2009-03-26 / Sam Bari

Solar dumping

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

A letter from a valued reader that addressed my column about littering in outer space provided fodder for yet another column about littering in outer space.

In response, I agree that I should not have been so cavalier about a subject that could be a sensitive issue to our galactic neighbors. I errantly made light of our habit of leaving inoperable spacecraft lying about as an eyesore and nuisance to space travelers who might witness the discarded junk that was a result of our despicable and unconscionable disposal practices.

However, I thought his worry about the possible discovery of an easily accessible, uninhabited planet that would be a perfect candidate for a space age landfill was extreme. Could you imagine a giant sized Mount Trashmore revolving around the sun for billions of years just waiting to be an intergalactic garbage dump?

It seems to me that the idea would be highly impractical. I am not a scientist by the stretch of anyone's imagination, but if all the trash were removed from the oceans, landfills, town dumps, and the earth in general and then hauled off into space, wouldn't that have a tremendous affect on the weight of the planet? Earth would be so light that it might be flung out of its orbit into the far reaches of the universe. Who knows where we might land?

Even if that didn't happen, our dear reader had further concerns. I am not convinced that as soon as the designated trash dump planet were filled to capacity, real estate agents would have the trash covered with fill, seeded, and dyed green. According to him, they would sell it off as cheap lots for future gated communities.

I am sure that the galactic community would see the pitfalls of allowing an endeavor of this nature. They would spare no expense in prohibiting such foolishness. Our reader foresees people lining up to buy these prime lots at rock bottom prices. Then he said the owners would build mini-mansions on said properties and collectively sue the galaxy when they found space rats tunneling in their back yards foraging for food.

I can see the critters now in their little rat-sized space suits carting off coveted half-eaten cans of Spam back to their space age rat's nests. They would probably be very progressive, scientifically advanced rats from sometime in the future.

Anyway, this concerned reader fears that if the earthbound community does not pass global legislation prohibiting space litter, scenarios that are even more dramatic will result from our negligence. He is afraid of the space dump landowners then expecting galaxy taxpayers to provide funding for expensive water storage systems for the newly built homes because the land is polluted. "Before the galaxy taxpayers know what hit them, these people will sue for punitive damages because their children will be born with extra appendages. They will blame the galaxy for their woes," he warns.

Although I am sure his concerns are heartfelt, I must say: Kind sir, I really do believe you should pay a visit to your doctor. Apparently, your meds need adjusting. Don't you think you're being just a tad paranoid? I believe your highly speculative hypothesis is beyond absurd.

I have more faith in the human race than to think that anyone would have the gall to build on a landfill and then expect to charge the expenses of their folly to their fellow taxpayers. The thought is appalling. I cannot imagine anyone doing such a thing.

He concluded by saying that with all of our efforts to clean up our planet, trash is still in the streets. "Until we can take care of our own space, we should not be allowed to go out and contaminate somebody else's," he said.

He is probably correct. The good efforts of the many are so often thwarted by the lack of consideration of the few. However, that's what happens when you live in a system you can't understand.

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