A new post on the Human Space Program blog features the reflections of Kristi Acuff, who has a masters in environmental management and aspires to be an astronaut (today she works in the MIT Media Lab). She highlights well the bigger picture issues facing humanity at this historic inflection point in space exploration:
We are a species standing at the brink of a feat never before seen by living organisms and our tribe is pioneering the way into the heavens, whether we have considered the past mistakes of “pioneering” or not. Retiring the use of the term “colonization” is a step, sure, but… the beginnings of neglected lessons are appearing. Identification and consensus of problems are well known. Actionable steps are few and far between. Even more sparingly are efforts to create an outer space environment for future generations. It’s full steam ahead to return and stay at the Moon, and the money is being poured into exploration and utilization while the environment necessary to ensure the safety and sustainability of this mission is being trashed at the expense of the “business case”. It’s a common obstacle that all sustainability efforts face, and it’s a multi-faceted dilemma.
At ARES Learning we believe it's important for students to learn about issues of long term environmental sustainability, from socio-historical and ethical perspectives as well as technical and scientific angles. Space philosophy should always go hand in hand with the science as humanity moves forward with historic efforts toward space exploration, development, and migration.
Learn more about the ARES Learning approach in the book Space Education: Preparing Students for Humanity's Multi-Planet Future by our co-founder Dr. Mark Wagner, and explore a complete Space Education Curriculum developed for high schools - it's a free and open education resource available to students, teachers, and enthusiasts everywhere.