Categories: Book Reviews

Book Review: Emigrating Beyond Earth

Do you believe that humans are the ultimate species and that we have a destiny to rule? Perhaps you’re being optimistic according to Cameron Smith and Evan Davies. Their book “Emigrating Beyond Earth: Human Adaptation and Space Colonization” provides an anthropologist’s view that splashes a certain amount of chagrin on the hubris of our culture. Yes, they say we can and indeed should become a spacefaring species. However, they do caution that this future for our species can be attained only if we proactively try.

Smith and Davies describe themselves as adventurers and academics. This varied background comes through in their book. It contains an impressive amount of research and facts, all well referenced. The considered time-frame is all Earth encompassing, from the origin of life in the Hadean age up to today’s social structure of empires that encompass multi-millions of human subjects. Of course it highlights changes over time. For instance, humans are shown to have evolved from small brained quadrupeds to large brained bipeds with cognitive fluidity. But perhaps more importantly, it shows that culture is as important as opposable thumbs and sexual reproduction.

Maybe you recall this as the nature versus nurture issue? Well, this book states unequivocally that nurture or culture is an essential element of humanity’s existence. That is, our culture allows us to build thriving, capable empires as the Mayans did. The hubris appears by the reminder that most empires and indeed most species have faded away or gone extinct. Hence, the book’s unwritten conclusion is that humans will follow the same path unless we proactively choose otherwise. Whether from an academic viewpoint or from being a world traveller, the authors in their book vouchsafe that emigration to space is a necessary act for the survival of humans.

Indeed, much of this book is taken up with arguing for the emigration beyond Earth. In this sense, if you are looking for information and reasoning to support the effort and expenditure for space colonization, then this book is a great resource. It even offers a perspective on the relative benefits between colonizing the Moon or Mars. However, while it provides sound arguments for ‘why,’ it doesn’t really answer ‘how.’ This could be the book’s main short coming in that most of its arguments for emigration have arisen before and, thus, while being comprehensive it may not offer anything new to a well-read reader. Its one main suggestion is for a ‘cognitive shift’ to make the idea of space emigration as common place as eating. Indeed, if everyone were to read this book, then such a shift would likely take place.

In total, this book empowers and indeed urges the reader to make a choice. The choice is between accepting the future whatever it may hold, or, proactively choosing to try to advance both our culture and our biological make-up via emigrating. In this, the authors Cameron Smith and Evan Davies in their book “Emigrating Beyond Earth: Human Adaptation and Space Colonization” clearly lay out the likely consequences for either. Does humanity have the will to make such a choice? Are you ready to make the choice? Read this book and then ponder some more about the future for humankind.

The book is available at Amazon. More information can be found at Smith’s website.

Mark Mortimer

Mark gets amazed at science. Awed with technology. And bemused by society. For example, people have stepped on the Moon, traveled faster than sound in the Concorde, and taken showers in the A380. All these are examples of the strengths of people's intellect. Yet, all these capabilities haven fallen to the wayside while online poker continually garners greater favour. As a counterbalance, Mark presents book reviews in the hope of nurturing young minds with the belief that mankind is more than shear dumb luck.

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