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From 250 miles up, astronauts have an unparalleled view of Earth. They can also easily see the devastating effects of climate change and pollution as they ravage the planet.That’s why past and present astronauts from around the world have contributed to a new video, called “Call to Earth,” that urges world leaders to take action.
It’s an inspiring collection of pleas, but also a sobering and gut-wrenching one: If we don’t clean up our act as a species, and fast, we could irreversibly mar the only home that we’ve got in the solar system.
Here are the some of the most salient quotes from the video.
Astronauts have a bird’s eye view of Earth from the International Space Station.
And the effects of human activity are quickly catching up with us, say a group of astronauts in a video directed at politicians.
It’s amazing just how fragile the atmosphere looks from space, said one astronaut. All we have is a thin film of air to protect us.
“When you look at your planet from space, it’s beautiful, fragile, and there’s this little thin layer all the way around: our atmosphere. And that’s the only thing that protects us from the really bad vacuum in outer space. This little fragile layer, the atmosphere, is part of our life support system. We need to be really careful with it.” —Mary Cleave, American astronaut
Space also affords a view of human destruction since the dawn of the industrial age.
“Less than 550 humans have orbited the Earth. Those of us lucky enough to have done so more than once have not only heard about the negative impact that the industrial age has had on our planet, we’ve seen it with our own eyes.” —Michael López-Alegría, American astronaut
Ongoing human catastrophes are easily visible, too, like deforestation.
“The view from space is just breathtaking. And at the same time we recognize deforestation and wildfires, and so on, which are related to climate change.” —Naoko Yamazaki, Japanese astronaut