Posts Tagged 'clean water'

Exploration vs Dehydration: an essay

If you do not wish to read through the whole essay now, you may download the .PDF format of this work at the bottom of the post. If you choose to listen to it instead the audio version can be found on the show blog for my podcast.

When I first started doing research for this essay, I wasn’t sure where I would stand on this subject. And now that I’m sitting down to write it I still haven’t reached a decision. Hopefully in writing it I’ll be able to make up my mind, or at the very least, help you decide where you stand with the information that I provide. The topic of this essay was inspired by a discussion between two characters in Dan Sawyers, “Down From Ten”. Upon hearing of this I felt compelled to do some research on the subject. After a few days of Googling I have come up with quite a bit.

NASA requests billions of dollars every year in funding to do various forms of research, ranging from more advanced global positioning and mapping systems to space exploration, even climate control. According to NASA’s most recent, “NASA FY 2010 Budget Summary Update”, NASA has requested $18.686 billion for the year of 2010. Though this may seem like a lot of money to be asking for, but NASA’s projects can get very expensive. For example it cost NASA over $20 million to build the Spitzer Space Telescope. The sole purpose of this telescope is to fly it into a black hole in the center of the galaxy just to see what will happen. But it’s not as if they squander the money they get for funding. They made several discoveries and ground breaking progress in their projects just this year alone, which will be discussed in later paragraphs.

As stated in the previous paragraph NASA has requested $18.686 billion for their funding for the year of 2010. Just to show you that they’re not squandering the money on ways to build a cooler paper airplane. Here is some of the progress they have made in 2009 alone. Water ice has been discovered on Mars, which could mean that Mars has either at one point in time sustained life, or, it represents the possibility for the red planet to sustain life. The Cassini spacecraft is providing valuable information and stunning photographs of Saturn and it’s moons. Nineteen fly-bys of Titan provided enough information to create a 3D topographic map of the terrain of the moon, revealing mountains, polar lakes, vast dunes, and flows from possible ice volcanoes. And that’s just some of the progress that they’ve made as stated in their 2010 budget summary update.

At this point some readers of this essay are probably thinking, “Sure, they’re doing nifty things with rocket ships and satellites. But what does this have to do with us as a people?” Well, if we advance our space program, we can outlive our sun. In almost every Sci-Fi television program and film, and even in science class, they tell you that one day our sun is going to expand to the point to where it will engulf the Earth. That’s game over for the planet. In theory, if we haven’t made drastic adjustments to out space program, that’s game over for the human race as well. With all of the progress that NASA makes on the space program it is very possible that one day we’ll be able to experience life among the stars. We will outlive our own planet and our sun. We’ll be able to make other planets habitable. Or, if we don’t have the resources it would take to terraform whole planets, we might make large space stations orbiting our sun, or the suns of other star systems.

Earlier I mentioned the Spitzer Space Telescope. It’s sole purpose was for NASA to fly it into the black hole at the center of our galaxy just to see what will happen. NASA will have the telescope sending picture and video information on it’s way through the black hole. The Spitzer will either be compressed into a singularity or it could emerge through the other side at a completely different place in the universe, thus proving the theory of worm holes. And if we’ll be able to travel great distances across space via worm holes, how far off could we be from FTL (Faster-than-light) travel? With an advanced space program the possibilities are endless.

And for those of you who are skeptic towards future advancements and make your judgments solely on what has already put in front of you NASA has made many products that you may or may not use in every day life that were once intended for NASA space missions. Some of these products include: Tang, Velcro, cordless tools, TV satellite dishes, the microwave oven, smoke detectors, medical imaging equipment, edible toothpaste, and invisible braces. This is only a small list of technological advancements created by our space program benefiting the average citizen and the list grows every year. Imagine items that will be in your medicine cabinet, on your kitchen counter, in your tool box, or in our hospitals in a years time. Imagine what will be available to the public in ten years time that was once on a NASA spacecraft.

However, one must also think about the third world countries in the world that either don’t have clean water, or have to walk miles every day to a community pump just to have enough water to cook and drink on a daily basis. Places like Bangladesh, parts of South America, the Middle East, and Africa. Some areas outside of major cities, not to mention entire countries. By contrast have water that is either partially contaminated or altogether undrinkable. They have to rely on foreign aid for their clean water, or walk to community pumps miles away from their homes. When both these options are unavailable some people just take their chances with the water that’s available, while developed countries use less than five per cent of their water supply for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

But how can we put all of this money into research to get us into space, a process which will possibly take several generations to make any major progress, when there are millions of people who are dying from hunger and thirst in third world countries? In the countries where clean water is scarce the people have to rely on foreign aid. Many of the people of these countries that don’t have clean water readily available have to walk over two kilometers every day to a community water pump to collect twenty to twenty-five liters of water and return to their village. In most places it’s the women in the family that gather the water, this makes a total of over 4 kilometers and almost 30 liters of water per trip, per day. And when there is no foreign aid and no community water pumps available these people have to result to fossil ground water, reusing wastewater or to desalinate their sea water. These methods can prove to either be bad for the environment, or detrimental to the health of citizens. And in the countries where people choose to take their chances with contaminated water sources many forms of waterborne diseases and illnesses take place. Things like parasites, cholera, and diarrhea.

