Imagine not seeing the stars ever again in your life – as China launches the artificial moon for eight times the light provided by the natural moon, it is time to think of our future in the times of artificiality, conspicuous consumption and restless development.
Kabir | The New Leam
The world as it is; is not tolerable and therefore I need the moon.
I need something, that perhaps is demented but which is out of the world.
– Albert Camus
The famous French philosopher and novelist Albert Camus had the literary genius to see that in a world in which the superficiality and artificiality that we are surrounded by is enough to madden us, the need to conserve and save all that is pristine and virgin is quintessential.
The moon enabled for literary imagination, for a refuge into all that was beyond the world. Poets like Jalalludin Rumi and Rabindranath Tagore have visited their deepest spiritual sentiments in the form of the moon whereas poets like Piyush Mishra have used the metaphor of ‘moon’ to describe the anguish of poverty.
Reading the lines below one realises that the moon has been so important for the literary imagination that an assault on its existence, seems almost like an insult to centuries of myth and poetry, civilizational epics and literary masterpieces.
Ek bagal mein chand hoga, ek bagan mein rotiyan,
Ek bagal mein neend hogi, ek bagal mein loriyan,
Hum chand par roti ki chadar daal ke sojayenge,
Aur neend se keh denge, lori kal sunane ayenge.
(On one side there will be the moon and on the other will be bread,
On one side will be sleep and on the other a lullaby,
We will fall asleep on the moon covered in the blanket of bread
And tell the sleep to sing that lullaby another day
– Piyush Mishra
For these poets and literary minds, the moon has been a great source of creative genius- it has inspired them to produce the most luminous masterpieces of all times.
But ironically the world that we live in finds it difficult to look at the beauty of the moon, understand the relevance of its pristine light, to bask in its calmness and to celebrate its existence.
Our rationality, the overarching obsession of our techno-science to conquer all that is natural and to produce something more powerful compared to nature has generated the requirement to create an ‘artificial moon’.
We have already produced babies in test tubes, artificial cattle in laboratories, humanoid robots that claim to replace human beings and now we are producing an artificial moon.
China is to launch a man-made moon that will shine eight times brighter than the real moon. The purpose of this moon is to replace the street lights and lower the electricity costs in the urban areas. The first man-made moon by China will be launched in 2020.
It is estimated that the launch of the artificial moon will enable China to lower its electricity costs. While scientific and market based arguments may validate the existence of an artificial moon but when one goes beyond the immediate market centric, technology oriented world view what one does realise is the fact that man’s restless quest to dominate nature is going to prove devastating in the long run.
When one steps outside on a moonlit night, the light is enough to push away the darkness but the mentality that two moons are better than one, will certainly lead us to the path of destruction.
For those who think that we are merely making an argument based on aesthetics, let us be reminded that scientists across the world are speaking and writing against it.
There are doubts that the artificial moon which will be placed close to earth’s lower orbits may find it difficult to stay at one place and keeping it at one place will require enormous fuel intakes. The cost of refueling and maintaining it will be far more than the electricity costs that will be saved in the process.
Moreover the artificial light will be harmful for nocturnal animals and will interfere with the heart’ rhythm and will impact health. The implications of the artificial moon are far more than the prospect of not being able to see the stars ever again. It is a grave matter and it is crucial for us to think.