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Some of the richest people on the planet have been heavily invested in space colonization. However, space travel can cause more harm than good in the long run.
Some of the wealthiest people on the planet – including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson – have been heavily invested in visiting, exploring and colonizing space. Elon Musk has even announced plans to create a colony on Mars, and some people have speculated that living in space would be a way to literally escape the climate crisis. However, space travel can cause more harm than good in the long run – and living on other worlds is a drastic solution that should not be chosen while our planet is still recoverable.
As 24.7 million square kilometers of land are at risk of biodiversity loss and younger generations are mobilizing for a more sustainable world, people are recognizing that our global resources must be directed towards mitigating climate change on Earth. Here’s why the space race is not the answer to the climate crisis.
Space travel worsens carbon emissions
When you think of a rocket launch, you can probably imagine the plumes of white smoke filling the air below the spacecraft. This smoke is created by millions of gallons of water vapor – although spacecraft consume far more natural resources and unsustainable materials beyond that.
Reaching space even once can worsen the climate crisis. In fact, one rocket launch can release 300 tons of carbon dioxide and cause it to stay in our upper atmosphere for years.
Since space travel destroys our planet in hopes of living on or taking another, it is an unethical practice that should not continue. Many companies involved in space travel, such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, know this and have yet to report their carbon emissions online – both those emitted during rocket production and the carbon that is released on launch. However, Blue Origin’s new rocket relies solely on hydrogen and oxygen.
While finding a way to live in space is an exciting climate solution, it’s not the most resource-efficient. It is not uncommon for organizations to spend billions of dollars studying space and developing technologies to reach other worlds. At the same time, we are only moving towards the ultimate goals of colonizing and utilizing the material resources of space. NASA, in particular, spent $23.3 billion in 2021, and while some of that budget is spent on environmental restoration projects and educating the public about climate change issues climate change, only $2 billion has actually been paid to these projects.
On the other hand, monetary investments can create a large, measurable, and relatively quick impact on our planet. For example, if business leaders invest heavily in renewable energy, they can significantly reduce their carbon emissions. Money currently spent on space travel can be used for the rehabilitation of polluted water supplies, the conservation of natural ecosystems, and many other important green initiatives.
Space travel is not possible without a healthy Earth. While many space lovers and scientists idealize the idea of living in colonies on other worlds, the fact is that it’s unlikely to happen in our lifetime. Mars, for example, has been theorized as a potential candidate for a future of human colonization. However, after further investigation, NASA is still undecided about this theory due to various factors, including the fact that Mars is much colder than Earth and contains less oxygen.
Additionally, when humans venture off-planet, they still depend on food and supplies from Earth – and often on personnel who remain grounded throughout their journey. If we prioritize space travel over solving our climate crisis, our planet and our resources could be damaged beyond repair long before we know how to travel through space. It would leave our citizens of the world without the resources to reach space, and without alternative solutions.
Leaving Earth behind is not simply impossible at the moment. It is also irresponsible. If we can’t protect our own planet from climate change – which is largely caused by human activity – it’s impossible to say whether we can adequately protect a new planet.
There’s a reason billionaires are among the only people to visit space. Leaving our planet is incredibly expensive, which means it does not help the poorest communities who are most affected by climate change.
While the world’s wealthiest individuals can easily escape the negative effects of the climate crisis at any time – whether they stay on Earth or launch into space – poor communities cannot easily migrate at the first sign of trouble. . Forest fires and flash floods, for example, can be disastrous and take more than a decade to recover.
If we invest in space exploration as a solution, we prioritize novelty over the immediate needs of real people on our planet.
Even if colonization becomes something we are capable of, people are simply not made to live in space. After millions of years of evolution, human beings are physically and emotionally connected to the Earth. Without our home planet – and more specifically, a healthy version of it – people will suffer major health consequences.
When people spend long periods of time in space, they experience a variety of adverse effects on their physical bodies. For example, the optic nerve, which allows our brains to process information from our eyes and see properly, swells and gets damaged in space. This causes a disorder called neuro-ocular syndrome associated with spaceflight. NASA also reports an increased risk of degenerative diseases and cancer for astronauts, making large-scale space colonization worrisome.
Humans are also mentally wired to live on Earth. In fact, our brains and our bodies can suffer if we don’t get enough nature in our daily lives. On the other hand, a number of studies have shown that spending time outdoors and interacting with the rest of the world can act as a cure for anxiety and depression – and going to other worlds eliminates the relaxing and lush landscape that we are used to on Earth.
Although humans can certainly evolve, it will take many years of adverse effects before people can fully adapt.
Going to space is an interesting solution to the climate crisis that some billionaires and space enthusiasts have become proponents of in recent years. However, this is far from an adequate solution to the deterioration of our environment here on Earth – and it is a totally unethical choice.
Many space explorers may think they are doing their best for humanity – space exploration provides data and solutions to problems here on Earth – but they could learn a lesson from effective altruism, which dictates that choices should be made that benefit the world the most. . And unfortunately, space travel doesn’t benefit everyone.
Scientists spend millions of dollars reaching new planets, resulting in lots of carbon emissions and only a little extra knowledge. This money could easily be invested in impactful green initiatives here on our planet, where it could make a measurable difference and potentially reverse the damage caused by climate change for good.
Plus, as the space race leaves behind impoverished communities and worsens human health, focusing on improving our planet benefits everyone.
Instead of favoring a still far-fetched solution, it is important to first preserve our planet. Only when our planet is preserved should we consider traveling and living on new planets.
Image source: Unsplash