Perhaps one of the funnier things I have seen recently, is the assertion that man will find his or her way into space and that this will help to solve various problems that exist here on our home planet.
I wanted to take just a moment to address why such an idea is not particularly realistic.
In the interest of “full disclosure,” allow me to first indicate that my “information” surrounding this topic, was collected in a very short, non-comprehensive session. As such, there may be issues with the accuracy of some of the information presented. I want to apologize for that fact in advance, as well as make it clear that I am “open to correction” where such inaccuracy may have occurred.
I can come up with just three scenarios surrounding mankind “making the leap into” space for the purpose of habitation:
- Near-Earth Habitation – Mankind building “space stations” or similar that surround Earth
- Habitation of Other Planets (or other Bodies) in the Solar System – Mankind occupying other bodies “under the direct influence of” the Sun.
- Habitation of Exoplanets (or other bodies) – Man attempting to inhabit bodies outside of the direct influence of the Sun.
The first of these three pretty much relies on people continuing to have interaction with the Earth, since doing so would pretty much be a necessity for folks to survive, based on a scarcity of resources of various types. As such, where people may choose to live in the space surrounding planet Earth, that really only allows for an expansion of what already exists on the Earth.
The second is not really a great idea for multiple reasons. The first being that none of the other planets in the Solar System seem to be habitable without extreme activities to cause them to be so (and maybe even with such activities). Further, in the best case (assuming we could have a colony on Mars), it would take a bare minimum of a year (and more like five), just to get people there. None of the other planets or other bodies in the Solar System appear to contain anything like the necessary elements to readily support human life. All of this considered, it seems pretty unlikely any of them will ever be inhabited at all—much less in large scale habitation.
The third option is actually even worse than the second in pretty much every way. To begin with, according to most current estimates, the closest star to the Earth (other than the Sun, of course) is more than four light years away. Translation? With current technologies, count on a one hundred year trip to even get to the closest star to Earth other than the Sun.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, where it is considered that there might be a habitable planet in that system, the first one that most folks consider habitable is “only 11 light years away.” The assumption would be that getting to it would require a two hundred and fifty to three hundred year journey.
Keep in mind that—like every trip in space to this point—such a journey would require all necessary supplies to be acquired on Earth, since there is probably little to nothing between us and the entity in question.
As if that were not bad enough (and it obviously is), the next consideration is that, just because a planet “may be habitable” (which, to begin with, means it may not be habitable as well), that does not mean there will be usable resources there. Put another way, there may be no plant or animal life present, and though it may be habitable, that doesn’t mean it will readily accept “transplants” of plant and animal life from Earth.
About now, I hope what I’m saying is pretty clear. In case it’s not, allow me to put things in a succinct fashion. It seems quite likely that no space travel of any distance by humans—much less extraterrestrial habitation will ever be possible. Even if such a thing ever does prove possible, it seems equally likely that it’s a long way off, and probably not “large scale” to boot.
Now allow me to present the “kicker.” The person presenting the argument that space is our “best hope” failed to recognize a pretty important fact. “What?” You ask.
Less than five hundred years ago (really, quite a bit less) people were saying the same thing about what is now the United States. Most of us looking at things today can’t help but wonder, “What went wrong?” But the truth is, many of us really pretty much know the answer to that question. It can be summed up in two words (you can add a third, and it’s a bit more accurate), “(Unregenerate) Human Nature.”
There are—essentially—two problems. The first is that there are people out there who assuredly do not have the well being of even themselves, much less their fellows, in mind. They do what pleases themselves, and that in the “short term.” Even if is to their own detriment in the long run. And these folks are far more common than people want to admit or acknowledge.
The second problem is he failure of those who “know better” to keep those who don’t, from all but destroying the very entities that “give them succor.” Put another way, to not only be “good stewards,” but to keep others from destroying that which they work to build up (which I suppose can be considered part of good stewardship as well).
So the reality is, even if interplanetary habitation was a reasonable or even a likely thing, so long as there are people out there who fail to consider even their own futures, much less those of their fellows, or of coming generations, the same things will happen in extra-planetary societies as has been happening here on Earth.
To be clear, many would assume I’m talking about things like deforestation, and destruction and abuse of natural resources—and these are things that ought to be considered without a doubt. The reality is though, you can start by talking about things like incivility, evil intent towards one’s fellows and things of similar ilk.
Final word? If we cannot find a way to convey to those unwilling or unable to hear them at present, the direness of our circumstances, and the potentially horrible future we face if we continue in the same ways as in past, space travel and extra-planetary habitation aside, we are lost.
Okay, here I am at my “word limit” (having finished my text, “in the nick of time”). As such, allow me to wish you the very best of times and thank you, as usual, for reading.