Space Junk

I have written in a previous blog the importance of understanding a concept called, “opportunity cost.” Opportunity cost is simply a term which means that when you make one choice you automatically give up the opportunity to make another. That loss of a different choice is what is the cost of your making the choice. Few government programs  provide a better example of this principle than the American Space Program.

Ever since President Kennedy’s vaunted race to the moon, American’s have been looking to the heavens as new frontier that just had to be explored. Part of our motivation is scientific. Part of our motivation is national pride. Part religious. Some even want to explore space because they have that Star Trek religion (bolstered by heavy doses of Evolutionary indoctrination) that thinks, “if life evolved on earth certainly it must have evolved on one of the other planets floating around in the universe.”
Unfortunately, these motivations come with a high price tag, both in dollars and in lives. (Exploration is risky, and space exploration is no different). But what is the economic return? Do we really need to blast manned space vehicles into space? Wouldn’t unmanned probes provide a lot of information more cheaply? Just consider the various space probes sent off to the other planets many years ago. For just a few hundred million dollars, we received a wealth of information over decades. Employ read the forum movie review writing service that built providing help for learners.
The silliness of the present space program is brought into starker relief when one considers how much of our own planet remains open to exploration. Yes, you read that right. Did you know that we still don’t have a complete global survey of the flora and fauna on the planet? In a time when environmentalist Al Gore has achieved rock start status for his environmental views, don’t you think it odd that we lack a complete record of what it is we are trying to protect from global warming?
One only need think about how little we know about the ocean floor to know that diverting a few billion dollars away from sending people into space, would give us the money needed to explore the enormous wealth of information found in the oceans. Information that could change lives for the better in the near future, not a hundred years from now.
One more thing. The next time you see a space shuttle shot into space, ask yourself two questions, 1. how does sending a rocket into space help extend the life of our diminishing ozone layer? And, 2. is it really worth spending all that money to blast stuff into space? Aren’t there better ways to spend it?

© 2007  Stephen Vantassel

  1. I guess life without satellite communication would be a little different, and those who advocate space exploration, often tell us of all the amazing stuff that has come from the various space programmes, and I can see that there are some “giant steps”.

    I am however unconvinced by the clamour for more and more space exploration, I would concur with your two points about the environmental impact and questionable use of money, but from a Christian viewpoint, I am intrigued by the parallels between this and the tower of Babel, what do you think, totally crazy or not?

  2. I never said we should nothing in space. I am clearly in favor of space probes, astronomy, and of course satellites. My point was that if you throw enough money at something you are bound to learn something. Even something valuable. The issue is opportunity cost. Could we have gained a lot more for a lot less and helped a lot more people? I think yes.

    I am intrigued by your Babel connection. Certainly, I can see some echoes.

  3. I agree with your point.
    But there is the added dimension in the scenario you mention, and that is the difficulty of measuring the value from each possible uses of funding. Now this is not unusual when considering “opportunity cost”, but the more radical the options on offer, i.e. space or deep sea exploration, the more difficult it is to quantify the possible tangible outcomes. I consider that it is in these extreme cases that lucidity and logic of economic argument (not that that is always the most lucid!) give way, and give way big time, to the narcissism of fallen man, therefore the most spectacular project is likely to be the winner of the funding.

    But then just think, what would the sci-fi film industry and their spin off’s do…..

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