by Arthur Woods
As we are considering using the name 'Greater Earth' and what it implies as a focus and as a lable for our activities, I thought it would be useful to distribute the source, at least for me, where I was first exposed to the Greater Earth concept. The following article appeared in Space News on 03-21-94 . I personally do not know if the concept and name of Greater Earth was coined there for the first time or is an acceptable astronomical or astrophysical term for what it describes? I have never seen it used anywhere else. The article does mention some of our Space Option arguments.
It's Greater Earth, Stupid
by Elisa Griffin Wynn and Kevin Griffin
The sign in the Clinton-Gore campaign that became a political legend read, ''It's the economy, stupid.'' That ever-present reminder helped give the campaign its focus, keeping it on course in the face of constant diversions.
Conventional wisdom has it that such a focus -- in the form of a visionary goal -- is what the U.S. space program needs more than anything else. Its dismal lack of vision was recently demonstrated by the shortsightedness of sending a gamma ray spectrometer to Mars, which of course went the way of the the ill-fated Mars Observer spacecraft that carried it.
The absurdity is not that we sent a gamma ray spectrometer millions of miles to Mars, but that we did so at the expense of putting one in orbit around our own moon. Year after year the Lunar Polar Orbiter mission was held hostage to Mars Observer, only to ultimately be denied even the promised back-up spacecraft. Meanwhile, the straightforward, but vitally important job of mapping the moon for resources remains undone. We continue to give lip service to human missions to Mars instead of using the U.S. space investment to improve the future.
That future will remain an unfocused dream unless the United States stops confusing vision with fantasy. Fantasy is sending astronauts to Mars. NASA does not have the fail-safe, closed life support systems, nuclear propulsion, or other minimum capabilities necessary for the trip to Mars, nor will they be achieved in the next decade.
A useful vision for the space program's future must be based on challenging, but attainable goals and offer a meaningful payoff proportionate to the investments required. Only one destination is both reachable and worth reaching. It includes not only Earth's moon, but also Greater Earth -- the special part of the Solar System defined by Earth's gravity.
Why is a Greater Earth focus so important? One compelling reason is the Earth's current energy resources cannot meet the demands of the planet's burgeoning population without catastrophic environmental costs. Space power systems can be built. But the only way to build space-based power systems economically is to use extraterrestrial resources. And the problems this world will face in the coming century will be far easier to manage in an energy-rich world than an energy-starved one. Only by learning how to live fully within Greater Earth will humanity win a genuinely sustainable economy and environment. Now that is a vision worth embracing.
Who can replace the old, played-out vision with the new? Not NASA. NASA's job is to deliver hardware, capabilities and information. There is ample evidence that doing that job often conflicts with a long-term vision. Not Congress. While congressional stalwarts like Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D.-Md.) and Rep. George Brown (D.-Calif.) have fought for years to give the space program direction, Congress has too many opposing interests.
Real change will have to start at the White House. The 1995 budget provides President Clinton with an opportunity to provide the leadership and vision needed to set a bold new course.
By adopting nearby space as our theater of action and then redirecting, reshaping and prioritizing the uncoordinated collection of space projects it inherited, the Clinton government has the means to create a coherent, productive Greater Earth-focused program by following this formula:
A Preamble to the Greater Earth Manifesto
by Arthur Woods
Since the beginning of human history the perception of its home planet Earth has always influenced the way humanity has formulated its beliefs and conducted its affairs. When Earth was perceived of as the entire universe it gave rise to myths and religions that permeate and influence society into the present time. Recently, space exploration has provided humanity a perception of the "Whole Earth" a blue sphere floating in the vast expanses of the cosmos. This perception has catalyzed the globalization of its cultures and defines many of its present activities.
Earth has always been the provider of raw materials and the mother and nourisher of Life. When humans were few Earth itself was the frontier to be discovered and explored. As exploration gave way to exploitation, the human species successfully established its dominance over the rest of Nature and has occupied the planet as no other species before it. It has devised means to extract and utilize resources to feed its populous and to power its development. It has occupied the lands, farmed the vast oceans and traversed the skies in its quest for perpetual progress and development.
Today, most people live with a perception of planet Earth that is defined by the edges of its atmosphere. This perception is both outdated and constraining.
In the mid twentieth century humans began to investigate ways to penetrate the atmosphere. Today a communications apparatus installed beyond the atmosphere permits humans to remain in constant touch with each other from any place on the planet. Orbital outposts are providing the information to enable human beings to adapt to this new environment. Scientific instruments placed in this area are exploring the depths of the cosmos and investigating the state of the environment below. In a short time these activities have effectively expanded the territory of planet Earth from its solid dimensions of 12, 756 kilometers to a diameter of more than 90,000 kilometers.
As the twenty-first century begins, humanity finds that it needs more room and more resources to sustain its numbers and to maintain its thirst for development. The resources that contributed to its present state are being irrevocably deplenished to unsustainable levels and their uncontrolled use within the biosphere is resulting in severe ecological consequences. As it is unsure and unequipped to occupy and transform a neighboring planet to meet its needs, humanity's next logical step will be to discover and inhabit the last reaches of its own planet - to expand its activities to Earth's true boundaries as defined by the physical laws of the universe. As it has throughout its history, humanity must understand and seek nourishment from its home planet and it must now once again refine its perception of the planet in order to recognize and embrace the perception of a greater, richer more sustainable Earth.
All celestial bodies of significant concentrated mass exert a field of gravity around their cores which extends to the point of tangential intersection with other celestial bodies. Earth's gravitational field extends 1.5 million kilometers from its center where it meets the gravitational influence of the Sun. This sphere has 13 million times the volume of the physical Earth and through it, passes some 30,000 times the amount of solar power which is available on the surface. Within this sphere of 3 million kilometers are enormous amounts of other resources, including the Moon and occasional passing asteroids. Like the territorial waters surrounding nations - these resources belong to our planet and should be used for the ultimate benefit of all Life which has originated there.
This is Greater Earth. To survive and to prosper the next step for our species is to exercise its fullest capabilities to occupy and enjoy this new territory.
Our organization adopts the name "GreaterEarth" as a society dedicated to the expansion and advancement of human endeavors to the true borders of its home planet.