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Topic Title: E&T magazine - Debate - Should there be laws for exploring the moon?
Topic Summary: Should there be laws for exploring the moon?
Created On: 12 February 2014 10:55 AM
Status: Read Only
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 12 February 2014 10:55 AM
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Posts: 76
Joined: 16 May 2007

There needs to be a legal framework to protect investment on the Moon.

The legal framework can wait: we should first protect the Earth's environment.

The argument for:
The Moon has been in the news a fair amount recently, because China has recently landed its Chang'e 3 probe on the lunar surface. This has certainly raised the profile of lunar exploration. The current legal framework for exploration of the Moon is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which has more than 100 state signatories to it. This prevents nation states from appropriating the Moon, and the document has a phrase in it that prevents nations states from negatively affecting the lunar environment, although that in itself is not defined. There is, then, a legal framework in place. But when the 1967 treaty was signed, there wasn't envisaged to be any 'non-state' activity on the Moon - by private companies, for example - which are not explicitly covered by the treaty. There is a case for expanding the treaty to include activities that we can now envisage happening such as privately led industrial exploitation of resources on the Moon and space tourism, which could well happen in the next few decades. So there is an argument to update the legal framework that already exists.

The argument against:
Should there be a legal regulatory framework to control the commercialisation of the Moon? Well, my two starting points are simply these: it's neither important nor interesting when compared with a multitude of pressing environmental concerns that have an immediate effect on us today.The fact is that pretty much since the Apollo explorations of the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s we have culturally lost interest in space exploration. Mankind needs to have obsessions such as religion and philosophy - it's part of our nature - and for a while the human species became obsessed with the Moon. Over the millennia one of the greatest concerns, rightly or wrongly, to occupy the human psyche has been the construction of empires, beating neighbours and having power over people and territory. The race into space was another example of that. These obsessions seem to pulse periodically and at the moment we seem to be interested in space again, although I can't see why.

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