Gerry has a very insightful post at culture monkey, discussing Zizek's anti-ecology. He points out that Zizek is correct in pointing to the problem of entropy and the reality that human society and the Earth's ecology will eventually fail no matter how much work is done to preserve. However, Gerry argues that Zizek errs in arguing against the "ecology of fear and finitude" is that finitude is a necessary adjunct of political awareness and action, that finitude is the ground of all future action. I bristle every time I hear a Marxist accuse Capitalism of just "tinkering" in order to reach a false Utopia. The false Utopia is true, but I believe that tinkering is a necessary part of human life, that we can only approach problems from a finite state, and therefore we need to deal with them on a more or less ad hoc basis (although I don't want to undercut forethought, analysis, and prediction).
Gerry's post also got me thinking about something else. Gerry mentioned the Mars Trilogy and the plan to terraform Mars, as advocated by Robert Zubrin and the Mars Society. This idea appeals to a fantasy of expansion and colonization, the exploration of other planets and so forth. And I don't believe that setting up a scientific colony on Mars is an impossibility (although I don't think I'd advocate it). However, rarely is the question posed: why bother? Mars, like Antarctica, is cold, desolate, and low in natural resources. Moreover, the shipment of food, building material, and anything humans might need to survive would create enormous expenses. A place that has virtually no exports and almost 100% imports would have to be one of three things: a scientific colony funded by governments and corporations, a tourist spot inhabited by multi-millionaires, or an incredibly poor and desolate colony in constant need of aid from the outside. This last one makes no sense, because people couldn't travel all that distance without the money to take them there. The first one makes sense, but like Antarctica, it would remain sparsely populated. It would, of course, be of less scientific interest than Antarctica, because the information gathered on Mars would be less applicable to life on Earth. And the tourist vacation for rich people also makes very little sense. The rich tend to prefer comfort over adventure. All in all, the amount of excitement and energy expended on Mars seems out of proportion with the potential gains. And the potential for success seems less an exciting prospect than the telos of all our dystopian fears.