On the Threshold of the Universe
by Robert Zubrin

Allow me to quote Robert Zubrin (pages 4-5) from his recent book, ENTERING SPACE:

"All modern humans are the descendants of a very small band of people who lived in East Africa about 200,000 years ago. We find the earliest known remains of both Homo sapiens and its precursors in that region.... For 150,000 years after the appearance of Homo sapiens, our ancestors remained in the tropics. For the most part, this meant East Africa itself although there is evidence for the intermittent presence in southern Africa and the Middle East.... With the aid of a few simple crude stone implements inherited from their Homo erectus forebears, these early Homo sapiens were masters of their environment, and apparently saw little need to either move or change in any way. Indeed, the 150 millennia humanity spent in Africa was a period of almost total technological stagnation, with generation after generation living and dying doing things in exactly the same way as their parents, grandparents, and remote ancestors centuries, millennia, and tens of millennia before....But then, for some reason -- perhaps by choice, perhaps forced by population pressure resulting from humanity's own success in adapting to its natural tropical environment -- about 50,000 years ago some bands of these people left the African homeland to try their fortune in the north. There they soon encountered the problems of life in the wintry wastes of Ice Age Europe and Asia. In this new and more challenging world, the old bag of tricks that had served static tropical man so well for so long no longer sufficed. Without the novel inventions of clothing, insulated shelter, and efficient control of fire, Homo sapiens could not survive a single winter in their new habitat. Inventing clothing meant inventing sewing. Shelters had to be either built de novo or won from powerfully built, stocky, cold-adapted Neanderthals or 1,500-kilogram cave bears....Moving into a more challenging environment to which it was not naturally adapted forced Homo sapiens to transcend itself."

Zubrin makes an analogy of Europeans exploring China and then the New World and says that the same will happen for that band of Earthlings that ventures onward to Mars (and eventually to colonize the rest of the Solar System). These people will become more robust and technologically able than those left on Earth.

My observation is that those who stay on Earth may stagnate, as is often the case with those who become complacent and/or live in over-crowded conditions, conditions which necessite too many laws which eventually truncate too many freedoms. All this results in endless conflicts, if not war. Observation shows that Earth seems to be cruising towards this scenario now. This is why it is important to support expoloration. Check out the Robert's book, ENTERING SPACE (available at Amazon.com), and join the Mars Society at http://www.marssociety.org.

James Jaeger

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