The first contradiction in Elon Musk's idea to colonize Mars is that we can't save earth (if we don't become a multiplantery species, he argues, we face certain doom!), but we can terraform Mars.
And we'll do this within 9 years, or at least start it, through a company that so far has never sent a single human being into orbit. and whose Mars Project depends on building the largest rocket ever built (if it could be built). Yes, we have put people on the Moon; but obviously it isn't the same thing as putting someone behind the wheel of a car.
Or even making a car that won't drive itself into trucks.
But I love the idea that Mars, with no life forms that will support human life, will be home to a colony of Vegans one day (Musk says we can send a pizza kitchen; but can we send the makings for pepperoni, or will that have to be an import item?). As we learn more and more about the bacteria in our gut that sustain life, and the microbes that make our body systems possible, I wonder just how much we understand our connection through these organisms to the environment around us. There is already concern for the effects of low or zero-gravity on the human eye. What other affects are we not considering?
And if a disease process starts running through a Mars colony that can only get a flight through from Earth every 26 months, it could be almost three years between outbreak and any possible medicines to combat it. Mars colonists would have to make the most rabid hypochondriacs look like libertines. It would be a matter of survival.
Besides, you cannot live on Mars outside of an artificial environment. Cabin Fever would not be an issue because it couldn't be. Except, of course, it would be. Yes, we could put domes under the sea and live there, too. But you can leave the dome and be on dry land in a matter of hours. Every colonist on Mars would be a "boy in a bubble," and every person on Mars would have to learn to live in what would essentially be a monastic community: one dedicated to one thing, and one thing only : survival in an environment not meant to support human life.
And it's a one-way ticket. In that sense the colonists would be more like anchorites than monks and cloistered nuns. They would, like the anchorites, be dead to the world. Unlike the anchorites, however, they would have no contact with the world; only with each other. The kind of richness and complexity of society we imagine in science fiction movies would be non-existent, in the same way the post-apocalyptic world in movies has lost all industry, but retains an endless supply of ammunition and gasoline. In a world with no industry, both of those items would be too valuable to use; in the movies, they are consumed with abandon, even though they would be wholly irreplaceable. Just so in colonizing Mars: the settlers would not be a wildly diverse crew pursuing a variety of ends. They would all concentrate on one thing: survival. That, and being sure no foolish or careless individual threatened their survival.
Imagine the police state that would soon become.
Elon Musk may imagine it a paradise, or even a next logical step for humanity. I can only see it as a living hell, and a dead end.
But none of this would have to happen because we would "terraform" Mars. Ray Bradbury did it by planting trees, which grew to full size almost overnight. I'm not sure what fantastical solution Mr. Musk has in mind, but like most of his thinking on this subject, I'm sure it's entirely fictional.