No, Sending Millions of People to Space Won’t Save the Planet

No, Sending Millions of People to Space Won’t Save the Planet

Last week, I ended up stuck in a morbid conversation that started with the question, “Is it a good idea to have kids in 2022?” There’s a lot to contemplate on this topic, such as how the world they inherit will look. We’re on the edge of a global war, we’re battling through a pandemic and the planet is literally on fire. But apparently all of these issues can be fixed by space flight.

Oh great, I never knew that the solution to all of the world’s problems could be that simple. Sign me up straight away!

Well, that’s only if Jane Poynter, the founder of space tourism company Space Perspective, is to be believed.

The former adviser to Elon Musk was speaking with Insider when she said that “seeing Earth in space is a truly profound experience.”

This experience, she says, is enough to give any billionaire a better appreciation of the planet we call home. That, says Poynter, is the best bet we have to mend our crumbling home.

No, Sending Millions of People to Space Won’t Save the Planet
This one little capsule can change your opinions on everything… apparently. (Screenshot: Space Perspective)

And it’s this ethos that is behind her company, Space Perspective. The new firm is hoping to begin offering flights into space in 2024.

When they finally take to the skies, the flights will see eight rich people squeeze into a capsule tied to a gas-filled balloon. The six-hour flight will set you back $US125,000 ($173,525).

Forgive me if I sound cyclical, but I don’t think a six-hour float above the Earth will be enough to change our wildly wasteful ways. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that space travel could also be quite wasteful.

Sure, people like Jeff Bezos may wax lyrical about the profound feelings they now have towards our planet after floating above it for 15 minutes. But that hasn’t stopped them from plotting further forays into the cosmos that kick out “at least 75 tonnes of carbon per passenger.”

According to the Associated Press, this is 75 times more than a “person at the lowest end of the financial spectrum” will emit in an entire year.

And, with a price tag in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Space Perspective experience is clearly targeted at the top-tier earners in the world.

No, Sending Millions of People to Space Won’t Save the Planet
Four people fresh back from space and ready to protect the planet. (Photo: Mario Tama / Staff, Getty Images)

Those same top-tier earners are responsible for dramatically more carbon emissions than lower income individuals already. And that’s before they’ve had the chance to hop into space whenever they fancy.

In fact, a recent study from UK charity Oxfam found that the richest one per cent of the planet emits double the CO2 of the poorest half of the planet. So are we expecting this view of the Earth from space to rapidly change this?

And anyway, how will this do a better job of changing people’s minds than, say, a jaunt to Yellowstone National Park, the Great Barrier Reef or the plains of Africa?

This all seems like utter garbage to me.

What’s more, the company claims the flights will be the “only carbon neutral, zero-emission way to space.”

That’s because the firm has partnered with Cool Effect to offset its emissions. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any emissions from the firm. And yes, offsetting is a good way to try and cut your impact. But do you know what’s better? Just not making those emissions in the first place.

No, Sending Millions of People to Space Won’t Save the Planet
Look the clown fish in the eye and tell it you need to fly to space. (Photo: William West / Staff, Getty Images)

I love space, and the chance to float above the Earth to take a look back on our tiny planet is a dream. But I know it’s not a good idea for me to go.

It’s the same as how I know that using a car in New York City is not a good idea, or how I know that eating foie gras every day is not a good idea. There are a lot of things that sound fun but are pretty excessive.

If Space Perspective really wants to encourage people to protect our planet, then it shouldn’t be shipping punters into the cosmos. And if it really is intent on doing that, it definitely should not be accepting cryptocurrency for seats on board.

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