More than a Moonshot: Why Solving Climate Change is Harder than Putting a Man on the Moon (Ben Soltoff)


“Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong proclaimed that he was taking ‘one giant leap for mankind’ as he became the first human being to walk on the surface of the moon. That pioneering lunar stroll required a decade-spanning scientific effort, still considered one of humanity’s greatest achievements. The moon landing is so revered as a technological endeavor that the term “moonshot” is now common parlance for any ambitious technology challenge. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has a whole division referred to as its ‘Moonshot Factory.’

The idea of a moonshot has also entered rhetoric around climate change. Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and billionaire-politician Michael Bloomberg have all used the word to describe what’s needed to prevent the planet from becoming uninhabitable.

They should think bigger.

‘Moonshot’ is an extreme understatement for what’s necessary to address climate change. That’s not to discount the brilliant and diligent work that went into the moon mission. The difference is that climate change is a far more complex challenge.”

Read more from Ben Soltoff, an incoming Innovation Fellow at Tsai CITY and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), on the CBEY website.

Laura Mitchell