What happens to our planet and space if we yeet our trash into the sun?
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Space technology, like satellites, can be great. They can help us prevent and mitigate disasters, navigate the roads, and view the visual effects of climate change. But... what about space trash?
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
Join us on our intergalactic journey to learning how space trash, corporations, and climate change are all ~connected.~
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
Space exploration can do some heavy damage on our planet. Here's a brilliant and concise overview of space tourism and the planetary impact of rockets. It's scientific but still easy to follow, thanks to the author Eloise Marais, an Associate Professor in Physical Geography at University College London.
Here's what you'll learn:
One key takeaway for us is that there really is no ethical consumption under capitalism. If we were offered a free space flight, we would absolutely go. The solution has to start with removing incentives for corporations to trash the planet (and space) in the first place. The joyrides of 1600~ people per year just isn't worth it when 7 billion+ humans and even more animals are paying.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
This is not a drill. We're going to talk about ACTUALLY launching our garbage into space. Thanks to the What If: Science-Based Answers to Hypothetical Questions series, we can officially ask and answer "can we just yeet our trash into space?"
First, a little visualization exercise. Close your eyes and imagine this reality: The world produces 1.2 BILLION tons of waste every year. By 2100, that's estimated to be 3.6 billion.
Now, some answers and FYIs before we get too carried away. Or before we... space out 😉
One of the most common arguments for trashing space (as Jeff Bezos sorta suggested) is that space is literally so big, so it won't matter. Perhaps, but it looks like our space-trash ideas aren't actually going THAT far from home. And we don't love the idea of being orbited by garbage.
Last thing: when industry execs had plans to trash the earth, they stuck it in places they found unimportant and out of sight. This has become a decades-long environmental justice nightmare, and this space-trash idea is promising to be one too.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
Space Trash is a HARD topic to act on, as I'm sure you've assumed. A lot of it is out of our control, but we want to focus on the things we CAN control. Today's actions are less traditional than our usual action packs, but they are critical to preserving our future, instead of trashing it. Let's go! 🚀❌
Pick an action from the list below. You can take a minute out of your day to make a meaningful difference; we believe in you! As the saying goes, always classy, never trashy...
1. If you live in the United States, take 1 minute to ask your reps to pass the Clean Electricity Standard.
If you want to learn more, regardless of where in the world you live, check out Climate Changemakers' Issue Briefing. We can't yet change the whims of Jeff and Richard, but we CAN clean up our future. (Editor's note: this action is from 2021, but Climate Changemakers always has great actions available to take. We love them.)
2. 20 seconds to pledge for tech accountability.
This is a global action! It's geared towards people who work in tech. We signed it — one of the things we pledged is "to always put humans before business, and to stand up against pressure to do otherwise, even at my own risk." We love this because it's is pretty much the opposite of "exploiting my workers to use profits to go to space." 😜
3. Stop Line 3.
This is one of THE most environmental justice battles going on today. The actions of billionaires and wealthy corporations are directly correlated to health impacts in marginalized communities. Line 3 is slated to cost $7.5 billion, would carry up to 915,000 barrels per day of one of the dirtiest fuels on earth (tar sands crude), and impose severe risks to tribal communities in the area. If you're in the Minnesota area, you can check out some of the (fun!) events below. If not, PLEASE choose your own set of actions from this Line 3 page.
It turns out, space trash actions can apply on earth. Wahoo!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
Space trash has really freaked us out. It's giving us bad chills to see the stronghold corporations have, not just on our lives, but on THE NIGHT SKY! Anyway, imagine finding a quiet spot away from the city, and the glittering silver stars you made wishes upon as a child are just... messy gray blobs now?! So, who will save the night sky?
This article is about how the corporate world's endless reach for "innovation" and control is endangering the night sky. Basically, as Brian Resnick writes in this Vox piece, astronomers are very frustrated with Elon Musk's satellites. We personally went down a deep rabbit hole (or black hole, haha) with this topic and highly recommend that you check out the article.
Here's what you need to know if you only have a minute:
We can't treat space as the Wild West. It's not a frontier to be conquered by the rich. The only way to avoid this starless, nightless future is to organize, here on Earth, and reclaim our power — but we have to step up. Especially if we're over-resourced. (Hint: if we work at corporations making upper 5 or 6 figure salaries). One thing you can do right now is to urge big tech to spend their lobbying dollars to fight climate change.
Let the intergalactic journey of action begin!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!