I am writing this as a follow up and response to critics of my "Risks of Mars" article in The Space Review.
There's much I could have written but the risk aversion I was referring to is everywhere and underlines much of the negative comments my article got. People say it'snot that they are "scared to go", then blather on about why we need some unique "magic bullet" reason to go that will justify spending the money but such views are shallow and really don't take into account that the world we live in today is very different from the 1960's.
For example, lets say we can do the mission for$35 Billion. Compare that figure to where government and the private sector are investing similar amounts today and what do you get? Military technologies. Mega infrastructure projects, curing cancer, aids etc. Things that are relevant to governments and the public at large.
But a Mars mission? The benefits are future based. Many are unknown. Many can be accomplished by focusing on earth based projects. So if we are looking at this from a purely accounting or financial cost/benefit viewpoint, it will always struggle to compete with earth based ideas.
If we have reusable rockets and flights can be reduced to a few millions that will help, but again even at the lowest prices people will argue that we can use that money "better on other things for the same results".
It seems that unless humans to Mars is smarter and brings better clear benefits than earth based ideas we will always face savage opposition.
So we present h2m in the context of space exploration projects because its appropriate and yes it's risky in that or any context.
Moving to Mars is something different from a world of closed borders and dwindling resources. It's an idea that our iphone addicted society seems utterly alien. But expanding our presence into our solar system is a settlement issue. Settlement onto open empty lands. (That we know of).
Settlement is about growth. About all the changes that come with expansion of civilization. Nothing else on this earth really can compare to that.
It's not just about technology benefits. It's true, those can be gained in other ways right here on earth and probably cheaper and less risky. But the benefits of the unique kind of settlement program space represents are not just technological. Not just financial in an immediate sense.
It's going to expand and change our social perspectives of how we view our culture. How we view ourselves. And that's something we sorely need in this world filled with so many new conflicts. It's like creating a new nation minus the conflict. Plus based on extreme energy dependence on renewables. Plus new environmental constraints. Plus unique medical constraints. This will be truly a new social order. The real "Mars Society".