The following letter was sent to numerous europena and extraeuropean newspapers.
Mr Spielberg's film, "Deep Impact", shows the disastrous potential of an impact on Earth by a comet or asteroid - indeed, it is most likely an understatement. The end of civilization, perhaps Humanity, would most likely result.
Events like "Deep Impact", or greater, have occurred often in Earth's history, and will happen again. Detection by dedicated telescopes and compositional study by space probes is essential reconnaissance and should be established without delay. Despite this, some will give us months' warning at best, and so are not amenable to Earth based nuclear strikes.
Lunar based lasers could react more rapidly , but the only true insurance for Humanity is the timely development and settlement of Space by self sustainable populations, supported from these same threatening asteroids and comets. It is wiser to consume an enemy for profit than to destroy him. Impact is the only disaster threat offering such a huge potential pay-off! We can and should move out into the new ecological niche before us.
Those who question the value of Human Intelligence and science now have a clear answer; we exist to take Life and Mind out into Space, as surely as lions exist to eat wildebeestes - or face deserved extinction!
Italian version of this letter is also on-line on L'Istrice.
Dear Mr. Oilman,
Since the internal combustion engine was invented, you have pocketed a priceless patrimony. Please don't misunderstand me - I dont want to criticize you for this. Oil and the internal combustion engine were the bases of technological progress. Informatics, medicine, ships and airplanes have extended the range of life: nothing of all this could have been born without you. Humanity owes much to you. Even if you acted for your personal interest, your action has now an ontological value. But nothing is forever. I am quite opposed to feeling guilty for the various predicted disasters. I am quite opposed to backdated mea-culpas, to people who claim to censure the good faith of the inventor of hydraulic machinery, to those who suspect the Father of steam engines of dishonesty! I continue to call them benefactors, even if their inventions (or the use we have made of them) gives us the greenhouse effect. The sin is not theirs: they made what they knew, and what was attainable for their technological and philosophical culture. It was thus also for the early engineers, and so it was for you. But are you sure that today we can't do better? Today we live in very different age from the previous one, even from the one in which you, or your forerunners, made the greatest step for Humanity: extracting oil from the bowels of the Earth, and launching the Machine Age.
In just 30 years we have been made aware, not of the Limits of the Development (as the Club of Rome maintained), but of the limits of this Planet. In the same period a critical consciousness has grown up; the extreme result of this has considered our technological progress as a tragedy and humanity as a parasite of its host planet. This anti-human vision is a prisoner of an obsolete paradigma, seeing our world as a closed system, and its borders as unpassable. Inside such a concept of the world, Humanity is condemned to a more or less slow cultural decline, on the path of decreasing energy usage and decreasing resources consumption, in general. A different philosophical vision, able to build that Open World model which Humanity needs urgently in order to continue its development, is now taking its first steps; but it runs the risk of abortion before birth, if some of the disasters predicted at Kyoto are realized.
Now to the point! I'm not asking you to renounce your wealth or power. You are a Master of Energy, and I don't want to contest your position. But the burden of guilt, which does not justly fall on the shoulders of the inventors who came before you, will fall entirely on your shoulders if, despite the availability of more modern and less polluting technologies, you persist in using a backward technology till exhaustion, now that we have become aware of the social cost of pollution. Thus I'm asking to you to consider other sources. What is vto stop you evolving from Oil provider to Energy provider? You have vast capital, maybe more than any other single industry. Please, start considering the possibility of developing a Satellite Solar Power Station: clean, renewable energy, abundant, addressable to the remotest parts of the planet. Think about the enormous development possibilities, and the possibilities to create new wealth, where hitherto only desolation has existed. And think also of the great honour for yourself if you take, once again, the right technological step, the attainable one, the best that Humanity can realize in our time.
Adriano Autino, Technologies of the Frontier
We got this letter by Michael Martin-Smith. It was delivered to 20 english newspapers and magazines, and to some 10 italian newspaper and information media.
The news was later re-sized by NASA: FX11 will pass some millions kms away from Earth. We think the substance is not so differemt, anyway: we must anyway to organize the human self-defence, without wasting other time.
We now have 30 years' warning of possible encounter with asteroid FX11; impact would bring the equivalent of 30 all-out nuclear wars to us - surely the Endgame for our race.
We have time to build a presence in Space from which Armageddon can be turned into Eldorado, and a true Space-based civilization created.
Failure to develop Space now not only courts annihilation, but deserves it as a reward for sheer lack of gumption!
More news can be read at the site of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/pressreleases/1997XF11.html
This letter was sent to several newspapers and magazines in UK and Italy.
NASA's announcement of water ice on the Moon points the way to a new world, as surely as the voyages of the 15th century.
Following the Kyoto summit's warnings on climate change from fossil fuels' consumption, ideas of clean renewable energy from solar power satellites are re-emerging after much neglect.
Lunar raw materials promised to reduce costs 10 fold; this new discovery promises a tenfold further improvement.
With the new "two planet economy", our species no longer faces suffocation on Spaceship Earth - a great day indeed!
This letter was sent to 18 among newspapers and magazines in UK; it is sent to numerous print organs in Switzerland; it is sent to all the italian newspapers we succeed to find the e-mail. We'll be enthusiastically grateful to the ones who will copy it and diffuse the aknowledgement and pubblication of it!
The current agitation about global warming from fossil fuel burning neglects other factors, such as solar output variability, volcanic dust emissions, the Ice Age cycles, and, more spectacularly, impacts from extraterrestrial objects in considering our ecology here on Earth.
It is now apparent that we do NOT live in a closed spaceship Earth ecology, but a cosmic one.
We 6+ billion humans can only prosper in the long run by understanding all the ramifications of such a cosmic ecology and, in due time, playing a full part in it. This means more science and technology, not less, and, in particular, cheaper and more reliable access to Space. New non-polluting sustainable sources of energy will also emerge from space development.
European Space Agency scientists speak of "Instrumenting the Grand Machine" with earth resources, meteorological, ocean temperature, aeronomy, communications, education, telemedicine and data relay satellites in a longterm programme of global understanding and management. We owe it to our descendants to act from carefully gathered information, since, without information we are "like a blindfolded man locked in a room with a tiger", as Sun Tzu put it! We humans can eke out a fear-ridden shrinking existence under an increasingly tyrannical Luddite banner here on Earth, or develop, in hope and confidence, a new cosmic ecology.
Long live the New Humanism!
The following letter was adressed, via e-mail, to numerous english, italian, swiss and german media.
The so-called Unabomber is about to face trial for multiple terrorist murders. His excuse, supported by many conspicuously muddled people, is that science and technology is "unnatural and against God's purpose for Man". Since science and technology are products of the human brain as surely as pearls are the results of the metabolism of oysters, it is meaningless to describe them as unnatural. Science and technology are a pre-requisite for the dispersal of Mindful life beyond a planet threatened by periodic mass extinctions. The Universe, whether evolved or created, is a test of intelligence and initiative; we have gifts beyond the animal kingdom - not to use them for our survival and advancement as Mindful beings would be a truly unnatural treason!