by Evan Carlson
One hundred and forty billion dollars goes a long way. Especially if you’re Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who intends to invest the bulk of his fortune into space travel. Given Earth’s limits under infinite-growth capitalism, Bezos sees space as a frontier for “increase[d] human production and efficiency.”
In this day and age, living in space is no longer a pipe dream — for those who can afford it, anyway. As early as 2019, Bezos’ own space exploration company Blue Origin will be offering flights to the stars for the low, low price of $200,000. However, Mike Suffredini, CEO of competitor company Axiom, commented that this estimate is a laughable low-ball.
The real cost of space travel will likely be much higher — up to $50 million to account for training, fuel, and other resources. While this estimate will likely only cover the cost of an eight-day vacation, the ultra-rich may soon be able to set up more permanent residences away from the Earth they themselves ravaged.
I would love to kick back in a Mars loft of my own, but I don’t see it happening for me or most anyone. For everyday people of the 21st century, the great space civilization Bezos raves about – the one with “a trillion humans…a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts” – is merely an illusion.
Perhaps one day it will be possible, but in reality, the only people this fantasy serves is the one percent. They will exploit this planet’s resources and people to reach the stars, and when they reach the stars, they will exploit those, too. The rest of us are left with a world hostile towards its own inhabitants.
What incentive will the rich have to protect Earth when they can simply abandon it instead? Little, I imagine. Perhaps in an alternate universe, the rich would be trapped on a gutted planet with the rest of us, and thus have more investment in protecting their world from further harm.
But that isn’t our reality.
We must take up the duty of environmental protection ourselves, and the way we’ll do so is by seizing the means of production and democratizing the workplace. A workplace that prioritizes the environmental needs of the many would invest in green energy, keep water and air clean, respect Indigenous land rights, preserve wilderness, value animal and plant life, and ensure that we do not consume more than the Earth can replenish. With these actions and a massive redistribution of wealth, all workers would be able to live happier, healthier lives. This is the world I want to live in.
Perhaps someday we will make life in space a reality for the many, leaving Earth not because we have to, but because there is so much more beauty out there to behold.