Why going to the moon is easier than ending hunger or curing cancer

Apollo 11
A scene from “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition.”
(Neon / CNN Films)

To the editor: From 1969 on, letter writers, time and again, have asked why people should go hungry or uneducated when technology has put man on the moon.

The answer is that we do have the technology to make inroads into those social needs, but the terms that identify them are too broad to implement acceptable and workable paths.

President Kennedy, in his famous speech, said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade.” For the people that would make that happen, that statement was specific enough. For system problems like hunger and lack of education, we could form task forces of involved stakeholders to analyze and plan solutions, but a month later they would not yet have agreed on even a mission statement.

William Vietinghoff, Thousand Oaks



To the editor: The L.A. Times Editorial Board writes wistfully that the quest for the moon was both a diversion of resources from solving humankind’s problems and a remedy for them.

Earlier this month at the University of California’s annual UCTech conference, keynote speaker Dr. Joe Incandela described UC’s contribution to basic research at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, in an awe-inspiring lecture on particle physics and dark matter, and the global cooperation of science and engineering needed to explore it.

We continue to explore the universe here on Earth. Basic research still holds the potential to solve humankind’s problems, if we will support it. Or, we can choose the moral bankruptcy of demagoguery for the money to shield corruption and wealth accumulation for the few.

Diane Soini, Santa Barbara