“Space, the final frontier.”
So said William Shatner’s television character, Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise, during the opening credits of each episode of Star Trek, which ran for three seasons during the 1960s (followed by several feature films).
One need not be a “Trekkie” to enjoy the fact that 90-year old William Shatner became the oldest person in history to travel in outer space this past week. He was a passenger on the second spaceflight of a Blue Origin rocket, a company founded and run by centi-billionaire, Jeff Bezos.
Prince William Windsor, the future King of Great Britain (2nd in line to the throne), was having none of it.
“We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live…[and] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future,” the prince sniffed in disapproval.
Prince William weighed in on the eve of the annual “Earthshot” prize that is awarded to someone trying to save planet Earth. Considering the size of the climate change cottage industry, no doubt there are many professors, scientists, activists, politicians and assorted charlatans (but I repeat myself) from whom to choose — meaning there are plenty of “brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet,” dear prince. The handful of billionaire investors in space travel and exploration in no way negates that effort.
Since the first landing on the Moon in July 1969 where American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin traversed, someone should remind the Duke of Cambridge, one of Prince William’s vapid titles, that the planet has been on the mend. That same year, the U.S. Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act which requires environmental impact reviews of major infrastructure projects, among other purposes. The following year, the Clean Air Act was adopted which regulated pollution emissions from industries and vehicles. Then came the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The Apollo program of sending space capsules to the Moon in the early 1970s did not distract from these landmark legislative accomplishments and subsequent environmental progress.
Addressing environmental issues hasn’t stopped there. Congress, the United Nations and the western world have continued with anti-pesticide laws, oil-spill prevention laws and so much more. In fact, the environmental movement that celebrates Earth Day annually since 1970 can rightly declare victory on many fronts. Our air and water are cleaner than ever; there are more clean-burning fuels on the market with lead-based fuel long since banned, and forests, parklands and wetlands are heavily protected and regulated, to name examples.
The present-day environmental movement, however, is never satisfied and has become extremist in so many harmful ways. Wildfires have become a recurring crisis in western states because politicians refuse to clear deadwood and manage forests properly out of fear of irrational environmental activists with political muscle. Yet, many of the same people support destroying forestry and landscapes to implant acres of cement to install massive wind turbines for “renewable” energy.
The Clean Air Act also has been bastardized by the environmental bureaucrats and courts to regulate carbon as a “pollutant.” Yes, the same carbon without which Earth’s inhabitants would not survive. Rather than declare victory and manage the extraordinary environmental gains over the last half century, so much of the green movement has transformed into an absurd crusade to lower man-made carbon emissions in a fruitless effort change the planet’s climate trajectory.
Sadly, the hysteria surrounding climate change, a very natural and continuously circumscribed occurrence, has otherwise intelligent, educated people bamboozled and countless youngsters coping with “climate anxiety,” for whom Prince William claims concern and for which he is a reason.
But what of space? Prince William expressed a long shopworn, zero-sum argument that’s been heard since President John F. Kennedy in 1961 made it a federal government priority to land a man on the Moon and return him to Earth safely. Considering the worldwide euphoria eight years later when this goal was accomplished tells me that reason alone made it worthwhile. But there is so much more we have since gained as a result of space travel.
The pursuit of space exploration has yielded countless technological advances, including many literally at our fingertips – namely, our cell phones. Satellites in space, as one example, also do not merely give us more television channels. They have made global communications accessible to the ordinary person, made driving more manageable and safer, revolutionized workplaces with vastly more productive computers, and enriched our standard of living. Our national defense and security capability also is greatly strengthened from advances in space.
Space exploration is indeed the final frontier and mankind should never stand still. It never has. Such pursuits need not stop Prince William and so many others from addressing their carbon obsession. Rather than chirp about William Shatner fulfilling a dream, the prince could lower his own family’s carbon emissions by renouncing royalty, bulldozing their oversized castles and relocating to a London flat.