Green Party in England & Wales
Climate change threatens ground-based astronomy
An article in March's New Scientist warns ground-based astronomy may be almost impossible by 2050 due to dramatic increases in cloud and aeroplane contrail cover.
Commenting on the article, Green Party Climate Change spokesperson James Abbott said: "If the threat of climate change were not enough in terms of impacts such as sea level change and droughts, we now have scientific concerns over the very sky itself.
"Already, in many parts of the world, the night sky is turning orange from the light pollution of millions of badly designed, wasteful lights. In the not too distant future as temperatures rise, the clouds produced by increased water vapour in the atmosphere, added to by jet contrails, could all but obscure the natural sight of the starry night sky
"Jet contrails over Europe and the US are increasingly evident during the daytime with ever more parallel and crossing lines in the sky which spread in the upper winds to form cirrus clouds. At night the trails are not so visible, but they are still there.
"Apart from the obvious environmental and educational loss to wider society, the inability of astronomers to study the night sky from the Earth's surface would seriously undermine scientific research, for example by weakening our ability to identify potentially hazardous asteroids, which is a major research study at present.
"The boss of a major low cost airliner stated that only 'lemmings' in the aviation industry would care about climate change, and boasted that his airline would increase emissions because it would be flying more jets. That sort of arrogant selfishness needs to be challenged if the sky itself is to be saved from long-term damage."