There are a lot of great things about being an astronaut, but perhaps one of the most unique benefits of the role is the unimaginable perspective it offers you.
Speaking to Derek from Veritasium during our Space Oddity events last year, Colonel Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station, explains how it feels to see Earth from orbit. And in particular, how it feels to stare down at the damage we continue to do to the planet.
In the powerful interview, Hadfield explains how he’s watched pollution spread across continents, smog billow into the atmosphere and the Aral Sea in Asia dry up during his time in space. And worst of all, he's proof that we were aware of what was happening.
“We made a conscious decision to allow the fourth biggest sea in the world to turn into a little, stinking puddle,” Hadfield explains in the video above. “What used to be a shoreline is now an empty sand and the remains of the fertiliser drained into that sea for decades.”
He also talks about how it feels to stand literally amongst the southern lights, and how his sense of responsibility has shifted when seeing the planet from space.
As Hadfield says:
“Who is going to be the person that decides to change something? We can’t wait for some other person to change it. They don’t have the imperative to do it. Especially if they’re someone we elected. If we elected them they’re just our representative.”
Watch the episode of Veritasium above to hear more of Hadfield’s wisdom. It certainly puts things into perspective.