We have been told that Earth is heading towards its "tipping point". A term in climatology which means close to irreversible climate destabilisation. We have already raised global average temperatures by 1C pre-industrial levels. If this is raised by a further 1C, we will face a "hothouse" climate where Earth will continue warming even if all emissions cease. The Paris agreement on climate change made by 194 countries aimed to limit global warming 'well below' 2°C, or 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels if possible. However current efforts are unlikely to meet this target.
Reading reports such as these does make me pessimistic and I too wonder if we are fighting a losing battle and if Earth is hurling towards its inevitable demise. Grim huh?
This is probably one of the reasons why Elon Musk, Boeing and others decided it might be worth looking towards the skies for a way out. First humans on Mars are predicted to reach as early as 2020s. The idea is to start small, build a base in Mars, learn how to survive and eventually build a self-sustaining community. It won't be easy. With freezing temperatures, radiation and thin atmosphere, humans can definitely not take a stroll in the Martian landscape without heavy spacesuits. But this too is being explored. A concept called "Terraforming of Mars" aims to alter the atmosphere of Mars through planetary engineering so it is more hospitable to humans. I have to admit, this concept does seem a bit far fetched to me and we definitely don't have the technology to do it in 2018.
But guess which place is hospitable to humans? Earth! I have nothing against space exploration. It is one of my key interests and it would be a grand day when we finally land on Mars. However I am hesitant to accept Mars as an escape route. We can make tremendous progress to reverse climate change here on Earth, through the resources we would invest in making a self-sustaining community on Mars. It almost sounds like we are giving up on this home, disregarding it as a sinking ship. Transferring the entire population of Earth to Mars is much, much more far fetched than making concrete efforts to reduce global warming here on Earth. Apart from everyday things that we do - reducing automobile use, eating greener etc. an important role we can play is to elect leaders who have an understanding of the delicate situation we are in and are willing to tackle climate change head on and not just cater to the whims and fancies of the fossil fuel industry and the likes.
So let's keep our eyes on the prize, shall we?