a reply to: 4N0M4LY
Well, first of all, it does not take a scientist to work out that since there are so many bits of detritus hurtling around the solar system, and
indeed space in general, keeping all our eggs in one basket by remaining on one planet, in one star system, in one galaxy, seems like a foolish thing
At literally any time, a major lump of cometary material could interact with our planet in such a way as to obliterate life as we know it on this
planet. Some speculate that life itself could survive, in the many untouched caverns still to be explored underground. Extremophile lifeforms have
been found in such caverns as HAVE been explored, living in total darkness, and other bioforms have been discovered living off of radioactive
deposits, and yet others have been discovered which require no oxygen to speak of, in order to get through the day.
So there is every chance that SOME life could survive, but as for the complex organisms on the planet, like us for example, we would all be crispy
critters, so to speak.
So it makes sense to distribute our species across as many different planetary bodies, and ultimately as many star systems as possible, because only
by doing so can we prevent planetary catastrophe from being the full stop at the end of the story of humanity, rather than just so much punctuation,
mid way through a chapter. Now, some might say "but TrueBrit, surely there is no need to go further than a few other planets, rather than to other
star systems, if all one is worried about is extra orbital bombardment from the scattered remnants of the solar systems afterbirth?".
To that I would respond first of all, by directing the questioners mind back a few years, when that sequence of impacts was registered upon the gas
giant, Jupiter. These were fragments of a commet called Shoemaker-Levy 9. Imagine that a similar scattershot of cosmic debris, were to pass through
the region of space directly around our planet. Imagine also, that this occurence just happened to coincide with one of those much mysticised moments
in the planetary ballet, when the planets are lined up, or conjucted with one another in a significant way.
Let us also suppose for a moment, that the alignment of the planets, and the trajectory of the fragmentary material, meant that every solid planet in
our solar system, even if we had inhabited them all (which is simply not a physical possibility in some cases, and would be harder than learning to
warp space in others), would be peppershot with planet killing lumps of torpedoing space crap. I think we would look pretty stupid, having colonised
every available solid surface in our own system, if we were snuffed out utterly by a single errant cosmic shotgun blast.
Secondly, I would refer the questioner to the projected lifespan of our homestar. Think about all the technological marvels our species has come up
with thus far, think about all the gorgeous architecture, the wonderful music, the glorious poetry, delicious foods... And then think about the entire
solar system either absorbed into the Sun, as it consumes all around it in a desperate attempt to maintain cohesion, or being set on fire/blasted all
to hell with radiation, as it gives up the ghost in its later life, and throws all of its toys out of the pram, as it were.
Neither death by cosmic firing squad, nor the sort of devastation that will result in the death of our star, need mean the end of our species, but
they WILL mean the end of our species, unless we act to mitigate against that threat by spreading out, throughout the cosmos, and distributing our
presence more widely. This effort will have several effects on the mentality of our species, I believe, which would be beneficial. First of all, our
species thrives on exploration. The vigour with which the explorers of ancient times, from the first to row a small boat across to the other side of a
river, to the galleon piloting, bearded pioneers of the truly seagoing ages, some of the most impressive feats of endurance and willpower have been
enacted during quests of discovery. This instinct is, in fact, in all human beings, and is only drummed out of them by time, and by the trudging
banality of modern life in this era, as well as the fact that although the vast depth of the oceans has never been properly explored, the walkable
substance of the planet has largely been trodden already.
This is the very reason why space was referred to in Star Trek, as the Final Frontier. That is not a mere slogan. It is the literal truth, and though
it is the final frontier, it is an EPIC one! I believe that the wanderlust, the explorers urge in human beings today, coupled with the geopolitical
situation making it impossible for some, and inadvisable for others to travel extensively, not to speak of the fact that a great deal of the planet
has already been explored one way or another, is what leads to a significant amount of frustration in youth, and if I am honest, in the rest of
humanity as well, at least in part.
We are easily bored, by and large, us humans. Our attention, and our memory is shorter by the day, and that is because much more of our lives
revolves around fundamentally uninteresting matters, the payment of bills, the maintenance of our dwellings, and in some nations, the mind shattering
hardship of walking twenty miles just to fetch water, or pay a visit to the doctors office. As the population world wide increases, and space to dwell
in grows rarer and thereby more expensive, this wanderlust will be compressed to a degree that will see our species consume itself, and some might say
(and not without good reason, I might add) that this process has already begun.
But imagine the possibilities, if we could escape the bounds of mother Earth, detatch ourselves from the teat of our birthworld, and move ourselves
as a species around the cosmos? A new world to explore for every new generation, a new night sky to map and categorise, new mountains, new streams and
rivers to climb the heights, and plumb the depths of, new soils to cultivate in, different gravities to become used to, alien fauna and flora to
discover and learn the mysteries of...
This would be an age in which, not only would our species be on a firmer footing in terms of its longevity within the universe, but an age in which
no one need be bored witlless by the tedious drudgery of knowing that aside from some extra hair at roughly age sixteen, and some alteration in its
colouring, not to mention the southward drift of many areas of ones body at roughly age forty and onward, every day will bear stunning and awful
resemblance to the last, with no surprises, and only the barest things of interest learned.
I say that for our mental state as a species, and indeed for the sake of our continuance as a species, beyond the lifespan of our home system and its
attendant star, we MUST leave this planet eventually, and that the best time to start, is as soon as possible! Whether we will manage to or not, I
cannot say. There are too many factors affecting the pace of progress in that regard, including the fact that a desire on the part of powerful, rich
people, to continue to sell both oil, and the machinery of war to people, currently take up too high a percentage of world wide GDP to make a
concerted effort to escape the Earth a possibility.
I doubt I will see such a thing in my lifetime. But I have hope...