This is something that’s bugged me ever since I saw a seminar about tesing how mice behave in space during my undergrad.
The proposed budget for NASA for 2009 is almost 20 billion dollars (at least that’s the gist I got from the budget pdf, it was a little confusing). That’s a lot of dollars. Now some of that is used for good things like satellite monitoring of the earth and watching for Armageddon-esc meteors, but….
We’re spending a big chunk this money to do things like look for remains of microbes that once lived on Mars, decide if Pluto is a planet, etc. Did you know that just recently we discovered a fungus that naturally makes diesel fuel? Here’s the article in the journal Microbiology and here’s a news article if you don’t have access to the journal through a subscription or university. Guess where it was found? The rainforest. (sounds of chainsaws in the background)
So we use all this money to explore space, yet so many places on earth are left unexplored, poorly understood and extremely mismanaged. Medicinal, practical, and valuable species are found all the time, plus things that are just as interesting (more interesting to) as things on Mars. So maybe, just maybe it would be a good idea to use some of that space money to learn about our own planet and try to save it. Otherwise, we’re going to need to use that space budget to set up colonies on the moon and Mars once this planet has had enough of us.
And we all know what a pain moving is. I’d much rather just stay here.