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THE IMPORTANCE OF SPACE COLONIZATION
People often ask me, why are you a sci-fi writer and why do you write so much about space colonization.
OK, let's talk briefly about the importance of this topic. It's not just sheer imagination or horror movies, as some think by watching the SyFi Channel. Frankly, soon there won't be enough room for all the billions upon billions of people on our planet. There won't be enough food and water or other resources for all of us, and we already see it. Just as Columbus swam across the ocean in search for new land, we too must explore our chances of survival in space. We can build there orbital factories, lunar cities, asteroid mining colonies, or at least shelters from global disasters--not only science research outposts. Just switching to solar energy and synthetic foods won't be enough; we would have to adapt to living in space and learn ways to terraform and populate new planets. You see, overpopulation demands interplanetary colonization, and sooner or later this won't be 'comic book fantasies' anymore!
Can we build artificial moons and planetoids or orbital villages of ever-growing space stations, as futuristic writers and artists dream about it ... since ever? Sci-fi existed in so many forms even from before the Industrial Revolution. Long before the first Babylonian stargazers, the Egyptian star worshipers, and the Greek philosophers, the cavemen too gazed upon the stars and painted them on the walls of their dwellings. Frankly, humanity is destined for the stars--not for the dust.
Let's be honest, one planet is just not enough to harbor and sustain life. Earth is small and limited, and it's getting smaller and smaller every day for all of us, the living. The cosmos, on the other hand, is endless, or at least vast enough to house billions, trillions, and gazillions of us. And all we have to do is take it, especially if scientists say it's uninhabited and supposedly belongs to no one ... just yet.
What we engineer today in space art and envision in sci-fi movies is a way of common-sense survival for the future generations--the way to the stars, which beckon us, invites us to conquer them and spread life throughout the universe. It also shows our children that we care about them, not only use and abuse our planet, caring less about those coming after us (them and their kids).
However, scientists and cosmologists say that we have only a small window of opportunity (ca. 300 years from 1800 to 2100) to use our civilization's knowledge and finances to explore space ... before we exhaust all our money and resources in urbanization or wars, trying to fit everyone on one single planet. After that, even if we want to go into space, there might NOT be any technology or civilization left to do it. Think how dark and stupid is that for a 'bright future,' right? It is, in fact, suicidal.
Look at it this way: when your kids grow up and there's not enough room in your house, they move out, right? They start providing for themselves by getting new jobs, building new homes, buying new cars, etc. And so it should be with the whole of humanity as a cosmic civilization, because Earth is just one home, one island in the ocean of space. The cosmos should be our greater home; our place to spread wings and go build as many nests as we need! The alternative is ... to extend Earth's continents into the oceans, build artificial islands, and ultimately destroy the perfect balance of nature, which will only postpone the problem--not solve it. There's so much room out there, in the universe. And if we don't see that this is the way, then we deserve what the sci-fi writer Larry Niven says:
"THE DINOSAURS BECAME EXTINCT BECAUSE
THEY DID NOT HAVE A SPACE PROGRAM. AND
IF WE BECOME EXTINCT BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE
A SPACE PROGRAM, IT'LL SERVE US RIGHT!"
Well, before all politicians of all countries agree that we really need space colonization, the least we can do is write about it and give great sci-fi ideas to our children, hoping they would live in a more united, more prudent and futuristic world. Otherwise, the future generations might think we were "the greatest egoists that ever waked the earth!"
PS If this article makes no sense to you, or if you think that "forceful birth control" will fix the problem of overpopulation, then please understand this. Futurists like Ray Kurzweil (www.kurzweilai.net) say that by 2050 human life expectancy will be 300 years and more. Then the number of people living on Earth will start doubling and tripling much faster. The more we progress in science, medicine, democracy, and global unity, the more Earth will become smaller for us. There is NO other way out of this problem other than going OUT into space. Yes it's expensive, yes it's difficult, but we have no other alternative.
August 8, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Bob Bello. All Rights Reserved! Read more of my stories and articles at www.facebook.com/timeship