Opinion

WHITTINGTON: If Ocasio-Cortez Wants To Save The World, She Should Focus On Getting America Back To The Moon

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Mark Whittington Contributor

One has to hand it to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is always great for an eye-popping quote. Fox News reports that she was at an event celebrating Martin Luther King Day where her musings turned apocalyptic.

“Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z and all these folks that will come after us are looking up, and we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change, and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?'” She also said that the problem of climate change is their “World War II.”

Leaving aside how serious a problem climate change is — and there is some question about that — contrary to what the mainstream media suggests, the world is not going to end in 2031 nor at any other time in the foreseeable future. Invoking the end of the world has always been a tactic to try to sell bad public policy.

During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war was invoked to justify accommodation with the Soviet Union (“Better red than dead.”) Fortunately, President Ronald Reagan had the better idea of consigning the USSR to the ash heap of history, and hence, the threat of global thermonuclear annihilation has receded.

Let us suppose, as a thought experiment, climate change really is a global problem that needs addressing by government policy. It may not destroy the world in 2031 or any other time, but the combination of increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather will be a challenge — at least for the purposes of discussion.

The world should pursue space exploration if it hopes to transition away from fossil fuels, a major cause of climate change. Please try to follow.

Much modern technology, including solar arrays, batteries and wind turbines, requires access to rare earth materials. The current global supply of rare earths, however, is insufficient to fulfill the requirements to transition from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy.

Most of the proven reserves of rare earths are in China, which presents a problem considering that country’s opposition to the United States.

Ongoing prospecting efforts could find new rare earth reserves in the United States, but extracting them will require a form of mining that is likely to trigger environmentalists like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

One incentive for President Trump’s moon program is the opportunity to mine the moon for resources. The moon has concentrations of rare earths. How much of them and where are questions that have yet to be answered.

The moon also has deposits of helium-3, an isotope that some scientists, including Apollo moonwalker and geologist Dr. Harrison Schmitt, suggest could be useful as a fuel for clean-burning fusion power plants. If and when practical fusion power is developed, helium-3 could power a post-fossil-fuel future.

Prospecting for and developing the moon’s resources will take time. Meanwhile, we can build more nuclear power plants, equip new coal and natural gas power plants with carbon capture technology and plant trees — lots of trees.

We should not pursue the Green New Deal — a big government boondoggle that could only have been dreamed up in a college dorm. As MIT notes, the proposal is anti-science.

The Green New Deal eschews hydroelectric power, nuclear reactors and carbon capture. The scheme is one reason we should not trust the planet’s future to central planners, especially former bartenders like Ocasio-Cortez. The business entrepreneurs helped by free-market principles, with an assist from NASA, can save the world much more effectively.

Ocasio-Cortez, the socialist “It Girl,” as some have called her, would be advised to use her clout and popularity to get behind returning to the moon. It may place her in the mutually uncomfortable position of being allied with President Donald Trump and businesspeople like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

The association will be hard because Ocasio-Cortez has also said that a world that allows billionaires is immoral. However, such are the sacrifices needed if we are to save the world for all of those frightened millennials.

Mark Whittington (@MarkWhittington) is the author of Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? and The Moon, Mars and Beyond. He also operates his own blog, Curmudgeons Corner. 


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.