Does the United States of America own the Moon?

Britain’s ‘The Daily Mail’, has recently reported that Vladimir Putin is laying claim to the North Pole and has stated that the surrounding Arctic and its seafloor belongs to Russia. According to Putin, a Russian underwater ridge connects the Arctic to Russia. He believes that this gives him the authority to claim all of the Arctic for Russia. There are many people scrambling in the United Nations to try to counter this claim.

A British diplomatic source has warned that Russia was planning to secure its grip on oil and gas supplies “for decades to come”.

The United Nations is trying to point out to Putin that just because a piece of the Earth connects two landmasses, it does not mean that the two landmasses are the same. The United Nations has pointed to the fact that almost all of the European countries are connected, but are still separate countries.

To many international observers it has become obvious what Putin’s objectives are, he wants Russia to replace the Middle East as the chief supplier of oil to the West.

Does Russia’s recent claim to the Arctic seabed automatically mean that all United Nations treaties to date become void? In addition, does Russia’s recent stance have any future bearing on how nations will conduct themselves in outer space?

“A mechanical arm dropped a specially made rust-proof titanium flag onto the Arctic seabed at a depth of 4,261 meters (13,980 ft), Itar-Tass news agency quoted expedition officials as saying.”

“This isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and just plant flags and say ‘We’re claiming this territory’,” Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay told CTV television.

In light of recent events, does this mean the United States can now legitimately lay claim to ownership of the Moon? After all the Apollo 11 astronauts did plant an American flag there first. Yet, the United States of America has never declared ownership of the Moon. Russia’s recent action has important ramifications for the whole future of Space Settlement. Finally, can we forget China? As the world’s most recent up and coming space power what will her response be? Is this a fore taste of things to come? Will the spacefaring nations of the world one day project their economic claims throughout the solar system with military force? Ralph Buttigieg’s recent posting ‘Space Ships of the Mind’ is almost prophetic.

As humanity incorporates the solar system into its collective economic sphere of influence, it seems likely that we will take along our propensities for aggression and Imperialism. Moreover, the solar system will become the new military high ground of human folly.

There are enough resources in our solar system to support a population measured in the trillions. Why is it that in the face of so much abundance that human greed has become so manifest? To Quote Sir Arthur C. Clarke from his book ‘Profiles of the Future’:

“Politics and economics are concerned with power and wealth, neither of which should be the primary, still less the exclusive, concern of full-grown men.”

Humankind must outgrow its social adolescence and learn the ways of peace and cooperation.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy we must vow that outer space will never be

“governed by a hostile flag of conquest but, by a banner of freedom and peace” and that we “shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.”

As Dennis Chamberland reminds us in his new book ‘Undersea Colonies’ to ensure that this never occurs, we must first apply these principles in our planet’s last great frontier – the undersea continent of Aquatica.
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