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Billionaires in Space

Are Bezos, Branson and Musk doing civilization a favor and advancing science? Are they preparing to colonize space like the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation? Or are they seeking status and boosting their egos – AND their carbon footprints – with expensive toys?

July was a big month for space travel, with two billionaires blasting into space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic sold seats and launched space tourists into near space and promised many repeat performances. Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans manned Earth orbits before the year ends.

Most of us tend to believe in science and support government funding of scientific advancement. But if we’re in a climate emergency, should we put non-essential, carbon-intensive research projects on hold in order to implement every possible CO2 emissions cut?

In this episode, environmentalist Stephanie Gardner joins host Dave Gardner to explore the questions these flights raise. They also examine the carbon footprints of lifestyles of the rich and famous.


How to Have a Green Wedding – Episode 25 of the GrowthBusters podcast

Sarah’s Wildlife-Friendly Wedding – Episode 47 of the GrowthBusters podcast

Population Decline is Part of the Solution (2008 YouTube video featuring Stephanie Gardner)


Billionaire Space Race – by Tim Jackson

As Bezos Completes Blue Origin Mission, Many Ask What’s the Climate-Change Impact?

Space Flight for Fun: Billionaire Egotism Trumps Sustainability – by Steve Banker

The Surprising Carbon Footprint of Space Travel – by John Armstrong

Where is Starman? Track Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster in Space!

The Environmental Impact of Emissions from Space Launches: A Comprehensive Review (May, 2020 in Journal of Cleaner Production, by Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research)

An Increase in Rocket Launches Could Have a Significant Environmental Impact

How Much CO2 Did Bezos’ Rocket Ride Release? Close to Zero (Politifacts factcheck by The Poynter Institute)

Where the Space Industry is Grounded by Andrew Beattie (published by the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere)

Private Planes, Mansions and Superyachts: What Gives Billionaires Like Musk and Abramovich Such a Massive Carbon Footprint

Environmental Concerns Grow Among Scientists as Space Tourism Lifts Off

Why Space Flights’ Green Credentials Don’t Fly (opinion column in Financial Times)

How Bad is Space Tourism for The Environment? And Other Space Travel Questions, Answered

Forbes Billionaires List

Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List

Jeff Bezos’ $400 Million Flying Fox Yacht

Carbon Emissions of Richest 1 Percent More Than Double the Emissions of the Poorest Half of Humanity

On the GrowthBusters podcast, we come to terms with the limits to growth, explore the joy of sustainable living, and provide a recovery program from our society’s growth addiction (economic/consumption and population). This podcast is part of the GrowthBusters project to raise awareness of overshoot and end our culture’s obsession with, and pursuit of, growth.

Dave Gardner directed the documentary GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, which Stanford Biologist Paul Ehrlich declared “could be the most important film ever made.”

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Comments (1)

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    Perhaps the most thoughtful and informative podcast I have ever heard. Thank you Stephanie and Dave.


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