On the 9th January VirginOrbit’s first rocket launched from UK soil, carrying 9 mini-satellites, fell right back down to Earth. But this ignominious failure should not shake our faith in space exploration, for it may hold the key to a peaceful future, and avoiding calamity.
Humanity since the dawn of civilization has experienced the scourge of war. Now war threatens to destroy humanity entirely unless we can change – this video explains how space exploration will help us do just that.
Only 268 out of the last 3400 years have been free of war. So any observer would be justified in predicting humanity will always have wars. The thing is modern wars are increasingly destructive, so much so that we cannot afford to have them anymore. Primarily this is because of the risk of the extinction of the human race, which has never been higher. 9 countries and counting have nuclear weapons, including sworn enemies and so it is almost a certainty that within the next 2 centuries nuclear weapons WILL be used at some point, possibly wiping out all life on earth. The mere stockpiling of them begs for them to be used. Secondly, even if a global conflict did not turn nuclear, it would put humanity back hundreds of years, maybe millenia. For those who doubt this, imagine every town looking like Bakhmut. Our cultural heritage, including art, literature and history would be pulverized, and our scientific knowledge would be erased too.
However there is a way the risk of future wars can be minimised, perhaps even negated – direct our energies to the stars.
The vastness of space can absorb humanity’s energies. Billions of galaxies and trillions of solar systems exist outside of Earth, with incredible distances separating them. This channel submits that the number one cause of war is humans’ proximity to each other. When people are packed together conflicts are bound to break out over scarce resources and because of our natural desire for space. Where people are spread out, peace is more natural because rival groups are less likely to meet and fight each other, and in the expanse of space, where travelling between planets might take hundreds of years, peace should be even more natural. Additionally, spending time in nature has been shown to relieve stress, so space colonisation will even improve individuals’ temperaments, making them friendlier, more caring and more neighbourly – further reducing the risk of conflict.
Some might say at this point that war is part of human nature, it will always happen. They point to recent history which is full of wars. However, Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli professor, in his book Sapiens points out that before agriculture there were no wars to speak of. Hunter-gatherers did not engage in the organised mass bloodletting we call war. However, after wheat, potatoes and rice started being cultivated then more people could be fed so there was increasing population density which combined with limited resources, led to war (among other reasons.) The point here is not say let’s return to primitive hunter-gathering. The point is there exists a precedent for a world without war, and we know space can solve 2 of the key ingredients that cause war – high population density and finite resources – by spreading humanity out in a practically infinite universe.
Finally an argument for urgency comes from the Lebanese-American writer Nicolas Taleb. He popularised the idea of Black Swans which are sudden, unforeseen catastrophic events which change everything. He argues convincingly in the book Antifragile that due to our modern society’s complexity, we have never been more vulnerable to Black Swans. Hence, there is no time to lose and every effort and cost should be invested in securing a Plan B.
In conclusion, in order to avoid a civilisation-ending global conflict, and to survive if one does happen, humanity must invest all its energies in space exploration because this will decrease population density and unlock unlimited resources, so that there will not be the chance, nor the inclination, to wage war. We are rightly proud of our accomplishments, like the Agricultural, Industrial and Information Revolutions but this should not cause complacency – the world is on a knife-edge and only Space can save it.
P.S. As a side note British conservatism values tradition and continuity highly since it produces the best institutions. Therefore the prospect of a millennium (since 1066) of constitutional finetuning being erased, and the clock reset is odious to conservatives here. The delicate rose of the British constitution blooms the most beautifully, let’s not let it be trampled on.