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Michael D. Griffin, a true scientist

March 23, 2009
Official photo portrait of {{w|Michel D. Griff...
Image via Wikipedia

Michael D. Griffin is a true scientist who looks forward to space colonization. And the fact that he was the NASA administrator a while back, gives his words their real strength:

“… the goal isn’t just scientific exploration … it’s also about extending the range of human habitat out from Earth into the solar system as we go forward in time … In the long run a single-planet species will not survive … If we humans want to survive for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, we must ultimately populate other planets. Now, today the technology is such that this is barely conceivable. We’re in the infancy of it. … I’m talking about that one day, I don’t know when that day is, but there will be more human beings who live off the Earth than on it. We may well have people living on the moon. We may have people living on the moons of Jupiter and other planets. We may have people making habitats on asteroids … I know that humans will colonize the solar system and one day go beyond.” source

That’s being a true visionary and revolutionary; not just looking for the future, but actively trying to bring that about. And it would be a revolution like no other, as I’ve noted before; it will change human society and our local civilizations, its economy, poetry, art, politics… like nothing else.

But poor Michael set off a controversy:

“I have no doubt that global — that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change. First of all, I don’t think it’s within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown, and second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings – where and when – are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.” source

I think what he said was brilliant; it’s one of the least anthropocentric and western-centric statements I’ve come across in a long time! He didn’t say global warming isn’t happening, he didn’t even say humans are or are not responsible for it. What he said was very enlightened by science; we’re being egocentric when we think that the urrent climate is best, simply because we’re used to it and have constructed our societies and civilization around it. Yes of course it matters to many people, but to assume that what you’re born in to is the best, then you’re mistaken. Maybe for many in the west, global warming will be disastrous. Maybe not so for the Sahara desert, that could once again bloom. Maybe central Africa will become frigid and Russia the best region.

It’s climate change and it’s not going to be as bad for some, much worse for others. It is arrogant to preserve the status quo. It is along the lines of insisting that life can only exist in the conditions that brought us about, or even the belief that what we see around us is “the way it is supposed to be”. That’s another form of parochial teleology. And humans are worse off because of it.

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