Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic space plane recently flew 85km up from the Earth’s surface. An incredible achievement for a private citizen. Even one who is a billionaire. Sadly, some (?many) people pooh-poohed this event as another rich person running amok. We disagree with these naysayers and we hope the future leads to more human adventures in space.

Let’s first recap. Do you know of the space race of the 1960s? This pure flag-waving exercise saw the government of the USA put a human on the Earth’s moon. And after a few more landings, humans stopped going. Afterward, many governments from around the world aided the construction of the International Space Station, an artificial Earth moon. It’s still up there. Humans have continuously inhabited the station since year 2000CE and performed a great number of experiments there. But governments haven’t taken up anything grander.

Now it’s interesting about democratic governments in that they are in place to lead today’s voters. And voters continually say that the future is much less important than the present. Anything that doesn’t provide an immediate return on investment is not palatable to them. Sadly, this means that governments typically sacrifice the future for a better today. Thus, even though we have solutions for so many of the ills which ail us, governments fail to effectively implement them because we the people don’t want them.

Hence, with the average person focused upon personal improvement then the future becomes solely the purview of the rich. And there are many rich, over 2700 billionaires. Sure some of them are more interested in corporeal pleasures. But others have shown particular concern for the future as with the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation and its progress in countering malaria. And with Richard Branson and his space plane. And with Jeff Bezos and his space rocket. And with Elon Musk and his space company. We should be thankful to them in their pursuit of a future for humanity that could entail vast opportunities for the next generation while both we and our governments remain perhaps too focused on the day to day.

Virgin Galactic

Electric Vehicles

Going green is our new mantra. This mantra espouses sustainability. While a clear definition of sustainability awaits, we do know that some things seem more sustainable than others. For example, electric vehicles get proclaimed as the new, sustainable transportation, i.e. they don’t emit green house gases. Let’s see if this satisfies our mantra.

Humans are enamored by vehicles. We have over 1.2billion in operation today. But transportation needs energy, about 1.1×1020Joules annually, much of which is for vehicles. Further, we should surpass 2billion vehicles by the year 2035 hence more energy is needed. As transportation is key to our GDP, then human prosperity may well depend upon continued infatuation.

Today, we produce 1×1020Joules of electricity. Fossil fuels generate about 63% of this. Fossil fuels are not sustainable. Currently, electric vehicles consume an insignificant amount of electricity. But, to meet our mantra, we need to remove fossil fuels from electrical production. And to meet future energy demand for vehicles, we need to at least double electricity production. This future for electricity isn’t sustainable.

From the above, can you see whether electric vehicles satisfy the mantra? Going green by replacing petrol burning cars with electric vehicles wouldn’t reduce energy consumption. It may sustain the GDP, at least temporarily. We ask, “Can we maintain personal transportation in our mantra and still go green?”