Moving to Another PlanetPlanet Earth is going through a difficult time – human population numbers are immense, the atmosphere is warming from man- made activities, ecological systems of forests, plains and oceans are groaning from exploitation. There is a push for greener pastures. Could the answer to these problems be another planet?
To provide some context, when Australia was settled by the British in 1788 there were maybe 750,000 Aborigines living here sustainably and peacefully, as they had been for around 60,000 years. The world population then was approximately one billion. Today Australia has some 24 million people and the Earth boasts 7.6 billion. There is no evidence that any of this explosive growth is sustainable. Quite the opposite, in fact.
So what to do with this groaning planet? Leaving is one option.
The most wealthy, technologically advanced nation on Earth, the USA, is outsourcing its space exploration to the private sector. Margaret Thatcher would be pleased. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has warned of the threats to the planet from global warming and has em- braced private partners to advance its mission through its infrastructure, knowledge and funding.
There is a new breed of explorers, entrepreneurs and innovators seeking to collapse air travel time around the globe to a few hours, maybe even minutes. Richard Branson of Virgin has led this charge, which has now gone ballistic with planned missions to Mars and the surrounding never-never. Elon Musk of PayPal and Tesla fame has founded SpaceX, which has just won a NASA contract. Jeff Bezos of Amazon is in the race with Blue Origin (named after the glorious oceans of our planet). The titles of recently published books on the subject such as ‘Space Barons’ and ‘Rocket Billionaire’ say it all.
So what is going on? The simple answer is that the human species is curious and adventurous. It is natural to seek new horizons and this leads to technological advancement. Also, there is the valid point that the digital revolution these buccaneers largely control has changed the dynamic and provided a technological step change for planetary exploration. The more complex answer, however, and the metaphorical gorilla on the bus, is that we have f*cked up Planet Earth, it’s time to start getting off and there is money to be made in life rafts and offshore cities.
But why the red planet, Mars?
It has no water and seems about as habitable as a desert, and we have a perfectly good blue planet that just needs a little TLC. We have never left the place nor truly understood what is here. The oceans cover 70 per cent of the planet and are as deep in part as Everest is high. We are still learning pharmaceutical secrets from plants. Isn’t there enough to enjoy and discover right here?
The planet has been conquered, exploited and divided up like a monopoly board. Rampant greed has one per cent of the world’s population acquiring 82 per cent of global wealth annually generated. Surely it’s time to smell the roses and share the bounty?
We have been a very busy species. Material growth needs to be displaced with community and spiritual growth. People need to consume less and share it around better if we are to maintain a habitable, peaceful planet – take a deep breath, eat less meat, play less golf, watch less Netflix and enjoy more bush walks, ocean dives and surfs.
We should stay on and love this planet’s evolving peaceful forces. The Aborigines were happy to stay put and live in harmony for 60,000 years; we have gone crazy since the industrial revolution only 300 years ago. Capitalism and communism need to be replaced by a new environmental humanism.
Forget Mars, there is still plenty of work to do here.