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Fly me to the moon? Non, merci.

Fly me to the moon? Non, merci.

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Paul GallayRiverkeeper testifies at a unique “trial” posing this cosmic choice: double down on saving the Earth or seek a new home in space. The unanimous verdict: stay and fight for our beautiful blue planet.

 

Earlier this month, the Cultural Center of the Lycee Francais of New York asked me to join three other panelists — a celebrated space shuttle astronaut, the founder of the Rainforest Alliance and the first investor in SpaceX — for a mock trial billed by the organizers as: “Fight or Flight: Will Outer Space Save Humanity”.

I could not imagine a better question to say “yes” to, so off to court I went.

After being sworn in by the presiding judge, Time editor-at-large Jeffrey Kluger (who also empaneled a 7-member jury drawn from the Lycee community), two witnesses, including myself, spoke for Earth and the other two for space.

I and my fellow pro-Earther, Daniel Katz, acknowledged the challenges involved in saving Earth, but we pointed out that while human ingenuity has put the planet at great risk, it’s also given us the means to deal with these risks. And, that even if we had the technology (which we don’t) to establish colonies on the moon, or Mars or some distant “Goldilocks Planet,” who would we be, out there in space? Why would we abandon the magnificent, if frayed, web of life here on Earth for the uncertain prospect of eking things out on some alien distant world?

The jurors took it all in, left briefly to deliberate and then returned with this unanimous verdict:

Earth, for all its problems, is our one true home, and we need to put everything we’ve got into saving it.

It was great to see Mother Earth get the win. Plus, the audience appreciated Riverkeeper’s efforts to bring the Hudson River back from the brink and they were happy that our model has gone global, thanks to the Waterkeeper Alliance and 350 other keepers on six continents fighting to save iconic waterways of their own. The “Fight or Flight” attendees also seemed to understand that protecting Mother Earth is part of what makes us truly human.

We may have endangered the Earth in countless ways, but this is no time for pipe dreams about pulling up stakes and flying off somewhere new. When you think about what the Hudson was like 50 years ago, when Riverkeeper was just getting started, and how much cleaner, safer and more inviting it is today, you know that our future is here, building a more sustainable civilization on Earth.

What Riverkeeper and our allies are doing on the Hudson and countless other waterways helped inspire the Lycee jury and audience to pledge to fight for the Earth. If you’re with us in that fight, we can’t thank you enough. And, if you think you might be ready to come aboard, here’s how you do it.

Heaven knows, Earth needs us all. But, then again, don’t we need the Earth even more? As the saying goes, there’s just no ”Planet B”.

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