On Tuesday we watched probably the greatest engineering achievement of the 21st century so far with the launch of Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket, headed for its rendezvous with Mars. His little red Tesla roadster led the way atop the final stage. It was a sight of pure beauty and an incarnation of human genius and ambition that once again promises great things for the people of Earth.
Following this, the Guardian published an angry editorial, saying [paraphrased] that rich bints tossing pricey little red roadsters into space was a waste of money when there are poor people who need diapers. At this the hustings lit up with angry responses, even from the core fans of the Guardian: Those core fans being true-believing socialists, professional students, and union members. It’s like this, you see. We humans as a species have to get off this rock to survive in the long term. If it isn’t the expansion of the Sun in a couple of billion years, the cooling of the Earth’s magma core and the boiling off of its atmosphere in a billion, another hostile galactic intelligence wandering into our neighborhood, a deadly world war, or the next inevitable ice age and massive die-off in a thousand years or less, there are many ways for us to die. When they discuss the problem in the salons of the cognoscenti, the Gaia-worshipping progressive environmental movement’s preferred solution is voluntary human extinction, but that is simply not popular in the living rooms of ordinary folks, not even true-believing socialist hardliners. People want to live. They want their kids to live. They want their way of life to carry on. The only path to long-term survival, with humanity spread among any and all viable habitats within a reachable distance of our solar system, involves private, non-government provided, space travel. “Why private?” you ask. Because governments don’t pay to send productive citizens and taxpayers where they can’t be taxed or controlled. It’s hard enough to convince them to let citizens do that on their own dime.
Escape. Leaving the cradle. Seizing our own destiny as a species. This is not only what Elon Musk’s achievement promises, but what the Guardian fears most.