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18 Oct, 2021 16:48

It’s wrong for eco zealots like Prince William to question space exploration… it’s brought humanity many benefits

It’s wrong for eco zealots like Prince William to question space exploration… it’s brought humanity many benefits

Whether it comes from royalty or your local high-school dropout, casting doubt on the worth of space research is an exercise in shortsighted foolishness. It’s delivered many technical advances that have improved our lives greatly.

I don’t recall ever seeing a member of Britain’s Royal Family honored for his or her stirring scientific scholarship. That doesn’t mean Her Majesty and family are necessarily stupid. In fact, there’s no old lady on this planet I’d kick with an insult like that, let alone HRH. 

Still, following his recent comments attacking space exploration, I’m more than happy to lay the title of Sir Shortsighted at the court of Prince William. Denying the limitless technical advancements of such scientific pursuits might hint at the intellectual toll centuries of elitist European inbreeding exacts.

Last week, against the happy backdrop of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk-ian voyage to the stars with Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s Blue Origin tourism offering, Prince William splashed down with criticism of Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk’s separate commercial space programs.  

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Essentially, he regurgitated the burned-out canard that space exploration neglects the Earth and detracts from terrestrial sciences that could benefit the planet.

The staggering myopia of these words pains me to type, but William said in multiple reports: “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. I think that ultimately is what sold it for me – that really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future.”

That’s exactly 67 words of the most blinkered ignorance you’re likely to endure from a public figure who’s supposed to serve as some sort of thought leader. I’m now going to take about 670 words to ravage it.

First, I would like to arrange a day in which I go through a home of Prince William’s choosing – Kensington Palace will suffice – and remove everything from it with direct ties to space-program research. Between the United States and the Soviet Union, serious space research began officially around 1955. The more than six decades that have passed since –and the brilliant men and women who toiled in that time– now allow me to bang out this list of inventions and technologies that came our way due to space-race research. I offer, in no particular order…

Cellular communication; CAT scans; robotic artificial limbs; micro-circuitry; MRIs; LED lighting; memory foam; digital photography; treadmills; freeze-dried food; smoke detectors;cordless power tools; weather satellites; water filters; scratch-resistant lenses; ear thermometers; clear dental braces; GPS; insoles; aircraft de-icing systems; thermal insulation; …and meatballs.

OK. Maybe that last one is a bridge too far, but the rest all scan. If it catches your fancy, you can hop online and search out countless more practical, quality-of-life improvements space exploration has brought to our world. Remove a few of the more key entries from this planet, and you would watch our modern civilization crumble.

In short, the world from which space-skeptics like the Prince pontificate wouldn’t exist without the very efforts they malignantly disregard. Perhaps a handful of those would’ve found their way into our civilization if we hadn’t looked to the stars as a species, but the practical advancements of space-program research are undeniable.

Meanwhile, the good Prince seems to believe we lack scientists willing to research climate change and environmental challenges. I’m going to inch out onto this rhetorical tree branch and dare to propose there might just be more than a handful of smart folk looking into that problem. Now, if only there could be entire divisions of global governments, countless university degree programs and an endless variety of international non-profits all dedicated to combating climate change and protecting the environment,then we might be onto something…

Finally, the sort of blinders William (Windsor, not Shatner) strapped to his head could have some very serious consequences for the human race beyond denying us NASA-wrought creature comforts. Exploring space and seeking to colonize other heavenly bodies like the Moon and Mars is the most certain way to guarantee the survival of our species, should it meet an untimely end on terra firma.

Check out the book by Stephen L. Petranek, ‘How We’ll Live on Mars’. In its pages and their related TED talks, he insists some percentage of the human population must move off Earth to avoid a species-extinguishing event he considers an absolute certainty. From asteroids to viruses (imagine that?!) to famine to solar flares, sooner or later we’re doomed, around these parts. Moving willing pioneers off-world makes sure the universe isn’t deprived of humanity.

Still, we have Prince William bemoaning the time, money and resources dedicated to our space programs. In fairness, he’s specifically targeting the corporate efforts of billionaires because nobody likes those clever, successful bastards. It’s not as cockle-warmingly socialist to kick the working stiffs toiling away at the national space programs of the US, Russia, China, Great Britain, etc. While it’s fair to say the Branson/Musk/Bezos crowd is into the space game for fame and financial gain, the societal benefits emerging from even their dirty capitalist efforts bear fruit for all.

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Maybe we can’t really blame the failures of the Prince’s education as he questions the benefits of research into advanced engineering, computer science, propulsion research, material development, solar power… (OK, I’ll stop).

We all know this is a corner trap well painted by habitual, politically correct, environmentalist pearl clutching. Once a failed intellect publicly latches onto the unreasoning climate-change panic in front of the media, it’s impossible for the sellout to admit that anything could be as important, let alone more important, than saving the natterjack toad or nuking the internal combustion engine.

Sadly, this is an example of a public figure kneeling at the altar of extremism. We see a Windsor whining about our desire to reach beyond the bonds of Earth – without realizing the scientific advancements always emerging from space exploration make his prized climate improvement and ecological conservation possible.

So, His Royal Highness might want to set his sights a little higher and embrace the wondrous human effort to get our backsides off this rock here and there. Maybe Bezos and company can do him and his grandmother a favor by shooting his brother and sister-in-law out in Hollywood into orbit… before leaving them there.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.