We humans love our garbage

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Garbage. And lots of it. Just take a look at our moon.

Story Highlights:

  • And what are we, who describe ourselves as the most intelligent life on the planet, leaving?

  • Even though just 12 people have ever walked on its surface, they left behind more than 200 tons of trash –including three moon buggies, four armrests, lots of empty food bags, backpacks, blankets, packing material and even two golf balls hit by astronaut Alan Shephard (he used a 6-iron).

Then there’s our space garbage.

This junk includes over 3,000 totally dead or outdated satellites, thousands of old rocket fragments, hundreds of assorted nuts and bolts, tools accidentally dropped by astronauts, gloves accidentally dropped by astronauts, something scientists described as “an empty trash bag object” . . .  etc.

Sure, it’s exciting to send astronauts and millionaire tourists and satellites into space, but the amount of trash we leave up there is appalling – more than 250,000 pieces of “orbital debris” are now circling our planet! 

In fact, it’s gotten so crowded up there that pieces of space junk are now rocketing around the planet, randomly smashing into other pieces of junk – and some of them travel at more than 15,000 miles per hour and can cause serious damage to anything they hit. 

Even the International Space Station has to constantly shift its course to avoid getting hit by stray pieces of old satellites or other garbage.    

And what are we doing about all this? So far, nothing. Except possibly providing material for some Ph.D candidate of the future, whose doctoral thesis could well be titled “Humans: the Airheads of the Galaxy.” Unless you’re a garbologist, we can all agree that it’s way past time to clean up this mess.

(Note: In case this is a new concept for you, a “garbologist” is one who studies culture and human behavior through the analysis of what is thrown away as garbage.) Some garbologists believe the monuments, buildings, statues and art that cultures leave behind are just self-aggrandizing advertisements. Garbage, on the other hand, is a kind of tattletale that sets the record straight.

Just thought you should know. A resident of Sarasota, Pete Tannen is an award-winning humor writer, newspaper columnist and TV show writer. He is also a renowned “Senior Influencer.”

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