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Citing Gravity Of Climate Crisis, ‘Governor Moonbeam’ Launches California Satellite Proposal

California Gov. Jerry Brown, and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, leave the high-te...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: California Gov. Jerry Brown, and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, leave the high-tech battery-operated San Francisco Bay sightseeing boat, Enhydra, Sept. 13, 2018.

Takeaways From Climate Summit, Including Gov. Brown's Satellite Proposal


Carolyn Beeler, environment reporter, PRI's the World


California Gov. Jerry Brown wrapped up his international climate change summit in San Francisco on Friday with an announcement that’s out of this world: a new satellite to track and reduce climate pollutants.

It’s an idea he first floated just weeks after the 2016 presidential election, amid speculation that the Trump administration could shift its focus away from satellites that observe Earth’s climate.

Back then, speaking to thousands of scientists at the American Geophysical Union’s national conference a convention in San Francisco, Brown recalled that his push for California to launch a satellite back in the 1970s and 80s earned him the nickname Governor Moonbeam.

“I didn’t get that moniker for nothing!” he said as he fired up the crowd. “And if Trump turns off his satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite. We’re gonna collect that data!”

Now, just months before he leaves office for the second time, Brown is closing the circle.

“We want to know what the hell’s going on all over the world, all the time,” he told delegates Friday at the Global Climate Action Summit. “So we’re gonna launch our own satellite. Our own damn satellite. To figure out where the pollution is and how we’re gonna end it.”

It’s a public-private partnership between the governor’s California Air Resources Board and a San Francisco-based commercial satellite company. The announcement from Brown’s office did not contain an estimated cost or launch date.

“This initiative will enable us to spotlight the methane, the pollution, and then be able to be in a position to point out those who pollute and then develop the remedies to end it,” Brown said.

Some environmental activists argue Brown’s galactic focus is misplaced, and point to his support for fracking and urban oil drilling.

“While Brown may have been known as ‘Governor Moonbeam’ in the 1970s, he has now morphed into ‘Governor Oil Drill’,” reads a statement from Andrew Krowne, a resident of the San Fernando Valley’s Porter Ranch community that was stricken by a large methane leak from the Aliso Canyon gas field in 2015. The statement was provided by the advocacy group Food and Water Watch.

“There’s plenty of work for him to do on Earth protecting the millions of people sickened everyday by fossil fuel infrastructure,” Krowne added.

Among the many speakers before Brown, former Vice President Al Gore told delegates the world is successfully separating emissions from economic prosperity.

“California has led the way, as is so often the case,” Gore told delegates. “We have the tools we need — we can solve this crisis. So that only leaves the final question: Will we change? And that’s what this Global Climate Action Summit is all about.”

The summit brought together local, regional and national governments from countries throughout the world — along with business and industry leaders.


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