|The Mother Earth Metaphor: "The Earth isn't sick, she's
by David Buth
One interesting way to look at space colonization is via the Mother Earth metaphor. With this metaphor we compare the biosphere to a pregnant woman. This implies that we think of the biosphere as a single organism, which is consistent with the Gaia hypothesis proposed by Dr. Lovelock. In the following discussion, remember that this is only a metaphor.
In the Mother Earth metaphor of space colonization:
Space colonies as children is a straightforward analogy. Space colonies look different than the Earth (since life is on the inside, not the outside), but a space colony's life support system must function much as the Earth's biosphere does and, ideally, might look much like a nice Earth ecosystem.
Consider the biosphere as a pregnant woman, with the twist that she doesn't know she's pregnant and doesn't know that pregnancy exists -- or that children exist. This is the condition most of us find ourselves in since space colonization is not a widely believed realistic concept. Consider:
In the context of the Mother Earth metaphor, humanity's purpose is obvious. We are here to help Mother Earth give birth. We are the reproductive organs. The dinosaurs failed, after a long successful period, apparently because a comet or asteroid struck the Earth and wiped them out. Since then a space-faring species has developed which has the power to avoid this fate by expanding off the Earth. Expanding the range of a species is a often-used and successful survival strategy. Expanding throughout the solar system and, eventually, the galaxy should have substantial survival value.
It is easy to make too much of this metaphor, but it is interesting and, I believe, instructive.
David Buth, email@example.com
[004.DB.TDF.2005 - 16.01.2005]