Space Weather as a Global Challenge Closing Remarks

Jonathan Margolis
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Washington, DC
April 4, 2016

Good morning.

My name is Jonathan Margolis. I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Science, Space and Health Activities. I wanted to close out this session with just a couple of quick observations for you.

If you go back to your host organization, whether it is here in the United States or back in the countries that you represent, there are two main observations I hope you take away from today’s session. The first is on what we can do together. And the what, I think, falls into three big categories. The first, you heard quite a bit today about research, and that is research among spacefaring nations. It is also research among countries that don’t have spacefaring capabilities – also work that can be done back here on planet Earth.

The second: the what – is impacts. And the impact is going to be different as we heard depending on where you are on the Earth, and so countries will have to start to take a look at what their own national circumstances might imply for the impacts and, ultimately, the vulnerabilities as well. We heard some examples of what specific countries are doing, both the United States, the UK, other places. That is the second what to think about.

And then third. Ultimately what we are all trying to work towards together is the mitigation, the risk reduction. How do we work together to reduce the risks that are going to be resulting from what we know will eventually happen?

The second main observation I want to leave you is something that I know in the work that I do for the State Department comes up in the space arena, it comes up in the health – many different arenas – and that is the following: You heard the U.S. presentation in the first half of the morning, and what I hope you take away from that is that when we talk about government in the United States, we are talking about whole of government. There are any number of U.S. government agencies on the civilian side that are involved in this, but also on the security side. It is a dual use issue. And so back in your own circumstances nationally, we hope you will take the same kind of an approach, that it is not just one agency that has to be involved; there are many agencies that are implicated in this.

The second observation as you chunk up from the level of government, it is country. That within a country, it is not just the government that has a responsibility, but if you have heard throughout the day today, the actors that can play a role in this, encompass not only government activities, but non-governmental actors, university, and the like. That is a key issue as well.

And then the third thing, as you continue to expand that pie, it is not only the government, it’s not only a country, but clearly the interconnectedness among countries. Whether it is groups of countries that are banding together to share information; whether it is international organizations, the United Nations, WMO, or any other, there is a role here for increased internationalization of this effort – a global approach that is going to be taken at the multiple levels that we discussed.

So you have a what can be done. And then we had a discussion, I guess, that what I’m trying to get across is, how can we do it? How we can all work together?

I hope you take that away – you take away from this day, this morning, that it was worthwhile to spend a few hours at the State Department. On behalf of the State Department we very much appreciate you taking times out of your busy day to educate the broad audience here and hopefully start to plot a way forward that we can all start to work together on these very important issues.

Let me thank all of the co-sponsors and the speakers. We have had some great cooperation that was made this possible today, and if you feel the way I do about it, we should thank all of the speakers and the organizers that were involved in this event.

Thank you very much.