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Aphelion Editorial 109

March 2007

by Dan L. Hollifield

The Usual Rant from the Aphelion Senior Editor

Hello and welcome to the April 2007 edition of Aphelion's 10th Anniversary Party! Aphelion has been online for a solid decade. We hope to be online for many decades to come, too. This should be online on April 1st - in an attempt to get Aphelion back on track for regular monthly issues. March was a killer month for me. I'd worked almost half the month on overtime at my day job, so I was slightly burnt out when it came time to do all the layout for the March issue. The Editorial Mafia consulted on the matter and we decided to take the suggestions made to the Lettercol to heart. To wit: get the zine back on track and try to avoid late issues in the future. This means that anything that isn't ready to go by the 25th of each month will not make it into the following issue.We've either got to be firm on that or resign ourselves to another string of late issues.

OK, that's been said. Now we can get to the normal stuff... Like my regular rant. A bit of explanation first, though: I'm neither a Democrat nor am I a Republican. I think that the whole Left-Right political spectrum is just so much hogwash. I don't see any difference at all between the two major political parties in the US. Both the Demo-gogues and Repugnant-ones exist solely to steal as much of my hard-earned paycheck as they can, while looking down their elitist noses at me as if I were some disgusting slime-mold they found under a particularly dirty rock in a garbage dump. I don't like them, I don't trust them, and I don't support them. Are we clear on that? Good, now to the rant...

I am on several different mailing lists online. The people who post to those lists are Science Fiction writers and rocket scientists, mostly. One thing that was pointed out to me recently is very worrying. With all the debate over whether or not humans are solely responsible for global warming, some serious science is getting shafted. Things that everyone on the planet should want to continue, and indeed, to have more money spent upon. I'm talking about the search for Near Earth Asteroids and comets. The neo-Luddites who want to do away with all heavy industry, force everyone to become vegetarians, and - as a mere side effect - kill off 90% of humanity in order to allow themselves to "get back to nature..." Those folks are throwing up such a sandstorm over Global Warming that the quite serious search for astronomical threats to all life on Earth is in danger of being swept under the proverbial carpet. In their quest to blame the US government (or just George Bush) and the "Military-Industrial Complex" for everything that's wrong with the environment, the budget for finding and neutralizing impact threats to the planet is not only still too small, but may become smaller yet. Global Warming is the fad of the moment, and it is swallowing up all the money that we need to be spending elsewhere. Like keeping all of us alive instead of forcing humanity to go the way of the dinosaur.

I don't know about you, but becoming extinct would tend to ruin my whole day.

The threat of some chunk of rock or ice slamming down to Earth and killing us all is very real. It isn't just something made up in order to sell movie tickets. It's something that will happen, sooner or later. Unless we get a plan to deal with that threat together and a warning system ready to give us enough time to react, mankind is doomed. And so are all the fluffy bunnies, baby seals, dog, cats, and almost all the other animals on the planet that the PETA people value oh so much more than humans. 65 million years ago, the dinosaur killer asteroid impact killed off 90% of all the species living at the time. Not just the dinosaurs, but 90% of all living things. OK, you can argue that the dinosaurs were already dieing out and that the impact just hastened their end, but that still doesn't address the mega-death of the rest of the world's animal populations.

Sort of harsh? Maybe you think I'm over-reacting? Perhaps. But I'd like for there to actually be a world to leave to my kids.

So sure, let's clean up the environment. Let's work to reduce pollution. Those are undeniably good things and work to be proud of doing. But let's not forget that there are soulless dangers out there in the infinite dark that can and will eventually kill us all off. Unless we look for the dangers, and make serious plans to avert them, we're all doomed. A meatless diet is not going to impress a comet. An asteroid isn't going to care if you drive an SUV or ride a bicycle. The next planet-killer rock that looms out of the night isn't going to miraculously skip over the people who want to end the war in Iraq or impeach Bush. Dead is dead, and each and every one of us is under the gun. Your politics doesn't matter. Your diet doesn't matter. Your lifestyle choices don't matter. When, not if, but when the next impact comes, it'll be coming for us all.

So write to your government representatives, let them know that you want them to budget money to find and avert the next disaster from space. Don't think that someone else is going to save you. Don't wait until some amateur astronomer sees the danger headed our way. We need a plan now! We need a warning system now! We need to be looking out into the dark now!

Tomorrow just might be too late.


I now return you to your regularly scheduled reading...


2006 Dan L. Hollifield

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