Economics

This will be a very brief section, since it is concerned with a topic that will have little to no influence on our main discussion. Indeed, nowhere in this book will there be any mention of how much it might cost to terraform a planet, or colonize an asteroid or a moon. Admittedly, some researchers have prepared detailed budgets and cost-benefit analyses in order to argue for the superiority of their preferred terraforming, or world-changing, scheme. To be blunt, such an approach appears to be patently absurd and a near-complete waste of time. Why? Because, in short, the commitment to terra-form another world can only proceed outside of our current economic thinking and practices. The present economic fashion of demanding short-term gain over long-term investment will never be able to support a terraforming project. In short, the process cannot be financed on the basis of pure monetary return (which, of course, is not to say that money can't, or won't, be made by committing to such programs). Humanity will begin terraforming Mars and Venus and worlds beyond, not because there is any specific financial gain to be made but because it is committing itself to a long-term survival strategy, and because each new generation of human beings is prepared to invest in the future of following generations that they will never meet. There is much work that needs to be done at home, on Earth, and within ourselves, before the process of terraforming can finally begin. We will literally have to terraform ourselves before we attempt to terraform other worlds.

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