A while back I wrote a post about the idea of the earth being an organic generational star ship taking us on a millennial journey through space. One of the side thoughts I did not mention is about the way we treat our star ship. Imagine if the brave astronauts on their journey to the moon just dumped their waste where ever they wanted, destroyed their carbon filters to make space to put stuff, and created items with no thought of how to deal with the waste from the process, do you think they would of made it? Hell no, just read the accounts of the Apollo program written by Andrew Chaikin in “A Man on the Moon”. After reading how they had to deal with relieving their bowels, the romance of space travel was gone for me. The fortitude needed to live in your own filth for two weeks is amazing.
Now look at the way we treat our own space ship. We create all kinds of waste, from the biologic needs of our bodies to the deadly chemicals created by industry and a good part of the time we just dump it somewhere. We don’t even bother to place it somewhere remote anymore because we are running out of such places. Here is a good way to understand this, take out a bottle of bleach or ammonia and open it in a confined space (be careful to make sure you don’t lock yourself in) and see how long it is before the fumes become unbearable. Just because the earth is big enough now to dissipate the waste we produce does not mean it can do so for ever. The earth is a finite globe, which is why medical needles and plastic bottles wash up on our shores. Next, think about the carbon dioxide filters of our star ship. The biggest filters are trees and since the beginning of the industrial age what have we done, we have cut the global forest in half if not more. In the same period of time, we drastically increased the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere. That is equivalent to the astronauts lighting up cigars and then tossing away half of the filters required for the trip. The ship would make its destination but there would be no one alive to celebrate.
I could continue on but I think you get the point. All of humanity needs to stop looking at the earth as an infinite garbage dump and understand that it is actually a confined star ship that has no way to replenish the materials we are contaminating and wasting. There isn’t another ship nearby to rescue us.