Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Philosophical Question: Who owns the moon?


The moon has been in plain view for all of human history, but it's only within the past few decades that it's been possible to travel there. And for just about as long as the moon has been within reach, people have been arguing about lunar property rights: Can astronauts claim the moon for king and country, as in the Age of Discovery? Are corporations allowed to expropriate its natural resources, and individuals to own its real estate?

So, who does the moon? Obviously, say my coworkers, it's the USA since "we" (I use the collective "we" here, since I am now a resident), landed there first. But is that enough? Do we give it over the UN for governance?

The internet was invented in the U.S., and the control of the most popular names (the .com's .net's and .org's) remains in the U.S. There was quite a clamor from the international community to turn that over to the U.N. Why? That's an invented product where, (at least to me), it's quite clear the control should be with the inventors, or whomever they delegate its authority.

But this is a whole different animal. The moon was not discovered--mankind has known of it since the beginning. One country just got there first. So, is it first come first served? Whoever gets there first can exploit it? If not, who gets to enforce the moon's neutrality? How does the "police" get this authority? Who bestows it upon them? Might makes right here?

I have no idea what the correct answer is. I suppose that we'll find out shortly.


feddabonn said...

heck yes. and mars? whattabout mars?

Anonymous said...

This is something I'd never thought of before. Interesting!