Adaptation to Climate Change Through Colonizing the Moon

I figure that 88% of RBC readers will vote for Newt in November.  For the remainder, here is some evidence of the power of his new ideas and out of the box thinking!   “Gingrich opened up the possibility of the moon becoming the 51st state, something he believes could happen once a permanent settlement reaches a population of 13,000 Americans. While a 1967 United Nations document says that no one country can claim sovereignty over the moon, the U.S., Russia, and China failed to sign a more recent U.N. treaty to settle the question of who owns the moon. “

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

26 thoughts on “Adaptation to Climate Change Through Colonizing the Moon”

  1. I’m puzzled as to what the problem is here; Unless we utterly stagnate as a species, the Moon will eventually be populated. What’s your vision of their governance? A permanent colonial protectorate of the UN? Kind of like the EU except with less pretense of democracy?

    1. There are many ways we could avoid stagnation, yet never colonize the moon.
      Populating the moon might be as odd as populating the Marianas Trench, as compared with Mars.
      Populating the moon might be silly, if humans shed their organic bodies, and go digital – why stop there, it’s really not that nice of a place.

      But even if we do colonize Luna, it won’t be because the UN let somebody. It will be because there is something worth doing there. Until that is true, it’s pie in the sky.

      1. I suggest a compromise – let’s do all we can to ensure humanity does not stagnate. Then we will be in a position to argue about whether the moon is the right thing to do, or not. Perhaps in 100 year from now.

  2. I’ll have to agree with the other Brett here, and point out that I think that treaty in its current form is stupid. It destroys any incentives to actually get there and utilize parts of the surface of the Moon by non-governmental organizations. They should revise it so that people can claim stretches of the lunar surface if they can actually do work and set up installations on it.

  3. Yeah. Survive global warming by colonizing the moon.

    Or, we could just be proper stewards of the delightfully inhabitable planet that we somehow fortuitously happen to inhabit already. (What were the odds of THAT, hey??)

  4. I refuse to vote for him until I know who is going to provide the adult supervision when he is in the White House.

        1. If her name was Callisto, I’d make jokes about Gingrich wanting to see other moons, as part of an open solar system.

  5. It hardly solves the problem of depletion of the Earth’s resources to transport enough of them to the moon to sustain life. Think how much energy and effort went into putting one or two men there for a day or two. Even allowing for some economies of scale, what would it take to keep 13,000 alive and well and with something interesting to do, indefinitely? The moon is not noted for its fertile soil or its abundant water, not to mention air. And what a tiny fragment of the Earth’s 7 billion are 13,000! Why would the starving billions accept such a diversion of scarce resources for those people?

    It won’t happen in my grandchildren’s lifetime, even if I have as long as descendance as President Tyler.

  6. It was kind of amazing, after Monday’s debate where Mitt and Newt competed for who could say more absurd things in support of the Tinned Monkey Project, that in tonight’s debate Mitt took Newt to task for his absurd Moon Base notions.

    As presently constituted, manned spaceflight is a dead loss – usually at the expense of actually productive unmanned space exploration. I’m all in favor of colonizing the moon, but the way to do it is to first spend decades almost entirely down here on the Earth learning how to build self-sustaining sealed biospheres, how to improve our lift capabilities, how to do robotic resource extraction in space, etcetera. Sending up more Latter-Day Laikas at extraordinary expense, and giving them nothing worthwhile to do while they’re up there – not a damn thing has come out of manned spaceflight since the lunar sample returns of 40 years ago, except fixing the Hubble at a greater cost than replacing it – is just not a sensible option. Manned spaceflight can be a good idea, but we aren’t remotely ready.

    And as has been noted upthread, space colonization is hardly the only worthwhile long-term scientific vision we have. Newt is nuts to think we could house dozens of people on the moon in a decade, let alone a dozen thousand, even if we knew how to sustain them up there. Meanwhile every one of the eight billion people on Earth is threatened by climate change. Which do you think should be a higher priority?

    1. That’s why I’d prefer to do a Mars mission. We’re not going to set up a colony there, but at least we could do some good scientific research with a manned mission.

      1. Really? Better than with robots? You may not have looked at the time and expense just to get astronauts to Mars – and if it’s not a suicide mission and we include a return trip it becomes much, much worse. People are more flexible than robots, but we can send an awful lot of robots for the same price, especially since we can budget in losing a few robots rather more than we can risk human life.

        1. I have seen the expense: $40-50 billion for Mars Direct, even assuming that you get atrocious cost over-runs. Sure, a robot can do a mission for $1 billion, but it can’t even remotely do what human explorers could do on the planet – and won’t be able to for at least the next decade. You could do more on-site research with one manned mission with six months on-site than you could do with 40 Mars Pathfinders.

  7. Oh, it is just newt resurrecting bush’s moondoggle. It is just a way (usually called “boondoggle”) to transfer hundreds of billions of taxpayer’s money to private companies.

    It won’t be “colonizing” until the locals can make their own stuff – until then it will be an extended camping trip because every single piece of food, clothing, shelter and water will have to travel 250,000 miles at several thousand dollars per pound. The moon won’t be self-sufficient until they can make their own space suits and grow their own food. And that will take decades to deliver the necessary infrastructure: thousands of tons at thousands of dollars per pound.

    I call this Thoreau’s Axe Paradox. He liked to pretend he was alone in the woods, even though it was about 2 hour walk to town – which he did several times per week. He also praised an axe that someone else left behind. Without that axe, his camping trip would have ended within weeks. And without a functioning iron industry, he never would have been able to acquire the ore to make the head of the axe himself – presuming he had his own tools for making them.

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