August 04, 2009 at 6:48 am by Frank White
If you ask most "space enthusiasts" whether they would like to live in space, they will say, "Yes!" If you tell them that they are already living in space, it may take a while for them to understand what you mean.
Language is important. How we say things influences how we think about them. Ever since I wrote The Overview Effect, I have been working on creating the understanding within myself that we are already in space. We are in space, we have always been in space, and we will always be in space because the Earth is in space and can't be anywhere else. (In the book, I tell the story of a young man in a daycare center who helped me to see the importance of this insight.)
The challenge before us is to find ways to be elsewhere in the universe. Right now, we are more or less imprisoned on this planet. It is a beautiful prison, and one that we can enjoy greatly. However, we are not yet free to leave it if we want to do so.
What we are really talking about is finding a way for those of us who want to do so to leave the Earth, and be in space in a different way. Not everyone will go, of course. Sometimes, when there is a prison break, some of the prisoners stay inside. Sometimes, when the restless members of a society go exploring, others stay at home.
In the meantime, though, how would it change our lives to just relax a bit and realize that we are in space. Another metaphor, coined by Buckminster Fuller, is that we are on Spaceship Earth, traveling through the universe at a high rate of speed.
As I pointed out in The Overview Effect, everyone on the spaceship is either a passenger or a crew member ("Terranaut"). Wouldn't you rather be a Terranaut?