What can Apollo 11 teach us about tackling the Climate Emergency

With tomorrow’s fiftieth anniversary of the landing of a man on the Moon, there is much to celebrate of that historic achievement. But can we use that shared experience to tackle the climate emergency that is upon us.

Casting my mind back to my youthful days, as a young boy, I can remember watching the television with my parents on a very, special moment in the early hours of the morning of the 20th July 1969.

It was not a, normal, children’s programme but an important event in the history of mankind. The day that man landed on our nearest neighbour and discovered a whole new environment.

I can remember being caught up in the space race between America and the USSR (now, split between Russia and smaller republics) and the commitment by J.F. Kennedy to “landing a man on the moon” made in his address to Congress on 25 May 1961.

True to that commitment within the decade, a Saturn V rocket was launched carrying Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. & Michael Collins on 16 July 1969.

Within the space (pun intended) of a few short days, the Lunar Module “Eagle” was the first manned vehicle to land on the Moon in the area known as Mare Tranquilitatis (the Sea of Tranquility).

Neil A. Armstrong took the honour to be the first person to walk on the lunar surface with those emotional words heard on Earth from the Moon, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

He was, later, followed by Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, who described the lunar surface as magnificent desolation. During a 2½ hour surface exploration, the two-man crew collected 47 pounds of lunar surface material which was returned to Earth for analysis to enhance our understanding of the geology of the Moon. With the success of Apollo 11, the objective to land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth had been accomplished.

Over the years, even only a few years later, the vigour and the enthusiasm for space travel waned; Partly though the huge cost, partly through the warming of the “Cold War” between the USA and USSR but, mostly, as the World moved on to other concerns. Not least the environmental degradation, over-population and our inhumanity through wars and subjugation of our fellow men and women.

Thinking back, it was the right thing to travel to the Moon and, for a single shining moment, dream beyond the confines of the Earth. And that feeling may come again.

For, now, what can we learn from the Apollo programme about our own pressing challenge of the climate emergency…

What if –
Our World Leaders, Politicians and all of us could get behind a single focus, that was the Apollo programme fifty years ago.

What if –
We could make a similar commitment to solve the problems that we have here on Earth.

What if –
All that commitment, that determination, expertise and funding could be directed to reducing our “climate emergency” to a more, sustainable and low carbon world.

We could make a lasting change to our own planet, not for a few years or even fifty years, but for the many generations to come after us.

It would not be that single shining moment and forgotten but that deeper commitment to care for our own planet, our own fellow citizens & to handover our stewardship of the planet to the yet-unborn to enjoy all that it can offer.

Let’s celebrate Apollo 11’s achievements on 20 July 2019 as one of the single defining moments in our shared history BUT let’s make our own commitment that goes beyond one shining moment.

Let our commitment to end climate change & its environmental and social impacts be a lasting committment from this day forward…

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