Suppose a big (millions) self-sufficient lunar colony. A quick check in Worldbuilding.se shows them that they can almost literally throw rocks at Earth to create huge problem for the earthlings. Earth can not do anything to prevent that. So why would they not just start blackmailing Earth?

Blackmailing here means

Send us resources or we will kill all your satellites, will make it impossible to launch new and will occasionally make it rain fire.

Looks like an offer Earth could not refuse.

Edit: K1Crazy suggests that Earth can send back an undetectable rocket. But lunars know this and closely monitor the trajectories this rocket can come from. And are pretty confident that this undetectable rocket will be... ahem... detected.

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    $\begingroup$ Another quick check of WorldBuilding would show them we can also throw an undetectable nuke back at them. Sounds like a pretty good incentive not to mess with us. $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 5, 2018 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like a question on the Ali G show. Why does anyone not blackmail everyone else? Because the most primitive and greedy thing to do doesn't produce optimal results. Even considering pure self-interest and ignoring family ties and much more, the moon colony would interact with earth - and if it's only receiving the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Being complete aholes wouldn't be a good strategy for the moon people just as it's not a good strategy for the US to threaten Canada with nukes $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Apr 5, 2018 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ I have the impression you are turning this question into a forum discussion... $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ "lunars know this" ahem, the correct term is "loonies" :) $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Apr 5, 2018 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps a stupid framing question but... Why does a self-sustaining lunar colony want to blackmail Earth into sending them resources? That really doesn't make sense. If anything, a self sustaining colony could produce satellites and get them into Earth orbit far more cheaply than Earth could do it. Why threaten the only people who are your market? Earth would be sending any needed raw materials as fast as they could for the benefit of low gravity manufacturing and launch IMHO, especially if the Moon could mine the bulk items like titanium. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    Apr 6, 2018 at 2:28

7 Answers 7


3 large factors that can contribute to world peace currently are:

  1. Democracy
  2. Treaties
  3. Trade

Democratic nations rarely declare war on each other, it tends to be unpopular and values and identity tend to be similar. Treaties have constantly been made since WW2 to prevent war.

And finally (and probably the largest) is Trade - as nations now rely on each other for anything small or big, it is hard to go to war and extort another nation without incurring a big cost yourself.

Some theorists have mentioned that the Great Age of Peace we are in now is mostly to do with the removal of protectionist barriers and the increase in economic solidarity of nations, in an increasingly globalised environment, that makes conflict and negative relationships unpalatable.

In this case the moon and the Earth would surely rely on each other - if not for essential goods (food, materials, items), then in non-essentials (luxuries, services, entertainment) and intangibles (finance, taxation, research).

You wouldn't know it but all nations on Earth are tied together by a thousand small threads - the same would happen outside of Earth.

  • $\begingroup$ World War 1 started despite the concern that it would ruin international trade. Dan Carlin's Hardcore History Blueprint for Armageddon covers this in great detail. While mutual trade can be a powerful deterrent, governments are run by humans and can be prone to irrational decisions. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2018 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Christian It is not actually irrational. As usual when people talk about people making irrational decisions the only irrational decision that was made was the incorrect selection of criteria for determining whether the decisions were irrational. For most people, political leaders or not, maximising or even sustaining international trade is not actually nowhere near the top of the priority list. The social respect of your family and peers for example is much higher, which is why in any culture where martial valor is respected, people rationally decide to start "stupid wars". $\endgroup$ Apr 6, 2018 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Christian World War 1 was a cascade of an irrational act that led to nations declaring war - it was sadly inevitable simply due to the entangled nature of defence pacts - plus they were empires. The end of WW1 spelt the end of all the empires. The other factor to consider is the economic times in the lead up to WW2 - the response to recession was more protectionist measures and the Hoover administration placed more tariffs on imported goods, leading the depression to become the global Great Depression felt even in Germany. And of course, we all know what happened at the end of the 1930's... $\endgroup$
    – flox
    Apr 6, 2018 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi This is my point exactly. What may seem like an irrational decision to one person can be completely justified by another. Even if it seems like you have a completely stable situation, it could go change really quick based on human decisions. As they say, even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. $\endgroup$ Apr 6, 2018 at 14:30

MAD = Mutual Assured Destruction

While it's true that Earth could not practicably launch rocks from Earth to the Moon, there are many other ways to cause terminal pain: Nukes, for one. Nukes are pretty cheap and it's not that easy to defend against swarms of them unless you have a significant technological edge. We already have the rockets that could drop a 50 megaton nuke on the Moon in an hour or two (New Horizons passed Lunar orbit just 9 hours after launch.) By the time there's a self-sufficient Moon colony, we can expect that Earth's launch vehicles will have improved a lot.

Depending on the level of space technology assumed -- and a self-sufficient lunar colony implies some significant advances -- Earth could redirect NEO asteroids to impact the Moon. Against that, the lunar colony would have few defenses.

And remember, a lunar colony -- even a self-sufficient one -- would not be spread all over the Moon's surface, but would be in a relatively few spots, making it easier to destroy.

MAD worked here on Earth, and I think it would work in this case, also.

