Republic of Lagrangia endorses the colonization of our own Solar System, and of the Lagrange points of the Sun-Earth system in particular, before any attempt is to be made at colonizing other stellar system. Despite decades of scientific research, currently no feasible methods for interstellar travel do exist. Besides the lack of means for interstellar space travel, our Solar System contains huge quantities of natural resources, which can be used by humanity.
Because there is no technology available for achieving fast interstellar space travel, proponents of interstellar space colonization have proposed several alternatives. The three most important ones are: generation ships, sleeper ships and embryo space colonization. In this post we will discuss the latter option.
The rationale behind embryo space colonization is simple: interstellar travel takes much more time than the average life span of a human being, but (human) embryos can be stored frozen for an infinite amount of time. This concept faces several technical difficulties, but we want to limit ourselves here to the sense of embryo space colonization.
An ESC program would be an expensive enterprise, and especially if tax money is involved, such a project is in need of a good justification. What are possible arguments in favour of Embryo Space Colonization?
Arguments for the colonization of our own Solar System include, among others: the mining and exporting of extraterrestrial resources for terrestrial consumption, to create enough room for a growing world population, or the establishment of better societies for political dissatisfied terrestrials. None of these arguments applies to embryo space colonization.
Provided that an ESC mission can be completed successfully, the export of resources to Earth is almost out of question, for the same reasons that have led to the very idea of ESC: long travel times. (Paul Krugman has written an essay in defense of extraterrestrial trade, however we are still sceptical about it.) And how embryo space colonization can solve overpopulation on Earth, is everyone’s guess.
As far as we can see, the primary, if not only, reason for ESC is to ensure the continued existence of the human species. However, as we have argued in an earlier post the fact that at some point in the (distant) future our species might become extinct, is not something we should worry about. In contrast, we should care about the well-being of the currently existing population, which includes the possible evacuation of humans to space colonies in case of a global catastrophe.
However, the supporters of Scott Adams’s theory that the continued existence of the human species is required for the reconstruction of God, could argue in favour of embryo space colonization. In this view there’s reason for the survival of our species, which is independent of our particular interests. Though we might wonder whether we have any duty to help with the reconstruction of God.
Another argument which could be raised by proponents of embryo space colonization, is that this project would stimulate scientific research in several fields. The subsequent spin-offs could be used for the benefit of the current population. Well, the second part of this reasoning, is on itself enough justification of investing in scientific research, even without the prospect of embryo space colonization.