8 March 2017

Space

Homeless man in Santa Monica, California
Perhaps I am ignorant. Perhaps I lack vision. Perhaps my view of things is narrow and parochial but I don't really care much about outer space or what lies in the vast and endless universe beyond the atmosphere that envelops our world. 

What I care about is here on Planet Earth. I care about our trees and our oceans. I care about our fellow creatures and about my fellow earthlings. I care about the future for those who follow us.

America's space agency NASA currently has an annual budget of $18 billion. Russia spends over $5.6 billion. Europe  spends $4 billion, Japan $2,5 billion,  China $1.5 billion and India $1.2 billion. That's an awful lot of money..

You could do a lot of good with $32 billion dollars a year.  But it's not just about money. If the ingenuity of men and women employed in space programmes was instead directed to earthly matters, it could surely help a lot. 

They could focus upon environmentally friendly transportation, upon stabilising the world's population,, upon eliminating starvation, upon ways of homing the homeless, upon food production, upon providing work and incomes for people in spite of the impact of new technologies, upon caring for the elderly, upon addressing division based on religious differences, upon access to clean water, upon diseases, upon preserving wild places and animals. The list of good things that might be addressed goes on and on.
Starving Somalian child 2017
These are the things that I care about. Not the surface of Mars or the remote possibility that there may be life on distant planets that are impossible to reach, And I don't care about building pioneer communities on The Moon in biomes with hydroponic plants. And just who are these wealthy idiots who are buying tickets for flights into outer space?

I want a home for the man in the picture at the top of this post and food and a future for the starving Somalian child in the second picture. And I want the continual reduction of The Amazon  rain forest to cease and polar bears to have an icy environment in which they can thrive. 

Space - the final frontier?  To infinity and beyond?  No. Stuff that. It's earthly matters that need addressing, not comic book fantasies spawned by science fiction and notions of military dominance. Space programmes may have given the real world a handful of beneficial by-products but  if the focus had been upon what goes on here, the benefits  would have surely been multiplied a hundred times or more.

Well. That's what I think. How about you?
The surface of  Mars

30 comments:

  1. You make a great point... I always thought we (the US, but all of the major world powers, to some degree) spend way too much money on exploring the universe when there are more pressing issues on Earth. Whenever there's a budget crunch (which is pretty much all the time) Republicans want to cut funding from social services, and Democrats want to cut the bloated military budget. No one ever talks about cutting funds from NASA. I always wondered why that was. Global warming is a real thing, E.T. is not :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, that is not quite correct. NASA has had funds cut off like most other government agencies, with the exception of the military budget, as you said.

      Delete
    2. I stand corrected. Perhaps I've had my head in the sand too long :-)

      Delete
  2. Perfectly logical and reasonable. Somehow or other the powers that be have been persuaded to go for the glitzy stuff and let millions suffer. I think more people have to say what you said and let politicians know that we support other options.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are meant to applaud space exploration but I would rather applaud the saving of lives.

      Delete
  3. My first thought about life on Mars was 'Can these people be serious?' However it could be said half the world may have been left undiscovered if everyone took the view of staying home; this of course could be seen as a good thing from the point of view of people who now lead difficult lives because of the intervention of colonising countries.
    I must agree it is a lot of money and sure it could be spent to alleviate a lot of misery in the world. But the Big Question is would it be spent doing just that?

    Alphie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In reality, those who rule the world now would probably be incapable of directing the space funds to worthy causes on Earth... but I was being idealistic.

      Delete
  4. I completely agree with you, Yorkie.
    having said that, I don't think there is any real reason it would need to be an either/ or proposition. We could have space programs and feed the starving and house the homeless if only we had the WILL.
    Unfortunately though, it's all just a great big pissing contest where you get a lot more points for sending people to Mars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Will"...yes! That's it. But as I say an awful lot of good could be done with $32 billion, year after year. Let the space folk have one bloody great telescope and say - now that's your lot matey!

      Delete
  5. The one does not have to exclude the other, like kylie said above. There is money AND brain matter enough on this planet to do both. And like Alphie asks, would the money NOT spent on space programmes be spent on doing good on earth? More likely than not, it would be buttered into the huge weapons and military budgets most of the world's nations have - even the poor ones, who instead of feeding their own people, feed their own government's fat bellies.

    There IS enough food and there ARE enough homes on Earth; food waste is rampant in industrialised nations, and too many people live on their own (I am one of them) or have huge houses standing empty for most of the year, while others sleep on the street. It is not a matter of taking anything away from the poor by funding science. It is a matter of greed and uneven distribution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have nothing against the funding of science. It's space programmes that bother me. Pie in the sky.

      Let's say we took just $1 million from space programmes and used it to support just one small Somalian village - to supply clean water, food and better shelter. There'd be seeds and solar energy too. This intervention would halt death by starvation in that village and set it up for a rosier future.

