While the super-rich take joy rides to outer space, the rest of us watch with awe, excitement, or disgust. It is fun to see our sci-fi fantasies taking flight rather than paying attention to the complicated reality of our ecosystems collapsing. Never mind that a rocket launch produces up to 300 tons of carbon dioxide that hovers in the upper atmosphere for years.
“Is anyone else alarmed that billionaires are having their own private space race while record-breaking heatwaves are sparking a ‘fire-breathing dragon of clouds’ and cooking sea creatures to death in their shells?” the former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich tweeted.
We love to fly. There is just no way around it. There are 100,000 flights each day on average, producing three tons of carbon emissions per passenger. That sounds like a lot, but world aviation is only responsible for 12% of the CO2 emissions compared to the 74% generated by ground vehicles.
What if these super-rich jet setters put their money into changing our ground transportation? Some are, like Eli Musk and his electric cars, but those cars are only affordable to the rich. Our real challenge is our capitalist thinking – we want to make money from spending money. It is the capitalist way. The rich rocket investors want space tourism so they can make their money back, but space tourism will kill the planet. They don’t mind because they will just go live on Mars. Never mind that the Earth’s resources will be needed for any bubble of life to exist on a desolate, airless planet.
If that same money was put into shifting our modes of ground transportation, like creating electric rails, we all would benefit for generations, and the Earth could heal. And they could sell rides on it too!