When Nasa revealed on October 21 that they would be sharing “exciting” new information about the Moon, most of us that have followed their previous announcements on outer planetary bodies, such as their announcement concerning bodies of salt water on Mars, were expecting this announcement to be of similar content.
Although this was the expected outcome, I was still especially excited when I read the news ('Nasa reveals that the Moon has water in major breakthrough’, 28 October). The search for extraterrestrial water has been escalating since September 24 2009, when Nasa scientists discovered water molecules floating in the Moon’s atmosphere. Ever since, space enthusiasts have been theorising, fantasising and dreaming about the possibility of inhabiting locations like the Moon, or Mars.
While natural oxygen has yet to be discovered on any planet or celestial body in our solar system, with the discovery of such high quantities of water among our terrestrial neighbours, it isn’t impossible that there may be a moon orbiting Jupiter that contains oxygen. There may even be a moon somewhere in our solar system that contains just the right amount of water and oxygen to make it a habitable place for us to set up a colony. The discovery of more water on the Moon makes theorising and thinking about these possible futures even more exciting.
There is absolutely no telling what those that operate telescopes like Hubble or the upcoming James Webb infrared observatory will find in the coming years, which is an interesting, humbling prospect.
The arrival of the ‘Christmasians’
As this country’s Christians – or perhaps Christmasians – noisily assert their right to celebrate on 25 December with all their family and hang the government rules, let's recall the reactions of those denied the family joys of Eid in May and Passover in April. How many Muslims and Jews complained?
And yet now, with Covid-19 heading to record levels of daily infections, for you as a “December Christian”, it’s different? Why?
Enough vacuous ‘thoughts and prayers’
Taken literally, what “thoughts” are being rendered? Maybe: “What can be done to support vulnerable people and ensure that they are treated with care and compassion so that this never happens again?” More likely, it seems: “How can we shift the blame and maintain the appearance of firm intransigence?”
And as for “prayers”, it takes a considerable act of imagination to conjure up the image of a pious politician calling upon the Almighty – but to do what exactly?
Once politicians start using genuine expressions that show they have the capacity to respond empathetically, I might just begin to believe what they are saying.
Thanks to Tom Peck (28 October) for highlighting the “thoughts and prayers” nonsense spouted by politicians and indeed, many other organisations in times of tragedy and accident
Another “favourite” mantra reeking of insincerity is: “The safety of staff and customers is our first priority.”
It’s all rubbish.
Our inaction on refugees shames us all
Environment Secretary George Eustice stated this week on BBC Breakfast that the UK takes in more refugees than any country in Europe. This is not true. It is a lie. Why was his claim not challenged?
In 2015, more than one million refugees and asylum seekers flooded into southern Europe. Greece and Italy were unable to deal with this tide of helpless people. Twenty-four EU nations immediately agreed to accept huge quotas of these people.
I am ashamed to say that the UK was not included and we did not offer to take any quota and nor offer any help to our neighbours.
The tide of refugees into Europe from these war-torn countries has declined a little. 2016 saw 390,000 refugees arriving; 186,00 arrived in 2017; 144,000 in 2018; and 124,000 in 2019. Germany accepted over 500,000 of these desperate people in one year. Germany has taken 600 refugees per 100,000 of Germany’s population. France has accepted a similar number at a larger ratio. The tiny population of Sweden (10m) has accepted 550,000 refugees in the past four years.
The UK agreed to take 20,000 over the next five years. Our total intake over the last seven years is less than six per 100,000 of our population and almost all of these have not been given asylum and, like our Windrush population, they live in fear of deportation. Indeed the government is now proposing sending these desperate and dispossessed refugees to islands in the South Atlantic.
In reflecting upon this lack of compassion, we should consider that Turkey is currently sheltering 1.6m refugees, devastated Lebanon is sheltering 1.15m and sanctioned Iran is sheltering almost 1m refugees from war-torn neighbours.
The lack of compassion towards refugees demonstrated by our government and our lack of support offered to our neighbours in these desperate times indicates what we have become.