Valérie Wilquet / Senior Scientist

Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy / Planetary Aeronomy

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

My focus of scientific research is the study, mainly the composition and chemistry, of the Mars and Venus atmosphere, using instruments onboard a satellite, in a very similar way the Earth atmosphere is observed. While the three planets were formed at the same time, their atmosphere diverged from each other in the course of the history. The comparison of these three atmospheric systems is of great importance to understand the global warming due to greenhouse gases on Earth. My worry in my field is the primary importance of the economic interests of the space industry (involved in the building, launching, maneuvering of shuttles and satellites) above the scientific considerations.
At home, we started already many years ago to decrease our environmental impact: we invested a lot in renovating and insulating our house, we’re sorting wastes and try to minimize it, we’re eating less and less meat, we’re commuting to our work by train even though it takes much more time than by car and thereby we reduced a lot the use of our car. Thanks to the technology, we also reduced a lot the use of paper, almost all our administration is online and our subscriptions to newspapers and magazines are all ‘online only’.
The main problem with all these measures is that it won’t be enough and that we are reaching our limits (in both time and money) of what we can do. This is a very important observation because we are of the most privileged in the society, which means that many around us cannot go as far as we can, and only a few are doing better. One example to illustrate what I want to say: we invested heavily in the renovation of the house, for that purpose we first need to own a house, then to have the means for the renovation. A lot of people are just hiring poor quality housing because they cannot afford anything better, they have no control over this aspect of their ecological footprint.
Therefore, we do need structural changes of the society to face the global warming, we do need public investments and democratic controls for these changes because the ‘free’ market has demonstrated in about 40 years its incapacity to solve the problem: it has failed, is still failing and will continue to fail.