Star Trek Climate Reform

Matt Yglesias has an interesting suggestion for a preachy movie revival:

[W]hat the new rebooted Trek really needs is a re-do of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home but dealing with a more contemporary environmental threat than the need to save humpback whales from extinction. For example, The Enterprise could travel back in time to try to urge the Senate to pass strong climate change legislation. I’m sure Spock would have some choice words for the illogical nature of the filibuster rule. Or maybe Scottie could teach us about some dilithium-based sources of clean energy, spurring a green jobs boom.

If Gene Roddenberry taught us anything, it’s that smart, determined people like the fictional Commander Scott are far more likely to effectively respond to emergencies than government agencies.  If we’re going to come up with clean energy sources and drastically reduce our CO2 emissions, I’d bet that the solution will be much more like dilithium crystals than anything currently being debated on the Hill.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Popular Culture, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. sam says:

    If Gene Roddenberry taught us anything, it’s that smart, determined people like the fictional Commander Scott are far more likely to effectively respond to emergencies than government agencies.

    But, but, but Scotty works for Star Fleet, a government agency…albeit with the time dilation thingy, he will have (had will have? did will have?) gone rogue, so to speak (spoke?).

  2. JKB says:

    So true, the recurring theme in Star Trek is the senior staff’s emotional turmoil over letting civilizations and junior crew suffer and die because the Prime Directive dictates how things should be. That is until one of the senior staff or a friend is threatened when the Prime Directive becomes more of a guideline than a law, at least just this one time.

    Oh wait, they are going for that method. Hard, inflexible rules that will cause millions of extras to suffer and die. Rules involute right up to the point that Obama or Al Gore have to turn down their thermostats then they’ll be some loophole, just this one time.

  3. Matthew Stinson says:

    Sounds like a recipe for a preachy and boring Trek, where would the action be? If you want a Trek grounded in real life, how about one where the Enterprise stops ethnic cleansing in Darfur instead? “Captain, I have a lock on the janjaweed.” “Fire phasers!”

  4. odograph says:

    For some reason I’m reminded of the ’70s jokes about sex as a alternative energy source. That’s a little Original Star Trek (miniskirts) and Matrix (human batteries). I guess it could be done pg-13.

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    Maybe they could go back to the 1970’s and help us out with global cooling. Maybe the early 1990’s and solve the menace of radon gas in our basements. Or maybe keep us from poisoning our kids with Alar.

    The best thing they could do is go back in time and re-establish the scientific method as preferable over politics.

  6. steve says:

    The dilithium crystals will probably all be in some U.S. friendly place like Iran or Venezuela with our luck.

    Steve

  7. PD Shaw says:

    Matt watches one of the few good Star Trek movies (Wrath of Khan), which is an adventure epic with some philosohical overtones, and Matt pines for preachy, non-violent tedium like saving the snail darter.

  8. anjin-san says:

    If Gene Roddenberry taught us anything, it’s that smart, determined people like the fictional Commander Scott are far more likely to effectively respond to emergencies than government agencies

    As one commentator has already pointed out, Scotty worked for the government. As far as I know, the story of how dilithum crystals came into use is not told in any story line Roddenberry was involved with.

    Pretty poor read on Trek, but aren’t you move from the Star Wars era anyway? And there was a TNG story where if I recall correctly, the Enterprise was trying to assist a planet that had destroyed its environment, but failed because the problem was simply to great for their resources to deal with. I think a hot babe from the Q continuim bailed the afflicted planet out.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Can you imagine what Roddenberry would have to say about Rush/Palin/Bush and the war on science and intelligence crowd?

    Roddenberry was sometimes referred to by Trek insiders as “The Great Bird of the Galaxy”. I doubt he would have had much use for the parakeets of ignorance.

  10. PD Shaw says:

    The original series, of the five year mission, was more like Lewis & Clark’s voyage of discovery — government sponsored, but reliant upon the wits and skills of the crew. It was only the later versions that became increasingly martial and bureaucratized.

  11. Michael says:

    If we’re going to come up with clean energy sources and drastically reduce our CO2 emissions, I’d bet that the solution will be much more like dilithium crystals than anything currently being debated on the Hill.

    The problem isn’t creating the tech, it’s implementing it. If I came up with a green-energy powered car that performed like a BMW at a tenth of the price, but required a specialized road surface, it’d go nowhere without Capital Hill.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    For some reason beyond my comprehension, this comment thread has been infested with spammers. I’m closing it to see if it solves the problem.