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24 Years online
••• The International Writers Magazine -
Book Review

The Future of Geography by Tim Marshall
How Power & Politics in Space will change our world.
Elliot & Thompson ISBN: 978-1-78396-687-5
• Sam North
Astropolitics a powerful examination of humanities rather fragile future


On the day India launched a new Mooon shot this book becomes essential reading for those who think about the implications and consequences of space exploration. 14.7.23

‘Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot stay in the cradle forever.’
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

I didn’t always love geography at school. There was only one teacher in all those miserable years of learning that brought it alive. One term only to explore how cities evolved, why railways were put where they were, how ports grew and declined. This was history and geography combined and it was exciting. Why did no one else teach it like this?  The only other time it came alive was in junior school when were made to drag chains around the town to measure it like they did in the past.  Chains don’t shrink and provided an accurate measurement for the time they were used. 

Now along comes Tim Marshall with his book on The Future of Geography. It’s exciting, slightly scary, well argued and insightful. Who owns space will own the future.  Will it be China, or the USA? India? Sadly the UK is nowhere (except for satellite building). 

It is important to realise that owning space, even if it is prohibited by law on earth, is unenforceable if the ‘wrong’ people get their first.  And China is determined to be first to have a moonbase and get at the all the minerals up there and exclude everyone else.  India might have a go too.  Once we feared Russia would be first, but everything is in decay there with all their development on weapons rather than space exploration.

We can see how space tech is shaping the war between Russia and Ukraine right now. Elon Musk’s Starlink system of low-latency Broadband Internet is giving Ukraine realtime information on Russia’s movements.  This will be how all wars will be fought in future.

Weapons are another feature of this future. In times of stress on earth, it will be tempting to shoot down rival satellites to cripple the enemy. Unfortunately having all that debris up there whizzing around at 17,500 mph could destroy everything else and at some point and destroy our economies as we are all reliant on communications and finance using satellites already up there.  It may get either too crowded or too dangerous for any spacecraft to even leave earth – such is the wild west of space.

Tim Marshall presents some very bleak assessments of the way things might unfold in this rivalry, from nuclear war to land grabs on the moon and in the end it does not leave you with much hope for mankind. There’s no nirvana of peace and unamity up there. It’s grab what you can and try and hold onto the territory, screw the rest of us. Space metals will be more valuable than whole countries. Profits will be huge.

The Future of Geography is essential reading for anyone considering the future and who might be wanting to invest in space tech companies and surviving the fall out. As Tim quotes Albert Einstein ‘Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the universe.’

Sam North July 2023
author of The Cure for Sceptics and Another Place to Die: Endtime Chronicles
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