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Should We Try to Colonize Other Worlds or Stay and Fix Earth?

As NASA continues to make incredible discoveries about nearby exoplanets, or planets outside of our solar system, it’s easy to wonder “what if?”

What if we made successful manned missions to those planets? What if there was life on any of those planets, and we could make contact? These questions have driven astronomers and science fiction enthusiasts alike for countless years. And, as planning for manned missions to Mars and the search for extraterrestrial life continue, these questions become more relevant than ever.

Credit: Clarkesworld Magazine

However, putting aside all the excitement generated by space exploration, it’s important to ask not only if we can, but if we should. According to acclaimed science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, sending humans to nearby exoplanets would be a terrible idea. To discuss his opinions the best way he knew how, Robinson expressed himself in his 2015 novel “Aurora.” In this book, Robinson imagines a capsule-type human society that takes an extended journey to a nearby star on a large vessel built to sustain human, plant, and animal life for centuries.

While Robinson’s book was technically science fiction, it wasn’t all that far from reality. Darpa funded the construction of an ark-like vessel similar to Aurora’s ship around the time the book was written. But instead of reinforcing Darpa’s aspirations, Robinson’s tale highlighted the issues that could potentially arise and compound on each other with such lengthy space travel. And, as his narrative illustrates, Robinson believes that these problems would be too great for humans to overcome.


The challenges the fictional crew on the Aurora face paint a picture of the potential issues with space colonization that are rarely discussed. For example, we can clearly see how climate change is slowly but surely wreaking havoc on our planet. Now, imagine that Earth was a smaller, completely contained vessel in which the emissions and gasses produced had nowhere to escape. Even if the ship launched with environmental systems perfectly equilibrated with each other, any changes that occurred over the hundred years in space would throw multiple systems out of balance.

As time goes on, this imbalance would only become more severe, and a trip to even the nearest exoplanet could take an extraordinary amount of time. These scientific concerns of imbalance in long-term, artificial environments are in addition to the sociological issues that are bound to arise.

Terra-forming and space colonization are getting a lot of buzz since NASA announced that a nearby dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1 was discovered with seven surrounding planets, three of which orbit within the “habitable zone.” So, we may be wise to take this discussion about the repercussions of a manned mission to a nearby exoplanet more seriously than we would the latest piece of crazy science fiction. A voyage like this is becoming more and more of a possibility, and it’s important to take a step back and think about obstacles that might not be obvious.

While it will be temping to bound ahead with interplanetary space travel as soon as it becomes more feasible, we might not want to take the leap too soon. The problems we have on Earth will not disappear when we leave — they will follow us wherever we go. So let us remember even while we work towards a technologically advanced future that just because we can doesn’t always mean that we should.


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  1. Definitely fix the earth but I don’t think colonization is the right term to be used. Other civilizations do exist. The question is whether we could coexist without killing each other. exploration is a must for sure.

  2. Fukushima will kill the planent and every living thing on it. we were given 800 years before the second Fukushima reactor fell into the ocean. now could be 400… hard to say they all lie about it, anyway if the species is to survive we need to go to a different planet.

  3. I had a dream we where getting bombed above ground and both my mother and father where leading me into an ancient tunnel with what looked like Egyptian hieroglyphs but Aztec since we are of Mexican ancestry but they moved deeper into a tunnel once I realized they where making me run after them but I also sensed or felt the bomb or whatever blast would penetrate wherever we where running too…at that moment I was more frightened for my parents safety…I woke up screaming for my mother and wouldn’t stop my husband tried to shake me awake but I was already awake that’s never ever happened to me before….both my parent’s have passed away long ago mom 12 years and dad’s been gone 6 years….my personal opinion we don’t even die only our physical form because our consciousness is inhabitating a biological living particle matter but when it degenerates body dies consciousness energy does not…. I’m not afraid

  4. We should colonialism other world’s as one day the earth won’t be here & that’s how the human race will continue to still be,that we will live on other world’s continuing humanity.

  5. Man with power will fuck everything up anyways…its in his or any other planet…he will kill it sooner or later..he will built borders..factories..contamination..greed.. claim it his..then start a war with the ” other” guys…and soon……its back to what earth used to be…a pile of shit!! The only way mars can be succesfully if its done by another species..a more advanced and intelectual being…one that doesnt care about race. instead..they would be all about…well being for all. THAT IS NOT IN MANKINDS PLAN….AT LEAST NOT IN MAN KIND WITH POWER N MONEY.

  6. don’t bother with either cause by the time you make up your mind what to do then we won’t be around and the planets won’t be as well.a new beginning without the evil we have now.

  7. Unless someone comes up out of the blue with a workable interstellar space craft and a fast as light propulsion system it’s unfortunately going to be future generations problems. If distant planets could be explored there’d be ethical concerns regarding any native populations. Or would we be the evil alien invaders? We first need to be looking to settle on planets (Mars, the Moon?) in our own solar system. Or to build artificial worlds? It’s a no brainer.

  8. Stay and fix earth , which ever living civilization that once inhabited Mars exhausted that planets resources that’s why Mars is the way it is today , let’s learn from it and keep earth healthy

  9. Sorry but mankind is incapable of colonizing anything successfully weather it be the America’s , Australia or indeed another planet, we kill anyone or anything in our way then rape the land until we ruin it .

  10. Asian Tetley

    It turns out that, colorization isn’t a plan. It’s just as well, planet Earth blows up, and what ever comes next, it’s OK. Cause, according to what some people teach others, plans are bad. What they actually mean; Your plans are bad. Theirs, have been done, but they aren’t full of too many words. I guess I simply swore into a new Complex.

  11. The same evil and human greed that has worked to destroy our home planet wil most certainly follow man to the stars. Solve the root problem, and save the planet that is so conducive to human life. WE are the problem.

  12. I’ve long read about our gosls of colonizing other planets…but I’d like to ask, “Do you think that planet is there just waiting for us to turn up? Its more than likely got its own inhabitants…do you think they’re just going to hand it over? I don’t think we would. Maybe we’d be welcomed… on the other hand, if they know of our warlike nature, maybe not. If we can’t fix this planet, what right do we have to go screw up another? I think some alien alliance might have other ideas…

  13. Humans would only abuse other Planets, we should learn to look after the Planet we have first and learn to get along with one another too, before ever considering colonizing another Planet!!

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