What is the moonshot for our times?

Forty years ago today, three U.S. astronauts were launched into space on the Apollo 11 mission, which put a human being on the moon for the first time. It was a moment when the nation seemed united behind a common, innovative goal. Members of the Obama administration have suggested that we need that kind of approach to energy policy. What’s your suggestion? What is the moonshot for our times?

The moonshot didn’t just unite our country, it united the world. The most recent such experience, I fear, was 9/11. On that occasion I e-mailed to a friend that this event would herald a new era of civility in America. And I was right. For about two weeks. -Fred Marx, Minneapolis, MN

First, find a better name. The sixties moonshot gave the nation a common purpose but most of us were only spectators. Today we need a common goal which requires participation of everyone. I think the “Giant Leap for Mankind” in our day should be to create an internet database where inventors and thinkers could publish their technological ideas, to be shared as quickly as possible, so that we could have ever more minds working to push technology forward. Prize money and recognition should be awarded to those who contribute the best ideas. The database would keep track of who was first with particular ideas. -Thomas Johnson, Virginia, MN

We really don’t have one, we instead need to fix our infrastructure which is falling apart; create a single payer health care system and come to grips with global warming. This is much more significant than ANYTHING we do in space. -Robert Keegan, Coon Rapids, MN

So far, we don’t have one. It should be to fund the research to develop technology and renewable, sustainable sources of energy to replace fossil fuel. We should be leading the way for the rest of the world. -Sharon Grimes, Minnetonka, MN

Better health care than Taiwan for as little money per capita. How ever will we, and our workers, compete with the top 20 economies of the world saddled by health care costs two or three times higher than the competition. The parasites who have gotten rich off the suffering of the American people must be cast off and we must embrace the lessons learned and applied around the world. We need only the common sense and the humility to move forward. -Harv Doucette, Brainerd, MN

Share your reply in the comments: What is the moonshot for our times?

  • John Crampton, Bloomington

    I agree with Harv. We need to get those parasites… the richest 2%ers … to pay their fair share of taxes and to pay back the special tax breaks we have given them since the MN cuts in 1999 and the Bush tax cuts in 2001. They are the most lightly-taxed, greediest class of people to ever walk the earth. And we see the impact of their greed everywhere, from the mountain top removal in West Virginia to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico to the 50 million Amercians who can’t afford health insurance.

  • Nathan Affield

    In such a diverse and dynamic Era, is it really possible to have a defining moment or event in our times?

    I think with today’s fast-paced, make or break world, finding a single event or topic to define our accomplishments is near impossible.

    especially because we’re all trying to find it.

  • patricia leaf

    Hands down–United States Energy Independence should be today’s Moonshot that unifies the country and moves the economy forward.

  • Norm Erickson

    We are about to enter a long period of energy descent. The seriousness of the problem is not comprehended by most people.

    Energy creates wealth, so energy descent means wealth descent and life style changes. Renewables will not replace crude oil and natural gas. We need major efforts to:

    1. Reduce consumption of fuels. A long term plan to ramp up fuel costs would create market incentives to increase efficiency and make adaptive life style responses. Prices are going to go up anyway, as production falls. Making the inevitable part of a plan would give the market an incentive to respond.

    Rail freight service will be rebuilt and replace most long haul trucking. Passenger depots will reappear as airlines disappear.

    2. Relocalize economies for food, goods and services. See wwwdottranssitionusdotorg for itrends.

    Major changes are inevitable, we can plan them or suffer them. Most of the rest of the industrial nations pay far more for fuels than we do, compete successfully in the market and have affordable health care for all. We could too.

    At the end of the last World Wars we grew about 40% of our vegetables at home. We are again becoming a nation of gardeners, except this time it will of necessity not be temporary. When energy prices go up, food prices go up because lots of energy is used to produce, process and distribute food.

    Everything about how we inhabit the landscape will be transformed in the coming decades.

  • John from Brooklyn Park

    I think Energy Independence has very good potential to be the moonshot of the present time. Its got everything but astronauts: potential to advance technologies in many areas other than energy production, something everyone who pays bills can easily relate to, an accomplishment everyone regardless of political alignment can be proud of, and lots of jobs and business opportunities in energy production and other areas boosted by development of technology – its hard to think of downsides to energy independence other than that it will take some hard work.

    The space program gave us much more than a man on the moon – the technologies that came from it were a boon felt in virtually every part of everyday life. A massive push to develop enough alternative sources of energy to finally stop importing foreign oil, or bring it down to an insignificant part of the nation’s economy would have the same effect.

  • Trevor

    Why was the trip to the moon just a little camping trip? Let’s go set up something permanent and really force everyone to work together and push our technology to its limits.

  • Sarah

    We have a whole world to explore and try to save, and it’s on this planet: the oceans.

    The sonar massacring of large mammals and their habitat is unconscionable. The growing dead zones, the ruination of marine life by human intervention, and treating the ocean as the local dump all need to stop.

    We already have “alien” life trying to make contact: the animal species on our planet. Why can’t we listen to them crying out for mercy?

  • Lori

    Our moonshot should be to bring about an end to world hunger. I think the US is taking steps in the right direction when they try to increase funding for development and give attention to diplomacy while they hold costs on defense and use their military judiciously.

  • Lisa

    First, I remember seeing a cartoon about a month after the moonshot with a slimy, grotesque creature crawling out of a “spaceship” on a crowded street in a typical city saying: “That’s one small step for a znargh, one giant step for a znargh-kind.”

    I think the question should be re-worded. “What can we, the people and government of the USA unite around to achieve?” There seem to be so many issues that divide people into different camps and it is so infuriating. We cannot succeed in anything until we stop bickering and agree to work together.


  • Dave Semerad

    Let’s fix our bridges so they don’t fall down, clean our water and air, and put some people to work. Nothing fancy.

  • http://www.williamhessian.com william hessian

    immortality should be our moonshot

    however, i think our moonshot should be using our intelligence to raise quality of life and not finding new ways to steal money from the under privileged. Which, in a nutshell would be better said that our moonshot should be equality.