This seminal monograph provides the essential guidance that we need to act as responsible ecological citizens while we expand our reach beyond Earth. The emergence of numerous national space programs along with several potent commercial presences prompts our attention to urgent environmental issues like what to do with the large mass of debris that orbits Earth, potential best practices for mining our moon, how to appropriately search for microscopic life, or whether to alter the ecology of Mars to suit humans better. This book not only examines the science and morals behind these potential ecological pitfall scenarios beyond Earth, it also provides groundbreaking policy responses founded upon ethics. These effective solutions come from a critical reframing for scientific settings of the unique moral voices of diverse Buddhists from the American ethnographic field, who together delineate sophisticated yet practical values for traveling through our solar system. Along the way, Buddhists fascinatingly supply robust environmental lessons for Earth, too. As much a work of astrobiology as it is one of religious studies, this book should appeal to anyone who is interested in space travel, our human environment in large scale, or spiritual ecology.
Daniel Capper is professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Chapter 1: Space Debris and Environmental Justice
Chapter 2: The Rabbit in the Moon
Chapter 3: Seeking Microbes
Chapter 4: Mars as an Ecological Lifeboat
According to Professor Capper, humans need urgently to take greater responsibility for their actions in space, and this requires taking responsibility for the cultural ramifications of physically disruptive spaceflight activities such as space mining. In one of the first monographs focusing specifically on the environmental ethics of space exploration, Professor Capper demonstrates that the perspectives and precepts of American Buddhism provide an engaging, productive, and enabling foundation for identifying and shaping our responsibilities in space. A key result of Capper’s analysis is that we ought to reason more proactively about protecting sites of cultural significance on the Moon and elsewhere.
This book is a vital resource for all those concerned about responsible human interactions with the environment beyond planet Earth in hopes of averting the next crisis. Daniel Capper provides an ethical analysis of interest to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. In a clear and engaging style, he offers insights drawn from a deep religious tradition and simultaneously informed by a modern scientific perspective. History is replete with examples of environmental issues ignored until a crisis was reached – we must not repeat this pattern in space!
Dan Capper’s text draws upon contemporary liberal American Buddhism to challenge the artificial separation between Earth and space. Capper’s approach to the problem is deep and striking. Deep, in the sense that it is rooted in a major tradition of religious thought, understood without dogmatism. Striking, in its use of images that, once encountered, can suddenly seem both enlightening and obvious. When rocky worlds without greenery are compared to dry Zen gardens (karesansui) where there are no trees or flowers, I find myself asking “Why didn’t I think of that?”
https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/tensegrity/ Column by John Negru: He features Daniel Capper's book "Buddhist Ecological Protection of Space: A Guide for Sustainable Off-Earth Travel"