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4 Ethical Questions on Invading Outer Space Environments

4 Ethical Questions on Invading Outer Space Environments
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By    |   Thursday, 28 June 2018 02:04 PM

New developments in space exploration are made constantly, but progress also brings about a set of ethical questions when it comes to invading outer space environments.

Benjamin Sachs, senior lecturer in philosophy at the U.K.'s University of St Andrews, has focused on several of topics that he feels needs to be discussed amid the discovery of new exoplanets.

The lecturer is one of a group of researchers who "aim to stimulate new collaborative research on philosophical questions raised by exoplanetary science, and to improve the quality of public debate on these issues," according to the school's Center for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs.

"But should we care about the universe beyond how it affects us as humans?" Sachs wrote for The Conversation.

This question formed the basis of various other pertinent questions that need answering if we are to continue with space exploration.

1. What is the intrinsic value of microbial life? —  Sachs pointed out that people accept that all humans have intrinsic value, affecting how we treat one another and our living spaces.

This view is expanding to mammals and the environment, so what about microbial beings?

Charles S Cockell, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, noted that microorganisms should be "afforded special ethical status, as they represent the base of all food chains and of the major biogeochemical cycle."

But what about space microbes?

2. What value do we place on environments of inhospitable planets? — Sachs noted that on Earth, we respect the environment because it supports life, and this view could expand to other planets that can hold life forms, but what about "dead" planets?

Some argue that certain things and places could be treasured for their aesthetical value, so places such as the Grand Canyon still has value. Should that apply to other planets?

3. Are asteroids environments we need to protect? — NASA is looking into ways to blow asteroids into smithereens if they come to close to Earth.

Further out in space, researchers are now saying that minerals lying in the belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter could be worth billions and are investigating ways to mine, CNBC noted.

However, Sachs poses the question, are asteroids environments that humans need to protect?

4. Will Earth still matter if we leave it? — Right now, Earth is our only planet and we don't have any other choice but to try to protect its environment. However, once it becomes possible for humans to inhabit other planets, Sachs asked if we would still have reasons to try to protect Earth?

This is something that might need answering soon as experts have already said that the first person on Mars is someone probably living right now.

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New developments in space exploration are made constantly, but progress also brings about a set of ethical questions when it comes to invading outer space environments.
ethical, questions, exploring, space
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2018-04-28
Thursday, 28 June 2018 02:04 PM
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