Most of you have probably heard the latest news in space exploration, and if you haven’t, you probably noticed it as a Google illustration or other sightings. On February 22nd, NASA released news to the public the discovery of 7 Earth-sized exoplanets (exoplanets are planets that exist outside our solar system) orbiting a dwarf star that is 10 times smaller than our Sun, and 2 ½ times cooler. We have named this exoplanet system TRAPPIST-1, named after the type of telescope used. Though the star is so much smaller than ours, the planets’ orbit is much closer to it than ours are to our Sun, which gives them warmer temperatures. Of these seven exoplanets, three are found in what is dubbed, “the habitable zone”- that is, a zone where there may be methane, ozone, oxygen, and is located close enough to their star that they may have water, yet far enough away that it doesn’t just evaporate. Translation: There could be life on these planets.
Now before you start flashing back to Roland Emmerich’s ‘Independence Day,’ we still don’t know how advanced this life could be. It might just have single-celled microorganisms or small amphibians. Or it may have a race of Klingons. And this is if water and other gasses are existing; it’s still too early to tell. But it’s the findings of exoplanets in habitable zones that has the scientists raising glasses for two reasons. First, as mentioned, the possibility of finally finding life somewhere out there. It is the age-old question perplexing humankind since the dawn of time: Are we alone? We have named these foreign organisms a multitude of identities like aliens and UFOs, or maybe even ghosts and gods (which opens a whole different train of thought!), and so on. The second reason for the hype is that we may have just found alternative Earths. With an increasing overpopulation on our planet, as well as its contribution to global warming and Climate Change, alternative homes have been increasingly sought out by NASA for years. This isn’t to say this is the government’s first remedy to the population crisis, but it is an egg that is worthy to be added to the basket.
Before you put your house on the market, however, consider this: Are we ready to move to a different planet? We may realize the mistakes we’ve made to Earth since the Industrial Revolution, but it’s our habitual lifestyles that keep it going. Like a sinner perpetually returning to Confession, we continue to consume, waste, and pollute; yet pass environmental laws and regulations to compensate. Now don’t get me wrong, without these statutes and organizations, we would be in a far worse state! But even a triathlete with a smoking habit can get lung cancer. TRAPPIST-1 is located 40 light years away from us, which is 235 trillion miles, located in the constellation of Aquarius. According to some archaeoastronomers and astrologers, we are currently in the Age of Aquarius. This is the Age of independent thought and self-development, where we don’t base our decisions off a ruler’s. A king or a god has no power over our free will and can only influence of what we allow them to. So it is ironic to me that we have this ability to change our destructive daily habits and make differences within our communities, and yet we choose the comforts of damaging familiarity knowing what we’re doing in the process, instead. Talk about a contradiction if we relocate to an exoplanet found in Aquarius, and we’re not able to independently act out our thoughts and end up recreating the cycle.
Of course, being so far away we aren’t yet able to get to TRAPPIST-1, even if its habitable zone does have all the necessary components for humans. But that doesn’t mean we should discontinue our search for other, closer exoplanets. It does, however, mean that we should appreciate how awesome it is that we discovered this miniature version of our Solar System because it shows us there’s hope. Hope that there could be life out there somewhere, and hope that when we do find a second Earth, and the transportation means to relocate to it, we’ll be in a place in our lives where we can act more consciously as better stewards of our planet. A time when we aren’t only living in the Age of Aquarius, we are the Age. As we know, magic is the results of a physical change in our surrounding environments, but this can only happen when we use our energy and intention. So let’s stop using our comfortable habits and traditionally outdated ethics as our inner dictators and start thinking and acting for ourselves. TRAPPIST-1 is a wake-up call to each of us how important it is to begin these little differences in our lives, so that some day in the future, we’ll be ready.
Kansas Stanton is a Naturalistic Neo-Pagan who resides in Seattle, Washington. He belongs to, and practices with, a local group of Reform Pagans and blogs at https://leavesontheroad.wordpress.com/. He also volunteers every year at the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle and regularly attends various Pagan festivals and events.
He is a full-time student, earning his degree in Environmental Science and a Certificate in Sustainability, after which time he will move on to law school to receive his Juris Doctor in Environmental Law. When Kansas is not in class or working his job in the art industry, he also attends heavy metal concerts both locally and internationally. He is also a vegan outdoorsman who frequents the trails and whitewater rivers of the pacific northwest and loves to spend his time with friends over a cold, dark beer.