Terry Gross did a pretty interesting conversation with Mark O’Connell about his book on apocalypse preppers, but there was this one area where…how shall I say, everyone was missing something. I can’t find a transcript but there’s a summary.

On how some doomsday preppers see Mars as a backup planet

Mars is almost like the next step up from New Zealand. If New Zealand is kind of the safest retreat on this planet, then, if — everything goes wrong here and the planet gets hit by an asteroid or whatever — the term that is used amongst Mars enthusiasts would be we need a “backup planet.”

That already gets my back up, because Mars can’t be a “backup planet” (and neither can any other planet). To take all the stuff humans would need to survive would take an impossible amount of fuel; just to take some humans would take an impossible amount of fuel, and why would that be available after a civilization-ending catastrophe? Colonizing Mars is not feasible, it’s a fantasy. But that’s not even the thing; it gets worse. O’Connell expands on the idea (about 20 minutes in) (my quick transcription, with some “kind of”s omitted):

You know, things like climate change, an asteroid strike, anything that could sort of present an existential threat. The idea is that even on, you know, a long-term scale, the sun is going to burn out eventually, and the idea is that we need to sort of insure the future of humanity and so we need a sort of second place, to form a backup for civilization, for the species.

Because the sun will burn out eventually, so we damn well better get to Mars so that we can have a backup.

Terry Gross says she doesn’t know much about space travel but wouldn’t Elon Musk and the other people planning this be dead by then?

Good point but there’s a rather more basic one…

He goes on:

It’s about having a backup planet […] it’s not really about the individuals, it’s about you know preserving the species, it’s about if an asteroid hits earth or the sun explodes or whatever you want to have a backup planet for humanity.

And that will be Mars. A solar planet.

Neither of them noticed.

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