Sunday, August 21, 2016

Setting the Stage for the Commercial Wars of the Future


As this Popular Mechanics article suggests, space mining of asteroids is going to happen. As it stands now, however, the United States government is ready to virtually ignore a space treaty signed by in 1967 that tried to address the "property" legalities involved in such enterprise.

On the one hand it is part of our settler DNA that prospecting, and settling, sort of go hand in hand with "who get's there first owns it" thinking. Things get trickier in outer space when you go to a, say, small city sized piece of rock and claim the whole thing once you bring it back to a more useful celestial position for processing. This is so because, so far, the assumptions in the 1967 treaty are a kind of extension of law of the seas precidents.

The problem is further complicated by the fact that good (in a purely legal context) arguments can be made for both sides of keeping, or not keeping, with the spirit of the 67 treaty.  This should not, however, be the sole criteria by which we decide these issues. Another should be giving serious consideration to whether allowing another "gold rush" kind of mentality to take over at all is really such a good idea at all; especially as it relates the underlying commercial dynamic driving it all. If we continue with the usual "it's a matter of economic power" thinking we will be shackling ourselves to further generations of zero sum gaming between nations. And I, personally, cannot think of anything more stupid or shortsighted.

The abundance of intrasolar resources will be made to be a joke if corporations, and/or the nations that are made to follow along after them, take control of these resources merely as a means to continue the disastrous farce that Capitalism has become; because with that farce will follow all of the folly that the economics of scarcity has already demonstrated over the course of many centuries of history; wars, disadvantaged populations, and distributions of power that have already made a living hell out of our planet.

If we don't stop now and think carefully about how we are to proceed, as we start stepping out beyond the gravity well of our current home, we will have learned nothing from history, any more than of what confronts us now day to day. We must realize that these steps out and about must be inclusive and devoid of the corrosive effects of money, and "cost" based thinking. The infrastructure to get there, and the benefits derived once access is granted, must be made on an equitable system of distribution for the entire planet.

If we can work out the quite difficult aspects of cooperation this would demand we might just have a chance to survive as a species. And make no mistake, it will be difficult, with all of the mistrust crashing about now, but to not try would not only be stupidity of unbelievable proportions, it would be immorality on a vast new scale.

Think about this. Talk to your friends about it. Take positive action to make it a priority for out government.


The Biggest Barrier to Asteroid Mining Isn't Technical, It's Legal

​It may still sound like science fiction, but we'll be mining outer space much sooner than you think.