11 Nov Astronaut tells of “fragility” of earth under threat from climate change
11 November, 2017. Bonn, Germany. – A French astronaut who spent 6 months on the International Space Station, shared about his experience and appealed for all of us to have a greater appreciation and understanding of the “fragility” of our earth.
Speaking at the United Nations climate change conference being held here in Bonn, Thomas Pesquet said it was a privilege for him to spend time in space and to witness the effects of climate change on a truly global level.
“We have a hard time to reason and understand that it’s happening on that scale. There are things that one understands intellectually, but which one doesn’t really get. We talk about 2 degrees, but what does that really mean?”
“When you’re looking out at the earth, from space, then you realise how fragile it is. You understand how easily the balance can be overthrown.”
”You can see pollution, some places you can’t even see them anymore because there’s so much pollution. You see the ice melting, you see the cuts appearing in the Amazonian forest.”
“Thats why when you come back from being in the space station you are much more receptive to the environmental protection message because you’ve seen it firsthand.”
Pesquet conducted 60 scientific experiments in space and completed 2 spacewalks to carry out maintenance on the International Space Station.
He explained that waste management on the space station also helped him better understand the importance of healthy waste management on earth.
“When you just throw things away here on earth, and it disappears and you don’t have to think about it anymore then its easy for you not to take responsibility for it. But in space it can’t go anywhere. You have to deal with your waste yourself. We recycle as much as we can, including water, our perspiration everything. We try to produce as little waste as possible. We travel as light as possible with food and everything else.”
Pesquet’s photographs of the earth from space and his commentary shared on Twitter from the space station, are a powerful visual message. Like this one taken above Venice.
“VENICE IS ONE OF THE MANY CITIES THAT WILL SUFFER FROM SEA-LEVEL RISING.”
And this picture of the Maldives.
“PARADISE IN THE INDIAN OCEAN: THE BEAUTIFUL MALDIVES, THREATENED BY THE RISING WATER LEVELS.”
When asked what everyone can do to help with climate change, Pesquet said, referring to the Paris Agreement, “We have made an important first step with global recognition that its a problem.”
He paused and self-corrected in what must have been an allusion to the USA pulling out, “Well almost global recognition.”
“All the different sectors, the decision makers, policy makers, everyone must work together on this and everyone has a part to play. Just like everyone else I’m trying to do my part.”
“Bike to work instead of driving. Don’t turn the heat up too much in winter, buy local, buy local food, all these things are within the reach of everybody so theres no excuse today as to why everyone can’t do something, do your part for climate change.”
He added, “My journey to space
Pesquet returned from the space station in June 2017. He served as a flight engineer for Expeditions 50 and 51. He previously worked as an aerospace engineer, and is also an airline pilot for Air France. At 39, Pesquet is the youngest of the European Space Agency’s roster of astronauts. This space voyage was his first, after training for more than seven years.