Gravity Grateful

The rocket was beautiful. In conception it had been shaped by an artist to break a chain that had bound the human race ever since we first gained consciousness of earth’s gravity and all its analogs in suffering, failure, and pain. It was at once a prayer sent heavenward and the answer to that prayer: Bear me away from this awful place.
Michael Chabon, Moonglow

 

 

You might have heard that there is a solar eclipse coming on August 21, 2017.

Our area is in a tizzy of excitement. We are smack dab in the middle of the swath for visibility, assuming the weather cooperates.

I now have a new brag….my totality is longer than yours. Here in the bible belt, where denial of science is pretty strong, we will have 2 minutes and 41 seconds of totality. I don’t think there are too many areas that are gonna be blacked out longer than we are. I hope no witches get burned.

We’ve got our handy dandy solar eclipse glasses and I’ll set up a camera on a tripod to take some photos, but other than that, I can’t get too excited. When I look at the stars at night, it’s never occurred to me to want to be anywhere else but right here on Earth.

Unlike many, I have never once experienced the feeling that I’m a “lonely slave to gravity”, as Michael Chabon notes in his latest book, Moonglow. I loved the book, actually, even if I don’t share the idea that it’s Earth that causes suffering, failure and pain. I believe it’s humanity that causes all of that, and one can’t escape humanity in space.

There are a lot of really smart people who think we are going to colonize Mars once we’ve completely trashed the Earth. Elon Musk is gonna save us! Go Space X!

That sounds like a fabulous existence. To never breathe air, to have no trees, no insects, no birds, no sunlight, no oceans, lakes or streams, living underground to escape our complete and total destruction of a world of plenty. If you really want to live on Mars, just wait. Earth will be a lot like it soon enough.

Underground bunkers, completely dependent upon a 4 year travel time span from Earth to Mars…boy, that sounds great! But if you ever say anything like that out loud, immediately you get accused of being anti-science.

If you ever question the wisdom of exporting humanity into space, holy moly, stand back and be told that we must follow our brains wherever they will lead us. Homo Sapiens will not be denied our right to infect the universe with our brilliance!

All of which explains why I’ve never been into science fiction or fantasy as a genre. It’s the height of hubris to think that aliens would come here. If there are aliens, I suspect they are avoiding us with everything in their power. We are trashing a perfectly beautiful planet with our wanton reproduction and consumption and now, with so little left to consume, we look outward for more.

Now, that is a species to keep quarantined. I hope we never make it, for the good of the rest of the universe.

Imagine strip-mining other planets. Won’t that be great? Mountain top removal, drilling, polluting in zero gravity must be a capitalists wet dream. We can export our willingness to kill anything that gets in our way.

Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen. We’re on track to burn up or flood pretty much the entire earth within a decade or so. Not enough time to build whatever we will need to build and then transport it to another planet (and Mars seems to be the one we’ve decided upon. Poor Mars). Gonna be difficult to re-supply Mars from Earth when the Earth is depleted. It’s interesting how smart people ignore that reality.

I admit I haven’t been following the mass delusion surrounding Space X, so I’m unsure of what the plan(s) may be for the size of the first colony, but I think we should have a worldwide betting pool on when the first murder happens. I can see someone killing someone else over a can of peaches, can’t you?

The first group would be so carefully selected and vetted and stress tested before being launched out into the void. Four years in a spaceship together and then at least another four underground or in some kind of enclosed space with no possibility of relief in the near term. To be in a human generated human echo chamber for years. That is a prescription for madness.

But, no, I’m not against space exploration. It’s the idea of colonization that seems to me to be a very, very bad idea. We have zero evidence that humans can behave better on another planet. We’ve got about 45,000 years here on earth of evidence to the contrary.

From homo Neanderthalis and the wooly mammoths, extirpation and destruction follow in our wake.

I could get nervous about this, except for the fact that I’m pretty confident it won’t happen. I just don’t think there is enough time left. Especially now, when we have a “leader” as ignorant and hateful as Money Boo Boo.

For me, Earth is beautiful. Existence and life are not the same thing, and life includes water and air, sun, warmth, wildlife, flora and fauna and all that is not man made.  I’m grateful for gravity.

 

 

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