Since we visited the Air and Space Museum earlier this summer, space has been on Charlie's mind. When we reached the limits of my ability to explain things, we trooped over to the library to look for a few books on the subject. After a brief search through the children's section, we managed to find only one book.
Despite my misgivings about it's scientific value, Charlie would not let it go, so we checked it out (along with some others we found in the "juniors" section, including a particularly interesting one about black holes, because nothing says "sweet dreams" like distortions in the fabric of space and time) and then I hid it in the laundry room as soon as we got home and he wasn't paying attention.
Lucky for you, I was able to renew it! TWICE! Can you believe no one had placed it on hold? I mean, what ARE kids reading these days, anyway?
I came across it the other day and gave it a second look. This is the first page. When I read it I thought that maybe I was being a little bit of a snob in mocking the book so harshly. I mean, nothing on this page is particularly offensive. A tranquil fall landscape, some Pilgrims sitting by a fire. A factual anecdote to illustrate the meaning of the word "colony."
But the next chapter is where they drop the bomb. Why Build Colonies in Space asks the chapter title? Because our planet is headed for IMMINENT RUIN. We will soon have so many people that there won't be enough room for everyone. Naturally, the most practical solution is to encourage some people to LIVE IN SPACE. The book does not detail what kind of incentives would be offered to those willing to leave. Lower taxes, maybe? It also does not mention that even if a space colony big enough to house the entire population of Rhode Island (1,053,209) could be constructed, it would only remove 0.01% of the population from the earth. How many people live in the International Space Station? Like eight?
The second part of the chapter is more contemporary and discusses our limited natural energy resources. I can get behind that, but instead of arguing for the development of renewable energy the book suggests we MINE THINGS ON OTHER PLANETS. It then correctly points out that there is endless solar energy available in space. Because constructing a solar power plant and housing it's hundreds of employees IN SPACE is clearly a better first step than attempting the same on our planet.
The moon: a good source of aluminum and titanium, conveniently out of reach of the pesky EPA and MMS, and only really visible to most people on earth about half the days of every month. WIN!
The next few chapters discuss the construction of the space colony and what life might be like were you lucky enough to live in one (and by lucky I mean, no more arguments about whose family you will be spending Christmas with. I mean, SORRY! I LIVE IN SPACE NOW!). Apparently life would be quite ordinary. There would be houses, churches, places to work, schools, and parks. How Utopian! I would like to have seen a chapter called "What Your Atmosphere Does for You," but I don't think Texas sized asteroids and dangerous UV radiation have much place in a children's book.
And now that you are all ready to sign up for the adventure of a lifetime, you might be wondering when the first group of residents will be lifting off. Well have I got some good news for you! According to this page, it will be happening THIS YEAR.
And then it closes with something I like to call "The Most Ironically Named Chapter of All Time."