In most space movies, the answer to all problems is usually to slingshot around the moon or through a black hole. But here on Earth, we have to find more creative solutions to our problems, like launching everything into space.
That seems to be the first question asked when presented with a dilemma. Communication problems? Put it in space. Overpopulation problems? Try a lunar cologne. Too much trash? Shoot it in the sun.
It wouldn’t be surprising if, in the future, when space travel is more common, a guy responded to his girlfriend by saying, “What if we try this relationship in zero gravity? I could spice things up.”
save us space
It may seem like I’m exaggerating a bit (which I am), but the examples in this Hail Mary pass space keep increasing. A European Commission wants to put data centers in orbit where no one can hear them whirring. Russian scientists are considering using a constellation of satellites to display giant pixel images to helpless consumers on the ground. And Starlink is bringing the hideous meanness and narcissism of the internet to remote areas of Earth that likely previously led a Shangri-La-like existence.
We’ve drilled for oil up there, we hope to put excess people on the moon, and we use space regularly to make energy more sustainable and the environment cleaner and all that crap I pretend to care about.
Perhaps the funniest example in this regard is our half-serious idea of littering in the sun, where the neighbors can’t complain about the smell. It seems completely logical at first. The sun is just a giant incinerator floating in space, why don’t we pack some junk into a rocket ship, say a tearful goodbye, and ship it there every Thursday to coincide with garbage collection day?
Long story short, some people did the math and found that the entire venture is simply too expensive. Launching thousands of pounds of junk with rockets that typically cost around $200 million isn’t exactly an efficient way to get rid of all those plastic rings that six-packs come in.
Still, no matter what we like to tell ourselves, the main reason beyond learning and exploration that we launch rockets off our planet is so we can get on them one day and get the hell out of here. We tend to view Earth as a party that is no longer fun and imagine that because there is always a great view out the window, all the troubles and worries will somehow settle down.
It’s like when a child is trying to clean his room quickly before his mother arrives, and he coughs things up under the bed, in the closet and out the window. We only do that with space.
But you must have seen one of the dozens of star trek programs that keep popping up – they have a huge new problem every week to deal with, and there are a lot of idiots floating around there. Even when we fantasize about space, we can’t help but carry our little terrestrial baggage with us.
Out of ideas down here
Okay, space can obviously help us work out all sorts of mischief on this giant blue marble, which is why astronomers are running numerous experiments there where they can have some peace and quiet.
But our reliance on spatial solutions is also a faint indication of a lack of imagination here on Earth (which reminds me of the old imagination monologue from the play six degrees of separation). The tendency to look to the stars to answer our problems reveals the feeling that we have run out of ideas and have given up.
Think about that friend of yours who loves pets a little too much, partly because, at some point, they’ve been so let down by people that their dog is the only creature they can trust. And yes, I know that I am using too many different analogies to do the same thing in this article.
Space certainly has its place, and I want to get up there and cover the Earth in the distance with my thumb as much as the next person. When tackling a problem, however, perhaps it’s best to exhaust all possibilities on Earth where we can breathe without a helmet and go for a walk.
Because that big dark void up there isn’t going to solve any core problem inherent in human nature, and if we rely on it too much, we’ll screw up the dog just as much as we’ve done here.
So where are we going to go? Another dimension, probably.