climate in crisis

Former Astronaut Becomes Environmentalist to Help Fight Climate Change

A former astronaut says he became an instant environmentalist after he saw how fragile the earth’s atmosphere looked from space

NBC Universal, Inc.

The earth’s temperature is expected to rise seven to eight degrees by the next century, according to The Breakthrough Institute.

But a former astronaut saw it first-hand on his mission into space.

Dr. Jose Hernandez, who was a flight engineer said the trip into orbit on space shuttle discovery is still vivid in his mind.

“It’s the ride of a lifetime. I think Disneyland would be envious of such a ride,” he said.

He would visit the space station, conduct scientific experiments, and orbit around the earth every 90 minutes.

But it was during one of those rotations, that the rocket scientist was floored.

“You see the sun rays that hit the earth at the right angle when you’re able to see the thickness of the atmosphere,” he said. “And let me tell you, that was a scary thing. I became an instant tree hugger.”

“Seeing the planet from space is a great way to change your perception,” said Zeke Hausfather.

Hausfather is the director of climate and energy for the Breakthrough Institute. He said the thinning of the earth’s atmosphere is decades in the making, and eventually deadly if it persists.

“It keeps us from being a ball of frozen ice. Makes life possible, so it’s not freezing cold during the night and boiling during the day.”

Hausfather says a warming planet means more droughts, rising sea levels, and constant wildfires.

“Our home is fragile We can change it and we have changed it,” he said.

For Hernandez, it took one trip out of this world for him to really see what humans have done to their home.

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