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Is There Life On Mars?

Jonny Quirk
Jonny QuirkPublished on March 12, 2021

Space - I'm a big fan!

Yes, I was the nerd kid watching the adventures of Jean-Luc Picard and co back in the early '90s, and even to this day I still watch at least one episode of the Bill Shatner TOS once a week as a way to chill out after work (always look for something that is so far removed from reality that it truly is chill TV...yes I know TOS was all about metaphors and analogies of the 60's but I'll save that for another post, another time...)

But as I was watching a documentary the other night on how we were planning to send humans to Mars within the next decade, it got me thinking that Holy F - this is gonna be a lot of cash spent to dig around a rocky planet with no real way to survive beyond living in a giant biosphere.

If you think lockdown is bad, imagine the 8 month trip to Mars, then when you get there it's locked up with the same peeps 24/7 (no duty-free I'm afraid...), and then if you actually do come back to Earth it's at least another 8 months if the planets are aligned (newsflash - it will probably take longer) - sounds like a whole lot of FUN...

Getting excited by rocks

So as I sat listening to some boffin professor talk about the reason we are going there - to look for signs of life - what he said next really hit home in terms of priorities in life and on Earth now - because when he showed us a computer analysis of what the very best hope of life we could expect to find was, it was pretty minimal - literally tiny microbes trapped inside rocks underground. That's the best-case scenario - no Marvin the Martian et al I'm afraid...

Yes, it would be groundbreaking to find signs of life on Mars, it would let us as a species know that if life exists on Earth (and Mars) then it very likely exists all over the galaxy. And that would be awesome - but by looking at the sky, are we missing what's right in front of our face?

Opportunity cost

One of my favourite business/life terms is 'Opportunity Cost' - i.e - if you spend that dollar on one thing then you can't spend that same dollar on something else.

The same goes for time - if you're committing to doing one thing then you can't do something else with that time, and therefore it's important to prioritise your resources (cash, time etc) to make sure you're 100% using it in the best way possible.

Our Planet - My David Attenborough moment

As the professor on TV was literally giddy with happiness at the potential of finding microbes on Mars (at a cost of trillions of $), it did make me think that if that cash (for the next few decades) was spent on protecting our own planet and the rich biodiversity we have here that has evolved over millions of the years - then maybe that should be the real priority that gets all these scientists excited.

What about those rainforests, what about those animals at risk of extinction, what about climate change? If we collectively said, "let's get our shit sorted here first" then it probably would make more sense to do that first.

What if we had a global initiative where we agree to prioritise our own planet before space, getting our shit together here first, whilst still of course doing a little bit of space exploration at the same time?

As mentioned, at the top - Space - big fan! But I'm also doubling down on love for our planet before what's left of us is nothing more than some microbes hidden under some rocks...

Until next week - big love - speak then - have a great weekend!


In a kind of related way, whilst writing this it reminded me of this banger from Gil Scott-Heron - what a tune!

Just because I'm now going into a Gil S-H listening spiral - here's another great cut!

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