I am a grade B geek. Maybe a B+. I've watched Star Trek, Dr Who (Tom Baker is the best, and Jon Pertwee was very short with me at a convention), and NOVA for decades. I'm very well acquainted with computers and even studied them hard enough to make a career out of it.
Space Exploration is Cool
There are infinite lessons to be learned out there - nobody has to convince me of that. If we found intelligent life in other systems, that would be a turning point like no other for our species.
But I've become very conflicted about humanity's achievements in space, and this recent article about the US Republicans' Planet B solution confirms it. I was convinced this was a spoof from The Onion because, well, because it really ought to be a spoof.
Trying to divert climate change research funding to space exploration establishes that humanity does not deserve to explore space. There is no shortage of other evidence. But the idea that we should focus our resources on our escape route because it would hurt too much to save Earth shows that we are a species too selfish to endure.
Oops, we've spoiled this planet. Next!
If anyone else is out there, how would we spin that?
Deserting the sinking ship
Geek Grade B has read plenty of science fiction too. The first to escape the Earth to space stations or frontier planets are either criminals or the military. Or they are the super rich who can afford the price of the fuel it takes to get away from it all (thus the Republicans' interest). They have rollicking adventures and face fascinating dangers.
Back home, people live crowded together in subsistence housing, under bubbles to keep out the fatal levels of pollution and UV radiation, eating laboratory designed food and never seeing a living green space.
But that's just a story. Right?
This is no different from our history of exploring from continent to continent, settling in and despoiling the resources we encounter, especially any people who happen to live there already. We have a history full of embarrassments and crimes against friends and strangers alike. Until we learn to handle one planet, let's not hurry to conquer the universe.
As an exercise, describe a model universal citizen in 20 words or less.
Your mother was right: clean up your room before you go out and play.