The Extraterrestrial Imperative

We must colonize space. Our long term survival as a species depends on this. Humankind faces an Extraterrestrial Imperative – Colonize space or die. And, with our passing the light of human reason and thought will have been extinguished from the Cosmos forever. We can argue about cost and engineering until we are all blue in the face. We may be as cynical about the goals and motivations behind our current plans to return to the Moon and forge ahead to Mars all we wish. But, the fact remains that space exploration- both robotic and manned is vital to our long term survival.

This isn’t a religious conviction but, a fact of nature revealed by the science of our age. The entire solar system bears testament to its violent legacy. All the planets and moons bare the scars of a tumultuous history. None of them have gone through their lengthy existence unscathed by the violent impact of asteroids and comets.

Uranus was toppled on its axis and its moon Miranda is a jigsaw puzzle world that had been torn apart and reassembled. While Mars is a world that was murdered in its early infancy before it had any chance of completely fulfilling its promise of becoming an abode of life. Most of its crust and atmosphere were flayed and ejected into space.

The Moon, a world of on our very doorstep, provides a clear warning for all to see that the world is living on borrowed time. Towards the late 19th and throughout the 20th centuries some 150 impact craters have been discovered on our own planetary abode. In the twentieth century two impacts occurred in Eastern Russia. On June 30, 1908, Moscow escaped destruction by three hours and four thousand kilometres—when an object some 70 meters in diameter impacted the Siberian region of Tunguska with the explosive yield of 1000 Hiroshima bombs. On February 12, 1947, another Russian city had a still narrower escape, when the second great meteorite of the last century detonated less than four hundred kilometres from Vladivostok in a rain of iron and stone. On August 1972 the Earth survived a near direct hit and escaped with a mere flesh wound when a meteorite zoomed over the state of Wyoming and grazed the upper atmosphere and bounced back into space before thousands of eyewitnesses. Its blazing trail was even captured on film.

In the early 1980s evidence slowly accumulated that 65 Million years ago the reign of the dinosaurs ended with a huge bang and ensuing fire storm and before that violent mass extinctions occurred like clockwork throughout the evolutionary history of life on Earth.

In the chronicle of Gervase an eyewitness account was given of a massive impact on the eastern limb of the Moon that occurred on June 25th, 1178. Evidence is also coming to light that June, despite our fondness for this month because of weddings and the promise of summer holidays to come, holds potential dangers for humanity. The Taurid beta meteor shower is one we must study in detail. In the late 20th century archaeological evidence has come to light that many late Bronze Age civilizations may have met their demise in a rain of fire from the sky. Back in July, 1994 during the week of the 25th anniversary marking man’s first steps on the Moon the heavens provided a massive fireworks display of its own to mark the occasion. The planet Jupiter sustained 20 individual impacts from the fragments left over from the disintegration of the comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. Any one of these impacts would have been sufficient in itself to wipe life off the face of our globe in a real Extinction Level Event (E.L.E).

In today’s New York Times article by John Tierney entitled ‘A Survival Imperative for Space Colonization’ examines this very topic and cites the work of Princeton astrophysicist J. Richard Gott III.

In 1993, J. Richard Gott III computed with scientific certainty that humanity would survive at least 5,100 more years. At the time, I took that as reason to relax, but Dr. Gott has now convinced me I was wrong. He has issued a wake-up call: To ensure our long-term survival, we need to get a colony up and running on Mars within 46 years.

Gott’s doomsday assumption is based on the Copernican Principle, which states the Earth is not in a central, specially favoured position. What happened to the Earth and other planets in past epochs will most definitely happen again. The only question is when.

Yet despite all this accumulated evidence we continue to go about our humdrum worldly concerns, abandoning any attention to the heavens and the dangers that lurk in the local celestial neighbourhood. We face the celestial equivalent of a 9/11. Humanity can no longer ignore the objective reality that its long term existence is imperilled. We either become a spacefaring civilization or face the fate of the dinosaurs.

2 Responses to “The Extraterrestrial Imperative”

  1. 1 Anonymous February 13, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    It is good to see that there are others waking up to the fact that what is lurking ‘out there’ in space actually is a very large threat to our survival.I just finished reading another article on this topic of cosmic threats. “Tunguska, the Horns of the Moon and Evolution”. is one of a series of articles addressing the fact that we are not being told the whole story. It is, basically, about articles and books written by Victor Clube, who was connecting the dots years ago.You can read the whole series on htt://www.sott.netThank you for your great article. We need more people to realize the cosmic tragedy that is overdue and get it out to others.

  2. 2 Anonymous February 16, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Wow. These were amazing articles. Thank you Michael for highlighting this problem. Thanks Anonymous for the links. It pretty disturbing to read that the US is deliberately steering research towards a solution for single impacts. The evidence is pretty solid for long-term rains of comet dust and debris. It’s even more disturbing that this was all being discussed a decade ago. We seem to be being suckered with all this terrorist crap. I’ll be giving the site a closer look.

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