Haddon MacDavid’s letter (Feb. 22) is an excellent example of a classic anti-space program argument. His down-to-earth opinion is that we should junk the space program and use the resources to solve critical earth problems.
This solution to a complex problem is simple, obvious and wrong.
He claims that benefits from “out there” will not substantially improve our lot “down here”. He ignores the LANDSAT and weather satellites that help us improve agricultural production, among other things.
He suggests that the media should inform us that billions of dollars are spent to satisfy the curiosity of space scientists. He ignores the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on defense (a “solution” to war) and social services (a partial solution to poverty and hunger). He also ignores the fact that the results of this curiosity will eventually help solve earth problems we can’t begin to imagine.
He proposes that highly educated scientists should be taken off the space program to work on critical earth problems. He ignores the fact that many of them are already working on these problems in ways that best match their talents and temperaments.
MacDavid’s letter demonstrates a fact that few people acknowledge. Technological problems like those of the space program are childishly simple when compared to the critical social problems of earth. War, poverty and hunger require social solutions. Technology is just a tool of those solutions.
Perhaps we should challenge social scientists and politicians to make better, more public, use of the technological tools provided by the space program. These tools already help make life more tolerable for billions. It would be stupid not to use them.
DENNIS R. DICKENS