The second man on the moon has revealed his thoughts on climate change, one-way missions to Mars and the current state of space exploration.
He says he is ‘sceptical about the claims that human produced carbon dioxide is the direct contributor to global warming.’
And following up on comments made the other day, he also says the first Martian explorers should be sent there for the rest of their days – so that they might be the first colonists in a permanent settlement.
In recent years Dr Aldrin, who holds a doctorate of science in Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, has been outspoken on a wide range of issues.
He has been a huge proponent of sending humans to Mars to colonise the red planet, outlined by his book ‘My Vision for Space Exploration’ released last year.
And he told MailOnline it should not necessarily be just to further our exploration efforts, but also to ensure the survival of the human race.
This inevitably leads to questions about our own planet – for example, are humans causing global warming that will render our world uninhabitable?
‘In the news today I hear about the large solar flares, which is an indication of the power of the sun to influence Earth and our climate,’ Dr Aldrin says.
‘My first inclination is to be a bit sceptical about the claims that human-produced carbon dioxide is the direct contributor to global warming.
‘And if there is that doubt, then I think an unbiased non-politically motivated group of people worldwide, representing us instead of creating taxes like the carbon tax, should examine the output of different nations that might contribute to the very large cycles of warming and cooling that have taken place long before we started to have humans producing emissions.
‘In a short period of time it appears to some people [that humans are] the cause of global warming – which is now called climate change – [but] climate change has certainly existed over time.’
It’s a position that will no doubt strike a chord with Nasa, who have been performing extensive climate missions in recent years to find out the impact humans are having on the climate.
‘You can tell I’m not too bashful about some of my feelings,’ he says,’ but I try and limit them to areas that I feel my development of innovations and thinking can be brought to bear on challenges that are facing civilisation here on Earth.’
He also bemoans some of the excessive funding that is allocated to climate change research, saying: ‘Space is not as enthusiastically supported by the world and by the American people anywhere near as much as it was during the pioneering years of the 60s and 70s.
He continues: ‘I feel that a lack of stimulation of imagination and achievement in the frontier that awaits Earth out there in space beyond us does have a measured influence on what happens here on Earth.
‘The society of life on Mars, or the challenge of making Mars more liveable, will have significant benefits on our attempts to modify and change in some ways the environment here on Earth.
And it’s not just the attitude towards climate that Dr Aldrin disagrees with when it comes to Nasa – he also does not make much of their roadmap to to Mars.
Nasa’s plan to get to Mars currently involves sending humans to an asteroid in the 2020s before putting boots on the red planet in the 2030s.
But this is a route quite vehemently opposed to by Dr Aldrin.
‘I rather strongly object to the asteroid retrieval mission,’ he says. This is because he wants Nasa to take a more direct route to Mars, getting people their sooner rather than later.
Rather than wasting time with an asteroid mission, he wants to see mission to Mars in the works as soon as possible, perhaps with a return to the moon first to test some of the technologies needed.
He says the first humans on Mars should be the first inhabitants of a long-term colony that will create a permanent settlement there.
Beginning with six people on the surface, he wants to see six more added repeatedly on further missions.
‘It sounds complicated but it’s the result of my working with Purdue University to develop transportation systems that cycle from Earth to Mars and back to Earth again,’ he says.
‘I do believe that until we attain a sufficient number of people on the surface, and I don’t know what that number is – 60, 80 or 100 – the first people to land on the surface of Mars are indeed the most difficult people to bring back to Earth.
‘We haven’t established the procedures of fuel, the vehicles on Mars to bring them back.
‘To do so is more expensive, and it delays the landing of more people.
‘Keeping people on Mars is cheaper than if they come back.’
And it’s for this reason Dr Aldrin thinks they should be kept on Mars.
But with this proposal comes an obvious question, namely does that mean Dr Aldrin thinks the first people sent to Mars should remain there for the rest of their lives?
‘Yes, that’s the short answer,’ he says.
One interesting aspect of people living on Mars that Dr Aldrin brings up is how people might have a shorter life expectancy. Perhaps their stay there, although for the rest of their lives, might not be as long as on Earth.
‘The life expectancy of people going to Mars may be decreased by the higher level of radiation that they receive,’ he explains.
Their lives would likely be shortened by about 10 or 20 years, but Dr Aldrin says any potential Mars explorer would be more than willing to live a shorter life if it meant starting the first Mars colony.
But he adds: ‘You ask anyone who’s been to the moon if you would rather have stayed back here than having pioneered the first humans to reach our very nearby object in space.’
To make such a mission possible, Dr Aldrin calls for more international cooperation with regards to space exploration.
He alludes to the culmination of the Apollo missions, themselves somewhat of a show of strength from the US to Russia, as the dawn of the age of cooperation.
‘If you want my honest opinion, the demonstration of the industrial might behind the Apollo programme demonstrated to the Soviets that they could not match the development of missiles with nuclear warheads [in the US].
‘That brought about a re-evaluation by President Gorbachev of just what the Soviet Union should be doing, and I believe that had a major effect on the outcome of the Cold War.
‘We have new threats today, and I believe the English speaking nations of the world will be prominent in resisting those threats to the freedom and liberty that was extended around the world by the British Empire.’