New Planet, Same Problems

I recently went to a careers talk about science communication and after listening to a lady from the national space centre it got me thinking about what problems astrophysicists are trying to solve. One of the big things that people seem particularly interested in is space exploration and searching for Earth- like planets that we could live on after a natural or man- made apocalypse occurs.

This made me think about the problems that would follow us if we did move planet. I know that this notion is still just the foundations of science fiction but even if we solved the problem of finding a new planet to live on there would still be so many other problems that we would still have to face. This has helped me to understand the problems that are the most threatening to the human race and despite everyone having different opinions about what is important, these are my ideas and I am open to argument. Although it is a selfish way to think and we should continue work to save the species that are dying out, it is interesting to search for the problems that will follow us wherever we end up living.

Probably the first one that springs to my mind is cancer. Even though we would be in an alien environment, we would still be humans and prone to this horrible disease. Even though scientists are always making breakthroughs it will always be a problem in a similar way that dementia and diabetes will always be a problem. In fact, any disease that threatens human health will still be with us, even bacterial diseases; we carry bacteria with us everywhere we go, in our guts, on our skin and clothes and no spaceship that we use to take us to a new planet will be completely sterile!

Of course, this leads me onto antibiotic resistance. Even with new surroundings and possibly new bacteria to colonise us we would still have the same old problem that we do on Earth. And even though we may develop new antibiotics to combat these new bacteria the same thing will inevitably happen if we carry on using them as we do now.

So then there is the question: would we learn from anything that we did on our old, dying planet? I would hope so. I would hope that diabetes induced by obesity wouldn’t be such a problem since food would be limited. Depression and other mental illnesses would still be there but would they diminish and be replaced with the feeling of hope that finding a new planet might bring? Who knows and I know I’ll never be an expert in this field.

If we moved planet though, it strikes me that we would be running away from a lot of bad things that us humans caused. Scientists are trying to fix the problems that we have created for ourselves like climate change and antibiotic resistance; trying to turn back the clock to when they weren’t a problem and we were blissfully unaware of the problems our species would cause for itself. Obviously, the problems that we haven’t caused (to an extent) are also being worked on but it is hard to know what is important and what can be pushed to the back of the queue. No one truly agrees on everything, even people working on the same piece of research have different ideas as to what to tackle first.

In a way, it’s the same as trying to decide which charity to give your money to: whether it be £2 to Wikipedia so you can continue looking up the ages of celebrities you fancy or £200 to Cancer Research in the hope that they find a cure before you get the disease yourself.

All this choosing really does my head in and I wish that all the world’s problems would be given an equal pot of cash instead of having to fight for publicity and the funds to pursue their goal.

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