The atmosphere of the Earth, 1,000 kilometers deep, serves as a protection layer. The troposphere, the height of which is 11 kilometers from the ground, is a layer where all weather conditions take place including wind, clouds, rain and snow. The role of the changing weather conditions is to cause air circulation to facilitate the planet’s energy equilibrium so as to keep the gap in temperatures narrow and to revitalize every corner of the biosphere. However, the atmosphere, which has so far worked in the perfect harmony with the Earth, is being disturbed by rising levels of carbon emissions due to human activities, thus worryingly driving the trend of global warming to an irreversible extent.
On one hand, the international community under the leadership of the United Nations strives to contain climate change. On the other hand, some argue that humans should move to another planet as the devastation of the Earth’s environment is deemed an inevitable event. World-renowned astrophysicist Stephen William Hawking, who passed away in 2018, left his last words that humans should leave the Earth in 200 years unless they want to see global warming lead to the demise of the human species. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, embarked on “Space X,” a civilian spaceship project, to build a new shelter on Mars. He succeeded on Monday in launching a manned space shuttle called “Resilience.” If astronauts on board make a safe return to their home planet, experts say that it will set a milestone in heralding the era of civilian space travel.
If we humans successfully cultivate another planet, it will be remembered as a meaningful event in the history of science and technology. However, we should stop and take time to reflect critically regardless of the feasibility of the idea if the purpose of the grand mission is mainly to leave the Earth to build another shelter. We may leave an old and shabby house behind to get a new pleasant one if we compare the Earth to a merely physical place to live. However, what if the Earth is our home? It may not be an easy decision to make to abandon it because a home is a community to which every member contributes by maintaining inseparable relationships.
The viewpoint of seeing the Earth as a home takes root in Thomas Berry's philosophy that the industrial civilization with humanity at the center should be switched to an ecological civilization with a special focus on the Earth. The core of his idea is to regard the Earth as a community of living things and Nature, which leads to the birth of Earth jurisprudence by which the Earth is seen as a legal entity. Thomas Berry, the author of "The Universe Story,” explains that it is surely no accident that the Earth and its atmosphere were born after the Bing Bang and later ecological civilization follows. According to Berry's philosophical worldview, humans are not born to give up on the Earth. The author strongly implies that we as a partnering entity with the Earth will be able to heal ourselves by attempting to restore the planet that has been devastated severely.