Tag Archives: United Nations

Earthlings Unite: Space Awaits!

Look Ma. No borders!

Earth: Blue Marble. Credit: NASA

Earth: Blue Marble. Credit: NASA

Can you see a single border in this image of Earth from space?

Our human and robotic space travelers find no evidence from above of lines separating nations. What seems to define who we are — our national identities — means nothing to Mother Earth. She could care less.

Man created borders. Man created national identities. Man created kingdoms and governments, hierarchies and flags.

Man can set borders aside, if we choose. You know how this works. If we think the effort is worthy, humanity comes together to address the problem. “We are the World,” after all.

Truly global issues transcend passports and border crossings. Global poverty requires our attention. Global sustainability requires our attention. Global knowledge about what’s outside our friendly atmosphere? That requires global cooperation as well. (I know, many of you don’t agree that space is worth our while, or our pocketbooks. Please allow that some of us believe it is.)

No single country can afford to foot the bill required for bold new human excursions beyond low Earth orbit — as we’ve seen here in the U.S. as NASA’s budget is debated in Congress and living rooms and social media. Most NASA missions already include international cooperation to reach success. Look at the International Space Station. 15 countries came together to build this amazing engineering marvel over the last decade — piece by piece IN space.

Space Station demonstrated humanity’s ability to peacefully bridge political, cultural, and technical divides — against all odds.

International Space Station over Earth. Credit:NASA

Space Station over Earth. Credit:NASA

Space brought together former political enemies into peaceful partnership.

Maybe it’s time we do this again, but on a truly global stage. What if we form an Earth Space Organization — like the European Space Agency, but for all space-faring nations. And why not, I ask you? Look at all the nations with a hand in “space” from across our planet.

Algeria Argentina Austria Australia Azerbaijan

Bangladesh Belgium Bhutan Brazil Brunei Bulgaria

Canada Cambodia China Colombia Czech Republic

Denmark Ecuador Egypt Finland France Germany

Greece Hungary India Indonesia Iran Ireland Israel

Italy Japan Kazakhstan Laos Luxembourg Malaysia

Mexico Mongolia Morocco Myanmar Nepal Netherlands

New Zealand Nigeria North Korea Norway Pakistan Peru

Poland Portugal Republic of China (Taiwan) Romania Russia

Saudi Arabia Singapore South Korea Spain Sri Lanka (2010)

Sweden Switzerland Thailand Tunisia Turkey Ukraine

United Kingdom United States Uruguay Venezuela Vietnam

Don’t quote me on this list. I wiki-ed it. I know South Africa is missing. (I didn’t have a tiny flag to add them.) Could be others. You can go to the United Nations United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for a list of members willing to cooperate. My point:

With so many nations involved with space endeavors, why not pool our resources and work together — as Citizens of Planet Earth.

"The Public Face of Space" ISU symposium.I spoke at the “Public Face of Space” Symposium at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. In answering a question, I speculated that our planet would form a world space organization within the next ten years. Those in the audience — eager young international students with a passion for space — will be the ones to make this happen, if it happens (which I truly believe it will). The rest of us are comfy with our national space agency badges.

Change WILL happen. We just have to be hungry enough to render the status quo unacceptable.

So here’s how I see it working: each country coming into the Planet Earth Space Enterprise (P.E.S.E…pronounced peace) would bring their national assets to the table. Based on the value of the hardware assets and intellectual property contributions, their membership gets a weighted vote. The more the member country contributes, the more influence the member country wields. (I already see the negotiations over how assets are valued. Another problem for another day.)

I keep hearing the Beatles singing “Come Together” as I write this. And so we should — come together. If we all brought our assets to the table and worked as true partners (no exchange of funds), it wouldn’t matter who had what heavy-lift capability, would it? (Though it might matter to commercial entities wanting a piece of the pie.)

You know, of course, none of this is up to me.

I’m not in a position to make any of this happen. I’m merely dreaming out loud, sprinkling my dream-dust into the cosmos where all other ideas sparkle and glitter and light up the night sky. Who knows, maybe this little idea will get a real name someday.

Earthlings unite! Space awaits.

Sun glints off Space Station solar arrays. Credit:NASA

Sun glints off Space Station solar arrays. Credit:NASA

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Filed under culture, Earth, federal government, leadership, NASA, space

Southern Africa: Story Behind the Eyes

Growing up as a kid in Texas, I remember trick-or-treating for UNICEF, an organization that helps at -risk children in developing countries. We collected donations instead of candy. Going to school in Nova Scotia following high school, I organized a 40-mile walk-a-thon to benefit UNICEF. Only three of us completed the forty miles. I only remember dehydration and an emergency room visit upon finishing. The rest is a blur. I have no recollection, what-so-ever, of how much we earned for our efforts. Probably not much.

All that seems so long ago. UNICEF never went away. At-risk children never went away.

Perhaps I lost sight of the cause once my own life got complicated.

I’m looking at it now though. My daughter’s passion for children orphaned by the AIDs pandemic focused my attention again.

Girls dressed in Sunday best.

Girls dressed in Sunday best.

According to UNICEF:

“About 29,000 children under the age of five –  21 each minute – die every day, mainly from preventable causes.”

Boys in the bush.

Boys in the bush.

The UNICEF website cites frightening statistics for the southern part of Africa:

“The number of children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS is projected to reach 25 million by the end of the decade, 18 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. This, along with only modest progress fighting malaria, means the threats facing child survival are as grave as ever.”

I’m just now researching the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2015. Yes, I know. I haven’t been paying attention.

  1. End Poverty and Hunger
  2. Universal Education
  3. Gender Equality
  4. Child Health
  5. Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS
  7. Environmental Sustainability
  8. Global Partnership
Kids on street in Zambia

Kids on street in Zambia

Goal 6, combatting HIV/AIDS, directly relates to my daughter’s passion for the alarming number of children orphaned by the great killer.  Projections point to 18 million parentless children in Sub-Saharan Africa by next year. These children must assume the parental role of finding food and caring for their siblings, forcing many to drop out of school.

In South Africa, the statistics on the number of individuals, of all ages, living with HIV/AIDs — simply staggering.

This girl's got spunk!

This girl's got spunk!

Everywhere we went during our time in South Africa, the topic came up. Parents are dying. If family members aren’t available to care for the children, the social services steps in. But often, the children slip through the cracks because their parents never informed the schools of their illness. The children simply stop coming to school. As we learned from our interview with the school principal in Soweto Township, she often serves as a detective/social worker at times, trying to determine where the child is, once he disappears from class.

I really started this blogpost to show you the faces of the children we met. Somehow, I felt compelled to add a bit about their world. I don’t know their individual stories to share with you, only the aggregate.

Just look into their eyes. I’ll let the children speak for themselves.

Pretty in pink.

Pretty in pink.

Fighting for the shot

Fighting for the shot

South Africa school uniform

South Africa school uniform

Simply gorgeous

Simply gorgeous

I'm getting a HUGE hug!

I'm getting a HUGE hug!

Now THAT's a pose!

Now THAT's a pose!

Such a tiny one.

Such a tiny one.
He elbowed everyone to get near me.

He elbowed everyone to get near me.

Hopeful, yet measured

Hopeful, yet measured


My daughter is taking a pic of me taking a pic...

My daughter is taking a pic of me taking a pic...

Best friends

Best friends

Full of promise

Full of promise

Not sure of me...

What a dumplin'

She never once smiled

She never once smiled

Play buddies

Play buddies

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

He wanted a "sweetie."

He wanted a "sweetie."

She's not sure about me yet.

She's not sure about me yet.

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Filed under Africa, AIDs, poverty