US imperialism hands off the asteroids!

See, this is the problem with movies like Avatar (and V for Vendetta and Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Matrix and—much to this particular point—Total Recall). Avatar creator James Cameron was just recently in the Amazon, grandstanding against construction of the Belo Monte dam (a cause we of course support). Now the Wall Street Journal informs us that Cameron, along with Google heavies Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, is among the “investor and advisor group” of Planetary Resources Inc—which aims to start mining the asteroids. No, this isn’t a joke. The company’s press release boasts the scheme will “overlay two critical sectors—space exploration and natural resources—to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP” and “help ensure humanity’s prosperity.” Speaking to Forbes in less politically correct terms, company co-founder Peter Diamandis openly said, “I’m trying to start a gold rush.” The idea being that “greed” is the “only way it’s going to happen irrevocably.”

Just wonderful. The idea of extraterrestrial mineral exploitation was first spearheaded by the folks who brought you the Iraq war and the BP oil spill—namely, Haillburton. As here on earth, corporate resource extraction will go hand in hand with military aggression, and we note that space geeks have already called for nuking the asteroids. This is the extension of ecocidal imperialism to the final frontier—the very future that Avatar was supposedly warning against coming into reality. And it reveals again the inherent equivocation in dystopian thrillers like Avatar, that play to both sides of the aisle through strategic ambiguity. As we’ve stated before:

They’ve been playing this game for a long time. Just like Archie Bunker could be a caricature to laugh at for the liberals or an icon to admire for the bigots. Just like Paul Verhoeven‘s sinister 1997 production of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers could be lampooning fascism for the deconstructionist crowd, or glorifying it for teenage testosterone-heads.

Cameron can take his bogus green posturing and shove it.

See our last posts on the mineral cartel and the struggle for outer space.

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  1. NASA hands off Mars!
    NASA releases a landscape shot from the Opportunity rover on Mars that it crows is “the next best thing to being there.” (I09, July 4) Are we the only ones who are pained to see the lovely Martian landscape being torn up and desecrated by the rover’s tread-tracks? (No, we are not being sarcastic.) We also note that yet again the rover appears to show itself in a photo that it supposedly took. Um, how does that work? That almost makes us hold out hope that the whole thing is a scam, and these photos were really taken in Arizona…

  2. Senate passes bill to privatize asteroid mineral resources

    We'd love to think this is satire, but it was in in geek journal Hackread last month, not The Onion. The US Senate apparently passed a bill to facilitate space mining by private industry. The "US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act" allows private companies to own resource they obtain from outer space. Companies with names like like Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources are waiting to get in on the act, starting with mining the asteroids. Planetary Resources hailed the passage of the bill. Under the bill, companies can not own asteroids, but are owners of the resources extracted, we are told. Well, that's comforting. Still, we'd love to know how the US government has the authority to say anything about ownership of off-planet resources. The fucking asteroids are pretty far outside the USA's national borders! And doesns't this violate the Outer Space Treaty? Just asking.