Our most impressive modern-day inventor and SpaceX extrepreneur Elon Musk wants to colonise Mars. Donald Trump wants it to be within the timeframe of his presidency.
Musk says it would be fun. The gravity is 37 percent of that of earth, so his colonists could bound around and lift heavy things once they’ve saved up the cost of the move – approximately the price of a modest house back on Earth.
The great advantage? There will be a labour shortage there for a long time and jobs would not be in short supply.
Apparently terraforming a whole (rather small) planet with a temperature of -80 degrees Fahrenheit and epic red dust storms is doable, even desirable, for ‘species resilience’.
Warming up Mars to suit humanoids – or perhaps our artificial intelligence robots – rather than make a belated start on ensuring that Earth has enough bees and food for its people points to the horrible economics of growth with which we are currently infested.
Not least because conditions on the fourth planet from the sun sound suspiciously as if the human race has been there before, wreaking the same havoc there that we are currently inflicting on Planet Earth and abandoning the wreckage.
Workers in the Red Planet’s future mineral mines may find themselves digging up the remains of Mayan elites or fallen-angel Atlantean colonists.
Little wonder if our younger generations don’t seem to think beyond tomorrow. Though that is a myth, anyway.
Research commissioned by organisers of New Zealand’s biggest festival for young innovators and leaders, the Festival for the Future, showed that, more than any other issue, the future of the environment and sustainability is overwhelmingly important to young people.
Aged between 13 and 30, those polled rated global citizenship and migration a hot topic in the current political landscape, 70 percent wanted to discuss equality and social justice and 74 percent said that it was ‘super important’ to discuss mental health and wellbeing.
Three-quarters of them wanted discussion on the vision for New Zealand in 2040.
Organisers concluded the data suggests that many young people are looking for a sense of inspiration and optimism about the future and are taking it upon themselves to develop the skills and capabilities they’ll need moving forward.
Politicians, take note.
A general election, as television’s talking heads are telling us owlishly, is only ten weeks away and still our weedy and spiteful political discourse is being animated by personality-bashing and shonky polls.
Over-arching vision and a mandate for future directions should animate the democratic processes. If a boardroom doesn’t chart the goals of a business and make a thorough assessment of performance, the business is in trouble.
Politics have been segued away from such straightforward clarity. The mystique of growth and ‘strong economies’ doesn’t have vision. It compresses and suppresses everything that doesn’t feed the imperfectly-hidden agendas of lobby groups and global power-brokers.
Oppositions, including our own, have been consistently wrong-footed by pollsters and mainstream media for a decade.
Populism flourishes. Citizens don’t.
However, there is significant evidence globally to suggest that it is no longer useful to rely on the disaffection of the young as a tool to continue intergenerational theft and a toxic climate of greed and spite.
If this sounds like an irritatingly familiar old drumbeat, go on the web and look up Auckland’s City Mission or get with the issues underlying youth unemployment and suicide statistics. Or drill down into, not what entrenched politicians are saying cannot be done, but what should be done.
When intentionality and vision are clearly articulated, the how and the means show up.
There is plenty of money. We can continue to spend it on armaments we don’t have the personnel to run, carbon credits emanating from Eastern Europe, tax breaks for global corporations or measly royalties for our gas, gold and fresh water.
Meanwhile, our Opposition parties are dancing with frustration to get our attention for more wholesome options.
Britain’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, despised by the media and his own Parliamentry MPs, almost won the British election and probably has won himself a place in history with his calm, old-fashioned vision: ‘for the many, not the few’.
The core purpose of democracy requires stewardship of a fair and equitable society in which everyone shares, thrives and contributes to the bounty and social capital into which they are born.
Business as usual isn’t cutting it.
Solutions aren’t rocket science – and they will take only a fraction of the intentionality and grit it would take to repeat the slave economy model on some other poor, inhospitable planet. Liz Waters