In the end, it is really as simple as buying a ticket by 2040 or so. The ticket, last I checked, was about USD 50 Million for the round trip - less if you are only paying for your own body
Let’s face it. We all feel nothing we are doing is making a difference. The planet may or may not be doomed, but the one thing we know is that it seems our actions aren’t changing anything. So at this point, it can be safely said that our strategy to survive climate change is to die before the planet.
But do we really need to be so bleak? Is hope, that most precious of all things, so far gone? The scientists certainly think so, but when has science ever been right?
I know what we are all thinking – it’s time to go to Mars. It’s empty (we hope), and our new age Lord and Saviour Elon Musk will be leading the way (we really hope), presumably with a flag in hand.
Mars is perfect for that next step in Humanity’s story, and it can be for us Indians as well.
We can get there by leaving the Earth once every two and a half years, for a seven-month journey on a ship about the size of your bathroom. Not a real concern because, as we all know, nothing is easier for people than to spend months together in a confined space with no reprieve.
Once we reach, our robot friends, who are nothing like Skynet (we hope), will have prepared our habitat. It will have underground mud holes to protect us from the irradiated hellscape, that is the surface, and the temperature, which ranges from minus 70 degrees Celcius to about 17 degrees Celcius (in Summer, at the equator).
We can eat the potatoes grown from our faeces, living in suits that recycle every drop of moisture we have, including sweat and urine. And this is, of course, assuming nothing goes wrong – like a fire, or we somehow resurrect ancient robots/ghosts/demons (we have all seen the movies).
Which is fine. Who among us cannot wait about 50 years before we manage to airlift the supplies needed to build a fully functional settlement? As we all know, we humans are famous for our patience and understanding when it comes to natural resources and customer service.
All of this, of course, assumes the fact that we actually get there – without radiation from space frying our ships or a random solar storm giving us cancer in every part of the body. Or, as may just about happen, the rocket explodes on its way up.
Also, and this might be the simplest of all requirements – we need to be in peak physical and mental health. The nearest Dunzo delivery is about 20 crore kilometres away, and no internet provider is that good for Twitter to work. (Though surely Jio will be the first to provide it for 0.2 Mars Bucks for 10 GB). Better start jogging in the morning and buy the books you plan to read for the next six generations.
In the end, it is really as simple as buying a ticket by 2040 or so. The ticket, last I checked, was about USD 50 Million for the round trip – less if you are only paying for your own body. So at the current rupee rates (which seem to be eternally falling)…that’s about Rs 388 Crore. (Even ISRO’s ‘Autorickshaw minimum per kilometre’ rate is about Rs 400 Crore for 20 crore kilometres).
It’s easy to make that money, I have been told. Just a matter of not using Swiggy for a few years, travelling by public transport, investing in some mutual funds and some clever crypto scams. Easy, right?
Right. The plan is set – we are all looking forward to paradise in about 40 generations or so.
Now that we are all definitely going to Mars, in the short time we need to raise that Rs 388 Crore (in May 2022 exchange rates), we may as well try and not kill the planet we are already on. Just as time-pass, you know.
What can we do?
Use less stuff: It’s all well and good to point out that massive global companies are the world’s largest polluters, but they aren’t making these products for our alien/lizard overlords. The products are made for you, the consumer. And yes, they do account for every single one of us. We should do the same. Make a conscious effort to cut down on your purchases. Reuse and recycle all that you can. And convince your neighbours and friends to do the same. It does have an effect.
Go local, pay more: Yes, it does cost more money to buy and build local or handcrafted or organic. But the price is worth it. From homes to clothes to shoes to even decorations, there are plenty of options that are being made near to you, with products that are sustainable and ethically sourced. You don’t have to always get something dumped in a cargo ship fueled by the remains of ancient dinosaurs and sailed and driven halfway across the planet, just so you can buy it for Rs. 50 less, and use it for five minutes.
Eat with your hands, drink from your bottle: We know that the average use-time for single-use plastic items is about one minute. After all, how long are you going to hold on to that spoon you took to eat three bites of bhel puri, one plate of which is being shared by six of you? But as the recent COVID epidemic proved – it is possible to keep your hands clean and just eat with those. And while it is really cool to step into the world with your hands empty for any adventure, you can be a hero while also being well-hydrated, thanks to a bottle you carry. The same goes for a cloth bag that you can use to carry your magical sword or the veggies you bought for dinner.
Make it last long, ever long: It is amazing how, if you don’t toss out your phone for a new one every year, the old one just continues to work. It is almost as if most of the products being manufactured are not intended to ‘Thanos snap’ into dust at the end of 365 days. So go nuts and just use that phone for three, even five years, you crazy soul. The same goes for everything else you own. And phones aside, if it breaks, go get it fixed before Amazon auto-orders it via your Prime account.
Do something: Yes, do something. Anything. There are no limits, and you get a prize for participating every time – the planet will last longer. Go out and plant a tree. Maybe the first ten you planted didn’t live past five days. But the eleventh might. So go do that. Pick up that piece of trash you see on the road and put it in a bin. Yes, you didn’t throw it, and you aren’t paid to clean the streets, but if all 10,000 of you who passed this way did that, then no one needs to be paid to pick up our trash at all. Get your building society to install a rainwater harvesting system, go for a nature walk or a beach clean up, and perhaps donate to a local NGO where you volunteer. Doing something, anything, will make a difference.
In the end, those who can go to Mars will do so. And it is good for humans to expand beyond our planet. But we don’t have to choose between two worlds or move from one to the other like locusts on a consumption spree.
For no matter how far we wander, to quote the great Carl Sagan, this Earth is the only home we will ever have.
PS: Much of the Mars hopes mentioned here are taken from this amazing video, which I highly recommend. It is good to dream and to imagine a hopeful future.
“Elon Musk says he plans to send 1 million people to Mars by 2050 by launching 3 Starship rockets every day and creating ‘a lot of jobs’ on the red planet”, published by Business Insider India on Jan 18 2020.
“What is a Mars launch window?”, published by CGTN on 19 July 2020.
“Fine-Tuning the Flight Path to Mars”, on NASA Mars.
“Underground oasis in a Martian lava tube”, published by humanMars on 27 September 2020.
“The Planet Mars”, published by the official website of the National Weather Service.
“Could we grow potatoes on Mars?”, published by Warwick on 18 August 2020.
“In space, water recycling keeps astronauts alive”, published by Aquatech on 10 September 2019.
Ghosts of Mars by Wikipedia.
“Elon Musk Says Ticket to Mars Will Cost $500,000”, published by Wired on 21 March 2012.
Image Credits: NASA