      And if we had a vote - to leave that $1 million in the space programme or to support the Somalian village I know which one I would pick every time. Those who have blithely sponsored space programmes have never had to walk to distant wells for water or to listen to their children begging for food as they drifted towards death.

      But yes, ultimately I agree with you that what is really key in this argument is attitude and priorities. Where there is genuine will there is a way.

      Delete
  6. Excellent YP, and I'm in total agreement with your comments, and those of the Alphie and Librarian.
    However, we do need people of vision to allow us to move forwards. One of the reasons that so much money is wasted on these ridiculous space programmes is surely that "they" (whoever they are), can't find a solution to the problems here on earth, so waste time, and money, looking at the heavens. It's also, of course, like the arms race, a question of one up-manship, being seen as a leader and impressing other nations.
    I'm sure I read somewhere that one of the few things of any real use to come out of the space programme is the microwave cooker !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Other things that have come out of the space programme include moondust, space helmets and photographs of faraway nebulae.

      Delete
  7. Some very valid comments here. I doubt cancelling the space programme would make any tangible difference to social problems on Earth. I wonder if anyone has considered sending Trump into outer space?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When Trump used to snort cocaine I am sure that he often felt that he was floating in outer space. A great big floater.

      Delete
  8. I entirely agree with you YP but would also say that the Librarian's second comment also makes a lot of sense and rings true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should have been a diplomat Derek.

      Delete
  9. We think similarly on this, Yorkie.
    There is still much to be done here on earth...so much to be rectified before trying to go and ruin elsewhere!

    Man's inhumanity to man...I wonder if it will ever cease...I doubt it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like to see the stars and watch the phases of the moon - just like hundreds of generations of human beings have done before me. But I don't want to go there.

      Delete
  10. Agreed. I was about 10 when Sputnik one began the space programme, that was in 1957. So nearly nearly 60 years on and goodness knows at what cost we haven't really discovered much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We may not have discovered much of value Jenny but hey those astronauts have had fun floating around in states of weightlessness. The ultimate theme park ride but tickets have literally cost the earth!

      Delete
  11. I agree with your sentiments but not necessarily with the idea of redirecting money from the space programme. There is important scientific research going on up there that contributes to our life down here. (Pens that write upside down for example!) We could release much more if we could ever get round to scrapping the military and try to get along without needing to kill each other half the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like a cylinder of graphite covered in wood..They work upside down and under water to great depths.

      Delete
  12. "Shooting Parrots" beat me to it -- I was going to say exactly the same thing. Humanity wastes far more money on weapons and bombs and destroying each other than we do on the space program, which has yielded countless scientific discoveries. I'm all for exploring space and redirecting our ridiculous military budgets into social programs at home. (Including international development, which would help us make and maintain better relationships with hostile regimes around the world! Maybe not North Korea, but a lot of others...)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm sure there are people in the Middle East who are fighting over rights to landscape that isn't much different than the picture from Mars.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Pure research is money well spent for the world and those with the nous to do it. Without the space program you wouldn't have Sat Nav, accurate weather forecasting or anything but terrestrial TV. Ever seen a persecuted migrant without an I-Phone?
    We have many more pressing problems. We waste vast sums on military hardware, projected and outdated railway projects (the future is firing trains down a vacuum tube). This would save an hour on the London to Birmingham travel time, not seven minutes. Perhaps they could build a ten mile pipe in the north, you know, Let the pleb design it, the peasants that designed it would pop lesser peasants in it to test it. Rail was good when we only had rivers and canals. It's expensive and crap today. It's what's wrong with the massive state machine. Too many people are dependant on it but the people running it are unemployable elsewhere. How can they be qualified to hire and fire?
    Foreign aid is mostly wasted. We pump billions in and then have a protectionist wall to hinder the poorest in the world getting access to our profligate market. I'll clear off back to my 3D world. It gets more complex but slowly I am getting ready for a post. Hydraulics to sort on a Tele-loader before I can settle down though.

    ReplyDelete
  15. At the rate we're destroying the environment here on Earth pretty soon we're going to need another planet to escape to.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't physically know you, Mr. Pudding, my brother. But, I love you. We are really two parts of the same brain and heart. And, my heart bleeds every day for the waste and destruction of our planet and it bleeds for the misery and helplessness and hopelessness of the most innocent and most vulnerable who live within our reach. In my long life, how little I have been able to do or influence although I have cried out these many years.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm with you on this one YP.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am torn on this topic. I once felt the same way, but taking a longer view, our species will lose our sun at some point in the future and will die out unless we have found a way to travel to another solar system. If I think about this too much, I reach the conclusion that none of it really matters - we are all going to die anyway. So I don't - can't - really think about it or there'd be no point in living even the lifespan I'm allotted. I do wish there was no suffering in the world as it is today. I saw a TED talk recently that discussed what we as a global population need to strive for as our workloads are reduced by technology. The scientist said in his view our "job" in the future, when many current jobs have disappeared, should be to reduce suffering. I hope it turns out that way.

    ReplyDelete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.