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Colonizing Other Planets

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EarthTalk®
From the Editors of E – The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How far along are we on efforts to support large numbers of people on the moon or other planets if our population gets too big or we ruin the environment here on Earth?                                                                                                                                                                                                                 — Barbara Christie, Hull, MA


As the human population swells and global warming compounds other environmental problems here on Earth, the notion of colonizing other planets is more appealing than ever. While we are far from being able to support human communities elsewhere in the solar system and beyond, environmentalists are increasingly interested in space exploration as one potential solution to our own earthly woes.

Mars is by far the most promising planet in the solar system on which we could support substantial human life. Currently, Mars is a desolate desert, but the so-called “red planet” once contained liquid water and perhaps harbored life. Many of the elements we depend upon to support life here on Earth, including carbon, silicon, iron and even frozen water, are present on Mars, giving researchers hope that one day some of us could hopscotch through space and set up shop there.

The first challenge of colonizing Mars is transportation. The furthest a manned mission has ever gone to date is the moon, and Mars is 140 times further away. Currently the biggest hurdle is the cost of spaceflight. But a new breed of private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin have invested in making launching more efficient by streamlining manufacturing and even reusing rockets. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, claims he can reduce the cost of spaceflight 100-fold.

The best concrete plan for landing humans on Mars is called Mars Direct. Designed by aerospace engineer and Mars Society founder Bob Zubrin, this plan was rejected by NASA because it failed to fully utilize new technologies such as the International Space Station. Zubrin thinks we could get ourselves to Mars for only $55 billion, which seems like a bargain compared to the $250 billion figure suggested for a Mars landing back in 1969 after our first moon landing.

The most immediate problem for human habitation on Mars is the severe temperature. The average temperature on the surface of the red planet is -67° Fahrenheit compared to the balmy 61° here on Earth. Elon Musk suggests there are two ways to overcome this obstacle. The fast way would be by dropping nuclear weapons on Mars’ poles, while a slower solution would entail emitting huge amounts of carbon into the Martian atmosphere much as we are doing on Earth but to a larger extent. In theory, this carbon seeding plan would cause the atmosphere to grow and eventually shield much of the radiation that would otherwise be harmful to Martians. Since carbon dioxide is the main gaseous nutrient consumed by plants, it’s possible that many plants could thrive on Mars. Without competition, plants could take over the planet and put oxygen into the atmosphere, eventually making it possible for humans and other animals to populate Mars without oxygen masks.

There are still problems with colonizing Mars, however. Its low gravity would corrode human bones and giant storms rage across the currently barren planet. In sharp contrast, Earth is rich in resources and water, making it naturally habitable for plants and animals. Addressing the problems here on Earth will likely be easier than escaping them by fleeing to Mars or other planets.


CONTACTS: NASA, www.nasa.gov; Blue Origin, www.blueorigin.com; SpaceX, www.spacex.com; The Mars Society, www.marssociety.org.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.orgSend questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

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Alton “Fred” Allen

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Fred Allen

March 17, 1945 – May 15, 2022
RINGGOLD – Alton “Fred” Allen, 77, longtime resident of Ringgold, passed away on May 15, 2022 in Bowie.
The family received friends from 7 – 8 p.m. on May 17 at the White Family Funeral Home in Bowie. A graveside service will take place at 11 a.m. on May 18 at Cowboy’s Last Ride Cemetery in Bowie with Richard Allen officiating.
Fred was born March 17, 1945 in Decatur to Alton “Frank” and Zula Prestwood Allen. He was a lifelong worker in the oil field and in his free time enjoyed fishing, hunting and spending time with his grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Dick Allen and Gene Allen.
Fred is survived by his children, Lynn Allen, Ringgold and Zula Carol Dietrich and husband Steve, Petrolia; grandchildren, Blake Allen, Brady Allen, Barrett Allen, Jason Gray, Jennifer Gray, Terry Dietrich and Timothy Dietrich; great-grandchildren Cody and Kendra Harralson and Lincoln Gray; sister Zelta Baker, Bloomfield, NM and numerous nieces and nephews.
Arrangements entrusted to the White Family Funeral Home of Bowie.
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Council facing lengthy agenda of new business

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Bowie City Councilors face a lengthy agenda of new business on Oct. 25 spanning outside audit proposals, amendments to the personnel policy and six planning and zoning commission requests.
The panel will meet at 6 p.m. in council chambers.
A pair of audit proposals will be reviewed from Edgin, Parkman, Fleming and Fleming, and Mathis, West & Huffines Group.
The personnel policy amendments center on paid quarantine leave and officer mental health leave.
A resolution for repayment of opioid-related expenditures and payment to abate opioid-related harms will be reviewed, along with the 2021 tax roll.
The council also will discuss the Richwood Lake Estates Park at Amon Carter Lake. This topic is a proposition on the Nov. 2 ballot.
An executive session will have the council discuss economic development negotiations on a project. Janis Crawley, executive director of the Bowie Economic Development Corporation, also will give the council an update on the recent Economic Development Administration grant that will provide $1,460,000 to the BEDC for infrastructure work at the Bowie Business Park.
City Manager Bert Cunningham will make his monthly report discussing the asset management program, the audit, search for a new finance director, a program with Honeywell that evaluates facilities on where the city can save money and an update from the Association of Rural Communities.
Public comments and the consent agenda wrap up Monday night’s council agenda.

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Fatality accidents

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Department of Public Safety officers are investigating a pair of multi-fatality accidents in Montague County Thursday night. One occurred at US 82 and FM 1806 and a half hour later one occurred near Star Travel Center outside Bowie. No details were available Friday but watch for updates.

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