In 1959 man decided to go to the moon. In July 969, man landed on the moon. In July 1979 one of man’s spacecrafts unexpectedly fell back to earth. Probably in 1879 BCE there was a major famine in Egypt. In 1979 the modern world was experiencing a severe global food crisis and in 2009 as the world economy shrank, there were news reports some Haitians were eating mud.
For some folk, famine and hunger are punishment for straying from god; in the view of others, hunger stems from economic and political mismanagement of domestic economies. To yet others, hunger results from systemic flaws in the world economy’s exchange mechanisms. In the end, all see a moral cause for hunger.
At Abeng News Magazine we are not Luddites who believe that space exploration is of no value. If that were the case, you’d be reading this on papyrus. We do believe that even if space exploration has contributed to cures for illnesses and lightning fast global telecommunication, it probably has generated as much wastefulness as it has contributed solutions.
The space race is as much a part of the historical struggle for global domination as was the contest to own the trade routes to the spices and riches of Asia and Africa.
It is a fallacy to think that one man is empty because another’s belly is full. But it is equally false that we do not share a responsibility to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry.
The current financial crisis shows our collective interdependence and it’s a safe gamble that a if a tenth of the intellectual and computing resources were addressed to the issue of global hunger, we could all rest a little more soundly, not fearing an invasion of the starving hordes.
As I showered in a bathroom in Montserrat in 1979, one the many who had anticipated some catastrophe from the unexpected return to earth of Skylab*, I scribbled these words on toilette paper until I could get to a typewriter – now made obsolete by this machine (click to listen):[audio:http://www.abengnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/New_World_Trippin.mp3]
(Respects to Bob Marley and the Wailers for that excerpt from “So Much Trouble”, Survival lp, 1979. New World Trippin original published in Poems from Montserrat: Flowers Blooming Late emancipation commemorative anthology, ed Howard Fergus, UWI School of Continuing Studies, Montserrat 1984.)
*Skylab was America’s first experimental space station. Designed for long duration mission, Skylab program objectives were twofold: To prove that humans could live and work in space for extended periods, and to expand our knowledge of solar astronomy well beyond Earth-based observations. Successful in all respects despite early mechanical difficulties, three three-man crews occupied the Skylab workshop for a total of 171 days, 13 hours. It was the site of nearly 300 scientific and technical experiments: medical experiments on humans’ adaptability to zero gravity, solar observations, and detailed Earth resources experiments. The empty Skylab spacecraft returned to Earth July 11, 1979 scattering debris over the Indian Ocean and the sparsely settled region of Western Australia.
Photo and video courtesy of NASA.