Mars (The Live Experience) Meets The Limits to

Growth, E.T., and Chocolate Bacon

Intergalactic Geographic or The Limits to Mars?
Intergalactic Geographic or The Limits to Mars?

Late-2016 I came across an article about Mars: The Live Experience, an event featuring Buzz Aldrin (second person to step foot on the moon) in a three-city tour of Australia, the intent being to drum up support for colonizing the Red Planet. As stated,

For the first time, National Geographic Live is bringing the world's leading authorities together for a unique major live event to discuss global space agency plans and the immense challenges awaiting humankind's next great space adventure.

If you've read even a single post of mine on this blog then you can probably guess that I think this notion that we're going to colonize Mars is a crock of Dr. Pooper. Nonetheless, I thought it'd be a hoot to attend at least the event here in Melbourne so I could write a blog post or two about it all, only to find out that the tickets were ridiculously expensive: about $100 each, with most of the event consisting of a video – and I don't even watch video. There was however the VIP event where one could hob-nob with – or in my case grill – "international speakers from global space agencies", but at $670 a pop there was absolutely no way I'd be paying for that. Unless... well, unless I could crowdfund it.

Both of these buzzers think we're going "to infinity and beyond",
although one of them has the excuse of being a cartoon. The other?
Both of these buzzers think we're going "to infinity and beyond", although one of them has the excuse of being a cartoon. The other?

So I put together an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, but just as I was about to launch it (and its accompanying blog post) I had to admit to myself how pointless and a waste of other people's money it would be. Sure, if I actually got to ask a question during a possible Q&A period I'd probably have asked something like this:

I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with such things, but there's a growing – yet still very small – group of people who think we're starting to go through the first stages of the collapse of industrial civilization, due to – in broad terms – the limits to growth. As just one example, we hit the peak of conventional oil supplies a decade ago and is why we're now being forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel with fracking, tar sands, deep sea oil, etc. That all being the case, what I'm wondering is, Where are you planning to get all the energy to travel back and forth to Mars with, energy that countries already hitting shortages here on Earth could probably use right about now?

While a question like that may very well have likely elicited some hushed snickering from the audience, I'll at least give the benefit of the doubt to the panel of "international speakers from global space agencies" and that their answer wouldn't have been as hokey as vacuum energy or some kind of equivalent. Nonetheless, it's quite likely that any response would have been couched in enough self-assured "scientific" theory and/or jargon that I would have been left tongue-tied and reduced to stammering out the equivalent of "But w-what about limits to growth? And those four l-laws of thermodynamics?" In other words, there was absolutely no way that I was going to not look like a total idiot, giving the true-believing audience members even more reason to double down on their extra-terrestrial fantasies.

Mind you, that's certainly not to say that all this Mars talk isn't a complete bunch of nonsense. I mean, are you aware that NASA scientists rather ridiculously declared a few years ago that Mars' "soil" is ideal for growing asparagus? Or that a few days ago NASA announced the winner of its Space Poop Challenge, aka how-to-shit-in-your-spacesuit-when-the-shit-hits-the-fan competition? (The latter is a Dr. Pooper Papers post just begging to be written.)

Terraforming the Red Planet into... Marsparagus: The Foodie's Final Frontier!
Terraforming the Red Planet into...
Marsparagus: The Foodie's Final Frontier!

And please don't think I'm saying any of this out of bitterness and/or scorn for not having the cash flow to attend Mars: The Live Experience, because believe it or not I say all this with a unique insider's perspective into the inner workings of Mars. It just so happens that back in the day my father spent a few years working at Effem Foods in the town I grew up in, Effem Foods being the subsidiary of factories owned by Mars Inc. and which is used to make chocolate bars, M&Ms, etc. (M&Ms stands for Mars and Mars [brothers] in case you didn't know – and now that I think about it "Effem" is the phonetic way to say the initials of Mars' founder, Franklin Mars, the same way that "Esso" is the phonetic way to say the initials of Standard Oil.)

When I was about 13-years-old I even gained a first-hand understanding of Mars' operations when my father took my 10-year-old brother and I to the factory one day for a little tour (no, I never saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). They happened to be making Bounty Bars that day, although you may be disappointed to hear that my brother and I ate fewer of them off the conveyor belts than you'd imagine due to them being rather soft, overly moist, and not quite as good as the ones that had time to cool down and harden a bit. There were however barrels full of various unwrapped chocolate bars all along the conveyer belts, but upon sticking my hand in one of them to get a serving I was scolded by my father to not eat those as they were the rejects and/or drops that – believe it or not – got sold to (industrial) farmers to feed to their pigs. (Who knew that chocolate bacon was a non-thing thing, huh?)

I don't know if those M&Ms are raining down from the great Mars factory
in the sky or what, but the friends of that piggy bunk sure do look jealous!
I don't know if those M&Ms are raining down from the great Mars factory in the sky or what, but the friends of that piggy bunk sure do look jealous!

Anyway, you might also recall – like I said, I'm an expert when it comes to Mars – that one of those movies about little-green-men-possibly-from-Mars, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, happened to have a tie-in with chocolate. M&Ms was the product placement initially sought after by movie director Steven Spielberg, but after Mars Inc. turned down the opportunity it was snatched up by Hershey who got Reece's Pieces placed in the movie instead. In other words, for all we know E.T.'s spaceship may have had engine trouble just after it left Earth's orbit and got itself stuck on Mars, meaning while E.T. might at this very moment be stranded on the Red Planet waiting for replacement parts, he'd be surviving not off of Mars&Mars' but Reece's Pieces – on Mars of all places. How tragic is that?

Here's to hoping then that with Buzz Lightyear's Aldrin's help, us humans can fulfil Steven Spielberg's vision of bringing Mars&Mars' to the little-green-men-from-Mars by way of those who actually think we're going ("home") to Mars.

So there you go. Mars: The #$@%ed Up Experience, no videos and no crowdfunding required.

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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Commenting script fixed!

I don't know what mysteriously happened, but I updated the script to the latest version and it mysteriously fixed the problem. So, uh, let the comments pour in again.

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