Year 11 student Evangeline Sturges with ex-NASA engineer Mike Lutomski.
Year 11 student Evangeline Sturges with ex-NASA engineer Mike Lutomski. Cordell Richardson

Ex-NASA expert warns of climate change wars in Ipswich

NASA landed at Ipswich Girls' Grammar School this week, with students hearing a sobering environmental message from ex-NASA engineer and risk management expert Mike Lutomski.

"It's cliché, but these guys are the future of our planet and we as humans have proven to be very ignorant and greedy short-sighted apes," he said.

"We have to change what we're doing and educate the next generation as citizens of earth."

The sustainability advocate has been delivering his 'Spaceship Earth' talk throughout the region this week and Year 11 student Evangeline Sturges said the message hit home in more ways than one.

"They have to re-use and recycle everything they use on a spaceship, and we have to learn how to do similar things on earth," she said.

"If we keep doing what we're doing it's not going to be a very nice place to live."

Despite the optimistic tone of his talk, Mr Lutomski believes climate change will result in widespread crop failure and wars over water and other resources.

"The earth is a finite resource, we are a little rock hurling through the emptiness of space," he said.

"It does have consequences, how we treat this little spaceship. We can break it, and we're breaking the atmospheric and energy balance now.

"We're trapping too much energy and we can't plead ignorance like our great-grandparents did. We can't say 'we didn't know,' we have the science and technology to know what we are doing and we can measure it. We can't tell our great-grandchildren we didn't know.

"There is hope, there are a lot of things we can do but we're going to have to get used to living in a hotter climate.

"When crops fail and water supplies run out, it's going to be hard to get through these times. There's going to be strife and wars and fights over resources as they dwindle, because the same places that had the resources aren't going to anymore."

Mr Lutomski has spent nearly 30 years at NASA and in private industry working on manned spaceflight programs including several years working on the International Space Station.

Ms Sturges said the talk inspired her to rethink her own approaches to consumerism and fast fashion.

"It was very challenging - like, he talked about iPhones and the things that we just throw out," she said.

"We could be re-using them, we should be doing something about that. I definitely think there are things I could be doing in my life - like not buying the next iPhone when it comes out, asking myself if I need something before I buy it."

"What society tells us to do, to keep up with trends and things - it makes you wonder if it's the best thing to do."

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