How can we make space travel to other planets egalitarian if we can’t even agree on what equality looks like on Earth?
I’ve been thinking a lot about space travel and inequality lately. So, last week when NASA announced that Saturn’s moon Enceladus meets the requirements for life, I was excited but also concerned.
I really started to worry months ago, though. When the TRAPPIST-1 system with its seven exoplanets was announced in February, my initial excitement turned to dread. I mean, it’s exciting that these planets are relatively close in the grand scheme of things. Besides, the fact that there could be life on these planets is even more fantastic to me. As a lover of space, each new discovery is welcome.
I do have some reservations. Are we ready for space travel for all? Or will we screw it up again and leave the rest of us to suffer while the most elite reap their privileges?
We can’t even figure out bathrooms for transgender individuals, how to stop the state from killing the poorest and most marginalized people, and we can’t even get to a point where racism and sexism are vices of the past. How the hell will we figure out space travel and who will eventually get to go a new planet?
Society is facing rising inequality and unless we solve this problem we will be facing the same elitist practices and policies that got us into this predicament, to begin with. This is about what ails us. Racism, sexism, homophobia, income inequality, religious extremism, and fundamentalism are all detrimental to progress here on Earth. It is because of this that we haven’t been able to find the solutions to some of our biggest problems. It’s only the same people getting a chance to find a cure or solution. This can’t possibly be helpful in the long run.
Will we have to sit back and watch as the affluent and ultra-affluent get a crack at space before us Poors get a chance? Will the multinationals killing indigenous activists while they wage war against Earth’s natural resources suddenly stop poisoning our planet? Or will they go all out to finish off the planet? We need to start having this conversation now.
On Earth, your quality of life can be anywhere from comfortable to extremely impoverished just based on what color your skin is or where you live. Are we able to somehow come to an understanding when new planets that are ripe for the taking are discovered? I very much doubt that. Our country is deeply divided, but we’re just one of many. We’re all fucked…
Here’s to hoping that by the time we get our shit together, TRAPPIST-1 is still undiscovered and ready for the generation of humankind that finally got this whole humanity thing right. Space travel, whether we like it or not, is only possible if we’re all involved.