I love Elon Musk, as I'm sure many of you here do. As CEO, Chief Product Architect, and the face of Tesla Motors, he is launching us into the electric vehicle era with a strong jolt of torque. That is one critical step towards stopping global warming and also cutting air and water pollution. He's also Chairman of SolarCity, "America's #1 full-service solar provider." Solar power is definitely one of the most critical solutions to global warming, air pollution, and water pollution.
But, frankly, if you wanted to wipe out some tremendous, world-leading progress on reducing global CO2 emissions, creating and launching the world's heaviest rocket would surely be one of the fastest ways to do so. That's exactly what Elon Musk's private rocket company, SpaceX, is doing. The "Falcon Heavy" is supposed to be launched later this year. It's one powerful rocket and could apparently make it to Mars. Of course, that also means it requires considerable energy to build that, launch it, and get it to exit Earth's atmosphere.
"Put another way, this one ship has the liftoff thrust equivalent of 15 Boeing 747s tied together and running at full power," Jim Edwards of Business Insider notes.
I understand the desire to explore space, and to make it to Mars. I think I understand many of the most notable benefits as well. However, given the urgency of cutting (not increasing) greenhouse gas emissions, I can't help but think that this rocket work (which probably wouldn't be happening at all if Elon hadn't started SpaceX) is a big step (or 1000) backwards at this critical time. Making this next step into the great frontiers of space could wait a few decades, couldn't it? I know people will disagree with me here, but I'd really love to see someone show me a spreadsheet on how the climate benefits of this level of space exploration are going to result in a net positive compared to the global warming increase they bring. Or, hey, if you think we've got global warming under control and can spare a few mountains of CO2, I'd love to see that analysis, because all I've seen is that we keep digging ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole.
As for colonizing Mars and "jumping ship" (from Earth), well, that's a pretty fanciful dream, imho.
Scroll through the slideshow for more pictures and info on the Falcon Heavy. And feel free to chime in below if you disagree on the value of the Falcon Heavy and deep space exploration right now, or, alternatively, if you are equally averse to even looking at how much global warming pollution this is creating.