Angeles Duran is a woman in Spain who claims to own the Sun.
Not in the sense that she regularly kicks the Sun’s ass at sports, in the sense that it legally belongs to her. She defends her claim by saying:
There was no snag, I backed my claim legally, I am not stupid, I know the law. I did it but anyone else could have done it, it simply occurred to me first.
Now, I love it when people say “I am not stupid,” because they are so very rarely correct. But that’s not all. Duran now wants to put a fee on everyone who uses the Sun and then give 50 percent of the proceeds to the Spanish government, 20 to the Spanish pension fund, 10 to charity, 10 to ending world hunger (which is apparently different from charity), and keep 10 for herself. I mean come on, she made all that effort to go to a local notary’s office in rural Spain. Girl’s gotta eat.
So let’s revisit the quote. She says she’s backed her claim legally and she knows the law. These things are not true. Honestly, you probably wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t laws to address the ownership of celestial bodies, but there are. The Outer Space Treaty was drafted in 1967, when only we and the commies had even been to space, and no one had been to a celestial body, but now it’s been signed by over 100 countries. It specifically states that no sovereign nation can own a celestial body, but there’s a perceived loophole there, in that it neither explicitly allows or forbids an individual from owning them. Angeles says, therefore, that all she has to do is claim it and it’s hers.
This is not the first time that this has happened. A man named Dennis Hope sent a letter to the US Government saying essentially that if they didn’t respond, they were giving him tacit permission to own the moon. They ignored him like they do all the other maniacs that send letters to the US Government demanding the deeds to astronomical bodies, so now he sells one-acre plots of the moon for $22. He’s made millions.
Back to the Outer Space Treaty (which Spain has signed, by the way). There’s a clause in it that is kind of important in this situation.
The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty.
What that means, quite clearly, is that the government of whatever country has to specifically approve any activity in space, even by individuals. In other words, you can’t just email the President and say “If you don’t respond, the Universe belongs to me.” That’s also the reason that you need a license from the federal government to send a private rocket into space.
Even if you could own the Sun, how would you charge people for “using” it? First of all, other than nuclear fission reactors, all of our energy comes directly or indirectly from the Sun. And I don’t just mean the power grid, I mean all energy of any kind on this planet. So you’d have to charge everyone. You’d have to charge people for Vitamin D processing, a lack of seasonal depression, and literally everything else that everyone ever does, eats, or uses. Furthermore, what about plants? They use a crap ton of solar energy, so do you just charge the landowner? We all know what the logical conclusion would be for the guy who’s being charged for trees he didn’t plant.
But on the other hand, if she owned the Sun, then anyone who got skin cancer or a sun burn or so much as a melted ice cream cone could sue Angeles for criminal negligence.
Maybe we should let her go for it.