With it's rising temperatures, declining energy resources, and rapidly filing landfills, the earth sometimes gets a bad rap. Still, it's a pretty hard-to-beat combination of habitable oxygen-levels and replenishing food sources. So, what would make someone leave all that behind?
Top image: Artist's concept of a mission to Mars / JSC, NASA
In response to an article on the things we would need to get a space colony up and running within this century, a discussion began about how those colonies would be used, with some commenters asking, if we do build it, what would actually make us go?
Perhaps one more factor that'll move us from (a) being able to have a space colony to (b) actually having a space colony is if living on a space colony is better than living Anywhere Else On Earth (underground, the Arctic, bottom of the sea, in a dumpster). Otherwise, it won't be a colony but a mountaineering equivalent of a base camp.
Given the options out there, such a comparably good colony seems unlikely.
Which means we'll only be settling out there if things get comparably worse here.
As such, I REALLY hope we don't have reason to actually colonise space in the next century.
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It's probably true that, to get a critical mass of people to quit Earth for that great frontier in the sky, it's likely either things here would need to get much worse or things there much better. But, certainly for the near future, I don't suspect that sending large swaths of the population outwards will be part of the plan.
Basically, I imagine that, as they grow, space colonies will occupy the same kind of space in our imaginations that pushed earlier generations westwards, even at times when the comforts of home there were sparse. Space colonists might leave to seek out adventure, a better economic opportunity, an escape from the city, or (my personal choice) just a really, really good look at the sunset.
Okay, your turn, people. Would you move out to a space colony? Why? Tell us in the comments what bare minimums you would need before you step onto that shuttle and what would make you go.