A group of panelists recently held a discussion about future space exploration, specifically to Mars. The event, “Becoming Interplanetary: What Living on Earth Can Teach Us about Living on Mars.”, was held a few months ago. A few snippets from one of the panelists are below…the entire article can be read here.
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire who studies spacetime’s origins and the stuff that fills it. She appeared on a panel alongside Brenda J. Child, Brian Nord, and Ashley Shew.
Gizmodo: What does decolonizing Mars mean to you?
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: I’m trying to think carefully about what our relationship to Mars should be, and whether we can avoid reproducing deeply entrenched colonial behaviors as we seek to better understand our Solar System. This includes thinking about why our language for developing understandings of environments that are new to us tends to still be colonial: “colonizing Mars” and “exploring” and “developing,” for example. These are deeply fraught terms that have traditionally referred to problematic behaviors by imperialists with those that we would call “indigenous” and “people of color” often on the receiving end of violent activities.
Gizmodo: Do you think that we’ve been thinking about Mars exploration wrong, and why?
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: I also want us to consider that as we interact with Mars, we may be precluding certain futures. Perhaps life hasn’t developed there yet. Perhaps life may develop in future. Will our interactions with Mars preclude that possibility? Do we have the right to make that choice for the ecosystem? Europeans and non-Indigenous, non-Black Americans have traditionally thought they could do whatever they wanted in an environment that is new to them. Thinking about Mars is a chance to think carefully about where this attitude has gotten us. So far, technological “advancement” has brought us many things, including potentially catastrophic global warming. Global warming is a technological development.
I want us to move away from the idea of “exploration” and “discovery” and toward understanding environments as “new to us.” Columbus wasn’t the first to “discover” or “explore” the Americas. He was just a European who didn’t understand a place that was new to him.
Gizmodo: What do the ideals behind decolonizing Mars say about science and space exploration as a whole? Who holds the power, and how can that change?
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: Decolonization in the Martian context requires asking questions about who is entitled to what land. Can we be trusted to be in balance with Mars if we refuse to be in balance with Earth? Can we be trusted to be equitable in our dealings with each other in a Martian context if the U.S. and Canadian governments continue to attack indigenous sovereignty, violate indigenous lands, and engage in genocidal activities against indigenous people?
I think the answer is no. I think we need to clean up our mess before we start making a new mess somewhere else. It’s hard for me to say “we” because I don’t think my values are represented by how scientists have handled themselves in the past, and as an Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American person, I’m a descendant of people who didn’t have a choice about coming to the Americas. But I am a member of the scientific community and right now, it seems that on the whole the scientific community has not done the work of asking itself about deeply entrenched notions about who science is for, how science is done, and how it can and should impact the environment.
I’m worried about this. Our terrestrial ecosystem is making very clear to us that our old way of doing things has pushed us to the brink of extinction. What has happened recently with the Thirty Meter Telescope and Maunakea makes clear to me that we have a long way to go before science’s approach to new activities and environments isn’t painfully entangled with colonial ideals.
Where to begin. It’s no surprise that she would immediately start blaming white people for all of our problems on Earth, as if white people were the only ones to colonize or take over other people’s lands. Might wanna take a peek at the history books at the Mongolians to start, Professor. Native non-white populations rape, pillage, enslave, and wipe out peoples too, Professor.
But back to the actual topic the panel was supposed to address. I would be curious to ask assistant Professor Prescod-Weinstein if she’s so concerned about our place amongst the stars, if she wants some sort of mass genocide to keep the population of the Earth at sustainable levels? Because that’s really the only option if she’s concerned about disturbing the natural habitat of a few microbes (if there even are any on Mars) or a few potential future microbes who haven’t had the time to develop yet.
This line of thinking is insane. Many of these far-left types place very little value on human life. Whether it’s colonizing the cosmos or cleaning up the environment, all of their solutions can really only be achieved by wiping out humanity. Think about it. Their environmental solutions, if realized to their full extent, could only be achieved by reducing humanity to a very small population or none at all. The same goes for interplanetary travel and colonization. At some point on Earth if we continue our current trajectory we will run out of room and resources on this planet. Short of mass genocide the only way to continue forward is to expand to other planets.
Nature is hierarchical. Fundamentally one must ask whether we should place humans over some, any, other lifeforms. Of course, we do this every day. Most people don’t think twice about squashing a bug in their home or how their burger was prepared. That is life. Life consumes other life. Some lifeforms excel while others become extinct. I truly believe many of these people think that humans are no better than an insect or microbe, in which case they are severely sick and against life. Hoping for the demise of one’s own species is not healthy. Whether they’d term it in that exact way or not doesn’t matter; this is ultimately what they believe if they draw such conclusions as those on this panel. Again, they’re discussing whether it’s right to colonize planets that don’t even appear to have any life on them, let alone intelligent life. Sorry, shame on me for ranking life at all. I shouldn’t be “othering” like that.