Writter & Bloggist Charlie Stross makes an interesting (if kind of depressing) argument about space colonization. To sum up: More Silent Running and none of Buck Rogers
He argues that we wont go until there is something worth going for and just like there is no great rush to exploit the "resources" of the Gobi Desert, there will be no hurry to exploit even scarcer resources in an even more hostile place like Mars.
Read his point in full at his blog
but here's one bit of what he has to say:
But even so, when you get down to it, there's not really any economically viable activity on the horizon for people to engage in that would require them to settle on a planet or asteroid and live there for the rest of their lives. In general, when we need to extract resources from a hostile environment we tend to build infrastructure to exploit them (such as oil platforms) but we don't exactly scurry to move our families there. Rather, crews go out to work a long shift, then return home to take their leave. After all, there's no there there — just a howling wilderness of north Atlantic gales and frigid water that will kill you within five minutes of exposure. And that, I submit, is the closest metaphor we'll find for interplanetary colonization. Most of the heavy lifting more than a million kilometres from Earth will be done by robots, overseen by human supervisors who will be itching to get home and spend their hardship pay.
What do you think of what he has to say? Do you agree?