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Category: Trends / Topics: Future Science & Technology Social Issues Technology

Fly Me to the Moon

by Barbara Greenleaf

Posted: March 24, 2023

Once the domain of science fiction, space colonization is being discussed by serious scientists and engineers as a real alternative to our deteriorating planet…

Last week Barbara introduced us to her new book, Adventrues in ECO Land (available in paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon and at Chaucer’s and Tecolote bookstores). Here is another except.

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars. . .

The opening lines of that Frank Sinatra hit song are resonating with more people today than ever. Once the domain of science fiction, space colonization is being discussed by serious scientists and engineers as a real alternative to our deteriorating planet. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Tesla founder Elon Musk (SpaceX) are popularizing this Plan B.

Yes, we have more than a few problems here on Earth, but from what I’ve read, life on the Moon isn’t going to be a piece of cake, either.  For starters, temperatures on the Moon are intense, fluctuating between a daytime average of 253 degrees and a nighttime average of minus 310. And solar radiation out there is so dangerous there you’d have to walk around wearing a protective shield. That is not a good look.

Moreover, to make the Moon habitable, we would need to live in tightly sealed shelters with recirculating air so we could breathe in that sparse atmosphere. The shelters would have to protect us from the frequently occurring meteors, too. That’s why I urge you not to think of setting up split-level ranch on the Moon; rather, think Alcatraz Prison with a bit of chintz to convey old world charm. And just becaus there’s lots of empty land, realtors shouldn’t think they can simply transfer their business. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 forbids countries to own any part of the Moon, which means they can’t guarantee lunar property rights.

In order to live on the Moon, not just stop in for a quick visit, we would need reliable and renewable energy, but providing it would be monumentally difficult. Since the moon’s night is so much colder and longer than the Earth’s night, we’d need huge solar storage facilities to provide round-the-clock energy.

Getting enough food would be another major challenge. On Earth each American consumes roughly 3,600 calories a day. But merely existing on the Moon would burn 300 calories per hour. And that’s not accounting for the energy we’d use for the daily two-and-a-half-hour workouts necessary to maintain bone mass, muscle strength, and heart in that low-gravity environment. Finally, there’s Moondust—not to be confused with Moonglow—which afflicted the Apollo astronauts with watery eyes and scratchy throats.

The challenges go on and on: How would we grow crops in that inhospitable terrain—call Martha Stewart? How would we get water—shout “Hey Culligan Man?” And I seriously doubt we’d get our choice of sparkling or still.

What about our whole on-demand way of life? Many things will still have to be shipped from Earth. The moon is not exactly on UPS’s route. Amazon and its two-day deliveries? And what about Domino’s pizza? How much do you tip someone who’s traveled 240,000 miles over 3 days in a spacecraft to get it to you hot. OMG, he’s forgotten the croutons for the salad! Oh, the hardships of life up there!

When I think of how far we have to go, literally and figuratively, to live on the moon, I conclude we’d do better to shore up life here on Earth. There really is no Plan B. Another Sinatra hit ends with the line, Pack up, let’s fly away! To which I reply,

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Barbara is the author of eight books, including two of particular interest to seniors. She has given us permission to use material from her newsletter, "From the Desk of Barbara Greenleaf," to which you can subscribe on her website.

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Posted: March 24, 2023

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