29.07.2021 / Blog / Katharina Wolf

A view from space on climate change

The future astronaut and meteorologist Dr. Insa Thiele-Eich was a guest at juwi in June. We took the opportunity to talk to her about space travel and climate protection.

What is your greatest motivation for the "Flight into Space" project?
My childhood fascination with the universe and all the questions it holds continues to this day. At the same time, I grew up very interested in space; my father was an astronaut himself on the STS-99 shuttle mission. It was a privilege to grow up in the space family like that, and it certainly contributed to my dream of going into space. 
 
You are a budding astronaut and at the same time committed to climate protection: How can the fight against global warming benefit from space travel? 
Satellite-based Earth observation is indispensable for obtaining a good data basis for weather observation on the one hand, but also for our models. In astronautical spaceflight, there are many projects that deal with resource conservation and sustainable cycles. And at least as important is the symbolic power: Astronauts raise awareness with pictures and their reports from space that the man-made problem affects us all across borders. Our mission in particular will be climate-neutral, but that is still new in space travel.  
 
As a meteorologist, their work deals with weather and climate trends. How do you react when someone doubts man-made climate change?
It depends. I'm happy to explain the facts and sources if people ask honest questions and keep an open mind. But often enough it is not about facts at all - I leave these conversations and rather invest my energy in other things. The following tweet by Ruprecht Polenz sums it up quite well: "It's impossible to dissuade someone from a conviction through arguments that he (or she) didn't come to through arguments."
 
From their point of view, can we still reach the 1.5 degree target?
From a scientific point of view, it is still possible. From my personal point of view, it is feasible, but very difficult. At least we are now seeing movement on the issue of climate protection at many levels - albeit much too late. What's important now is that socially compatible climate adaptation takes place at the same time, so that the changes that 1.5 degrees will bring us don't have to be shouldered unequally. 
 
And what do we have to do to achieve this in concrete terms? 
In my opinion, we have to ensure that the right political course is set at all levels. Incentives are certainly one way of doing this, but without clear guidelines and the associated prohibitions, it won't work either. And yes, it won't be cheap - but simply doing nothing will be even more expensive, and I think with all the consequences much more drastic for all of us.
 


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