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Space Settlement | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #46

Space Settlement

Be it resolved, to realize humankind’s full potential requires settling worlds beyond our own.

Guests
Milan M. Ćirković
Lord Martin Rees

About this episode

This past year has seen an onslaught of disruptions that call into question our ability to coexist with our environment. The devastating effects of climate change have arrived and show no signs of abating. Flash flooding has swept across China and Northern Europe. The Eastern United States has been inundated by hurricanes of historic size. Record breaking heat waves and wildfires have decimated large swaths of Western North America. And a global pandemic continues to rage on. All of this begs the question, must we look elsewhere in our universe to ensure the survival of humanity?

A growing movement of astrophysicists, biologists, and billionaire space enthusiasts believes our salvation does indeed lie off planet. Supporters of this movement argue that we are on the cusp of technology that puts this possibility within reach, and that exploration and settlement to deal with issues of environmental instability and scarcity is nothing new. Settling the reachable regions of our universe is merely an extension of this age-old trend. But detractors of the plans to settle space dismiss it as an immeasurably expensive fever dream. In their minds, it would be far more prudent to invest our time and resources into fixing the problems here on Earth, the only known planet to host life. Beyond the massive technological advancements required, there are simply far too many unknowns about how and where life originated to assume it can be simply transported through the cosmos.

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Guests

Milan M. Ćirković

“There are many human achievements which, almost by definition, could never be realized if humanity remains bound to Earth.”

Milan M. Ćirković

“There are many human achievements which, almost by definition, could never be realized if humanity remains bound to Earth.”

Milan M. Ćirković is a Serbian astronomer, astrophysicist, philosopher and science book author. He has worked in the fields of astrobiology, global catastrophic risks and future of humanity where he also co-authored with Nick Bostrom. He is currently a research professor at the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade. 

Lord Martin Rees

“It is a dangerous delusion to think that we could escape the Earth's problems by going to Mars."

Lord Martin Rees

“It is a dangerous delusion to think that we could escape the Earth's problems by going to Mars."

Lord Martin Rees is a British cosmologist and astrophysicist. He is the fifteenth Astronomer Royal, appointed in 1995, and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge from 2004 to 2012 and President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010. He is the author of On the Future whose updated paperback edition is due out in October, and The End of Astronauts due out in March of 2022. 

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