In another of the occasional blogs from my sister in Australia she shares a letter she sent to the ‘West Australian’ and ‘Australian’ newspapers.
This week the media has been full of information about the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. It was an amazing achievement, and worthy of our attention, but before we get too distracted with thoughts of going back to the moon and then on to Mars, let’s think seriously about Spaceship Earth, and the lessons to be learned from the Apollo 13 mission.
This mission came to be dubbed a “successful failure” after an onboard explosion destroyed the chance of landing on the moon, and changed the mission into a far more difﬁcult one of getting the astronauts back to earth safely. The craft was critically low in power, oxygen levels were of concern, and carbon dioxide levels mounted to near lethal levels. It took all the ingenuity of hundreds of people – scientists, astronauts and engineers – to solve the problems, and against all odds, the three men were brought back safely. During those tense days, the whole world watched and hoped, and mankind was once more united in a common cause.
Here on Spaceship Earth, we face not only the climate crisis, but also the problems of overconsumption, pollution, unimaginable mountains of waste, destruction of the environment with accelerating loss of biodiversity. The main lesson to be learnt from Apollo 13 is that humans are incredible and ingenious when our backs are against the wall. For those of us who accept that climate change is happening, we should not lose hope. The odds against the Apollo 13 ﬂight coming home again were almost impossible, and yet they succeeded.
For those in our community who deny there is a problem, consider what would have happened if, after those famous words “Houston, we have a problem” had been uttered by Jim Lovell, politicians had denied there was a problem, and instead ridiculed the astronauts. Then, when the scientists and engineers at Houston had conﬁrmed that there was indeed a problem, had tried to silence them, preferring instead to believe those few people who asserted the whole moon landing had been faked anyway? What if, instead of using those precious hours to come up with solutions and implement them, the Americans had whittled away the precious hours by arguing about whether a problem even existed? It would have reached a stage when it was truly too late to act.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world could be united in an effort to solve, or at least ameliorate, Climate change? We already have many solutions, but are failing to implement them because of disharmony and vested interests. We can succeed, but we have to start now, because … Houston, we have a problem. A big problem !!!!