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NASA chief asks nations to work together on climate change

photo of NASA
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson answers questions from reporters about U.S.-Mexico science collaborations, in Mexico City, Mexico, April 23, 2024. (REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan)
By Stefanie Eschenbacher | REUTERS

NASA is hoping that nations will work together more closely in the future on topics such as climate change, including greenhouse gas emissions, the space agency’s head, Bill Nelson, said on Tuesday.

Solutions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that rapidly warm the planet and drive the climate crisis already exist, but require unprecedented changes at a new scale and pace.

“This is something that nations can work on together because the information is there,” Nelson said in Mexico City when asked about how to address greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s important that we act on it.”

Satellites have emerged as powerful tools for scientists around the world to study climate change but also, increasingly, pinpoint the origin of greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane leaks, that would otherwise have gone undetected.

Nelson added that satellites were constantly collecting data about climate and NASA was looking to make this data accessible, and educate people on how to use it.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is the second-largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide. Scientists can now pinpoint the origin of large methane leaks using data gathered by satellites.

It is a much more potent driver of global warming in the short term than carbon dioxide because it traps more heat in the atmosphere, ton for ton.

“The types of concerns that we have are global,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “It’s very important to recognize that not any one country can solve that problem alone.”

Earlier in the day, Nelson and Melroy, who are both astronauts, met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and lawmakers to discuss how the countries can work together.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher

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