Chairman of the Interstate Committee for the Dissemination of Knowledge and Adult Education,
President of the International Association “Znanie”
Full member of the International Academy of Astronautics,
Academician of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. Academician of Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after K.E. Tsiolkovsky
President of the International Association ” Znanie”
“GLOBAL MONITORING MUST BECOME A NATIONAL PRIORITY”.
(Interview with Efim Malitikov by Voice of Russia radio station on March 13, 2009)
– This is Viktor Samarin at the microphone, hello. I want to talk about something today: lately, the international press, political circles, and scientists have been discussing the creation of some kind of monitoring system for global phenomena. These global phenomena include everything, including ecology, cataclysms, tectonic shifts, earthquakes, etc. In this connection, or at least in connection with it, the Presidium of the International Academy of Astronautics will meet in Paris in the next few days. As they say, you can’t see faces, but you can see everything from a distance. From space, it is much easier to see everything and anticipate such negative phenomena. Our guest today is Yefim Malitikov, Chairman of the CIS Committee on Knowledge Dissemination and Adult Education, President of the International Association Znanie, member of the Presidium of the International Academy of Astronautics. Can you tell us, please, what is it – the International Aerospace System for Monitoring Global Phenomena?
– First of all, I would like to give you some figures, because we have to create this system. Every year in the world 30,000 people die from earthquakes alone. The economic damage from these seismic cataclysms reaches hundreds of billions of dollars for each country where it occurs, which often exceeds almost half the national wealth of that country. And if we take all natural man-made disasters, which globally threaten not each individual country, but all of humanity, then the annual amount of damage is a trillion dollars. Of course, it is impossible to make money on combating disasters, but it is possible to save entire cities and human lives. And we need to spend 100 times less on these measures than the amount of damage I mentioned. And it must be spent, in general, once and for all. There is now a serious discussion taking place at the national and international level at the International Academy of Astronautics about creating a global monitoring system. Of course, each space power is still doing something in this direction, but purely for their own local purposes, in the interests of national security, to solve other national problems. Meanwhile, the challenges that await us in the future are so global that they are not commensurate with the appanage princely perceptions that dominate the planet today. It is necessary to change the whole mentality, because global phenomena are equally dangerous for everyone without exception, both for the powerful and for the weak.
– And we can only respond to these challenges together…
– Only together! To cope with cataclysms we need not just 100 times less money than the amount of damage from them. These funds must be spent all together, i.e. in fact it is very little money for planetary efforts, on the scale of all mankind.
– Will it be a system of satellites of some kind, will there be some rockets going up, probes launched? What is an aerospace system?
– To avoid going into technical details, I would say that there is a space segment, an air segment, and a ground segment. The simplest, as they say, elementary particle of this system would be an ordinary sensor that is on the ground, at the specific object that is being monitored. I’ll just give you an example. If a small transmitter the size of a human finger stood on the Kolka Glacier, Sergei Bodrov and all those who died with him back then would be walking among us today. All the villages would have been saved, which had disappeared from the face of the earth due to the impossibility of monitoring it all.
– Yes, there still needs to be a warning system built…
– Of course: warned means protected! After all, today you can see the shoulder straps of the officer walking below from a satellite; if you wish, you can even read the newspaper. Naturally it is also possible to determine how many centimeters the glacier moved during the year and when it is time to start evacuating the settlements.
– Yefim Mikhailovich, well, we all know that the world is now in a state of economic crisis, and it will continue and escalate – further, deeper. In the context of this situation, how would you comment on the upcoming creation of a global monitoring system? Is it timely to incur all these costs now, to make certain efforts? Or is it the right time to do things like this, otherwise we won’t get out of the crisis?
– You brilliantly, intuitively, immediately answered the question you posed. Of course we have to deal with this question today because millions of people do not have jobs. Meanwhile, the global aerospace system is a whole new industry. It will immediately provide hundreds of thousands of jobs for people who will be engaged in monitoring of global phenomena…
– In the case of the CIS, I see, for example, a promising cooperation in this area between Russia and Kazakhstan. This is, in particular, Baikonur, the experience of successful and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. And the other countries of the Commonwealth, how can they be involved in this effort?
– You know, all of them without exception. The monitoring system, in addition to early warning of disasters, is needed for clear management of state construction, for clear management of administrative functions, for control of water, of electricity, of the environment, for control, in the end, even of the situation in the country related to the possibilities and dangers of terrorism. All of this is becoming part of the monitoring system. And now even the weakest, not the most economically developed countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Belarus already need their own satellites. We are already negotiating with them to ensure state control by means of this monitoring.
– And Ukraine, apparently, with which we have great ties in the aerospace industry…
– Undoubtedly! Not only Ukraine. Following the initiative of Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, the creation of International Aerospace System has been picked up and supported by Germany, India, Italy, Nigeria, China, US, Tunisia, Ukraine, France. The issue is still in the spotlight, with one event after another taking place around the world, where the issue is being hotly debated. Now Paris, then South Korea, Cyprus. We believe that already in South Korea, the aerospace community will be ready to incorporate its point of view into the priorities of public policy.
– In the future development of international relations, a great deal will now depend, in a global sense, on the state of relations between Russia and the United States; this is clear. And on April 1, Dmitry Medvedev is expected to meet with Barack Obama for the first time. The topic of countering some global threats is sure to be part of their discussion. But can you and your academy help to make this topic more concrete to the level of, say, the question of creating a global monitoring system?
– Humanity today is facing questions that no single president can answer. It is up to everyone to solve them together. This is already clear to everyone. But of course, without scientists, without academics, in this case without the International Academy of Astronautics, which includes the Russian Academy of Astronautics and the academies of astronautics from the leading countries of the world, it would be impossible to answer these questions. After all, we have accumulated a huge amount of experience. It needs to be disposed of in order for global monitoring to become part of national policies.
– The sooner this happens, the more active we are, the sooner we will forget about the crisis!
– Absolutely. We are now in the position where 10 years ago Yeltsin stood in the MCC and waited to see whether an asteroid would pass by our planet and kill it, or not. Oh, thank God, it did! But there was nothing we could do to influence it. And it is, in fact, possible to influence it. Already today, our physical capabilities allow us to deflect the course of an asteroid with a cross section of more than five hundred kilometers, which could kill the entire planet.
– Thank you very much. Although your interview ended with the word “kill”, it meant saving the planet…
– Saving, only saving!
– We had a guest – the president of the International Association “Znanie”, chairman of the CIS Committee for the Dissemination of Knowledge and Adult Education, academician, professor, Efim Mikhailovich Malitikov. He is going to Paris to attend a meeting of the Presidium of the International Academy of Aeronautics. Thank you.