16 Nov 2009

Water on the moon and other fantasies

Peter Gleick says:
I have mixed feelings about the value of the space program, and without a doubt, this is probably the most expensive water we've ever found. But, if we go to the moon, it could turn out to be among the most valuable as well.
Fleck calculates the price of that water to be about $1 trillion/af.

Peter's thought on the "value" of that water got me to thinking. Maybe we can bring an acre foot back, sell it to the Chinese and thus rescue our economy.

Whaddya think? :)

Or perhaps some people need to remember what opportunity cost means?

Bottom Line Stop the space fantasies -- we have real problems to solve here.


  1. It is the spin-offs that are importantly economically. And feeding society's curiosity.

  2. Plenty of cheaper things to be curious about, and I'd be ok without velcro - really.

  3. Yeah ... makes you kinda of wonder when everyone's so broke and the national debt is so high, why exactly are we spending all this money on the moon ...?

  4. NASA's budget is less than 1% of the entire Federal budget.

    If we are truly concerned about deficits and debt there are many areas of the Federal budget where we can garner much larger savings.

  5. @Ger -- 1 percent of $4 trillion is still $40 billion, i.e., real money.

    BUT, I am NOT against NASA, the science agency; I am against NASA, the media-whore and congressional pork barrel agency. End manned space programs and do SCIENCE.

  6. Sigh. You shouldn't be debating the policy merits. You should be debating the economic incentives.

    The economic solution to water shortages is to price water like other commodities.

    The economic solution to whether we should have manned space programs is to privatize it. Then if the expected benefits outweigh the costs, the market will provide.

  7. @Kevin -- I agree on water as a "resource" but not as an environmental good. Like "space," it's difficult to provide that good when those who benefit may not want to pay -- or be forced to.

    That said, I agree with you on principle. The point of my post is that we need MORE cost/benefit, esp in government.

  8. NASA's budget is actually just a hair over 17 billion not 40 billion.

    Real money? What is real money anymore when we will waste another 150+ billion in Iraq/Afghanistan this coming year for a total expenditure of a trillion dollars to date (or more, much more, if you look at costs outside of direct southwest Asia theater expenditures)?

    How many hundreds of billions of TARP money have we thrown around with little likelihood of seeing much of that returned?

    17 billion is pocket change.

    I agree that the NASA of today is not the NASA of the 1960's, however, my point is that what we spend on the entire space program is just a rounding error in the overall federal budget.

    Realistically even if you reduced NASA's budget to zero that would not make any real difference in
    addressing the deficit/debt.

    If we Americans ever do decide to get serious about addressing our deficits/debt there are a lot of other places we should be cutting.

    But that's probably a conversation not meant for a water blog -grin-

  9. @Ger -- the Federal budget for 2009 is 3,998 Billion, so that's where I got my number from your one percent.

    I *agree* that we are wasting money elsewhere. I disagree with "don't look here, got the other guy"" rhetoric. NASA's waste (in terms of bang for the buck) is well known: manned space programs.

    NASA's sin many be MUCH smaller, but it's still a sin. :)


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