As we get closer to disastrous climate tipping points, some of today’s most creative thinkers are looking for solutions outside of Earth — and no, that doesn’t mean building a new society on Mars.
Instead, the intersection between space and climate-related tech offer strategies for protecting our planet while expanding our understanding of what lies beyond it.
Chris Lindener, Mach49’s Co-Managing Partner of EMEA Delivery and Client Success and former Head of Airbus Scale, recently delivered a fireside chat about the intersection of climate and space tech during 4YFN at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. During his talk, Chris highlighted a few innovations from the burgeoning space technology industry that our venture building and investing work focuses on.
According to the World Economic Forum, over half of the most important climate variables can only be tracked from space. Scientists are using satellite data to track the movement of glaciers, monitor sea levels, and detect changes in temperature and weather patterns. This data, which can help us monitor and predict climate patterns, is essential to policymakers working to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Many developments in space technology are also applicable to the renewable energy systems we’re building on Earth. French company Leosphere used European Space Agency research to inform its development of an instrument that helps maximize the power output of wind turbines, and Italy’s Flyby uses data from weather satellites to improve the performance of photovoltaic plants that capture solar energy at scale. New advances in solar technology and energy storage systems emerging from the space industry can help us develop more renewable energy solutions.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from food insecurity exacerbated by the impacts of climate change—and as average temperatures increase, global food supplies face even more threats. Within this context, space technology can help agronomists and farmers improve agricultural practices and food security. For example, rainfall and weather data from satellites can help farmers plan crop timing and irrigation to maximize output, as well as monitor soil moisture and crop development. This data can also offer predictive insights into likely crop outputs and the potential impacts of droughts and other challenges, helping policymakers prevent famines.
As the frequency of natural disasters like tsunamis, floods, and wildfires increases, satellite monitoring tools can offer invaluable early warnings to prevent catastrophic loss of life. The United Nations and World Food Programme have also developed robust mechanisms to coordinate space resources in the wake of disasters. In these situations, satellite imagery and remote sensing offer data on damage across large and potentially inaccessible areas, helping emergency response teams coordinate actions. When on-the-ground systems are damaged or destroyed, satellite communications play a vital role in connecting citizens and responders.
While the growing space industry comes with its own challenges related to emissions and climate impacts, space tech has far more to offer than trips into orbit. As the field matures, we can expect to see more innovations with applications much closer to home.
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