We live in a world whose leaders, economic and political, clearly have lost their moral compass. Our political leaders talk with great excitement about mankind blasting off earth and settling on the moon and Mars and then the universe. Those engaged in space science for a living are awarded the automatic status of the excited heroes breaking through the greatest challenge facing mankind. Our news media wax eloquent about the glory of establishing a base on the moon. To conquer space is to enlarge what it means to be human. To not do it is to fail to be fully human. Having past the age of colonization we dream of moon and Mars colonies. The cost is not relevant.
Global expenditures on space exploration, in US dollars, are over $100,000,000,000 ($100 Billion) a year and the moon base will cost $35 – 40,000,000,000 ($35-40 Billion) and $7,500,000,000 ($7.5 Billion) a year to operate. Of course those are trivial expenditures compared to what global governments spend on defence. Our annual spending on arms is $2,100,000,000,000 ($2.1 Trillion). But then again space and defence are linked industrially and politically. Like colonialism and the slave trade this is wonderfully profitable for the very rich.
Yet in a rich country like Canada 25% of our children live in poverty. We are unable to provide clean drinking water to indigenous people whose land and children we stole and abused. We cannot provide them with health care, education and social services that are close to being up to those services to the rest of Canadians. 628 million people around the world go to bed hungry and 3,100,000 children a year die from malnutrition. Science tells us that we are galloping down a road leading to the destruction of the planet. Canada’s oil industry, and the governments it controls, believes it is a great idea to reduce the CO2 emissions of producing oil and gas, make a fortune selling them to buyers who will use them to ramp up the CO2 levels and ensure climate catastrophe. The C02 emissions that come from the use of that gas and oil may not be counted by them as Canada’s problem but they help ensure the destruction of future generations and millions of people between now and then.
The annual cost of maintaining the Moon Base could be used to provide $2,419/year to feed the 3.1 million children who will die from malnutrition. The global billionaire club is worth $12,700,000,000,000 (12.7 Trillion). The World Food Program and Oxfam tell us that ending world hunger by 2030 would cost between $37 and $40 billion per year. That seems like a lot of money but billionaire wealth could cover the cost for 317 years. During the pandemic when 90% of the world lived in fear, Oxfam tells us a new billionaire was created every 30 hours. That would give the world 292 new billionaires a year. But why squander billionaire wealth on the 50% of humanity who are falling farther behind when pouring it into space and armaments is more reliably profitable?
Why do we need to send someone into space to live on the moon or Mars? Why do we think the universe needs us to leave the planet when we cannot manage to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, educate ourselves and provide ourselves with healthcare. And who will go? If there is truly intelligent life out there the last thing they need is the economic and political elite who run our destructive global economy. Is the space race designed to just provide tourist thrills for billionaires? Is it to make the billionaires richer? Is it to provide a safe place for billionaires to live once they have destroyed the planet? Will safe villas in Alaska or New Zealand be replaced by new exotic villas on the moon and Mars?
We clearly have an economy that fails to meet the needs of humanity. As income inequality grows each month, the failure of our economy accelerates. Under enormous pressure from the extremely wealthy and the corporations they own, governments keep tweaking the economic policy framework to increase inequality. They, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau so recently said in a year end interview, ‘avoid the easy route of taxing excessive windfall profits.’ Our measure of economic health is the growth of Gross National Product, but the leaders of our political economy really do not care who that wealth goes to. The explosion of billionaire wealth during the pandemic and the inflation of the last year are an opportunity used by the billionaires and their huge corporations to inflate returns and of no concern to Canadian governments. The squandering of productive output on ‘exciting’ space exploits is simply another expression of moral collapse. And, through their taxes, the bottom 80% of income earners can participate in the glorious enterprise.
Can we come to our senses and decide to focus our efforts on solving the many problems on earth rather than squandering billions and eventually trillions on a race to discover which nation is the most irresponsible? It is possible but not likely in our North American ‘quasi democracies’. Should we ever explore space? Yes – when we have become much more successful in making the earth a pleasant place for the 80% of humanity who are falling behind. But that will not happen until massive groups of people begin to follow young leaders like Greta Thunberg. Our hope lies with the hundreds and hundreds of young Canadians and thousands around the world who retain a moral compass.