NewsDecember 7, 2015

Astronauts Send a Message to Paris Climate Talks

Brian Kahn

By Brian Kahn

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 Houston, we have a climate message.

Astronauts past and present, including current International Space Station Commander Scott Kelly, sent along a video to climate negotiators in Paris this weekend. As the only people to ever have a truly global view of Earth, their perspective is a little different than your average person's. Literally.

“Your actions during this important meeting will send a message to this world on how we regard the future of our home planet,” Kelly said.

In all, 18 astronauts from the U.S. and abroad, covering missions from the Apollo era to the present, shared their experiences from beyond the atmosphere (and the Karman line for that matter) and revealed how space has shaped their perspective on climate change and the need for more sustainable practices back on earth.

“From our vantage point 250 miles above the Earth, we can see how precious the Earth really is,” Kelly said.

From space, borders and divisions disappear. That, coupled with seeing the planet against the stark black vacuum of space, has led some astronauts to experience an overwhelming feeling of connectedness to civilization and the planet. There's even a term for it — the overview effect. So perhaps it's not surprising that at least one astronaut wishes the Paris climate talks were happening on the International Space Station.

“The one thing we all wish is that groups like yours could be holding your meeting in space with the beautiful horizon to horizon view of our planet as a backdrop,” Nicole Stott, an astronaut who spent two missions aboard the ISS, said. “It would be an awe-inspiring distraction for sure, but there would be nothing better for reinforcing the significance of what you're doing there today.”

Space limitations aside, it certainly seems like a good idea.

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