A RIGHT-WING think tank has called for the moon to be privatised in order to help tackle poverty here on Earth.

In a report titled “Space Invaders: Property Rights on the Moon”, the lobbying group named after the Scottish economist set out proposals to divide up the moon into different bits of land and assign them to various countries.

Those nations could then choose to rent out the land to businesses, such as space tourism and exploration firms.

According to the report’s author, researcher Rebecca Lowe, coming up with a “clear” and “morally justified” system for assigning and regulating property rights in space would “present vast benefits that go beyond financial rewards for people who would become owners”.

The National:

The framework for property ownership of the moon would work as follows, the author said:

  • People compete against each other for plots of land on the moon, with “competition” consisting of paying “rent” for these plots.
  • Renters own the profit they make from the land, and can use it for any “morally-justified” purpose.
  • The rent is paid into a fund that enables more people to compete for plots of moon land —but also helps to meet urgent needs and conserve land on Earth.

Despite Lowe’s self-described “classically liberal” suggestions, one key barrier prevents the moon from being privatised. The United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty prohibits countries, and individuals, from owning parts of space.

But Daniel Pryor, the think tank’s head of research, was sure that taking privatisation to the moon would help to improve living standards regardless.

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“Property rights play a key role in boosting living standards, innovation and human dignity here on Earth,” he claimed. “The same would be true if we applied this logic to space, which presents a unique opportunity to start afresh when designing effective rules of ownership.”

Professor Malcolm Macdonald, director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications and board member of the UK Space Agency, questioned this logic.

He told The National: “I'm not clear how extending the inequalities of our Earth-bound system to the Moon really advances the whole of humanity.”

Meanwhile, anti-privatisation campaign group We Own It’s director Cat Hobbs attacked the think tank.

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"Not content with encouraging the exploitation of natural resources on this planet, the Adam Smith Institute is chomping at the bit to divide up the moon into something that can be packaged and sold,” she told the newspaper.

“As they acknowledge in their report, the current legal situation is that no one can own the moon. The UN's Outer Space Treaty says that space exploration is the 'province of all mankind'. But for fans of the extreme ideology that says everything must be privatised, nothing, not even the moon, is sacred.

“Think tanks should be coming up with solutions for how we can look after our own unique, life-giving planet better, instead of speculating on how we can turn the moon into a profit centre.”