Astronaut laments an ailing planet

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The view from space of Earth is becoming marred by smoke and dust as environmental destruction grows increasingly visible, the commander of the International Space Station said.

US astronaut Frank Culbertson told the BBC that the view had changed markedly since his first space mission in 1990.

"There is smoke and dust in wider spread areas than we have seen before, particularly as areas like Africa dry up in certain regions," he said.

"I have seen changes in what comes out of some of the rivers, in land usage. We see areas of the world that are being burned to clear land, so we are losing lots of trees."

Speaking from the space station, Mr Culbertson said the changes were a cause for concern.

"We have to be very careful how we treat this good Earth."

He was also struck by the number of lights glowing on the Earth at night.

"It's quite amazing to see how many people actually live down there and how much of an effect they are having on the environment and the land we live on," said Mr Culbertson, who piloted space shuttle missions in 1990 and 1993.

He is the commander of the third crew to reside in the international space station, a collaboration between American, European and Japanese interests. The space shuttle Discovery launched on 10 August to take Culbertson and two Russian cosmonauts to the station.

The members of Expedition 3 will live on the station for four months, conducting experiments and collecting data.

Comments