#101 December 1996
Section 188.8.131.52.101.of the Artemis Data Book
World Society is in transition. The Cold War is over, existing power blocks are disintegrating, and social values are challenged. There is transition in every nation. We do not have a choice in that there is change, but we do have some choice in the direction of change.
There is a dichotomy of needs within the societies of the world. There is no consensus as to an appropriate direction for these societies. In parallel with the world view, there is a changing view as to our place in the universe. Some view our place as subservient to the natural world, others view our place as supreme in the natural world. I would choose a place in between. We are an integral part of, not external to, nature and the universe.
Our understanding of technology is sufficient to be misunderstood and used inappropriately, yet we stand at a juncture in Human History that has no known precedent. The present world view is that we are truly a part of a larger scheme, we are made of "star stuff." We are living during a window of opportunity that did not exist before and may not be available in the future. The price of missing this window is not known, but I would suggest that there may be ramifications to our world society. We are much like a laboratory experiment; for those who are theologically inclined, maybe it really is an experiment. Do we grow or do we die? The experiment is direct: Do we grow and expand into the universe, or do we die and turn this planet into a cesspool?
We are at a window of opportunity for a great social experiment and possibly a necessary metamorphosis. The objective of this experiment will be the purposeful permanent human movement and migration into space. (This process is intended not to significantly reduce the human population but, like a bud, to create a new living organism.) The question is: Do we have the courage to take this great leap of faith? This is not a question of resources. The technology exists, but is there the human will?
The settlement will be a human enclave, a post-industrial cooperative society, but it will not mimic or necessarily be a clone of the society from which it is drawn. A significant challenge will be the development and integration of new ideas into this new society while unlearning nonproductive and destructive ideas and concepts. The human migration into space will have ramifications that have not been adequately considered -- most cannot be imagined! These are called, "The Human Problem." The most significant ramifications will be those concerned with the permanent settlers.
One of the more interesting is that, "You may not be able to go home again!" This is in reference to the second and succeeding generations. Although there is not yet significant hard evidence, there is some evidence that conception and development of a child in low or micro-g may entail physiological changes that might not be reversible, may not easily be reversed, or that the individual may choose not to readapt to a high-g environment. Several physiological responses that have already been recognized due to a low-g or micro-g environment are: T-cell inactivity, muscle atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, and skeletal demineralization. [ 1 ] This might prevent the second and succeeding generations of settlers from returning to a "high-g" environment, such as the Earth. Thus, with a society that is diverging from the mainstream of the parent society, there will be a corresponding divergence of moral, ethical, economic, social, artistic, literary, and political values; and in the acceptance of risk. This concept frightens many. There is loss of control.
Most popular writings have been concerned with the hardware required for space travel. The ramifications of permanent settlement and the central issue of long-term survival and growth have not been adequately considered. There are many writings that do contain portions of truth. The obvious necessities for survival are oxygen, shelter, water, and food. The minimum necessities for growth are goals, room for expansion, security, health, and education. For the first settlement in particular, oxygen, shelter, water, and food may be transported to the settlement only in limited quantities. This is because of logistics, time, and cost -- not scarcity.
Where else shall adequate resources be acquired? On the basis of discoveries from Apollo, Viking, and work performed by NASA, Space Studies Institute (SSI), universities, and other independent organizations, they can be derived from the soil of the Moon, Mars, and possibly the asteroids.
Oxygen and water can be recovered by using solar and nuclear power to heat the soils of these bodies, [habitat] structures can be constructed from the soil, and fuel can be manufactured from the recovered hydrogen and oxygen.
Soil, when hydrated and oxygenated with the addition of small quantities of organic matter, can be a growth medium for food. In a micro-g environment, hydroponics may be a consideration.[ 2 ] Plants and their associated microorganisms will recycle organic wastes and scrub the atmosphere within the settlement. Forced plant growth can be accomplished by elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide and extended light conditions.
Animals can be fed on organic material specifically grown for their use and organics not used by the settlers. Room being at a premium, the plants and animals will have to be carefully selected. A criterion will be the symbiotic relationships among the environment, plants, animals, and humans. Reference the activities associated with Biosphere II. The settlement, to survive, must become an interdependent "living" organism.
