I think that we all have a lot in common on Earth today. However, that does not mean we are united in all sorts of wonderful ways necessarily. On the day that I am putting up this page I am thinking a great deal about water and its destructive and deadly rolls. The 255th Anniversary of many of my ancestors being driven into boats in Nova Scotia has come up just recently. So many died on the water and in the years following. Then I am thinking of the flood of 1927, Katrina and Rita and the floods those hurricanes brought in. Now the potential of increased flooding because of the oil spill’s possible environmental damage. This is all brought to mind in part because I watched Brad Paisley discussing and documenting his struggle with the Nashville floods and the launch of his “H2O (underwater) Tour” . It reminded me of the struggle so many of us have faced with the powerful destructive forces of various kinds.
In the world we have many ways of viewing our situation. For example one can think of all the many people whose lives and property and culture are currently threatened by the armed and aggressive actions of those around them who see them as different. Israelis and Palestinians, Han and Uighur, Russian and Chechnyan, Moro and Mestizo Filipino cultures, Mestizo and Indians especially of tribes in Chiapas, Kurds and Turks, Hellenic and Christian minorities across the Muslim world, Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and countless other define their lives in some way (and not equally across the pairings at all) in relation to the possibility of attack or disruption by the other. Then we can think of the threats of over population and of responses both to the threat of overpopulation and to its reality in a given place. The balance between terrifying realities in the discussion of population is limitless and intense, one need never run out of things to be afraid of in that regard I think. Then we can worry about whether, like many living things, humans are on one of many timers and have a period to get certain things right before the clock runs out and one passes or fails a meta=biological test. Then one can worry about invasion by aliens and the relative readiness of the human race to meet such challenges whether in ten years, a hundred or a thousand. If there are scientific skeptics about interstellar travel I can address your fears a bit but if you are just an ignorant skeptic I cannot.
The aliens fear is neglected as a form of self terror for silly reasons. there is plenty to terrify you if you give it a chance. Mostly people are not terrified because they do not think starships are likely to exist. I will argue here that (while it would be a lousy ship and I do not recommend it) we could already have had a starship if our politics had been different and a more advanced culture could do it more easily. Here is our possible past-tense starship.
1. We captured two asteroids or an asteroid and a comet as early as we could and slowly guided them to an L-point or orbit around the moon. One or both of which had substantial amounts of water ice.
2.We funded and perfected the biosphere experiments and applied them to a space station.
3. We transported frozen human embryos, eggs and semen to the station which we normally dispose of.
4. We locate all human decaying space ship that are all read space bound in this big orbital mess and begin engineering a big ship of odd shape and changeable proportions.
5. We take every nuclear device ever made and transport it to the ship. This stimulates our economy as they are replaced.
6. We get a special crew of a few men and women to go.
7, Using my WHIRLIGIG and MIRRORBOWL system or another and slingshot trajectories around planets we use atomic and hydrogen bombs to hurl the ship and crew to a star. each bomb adds to the total speed but not to deadly acceleration. Five thousand nukes later the ship is really moving — nothing like estimates you have seen on sails and plasma rockets.
8. The men and women work to develop the ship and they have kids, that is reproduce: half are theirs biologically a fourth are mixed with semen or eggs from the stores and a fourth are adopted embryos. Our junk pile of with a dozen skilled misfits is a fine ship with a hundred lifelong spacers in a hundred years. In a hundred more years we have a couple hundred careful planning and maybe luck has optimized our resources. Twenty thousand nukes have really given us a good solid speed. We have about four hundred crew of multiple generations. This crew is highly motivated when we arrive in the new solar system. None has ever seen Earth or lived on a planet but they have been educated about it.
Really the reasons we did not do this are socio-political. There is no reason to believe every planet makes the same choices and no reason to believe were alone. Now if such a ship were sent it would not be sent to invade someone like us. There are many, many steps in the missing spaces. But this is a very big and complex universe. I just want to suggest that starfaring is one of hundreds of things we do not do and not that cannot be done.
In addition to this fear we have asteroids, epidemics, personal disgrace, disease and loneliness to fear. Whatever, I would propose here or advocate — I hope readers know that it is not because I do not know fear. I understand fear quite well. We all have our own ways of dealing with fear I think.