Space: No Longer an Option?

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Several years ago, a former colleague made a statement that space was somewhere humans could live. I responded that he should be sure to take plenty of provisions including oxygen, water, and food, because neither space nor any of the planetary bodies studied seem to have any. I added that space itself doesn’t have any gravity. And that astronauts said space has a ‘burning smell’. My colleague was dumbfounded. 

For some reason I happened upon several space-related articles this week Here is a round-up of my readings from the last few days.

Disclaimer: The following links lead to the articles on the respective websites or These links are affiliate links. I may earn a commission for Amazon purchases using the links. This does not affect the price you pay.

“There’s no reason to go up there – there’s nothing there!”

Harry Hamlin, the actor,  says that’s what his rocket scientist father who was the head of the Jupiter rocket program at an aerospace company said (AARP the Magazine, October/November 2022, p.16).

Gate in the woodland garden at Newark Park, Gloucestershire.

Space: All He Saw Was Death

William Shatner of Captain Kirk fame, just released a new book, entitled, Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder. Plenty of excerpts from the book and interviews with Shatner are trending on the Internet. Most if not all of the interviews and excerpts, focus on what Shatner experienced during his October 13, 2021 voyage on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space shuttle. Then 90 years old Shatner became the oldest person to travel in space. 

In the book Shatner reflects on his reactions as he looks not just at the beauty of Mother Earth but the emptiness of space. Here is a quote from the article, “Boldly Go”.

“I continued my self-guided tour and turned my head to face the other direction, to stare into space. I love the mystery of the universe. I love all the questions that have come to us over thousands of years of exploration and hypotheses. Stars exploding years ago, their light traveling to us years later; black holes absorbing energy; satellites showing us entire galaxies in areas thought to be devoid of matter entirely… all of that has thrilled me for years… but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold . . . all I saw was death.

I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing. I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining, life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her.

Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong.”

Impoundment pond at John Heinz NWR at Tinicum in South Philadelphia, PA.
Impoundment pond at John Heinz NWR at Tinicum in South Philadelphia, PA.

Space: A place to Escape Humanity and the Catastrophe they Created

Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires by Douglas Ruchkoff explores the inability of the richest among us to accept reality. From the books blurb on 

“The tech elite have a plan to survive the apocalypse: they want to leave us all behind.

Five mysterious billionaires summoned theorist Douglas Rushkoff to a desert resort for a private talk. The topic? How to survive the “Event”: the societal catastrophe they know is coming. Rushkoff came to understand that these men were under the influence of The Mindset, a Silicon Valley–style certainty that they and their cohort can break the laws of physics, economics, and morality to escape a disaster of their own making―as long as they have enough money and the right technology. 

A few weeks ago author Ruchkoff was at the Free Library of Philadelphia Author series, speaking about, Survival of the Richest. I wanted able to attend, the topic of the book intrigued me. But I didn’t want to travel all the way downtown and pay for ridiculously expensive parking.

I wonder what happens when the tech elite realize they have no where to go? Will they join efforts to repair and enhance the health of ecosystems? Will education curriculum finally reflect the reality of our human dependence on the Earth. Will capitalism be deprecated like software and deemed obsolete and best avoided? 

I wrote in a previous post about the awakening capitalists are finally having: that environmental collapse will negatively affect their business and profits. See Business Embedded in Nature.

Sunrise over the bluebell woodland at Badbury Rings, Dorset.
Sunrise over the bluebell woodland at Badbury Rings, Dorset.

Space is without Water, Food, or Air

I taught a lesson for my tenth grade students, in which I had them research how long the human body can go without food, water, and oxygen. They were often surprised just quickly we would expire without those three thngs. 

  • Without water – generally about 3-4 days  
  • Without food – generally 45 -61 days 
  • Without air – a few minutes 

It helped them to think about just how fragile we humans are. That life is precious. And to help those who have a hard time obtaining enough food, clean water, and air. And to be grateful and give thanks. 

My reading the past few days has strengthened my sense of hope. We all know some folks who are in for a rough landing when their “space dreams” of a new intergalactic home, slams into reality. At first it may fill them with despair. Next I hope comes relief. The relief that comes from releasing a heavy burden or from no longer having to keep up a facade. 

kids with good fresh food. Photo by Keith Weller. Courtesy

There’s nothing up there for us. But everything for us down here on Earth

I’ve always been a big fan of both science fiction books and films. Yes, I would fantasize about what it would be like on another planet. But the planet always looked like the twin of Earth. But with healthy forests, crystal clear waters, and teeming with plant and animal life. Oh wait, that is what the Americas looked like in 1491. Maybe it isn’t a fantasy of a future world but an ancestral or previous life’s memories.

There may be nowhere to go, but we have such a beautiful, bountiful planet to pass the time on. I write about these things today to remind us that we know a truth, what so many others refuse to acknowledge, that Mother Earth is our home. We all belong here and no one’s going anywhere or conveniently disappearing in a puff of sweet smelling smoke. We are all connected. We are all related. And if my relatives do well and live well I’m safer and better for it. Peace and joy to all my relatives. 

Works Cited

Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder by William Shatner ( link) 

Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires by Douglas Ruchkoff. ( link)  

How long can you survive without water?

What Happens When the Food Runs Out (

Can You Survive if You Run Out of Air? (

Other related posts

Words Before All Else

Bounded Space: A Timeless Concept for Conservation

Can We Make It to Mars?

Plan B: How to Prepare for Our Changing World



  1. Great post. I would add one other work to your list of references: the indie video game “Golf Club Wasteland,” which is an excellent and moving satire of The Mindset.

    • Hi Alan, Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve never heard of the game but it sounds like I’d enjoy it. Readers will see your suggestion in the comment section. 🙂

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