Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Colonization

One of the most common themes present in science fiction is colonization.  Even if the process of colonization is not present in a story, you often see humans living on alien worlds, or living on ships and exploring the cosmos.  This exploration/colonization is an undeniable part of our history.  Explorers have always pushed the boundaries of the known world, seeking out the unknown.  Though the exploration of space comes with expenses and challenges different from what has come before, there seems little reason to assume that we will not one day set forth and colonize other worlds.

Movies like Wall-E show humans leaving Earth due to severe pollution making the environment inhospitable to life.  Other scenarios show us spreading out due to overpopulation concerns.  The environment can, after all, sustain a certain number of human beings before we lose the ability to produce enough food to feed us all.  Some scientists estimate that maximum capacity to be about 10 billion people.

How do we go about the colonization process?  Terraforming is the process by which humans make uninhabitable worlds suitable for human needs, and is frequently used in sci-fi, though some scientists question whether such a project would be practical.  Sometimes humans simply look for worlds that are already suited to our biology, though those worlds may have their own life forms that would protest our plans.  We also see artificial environments such as biodomes set up on planets like Mars, or humans living on space stations.

Image courtesy of Shadow-Trance/
Each method of colonization comes with its own concerns.  Regardless of whether it is practical to alter the environment of another planet, would it be ethical to do so?  If we colonize another world with other living creatures, how will our presence impact them?  What kind of responsibility would we have for those other life forms?  Do you think we really are destined to move between the stars, or will we allow concerns about money or a lack of ambition to keep us on the ground?


  1. All valid questions regarding colonization. I'm not the biggest SciFi reader, but I have a couple sitting on my Kindle which deal with colonization. Great post.

    Nana Prah

  2. In sci-fi anime you see this all the time. Cowboy Beebop has the characters going from Mars to Venus to Earth and more. Earth being one of the more dangerous places to live in. Have you hear of the Mars One Project, where their plan is to start colonization on mars?

  3. I can believe the whole having to leave Earth because of pollution thing. At the minute here in Britain our air pollution is really bad because of a storm in the Sahara desert or something.
    I don't think it would be a bad thing if we colonised another planet to save humanity, but I would see a problem with it if it affected another life form in a negative way.

  4. Good post with some interesting questions.

  5. I think that our need for space exploration already proves that someday we will be colonizing another place to call home. Interesting post!

  6. This post was truly fascinating! I think if we were to colonize another planet we would purposefully look for one not inhabited by living creatures because of the problems that could cause, not just for them but us too.

    P.S. I adore Wall-E!!

  7. What a great 'C'...I think the powers that be would love to be colonizing and robbing all the planets if they could...give them time.
    Loving the A to Z Maggie@Expatbrazil

  8. Eventually, without some sort of "cleansing" apocalypse happening, we are going to HAVE to move into space. It's a shame that our once promising space program has become relatively non-existent in more recent times. If they had kept going at the pace they were moving at in the 1950's and 1960's we might already be on the verge of colonization by this point in time.

    Not to jump out of so-called reality and into the cinema, but look at how many sci-fi films have "promised" certain things by this time. 2001 obviously has already happened. The Terminator's Judgement Day was in 1997. Back to the Future II happens just next year. Blade Runner in just five years. Portions of Star Trek's past have already taken place. We were promised flyin' cars and light sabres dagnabit!

    Oh well, that's enough of my ranting. Have fun A to Z-ing. See ya 'round the web. All Things Kevyn

  9. I think the leap to colonization will need to be started by a specific event or motivation. I think leaving the current life and the idea of a "one way ticket" would be hard buy in for most people. So many people have never lived outside of the city or state that they live or have traveled outside of the country.

  10. The questions you raise are the same ones that should have been raised in colonizing the Americas and other locations from the European empire. History shows us the impact that had, and a lot of it was bad.

    I like that you address the ethics of this issue and I think it is one for a serious discussion.

  11. Great blog, I'm pleased I found you on the A to Z Challenge list. I'm a science fiction fan myself. I look forward to the rest of your posts. Good luck for the rest of the month.

  12. The really weird thing is that colonization of other worlds is already theoretically possible. It's just a matter of having the money to do it. The idea already being floated now involves planets with no other life. In that case, I think it would be great! I mean, nobody else is there, why not us? It would be nice to start over and finally have some space again... maybe even start a few new governments that actually make sense. :)

    Random Musings from the KristenHead — C is for 'Copper' and Cats (and More Cats)