Friday, April 23, 2004

To Go Nowhere Where We Haven't Been Before

It being Earth Day this Thursday past, my local newspaper enjoys printing items they consider to be "Earth friendly". One of them was a assume-the-fetal-position-to-better-enhance-gazing-at-one's-navel op-ed by a gent named Craig Bowen. The point of the piece was to persuade us to abandon the silly notion of space exploration.

What is the reasoning? Apparently, they are the following:

  • Space travel is uncomfortable. He draws this conclusion by observing that our astronauts are happy to get home, therefore space travel is so boring and awful that we shouldn't do it anymore. He does fail to mention that those same astronauts tend to also want to get on another mission, which argues against the notion that spaceflight is too awful to be endured. Admittedly, we are barely at the crawling stage of spaceflight, but things will get better. Nobody thought the Wright brothers should have been taken seriously after their first flight, either.

  • Space travel is expensive, and we should use the money saved by abandoning it to Save The Earth. Since I'm short on time, I'll just leave a link to a 2004 budget report. Briefly, we don't spend enough money (~7 billion dollars) on space to save the earth if we didn't spend it. Besides, we need our pathfinders, explorers, and visionaries. The universe is far too large and interesting a place to take the cowardly decision to retreat, hide on our own little planet, and gaze at our belly buttons.

Mr. Bowen, welcome to the Flat Earth Society.

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