Alex sez, "Karl Schroeder just posted an awesome essay on Worldchanging about how SF thinking about Mars colonization effortsm may actually prove the smartest, shortest route to creating the kinds of innovation we need to live on Earth without destroying the planet's climate and ecosystems.
This is truly a kick-ass piece of perspective hacking:"
We should have been colonizing Earth as though it were a planet with no ecosystem resources to exploit.
Look at the difference between what we do when we settle a new area on Earth, compared to what we'd do on a planet like Mars. On Earth we'd take advantage of the free air and water, ready-made soils provided by local fauna, pollination provided by the local bees, all to minimize the costs of building and minimizing our colonies. This process is documented expertly by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel; he points out that the conquest of the Americas was really the invasion of one ecosystem by another, rather than a simple matter of moving human populations. North America is the greatest success story of European expansionism because its ecology was most similar to that of Europe, more than for any political or social factors.