Save the Moon: The New Frontier

By B. R. Gowani

Human beings have always been fascinated by celestial bodies and have speculated their origin and composition. Similarly, people have always fantasized the existence of life in some form elsewhere in the Universe.

The Moon, our earth’s satellite, being the nearest celestial body was the first to be explored when the Soviet Union’s unmanned Luna 9 landed on it in 1966. Three years later the US astronaut declared his landing on the moon as a giant leap for humankind. Four decades later, a fortnight ago, one can say that another giant leap had been made with the discovery of water on the Moon.

It is great news but, like most technological advances, it is also sad news. The destructive and exploitative aspects of this discovery cannot be overlooked. It is foresight for instances like these, that had prompted some countries to draft the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 <1> which prohibits carrying of nuclear or other weapons of destruction in the space or on any celestial body. With similar purpose in mind, United Nations composed the Moon Treaty in 1979; but this document lacks signatures of key nations, i.e., Japan, United States, China, Russian Federation, India, and the European Union. <2>

Territorial ambitions of human beings have usually been beyond the reach of any ethical or moral principle. Although the Moon Treaty “Bans any state from claiming sovereignty over any territory of celestial bodies,” it is no guarantee that this and other articles of the treaty will get the respect they deserve as can be testified by the dozens of UN resolution violations.

When the new frontier is conquered, two things are to be dreaded the most:

1. One is the use of Moon by the United States or even Russia, China, European Union, Japan, or India as a launching pad for nuclear or laser weapons directed at their enemies on earth. (At this stage, India’s deformed Siamese twin, Pakistan, has to be excluded from this club.)

Current technology lacks the means to carry out such actions. Nevertheless, this grim scenario itself should not be dismissed as preposterous. It is hard to imagine that the users of one of the oldest weapons: the spear, which saw its introduction during the Stone Age with a range of a few yards aimed at a single target could foresee today’s reality. By contrast today’s ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missile) have a reach of thousands of miles and an unimaginable devastation capability. Besides, newer technological advances are being made at a super speed. However, the power of the smaller “enemies” on earth should not be underestimated either, even if it may be symbolic. (Remember September 2001?) You never know. The future “enemy/ies” may blow up the whole moon — fully aware that it may doom the future of the planet earth where they reside.

So it is in the interest of all countries that some kind of verifiable treaty be signed among all the nations of the world, under the auspices of the United Nations and backed by the International Court of Justice that restricts transportation or manufacture of any kind of weaponry on the Moon.

2. The other is the use of the moon as a place for the white ruling class or, perhaps, a mixture of white, black, and brown elites to reside while turning earth into a colony which satisfies their consumption needs and greed.

In this case, most of the people of the world will have to unite to stop this scenario. They should just ask the surviving Native Indians in the US whose land became frontier for the invading white Europeans how it feels to live in a Reservation for by then the whole earth will have become a Reservation.

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

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