Would you buy a plot of land on the Moon?

Source: BBC Futures

Will it happen?

The United Nations Outer Space Treaty of 1967 states: “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” In theory, this treaty is binding on all nations that have signed it — but in practice, it has no teeth. As recently as 2020 the US government said that it consider outer space “a legally and physically unique domain…[and not] a global commons.” There is technically nothing to stop anyone exploring this final frontier.

Copyright: The Hospitality Industry Archives, Conrad Hilton College, University of Houston

Why this idea now?

Quite simply, there is an excess of capital looking for places to invest in order to grow. So for example, if you’re seeking compound returns of four percent a year, over time the amount of expansion required to deliver this becomes enormous. You need spaces to expand into. But as the social geographer David Harvey argues, capitalism is running out of space (i.e. there are no more ‘unsettled’ lands to conquer). Thus excess capital creates new imaginary spaces to conquer. The deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, the metaverse, NFTs, crypto…and now the Moon.

What should we do?

This discussion is timely. We all know existing property ownership frameworks are not going to alleviate poverty and inequality left as they are. So we need to advocate for different ones. Ones where benefits accrue for the common good, not individual gain. Where land is no longer a commodity, but seen as all of ours to protect and cherish. It is all of ours in common.

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Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller

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Social researcher and writer. Putting theory into practice, to make the world a better place.