Experts say humans made a mess of Earth and if we don’t take action to prevent it, we’re going mess up Outer Space too.

Global conflicts of economic and military nature are the norm, the imbalance of power and wealth, and don’t even get us started on the damage we’ve inflicted on the environment.

And if we don’t take concrete action to prevent it, we’re going to wreak the same havoc on space, astrobiologist Monica Vidaurri argues in a new Quartz essay.

The historic bad blood between the United States and Russia hasn’t deterred the nations’ scientists from working together on the International Space Station. Teams from China and Iran contribute tech to space endeavors in the U.S., which has worked with Japan, Australia, Canada, and countless other nations on various space initiatives.

But as Vidaurri writes, we’re starting to see the cracks emerge in that honor system approach as space becomes more heavily trafficked.

In recent months, destroyed Chinese and Indian satellites have produced tons of space debris, while Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander recently contaminated the Moon’s surface with tardigrades after a crash landing.

“When it comes to an industry as young as space exploration,” Vidaurri wrote, it’s “important to recognize colonization, imperialism, and exploitation as not just a series of major historical events that humanity is still recovering from, but as things that can conceivably inspire the future laws that will determine our fate in space.”

“Refusing to make changes today,” she later concluded, “will only guarantee that we continue to facilitate the ills of humanity in a field that fully has the potential to bring out the very best in us.”

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