In This Review

Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics, and the Ends of Humanity
Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics, and the Ends of Humanity
By Daniel Deudney
464 pp, Oxford University Press, 2021
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This remarkable, mesmerizing book describes and then dismantles the naive assumptions of “space expansionists,” those techno-utopians who declare that humanity’s destiny lies in colonizing the solar system and, in the process, leaving earthbound problems behind. Deudney challenges such hubris, arguing that far from delivering security, abundance, and freedom, space expansionism will exacerbate violence, inequality, and oppression, as great powers compete to dominate the ultimate “high ground,” commercial interests monopolize wealth, and tyranny flourishes both on earth and in the cold reaches of space. The nuclear arms race has been the biggest impetus behind human space activities. Why should the future be any different? The author quotes the philosopher Raymond Aron: “Short of a revolution in the heart of man and the nature of states, by what miracle could interplanetary space be preserved from military use?” Deudney predicts that untrammeled human expansion into space will ultimately result in “astrocide”—the destruction of earth from above—and the extinction of humanity. To avoid this fate, the world needs a multilateral agreement to strictly govern and limit expansion into space. Such an accord, like the famous “Earthrise” photograph taken by the Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, would focus attention back where it belongs. Humanity’s destiny lies not in the stars, Deudney warns, but on “Oasis Earth.”