“Mother Earth” & “Father Sky”

 The Duality of the Human Environment

What would Mother Earth be like without the Sun and the Moon?

By Peter Kokh – kokhmmm@aol.com
Logos added March 17, 2014

Expanded from an article previously published in the July 2008 issue of the SGAC Newsletter

The number of serious problems confronting the world at large today continues to grow, and become ever more difficult to manage with each passing day. The human race seems to be having a full-scale adolescent style crisis. If we do not soon emerge in fair shape, we may face something much worse than a worldwide depression -- a new Dark Ages. How long that would last and to what depths we might sink, dragging our host biosphere with us, cannot be known.

Population growth is outstripping our ability to access available resources at the standard of living levels with which we in the Developed World have become all too comfortable. Maintaining energy use at customary levels and maintaining the present state of “health” of the environment are beginning to look like either-or choices.

Poverty is on the rise in many areas, even in First World Nations. There is no end to a list of pressing top level concerns. Solutions requiring investment in one area, make investment in other areas harder to support. Are we caught in an “end of times” downward spiral?      

I think we need to take a look at just who we are, just where we came from, how we fit into the scheme of things as a people. If we can get a better insight into these things, we will have made a big step in putting the problems in the right context to begin to see solutions.

Most people consider our planet to be the only context in which we can understand our origins, our present history, and our future. One hears remarks such as “we need to find solutions to terrestrial problems right here on our home world, not out there somewhere.” Well, quite frankly, it’s too late for that. Our “home world” was Africa, and modern man has been on the move to wherever our developing technology would take us for at least 80,000 years. Our world used to be flat, but now we all consider it global. While few realize it, when man first set footsteps on another world, the “world” as a continuum of human horizons shattered that global limit forever; with that first step we became children of the Sun.

On every new frontier, we faced a new set of resources, of food sources, of climate conditions, of life-threatening dangers. Each time our great resourcefulness earned us the comfort of becoming “at home” in previously unforgiving, danger-fraught alien territory.

Backup a few steps to the real "Genesis." Of all the various elements of which our bodies are composed, only hydrogen is primeval. [Primeval helium is not found in living tissues, biochemical molecules, and substances.] All the higher elements have been forged in the interiors of stars which, at the end of their lifetimes, have exploded as “novas” scattering their enriched debris throughout the universe. It is from such “salted” gas and dust clouds that new stars began to form with attendant rocky worlds.

Genesis has it only half right. It should read,
“Of stardust thou art,
And to the stars thou shalt return.”

Too many people think of Mother Earth alone. But where would we be without the Sun's light and warmth! Where would the Sun be without the countless older larger stars that ended their lives in a life-giving explosion? The Sun is but the most locally prominent part of Father Sky. Mother Earth and Father Sky are an inseparable pair. Together they constitute the holistic human environment. Without both, our existence and subsistence would be unthinkable. Nor can it be under-stood, preserved, enhanced, have a trans-adolescent future. We are children not just of Earth, not just of the Solar System, but of the Universe. “Mother Nature” is more comprehensive than “Mother Earth.”
In that context, the suggestion that all solutions to our problems must be found here on Earth is not only wrong, but ignorant, stupid, self-defeating. Frankly, it is doctrinaire smelling of “orthodoxy.”

Looking outward, the Moon shares Earth’s orbit about the Sun. It is ours, a hinterland continent with resources for us to access and use. It is Earth’s “pantry”.

Yes, we have major energy, environmental, and social problems, all complexly interlinked. If accessing resources from space can help in any useful way in dealing with these crises, then assertions that we should look beneath our feet for all solutions becomes a cult of ignorance. And beyond the Moon are other resource-rich bodies, the asteroids, comets, and everything else in our Sun’s considerable family.

Now the Environment seen as Earth alone, is clearly susceptible to the exponentially increasing effects of inhabitation by an excreting technological species. But what about the Environment seen as including “Father Sky?” The Solar System is, by terrestrial standards, very vast. Is it possible that we could in any sense pollute that larger ecosphere? Perhaps. Extensive use of mass drivers used to move small bodies such as asteroids, if the exit velocity were to be within a certain velocity range, could create small, limited but dangerous streams of pressure vessel-rupturing shot. Our possible negative effects on the solar environment are, however, hard to assess at this time. Let us hope our successors will be on alert.

