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#1 2002-07-09 10:13:14

Mark S
Banned
Registered: 2002-04-11
Posts: 343

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

I've been reading "Red Mars," and the book has stimulated me to think about some of the obstacles the first colonists will have to face.  I believe that one of them will be the United Nations.

I do not share KSR's vision of a benevolent U.N. that will keep order on Mars and try to please all of the colonists.  Rather , I see a more limited role for the U.N. as individual nations begin their colonization efforts.

The biggest strike against the U.N. comes in the form of two treaties: the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty.  The Outer Space Treaty, which is currently in effect, bans countries from claiming celestial bodies.  The Moon Treaty, although never ratified by major space-faring nations, sets a dangerous precedent for space business because it declares that the profits from moon, Mars, or asteroid-mining must be shared between all of the nations, thus killing any profit motive to do so.

The question the first colonists must face is, "What do we do about the Outer Space Treaty, and will we resist a new version of the Moon Treaty?"  I personally feel that the Outer Space Treaty does not need to be completely discarded, but it does need to be amended.  The U.N., or another international body composed of the space-faring nations, should be able to designate areas on Mars of scientific interest that should be off-limits to colonization.  And decisions that affect the whole planet, such as terraforming, should not be left to one nation.  But preventing a private venture or a single nation from "going it alone" would hinder early efforts at colonizing Mars becuase it would deter them from going at an early date, and would instead force them to turn their program into a more complex, international venture.  The quickest way to Mars will be through private enterprise.  We must allow businesses to claim portions of Mars so they can make space profitable and open the new frontier.

Imagine what would have happened if the U.S. government had told Americans in the second half of the 19th century that any profits they made in the western territories had to go to the government, and that they could not lay claim to the land they settled on.  Would any of the pioneers have gone west?  Very few.  It was the Homestead Act, which allowed settlers to purchase land at outlandishly cheap prices after laying claim to it, that settled the west.


"I'm not much of a 'hands-on' evil scientist."--Dr. Evil, "Goldmember"

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#2 2002-07-10 09:12:09

Canth
Member
Registered: 2002-04-21
Posts: 126

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

The outer space treaty was intended for the purpose of stifeling exploration and colinization of space. It was supported by president Nixon and many in Russia who felt that space was just too expensive to be a good method of competition between the nations and that it would drive them to bankrupcy. This was a very shortsighted approach on the part of president Nixon as we won the cold war by forcing the soviet union to near bankrupcy which facilitated its collapse. I think that the best solution to the outer space treaty is a new replacement treaty which supports some organized method to space colinization and exploitation. It could take the form of nationalistic claiming or independant government of each colony or any number of things. There is a deep need for an organized system of extraterrestrial government now so that people will have an encouragement to go settle space and so that order is maintained from the start. I am kind of in favor of something similar to the european colinization of the americas (minus the native americans) or the american settlement of the west.

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#3 2002-07-10 12:35:11

Mark S
Banned
Registered: 2002-04-11
Posts: 343

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

Wasn't the Outer Space Treaty signed in 1967, prior to the Nixon Administration?  Further, I believe that the treaty was signed so that the United States or the Soviet Union could not claim the entirety of the Moon and use it for decidedly un-scientific purposes.

Still, the Outer Space Treaty is a Cold War relic that should be amended.  Perhaps a new treaty would allow nations to claim portions of Mars, with the size of the claim limited to the percentage of the earth's population contained by that country.  We must be careful that no country gets so greedy that there isn't enough left of Mars for the other nations who travel there.


"I'm not much of a 'hands-on' evil scientist."--Dr. Evil, "Goldmember"

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#4 2002-07-10 12:54:43

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

Perhaps a new treaty would allow nations to claim portions of Mars,  with the size of the claim limited to the percentage of the earth's population contained by that country. [/quote:post_uid0]

Sounds a bit arbitrary to me, but a worthwhile attempt.

I would imagine that the development of Mars, any "profit" go into funding UN sponsored programs only. As for who gets what and when. Lock up 3/4's (or whatever X number) of land in perpitutity, a portion of that land is released every 10, or 20 years- with currently unrepresented nations or groups having first "dibs" on getting access to the land before those who have already come to Mars- they get a chance after those who did not.

All permanent settlers must renounce any ties to terran governments and recognize the authority of a martian world council to settle/resolve disputes- this is the only price of admission to Mars. Only permanent settlers may own Martian land- all non-permanent settlers may only "lease". Works for the Swiss.

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#5 2002-07-10 15:13:46

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

I've been reading "Red Mars," and the book has stimulated me to think about some of the obstacles the first colonists will have to face.  I believe that one of them will be the United Nations.

I do not share KSR's vision of a benevolent U.N. that will keep order on Mars and try to please all of the colonists.  [/quote:post_uid3]
*I don't think the United Nations should have any say-so in the affairs of Marsian exploration or settlement.

The only nations who should have "the right of say" in Marsian missions (whether of a temporary human exploration mission or attempting to settle there, etc.) are the nations which have contributed to the missions in the first place, whether with money, goods and services, or etc.  Of course, then comes the question of how much one nation contributes versus another, and if those who contribute more should have more say.  Headache City.

Besides, the corporate sponsors will pretty much be the ones in charge, along with the wealthiest nations who have contributed.  I'm not saying I want it that way, but I'm pretty darned sure that's how it'll pan out.

The UN is a joke here on Earth...I don't want them getting even a toe-hold on Mars.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#6 2002-07-10 15:22:07

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

Wasn't the Outer Space Treaty signed in 1967, prior to the Nixon Administration?  Further, I believe that the treaty was signed so that the United States or the Soviet Union could not claim the entirety of the Moon and use it for decidedly un-scientific purposes.

