Privatise the moon to help wipe out poverty on Earth say economists

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The Moon should be privatised to help wipe out poverty on Earth, economists say.

The Adam Smith Institute believes the satellite 239,000 miles away should be divided into parcels of land each of which is assigned to a different country.

Nations would then be able to rent out smaller plots to tycoons and businesses.

Cash from outer space property rights would boost the global economy and help reduce world poverty, according to the financial thinktank.

Experts reckon the move would also help clean up space which is littered with 3,000 dead satellites, 34,000 pieces of junk bigger than 10cm and millions of smaller bits.

Because no-one owns space nobody bothers to clean it up.

The property rights scheme could offer rent rebates to owners who keep their inter-galactic gardens tidy or build on them.

That will in turn boost space tourism, exploration and discovery.

Economic researcher Rebecca Lowe, who compiled a report on the subject for the Institute, said: "A clear, morally justified and efficient system for assigning and governing property rights in space would present vast benefits that go beyond financial rewards for people who would become owners.

"Such a system would incentivise responsible stewardship of space as well as opportunities for new scientific discovery and democratised space exploration.’’

The Outer Space Treaty, drawn up at the United Nations in 1967, currently bans countries and individuals from owning property in space.

But the Institute thinks nations should agree a new one dividing up the Moon and space between them.

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A spokesman for the Institute said the move could turbocharge scientific discovery and give all of humanity a greater stake in space exploration.

"Rents paid on plots of moon land could be leveraged to benefit the whole of humanity through alleviating poverty on Earth as well as democratising space travel,’’ she said.

"Under the proposed system individuals would compete against each other for plots of land on the moon that have most likely been initially acquired by, or assigned to, particular nations.

"This competition would consist in paying rent such plots at a rate determined by supply and demand."

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Rent rebates could be given for improving the condition of land or providing for urgent human needs. Governance would currently depend on international agreement.

Proceeds from moon rents could be used to democratise space travel, meet current urgent needs and fund future space exploration.It also offers a way of addressing traditional concerns with property rights such as the first come, first served problem and the overriding moral priority of addressing urgent human needs.

The Institute’s head of research Daniel Pryor said: "Property rights play a key role in boosting living standards, innovation and human dignity here on Earth.

"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.

"With more countries and companies competing in the space race than ever before it’s vital for us to move past the outdated thinking of the 1960s and tackle the question of extraterrestrial property rights sooner rather than later.’’

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