
  • However we can not walk before we crawl
  • What to do then and how does that correspond to the real world
ok but what is our role as earth scientists
Ok, but what is our role as earth scientists?
  • In any major undertaking involving humans beyond Earth, Geoscientists will play critical role! Can you think of any?
  • So you should definitely feel good about your career choice!
some synergies between the earth science and space exploration cont d
Some Synergies Between the Earth Science and Space Exploration – cont’d

Chung et al. (2010)

action plan
Action Plan
  • All in all interdisciplinary approach is critical!
  • However public needs to be educated and attitudes changed
  • In conclusion, to quote Obama: “Yes we can do it”, but will we?
  • Amalgamating government and private sectors, encouraging international cooperation, mobilizing and educating masses just might do the trick
  • Perhaps then we can really pursue that paradigm in business and finance of unlimited growth-one that is about to cost us dearly on Earth!
what is the price of doing nothing
What is the price of “doing nothing”
  • To answer that I would strongly recommend the book by renowned physicist Willard Wells, Apocalypse When?: Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive (2009), especially chapter 5! (more about W. Wells on slide #27)
  • Chances are 50-50 that within the next generation, some apocalyptic event will decimate human kind with almost 4% probability of human extinction within the decade!
  • And no, this is not a hand waving, his argument and math are impeccable

Just some scenarios that W. Wells considers: Dr. Willard Wells is the author of "Apocalypse When? Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive", published by Springer Praxis Books/Popular Science

but there is more
But there is more..

Even more bizarre, but is it that farfetched?

about dr willard wells
About Dr. Willard Wells
  • Dr. Willard Wells is the author of "Apocalypse When? Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive", published by Springer Praxis Books/Popular Science. He holds a Ph.D. in physics with a minor in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where his mentor was Prof. Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate. His dissertation was Quantum Theory of Coupled Systems Having Application to Masers (which includes lasers). He worked at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he analyzed the unexpected tumbling of Explorer I satellite. This led to an improved design for later Explorers. Dr. Wells was co-inventor of a mechanism that stops a satellite's spin after it attains orbit. This device was used in several missions during the early years of the space program. He then founded and led the Quantum Electronics Group.
  • Space exploration, colonization and human expansion beyond confines of Earth must be the imperative, rather than the realm of discussion, engaged and promoted by both governments and interested private sector
  • Scientists must lead the role in that respect because no sane being can trust self serving politicians alone!
  • So is this all just wishful thinking and science fiction?
  • You decide…
  • Your opinion counts here, so express it loud and clear!
  • And don’t forget we are only messengers