I know, I know. We have to ask these questions in public, for all those who haven’t thought about it, don’t care about it, or think the future of humanity off this planet is a science fiction pipe dream.
Sure, it’s a bit of a pipe dream. Because getting a significant and sustainable human presence into space — onto asteroids, moons, other planets, into artificial habitats — is still an endeavor that is on the edge of our capabilities. It’s an expensive undertaking, because we’re very busy with resource-intensive activities like war and selling things to each other and making sure we have ample infrastructure and funding to support sports events.
And nobody wants to grow up and leave home. It’s a big fat pain in the ass. It’s easier to stay. And stagnate. And eventually be buried in the comfortable, familiar back yard in the shadow of a progressively older and less comfortable home.
I think it’s better if we get out there. I understand if some of you don’t. I just think you’re on the wrong side of future history and common sense. We, as a species, cling to the familiar — but we are also explorers and wanderers and have been for many thousands of years. While individuals may be happy to stay home on Earth, and that’s fine, opening up the frontier of the rest of the solar system opens a psychological gate; we have no real frontiers left on the planet for the disaffected to run to. Having frontiers again, just knowing they’re there, would probably relieve a lot of the feelings many of us angrily have, of being trapped. Being able to actually get off Earth if one is so inclined would be equally if not more helpful.
And those resources floating around up there can help Earth, too. It might be nice to shut down heavily-polluting rare earth metal mines in our backyard in favor of importing them from asteroid mines that don’t have ecologies around them to worry about, for example.
But I could rant on this subject all day — I’ll go ahead and give you a break here.
A little earlier, I wrote about pessimism in science fiction. Seemed like a nice idea to follow that up with an optimistic little story doodle.
(Untitled 100 word short-short)
The children gasp happily at the view as the shuttle door opens. They set up the picnic on matted needles under a gnarled pine by the beach. I snap pictures of the shoreline and rocks, hoping to compare them to the old paper snapshots my great-great-great grandfather took nearby.
In his snaps, there is a city here, half drowned in a rising sea. Today the sea has retreated again, and the cities are inland, underground; forest and grass and wild animals reclaim a world made mostly of natural beauty.
The dirty work is all in space; Earth is beautiful again.