Saturday, 29 November 2008
Stop sending stuff to Mars
I watched another episode of "Real Time w/ Bill Maher" yesterday, it's a topical discussion show that includes journalists, politicians and politically aware people from showbiz.
Ashton Kutcher was on in the last episode I watched, and I wasn't expecting much from him but he actually said something that resonated with me more vividly than anything else that was said. He was complaining about the amount of money that is being invested in sending stuff to Mars. Those around him recognised what he was saying to be true, but I think this should be a much bigger deal in public consciousness than it's given credit for.
A while ago, the comedian Steven Wright made the point that money invested in the military could have been put into the arts, or museums. This is true, of course. But lets say actually we do need the money invested in the military for national security. I don't believe that, but lets say that that's the case. Do we really need to send stuff to Mars? You can blast a little rocket into outer space, it goes up there and touches a rock. A bunch of people at NASA give each other a high 5, but besides that who gives a shit? I have a second cousin who set up a charity to fund a guy who is apparently making brilliant breakthroughs in treating cancer. He needs a charity?! Similarly, Malaria is the number one killer of refugees in Africa, all they need is mosquito nets, which cost about £6.50 each. How many lives could be traded in for a piece of rock from Mars? What does that rock tell us that we need to know?
Perhaps activists haven't made such a big deal out of this because NASA isn't perceived as an enemy or an oppressive force. They don't seem like one - but as far as I can tell, their draining money from the economy for something that's completely useless.