ANDREW GLIKSON. $trillion space games and false prophecies by billionaires while Rome burns

History testifies to powerful rulers’ aspirations for the position of gods, including the Pharaohs and Roman Emperors such as Caligula or Nero, nowadays mimicked by false messianic prophecies of “intergalactic civilization” made by billionaires and their followers in public and the media, including some scientists. This includes predictions of making life interplanetary by giant proprietors of space hardware, such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, including plans for space tourism, asteroid mining and permanent human settlements on the Moon and Mars.  This would by some estimates be expected to cost about  $1 trillion by 2040. These ideas are closely linked to the rise of climate disruption and potential nuclear calamities and with the upsurge of fascism.  Space playgrounds of billionaires can only come at the expense of the multitude of humanity left behind where, coupled with plans for militarization and even weaponization of space, humanity may be left with a few barren rocks in space to temporarily support a few survivors.

In 2000 Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and the world’s richest man, launched the reusable Blue Origin, albeit with several launch engine problems. The aim is to commence space tourism in sub-orbital flights, charging a six-figure price such as $300,000 per ticket. Further developments of returnable rockets include defence contracts with the US government and ambitions for permanent human settlement on the Moon, in partnership with NASA. According to one report, Bezos says that “humans need space travel because they are ‘destroying this planet’ ” but the reporter observes: “He doesn’t mean that humanity will have to evacuate a dying Earth, however, but rather that we could outsource our more destructive behaviors to space.

In 2002 Elon Musk, founder of Pay-Pal, developed the SpaceX rocket, including 70 launches to date, with contracts with NASA, the US Air Force and the Argentine Space Agency, including supply contracts with the International Space Station.  SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to send crewed flights to Mars and eventually colonize the Red Planet. “I want to die on Mars,” Musk has said, “just not on impact.”, with the motto being : “Making Life Interplanetary” … “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.

In 2004 Richard Branson launched Virgin Galactic, a tourist-oriented reusable ‘space plane’ for sub-orbital flights, having already signed some rich people on $250,000 tickets and collaborating with the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund. On 13 December 2018 the VSS Unity achieved the project’s first suborbital space flight, reaching an altitude of 82.7 km. In February 2019 a member of the team sat in a flight that reached an altitude of 89.9 km. In Richard Branson’s Motto “Together we open space to change the world for good”.

Unfortunately these ideas are attracting some scientists like bees to the honey.

Stephen Hawking said: “Human race is doomed if we do not colonize the Moon and Mars” …. If we’re to survive, Hawking said, “I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth”.

The science presenter Brian Cox, known for his excellent programs on astronomy and the planets, is cited: “Cox says the only way we can become ‘immortal’ as a species is to populate other planets”.

Such messianic ideas raise critical questions, including:

  1. Ultimately the $trillion resources come out from the mouths of hungry children, who can hardly gain from space rocket games.
  2. Prophecies of space colonization divert attention from the extreme urgency of resisting the calamity of global warming and its disastrous consequencesand mass extinction of species.
  3. Prophecies of space colonization give people a mistaken impression as if alternatives exist to environmental repair of the terrestrial atmosphere, oceans and biosphere.
  4. Space prophets include mainly physicists, but very few biologists, and do not understand that the human body and psychology are inexorably connected with the Earth. We are Earthlingsour bodies evolved on Earth and are attuned to the gravity, atmosphere and radiationenvironment on the surface of this planet as well as the multitude of micro-organisms on whom we depend.
  5. Exploration of the planets best belongs to mobile robotic micro-laboratories designed to monitor the wave spectrum.

According to Oxfam eight billionaires now own as much wealth as half the human race, nor does it sound as if in their mind some of these people live on planet Earth. Much like ancient divinations of heaven for the righteous, in an ethics-free age false prophecies of planetary colonization—of the rich, by the rich, for the rich— can only be described as insanity and a diversion from the need to save life on Earth.


Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleoclimate scientist.

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5 Responses to ANDREW GLIKSON. $trillion space games and false prophecies by billionaires while Rome burns

  1. Avatar David Rothfield says:

    It may be that Glickson saying that ‘the $trillion resources (for space extravaganza) come out from the mouths of hungry children’ is, if taken literally, rather difficult to substantiate. However I read it as a condemnation of the priorities of the promoters of these science fiction dreams.

    If the priorities of the likes of Bezos, Musk and Branson were more closely matched to those of Buffet, Gates and Bloomberg, it would go a long way to making life on this planet more survivable and more liveable for many more of its inhabitants.

    The dinosaurs waited millions of years before being wiped out by an asteroid. Our species however seem to be in a hurry to self destruct much sooner.

  2. Avatar R. N. England says:

    In tried and true 21st-century academic style, Cox butters-up the vainest of the vain for hard-to-get astrophysics funding: “The only way we can become immortal as a species is to populate other planets.”

    Those science-fiction driven billionaires, and their hangers-on, could do with a healthy dose of flygskam. It’s going to take all the scientific know-how we possess (above all the shunned science of human behaviour) to clean up the mess we’ve made down here.

  3. Avatar Ray Hughes says:

    “That and this are two different things.” Distribution of wealth is definitely broken, and these billionaires are, among other things, severely under-taxed. They are also not, by most people’s definitions, very nice people in general. But to claim that there is a connection between attempted space exploration and starving children is naive – that money was never going near starving children, no matter what it was spent on. And to claim that Elon Musk should be spending the money on combating global warming instead, with no acknowledgement of what he DOES do on that front?

    The “one basket” argument (“putting all our eggs in one basket” – i.e. that by limiting ourselves to one planet we are inevitably dooming ourselves to extinction) has been around at least since any of the names above were children. It is about more than global warming, or pollution, or fossil fuel exhaustion. The point is, as the dinosaurs found out, it makes no difference how good a custodian of Mother Earth you are, it only takes one asteroid… That is their argument, and why their efforts amount to philanthropy in this instance.

  4. Avatar Ted Trainer says:

    Agree emphatically Andrew! The scientists annoy me more than the billionaires; they have had a charmed run for decades, being paid to indulge in costly obsessions that make no contribution to saving the planet or doing anything about the 850 million people who are chronically hungry…while expecting to be idolized. The factor most responsible for our plight is lack of social responsibility, lack of concern to fix our grossly flawed social systems. The football loving deplorables are not the only culprits here.

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