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esa astronaut Luca Parmitano

Astronaut says climate change impacts are visible from ISS

Image credit: reuters

An Italian astronaut has said he has seen “the terrible effects of climate change” with his own eyes while looking out from the International Space Station (ISS).

Making an emotional appeal to panellists at a United Nations (UN) conference, Luca Parmitano called on world leaders to pull their “heads out of the sand” over climate change.

The panel included UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and Spain's science minister Pedro Duque.

Speaking via video link from the ISS, Parmitano said that his vantage point afforded him a unique perspective on the devastating impact of hurricanes and floods.

“Our planet is incredibly beautiful. We also see its incredible fragility,” the military test pilot said while speaking to Guterres, who is pushing for bigger commitments by big polluters at the talks.

“I have seen with my own eyes the terrible effects of climate change.”

This year’s Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP25) opened in Madrid earlier this month.

Global leaders have come under intense pressure at the event to commit to radical decarbonisation efforts from activists, including Greta Thurnberg. The conference has been marred by the slow progress of climate negotiations, which some have blamed on the major oil and gas companies who have been invited to speak.

Appearing to float slightly above the floor of a capsule packed with cables and equipment, Parmitano laced his appeal with poignant descriptions of the breathtaking spectacle of watching sunrise from orbit.

“We need to pull our heads out of the sand because we are refusing to see what’s happening,” he said. “We need to see the problem to change it and to change ourselves.”

He recently posted a rare view of Crete and the Cyclades to his Facebook account writing: “The reflection of the sun highlights the interaction between sea and earth. The sun glint highlights the interaction between sea and land.”

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