Though I’m not the first one to come to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, we’re screwed if we stick with Earth, I did come to this essential thought independently. I’ve always been a person who wants to respect the planet and live a life more connected to the environment. However, when discussing with my wife what this means when conducting our daily lives, I realized that abandoning and renouncing technology and living strictly off the land, as some religious and spiritual teachings favor, is condemning the species to a finite length of survival.
If our current environmental crisis does nothing else, I hope it makes very clear to every rational person on this planet that human life is fragile, and from a universal stand point not all together important. Regardless of whether or not we overcome our global environmental challenges (and I have faith that we will) the planet and universe will continue on without us. If nothing else, we can perhaps view our current predicament as the Earth feverishly expressing that it does not need us. For this little rock will go on for some time, and likely recover its ability to sustain life, even if humanity isn’t along for the ride.
Whether by our destructive and greedy nature, or by some interstellar catastrophe, the odds are against humans living eternally on Earth. We live everyday hedging our bets that our one little spot at the edge of the Milky Way is going to be enough to get us through the night. Perhaps it will do for now, but the risks to our survival increase daily. It only takes one asteroid to slip past detection, or some unknown variable within the Earth itself, or the sun, to put the whole human endeavor to an unceremonious end. The Earth, though I love it as I love my own life, is inevitably doomed, and if we don’t take space conquest seriously, so are we.
We humans spend far more resources going to war with each other than we do ensuring the future of our species. Thus far the only nation to set foot on another heavily body is the United States. While going to the moon was a step in the right direction they’ve done little on that scale since. This may be because their priorities are backwards. The budget for NASA this year is $17.2 billion, while the combined average cost for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is approximately $115 billion annually. But this is not completely the government’s fault, for I have a suspicion most people see space missions as a frivolous venture that does nothing to aid their daily lives, or put food on the table. Of course like eating cheap, nutrient deficient food to fill up, this is short sighted.
Now, no one ever said it was up to the United States alone to handle all innovations into space. Yet despite such well known efforts as the Canada Arm, our view of the aerospace industry here in Canada is also somewhat misguided. The aim of the Canadian Space Agency is to “advocate a client-orientated attitude,” and promote “social and economic benefits for Canadians.” While, broadly speaking, I suppose this can include expanding civilization into space, it seems more likely that the organization is an economic venture more than anything else.
Of course as aerospace exists today, it does do a lot to improve of our daily lives by providing us with numerous telecommunication satellites, and Google Earth. Yet it still seems clear that much of our efforts are focused on purely economic goals. There is bittersweet hope however in what has been called “The New Space Race.” Both China and the U.S. have stated their intentions of returning to the moon by 2020 with long-term goals of sending a manned mission to Mars. However, we must hope that this super-powered, international competition doesn’t lead to a new age of hostilities and land claims, or a mere anomaly of history to be seen as a stunt to prove whose nation’s space program bests whose. If we return to the moon, and move on to Mars, we must start considering experimenting with colonization as a top priority, without allowing national egos to get in the way. I have no warm feelings towards nations in particular, only for humanity as a whole. The conquest of space must be one done for the best interests of all mankind in order to protect us from extinction.
The reason we must act now is because we have such a steep climb ahead. The less we are dependent on Earth the higher our odds of survival. The less we rely on our sun, the higher our odds of survival. We have no way of knowing what’s coming around the bend, but we can know that more can be done to protect us.
Let’s get moving, or else our lack of action will prove all our personal and collective endeavors useless.
Corey King always wanted to witness our still blue earth from the depths of space and see it without dispute for what it really is, a small bastion of life spinning about without a peep in a cold hostile universe.