31 March 2017. On 28 March 2017, ESPI hosted its traditional evening event at the margins of the Legal Subcommittee of UNCOPUOS. This year’s event was dedicated to the presentation of Harry Eyres´ book “Seeing Our Planet Whole: The Cultural and Ethical Implications of Earth Observation” (Springer, 2017), which came out of a collaboration with ESA and ESPI where he was a part –time Senior Fellow from 2013 to 2016.
In this book, Harry Eyres – a well-acclaimed journalist and writer as well as one of the most eloquent advocates of the worldwide Slow movement – poignantly shows how our new-found ability to observe the Earth from “the necessary distance” through the use of satellites not simply provides relevant socio-economic benefits, but also carries wide and profound cultural and ethical implications, in particular for protecting the environment by monitoring the effects of climate change.
The well-attended evening event was opened by a keynote speech of the ESPI Director Jean-Jacques Tortora, who set the scene for Harry Eyres’ presentation by providing an overview of the overarching topics covered in the book and of the increasing relevance of Earth Observation. Following this, Mr. Eyres, offered a new and timely perspective on the debate on climate change and other environmental concerns by showing how satellite earth observation can transform our knowledge, understanding and feelings. In doing so, he provided a uniquely board view of Earth Observation by linking it to major topics such as the evolution of environmental ethics, the aesthetic potential of earth observation and the implications for environmental democracy of the free and open access policy for EO satellite data.
Following the presentation, the event sparked an enthusiastic discussion between Harry Eyres and the audience moderated by ESPI Director Jean-Jacques Tortora.