Still, the Outer Space Treaty is a Cold War relic that should be amended.  [/quote:post_uid3]
*The Outer Space Treaty is just a piece of paper.  It's easy to draft, sign, and "authorize" something when there is next to little chance it will have to be enforced.  And we know of all the "treaties" in history which have gotten unceremoniously dumped into File 13 when half-hearted plans become stone-cold realities.  The US space program has proven itself willing to stop at Apollo 18 and the space shuttle.

I don't have the answer to how to deal with nations wanting to divide Mars up like a pie, but I'm betting this "Outer Space Treaty" thing will get dumped into File 13 too, once China or the US or a European crew land on Mars.  It'll be a free-for-all, I suppose...unfortunately.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#7 2002-07-10 16:15:00

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

I've been reading "Red Mars," and the book has stimulated me to think about some of the obstacles the first colonists will have to face.  I believe that one of them will be the United Nations.

I do not share KSR's vision of a benevolent U.N. that will keep order on Mars and try to please all of the colonists.  Rather , I see a more limited role for the U.N. as individual nations begin their colonization efforts.

The biggest strike against the U.N. comes in the form of two treaties: the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty.  The Outer Space Treaty, which is currently in effect, bans countries from claiming celestial bodies.  The Moon Treaty, although never ratified by major space-faring nations, sets a dangerous precedent for space business because it declares that the profits from moon, Mars, or asteroid-mining must be shared between all of the nations, thus killing any profit motive to do so.
[/quote:post_uid0]

I couldn't agree more Mark S.  I think it's particularly dangerous how the U.N. is trying to declare everything in the universe a world heritage site that must be kept hands free from commercial development.  With policies like that on the books there's no chance of developing the wealth space holds in store for us.  Marxism and command economies are flops, but I guess we're just going to have to keep learning that the hardway. 

The question the first colonists must face is, "What do we do about the Outer Space Treaty, and will we resist a new version of the Moon Treaty?"  I personally feel that the Outer Space Treaty does not need to be completely discarded, but it does need to be amended.  The U.N., or another international body composed of the space-faring nations, should be able to designate areas on Mars of scientific interest that should be off-limits to colonization.  And decisions that affect the whole planet, such as terraforming, should not be left to one nation.  But preventing a private venture or a single nation from "going it alone" would hinder early efforts at colonizing Mars becuase it would deter them from going at an early date, and would instead force them to turn their program into a more complex, international venture.  The quickest way to Mars will be through private enterprise.  We must allow businesses to claim portions of Mars so they can make space profitable and open the new frontier.
[/quote:post_uid0]

I think there's a good chance a colony won't develop in the first place if the U.N. has its way.  They'll probably put some policy in place to prevent more than X people from being on the red planet at any one time to prevent colonization.  I hope not, but I wouldn't be surprised.  Anyway, if a sizable colony does develop that becomes self-sustainable I think the colonists will give the U.N. the proverbial middle finger.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#8 2002-07-10 19:16:24

Canth
Member
Registered: 2002-04-21
Posts: 126

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

I stand corrected.  smile

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#9 2002-07-11 11:44:51

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

*I don't think the United Nations should have any say-so in the affairs of Marsian exploration or settlement.[/quote:post_uid0]

I agree, however, I still believe any "profit" from Mars should go to the UN- it is the only organization that represents all people, and the programs it runs are designed to help all people, not just those WE think should be helped. Any profit derived from Mars belongs to the people of Earth as their birthright.

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#10 2002-07-11 12:50:44

Mark S
Banned
Registered: 2002-04-11
Posts: 343

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

Any profit derived from Mars belongs to the people of Earth as their birthright.[/quote:post_uid0]
This idealistic notion may seem fair, but it effectively kills any notion of utilizing the resources of Mars.  If a company plans on mining Mars, they will need to make a profit, or they will not bother setting up shop.  The profit motive also encourages innovation and efficiency.  The Soviet Union killed free enterprise. As a direct result, the Soviet government no longer exists.

If an organization is formed to administer the entire Martian planet, I could accept a tax on Martian businesses that would pay for administration, science, and possibly terraforming.  But this tax should be kept low so it doesn't hinder free enterprise.


"I'm not much of a 'hands-on' evil scientist."--Dr. Evil, "Goldmember"

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#11 2002-07-11 13:37:36

clark
Member
Registered: 2001-09-20
Posts: 6,278

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

If a company plans on mining Mars, they will need to make a profit, or they will not bother setting  up shop.  The profit motive also encourages innovation and efficiency.  [/quote:post_uid0]

I don't deny this reality- however, the companies should be rightfully taxed on the profit they make- the tax should go to benefit all of humanity,not just one nation.

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#12 2002-07-11 14:39:37

Byron
Member
From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2002-05-16
Posts: 844

Re: Drawbacks of the Outer Space Treaty - Why it will stifle colonization

I don't deny this reality- however, the companies should be rightfully taxed on the profit they make- the tax should go to benefit all of humanity,not just one nation.[/quote:post_uid0]

I don't see a problem with a tax for a [i:post_uid0]Martian[/i:post_uid0] world body, court, etc, but to tax Mars for Earth's benefit?  I'm not too sure about that...if groups are people are able to go to Mars of their own free will (as opposed to government-funded missions,) I don't see why they should be in "debt" to Earth at all.  Let the money earned on Mars stay on Mars, with the exception of free and voluntary trade, of course...

B

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