National and corporate interest in space has increased drastically in the past decade, and the space economy is expected to double by 2030. From 1957 to 2009, humankind launched just over 1000 satellites, a number that we surpassed in the first half of 2022 alone. Space activity pollutes both the outer space environment and terrestrial environments, including space debris left in orbit, light pollution, and discarded rocket parts that fall back onto earth. This talk explores how space activity affects different societies on earth and our environments. It highlights the potential harms to cultural heritage and to food ecosystems of Indigenous communities, and it introduces a toolkit that promotes a circular economy model and incorporates socio-cultural values into traditional environmental impact assessments of space activity.
Dr Matthias Wong is a historian working in the public environmental humanities, an interdisciplinary field that links closely with debates within law, politics, and Indigenous history. Wong is currently a digital humanities postdoctoral reseacher at the Treatied Spaces Research Group, where he works with King’s Digital Lab and The Alan Turing Institute to develop a range of innovative and interactive digital projects that utilise historical maps and documents to communicate original research in a new and accessible manner.
Wong co-leads a collaborative project with business to help the UK space economy reduce its adverse impacts on societies around the world and on the environment. This project was funded by the UK Space Agency, and more information can be found on their project website. In Wong's capacity as a public historian, he has worked with museums and UK exam boards and publishers to enhance the interpretation and contextualization of Indigenous and environmental history.
This event is organised by the Interdisciplinary Research Hub on Sustainability & Conservation.