BY PAUL MANTELLA
Space technology has remained largely unchanged for over 50 years and since the end of the Cold War, it has taken a back seat in both government budgets, and people’s minds.
However, what many people neglect to consider is that the Earth will not be around forever. If humanity is to last forever, then we need to be a multi-planetary species.
According to phys.org, the Sun will become so hot in 3.5 billion years that the oceans will boil and all life on Earth will cease to exist. When that happens, Earth, along with every human and animal will be destroyed.
It will only take another 1.5 billion years after that for the sun to go supernova and destroy the rest of the solar system.
This is why it is absolutely essential that we pressure our elected officials to support both national space programs and private companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX.
Even though four billion years is an almost unthinkable amount of time, and there are still many problems to solve on Earth, the quest for other planets has to start sometime. It is that kind of short-sighted procrastination that led to the current environmental crisis.
It is very likely that somewhere within those four billion years an extinction event, or near-extinction event, of another kind will occur. It could be an asteroid or an epidemic, it could be war or ecological collapse, it could be any number of things. The meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs was only 60 million years ago.
Compared to four billion, 60 million is just around the corner. What’s even more alarming is that there is a meteor passing by earth in 2032 that has a very small chance of hitting, only 1 in 63 000, but it is nonetheless there.
In addition, the harvesting of resources from other planets and asteroids etc… could benefit people here on Earth. Minerals that are rare on Earth may be common on other planets and could relieve many countries of the need to compete with their neighbours for supplies.
The most important possible resource that could be harvested away from Earth is water. Many countries in the drier regions of the Middle East and Central Asia have disputes over distribution of water supplies. In these areas, there may only be a couple of rivers providing water to tens of millions of people.
The balance is already fragile and further population growth will make this situation even more dangerous.
Therefore, it is essential that humanity expands beyond Earth. Not only to prevent its eventual extinction, but also to improve the lives of people here on Earth in the short term.
To achieve this goal, citizens must realize what is at stake and make it clear to their leaders that they will no longer tolerate their shortsightedness.