Astronomy and the sustainable development goals have more in common than one might expect. Human capacity building, dark sky tourism, and public engagement are just a few examples (see more in my A&G article).
My current work involves using astronomy as a means of socio-economic development in Namibia. I’m working on two capacity-building projects in particular: (1) developing and delivering an astronomy course to tour guides, and (2) promoting astronomy education in collaboration with the Radboud mobile planetarium.
Further to this, I’m interested in exploring the role that dark sky tourism can play in society, and how this relates to sustainability – socially, environmentally, and economically. What is the effect of a dark sky experience upon a person? How does the implementation of a dark sky oasis impact its local community? Can active/informal learning about light pollution lead to increased dark sky conservation? Could dark sky tourism help to mitigate anthropogenic climate change?
Via my engagement with sustainability committees and Astronomers for Planet Earth, I like to enable climate-related conversation within the astronomy community. I hope these discussions incite others to work more sustainably and promote sustainability in their public outreach – there is no Planet B after all.
Finally, I want to better understand the impact that astronomers have on the planet. Unfortunately, it turns out that we emit more greenhouse gases than the average academic – due to energy-intensive activities such as running observatories and supercomputers (on top of frequent flying) – but at least, we are now informed. Together, we can use this knowledge to act and reduce our footprint. See this series of articles in Nature Astronomy to learn more.
“When we recognise our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”Carl Sagan