I wonder what Captain Kirk would do today. If he were still driving the USS Enterprise from Star Trek, discovering that while he was flying where no human had gone before, here, the planet Earth had fallen ill. It would probably reverse course, were it not too late, given that the famous TV series, released in the 1960s, is set in 2200, too late according to climatologists. I wonder because yesterday William Shatner, the actor who played Captain Kirk, at 90, flew into space with Jeff Bezos’ spacecraft, becoming the oldest human to have done so.
When he returned to the ground, about ten minutes after the launch, he said some very nice things. For example, he said: “Everyone should be able to do it, everyone should be able to see what I saw…”. What did he see? The Earth from above, the beauty and fragility of our blue planet in infinite space. Are we doing enough to protect him? No, we know. Now I understand that we are all struggling to emerge from a pandemic that has turned our lives upside down for almost two years, and that we would want to do everything but face another challenge.
But it is not we who decide the times, it is climate change – caused by our lifestyle – that has triggered the countdown. Are we able to mobilize, to use science, technology and capital, as we did for the coronavirus, to prevent the Earth from becoming unlivable? What will our children say looking back over these years? That while the planet was sick, the richest and most powerful men (they are all men, sic! 9) challenged each other by sending a handful of happy tourists into space? Space exploration is fundamental, also for the scientific impact on our lives, but I would like us to put the same enthusiasm seen in yesterday’s launch to solve a more urgent problem: saving planet earth.