To put this into perspective, 50 million people in middle eastern and Arab countries do not have clean water. Over half the people in rural Morocco do not have clean water. 1.1 billion people worldwide lack safe drinking water, 2.6 billion lack proper sanitation, and and 1.8 million die every year die from contaminated water, over ninety per cent of these people are under 5 years of age. How much would the living conditions of these countries improve if we spent just a fraction of the money that goes into NASA funding went into clean water programs for third world countries? Yes, massive advancements and improvements could be made to technology and our own livelihood if we advance our space programs. But it could take several years to see any kind of feasible return on this program. Whereas providing clean water for less well to do countries sees an almost immediate return. Again, to put it into perspective once more. Every dollar invested into a clean water program would yield $3 to $34 dollars of funding for a clean water program depending on the region, and at least $7.3 million dollars would be saved in medical costs every year in countries where the people are plagued by waterborne afflictions.

But there are also some negative aspects in improving our space program as well as helping third world countries have clean drinking water. If we spend billions of dollars every year to advance our space program we’ll be constantly one-upping other countries with space programs like Russia, and China. I’m sure that the great space race to put a man on the moon created plenty of animosity between America and Russia. And given the war-like nature of any society, who’s to say that dumping all this money into funding our space program won’t result in creating more advanced satellites that are armed with missiles instead of information gathering devices? All it takes is a country with one too many orbital defense systems pointed at a crazy leader to move the hands of the doomsday clock a little bit closer to midnight.

You also have to take into effect the intentions of the leaders of the countries that don’t have clean drinking water. Many of these countries are constantly at war with neighboring countries, or locked in civil wars. Many of these countries are run by vindictive dictators, holy men with nothing on their mind but a religious agenda, or psychotic tribe leaders. So who’s to say that things will only get better if we step in to help. It’s been shown many times that after a country offers foreign aid of some kind that the dictators will step in, hoard all the foreign aid for themselves, or sell it on the world market or black market and leave their people to suffer. And sometimes a country can become flooded with foreign aid, and with an overabundance of aid farmers are unable to make money selling their crops and inevitably lose their land to the dictators who confiscate their property to expand his own territory.

There is plenty of information available on this topic to fuel many a debate. But if we’ve gathered anything from this essay thus far, it’s that there are many pitfalls on either side of this argument. But, in closing, my own personal opinion on the matter is that before we can reach for the stars, we need to provide for our fellow man and be united as a people, and as a planet in order to succeed.

Creative Commons License
Exploration vs Dehydration by Eldon KR is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Sources

NASA FY 2010 Budget Request Summary
344612main_Agency_Summary_Final_updates_5_6_09_R2.pdf (application/pdf Object)

The Space Place: Inventions from space
http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/spinoffs2.shtml

Yale Global Online
http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/choking-aid-money-africa

Water Supply & Sanitation
http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=23

World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2004/pr58/en/index.html

Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_water

Creative Loafing News & Views
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/why_was_cyclone_nargis_so_deadly_/Content?oid=486678

Download the .PDF

Audio available here.

Updates and such

Well, as you can see if you’ve been watching the show blog that season three is up and running again. Four episodes are up already for your listening pleasure and another one will drop next Monday like always. And as the show goes on I’m becoming more interested in varying topics and I feel that I’ll have a lot to talk about until the season ends in either November or December. I still haven’t decided when I want to bring the season to a close.

But enough about the show. This is technically my writer blog, so I might as well entertain you with my writerly pursuits.

I haven’t put any work in to the Great Hites writing prompts for a while. I kind of got sucked into WoW for a while and didn’t do much else but level my hunter and find fotune in the auction house.

I plan on participating in this month’s prompt. That’s right boys and girls, it’s not a weekly prompt this time it’s the whole month of October. The prompt is something along the lines of creating your own creation myth. I’ll mull some ideas over in my head and see what I can do with it. One of the things I like about the GH prompts is that they’re usually never in my writing comfort zone. The prompts have always been about something I’d never written before.

Also, this entire month is going to be spent doing research for two projects. The first one is going to be research for my writing project for November’s NaNoWriMo. I’m going to write a novel based on an idea that I’ve been playing with in my head for over a year now. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s going to be about a mercenary with bio-tech implants to make him a more efficient soldier. With that said I need to do a lot of research on the military as well as bio-tech so that I didn’t get anything wrong. I’m going to write it for NaNo, and after that I’m going to submit the story to some beta readers, edit it, and then I’ll most likely podcast it.

I know that I’ve said before that I wanted, “Checking In” to be the first thing that I podcasted as fiction, but I’m nowhere near finished on that. I think I’ve only put about four or five chapters worth of work into it since I last gave an update about it on the blog. I’m going to put that on the back burner for a while and crack open some bibles as well as a few other religions works either fictional or non fictional as well as some books from other religions as well and see if I can expand my horizons on this novel a bit. So, while that one is on the back burner I’m going to be working on my NaNo project for November and then getting it ready to podcast, so that I can get my fiction podcasting feet wet.

The second thing I’m going to be doing research for is an essay. I haven’t written very many essays but I’ve always intended on it. There’s ways that you can express your opinions and concerns on certain matters in a well researched essay than you can in a blog post. So I’ll be doing research on an essay that will be written somewhere along the lines of all the funding that NASA gets every years to put us in the stars against all the countries in the world that don’t even have clean drinking water, let alone a space program. I’ll be doing research on that and see if I can get that cranked out by the end of October.

I plan on posting the essay here in text form as well as download-able PDF format. And if I’m feeling up to it I might record it in audio form as well and dorp that on the BOaC feed as bonus content for my listeners over there that don’t visit that blog.

And it will inspire those of you that visit this blog and not the show blog in case you’d rather have the essay read to you instead of having to wade through lines of text. I plan to do a lot of writing and research this month and I plan to keep you updated.


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