Stephen Hawking gave us 100 years left on this planet. Great. A recent report issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave us just 12 years to limit a climate catastrophe. Even better. As if we didn’t have enough problems. So fight or flight? Well, we’re losing the fight, so, flight?
While multiple planets have been discovered in habitable zones throughout the universe, we have no way of getting there… yet. So what could we accomplish in the foreseeable future? What could we do in 100 years? If we invested resources in seizing control of the solar system instead of wasting our funds & lives on war, that'd be a good place to start. But what would that look like?
Well, we’ve already begun. There are always people living in the International Space Station, so why not expand it into a small city orbiting the Earth? At the same time we could establish a settlement on the moon. According to space.com, “Researchers have identified what may be the perfect place for a Moon base, a crater rim near the lunar north pole that's in near-constant sunlight yet not far from suspected stores of water ice. Permanently sunlit areas would provide crucial solar energy for any future Moon settlement… Equally important, in the permanently shadowed depths of craters around the lunar north pole, water ice may lurk, according to previous but unconfirmed observations.”
After that, sure, Mars would be a logical step, but a man-made settlement midway might be helpful too, like a South of the Border or a Wall Drug of space if you will; a pit stop during the long haul. This would also be a good way to work out the kinks for future man-made settlements in space. It could be an O’Neill cylinder similar to Cooper’s Station at the end of Interstellar, or maybe more of a Death Star, or anything else from a cool sci-fi film or book. Say its only fiction, but this stuff becomes reality eventually.
From there we settle Mars, terraform it and replicate this movement outward through the solar system, building man-made megastructures as pit stops between planets and moons, and then colonizing those planets and moons until we reach Pluto. Astrobiologists have already determined numerous moons of Saturn & Jupiter with habitable environments, the most commonly known being Europa and Titan. Neptune & Pluto have habitable moons too. Beyond settlements, the solar system offers a lot of resources as well. How about mining Venus, unmanned & automated, or extracting resources from any other place not suitable to settle.
By the time we reach the Kuiper Belt we’ll probably have developed such new technology that the work of expansion may take an entirely new direction. Maybe by then we can travel at light speed or we'll have some other tech that allows us to get further out into the universe. But spreading out through our own solar system, that’s feasible now with the right funding & commitment.
So, hey, Elon Musk, stop smoking weed with Joe Rogan and let's get on this please.