Editorial: What does Odyssey say about who we value?

March 8, 2041 - If you've been paying attention to all the public outrage in response to last week's announcement of the Odyssey project, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the proposed colony ship for a gold-plated space chariot that the world's trillionaires are conspiring to use to escape the climate catastrophe, leaving the rest of us to choke and drown and starve while the richies rocket off to Sirius. 1Earth spokesman Azar Safavi went so far as to say, "The ability to drive the planet nearly to extinction and then even consider leaving it behind is the sole provenance of the obscenely, criminally rich." Dander up, hackles raised? You bet. Only problem is - Azar's got it all wrong.

The Odyssey is not a cosmic escape pod for CEOs. It's a rare instance of long-term thinking in the midst of our collective disaster. Even if every aspect of the project goes swimmingly - which we all know will never happen - the ship won't even launch from orbit until 2080, by which time - let's face it - our species will either have found a way to reverse the climate, or will have perished.

Nor is the Odyssey a vanity project funded by the preposterously wealthy. It is, rather, a (yet again rare) instance of an international project, co-founded by five nations (U.S., the Western European Alliance, India, China, and Japan). Yes, the project will accept donations by wealthy individuals, but donations will not "buy a seat" on the ship. The vast majority of the Odyssey's human passengers will not be old, rich, and smug, but very young - as in embryonic. The entire point of the project is to spawn a human population on the exoplanet [DATA CORRUPTED]

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