May 12, 2020 infosol

Undercurrent 16: “Houston We Have a Problem!” America to Mine on the Moon

19 Undercurrents with Ramifications That Go Beyond Twenty 20

  • As history has it in the midst of all of global crises countless things can go unnoticed
  • Many governments introduce/pass the most controversial policies – great time for legislative mischief
  • Some of the most contentions programs get tabled & approved without any noise, objection or discussion
  • The pandemic death toll in U.S is inching towards 100K unfortunately registering the highest global count
  • 28m Americans are without health insurance: Equal to combined populations of Chile & Portugal
  • Yet economic nationalism and land grab is being taken to new heights – “welcome to the moon”
  • U.S is introducing Artemis Accords: a new legal framework for exclusive mining rights/safety zones on other planets

Keep an Eye On

The world is entering an era of potential economic depression, and a likely stagflation. The entire world has reflected on its consumption habits during the past 8-12 weeks. Most credible economic forecasts point to a potential downward shift in expenditure by consumers. In other words, if we have learned anything from our quarantines is that we need less, and the mother earth deserves a prolonged break. COVID-19 has reminded many of us that we need more meaning and substance in our lives and not just goods and products.

Yet the United States’ administration thinks differently. It wishes to embark and to land astronauts on the moon by 2023. Not only for research but to build permanent stations for its astronauts to excavate, mine and to find rare earths and other minerals for economic growth back home on earth. Next stop is Mars and beyond.

2023 is a date that will most likely coincide with the 3rd year of a second term of Donald Trump’s presidency as an incumbent. Now remember that 1967 Outer Space Treaty had 109 signatories. Yet the 1967 treaty sounds like an old document good for antique markets in eyes of president Trump. No administration in United States has mustered up to walk away from as many international treaties as the current one. Think Paris Climate Accord, JCPOA, Trans Pacific Partnership, UN Human Rights Council to name a few and stopping the funding for WHO in midst of a pandemic.

There are multiple challenges with Artemis Accords. The ruptures in the international treaty arena and the blows to the body of multilateral institutions over the past 3.5 years has taken the global spirit and hope not to the stars but to the gutters, and to lowest levels of trust and confidence never seen before. Yet in this climate the United States is busy drafting a legal proposal and invitation for participation of the Coalition of Orbiting & Digging. One could ask is this  a new level of too much chutzpa? Here are some reasons why:

  1. The Planet Earth is at crossroads and most of humanities’ challenges have earthly solutions
  2. United States landed on the moon on July 20th 1969 – more than half a century ago
  3. That landing has hardly enhanced the average American’s life, median wage, health, social or racial coherence
  4. One has to only look at the direction and state of the civil/hard infrastructure in United States 50 years later
  5. Why we still have “Artisan Miners”: Child Labour in mines in Africa for our electronics? Lets fix that first! *
  6. The past 3.5 years United States has ran on an empty tank of inspiration and growing emissions of unilateralism
  7. Yet today’s global complexities and realities need level headed multilateralism and cooperation
  8. COVID-19 is just a sample/warm-up for the difficulties that we may have to overcome in years to come
  9. Think of a massive natural disaster or climate change tragedy that sweeps away1/3 of Asia or 1/3 of Europe
  10. What solace can the world take from the response to Pandemic at a national or international level?
  11. S could take a pause before heading back to the moon & go back to the roots to think Abraham Lincoln
  12. To revisit its purpose, re-posture its standing, reignite its soft power & to reckon its failures & own responsibilities
  13. Many allies were bamboozled when their orders for PPE were rerouted to US in the midst of a pandemic
  14. What will happen if they face a challenge in space and are left hanging on Mars or Moon? America First!
  15. Last but not least, we should not forget that colonization has never had a positive outcome – at least not on earth
  16. Extra-terrestrial life and beings which and whom we can not deny their existence, may not be as receptive to U.S digging on their planets to “Win their Hearts & Minds”
  17. What are the risks for igniting extra-terrestrial threats that we don’t even have the mental bandwidth to envision?
  18. Yet I can’t wait for the press conference on Mars when President Trump is talking to Martians: “I could be the most popular person on Mars!” I wonder what would the late Stephen Hawking think of Artemis Accords?

In between: “Houston We Have a Problem”!                                                               

Ali Borhani is the Managing Director of 3Sixty Strategic Advisors Ltd. It is the readers’ responsibility to verify their own
facts. The views and opinions expressed in this article/commentary are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other individual, agency, organization, employer or company.