Science 3 min read

Fix Earth, Instead of Looking for a Planet B!

Fix Earth! An exoplanet scientist thinks it’s both irresponsible and vain to seek escape from Earth instead of fixing climate change.

Dotted Yeti / Shutterstock.com

Dotted Yeti / Shutterstock.com

You’d think that astronomers, whose job is to discover and study alien worlds, would be excited about the idea of leaving our planet. Maybe they would be but don’t count Didier Queloz because this scientist believes that our primary focus should be to fix Earth.

A Swiss astronomer, Queloz was among a group of scientists gathered in Stockholm to receive their Nobel prizes. The 2019 Nobel Prize laureates addressed the issue of climate change as the 25th United Nations Climate Conference (COP 25) is taking place in Madrid (Dec 2–13).

Queloz especially takes issue with those who think there’s no reason to fight climate change because we’ll eventually leave our home planet.

Fix Earth! It’s All We’ve Got

As the cradle of humanity, Earth has not just supported our existence but also shaped the way we exist.

According to Queloz, the human species is made to live on Earth and has developed to serve this purpose. Living on another planet may not work for biological and evolutionary reasons — that’s if we could reach it in the first place.

In addition to Queloz, this year’s Nobel physics prize honored two other physicists, James Peebles (½ prize share) and Michel Mayor. Queloz shares the award with Mayor, with ¼ $910,000 each, for discovering an exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star.

The planet in question is none other than 51 Pegasi b, discovered in 1995, the first-ever exoplanet recognized as such.

The exoplanet hunter, however, describes the idea of escaping our home planet to live elsewhere in the cosmos as “farfetched and unrealistic.” He thinks that prioritizing space exploration over addressing Earth’s urgent issues is a big mistake.

Saturday, at a news conference in Stockholm, Queloz had this to say:

“I think this is just irresponsible because the stars are so far away I think we should not have any serious hope to escape the Earth. Also, keep in mind that we are a species that has evolved and developed for this planet. We’re not built to survive on any other planet than this one. So we better spend our time and energy trying to fix it than trying to imagine that we will … destroy it and leave it.”

Other Nobel Prize laureates, too, were unanimous in calling for an adequate response to climate change.

“If at some point Earth becomes inhabitable, there’s no way to escape. We are linked to this planet.,” said Professor Mayor. “We do not have a plan B. We have to take care of the Earth.”

If your house is a tiny island in a vast ocean, and it’s ablaze, you’d better focus on putting out the fire than on leaving for another island.

But the thing is, climate change isn’t taking a backstage to space exploration because the latter isn’t stealing the show really.

The world isn’t of a single mind when it comes to either option. In other words, we could lose on both fronts for all we know.

Read More: The Sound of Earth During a Solar Storm Will Haunt Your Dreams

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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