What would the martians think?

Featured image

This isn’t a question about a conspiracy of aliens on Mars. It’s more of trying to understand what problem is worth focusing on right now. From the war in Ukraine to Covid to the Middle East to climate change, there are many issues that grab our attention, but which ones matter more than others?

One way to answer this is to look at the current problems from the perspective of someone living in the future. That is where this question comes from. From what we know, Martians don’t exist. But if humanity doesn’t end, we will most likely expand to Mars, and beyond. Thinking about what future humans would remember about us is a good way to spot things that seem to matter in the short term but do not in the long term.

For example, what do people now remember about 1492? Almost everyone would say Columbus sailed to America and connected Europe to the Americas. Next to no one would say The Peace of Étaples was signed which returned English-held territory in France other than Calais to France, or that Lorenzo de’ Medici (one of the most powerful people in the world at the time) died.

But why do we remember a guy sailing across the ocean and not things like major powers reaching an agreement? It is because we can see a clear and direct impact of Columbus on our lives. Even if you are not living in the Americas, everyone is impacted by the Americas today (Silicon Valley, Tech, NATO, constitution…), and therefore by the actions of Columbus. In other words, I don’t see my life being very different if Lorenzo de’ Medici lived for another 10 years, but it would be hard to imagine my life if Columbus did not connect Europe and the Americas.

Now imagine yourself as a citizen of a self-sustaining city on Mars. Would you remember the year that Covid started, the conflicts in the south china sea, or who was president 50 years ago? Maybe, but I think what our future civilization on Mars would remember most was what we in the present did to make their civilization possible. There would probably be a holiday for the official day Mars became self-sustaining, just like America has the 4th of July.

To be clear, I am not saying we should ignore geopolitics. However, I am saying that we have control over what we spend our time on, and for those in a democracy, indirect control of what the government spends our money on. So it is important to get our priorities right and invest in things that really matter. If we are wasting time and money on things that don’t matter, we should redirect time and money to things that do.

This post was heavily influenced by a youtube clip I saw of Dr. Robert Zubrin explaining why we should go to Mars