okeanos - Stiftung für das Meer
Our Blog
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 . 10:00 am | No Comments

Exploring the final frontier on Earth—the ocean—is more relevant than space exploration

PROF. AMITAI ETZIONI, Department of International Relations and Director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, argues that we should do more to explore the oceans than spend money on manned space exploration. Space can be explored more cost-effectively and safely by using robots rather than manned missions, while 90% of the ocean floor hasn’t even been charted. As filmmaker James Cameron recently discovered after descending 7 miles under the sea surface, there is plenty of adventure there. The ocean plays a vital role in climate control, is home to many species that provide us with medical and pharmaceutical advances, and may help us tackle energy crises (through, for instance, fuel-producing bacteria) and water scarcity.

James Cameron's recent journey to the deepest point in the ocean deserves more attention, says Amitai Etzioni. © CNN

Technological spin-offs from space missions are touted as one reason for furthering space exploration, but many of these products are incorrectly attributed to having originated from the space program (e.g. Teflon, Velcro, etc.). In fact, since the conditions in space are so foreign to Earth, products designed for space aren’t typically very transferable for use on our planet. Contrast that with a toadfish being able to regenerate its brain or spinal cord, the eyes of the spineless ray helping to cure blindness, and sea sponges producing a cancer-fighting drug. Yes, space exploration inspires children to become scientists and explorers, but why can’t the unknown final frontier of the Earth, the deep ocean, be just as motivating? And Mars will always be there–it’s our Earth, and the oceans that cover most of the planet, that we need to learn more about to protect and survive.

The article “Mars can wait. Oceans can’t” was first published at CNN on April 9, 2012.

Blog author: Lindy Weilgart, Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea

* Mandatory field