Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
That would a strong argument, IF it was an established fact that self-sufficient space habitats can be built at minimal cost relative to a planetary economy. But is that an established fact?
I would think the question itself may be a bit off. I don't think it would be that great a cost compared to the planetary economy itself, but the problem is that we really have to compare it to the amount of money that can be spent on projects like that. It has to be funded either by government budgets or by private companies or by philanthropy of some sort, so the question is whether stockholders and taxpayers and philanthropists would be willing to do it, regardless of how expensive it is compared to the economy itself. And paradoxically, it's possible (I don't mean probable just a slight possibility) that moving money away from technology to prevent asteroid collisions into colonization scheme could doom us because an asteroid that we might have prevented with new technology wipes us out before we get a working colony in place).

I also don't really like the metaphor of lifeboats. I think lifeboats are made to assist in the survival of the actually people on the boat in case of a disaster, whereas in this case we are not talking about something that would save us but rather some other people (who we might not even know) on some planet. I think it would be better to think of it as a kind of life insurance policy, where you invest money to helping your family survive if you die prematurely.

I'm personally not an opponent of colonizing outer space, either on a planet or elsewhere, but I don't find the idea of using it as a "lifeboat for the human race" to be that compelling.