Energy comes first

July 26, 2009 

We could spend a trillion dollars or so going to the moon -- but it would be a meaningless feat.

Our civilization's major power source is still the coal we dig out of the ground. For space travel, we have only chemical rockets, which are well suited to hoist satellites and robot probes but inadequate to take people spacefaring. The next decades could see massive famines as food production falls behind population, while transportation systems break down as oil becomes ever more costly.

So, let's spend that trillion dollars, not on trips to the moon, but on creating renewable and sustainable sources of energy, which are the necessary prerequisites to a lasting space program. When I read columns like Charles Krauthammer's "We landed, we abandoned" (July 20), I surmise that the Easter Islanders, on the edge of extinction, had their own foolish counselors who argued that all effort should be spent making bigger stone heads.

John McGarvey


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