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We should leave Planet Earth and colonize Planet Mars: a bleak prospect!

Par NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sending a few billionaires to Mars within the next 10 years will clearly not solve the current and emerging issues facing our planet. The idea to colonize other planets has been around for a long time now. The highly respected physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking used to say "abandon earth or face extinction". He was interested in these issues at a time it was not fashionable. How long will it take for men to make our planet uninhabitable? It is not easy to respond to this question. But what seems certain is that the climate change is both more rapid and more serious than experts thought just a few years ago. What is also clear is that Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, the NASA or the industries involved are light on details when explaining how people will survive on Mars. It is hard to deny that it will be much more difficult to change the Martian atmosphere (96% carbon dioxide) than putting in place measures required to save planet earth. In fact, we do not have evidence that life could survive on Mars. Today, evacuating earth to satisfy the lobbies of the space industry, to appease a few iconic businessmen or to make science fiction fans happy is a pipe dream. Of course, this does not mean we should abandon the scientific exploration of Solar system planets. But the danger of such high-profile projects is of giving the impression that people have no choice but leave the earth. We believe that the billion of dollars required to develop a few "human" colonies in space could be much better used to protect our planet. Today, there is simply no alternative to Earth.

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