Space Exploration is the Worst: Emily Calandrelli at TEDxIndianaUniversity (Transcript)

Emily Calandrelli – TV show host

Space exploration is the worst; I should know!

I’m the host of an outer space TV show on Fox called ‘Xploration Outer Space’ and I got my degree from MIT in aeronautics and astronomics, and I’ve learned that space exploration and technology are a waste of time and money, and everybody knows it.

Why are we spending billions of dollars to send things into outer space when we have so many problems down here on the ground? Extreme drought along the west coast, heat waves that are getting worse around the world, three billion people, nearly half of all humans on the planet, living in poverty, 62 million of those are little girls without access to an education, and Justin Bieber just can’t seem to get his life together!

So many problems to be focusing on, and at the same time, we have NASA over here spending over $18 billion a year on space exploration and research. Now, sure that’s only half the percentage of the total US federal budget, which is over $3 trillion, and OK, fine, with that budget they conduct intense research which leads to breakthrough discoveries and technologies that expand out across many commercial sectors, but still, many people think space exploration is a waste of money, and I for one, agree with them.

And NASA is not the only one spending money on this worthless venture; we have billionaire entrepreneurs doing it too. Elon Musk, the billionaire genius behind Paypal and Tesla is now dedicating both his brain and his bank to space exploration. And then Richard Branson, the man behind the Virgin empire, now has his own space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, which is selling rides into outer space. And the guy who created Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has his own rocket company. All of these billionaire entrepreneurs and NASA are wasting their time and money because space exploration is the worst. And today I’m going to give you three reasons why that is. Those three reasons have to do with snowballs, Facebook, and dinosaurs.

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First and foremost, space exploration is just plain annoying. Why is that? Well, it has to do with something you may have heard of called Climate Change. Specifically human-caused climate change. This crazy idea that little humans could create enough dirty technology to change the entire climate of our planet…? Ridiculous, right? Half of Americans think so too. They go outside, and they look up at the sky and they think, ‘Look how much atmosphere we have!’ ‘There’s no way we could do anything to screw that up.’

Well, space exploration wants to ruin that perspective by first bringing us back annoyingly beautiful images like this and this, and this, that show us that thin blue line. Now that line, well, that’s actually our atmosphere. And from these images we can tell that, OK, fine, it’s kind of thin, we don’t actually have that much of it, but that’s frustrating to see, right? Because it makes it a little bit easier to believe that, well, maybe we could change our climate with the activities that we are doing on the surface.

But NASA doesn’t just want to make you believe that we could change our climate, they want to give us data, to prove it. Now we all know that NASA likes collecting data on other planets. Like Mars, the red planet. We love Mars, we love hearing about Mars, we love movies about Mars, especially when they have Matt Damon in them. But you know what we hate? Being lectured with absolutely any data about the Earth, about our own planet. And all that data, well, that’s NASA’s fault.

NASA spends nearly $2 billion a year specifically on Earth science. They own and operate 16 different key Earth-observing Satellites, each giving us different data about how our own planet is changing. And believe me, nobody likes these annoying data less than Congress. This year Congress passed a bill to de fund NASA’s Earth science program, by $300 million. This is a brilliant idea! Because this way, if this trend continues, we won’t have to ignore the consensus from climate scientists that human-caused climate change is real, we can eventually just not have any climate data at all! So much easier, right? This guy thinks so too.

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This is Senator Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee at the Senate. This guy hates that annoying data, but you know what he loves? Snowballs. This year the Senate had a hearing about climate change, and Senator Jim Inhofe bravely went down to the Senate floor with a snowball. And he said, ‘you know what this is? It’s a snowball. So, it’s very very cold out.’ See, Senator Inhofe was smart. He didn’t tell them that 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history. He didn’t mention that increased snowfall is actually an indicator of global warming. Global warming warms our oceans, warmer oceans evaporate more quickly, creating more moisture in our atmosphere, which they can measure with satellites, and that increased moisture can make precipitation events, like snowfall, more extreme.

So while we are having shorter, warmer winters, they can actually measure increased snowfall in many places. But no, he didn’t say that, because all of that is not as fun as ‘global warming bad, snowball good.’ Because all of that, that would involve annoying data, data from satellites, data from space exploration. Proof that global warming was happening. And isn’t it just easier to ignore all and build a snowman? Space exploration wants to take the fun out of everything. Because space exploration is the worst.

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