Space exploration has been an intense topic of scientific interest for decades now for betterment of mankind. Almost half a century after first manned mission to moon, the quest to conquer and colonize the universe has picked up scale and momentum. Scientists have consistently carried out extensive research trials to explore the possibility of survival in the other planets. With some successful attempts ‘Mars’ stands out to be the ‘Planet of Hope’ where human survival is feasible as claimed by the space fraternity and scientific intellectuals. The study of external ecosystem has certainly come at a high cost where billions of dollars have been invested behind research and the ambitious planned ‘Mars mission project’. Global space organisations have developed and tested ways to land on the red planet using advance aerospace technology and soon in the coming years an excursion to mars will become a reality.
Why go on Mars?
According to a report by the UN climate change panel, since 19th century, the earth has warmed up by 1 degree celsius. With the current rate of human exploitation of nature and other human lifestyle activities, the temperatures are estimated to further go up by 0.5 degree. With 1.5 degree increase in future, it will add more burden on our ecosystem thereby alarming a need to act now. Some concerned intellectuals believe that to ‘find new territories’ for human settlement is a solution and hence they are exploring alternate planets. The fact is with the constant demand to fulfill human wants, the need to find more avenues and sources has risen. Landing on mars will open up gateways for survival is what some intellectuals believe. Aggressive plans are being put in place to fly people to Mars via moon and it will commence with an official tour initially by 2025. But a more futuristic intent is to create a permanent settlement and have a life in the outer space.
While America has remained in the forefront of space exploration, other nations like Russia, China and India are following the course in this pursuit. Private companies like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Mars One, Blue Origins and Boeing have joined this mission along with international space agencies. These companies are led by an elite league of business tycoons such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Dennis Muilenberg who have shown their support to promote space tourism. These companies have launched their own exclusive services offering suborbital space flights to space tourists and for space science missions with the help of dedicated team of passionate engineers and professionals. Commercial space tours are on offer where the flyers will get to travel outside earth and get a glimpse of the composition and structure of the other planet from inside. As per reports, a round trip to the outer space will cost around $2,00,000 to $2,50,000 for interested travellers. Moreover, these private players assure to deliver unparalleled customer experience with their state of the art spaceships. To drive this agenda, the companies are focused on preparation, funding and calling for people participation. So if you are a super adventurous human being, you can soon become an astronaut. And to take a ride in a rocket with your boarding pass, all you have to do is shell out few millions and prepare yourself to survive in the outer space.
Why stay on Earth?
The ambitious interest to settle humans on another planet is a monumental feat to achieve. Ignoring the challenges, risk and eventual returns, the proponents of space exploration and tourism are focused on financial aspect and selling dreams. Space tourism might sound like a fantastic concept but the promoters are bypassing their moral duties to contribute towards making earth a better place to live instead of setting such mammoth goals. Imagine the difference it will make if these billions of dollars are directed to address the near concerns of climate change and several other ecological imbalances. The present scenario calls for simple solutions in dealing with nature and to combat larger issues in hand instead of launching such insignificant projects and attempting to be super intelligent.
The fact that we have a greater challenge of climate change, it deserves more attention compared to finding ways to reach another planet or selling space tourism ideas. Rising temperatures, melting icebergs – increasing sea-levels, deteriorating air quality, food crises, frequent flooding and a bunch of many more man made troubles are lined up that demands resolution. Our inventive and complex lifestyles with unending desire for materialism is a foremost factor for our troubled state. Finding life on another planet is the last thing mankind should pursue. A lot can be done to reverse the climate change phenomenon. Adequate measures are available and can be effectively executed but a sincere implementation is a key missing point. All we need is to practice more ‘Restrain’.
“Limiting consumption, giving up surplus, managing with little, reusing, recycling, sharing and donating instead of discarding are a few easy and doable things to reverse the burden on mother earth”
Let’s take the issue of poor air quality which is a function of deforestation and enhanced use of cars. Large amounts of money have gone in building factories, roads, parking bays and other support facilities just to fulfill the needs of motor vehicle community (sellers-buyers). Since it’s time and again proven that cars pollute, which is why we need to discourage or limit it’s use. Various studies have found that harmful emissions have contributed in climate change to a great extent in last so many decades. But the preference to encourage production of more car units year on year goes on with favorable car centric policies, city designs and allotments of even more highways and expensive bridges continue to exist. This is not just the story of developed nations, even developing countries like India are welcoming car brands by initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and enabling their businesses to sell more. The car manufacturers are also acting smarter by pushing their inventories towards developing nations and are happily setting plants to cater to the local consumers and export the rest. They are aware that they are not simply serving customers, they are serving ‘aspirations’ and human aspirations has no end which shall keep their production line moving.
Just imagine had the human force invested towards building cycling infrastructure, the world could have been in a different situation. We all know the ‘benefits’ cycling offers and also acknowledge the fact that cycling is not the ultimate option for commuting. A bicycle can certainly cannot compete with the speed and time efficiency a car delivers, but with a proper cycling infrastructure, it can work definitely as a feed in transit, to cover shorter routes, meet daily errands and even for logistics. Unfortunately, we failed miserably in this regard and fell in love with the engines. Our passion to remain seated in the ‘bucket seat’ has resulted us in tampering with the earth very aggressively.
But more recently, the global community has now turned its focus towards building smart and sustainable cities with eco-friendly products, natural energy, bio-fuels and reducing their carbon footprints. To meet this enormous target, this is the best time to accept and adopt a humble form of transportation ‘a bicycle’ and encourage its use. All our cities require is a well laid out and guarded cycling paths and ridership is bound to increase. Transporting humans to another planet is a wishful thinking. Something we should strike off our list and capitalize on the simple solutions and curb pollutions. With so much to gain through cycling, i can confidently conclude “Cycling is easier than going to Mars.”
You can state your opinion in the comments section.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai