Roundtable “Russia’s Economic Growth”. House of the Economist. Moscow, Russia.
Address by the President of the International Association “Znanie”, Academician of Russian Academy of Cosmonautics. Efim Malitikov, Academician of Russian Academy of Astronautics, Corresponding Member of International Academy of Astronautics, at the Round Table “Economic Growth of Russia”. Global Climate Change: New Risks or Factors of Economic Growth of Russia
Climate change is, of course, only one of the topics that mankind must study, among other challenges and dangers. I emphasize: this is far from the only topic. We are facing a great number of real threats, not of tomorrow, but of today, before which mankind is helpless and unprepared to face. They are not only an attempt to frighten mankind and not only an attempt to shackle our attention. These threats have already caused, are causing, and will continue to cause enormous economic damage to all of civilization for a long time to come.
Moreover, many of the dangers and challenges of both natural and man-made disasters have already been calculated, expressed in concrete, though tentative figures. For example, economic damage from seismic cataclysms reaches one hundred billion dollars annually, which for a small country may constitute about 40% of all national wealth. And all natural and man-made disasters combined cost humanity more than one trillion dollars a year. But here’s the surprise: this astronomical sum is about 100 times greater than the cost required to create the International Aerospace System for Global Phenomenon Monitoring (IASSM).
This project was put forward by the International Association “Znanie” and is now being promoted under the auspices of “Znanie”, the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after K.E. Tsiolkov and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The project was put forward by the Znanie International Association and is being advanced under the auspices of Znanie and the Russian Academy of Astronautics. It is assumed that one of the main developers and creators of IGMASS will be the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center. Valery Menshikov, a deputy director general of the Khrunichev Center and also director of the Center’s branch, the Space Systems Research Institute, will directly lead the project.
What exactly is our proposal? We are talking about monitoring of early precursors of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods, landslides, storms, and man-made disasters. This will make it possible not only to predict them, but also subsequently to quickly assess addresses and volumes of necessary assistance, including humanitarian aid. For example, a tsunami transforms the earth’s surface so that the boundaries of the affected territory are perfectly visible from space. In the more distant future, humanity will probably learn to prevent natural disasters in the same way that we can disperse clouds and shed rain. For example, just recently it became possible to change the trajectory of an asteroid to prevent it from colliding with the Earth.
One may ask: Why couldn’t aerospace monitoring have been created earlier? First of all, new technical means have appeared in recent years. Today one can see from space a lit match, a smoldering cigarette butt or even determine a military rank by epaulettes. Modern space system is able to register such earthquake precursors as disturbances in ionosphere, ozone layer and atmosphere, anomalies of cloud fields, earth surface displacement, thermal and gravitational anomalies, changes in groundwater hydrodynamics. However, it is no less important that mankind begins to think seriously about its future. Cellular telephony, satellite technology, and the Internet have brought people so close together that they have simultaneously “shrunk” the planet itself. We are becoming more and more aware of the extent to which its resources are exhausted and of the great threats that loom over it.
Meanwhile, no country can cope with global monitoring alone. After all, individual states have long been trying to confront global challenges, focusing on solving their purely national problems. Even for any space power, this is very expensive and inefficient: joint global efforts are required. Among other things, such a global approach will allow each country to minimize costs through synergies, which is especially relevant in the context of the global economic downturn.
This topic was hotly discussed at a number of international astronaut conferences held throughout the year in Korolev, Shanghai, Tunis, Glasgow and, most recently, in Paris in March 2009. As a result, we were supported by members of the International Academy of Astronautics from China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ukraine, USA and some other countries.
In order to strengthen the support received and to attract as many participants as possible to the IGMASS project, we have initiated the Symposium “Space and the Global Security of Mankind”, which will be held in Limassol, Cyprus, in November this year and will be entirely devoted to the launch of the project. It is gratifying to know that the UN has already approved the symposium in the person of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and in the person of Sarbuland Khan, Executive Director of the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development. The President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and a number of other prominent Cypriot politicians promised us their full support.
We hope that the 60th International Space Congress (IAC-2009) with the close to us theme “Space for Sustainable Peace and Progress” will become the last step in preparation of the world scientific community for realizing the absolute necessity of the IASM project. It will be held in Daejeon, South Korea, in October 2009, that is, literally on the eve of the symposium in Cyprus.
As you can see, preparations are being made on a truly universal scale, and here it must be said that we have enlisted the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. I made a preliminary agreement about this back in February with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He entrusted his deputy Alexander Yakovenko with the foreign policy supervision of our events. The Russian diplomatic infrastructure, including the envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, has been notified and invited to participate in the organization of both the Congress in South Korea and the symposium in Cyprus.
I will say briefly about what MAKSM is from a technical point of view. The system has a complex architecture, since it consists not only of space, but also of air and ground segments. Six satellites in geostationary orbit, the upper tier of the segment, are supposed to be placed in space. Three-four more satellites are put into sun-synchronous orbits – this is the lower tier. The air segment includes airplanes, helicopters, and airships and is created by individual states. Remote sensing data are transmitted to national space information receiving stations and to regional data collection and processing centers.
However, the role of the ground segment of IGMASS is by no means limited to the collection, digestion and interpretation of messages from the atmosphere and space. The sensors installed on the ground will also be used for so-called direct control. For example, if the corresponding sensor is located in the body of the glacier, the observation of its movement will make it possible to calculate the time of the glacier’s descent along the mountain ridge and to get people out of the danger zone in the valley in time. Sergey Bodrov with his film crew would have survived if such a transmitter the size of a finger had been in the body of the Kolka glacier: the entrance to the Gennaldon gorge would have been blocked in advance and the people there would have been evacuated.
After processing, all information – from satellites, aircraft, and ground sensors – is sent to national crisis management centers, from where it is transmitted both to government agencies around the world and to international crisis management centers. The latter transmit data to the UN and also exchange information with early warning systems that already exist in different countries.
Now let me focus on what the IGMASS project means for Russia – its initiator, main executor, and leader. The implementation of the project will create over a hundred thousand additional jobs in our country, all requiring high qualifications. As we know, in times of economic depression states try to employ the unemployed in the public sector, for example in road construction. Not all people are suitable and capable of such jobs. But the introduction of aerospace system of global phenomena monitoring even in conditions of crisis will help not only to keep but also to multiply our scientific and engineering potential. This will contribute to the implementation of the much-desired innovative scenario of the country’s development and its breakthrough into the high-tech future.
Savings thanks to prevention and early forecasting of emergency situations will amount to an estimated 80 to 100 billion rubles a year. But in this case, the main thing is not money, but human lives and health. Just one figure: every year about 30 thousand people die from earthquakes in the world, while a much larger number of our contemporaries receive traumas and injuries and fall ill due to epidemics that break out in disaster areas. Whether there is a currency to measure these losses is a rhetorical question.
It is no coincidence that the motto of the upcoming symposium “Space for Stable Peace and Progress” in November is the following formula: “Preventing natural and man-made disasters, mitigating their effects, and being prepared for them is more cost-effective than responding to their consequences.”
Thank you for your attention.