As a millennial, I don't share boomers' enthusiasm for the power of science to solve all problems. So when someone says that strip-mining the Moon for rocks rich in helium-3, heating the rocks to harvest the helium, and using that helium for nuclear fusion will solve the world's energy problems, I am inclined to say, “Ha! You power-mad old person, you are living in a science fiction story.” But that, in fact, may be the direction humanity is heading in, Moon-wise.

Strip-mining the Moon won't be profitable until scientists perfect nuclear fusion. So far they've only gotten that process going for a few seconds, but real non-made-up scientists contacted for this post said that "It's totally possible. We're totally going to do it. It's going to be awesome." Helium-3 would produce a clean fusion process, leaving little of the radioactive waste that plagues nuclear fission, the process that nuclear plants use now. But Helium-3 is found rarely on Earth and is therefore worth $16 million dollars per kilo. With prices like that, resource extraction on the Moon all of a sudden becomes a fairly reasonable economic activity to pursue. EVEN THOUGH IT IS INSANE.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

Seriously, does this sound like a bad idea to anyone else? I, for one, am worried that pursuing the so-called "golden dream of nuclear fusion" will have some unintended consequences. But at least we’ll know what to tell the monkey when it asks why we’re blowing up the Moon:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.