Featured Vice President Kamala Harris: Space technology to play a key role in addressing climate change

Published on November 6th, 2021 📆 | 5396 Views ⚑

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Vice President Kamala Harris: Space technology to play a key role in addressing climate change

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (C), and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., (L), tour the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on Friday. Photo by Ting Shen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 6 (UPI) — As the United States seeks to address climate change it will look to space, Vice President Kamala Harris said during a speech at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Saying the “opportunity of space will define the 21st century,” Harris made the remarks Friday as she prepares to convene the inaugural meeting of the Biden administration’s National Space Council on Dec. 1.

She said life on Earth has already been improved by technology developed to explore space, such as camera phones and CT scans.

“Today, our nation is more active in space than ever before, and there are more ways than ever before that space can benefit humanity,” she said. “I believe it is incumbent on all of us, then, to seize all the ways in which space can help us solve our biggest challenges, including that of the climate crisis.”

Harris referenced the United Nations Climate Change Conference underway in Glasgow, Scotland. She said world leaders gathered at the conference declared climate change an “existential threat” that needs urgent action.

She pointed to how space-based technology is already being used to monitor emissions and measure the impact of climate change.

“We have a fleet of satellites and sensors providing citizens and scientists with the data that they — that you need to mitigate the impact and to adapt to the impact,” she said.

Harris mentioned Landsat 9, a satellite developed at Goddard and launched into space last September. The satellite can produce real-time landscape images that can aid first responders during increasingly frequent natural disasters, she said.

In addition to helping scientists working on climate change, she said images produced by the satellite can help farmers respond to drought and heat.

While on a recent visit to Hampton University, a historically Black university in Virginia, Harris said students were working with scientists on new satellite technology and connections between climate change and atmospheric changes.

“So, here’s the bottom line: I truly believe space activity is climate action. Space activity is education,” she said. “Space activity is also economic growth. It is also innovation and inspiration. And it is about our security and our strength.”

When the National Space Council, which she chairs, meets next month, Harris said its members will discuss a broad framework that includes civilian efforts, STEM education, military and national security efforts, as well as the “emerging space economy.”

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