we waste too much money and too much of natural resources for space exploration. people like richard branson need to find better money grubbing gimmicks. by 2009, branson hopes to launch civilians into sub-orbital space on Virgin Galactic. tickets will be $200,000. and the sickening part is that people will pay that. "RICHARD BRANSON is in negotiations with British television networks to launch a talent show for aspiring astronauts." branson built a huge spaceport in upham, new mexico... an area coined as "uninhabited," yet 30 miles away lies a resort spa town with natural hot springs. years from now, the surrounding towns will be scratching their heads, wondering why cancer rates have skyrocketed (pun intended).
"According to the Virgin Galactic website, Branson has plans for orbital space tourism and proposes putting a hotel in space. It is expected that some of the future spacecraft will be able to dock with a space hotel." ~wikipedia
why can't rich people invest in cleaning up the environment instead of producing more waste and garbage on earth and now in space??? i shouldn't tear branson into too many shreds, he did offer a $25 million prize to first person or company who removes billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases from the earth's atmosphere. what a humanitarian!! and he did "pledge" $3 to "fight global warming." a greedy billionaire who owns an airline company and rocket company couldn't possibly want to gain public approval by seeming concerned about the environment, could he??? and he certainly couldn't be wanting to promote fuel alternatives to allevate the high costs of gas/diesel so that his companies would be paying less at the pump...
"Branson's $3 billion wasn't philanthropy by any definition: The Virgin conglomerate chieftain promised to invest profits from his transport operations for the next decade in different types of nonpetroleum fuel — especially ethanol, most often made from corn — in the process scooping up hundreds of millions in federal corn-ethanol subsidies, profits, and political advantage. The supposed anti-global warming benefit of Branson's commitment, meanwhile, is false: Distilling ethanol from corn consumes more fossil energy than what's contained in the final bio-fuel product.
Tad Patzek, a professor in UC Berkeley's geoengineering program, has published studies showing that when one accounts for the petroleum used to produce fertilizers, corn seed, transportation, waste-water disposal, and other farming, refining, and delivery tasks, it takes six times as much energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than that gallon creates when it burns in your pistons. And all that excess energy consumption exacerbates, rather than reduces, global warming and U.S. energy dependence." ~matt smith editorial seen here.
i'm all for alternative fuels and cleaner emissions, but what i am concerned with is our water supply. fertilizers and waste-water from the crops alone will significantly contaminate our water supply. i hope scientists are working as hard to develop plans for waste-water reduction as they are for sending tourists in space. demand for clean water already exceeds supply in many countries. at this rate, i bet we will run out of fresh water in our lifetime. some alliance needs to formed between countries to better conserve and protect our water resources. think of this: only 3% of the earth's water is drinkable. our bodies are made of 70% water and there are 6,706,529,744+ people in the world. that's a huge demand. (if you want a better idea of how drastic our overpopulation problem is, go here).
here is a fact that is easier to digest: If all the world's water were fit into a gallon jug, the fresh water available for us to use would equal only about one tablespoon.
water issues aside, biofuel research and production would be great if every one wasn't so damn greedy. right now...
"In Malaysia, the production of palm oil for biodiesel is a major industry. The development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87% of deforestation. In Sumatra and Borneo, 4 million hectares of forest have been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares are scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5 million in Indonesia. Thousands of indigenous people have been evicted from their lands, and some 500 Indonesians have been tortured when they tried to resist. The forest fires which every so often smother the region in smog are mostly started by the palm growers. Hundreds of thousands of small-scale peasant farmers are being displaced by soybeans expansion. Many more stand to lose their land under the biofuels stampede. The expanding cropland planted to yellow corn for ethanol has reduced the supply of white corn for tortillas in Mexico, sending prices up 400%. In the development of biofuels... they do not pay attention to long-term effects. The economy is broken up into competing units of capitalist control and ownership over the means of production. And each unit is fundamentally concerned with itself and its expansion and its profit. The economy, the constructed and natural environment, and society cannot be dealt with as a social whole under capitalism." you can read the entire article here.