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Today's Apollo Program

Earthrise, taken on December 24, 1968, by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders

Today sees the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 and its crew of Neil Armstrong, "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins, leading to the the Moon landing, a time of great ambition & accomplishment.

More recently I have read many targets & predictions of a more terrestrial nature: so many GW of renewable energy generation capacity, for markets of so many billions of dollars per annum, and so on, all achieved over the next 20 or 30 years, each target & prediction bigger than the last, fulfilled over a shorter timescale than before. We are supposed to be impressed. 

And yet we read the US Government has resigned itself to apocalyptic climate change scenarios, & cites their inevitability to justify its own inaction. We confront accelerating devastation, as ice melts faster than anticipated, tundra belches methane, flora wither & fauna falter faster than they can adapt, & those of us looking to the heavens for the next great asteroid need look no further than the extinctions we ourselves visit upon the Earth for the omens of catastrophe.  

The clock is ticking and there is no time to lose. The targets that are supposed to impress us are in fact orders of magnitude too low, even while we congratulate ourselves for the Lilliputian pole-vaults these tiddly-winks targets represent.   

Once upon a time a man landed on the Moon, & was returned safely to Earth. What Earth awaits the voyager that would depart for the Moon today? 50 years after a man walked on the Moon for the first time, let us commit ourselves to achieving this goal: before this decade is out, we will establish humans safely here on Earth. Let this be today's Apollo Program. 

Peter Clive's picture

Thank Peter for the Post!

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 16, 2019 8:42 pm GMT

"...so many GW of renewable energy generation capacity, for markets of so many billions of dollars per annum, and so on, all achieved over the next 20 or 30 years, each target & prediction bigger than the last, fulfilled over a shorter timescale than before. We are supposed to be impressed."

Peter, if you are impressed you don't know enough. Please take twenty minutes to learn why renewables will never, ever be an effective tool for fighting climate change from someone who did know enough:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0W1ZZYIV8o

Peter Clive's picture
Peter Clive on Jul 17, 2019 8:12 am GMT

Hi Bob, the point is, I'm not impressed. As I point out in the next couple of paragraphs the targets I mention are "in fact orders of magnitude too low". In addition, I think you are misrepresenting somewhat the content of that interesting video you kindly shared. Sir David MacKay draws complex and heavily qualified conclusions, and he certainly does not say "renewables will never, ever be an effective tool for fighting climate change".

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 17, 2019 7:39 pm GMT

Thanks Peter, misunderstood your comments. But from the fact targets are orders of magnitude too low, I think we can infer renewables will never, ever be an effective tool for fighting climate change.

We're already 30 years too late; the option of waiting another 30 years to see whether renewables can overcome the obstacles blocking their progress for the last 60 years is really no option at all.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 16, 2019 6:49 pm GMT

No doubt that the climate crisis and the necessary energy transition is the moon shot of our lifetime. Perhaps we won't have the big ta-da moment a la having a moonwalker grace our TV screens and will have to take the small victories as they come (legislation, new clean power plants opened, closing of fossil production--- steady as they go), but the challenge is no less daunting but also just as achievable. 

Inspiration to keep fighting, for sure!

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