How we treat planet Earth in the years to come will directly affect both the viability and success of our space exploration efforts from this vital base of operations, and how we will explore other planets in this solar system and beyond. We know there is life on this planet, and we are eager to discover it on other planetary bodies. Most importantly we need to consider not only the presence of life on those foreign planets, but we must also consider the possibility of those planets being able to host life if it were introduced into their respective environments.
A Real Martian Chronicle: With great respect for author Ray Bradbury and his memorable short story, “The Martian Chronicles”, it is important to recognize that we must not wait for the lessons learned in our human explorations of Mars to convince us we must preserve and protect our home planet. Yes, we may find some evidence of life or past life on Mars. Mars may also reveal that at an earlier time it was a potential Earth, but now it is not and will never be. Any colonization of Mars will require what is termed Terra-forming and that depends on our knowledge and understanding of Earth’s environmental profile. This, in itself, is a clear and tacit acknowledgment of this planet’s extreme value for life support and as our base for space exploration. We must not ignore that reality if we are serious about reaching far beyond our own solar system.
Until Big Red Day: Yes, within the known time-frame of the Cosmos, Earth’s days are numbered, but the sum of those days far exceeds the life expectancy of any one of us. We, therefore, have an obligation to bequeath to future generations a fully viable and healthy planet that can support our efforts to explore our solar system, our galaxy and eventually the entire Cosmos. Big Red Day, of course, is that time when our sun becomes a Red Giant and in the process consumes Earth and much of the entire solar system. So it is imperative that we explore and eventually find another Earth on which to settle, but to succeed with that we must first master the preservation and protection of this planet. If we fail in that obligation, then we as Homo sapiens will fail.
“We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us!”: This famous “Pogo” comic strip quote pretty well sums up the Global Warming/Climate Change disputes. As we all know, it is the focal point of decisions and denials associated with the environmental health of this planet. The National Academies of Science in its publication, “The Ecological Impacts of Climate Change” state that “the world’s climate is changing, and it will continue to change throughout the 21st century and beyond.” It goes on to affirm that we, humans, are the key contributors to that change. Yes, our Solar environment is undergoing dramatic changes and that contributes to our climate situation. The severity of that is totally in our hands. Severity is the word, the condition, and the opportunity presented to us to address it and thus reduce the impact of climate change on all life on Earth.
A Matter of Life or Death
Will we come to our senses and save our home? More and more of us are voting yes, despite the steady and loud denials of mostly political activists and scattered mystics. Now, in this case success will call for some real, honest and tough decisions, not the kind that are being politically foisted upon us right now. These tough decisions deal with what we decide are important to our life and life on Earth. We must breath, we must eat, we must maintain proper hydration, we must procreate and prosper. Lastly,we must live on this planet safely. All of these realities require that we take direct responsibility for the state of our home, this planet. Overwhelmed? There is no need to be. We can do it. We should take our lead from the National Academies of Sciences who state the following:
- “Humans are challenged to find a set of policies, practices, and standards of behavior that provide long-term economic opportunities and improved quality of life around the world while maintaining a sustainable climate and viable eco-systems” (From Ecological Impacts of Climate Change).
In all honesty we will not accomplish this on our own. This is despite the very dedicated efforts of many environmental activist organizations. We must have an elected political leadership and representation that takes our commitments and makes them active realities. Globally, right now, that is only a remote possibility because our electoral systems have bowed out to almost total corporate and special interest controls (watch an address by Obama in 2010 on this topic, below). This must change, and we are the ones that must produce that change through the electoral process. This will NOT be easy to accomplish unless we recognize the challenge as a matter of life or death. If we let special interests and pinioned politicians continue their course then we will lose that part of our environment that sustains Homo sapiens. So yes, it is a life or death issue.
Success Mandates A Cosmic Protocol
What we accomplish here, thereby saving our lives, must become policy as we explore all that surrounds us and outward to the depths of the Cosmos. Yes, some of us may in the distant future meet other life. We will be welcomed because our success in saving and sustaining our planet will precede us as a Cosmic reputation. No, this is not spoof. We continually search and observe the Cosmos, do we really think other life forms are not doing the same? We may have already been visited gently and stealthily over the years. Regardless our progress and our failures are common knowledge across the universe.
As we explore, first our solar system and then beyond, we must successfully perfect and carry out the environmental protocol we establish here. We must not set foot on any other planetary body if we still have not solved our own environmental crises. In fact, it is doubtful we will even be able to venture into deep space until we have saved our planet. This is not some idle, fear-based prediction. It is simple fact. If we fail to restore the environmental stability and homeostasis of this planet, things will degrade dramatically thus preventing our ability to depart from here. So part of our planning for space exploration must include policies and procedures for restoring and sustaining Earth, our space exploration research and launch base.
A Loving Lifestyle
The real inspiration and vigor that will drive us to save Earth, is to learn to love it and to spread that love globally. No, not pretty speeches, not flashy once in a lifetime environ-rescues, but a steady, deep association with and love for all life on this planet. When we reach that point of personal commitment we will be ready to fully restore and sustain our home. This will take a new awareness of our total surroundings including those that are dangerous, destructive and abusive to all life. Earth is one of us, and dear to us, and threats to it threaten us. That becomes the lifestyle that will motivate us to insist that we bring Earth back to life. When we take those actions, we are then ready to reach out across our solar system, our galaxy and the Cosmos. In all those instances we will be both successful and warmly welcomed.