Mal is Angry and Sad…
A sequel to an article I wrote yesterday… “The idea of Interstellar Travel is Preposterous”
While I don’t get much commentary or visibility from the articles I post on Medium (Boo Hoo, poor me…), I did get a response from a good friend. I am not going to share exactly what that person said (I’ll leave that to him, if he so chooses). I am, however, putting my response to him in this article, because I feel it expresses my thoughts particularly well. So, here goes…
For starters, it seems to me that you (my friend) have misinterpreted the root cause of my “outrage.” It has nothing to do with “leaving Earth to colonize other worlds.” Later in your response you did get to the real source of my outrage. The fact that we are ruining the one and only place we have to live, planet Earth… THAT is the root cause of my outrage. Making that problem even worse is the irreparable harm we are bringing to other species. My anger arises from hearing scientists, people with far more education than I have, say things like, “94% of the universe’s galaxies are permanently beyond our reach.” Statements like that make my head want to explode. That was said by Ethan Siegel, who is a Cosmology Science writer, astrophysicist, science communicator & NASA columnist who posts articles on Medium.
My ideas do not take theories or conjecture about such things as traveling at, near, or beyond the speed of light into consideration. We are a species that wants to believe we can overcome any limitation nature throws at us. In so believing, we have accomplished many great things. We are so enamored of our accomplishments that we overlook the less obvious detriments brought by those same accomplishments.
My ideas are actually much more radical that you may realize. In one of the very first articles I ever wrote, “What a Piece of Work is Man!”, I said…
We are clever enough to contrive how to transport men to the moon and bring them back alive and well; but not wise enough to see that we are changing the world so rapidly that the survivability of all life is threatened. We introduce one marvelous gadget and potion after another; and when we discover unanticipated and undesirable side effects from our inventions we devise yet another new thing as the remedy.
Our highly developed brains have been so effective at bringing us the comfort and security that was so scarce for the predecessors of our species that now we are overrunning the planet and stressing it beyond its capacity to support us.
When I say, “…more radical that you may realize”, I am referring to my notion that mankind has already surpassed a sustainable relationship with planet Earth. I am not sure exactly when we crossed the line into unsustainability, but I would say it was at least 1800 AD (the beginning of the industrial revolution), or even earlier. It is my sincere belief that we must regress to a simpler way of living, using less and doing less. A friend of mine, sadly she died many years ago, had a bumper sticker on her car that said, “Live simply, so others may simply live.” That is a Mahatma Gandhi quote.
I arrived at this conclusion (that we are riding a runaway train to disaster) just by looking at readily available statistics. It was at this time (1800 AD) that the human population exceeded 1 billion (200,000 or more years after the emergence of the human species). 150 years after that, I was born… and the world population was 2.5 billion. Today, only 71 years after my birth, world population is approaching 8 billion. Not only are there many more of us, but each of us is doing way more stuff, using more natural resources, producing more waste, and let’s not forget about our production of long-lasting toxic and nuclear waste.
Sadly, I see no way to fix this mess that will not be catastrophically painful. The meager “promises” world leaders are making to fix this problem will not be sufficient. I weep for the children who will suffer because of my generation’s actions and inactions. Most of all, I weep for the other creatures with whom we share this incredibly rare and precious planet. They lived and evolved for millennia before humans came along, then we came along and ruined it all.