March 12, 2009

Jerks Trash Universe

Astronauts and cosmonauts were forced to retreat to the Soyuz space capsule today as flying debris threatened their safety on the International Space Station. MSNBC reported that the Air Force tracks 13,400 space objects, and only six to seven percent are active satellites. That means at least 12,462 of those objects are space junk: scrap metal, old tools and equipment, dead satellites, etc. According to
Thousands of nuts, bolts, gloves and other debris from space missions form an orbiting garbage dump around Earth, presenting a hazard to spacecraft. Some of the bits and pieces scream along at 17,500 mph.
Who the hell left all that crap up there? The USA and the former Soviet Union are, of course, the big offenders. A complete list of offenders from nine years ago is available at The total amount of junk has grown by 50% since then.

Some of us on this planet have lived for years like a bunch of drunken frat boys on spring break. It wasn't enough to trash the planet; we have to trash the entire galaxy. With the economic collapse, a few of us have a new-found sobriety. Imagine if we all sobered up enough start cleaning up after ourselves. Where in the world would we put the space trash? Do you suppose there is enough landfill space on earth to "dispose" of it?

What a mess we have made. I fear we've gone too far and too many are still unwilling to change. But those who are waking up have to speak up. In so many ways, we're backing ourselves into a very small corner. We don't have anymore time for short-sighted, self-serving attitudes. We don't have anymore time for extreme greed and the politics of nationalism.

At times, I worry that my outrage over the insane behavior of corporations, governments, and powerful individuals will lead me to embrace a totalitarian ideology on the left. But what are we to do when so many of our fellow human beings live without regard for the rest of us and for the natural world? They will not control themselves, so how shall we reign them in? Let me know if you have any ideas.

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