Ken Steele, Lennox Head
The world-wide enthusiasm for space (Echo 16/4) probably has its roots in ancient religious beliefs; God created life on Earth so He might well have scattered it throughout the universe.
The reality is very different. All life on Earth is absolutely dependent on a healthy living planet, James Lovelock’s Gaia. If it should die from the effects of climate change and over-population, it would probably become a lifeless, barren rock.
The evolutionary process that leads to our being here is so extraordinarily unlikely that it must be rare indeed, possibly unique in all of space-time. The DNA molecule and the living planet must have co-evolved a very long time ago because neither can exist without the other and all life on Earth is intimately linked. There is no possibility, for example, that bacteria or other familiar life form could have evolved in isolation or been transported from space on to the planet Mars.
We humans cannot live apart from Mother Earth. We can survive for a limited time in a capsule with everything provided, but to step outside would mean instant death. To live indefinitely on another planet it would need to be, in every respect, identical with ours. The notion that we could simply plant some trees and grow some crops is quite absurd. And if it was anything but identical, with its familiar shopping centres and its familiar cycles of day and night, it would be different and there would be nothing to eat or drink or breathe.
So the notion of our becoming a space-faring people bent upon colonising the rest of the cosmos is out of the question. We make do with what we’ve got or we go extinct.