Overheard on CNN.com: Could moon colonization play role in mankind's future?
A NASA photograph released this month shows the moon and the international space station.
January 30th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Could moon colonization play role in mankind's future?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

You might have noticed some slight changes to our comments system on CNN.com today. (Blogs aren't affected.) That's because we just made some much-needed tweaks under the hood. Thanks for bearing with us as we get this new system working.

Imagine a colony on the moon. Two stories Monday revisited the idea, as mentioned by Newt Gingrich during Thursday's GOP debate in Florida. Many of our readers seem to be in favor of eventually doing this, regardless of their feelings about the candidate. But there was a bit of skepticism in the air.

A moon colony is a waste of money

David Frum's opinion piece blasting Gingrich's idea for a moon colony got a fairly heated response from our readers.

SteveOBoston: "Mr. Frum, while I understand your argument, with all due respect you would not be typing an article on the internet had there never been NASA. Science for pragmatic purposes exists to be sure, but science for the sake of the research itself can often have greater affect on humanity. In science, you cannot begin with the answer and work your way back to the question. You'd like to know what value the research has. It's impossible to answer that without knowing what we'll find."

Some said Frum was being shortsighted.

ndk415: "This is the type of article that future generations will dig up and giggle at, since the benefits, discoveries, and advancements (that weren't so apparent today) from what was learned by having humans live on another world will seem so obvious then."

Some readers were opposed to colonization, saying we do not have the resources at this time.

SCY385: "While I do think space exploration is very interesting I do believe we need to figure out how to make living on Earth better first. We can't get our living straight on THIS planet. Now the screw-ups in Washington want screw up the Moon and Mars. Get your house in in order on this planet before you seek new territory to destroy."

zillibeans2: "What do you think is more important: Furthering the knowledge, living conditions, and hope of survival of all mankind, or paying punks to sit on their couch and pop out lots of illegitimate babies?"

SCY385: "I do think all those things are important. But we can't seem to handle things on this planet very well. Pollution, violence, sexism, racism, war, etc. Get your house in order on this planet before you start all of that on a new planet."

This person said they would rather vote for Mitt Romney than Gingrich.

Guest: "Newt's moon colony is the very garbage the Tea Party is supposed to be against - wasteful government projects just to get votes. To me, his idiotic idea is very telling about him personally. He's all talk with nothing behind it. Romney is a doer. He made money at Bain by getting businesses going, he balanced the budget and addressed health care with gov of Massachusetts (frankly, I would like to see his health care system in my state) and he fixed the Olympics. We need a president who knows how to get things done and I truly believe Mitt can fix this economy. The rest are just professional politicians."

Some people alluded to the early explorers of the world.

zettersg: "If the naysayers had their way Columbus would never have sailed and Moses would not have left Egypt. Ceasar would have died north of the Rubicon. There would be no transcontinental railroad. Alexander would be 'the Good' rather than 'the Great.' No one would take risk. ... I am not a Newt supporter but I am behind him on this. i do think 2030 is a better target date though..."

Some compared the cost of space to the cost of war.

Chindokae: "I'd rather spend the $100 billion on space than on war."

MrRight1: "$100B would be a very short war."

But others said their fellow commenters are not facing facts.

alexDWD: "For some reason, the idea that it is cheaper for humans to live in space than earth is extremely popular.  Which is nonsense. Technically, it would be easier to put all human population to live in North Dakota than to send one hundred people to Mars."

And, speaking of the costs required ...

Newt's moon colony: What would it cost?

Some of our CNNMoney readers suspicious of the moon colony concept, but others were ambivalent or even supportive.

Shocked: "You won't catch me saying Newt's moon colony won't work. It will work, and we can make money from it if we make the appropriate investments. For example, mining may be viable money maker. Tourism is only the tip of the iceberg. In addition, space manufacturing could produce breakthrough technologies. Therefore, I don't mock this idea in principle. I'd like to point out, however, that Mr. Gingrich and other republicans have long ranted about our indebtedness, insolvency and deficit spending. They claim, for example, that President Obama is spending us into a whole from which we will never climb out. If Mr. Gingrich is serious about implementing this kind of plan, he obviously doesn't believe that President Obama's spending is an insurmountable problem. In fact, he wants to outspend President Obama many times over. In my opinion, establishing a moon colony in another eight years, with or without a privatized space industry is voodoo science and economics. It's possible, but highly unlikely given the current political conditions and the myopathy of the American public. That's just my opinion, but I think it rings true."

These readers got into a huge discussion about the long-term benefits of space travel.

oregonslee: "Shame on CNN for reporting this seriously. There is no technical, scientific, economic, nor moral imperative for a moon colony. Even the suggestion is a distraction from our real responsibility - to help our own planet."

Edwin999: "I disagree. It is a useful goal. The real benefit comes not from the colony itself, but the technology that is produced as a by-product. From the moon race in the 1960s (and what followed) we got the following:

• Plastic
• Microwave Ovens
• Cell phones
• Much better micro-chips
• Precursors for the error-correcting codes which make the internet work

Our world in 2012 would not function without these. Sure, they would have been built... eventually, and by 2100 maybe they would all exist. But the moon race pushed technology forward at a tremendous rate. We need the same kind of push now, or we stagnate."

FormerMarineSgt: "In the original space race, we did get lots of cool things. However, it took years and years for these to become useful products to make money on. We cannot afford it now. We already have the largest deficits ever. To put together a moon colony would cost more trillions that Obama's caused this country to spend. How can any Republican who's complained about Obama's spending even think about supporting this insane and inappropriate spending?"

DougWare: "Misplaced your shame, there, didn't you. After all, it wasn't CNN's fault that this is a story. Newt Gingrich is the one that made this a story. He is the one pitching for a moon colony, and suggesting that it should be our responsibility to do pursue it. The shame is 100% his, given the premise of your argument."

This reader wanted to know what would be accomplished.

AndyDaniel: "I do support space exploration but would like to see some ideas for what useful research a moon colony would provide. It's true that NASA's lunar program created alot of technologies that have terresterial uses, and the zero gravity of the ISS permits some forms of experimentation that are not possible on earth. I'm not sure what 1/6 gravity would help us study, and I don't know that mining on the moon will produce anything of value. As far as space tourism, of course I'd love to go to the moon, but I can't justify huge taxpayer expenditure for that. As a practical matter, I don't know if man could ever truly colonize a place where we can't breathe the atmosphere. A small population in large domes, yes. With any real long-term population growth, probably not. If humankind is looking for a place to live when earth fills up, the better chance would be to look for a planet or moon with close-to-livable atmosphere, then as generations grow we could try to slowly acclimate to the atmosphere. For instance, climbers of Mt. Everest acclimate to 1/3 oxygen level in a few weeks. Mankind could possible acclimate to even somewhat poisonous atmospheres given enough time - but on the moon there is basically nothing."

There were so many comments and we'd love to hear what you think. Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Chad Hickson

    My email is hockeyaddict11@hotmail.com ^ form message above.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
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