Musk fears World War 3 could ruin a mission to Mars

Or at least any chance of a self-sustaining colony

Elon Musk is almost ready to reveal his Mars colonization plans, though he worries world politics could end hopes for a Martian colony.

"There's a window that could be opened for a long time or a short time where we have an opportunity to establish a self-sustaining base on Mars before something happens to drive the technology level on Earth below where it's possible," Musk explained in an interview with GQ.

The "something" that he is referring to is a possible World War 3 that could involve nuclear bombs which, as a result, could push "a very powerful social movement that's anti-technology."

"I don't think we can discount the possibility of a third World War," he said, adding that in 1912, people had been "proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over."

Of course, World War I then began. A handful of decades after, there was World War II, after which we had the Cold War, with the constant threat of nuclear bombs looming large.

A tech halt?

Musk believes that not only could a third World War happen, but that if it does, "it could be far worse than anything that's happened before."

And, quite logically, he believes this could halt technological advancements.

"Most of us instinctively assume that technology relentlessly marches forward, but there have been times before now in human history - after the Egyptians built the pyramids, for instance, or after the multiple advances of the Roman Empire - when the civilizations that followed could no longer do what had been done before, and perhaps there's a complacency and arrogance in assuming that this won't happen again," he said.

And while Musk has been hoping to colonize Mars with SpaceX for a while now, with the state of the world today, he wonders: "So does the [Mars] base become self-sustaining before spaceships from Earth stop going?"

Image credit: OnInnovation Interview: Elon Musk by OnInnovation/CC BY-ND 2.0 (cropped from original)