Does Human survival depend on leaving Earth?

Does Human survival depend on leaving Earth?

Human beings have lived in the earth for at least 65, 000 years, according to scientists. Human beings do not have a good record of preserving natural environment. Their rapacious activities have contributed to the Earth’s degradation, some say to the point of extinction for future generations.

Global warming will eventually cause melt the polar ice , raising overall ocean levels and flooding low-level areas. Global warming is also believed to have caused disruptions in weather patterns. The net result will not simply just warmer temperatures but will include more hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, tsunamis and floods. No one can forget the Katrina disaster that hit New Orleans . and even the resources of the mighty US could not adequately deal with the ferocity of the Katrina hurricane.

Furthermore space is no more peaceful and has become a place for arms race among nations to dominate others. No one knows where it stops. Besides, collision with an asteroid or a nuclear war could wipe out the Earth.

In 1918, an influenza strain killed about 30 million people. A possible new bird-flu strain spurs contemporary panic. .Against the background of doomsday scenario, five Scandinavian Prime Ministers met a few years ago in an island of Norway, Svalbard, in the Arctic, to open a doomsday vault that will stockpile crop seeds (of pineapples, rice, coffee and other crops) in case of global catastrophe. The vault costs US4.8 million.

A group, known as Cue the Alliance to Rescue Civilisation,(ARC) backs up the project for humanity. They also advocate DNA samples of all life on Earth to be deposited on the Moon. President Bush already proposed a Moon base.

The group’s founder is an eminent professor, Robert Shapiro, of Bio-chemistry of New York University. He has written a number of books on the origin of life on earth as well as the “Planetary Dreams”, where he revealed the rescue project for civilization.

Its members include Ray Erikson, a former chairperson of a NASA committee, and William Burrows, an author of several books and the director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Programme of the New York University.

The group has attracted the support of Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, who now devotes much of his time to the idea of Martian Colonisation. Aldrin now says : “ It takes a big reason to go to the Moon, because frankly, it is a lousy place to be. But this is exactly the kind of planning as a human race we need to secure our future…. It is reasonable thing to do with our space technology, sending valuable stuff to a safe and reliable off-site location. NASA is not bending backwards to do it. It is the private people like ARC.”

In 1999, Shapiro wrote an essay where he had noted from the Apollo Mission the haunting views of the earth as a vulnerable lifeboat precariously existing in a vast and dangerous black void. He thought of to use space to protect humanity.

The Group says the concept is not new but there is some fresh momentum. Burrows new book “ The Survival Imperative: Using Space to Protect Earth” is reportedly due out this month. And the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, who is not yet part of the group, has been arguing this summer that human survival depends on leaving Earth.

Shapiro argues: “ I am for sanity and not to predict doomsday. When we have gained what we have gained, we should fight to keep it. And, worst-case scenario, if it is all for nothing, we have a nice museum.”

The Earth is facing a dilemma: how to cope with the uncontrollable behaviour of human beings on destruction of its resources. Furthermore America’s unprecedented military power and its claim to the unilateral right to use force including nuclear power, pre-emptively is a threat to humanity. In Hinduism, the Kali Yug is now passing and thereafter the end of this Earth.

These issues raise some basic questions such as “Who Am I?” or to put it another way, “What is the self?” on the Earth. Philosophers have discussed the nature of self, its relationship to God and the world, whether or when the Earth is destroyed or how it is affected by our actions.

These are still valid issues and now scientists are discussing them. Although it is quite impossible to answer all these questions, by discussing them we are able to appreciate the extraordinary complexity, diversity and dynamism of these issues.

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva and Former Bangladesh High Commissioner to Australia (1982-84)

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