Courtesy of Newsweek
By Anthony Dryden
This is an independently submitted op-ed for our Quill section. Views and statements made in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Tower
Man has looked to the heavens since the times of Abraham, with David writing many psalms on the majesty of God’s creation that is space. Nowadays space is often looked at as something to use and master as opposed to something to be in awe of. We see this repeatedly throughout history with our seemingly unquenchable need to master everything. Being that a new continent, nature, or the ocean blue.
From 1955 to the present, man has had an increasingly stronger infatuation with space. Originally demonstrated by different nations scrambling to show off their latest space accomplishment, companies are now scrambling to do the same today. What is common is the rush, this need to assert human dominance over something that so vigorously opposes it. Many see space exploration as “the final frontier” as Star Trek put it, but perhaps it is the latest of man’s many infatuations.
What generally happens is an older generation pioneers this fascination while the younger generation becomes fully infatuated with it. Currently, there is a massive divide between the age groups in their feelings on space exploration. A majority of Gen-Z, 55%, “would take a trip to the Moon” while “ 61% of adults surveyed wouldn’t be interested”: a stark divide. Why is this?
Gen-Z and younger people have been born into a time where climate is center stage. Some advocate a complete and total shutdown of fossil fuels, some denying the existence of the problem, and others concerned that the world will end in 7, 10, 12 years. For a variety of reasons, younger generations worry about these pressing issues. To cope with these worries, increasingly drastic measures are often promoted, one of them being space exploration and colonization.
This essay does not seek to criticize climate solutions, but lack of faith in earthly solutions. Space is a dangerous place. There are countless dangers to the human person such as higher levels of dangerous radiation, altered gravity fields, long periods of isolation and confinement, a closed and potentially hostile living environment, and the stress associated with being a long distance from mother Earth. What I want to focus on here is the mental health concerns. If our youth are having increasingly difficult mental health issues on Earth, imagine how it would be in space after removing oneselves completely (completely in the fullest sense of the word) from the only environment that our species has only known.
We should focus our attention and resources on better adapting ourselves to a changing world. There is nothing inherently wrong with space exploration; in fact, it can aid us in our efforts to adapt to the changing earth. Space may be vast, but human ambitions know no bounds. If we come to space exploration with a sense of mastery over it, who knows what will happen. A sense of humility of the boundless reaches of space will help prevent the same type of mistakes that brought us to our current state.