Departures Podcast with Daniel Deudney, author of ‘Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics, & the Ends of Humanity’

Faced with challenging and intractable problems from climate change to civil conflicts to terrorism, it is tempting for many of us to look to the heavens, with billionaires pouring their resources into space exploration, expansion, and even dreams of colonization. 

But this is a major mistake, argues Professor Daniel Deudney of Johns Hopkins University in his fascinating new book, “Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics, and the Ends of Humanity.”

Deudney’s perspective is that the “space age” race toward developing these technologies has mainly resulted in multiplying risks for the survival of humanity itself, from hypersonic missiles being seen as space weapons, to competition for control and influence far beyond our atmosphere.

“Space is an inherently violent environment,” Deudney argues in his conversation with Robert Amsterdam. We are occupying a miraculous oasis of life, an enormously unique and special place, surrounded by trillions of miles of desolate and inhospitable vacuum. In terms of the complex geopolitical questions, our society is very ill-prepared for the conflicts that will be associated with space activity.

The counterintuitive argument of Deudney’s book? Forget about space, and get our ship in order here on earth first.