Our Future in the Cosmos
Throughout the history of humanity, we have been extending our range until it is now planet-wide, covering all parts of Earth's surface and reaching to the bottom of the ocean, to the top of the atmosphere, and beyond it to the Moon. We will flourish only as long as we continue to extend that range, and although the potential range is not infinite, it is incredibly vast even by present standards. We will eventually extend our range to cover the whole of the solar system, and then we will head outward to the stars.
There are a great many other things we could do in space. We could set up mining stations on the Moon and have laboratories in space to perform experiments you wouldn't want to do on Earth because of the risks involved to the population.
The space settlers, who will live on these worlds in orbit, will be the cutting edge of humanity for the future. These are the people who will move farther out into the solar system. It was difficult to reach the Moon although the flight took only 3 days. Imagine the problems for us to reach Mars when it might take months of travel or to reach the outer solar system when it might take years of travel? We are not really built for space flight; we are used to living on the outside of a huge world, not in the inside of a spaceship. We are used to a system of cycling air, food, and water that is so large that we are unaware of the actual process. We don't know where the pure sparkling water that we drink comes from, and we don't care. We don't know how the plants that we eat grow or what they use for food, and we don't care. We don't know what processes the atmosphere uses to clean itself. But if we lived in a spaceship, we'd know. We'd know that our air was manufactured from the carbon dioxide that we exhaled and that the food and water were once part of our waste products. (That's also true on Earth, of course, but we're not aware of it.) We would also be subjected to gravitational systems that would not be like those on Earth; they would vary.
For all these reasons, space flight seems unnatural to us. But to the space settlers, who would arrive by space flight and live and work in larger versions of a spaceship, these conditions would seem natural. They might run mines on the Moon, and they would travel in a spaceship that would be very much like the space stations in which they would live (maybe a little smaller but that's all). They would be living inside a world with tight cycling and varying gravitational forces. They would be the natural pioneers. They, not we, would be the Vikings, the Phoenicians, the Polynesians of the future. They would make the long trips to Mars and the asteroids and learn how to mine the asteroids. They could travel out into the solar system and make plans to reach the stars someday.
I have a feeling that if we really expanded into space with all our might and made it a global project, this would be the equivalent of the winning of the West. It's not just a matter of idealism or preaching brotherhood.
If we can build power stations in space that will supply all the energy the world needs, then the rest of the world will want that energy too. The only way that each country will be able to get that energy will be to make sure these stations are maintained. It won't be easy to build and maintain them; it will be quite expensive and time-consuming. But if the whole world wants energy and if the price is world cooperation, then I think people are going to do it.
We already cooperate on things that the whole world needs. International organizations monitor the world's weather and pollution and deal with things like the oceans and with Antarctica. Perhaps if we see that it is to our advantage to cooperate, then only the real maniacs will avoid cooperating and they will be left out in the cold when the undoubted benefits come in. I think that, although we as nations will retain our suspicions and mutual hatreds, we will find it to our advantage to cooperate in developing space. In doing so, we will be able to adopt a
globalist view of our situation.
The internal strife between Earthlings, the little quarrels over this or that patch of the Earth, and the magnified memories of past injustices will diminish before the much greater task of developing a new, much larger world. I think that the development of space is the great positive project that will force cooperation, a new outlook that may bring peace to the Earth, and a kind of federalized world government. In such a government, each region will be concerned with those matters that concern itself alone, but the entire world would act as a unit on matters that affect the entire world. Only in such a way will we be able to survive and to avoid the kind of wars that will either gradually destroy our civilization or develop into a war that will suddenly destroy it.
There are so many benefits to be derived from space exploration and exploitation; why not take what seems to me the only chance of escaping what is otherwise the sure destruction of all that humanity has struggled to achieve for 50,000 years?
Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7) www.beyondgenes.com