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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking the same thing. Forget about whether the moonlings (?) could detect the incoming nuke - Earth has multiple nukes. We could just launch enough of them that the moon can't stop them all. And if they somehow do escape destruction, we still have more. We can try again. $\endgroup$
    – Steve-O
    Apr 5, 2018 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Steve-O, Earth would have to put much better rockets on those nukes. The current boosters aren't meant to launch something to the Moon. $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Apr 6, 2018 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ @ShadoCat Granted, but we're also talking about a future where there's a self-sufficient colony on the moon. Presumably there would need to be some developments in rocket technology to get all that stuff up there in a reasonable (not to mention affordable) fashion. We could probably reuse that technology to get a few nukes up there, too. $\endgroup$
    – Steve-O
    Apr 6, 2018 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Steve-O Besides, even today we have several boosters which will take payloads to the Moon. (They aren't usually used for that, but they have the oomph.) Something that can put a large telecommunications satellite into GEO can put a third stage carrying a nuke into a trans-lunar injection orbit. The detla-V between GEO and lunar impact is not very big -- only about 1 kps. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Olson
    Apr 6, 2018 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Steve-O, I agree that we could get a few up there. I just don't think that we can get enough up there to matter. The big boosters aren't just sitting around waiting to be used. They are built when there is a contract for them. Then there's getting the warhead to the booster. I just see that endeavor to be a logistical nightmare. $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Apr 6, 2018 at 18:02

You, uh, you understand that this demand leads immediately to the total defeat of the moon, yes? Earth happily capitulates, then shortly thereafter wins the war.

In this world you've designed, the moon relies on its ability to arbitrarily shoot down anything Earth launches at it for its defence. Now you ask Earth to start sending rockets full of resources. You just gave the Earthlings an all access pass through your defences.

They could do anything with that access. That resource rocket actually contained an enormous nuke. Those resources are contaminated with an insidious genetically engineered disease. That last shipment smuggled in Flash Gordon and now he's going to seduce the beautiful daughter of your brilliant but moral-to-a-fault lead scientist. That rocket just unfolded to reveal a WW2-era Japanese battleship, and it's charging its overpowered energy cannon now.

Better go back to the drawing board.


People who are victims of extortion don't necessarily do a cost-benefit analysis of giving in. They feel insulted, and they want to hit back.

And while the Lunar colony has the benefit of a shallow gravity well, the Earth homeworld has the benefit of a shielding atmosphere. I would not take it as a given that the colony has the military upper hand.

  • $\begingroup$ No military upper end. They just can create immense trouble with little to no effort. So this is the assimetry they want to exploit. $\endgroup$
    – HingeSight
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @HingeSight, my point was that Earth may have superior power in absolute terms, and not count the costs of "never negotiating with terrorists" from a purely economic cost-benefit analysis. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:46

Send us resources or we will kill all your satellites, will make it impossible to launch new and will occasionally make it rain fire.

There are to main problems with this approach.

You cutting my satellites, Luna? Well, ❤❤❤❤ you too!

Earth can spray dust on Moon's with practically as much ease as the Moon can do it to Earth.

Remember, the Moon should need satellites and telescopes even more than Earth. Unlike the Earth, they have no atmosphere, so they must detect naturally incoming asteroids in time to react to them. This goes worst for the Moon than for the Earth.

The damage goes both ways

Hitting on Earth's satellites is a MAD tactic, and you'd have to be really mad to do it. See, the M in MAD stands for "mutual" in a very literal sense.

If the Earth loses its satellites, its communication infrastructure will have taken a major blow. And the Moon is as dependent on that as the Earth. If you lose all comms with Earth, you cause, for all practical purposes, an interplanetary version of a netsplit.

All cryptocurrency trade will have to halt, on risk of ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ up all transactions done while the connection is split. Anything that gets routed through the Earth - such as connections to and from other planets will be lost. Any assets in Earth banks will be inacessible until the infrastructure is up again.

But most importantly, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all high-gravity (from lunarian's point of view) porn that is not backed up locally in the moon will be inacessible. This might cause uprisings.


For one thing, there might be a self sufficient Martian colony or self sufficient asteroid colonies or many self sufficient space habitats, by then. And if the lunar colony doesn't know that they were all on the lunar colony's side the lunatic leaders of the lunar colony might be a bit worried about whether the other colonies would take Earth's side in the dispute.

If the Moon can launch rocks of mass X at Earth, various other space colonies should be able to divert space rocks of mass X toward the precise locations of various parts of the Moon colony, and without having to lift those space rocks out of the Moon's gravity. So the lunatic leaders wouldn't dare to attack Earth if they thought that any other space colony might take Earth's side and attack the Moon.

And possibly the lunatic leaders might know or suspect that some of the companies that transport asteroid materials to Earth and to various space colonies might be staffed with Earth Space Force members ready to divert their shipments of asteroid materials to smash into any Martian, Lunar, or asteroid colonies that are at war with Earth.


Filling Earth orbit with shrapnel would a terrible threat to Earth but it would also mean the moon can never again get supplies from Earth. Burning down a bridge stops both sides from crossing.

The moon better hope they are completely self sufficient because stopping the Earth from accessing space also means the moon also cuts itself off.

At least the Earth knows it's self sufficient. It has enough air, water and food for mankind to survive as where to moon colony only need an explosive decompression in the wrong spot and they all die.


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