“Does life exist beyond Earth?” These were the words of James L. Green, the director of NASA’s planetary science division. “We now have… great opportunities in the right locations on Mars to thoroughly investigate that.”
On Sept. 28, NASA made the announcement they have evidence of the existence of flowing water on Mars. With this discovery, we have new hope of finding life on the red planet and of learning more about how life itself can be sustained there.
The news caught on fast, becoming the viral story of the day. Everyone suddenly cared about the space program again, and our cultural thirst for cosmic exploration had been reawakened. People all over the world were wondering what this amazing news might mean for the future of humanity.
For about 48 hours at least.
It did not take long for everyone to find something new to talk about. The water on Mars is already on its way to Cecil the lion territory, dead and mostly forgotten. The modern news cycle has done this to countless stories before and will continue to do it to countless more.
But we should not let it happen this time. This news is bigger than any sort of human interest story or social activist issue. This is the future of our species and of our planet that we are talking about. This is one viral story that should literally mean the world to everyone.
We are living in a time where Earth’s population is increasing at a rate we never imagined, and our resources are running out faster than we ever thought possible. Climate change is slowly but surely damaging the long-term habitability of our planet, and we have shown little promise in reversing that trend.
We need to stop ignoring the giant elephant in the room. No matter what we do, Earth is only so big and only has so much to give. If we are going to continue growing as a species, and if we are to save our planet from the stresses of overpopulation, we all have to realize how essential it is for us to find other places where we can sustain life.
As important as it is to take care of problems that are right in front of us in the short-term, we cannot allow that to distract us from trying to solve our world’s biggest problem in the long-term. Human rights, war, the economy, education, crime, poverty, none of the fights we have every day about these issues will mean anything if we fail to invest in the very future of our species.
The way we do that is with the space program. We need to find new places where we can live, new resources we can harness and as wild as it may still sound to some, new life for us to learn from in any way we can. Exploring the galaxy is not some silly science-fiction concept. It is the science fact we must all fight harder to achieve.