Astronaut’s view of climate crisis


Sir, – Chris Hadfield’s comments on climate change (“A spaceman came travelling”, Magazine, January 18th) are at best disappointing, and at worst misleading. Given Nasa’s efforts over the past decades to raise awareness and understanding of the urgent need for climate change mitigation, one can only note Mr Hadfield’s current advertising contract with Electric Ireland, a company with links to the fossil fuel industry.

His argument that the world has gone through worse is indeed true. The Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum event 55 million years ago, for example, saw huge quantities of carbon dioxide leak into the atmosphere causing temperature increases of up to 7 degrees Celsius on the Earth’s surface and ocean. The planet obviously survived this.

The point Mr Hadfield misses is that humans almost definitely wouldn’t have.

On his remarks that the planet has also survived “tremendous asteroid bombardments”, one is prompted to ask how that worked out for the dinosaurs.

I commend The Irish Times for its “One Change” articles and Kevin O’Sullivan’s excellent environmental reports. But The Irish Times now needs to raise the bar in reporting the seriousness of climate change, as other publications have already done (for example, BBC’s “Our Planet Matters”, and the Guardian’s “environmental pledge”).

As part of this improved reporting, articles should question how Mr Hadfield’s endorsement of a company that relies on fossil fuels influences his public commentary on climate change. – Yours, etc,