Updated: Mar 21
There is no planet B, we are told in a seemingly doomed attempt to persuade us to protect the Earth, but this is not true, there are lots of planet B’s, and unless we act imminently, advocates of planetary protection have recently warned, we’re going to end up doing as much, if not more, damage to them as we have already done down here on planet A.
The drawing-up of resource maps by private corporations raises concerns about in-situ resource utilization. Sustainability cannot, it is claimed, be achieved if this is undertaken using existing practices which have contributed to inequality and environmental degradation on Earth. Prevention of this “capitalist extraction” on other worlds is, therefore, called for.
Recommendations from private corporations to reclassify non-polar regions of the moon and Mars as of no scientific value raises concerns around environmental preservation. Respect and preservation of environments should not just be limited to their scientific value but also, the planetary defenders claim, take into account their historical, environmental, aesthetical, cultural and intrinsic value.
A resurgence in race science, including eugenics in Martian colonisation, raises concerns around interactions with potential extraterrestrial life. Moral consideration, acknowledging sovereignty and interconnectivity, must, it is claimed, be extended to both existing and future potential microbial life. While parameters are needed for a first contact which will initially take place between microbiomes.
The recommendations have been dismissed by planetary protection critic Robert Zubrin as an ideologically driven “woke” assault on space exploration, but can perhaps be best viewed as an equal and opposite reaction to the push, mostly from commercial concerns, which has resulted a revision of decades old guidelines seen as costly and excessively restrictive.