Tackling climate change from space

Space technology developed through the past 70 years of research will soon lead the way in climate action. Since the first satellite launched in 1957, we have come a long way.

Space technology developed through the past 70 years of research will soon lead the way in climate action. Since the first satellite launched in 1957, we have come a long way.

From satellite-based remote sensing of weather patterns along with early detection systems for natural disasters or previously unforeseen droughts humans owe a lot to those who first looked towards the stars.

Speaking at the recent COP26 summit, The UK’s best known astronaut Tim Peake began by emphasising how far we’ve come in the fight against climate change with the assistance of technologies developed as a direct result of research held by astronauts and inspired minds here on earth.

“Seeing the view of Earth from space that has a profound effect on you without a doubt but in terms of the most influential piece of technology it’s data, data, data.

“I can’t say that enough because we need to make informed decisions and we need to make the right decisions. We haven’t got the time and we haven’t got the money to get it wrong.

“So, in order to get it right and to do it right now we need that data so we make really informed decisions and we do the right thing, right now to get this whole thing moving.”

Peake spoke of being disappointed with the general attitude towards space tourism and how sending people into orbit is increasingly viewed as a luxury or only available to the super rich.

When asked how he feels about the super-rich having current dominion over the industry, Peake said: “I personally am a fan of using space for science and for the benefit of everybody back on Earth so in that respect I feel disappointed that space is being tarred with that brush.”

Following on he commented about the criticisms of space exploration regarding pollution from rocket fuel,

He said: “It is important to get the facts right as well – rocket fuel, some of the most efficient rocket fuel is hydrogen and oxygen.

“(Jeff Bezos’s) Blue Origin is using that, so it is not 300 tonnes of carbon, there is no carbon, it is water vapour – if you burn hydrogen and oxygen, it’s water vapour.

“Now water vapour in itself has problems, I am not trying to defend it or deny it, but we also have to get the facts right about what people are doing.”

The benefits to humanity from continued space exploration are clear, thinking back to climate change for a moment, what progress would we stand to gain from a hypothetical booming space tourism industry?

It is speculated that funds from such an industry could power heavier action back on earth. Pouring those funds into climate tech such as cooling towers to extract carbon dioxide thus reducing the amount of C02 in the atmosphere.

Technologies developed in space will continue to support humanity in the fight against climate change for many years to come, with the support of industries such as STEM and pioneers across the board we can only speculate how far space exploration will take us.

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