“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”
~Konstantin Tsiolkovsky - Pioneer of Rocketry and
Close to 43 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona lies the site of an impact crater named the Barringer Crater, created about 50,000 years ago. The
meteorite, only 50 meters across, is suggested to have been traveling 28,600 mph and produced a crater 1200 meters in diameter and 170 m deep.(1)
The current estimate of what occurred during this impact is that it produced a blast equal to “20 to 40 million tons of TNT,”
1000 times more powerful than the blasts produced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “The explosion produced a shock wave and an airblast, which
radiated across the landscape. The airblast produced winds that dwarf those produced by hurricanes. Within three kilometers from the impact, winds in
excess of 2000 kilometers per hour scoured the ground. Virtually any plant or animal within that area was killed. The air blast flattened trees out to
distances of about 20 kilometers and animals in the same area were either killed or injured so severely that they would be unable to feed or defend
Recent adjustments to impact estimates have put the average chances of asteroid impact capable of causing serious regional damage is about once per
century. These types of impacts are the equivalent of 1 megaton of TNT. To put the power into perspective, lesser impacts of roughly five kilotons
of TNT in released energy occur nearly once a year. An example of one of the smaller impacts is what occurred in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908, where the
“energy was big enough to flatten 2,000 square kilometres of forest. It would have completely destroyed a city the size of New York.”
"Luckily, preparing for the worst actually carries the great good fortune of being the best means of furthering our common humanity."
Tamm - In his Master Thesis Tsiolkovsky's Imperative: "The Reinvigoration of the West through Outer Space Development"
The survivability of the human race has always been in question, from humanity’s beginning to today. A recent and extensive genetic study suggests
that, approximately 70,000 years ago, extremes of climate and environment reduced the total estimated population of humans to around 2,000 on the
planet.(4) The threat of climate change, while debated, remains a serious issue considering any even moderate change in overall climate would have
massive repercussions. Those repercussions may or may not eliminate human life on the planet, but would seriously change the current landscape and
lifestyle. Yellowstone National Park houses of the of the lies one of the largest supervolcanoes in the world. While this area is dormant at the
moment, there is always the probability for eruption. While the methods of the eradication are largely the same, humanity has reached a point of
technology to reach that end by its own hands, increasing the dangers of relying entirely on the safety of planet Earth.
"I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the
next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let's hope
we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load."
~ Stephen Hawking
Humans have made great strides in technology and the scientific disciplines in recent history. This pattern is not just accelerating, but the
acceleration is accelerating. At the rate of advance, it is not unwise to include human accident to the list of manmade disaster. “From a high of
65,000 active weapons in 1985, there are now nearly 8,000 active nuclear warheads and more than 22,000 total nuclear warheads in the world in
2010.”(5) While there has been a serious reduction in the number of active nuclear weapons at the ready, the decommissioned weapons were not
necessarily destroyed; rather they were partially dismantled or simply stored. Coupled with the current trend of asymmetrical warfare, the threat of
severe Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear weapons stands as a growing threat to human survival. The Patterns of Global Terrorism Report issued by the
U.S. Department of State in 1996 stated that “Of the seven countries listed by the U.S. Department of State as sponsoring international
terrorism, at least five are suspected to have biological warfare programs.”
(6) Clearly, humans have reached the level of technology to
effectively end their own existence on this planet.
The survival of the species is as important to the race as is the survival of the individual and posterity. With the growing threats to human life,
can man afford not to diversify in terms of habitation? With a technological focus on colonization, science could focus on that which lies outside
our planet and the possibilities and mysteries it holds rather than remaining inwardly focused. Solutions to the problems of long-term habitation in
inhospitable areas of space or other celestial bodies would aid in agriculture, self-contained habitation, pollutant mitigation, transportation,
materials study, renewable energy creation, and sustainability. Not only would this increase our level of technical understanding of space and
mastering it, but the improvements would aid in taking better care of the Earth.
Colonizing space would bring improvements to the current problems we have through innovation of necessity and would allow for the ultimate survival of
the human race if global threats were to strike.
Originally posted by saltheart foamfollower
If we are so great, why do we need to expand?
It seems clear that the human race is not great and currently has not the technology to truly explore the tiny solar system it resides in. The
observable Universe has an estimated 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (70 Sextillion) stars, let alone planets, asteroids, black holes, and much more.
The wonders and sheer scope of the Galaxy alone is too much for the finite brain of humans to truly measure when related to even the Pale Blue Dot of
A species so small, limited, and immobile as humans are have no cause to apply the term greatness to itself currently. The capacity of human kind to
become great, however, begins with a single step in a journey towards space colonization.
1- Meteor Crater. In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from en.wikipedia.org...
2- Kring, David, Environmental Effects of the Impact Event, Retrieved November 20, 2010, from www.barringercrater.com...
3- Communications Staff, University of Western Ontario, Satellite Study Establishes Frequency of Megaton-sized Asteroid Impacts, Retrieved November
20, 2010, from
4- Schmid, Randolph, Study says near extinction threatened people, Associated Press, Retrieved November 20, 2010, from
5- List of states with nuclear weapons. In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from
6- Kortepeter, Mark & Parker, Gerald, Potential Biological Weapons Threats, Center for Disease Control, Special Issue