The United States doesn’t need a moonshot. It needs an Earthshot.
In March, on the 50th anniversary of the country’s astronauts landing on the moon, the White House called for a return mission within five years. In May, the administration said it wants to boost NASA’s budget by $1.6 billion a year to get the job done.
It’s the wrong project at the wrong time, unless it includes rockets to move what will be the steaming, weather-battered population on Earth to another planet.
The announcement of moonshot Artemis came with the usual aspirational bloviating that surrounds White House initiatives these days. Vice President Mike Pence said, “America will once again astonish the world with the heights we reach, the wonders we achieve, and we will lead the world in human space explorations once again.”
Instead, America should lead the world in a drastic reduction of greenhouse gases, which are destroying the planet.
It won’t be easy. It won’t be cheap. As President John F. Kennedy said of the first moonshot, we should do it “because it is hard.” Plus, it will keep us alive.
The planet is screaming for help. Last weekend, the temperature in northwest Russia near the Arctic Ocean reached 84 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s normally 54 degrees. Scientists also found that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 415 parts per million, the highest in at least 800,000 years. Some scientists say it may be the highest in 3 million years.
It will take governments, scientists, economists and every citizen in the world to get us out of this mess. Forget the moon. We need to quit messing around. America needs to get going on an Earthshot.