GDB1 | The thrills and dangers of extending human impact beyond our planetary boundaries
The thrills and dangers of extending human impact beyond our planetary boundaries
Convener: Enrique Sanchez | Co-conveners: Noel Baker, Chloe Hill
Thu, 27 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST)
Room E1
Thu, 14:00
Space exploration has enabled humanity to unlock and discover amazing things about the Earth we inhabit. It has pushed our scientific boundaries and transformed the way in which we communicate, navigate, predict the weather, monitor climate, and investigate the rest of the Solar System and the Universe. With humanity’s ever growing greenhouse gas emissions and resource exploitation driving us closer to tipping points that threaten our existence, could it also be a solution to our planetary boundaries? Could we reduce our impact on Earth by exploiting the resources and energy sources of other planets? Or is extending humanity’s exploitation to nearby planets an unethical option that will cause more problems than it solves?

This Great Debate will outline the benefits and opportunities that we may be able to achieve through space exploration while debating the ethical dilemmas and potential risks that it comes with. It will discuss the impacts of private investment into space exploration and the potential for its regulation. Not only is this an ethical issue, but unregulated access to space exploration and a surge in activity has the potential to result in collisions and space debris that, could in an extreme circumstance, limit our access to space in the future. The panelists will also debate if humanity can ethically exploit the resources on other planets and objects in space and how we can limit our impact beyond our planetary boundaries.

We are very excited to welcome the following panellists to this great debate: 

- Dr Alfredo Carpineti: Astrophysicist and Science Journalist

- Dr Michaela Musilova: Astrobiologist and Analog Astronaut

- Dr Anna Maria Trofaier: Cryosphere Scientist, European Space Agency 

- Dr Andrew Williams: External Relations, Executive Office of the Director General, European Southern Observatory 

The session will be moderated by Jonathan Bamber, Professor at the University of Bristol and Guest Professor at the Technical University of Munich.

Session assets

Session materials


  • Michaela Musilova, ExtremeFrontiers, United States of America
  • Alfredo Carpineti
  • Andrew Williams, ESO, Germany
  • Anna Maria Trofaier, European Space Agency, United Kingdom