The Case for Space Ship Earth


The Case for
Space Ship Earth

By Tom Brinkman

Our earthly home is commonly visualized as “planet earth”. True enough, but in fact we really are also living aboard a space ship made by Nature—Space Ship Earth.

It is disturbing that the American public has been slow to focus on, and take to heart, the very large, difficult, complex and vital issue of Earth’s environmental survival—air, water, food, population, and extinctions. We live in a “sound bite” society which allows over-simplification of complex issues, distortions, and cherry-picking of facts. Many citizens are too busy working, raising families, or are too impatient to read in-depth discussions. Too many of our leaders and citizens shrink from facing environmental issues (“I’m not a scientist….”), but then rely on unsupported opinions. Some people in our society repeat, and repeat again, distortions even though scientists possess facts, good data, numbers and charts, and exercise sound judgement regarding environmental issues. However, in my opinion science has often presented its case in terminology and phraseology that does not catch the interest of, or speak to, the nontechnical, busy, average citizen. I believe that the perspective of living on Space Ship Earth gives us a concept which ties together the multi-faceted challenges to Earth’s ecological survival and does so in “everyman’s” language—hopefully this resonates with our general citizenry. After all, we live together on the Good Ship Earth and we need to be united as we confront dangerous global environmental challenges.

My background in aeronautical engineering and electrical engineering helps me to view Planet Earth both from afar, as well as how Nature works at a close-in detailed level. Given these perspectives I find it both difficult and wrong to just sit on my hands as we confront these issues. And so I direct your attention to my article, in pdf form, which hopefully you find non-political and which paints the picture of The Case for Space Ship Earth. This article consists of the following sections:

  1. The Big Picture
  2. Air Supply
  3. Water Supply
  4. Food Supply
  5. The Passenger List
  6. Leadership and Crew
  7. Final Thoughts

If you find this article of value, I offer it freely for use to further the cause of environmental improvement in your city, state, the U.S., or anywhere onboard our Space Ship Earth.

We are all alone out here,

Tom Brinkman

7 Replies to “The Case for Space Ship Earth”

  1. Evolution is simply taking its course. We are a species that is changing our planet. We aren’t the first to do so and we probably won’t be the last. Life goes on.

    Humans have created many civilizations. And many, despite awesome accomplishments, have eventually lost their power and faded from history’s stage. It’s happened before and will happen again.

    The “Space Ship Earth” will continue to sail on….humans just won’t be at the helm.

    Evolution has presented our species with a unique problem – an intelligence that is ultimately self-destructive. Our failure to recognize that problem and solve it…well…that too is evolution.

    G. Dean

    1. I am pretty sure we have recognized the problem. Two warnings issued to humanity by a large group of scientists in less than 30 years is enough proof of that. As far as solving it goes… is that not what we are attempting to do by engaging in conversation? It is not an easy problem just from a logistics point of view. What is the best way to organize? What is the first step? All questions that point to how did we get here in the first place? We are a small group right now but can grow much larger. Let’s take a step back and remain positive. Come to think of it, maybe that is the first step.

  2. Gretchen, I have also thought of the perspective you have so clearly stated. However, when nature’s processes are playing out naturally, we live with the environmental challenges and adjust as best we can. But these current, rapid changes are heavily human-driven and humankind is only now maturing enough to recognize that we have not taken the long view.

    We do have the intelligence and foresight to both plan actions and identify possible negative side-effects. I am enough of a fighter to pick up the cause of survival, especially when I consider those who are in a more helpless and higher risk position than I am. I cannot look away.

    We are behind the “power curve”, and we are looking at a huge endeavor. So I will continue to make donations and continue disseminating my “The Case for Space Ship Earth” perspective to individuals, politicians and organizations in the hope of catching the attention of our citizenry. This is what I have to offer. I cannot sit on my hands.

  3. Daniel, we clearly have a well-recognized problem within the arena(s) of science and engineering. But the huge majority of our citizenry in my country (and maybe the world?) are not directly part of the scientific community. When I observe opinion poll results I conclude that the average citizen, both busily working and raising families, and political posturing, I see a very large percent of the general population not fully engaged or committed. While the numbers now seem to finally be changing, it seems too slow to show the urgency that ‘Good Ship Earth’ requires.

    I believe that a robust effort at solutions can truly come only after a problem is widely recognized. And so my posting of “The Case for Space Ship Earth” is squarely aimed at trying to get the attention of our non-technical , busy citizenry….to grab peoples’ attention by the shirt collar, if you will. And yes, a positive approach of pushing solutions must be worked as fast as we can, but ultimately we also need an aware and engaged majority with us.

    1. Tom your reply indicated a strong concern for the public’s indifference. I too am very concerned and have been giving this a lot of thought lately. So in an attempt to understand the problem I have divided the public into 5 simple “what might be holding them back” groups. I feel very strongly that psychology will play a big role in our quest to achieve the public’s support. I realize this exercise is simplistic and just opinion but I do live and work apart from the scientific community. Even so, it will require much more attention and effort before moving forward with any action.

      1. True Indifference: people who are not emotionally or socially well adjusted. I see it as a small section of the population.
      2. Self-delusional: a larger number relative to the first group but still tiny. I would put the extreme right of the voting public in here.
      3. Not informed: this group watches and believes television news. Since TV news has never acknowledged the gravity of our situation, they are unconcerned. If the right information is put to this group, they would dig deeper and eventually join us.
      4. Fear of change: The largest group and the biggest challenge. They are just like “not informed” above but are so afraid of change they’ll resist even if better data is placed under their noses. This group needs to be slapped (verbally) out of their panic mode with some harsh truth about themselves and forced to look in the mirror. A palatable plan would help the most after being shocked back to reality.
      5. Doomsayers: People who want the world to end. They either can’t wait to join their god or they may just be very bored and so crave excitement. I think their numbers are not so big and these will shrink drastically once groups 3 and 4 begin to join us.

  4. Tom your reply indicated a strong concern for the public’s indifference. I too am very concerned and have been giving this a lot of thought lately. So in an attempt to understand the problem I have divided the public into 5 simple “what might be holding them back” groups. I feel very strongly that psychology will play a big role in our quest to achieve the public’s support. I realize this exercise is simplistic and just opinion but I do live and work apart from the scientific community. Even so, it will require much more attention and effort before moving forward with any action.

    1. True Indifference: people who are not emotionally or socially well adjusted. I see it as a small section of the population.
    2. Self-delusional: a larger number relative to the first group but still tiny. I would put the extreme right of the voting public in here.
    3. Not informed: this group watches and believes television news. Since TV news has never acknowledged the gravity of our situation, they are unconcerned. If the right information is put to this group, they would dig deeper and eventually join us.
    4. Fear of change: The largest group and the biggest challenge. They are just like “not informed” above but are so afraid of change they’ll resist even if better data is placed under their noses. This group needs to be slapped (verbally) out of their panic mode with some harsh truth about themselves and forced to look in the mirror. A palatable plan would help the most after being shocked back to reality.
    5. Doomsayers: People who want the world to end. They either can’t wait to join their god or they may just be very bored and so crave excitement. I think their numbers are not so big and these will shrink drastically once groups 3 and 4 begin to join us.

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