by Frances Potts
Buffalo would be roaming free, rivers would be running clear enough to drink from and old growth forests would still be standing in this country we call America, if nations hadn't been eager for exploration and greedy for gold, land and furs.
Pushing beyond the known boundaries seems to be an itch that will never be scratched.
I'm glad Discovery is back safely, but I'm sorry we're still thrusting objects into space and scattering our litter among the cosmic debris.
What would be so wrong with just planting ourselves on this old Earth of ours and trying to make it the very best it can be?
Think of what the billions of dollars that are spent poking into space could do right here on this planet.
Haven't we enough unmet challenges here to keep us occupied for centuries?
Figuring out a way to feed the starving millions should be enough to keep the most restless occupied.
Preserving what's left of our environment and natural resources could put our finest minds to work.
And those who have the strongest itch could be given the task of turning world-wide turmoil into peace, since we can't get along with the people with which we share this planet.
I'd rather the billions expended on space jaunts be used for these things instead of sending a crew on a 234-mile poke into space that wouldn't get us from Sunnyside to the beach if that trip was taken on land.
Sure, there seems to be an eternity of unknown space out there, but what's to be gained except satisfying our curiosity and, perhaps, repeating an intrusion that changed the face of 'America'.
Why can't we be content with what's under our feet?
. Frances Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working for several newspapers in Washington state.