Branson’s space ships are hardly knights in shining armour.

Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, is to help gather scientific data on climate change. Today he told the 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow:

“To my mind there is no greater or more immediate challenge than that posed by climate change. It’s therefore more than fitting that the very first science to be conducted on board our new vehicles may be specifically directed at increasing our understanding and knowledge of the atmosphere and from there, to better inform our decisions as to the most effective ways of dealing with climate change”

At which point the large elephant sitting in the front row presumably coughed rather loudly. If you want to know the most effective way of dealing with climate change, how about not sending a load of tourists into space in gigantic gas guzzling rocket ships for no other reason than lining your own pocket?

If I was Branson, I would be trying to draw attention away from my plans to send ozone shattering spaceships into orbit, and towards say, Virgin trains, which collectively might save a carbon footprint or two.

The idea that Virgin Galactic is somehow a force for good in the great climate change debate is an insanely brave claim to be making in public. Why don’t we send a fleet of 4x4s into London to ‘better inform our decisions as to the most effective ways of dealing with traffic congestion in city centres’? The barber-dodging squillionaire appears to have completely lost it this time.

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