Our strawman proposal for the settlement or human community is loosely based on the Israeli Kibbutz.[ 3 ] The kibbutz is a unique Israeli creation in that it is a social, political, and economic community dedicated to the separation of its inhabitants from the outside world, and the elimination of social inequality and the stress of everyday life. However, our proposal differs in many aspects. The community we envision is based on a more capitalist than socialist concept. The family would be maintained as a social and economic entity, the social atom. Individuals will be required to be responsible to the community for their actions. The individual must have some privacy. Individual initiative will be very important for the survival and growth of the community.
The physical shell of the community will be community property; damage to this shell may be fatal to the community. The community requires a wide range of skills for survival. There should be a continuum of age to maintain social skills and relationships. Integrating elements of common interest must be maintained so that the intellectual life of the community will not starve.
The following are some dangers that have caused problems within the Kibbutz that must be avoided in this community. These pitfalls are: superficial relationships because of excessively close living arrangements, reduced opportunities for women because of child bearing and child rearing, waste due to the lack of awareness (it is someone else's responsibility), reduction of creativity because of pressure to conform, and the lack of well-defined personal goals.
It should be noted that human settlements have failed before. It is possible to build the "ideal" settlement, but can humans live within it? The settlement is to become "home" in the same sense that your childhood home is home even if you left it 30 years ago.
An issue that must be addressed is, "Who Shall Go?" There are at least two choices: one is that any warm body will do, the other that rational thinking will take precedence and demand some selection criteria. The latter choice is the more reasonable. Thus, what shall be used as the selection criteria?
Another question that must be answered is: Would the persons who volunteered and were selected to live in the settlement be short-term visitors or permanent settlers? The selection criteria will be different depending on the answer. If those selected are to be present for a short period, the primary criteria legitimately would be those of: Which skills do these people bring to the settlement, and will these skills be transferable to the permanent settlers? Because of the short duration of stay by the visitors, most of the significant physiological ramifications of permanent settlement may be avoided.
For those selected for permanent settlement, the selection criterion becomes both difficult and rigorous. Some suggested criteria follow: a history free of serious genetic disorders, emotional stability, lack of fear of enclosed spaces, high levels of skill and talent, and responsiveness to group dynamics.
An additional ramification concerning the selection criteria is: How much diversity is tolerable and how much diversity is needed? There is concern that a closely matched group of settlers, while initially compatible and competent, may have serious social problems, often over trivial matters and personal idiosyncrasies rather than over major issues. The deliberate introduction into the community of a "random element" should aid in stabilizing personal interactions and would serve as a reference point for normal behavior. Feedback is necessary to maintain a self-correcting society. It will be the character of the settlers, not the care and direction provided by external governments, agencies, or individuals, that will determine the settlement's long-term survival and growth.
Who should not go? Those who have not or cannot adapt to their existing environment. Malcontents, criminals, and social disrupters need not apply. The settlement is to become a real home to real people.
There are dangers that will be peculiar to a space-based or a planetary community that may have its members exposed to low levels of ionizing radiation. Areas of moderate-to-high levels of radiation should be avoided or worked by those who would not suffer the long-term effects of this radiation. These individuals should be volunteers. They might be folk who have a short life span remaining because of age or disease, or they might simply have volunteered. Potential effects of low-level radiation include cumulative genetic damage and some forms of cancer. This suggests that men [should] beget and women bear children very early in life. Radiation-proof sperm and ova banks might reduce this problem.
What will be the responsibilities and what will be the cost to the community to care for children and what will be the impact to the community as genetic damage accumulates and appears in some of the children? What procedures will be followed to prevent, reduce, or care for radiation-induced cancers? These questions have moral and ethical ramifications; however, at present there are no satisfactory solutions. With a community that will grow and spawn additional settlements, there will still be a small gene pool. We must not forget that, for growth, risk must be taken, and the consequences accepted. Exceptional faith, dedication, and effort will be needed to overcome these challenges.
For effective, safe, and efficient living within the community, and
efficient interfaces with the rest of humanity, standards will be necessary.
Standards such as IEEE (Institute for Electronic and Electrical Engineers),
OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Act), ISO (International Standards
Organization), SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), and ANSI (American
National Standards Institute) are appropriate examples. Standards will be
needed for such things as space craft and pressure suit interfaces;
temperature and pressure; airlock interfaces; AC and DC power; communications
protocols; concentrations of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor;
emergency procedures; radiation levels and tolerances; transportation;
language; safety; health services; sanitation; quality control; environment;
and waste disposal. This is certainly not an exhaustive list.
-- Part 2 --
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto