Ashok B. Boghani

Sep 1, 2021

2 min read

A far-out scenario

I recently wrote a Blog Post commenting on the beginning of passenger space flights, thanks to the efforts by Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk. That would usher in a new era for making dreams of many people like me come true.

When I posted it on FaceBook, I was criticized by two sets of people. One group of responders could not stand these billionaires, especially Jeff Bezos, and so could not see anything good coming out of their efforts. “They are terrible people, sucking blood out of their workers and amassing fortunes that are unconscionable. All they are doing is boosting their already inflated egos,” they said. Right, I responded. I am not a big fan of who they are either. However, that does not diminish what they have done for space travel. Let us not throw the baby with the bathwater.

I was also told that they could have spent their money on fighting climate change (and multitude of human problems that can be addressed by pouring more money).

That last point made me think about the future of our planet. How fruitful will it be to throw money at fighting climate change? Hasn’t the train already left the station? Aren’t we heading to a disastrous scenario? Looking at what is going on this year I cannot help but believe that we are now beyond the tipping point and things will accelerate rapidly in an undesirable direction. Perhaps the earth will become uninhabitable in a few decades.

It may be time to start thinking about survival, not just prevention. Perhaps it is more meaningful to pour money into assuring that we the human beings can survive the coming catastrophe that we have brought upon ourselves.

Under that scenario, what the billionaires have done is even more meaningful than ever. One option for human survival, albeit far-out, is to transfer some portion of the population into space when earth becomes largely uninhabitable.

This far-out scenario is similar to what was envisioned by a science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his wonderful book called “SevenEves.” In that book, moon is destroyed and its parts are going to hit earth after two years. With the clock ticking, a significant portion of the population manages to get into the near-earth orbit and start a long journey toward an uncertain future. It has a happy ending with population coming back and establishing presence in a ring rotating around earth at the geosynchronous orbit.

That may be one scenario that may come to pass as climate change manages to destroy earth over the coming decades. Then, people will say that those crazy billionaires in year 2021 played a small but significant role in making human survival a possibility.