The last days with all these disasters in Japan made me think about an article I wrote nearly 30 years ago. I think it must have been about 2 years before the Chernobyl. I was studying physics and wrote an article in which I collected arguments why mankind should conquer space and how to achieve this goal.
The perhaps funny thing today is that at this time, despite the discussion and my personal engagement against nuclear power, this was not the original impulse for my desire to write this article. Actually I started thinking about our global situation after I read the book ‘Worlds in Collision’ from Immanuel Velikovsky. Not that I think our cosmos is as chaotic and dangerous as he writes in his book but there is a considerable chance that a huge meteorite might hit the earth changing everything here.
Once the first thoughts in this direction are done more and more pieces get visible painting an unsettling picture.
The scenario splits up into two groups of dangers.
First there are global catastrophes:
- Nuclear war
- Reactor explosions polluting the environment with highly poisonous Plutonium
- A big meteroid hitting the earth
- uncontrollable outbreak of a fatal disease
- uncontrollable mutation as result of genetic experiments
and many more perhaps individually not fatal catastrophes which might boost each other when coming together (as we can just see in Japan).
Second there are the man made dangers:
- Waste of limited resources
- Environmental pollution
- loss of diversity of species on earth
only to name some of them.
Now we can start to argue about how to prevent these catastrophes from coming.
In my original article I started to develop a quite futuristic approach which was probably the reason why the article has never been published.
To leave Earth and go into space is not a technical problem, it is an economic problem. It needs a lot of money to build the first stations in orbit so that considerable amounts of people can start living in space. Money nobody wants to spend at the moment because there are always more urgent, political motivated projects which have to be funded. No politician and no economic leader is interested in plans which will take perhaps hundreds of years, will be a long struggle without immediate return on invest and low actual visibility to support their position.
So probably we will stay bound to earth until all needed resources are spent for other, more urgent, projects and we finally have to realize that we succeeded in making our earth inhabitable but have no means any more to go somewhere else.
What is to do? If our main problem lies in the economy perhaps we should start there. Rethinking how our society is built and which our common goals should be would be a good start. But after all the problem will come back to us personally. We have to change ourselves. Our attitude about fighting against each other to become the leader of the pack, our focus in economic success. We have to overcome our animalistic heritage. And it is exactly this point where mankind will be standing at a crossroads.
Recommended reading: Elena Filatova’s report about Chernobyl