Humanity and the Migration Experience Beyond Earth
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A defining feature of animal life is that it moves. Early in life, with little knowledge of its environment, each life form is engaged in exploration. As information about its environment is accumulated by exploration, the animal may decide to remain where it is, or go elsewhere; various external ‘push’ and/or ‘pull’ factors also tend to move animal life across geographies. Repeated, cyclic movement is often termed migration, as when birds fly to distant feeding grounds for months at a time. Other life forms, in particular some aquatic species, move one-way, leaving the place where they were born to settle permanently elsewhere. Humanity is engaged in many such movements on Earth. The one most pertinent, however, to the case of space settlement is emigration, a permanent, one-way phenomenon, in the human case an intentional one. This chapter examines the emigration experience in general and proposes a four-stage model for permanent human space settlement. As in the other chapters of the book, I highlight the evolutionary aspects of our topic, identifying the main trends in animal migration and emigration so far identified, and applying, when appropriate, lessons from evolutionary biology to the prospect of human space settlement.
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