On the positive side, Earth Life will accompany us as we spread the continuum of our presence beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Sure, we could process some sort of Solyent Green nutrient to make it unnecessary to bring with us sustaining plant life. I will be most happy to have lived out my life in this “more primitive” age in such a case. The oasis of life that sustains us, is, in our opinion, not something to be outgrown.

Do we share the Universe
Looking out further, while the Moon seems to be barren, sterile, Mars may or may not be. But at best, any Martian life is stunted at a very low rung up the ladder of life. Around Jupiter, Europa’s extensive ice covered global ocean hides mysteries about which we can as yet only wonder. The same may be so for other ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

We know of advanced multicellular structured life forms only here on Earth. Are we alone? As mammals? as intelligent environment-modifying creatures? Many easy, flippant answers display an incredible ignorance of how very vast the universe is, not only in space, but also in time. No matter how rare “other” fertile “earths” may be percentage wise -- e.g. “one in a billion” -- the universe is so vast that there must be hundreds, even thousands of billions of other civilizations throughout quadrillions of cubic light years and through the most recent two thirds of the time since our universe seems to have come of age. That said, our nearest  “contemporary” neighbor might lie beyond the distance in both space and time within which there could be any meaningful interaction or exchange.

At any rate, it is most likely that the Universe is multiply fertile on a grand scale.

Humans and the Universe?
“Go and fill the world” in this expanded sense, begins to take on an interstellar connotation. Technology may limit us to much less than that. Some worlds will be able to support native born flowerings of life such as has Earth. Others may be able to support the beginnings of life, but not allow it to get much further. Others still may have all the needed resources but not the environmental conditions. Some grand beginnings will occur on planets whose suns are too short-lived to allow the full flowering such as that has happened here on Earth.

And there perhaps is our ultimate Genesis mission: to sow life where it could not have arisen on its own; to advance life where local conditions have held its evolution in check; to speed up evolution where the local Sun may be too short-lived. See “Welcome-Mat Worlds”, MMM #45, May 1991, reprinted in MMM Classic #5, pp. 25-28 – at http://www.moonsociety.org/publications/mmm_classics/

It is not mankind that is called to return home to the stars, but Earthlife, Gaia herself. Earth-life cannot reproduce itself elsewhere on its own. Thus, with no apology to those whom the following makes them squeamish, an intelligent dominant species can be seen as the reproductive organ of its planetary Biosphere. Through us alone, can Earth-life, Gaia, Mother Earth spread beyond its current limits. Father Sky calls us to this pilgrimage home. It calls us to fulfill the destiny of Mother Earth, and in the process tap full endowments of the Mother Earth - Father Sky union, to save Mother Earth from the ill effects of our technological adolescence. Someday, when our civilization has become more adult, we will be Solarians, children of the Solar System.

As noted, our species is not originally “Terran” but African. We have been on an epic journey of expansion to one frontier after another, to one continent after the other as we crossed the seas of Earth. Earth's Moon, stress on Earth's, is another continent of Greater Earth across another kind of sea. To stop now, in the belief that the world cannot be more than round, a belief as mistaken as the one that held the world to be flat, would be to turn our backs on ourselves, on our origins, on our destiny. We must not hide our light under the basket of Earth’s defining atmosphere. We must continue to develop the depths of our given talents. We can only do that by accepting the challenge to keep pioneering new frontiers. What other way to continue to give praise and glory to the creative forces which have forged us?

Those of us who want to look outwards for help with Earth’s intractable problems, are environmentalists too. But we see “environment” as a much larger bi-parental context. Our origin is on flat plains of Africa. Our destination is wherever our pilgrimage to keep on exploring our hidden given potential will take us. "Of Stardust thou art, to the Stars you shalt return."

Mother Earth is not a spinster but wed to Father Sky. Her terrestrial brood is but the first. We must reject the demands for terrestrial solutions to terrestrial problems. We must educate others to the much vaster space-time context in which we have come into being, and within which our future lies. Our Environmentalism must be holistic to be effective.      <MMM>