Fridays For Future Releases a Satirical Tourism Ad for Mars

Greta Thunberg's climate change movement reminds us that 99% of humans are stuck on Earth, facing the climate crisis.

woman in Mars spacesuit

Fridays For Future/FRED & FARID Los Angeles

Greta Thunberg's global climate change movement, Fridays For Future, has just released a video aimed at galvanizing public action on the environmental crisis we all face. Unless, of course, we're part of the uber-rich 1% that can afford to jet off to Mars as part of a hypothetical colonization effort to escape everything we've messed up on Earth and start anew.

Called "1%," the video is a satirical tourism ad for the red planet, making it sound like a sort of Eden where there is "no war, no criminality, no pandemics, and no pollution." The retro-futuristic film portrays dreamy-eyed explorers in space suits, families gazing through windows at the rocky landscape, and SUVs ripping over dunes that have never been seen before. The narrator announces,

"Mars, an untainted planet, a new world. We can begin again. Mars offers the ultimate freedom. Freedom to pave the new path for humans. Freedom to create a new way of life. Freedom to forever change the course of humanity. Will you spend the rest of your years on Earth, or will you be a pioneer?"

The rousing music ends as a space shuttle lowers itself to the surface of Mars in a cloud of red dust, and then this sentence appears across the screen: "And for the 99% who will stay on Earth, we'd better fix climate change." It's a jarring reminder that, for all the inflated talk of a Plan B, of leaving a desecrated Earth behind to settle elsewhere, of Elon Musk saying he'll put humans on Mars by 2026, that dream is accessible only to a very small number of people. The rest of us will remain here, and thus have our work cut out for us.

no pandemics, Mars video

Fridays For Future/FRED & FARID Los Angeles

Fridays For Future released the film as a criticism against the enormous financial outlay NASA put into its Perseverance rover, due to land on Mars on February 18. It will be joining the UAE's Hope orbiter and China's Tianwen-1 orbiter and rover duo, both of which just arrived. A press release stated,

"We wanted to highlight pure nonsense. Government-funded space programs and the world’s ultra-wealthy 1% are laser focused on Mars (NASA’s Perseverance Rover alone cost $2.7 billion for development, launch, operations and analysis) – and yet, most humans will never get a chance to visit or live on Mars. This is not due to a lack of resources, but the fact that our global systems don’t care about us, and refuse to take equitable action. With 99% of the world’s population remaining on Earth, it’s imperative that we fix the climate change that’s destroying our home planet. We’d better fix climate change now. We simply have no choice."

It is illogical to pour such vast resources and innovation into space exploration when that's exactly what is needed to stabilize the climate crisis on Earth. (As Treehugger's editorial director Melissa once wrote, "Gardening in outer space is going to be tough." We could use the improved food security here, though.) Far more people will benefit from efforts made here than on distant planets, but it appears that governments are distracted by the shiny allure of outer space, ignoring what's needed back at home.

It's time to call their aspirations back to Earth (and even our own sci-fi fantasies, which may be partly to blame), and put that ingenuity and determination to work at fixing what we've broken here. We can do it. We know what we need to do; now we just need the willpower.