Now, what to make of Dr. Bob Zubrin?
Not being a current Space News subscriber, I haven’t read the opinion piece that he wrote a few days ago, though I saw the following excerpt at Keith Cowing’s NASA Watch web site:
With the [Islamic] fundamentalist takeover, the most glorious civilization humanity had ever known was turned into a dung heap of misery, mental slavery, degradation and ignorance. A quarter of the world has turned into a graveyard of the mind, which for the past 700 years has not produced a single significant scientific advance.
If I am informed correctly, Bob proposes that we really spite and put it to those scientifically-ignorant medieval towel heads by colonizing Mars. Now is that in your face, or what?
What with calls for new gun control, increased wiretapping, airline and hospitality industry bailouts, more handouts for the national strategic peanut industry, etc., I probably would have been shocked if Bob hadn’t also figured out a way to hijack last month’s atrocities for his own narrow political agenda. But even for Bob (again, assuming that it’s true–I’d appreciate being emailed a copy of the editorial if anyone has it), [Update about noon PDT on Sunday, someone posted a URL on s.s.p. It can be found here], it’s almost breathtaking in its verve and audacity.
Unfortunately for Bob and humanity’s near-term future on subdividing the Red Planet, I suspect that the political establishment will find his call to arms less than compelling. Even if it were viewed as an effective tactic for ending terrorism (“Take that, Osama, you unscientific infidel”), the time frame involved in implementing his solution to terrorism would likely strain the patience of the American people, who, if we are to believe the polls, are willing to wait a few weeks or months to see some concrete action, but probably not decades.
Apparently the National Space Society and the Mars Society (at least the Canadian branch) have disavowed his comments, and made clear that he spoke for himself alone. But the little imbroglio did get me to thinking. Is there some way to hijack^H^H^H^H^H^H assist in the War on Terrorism (still need a better name) that can also advance the cause of space development? Doing well by doing good, so to speak?
A week or two ago, I started a thread on sci.space.policy entitled “Lunar Palestine.” The thread quickly drifted off to the topics of single-stage-to-orbit, and gun control, and what asses various members of the newsgroup are (no, I’m not going to name names) as threads on s.s.p are wont to do, and we never really resolved the issue of whether or not, assuming that we did make the Moon at least as habitable as, say, circa-1982 Beirut, the Palestinians could be persuaded to move there in their own homeland.
But thinking some more, I now have a better solution. In a discussion with Jim Bennett, it was pointed out that the Zionists (being socialists, and largely atheistic) were originally not even seeking to live in what is today Israel–they were looking at places like Madagascar and Siberia. The Holy Land only became the favored destination after they joined forces with the Orthodox Jews already living there (who were actually opposed to a Jewish state, but eventually went along, as long as it would be in ancient Judea, and be a real Jewish state). This marriage of convenience resulted in modern Israel, with all its quirks, contradictions, and violence.
Perhaps, with what’s been going on the past few years (you know, intifadas and stuff), the Zionists could be persuaded to say, “To hell with it!”, pull up stakes, and move to Luna. A space colony is actually pretty well suited to a kibbutz social model, and they could get back to their socialist roots. They’re already used to living places that are short of water–they’d figure out how to make do. That would be a form of socialism that I could probably get behind, because it might save us more money in reduced oil prices than it would cost, and it would push the development of the technology, making it affordable for us capitalists to do stuff in space as well.
Obviously, this idea is just in the formative stages, and it’s possible that there are some implications that haven’t yet occurred to me. But I’m sure that I’ll get abundant feedback on just how stupid an idea this is…