Presentation #214.01 in the session “Education, Outreach, and Public Engagement”.
Though nearly absent from policy discourse, it seems intuitive and logical to consider Earth’s orbital space as an integral component of Earth’s broader environment. Given this, the curious might wonder why legal, policy, and regulatory discussions on the Earth’s orbital space fail to consider its environmental aspects. More importantly, those cognizant of the Kessler effect or syndrome might suffer sheer dismay that an environmental perspective has not guided our stewardship of Earth’s orbital space. Yet now, with the Dark Skies awakening bright with satellites and their solar reflectivity, an opportunity exists to transform the paradigm in which our stewardship exists. Indeed, since May 2019, certain scholars and scientists articulated specific environmental considerations integral to a proper regulatory regime of Earth’s orbital space. Since then, even some within the space industry hinted, if not expressly stated, that Earth’s orbital space constitutes a component of Earth’s environment. And so, the public – as well as policymakers and regulators – must be persuaded view Earth’s orbital space through this environmental lens. This persuasion must begin through advocacy emanating from those reliant upon and those who enjoy Earth’s dark and quiet skies. This presentation will convey an environmental foundation toward this end. It will identify the critical environmental aspects of Earth’s orbital environment and articulate the means by which this perspective can lead to more sound and sustainable means of preserving our only orbital space. As with so many other aspects of Earth’s environment, we must ensure that future generations may enjoy what has become all too taken for granted – the unfettered natural night sky. This presentation and documentation seeks to move us all closer to meeting that obligation endowed to us by our forebears.