…we have an American being launched into orbit around the earth by the the Russians, because the Americans do not have their own capability to launch humans, even to low earth orbit. Not a lot of people would’ve have placed a bet on that scenario 50 years ago! Yeah, there will be a “made in America” launch solution soon, two, perhaps three solutions. But still, in 50 years the capability has gone backwards, first with the Shuttle’s LEO only capability, and then with there being no American human launch capability since 2011, already 8 years.
50 years ago, there was wonder at what the Americans had accomplished, now there is ridicule at their President, for whom “Science” is merely a religion he doesn’t believe in. It’s not just that, America has stagnated on so many fronts, doing what they do because they can get away with it. They are still a large economic power, and still the greatest military power in the world, so they can go it on their own, but they will soon find out the cost of this. Global supply chains to America are being strained with tariffs, there is no such thing as “100% made in America” for all but the most simple things. Trump tweets about the great economy in the States as if his brilliant leadership has made it so. Those who see a bit better know decisions made years ago are really what is driving the current good numbers; thank Obama, and yes, even Bush anyone? No, the damage of Trump is still to come, there are only the first warning signs showing now.
Long ago, I thought landing on the moon was the first step of the next phase of humans, to be able to grow beyond our planet and colonize our solar system, and perhaps eventually even beyond. Now I fear that landing on the moon may represent the pinnacle of humans, reaching out and touching that first, closest celestial body, only to fall back into the morass. We eventually run out of critical resources needed for our high technology society and the decline back to the stone age begins. Or some mad person manages to gain control of a large nuclear arsenal and starts a war that takes us back to the stone age in one fowl swoop.
They were asking people on CBC radio on Friday to complete the phrase “We can put a man on the moon but we can’t…” I would complete that with … we can’t control the human population on our own planet. We have the technology, easy to do these days – but so many social, economic, political, and religious forces would oppose such a move. Perhaps if we had continued moving forward after putting a man on the moon and we now had the capability to ship a hundred million or so people every year to the “space colonies” we might be able to keep growing, assuming those colonies were essentially independent of earth’s resources. But we don’t have that capability, and most people are not even acknowledging the problem. We gnash on about climate change, (symptom of the population problem, not the problem!) and think if only we can live sustainably we’re going to be alright. A hint, “sustainably” and growth generally conflict with each other. We are very loath to give up growth, as for the most part we’re going to have to all give up a certain amount of standard of living to live in a static world where cities don’t get bigger and economies do not grow.
Perhaps humans will figure it out, or we will research our way out of the problem. Or I have to accept that civilized humanity, like individual humans have a finite lifespan and will end eventually.