Climate From Space!

by Joe Perullo

I decided to spend this morning perusing around the display counters.  They are mostly NGOs, national environment departments, and institutions who have something to say about what their doing in the fight for a more livable world.  I wanted to lean about the cool things some people are doing before I would be swamped trying to follow the political insanity bound to come in the second week of the negotiations, although I admit it was a nice break from all the note-taking.

Just past the Humane Society International and the International Research in Agroforestry booths, I came across a booth, like any other, entitled European Space Agency.  It struck me that the ESA would have something to say about climate change or human rights.  Were they feeling the need to defend the carbon released from sending rockets out of the atmosphere?  That wasn’t really an issue I’ve some across…

It appeared that the man at the booth didn’t get much company—he was quite eager to tell me why he was there. Apparently, the ESA has recently found a new vigilante-esque career path.  They plan on developing their satellite photography technology to provide information on climate change.  What are the implications?  Well, right now a lot of scientific research on climate change is limited to countries’ willingness and ability to conduct it.  Or, perhaps the data exists but is not publicized because of political suppression.  Since there are (currently) no territorial or legal barriers in space, there’s no thing stopping the truth from being revealed.  Very cool…

I admit that science is one of my weakest subjects, so I wasn’t terribly interested in taking any more information the man tried to hand me.  Also, my bag was getting quite heavy from half a tree’s worth a brochures and guidebooks from the many other booths.  I wished him the best of luck in his agency’s efforts, and continued on to G3: GreenEconomy, Gender, Gerecht.

Sometimes I forget that COP is not just negotiations.  Of course climate policy dominates, and the amount to learn from it is endless, but fighting climate change, poverty, and gender inequality is not done solely within the UN.  As a human-ecologist, it makes me wonder where I can be the most effective change-maker.

On that note, I must get back to synthesizing my notes on some press conferences…

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