The Village and Why We Must Colonize Space

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Humans are incredibly essential to the Universe. We have been granted the ability to learn about it, and thus we shouldn't throw out that gift by infighting and staying anchored on Earth. Instead, it is our duty as intelligent lifeforms to expand into space and ensure we don't become extinct. This is explained through a story about an village.

Submitted: July 12, 2016

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Submitted: July 12, 2016

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Many people who I talk to argue that we can’t leave our planet because we still need to fix our problems here. Our priority should be Earth bound only, and we should not waste our focus on expanding into Space. I have found it quite difficult to articulate my counter point to that argument, as in many ways it is a solid point. Nevertheless it has some major flaws. I consider the best way to argue their point is through story.

There were a group of villagers living in a small town upstate. It probably had around 200 people, and was surrounded by a massive forest. At the edge of this forest were multiple mountains, many surpassing 7000 feet. During the winter, the one road leading to this small town was closed off and in the summer, mudslides made it hard to traverse. Therefore, most townspeople never left the village. Only a few would traverse down the road, but it was infrequent as the town had the unique talent of farming. Half of the town was dedicated to agriculture, and the townspeople all worked on it. Since its inception, this system has worked rather well, so there was no need to expand into the forest, or take the road to go get supplies in the next town over.

As the winter geared down, the townspeople were beginning their annual groundbreaking ceremony. It marked Spring for them, where students would return to their school, and farmers would begin seeding the ground. It was good fun, with games and food.

However, this year was different. You see, a young man named Robin lived in a remote part of the town, about six miles from its center. He lived in a small cabin and was obsessed with the forest. Therefore, he frequently traversed through it, learning about its mysteries and secrets. This year, four weeks before the groundbreaking, Robin was walking in the far reaches of the forest near the mountains when he noticed something odd. The trees were dying, fast. Just 32 miles north of the town, it appeared the entire forest was dying. Disturbed, Robin went to the townspeople and desperately tried to tell them there was an issue. But they didn’t want to hear it, they had their own issues. They were planning the ceremony, and some people were warring over how to set it up. They had no time for what seemed to be tall tales. Real work had to be done.

Two weeks before the ceremony, an old hunter named Colin was in the southern part of the forest when he noticed in the distance a great orange swath of land. It was alive with fire. A wildfire! Terrified, Colin ran back to the town and told them there was a wildfire approaching. However, the townspeople dismissed him because they couldn’t see it, so he was clearly making it up. Besides, Sally the ceremony manager was sick, and they needed to tend to her.

One week before the ceremony, Alan the town sheriff noticed small group of people were vandalizing the ceremony. They were friends of Ryan, last years manager who was not reappointed to this year's manager. The friends blew up the groundbreaking tractor and laced part of the land with salt so nothing would grow. The sheriff was terrified. The next day, the people became scared and annoyed when he told them what happened. They demanded why he didn’t do anything to stop them. The men were then chased out of the town by an angry crowd.

One day before the ceremony, the townspeople woke up to the smell of fire. They looked south and noticed the entire forest was awash in flames. To their horror, they then realized that their northern fields were stricken with a disease, killing their apple trees. To the dismay of the farmers, they woke up and found their land tilled with salt by the friends of Ryan who overnight destroyed all of it.

The townspeople were petrified and scared for their lives. Their route of escape has been blocked off by the fire, and they couldn’t go north because they would find no suitable land to colonize. They couldn’t stay because their land was destroyed either.

The townspeople began to prepare to fight all 3 oncoming disasters, but sadly failed. Though they had the technology (three fire trucks, a topsoil mine, and stored apple seeds), they did not initiate them in time. By working together, they solved the wildfire, but the damage was so extreme, many died. Even worse, the road was destroyed, so they couldn’t leave. The rest of the townspeople eventually died as well because they could not grow any crops for the season as they could not get enough topsoil and the their apple seeds could not combat the disease.

After hundreds of years of a rather good system, the village was hit hard by three terrible disasters: fire, terrorism, and disease. Perhaps if only one hit, they’d been fine, but because they did not heed to the warnings, it was too late for them.

We live in a small town like this. We can fend off perhaps one issue, but if multiple hit, our fragile cradle will be destroyed. We are approaching that judgement day, and we need to ensure our town has a capable escape plan/way to deal with these problems. The best way to do that is simply strengthening our technology. And our best way to do that other than war? Space. Space is a driver of technology. It helps us understand our world, develop new engineering tools, or medical wonders. Further, it will help by creating an insurance policy. Imagine if the villagers had cameras in the forest that would tell them a fire is approaching, or a colony right by the mountains that could quickly go get help? They might have been saved. A substantial colony on Mars will act as humanity’s lifeboat in the event most of us are destroyed on Earth, a possibility that could depressingly, happen. But just because it is sad does not warrant we should ignore it. There is a glaringly large possibility of the next few hundred years our species will face massive adversity, either man-made or natural. It will be our judgement time, a trial to see if we can become a Type 1 Civilization. Would it not be better to ensure this happens, than have ourselves go extinct? To waste away, to go quietly into the night? The way to prevent this is to diversify our habitats and expand into different environments. By the way, this includes underwater, and yes, Space. If we have millions of humans who can SUSTAIN themselves under the ocean, or on the Moon/Mars, then if us surface Earthlings are depressingly wiped out, it does not spell out human extinction.

Earth, for a long time, will remain the heart of human activity. Unless we somehow find interstellar travel as a reality in the next 200 years, we are basically stuck with Earth, Mars, the Moon, Europa, Enceladus, and Titan.

  Some might not want to leave for they don’t want to damage future human environments. For me, I know there are thousands of planets out there and once we can reach them, losing a few planets here or there isn't a big deal. Even if we lose Earth, it is negligible because at that stage in our civilization Earth won't be our home anymore, rather our periphery of this galaxy will be.

Yes, I believe intelligent forms of life arguably render more entropy and destruction undo the Universe (but I think that is natural given how we operate), but our processes are as natural as the wind and the ocean. We perform a function, and that function is to synthesize and understand our reality. If an object exists and nothing identifies it exists, then does it exist? Intelligent life must exist in order to define the Universe exists, otherwise it does not.  If this causes damage, well perhaps that is how it is meant to be.

I see the Universe rather intelligent-centric: where the Universe is built to house intelligent lifeforms. Consequently, other forms of life that have not reached, nor will ever reach, such a point are basically inferior. I get these terms are very heavy handed and its rhetoric is rather cold and brutal, but it can actually yield good. We must understand we have a defined role, and thus a level of responsibility. To totally destroy this bastion of life would be a failure to uphold our responsibility, but it would not warrant punishment on us. We failed, yes, but again our primary job is to synthesize and understand the Universe. So, if we lose a few species, or a few planets, it is a failure, but it can’t mean we simply give up and allow our species to collapse in failure and become extinct, like the villagers.


 


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