At this time of ecological uncertainty, can we really justify $200,000 adrenalin hits for the rich?
In 2010, according to the World Hunger Organization, 925 million of our fellow human beings went hungry. Meanwhile, untold millions (billions?) of US dollars are being spent to develop the Virgin Galactic Spaceship, of which the BBC has been given an exclusive first glance.
What good is the Virgin Galactic Spaceship to humanity? Will it improve the situation for the thousands of Japanese who are suffering from what is being dubbed the worst natural disaster in human history? Will it stem the violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria? No. The Virgin Galactic Spaceship is designed to give those people who have benefited from an unethical economic system that perpetually condemns millions of people to hunger a $200,000 joy ride.
Some people trek miles a day to get a bucket of reasonably clean water because the best resources have been diverted to the rich, while others (Egypt and Jordan come to mind) scrounge just to get decent tomatoes.
Yet we’re comfortable investing a huge pile of money so that 400 lucky? people can see the curvature of the earth? So they can float?
The Virgin Galactic Spaceship represents the best and worst of humanity: sure, it demonstrates our technological might. In a couple of years, it will be possible to hurl six people at a time past the earth’s atmosphere at 2500 miles per hour. That’s really incredible. And it sounds like really good fun.
But it also demonstrates our unfailing arrogance, the same kind of arrogance that built a nuclear power station in a seismic zone despite knowing the horrific effects leaked radiation has on the hapless people in its path.
Like gold cars and ecologically destructive artificial islands, the Virgin Galactic Spaceship is an ostentatious display of our potential. And though the company told the BBC it will require less emissions per person than a trip across the Atlantic, we’re eating up valuable and dwindling resources so rich people can get their next adrenalin fix.
My parents often said “life isn’t fair.” Is that really the best that we can do? Can we really justify with no disruption to our collective conscience, at this time of economic and environmental uncertainty, such a frivolous waste of money and natural resources?
If we want a better world, or any kind of world, come to think of it, why not use that extra $200,000 floating around to invest in educating those whose natural resources and wealth have been usurped by rich nations. Invest in trees. Clean water. Agriculture. Medicine. Decent nutrition.
Why not show the better side of our collective selves? Our compassion, our sense of justice, and our ability to embrace moderation during lean times.
Virgin wants to send thousands of people into space at $200,000 a head. What a world of good we could do if that money were better spent.
More opinion pieces from Tafline Laylin:
Five Things A “Green” Writer Wants For Christmas
From Tour Guide to Green Prophet
Art And Spirituality: The Antidote To Bigger, Better, More
image via BBC