Anti-Satellite Weapons: Threatening the Future of Space Activities
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Anti-Satellite Weapons: Threatening the Future of Space Activities

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The following content is sponsored by Secure World Foundation.

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What Are Anti-Satellite Weapons?

At any given moment, there are thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth for commercial, civil, strategic, and military reasons.

Due to the importance of certain satellites for national security, countries have developed anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons that can be used to incapacitate or destroy satellites in orbit.

While some ASAT weapons use non-destructive means like cyberattacks or lasers to impair satellites, the destructive types often rely on high-speed physical collision to shatter satellites, creating negative repercussions for the space environment.

The above infographic from Secure World Foundation explains how destructive ASAT testing is hindering outer space and adding to the increasing space debris in Earth’s orbits.

The Impact of Destructive Anti-Satellite Weapons

When destructive ASAT weapons collide with satellites, they can create thousands to millions of pieces of debris that can orbit the Earth for decades at extremely high speeds.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the destruction of a single 10-ton satellite can generate:

  • 8 to 14 million debris pieces between 1mm and 1cm in size
  • 250,000 to 750,000 debris pieces between 1cm and 10cm
  • 5,000 to 15,000 debris pieces greater than 10cm

The debris from destructive ASAT testing adds to the 8,800 metric tons of space debris that’s already floating around in space. Since space debris can travel at speeds up to 29,000km/h (roughly 8km/s), even millimeter-sized fragments are massive threats to other objects in orbit.

In fact, the International Space Station (ISS) has conducted 29 debris avoidance maneuvers since 1999, which involve rerouting to avoid potential collisions with debris pieces.

The History and Aftermath of Destructive ASAT Tests

Historically, just four countries—Russia (formerly the USSR), China, the U.S., and India—have successfully used destructive ASAT weapons of two types:

  1. Co-orbital: Weapons that are placed into orbit and maneuver close to a target and attack it by various means, including direct collision, fragmentation, or using robotic arms.
  2. Direct-ascent: Missiles that are launched from the Earth’s surface or from air to destroy a satellite target in orbit.

Since 1968, these four countries have successfully conducted 15 destructive ASAT tests, creating thousands of pieces of tracked debris that spread across vast distances.

YearCountryWeapon typeNumber of tracked debris pieces createdSpread of debrisLifespan of debris (years on orbit)
1968USSRCo-orbital253109km-2,976km54
1970USSRCo-orbital147137km-2,629km52
1971USSRCo-orbital117152km-2,158km51
1971USSRCo-orbital28126km-1,603km3
1976USSRCo-orbital127126km-2,550km45
1978USSRCo-orbital72126km-1,898km44
1980USSRCo-orbital48122km-1,304km42
1982USSRCo-orbital62247km-1,110km40
1985🇺🇸 U.S. Direct-ascent285120km-615km19
1986🇺🇸 U.S. Co-orbital18152km-2,252km1
2007🇨🇳 China Direct-ascent3,432125km-3,364km15
2008🇺🇸 U.S. Direct-ascent174123km-803km2
2019🇷🇺 Russia Co-orbital27279km-1,121km3
2019🇮🇳 India Direct-ascent130115km-1,233km3
2021🇷🇺RussiaDirect-ascent1,402148km-1,423km0.5

*The spread of debris refers to the two altitudes at which debris pieces from the test were closest to and farthest from the Earth’s surface, known as perigee and apogee, respectively.

Between 1961 and 1982, the USSR launched a series of satellites for various missions, including the testing of its co-orbital ASAT weapons under the Istrebitel Sputnikov (meaning “destroyer of satellites”) program. As of 2022—40 to 50 years after these tests—some of their tracked debris is still orbiting the Earth.

China’s destruction of the FengYun 1C weather satellite in 2007 was by far the most-destructive ASAT test in terms of debris creation. The collision generated over 3,400 pieces of tracked debris, and was the first successful direct-ascent ASAT test since 1985.

In November 2021, Russia made the headlines for a destructive direct-ascent test responsible for around 1,400 new pieces of tracked debris, along with hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments. The consequences of the test prompted calls for a global ban on destructive ASAT testing.

It’s also important to note that debris fragments from these tests are not only orbiting the Earth but also spreading far from the altitude where these tests occurred. For example, some fragments from China’s 2007 test reached more than 3,000km beyond the Earth’s surface.

The Call to Ban Destructive Testing

The debris from deliberate satellite destruction is dangerous and uncontrollable, threatening other satellites and spacecraft. As more satellites and human spacecraft enter outer space, preventing further debris creation is critical to protecting the long-term sustainability of space activities.

Following Russia’s recent test, the U.S. was the first nation to commit not to conduct destructive ASAT tests, urging other nations to follow suit.

“These tests, to be sure, are reckless as they are irresponsible.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris

>> Secure World Foundation promotes cooperative solutions for space sustainability and the peaceful uses of outer space.

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Operational Health Tech: A New Billion Dollar Market

Operational health tech is poised to be a multi-billion dollar industry. This graphic breaks down how its disrupting healthcare as we know it.

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Operational Health Tech: A New Billion Dollar Market

Many lessons were learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but what has become most apparent is the need to invest in healthcare on all fronts. In fact in just a few short years, businesses, governments, and consumers have had to entirely reassess healthcare in ways not quite seen before.

What’s more, this elevated importance placed on health could be here to stay, and one area in particular is poised for significant growth: operational health tech.

The graphic above from our sponsor Bloom Health Partners dives into the burgeoning market that is operational health tech, and reveals the key driving forces behind it.

What is Operational Health?

To start, operational health is an industry that provides health services to employees to help keep companies running smoothly.

A critical piece of operational health is workplace health, which is expected to soar in value. From 2021 to 2025, the market for workplace health is expected to grow 200% from $6.5 billion to $19.5 billion.

The industry is undergoing a tremendous amount of innovation, specifically in relation to technological advances.

Operational Health Tech: Disrupting Healthcare

The operational health tech industry is disrupting traditional healthcare by providing direct services to employees in the workplace.

For decades now, the U.S. has increasingly become a statistical outlier for healthcare spending relative to health outcomes. For instance, the average American incurs $9,000 in healthcare spending per year, nearly twice that of OECD countries, yet life expectancy is flatlining while other countries see rises.

A worsening and increasingly expensive health dynamic makes the environment ripe for disruption and is allowing for new ideas to be brought to the table.

In addition, people are already responding to these inefficient practices by shifting greater emphasis on health within the job market. For example, studies show that workers care more about healthcare benefits over the salaries when choosing an employer.

Going forward, employees will gravitate towards employers that provide standout health benefits like workplace healthcare options offered by operational health. Here are some additional factors that act as catalysts for this space.

1. Healthcare as Smart Business

What do companies that rank as some of the best to work for have in common? First, they all tend to outperform relative to the S&P 500 on a cumulative stock performance basis. Second, many offer superior healthcare benefits.

Moreover, from 2012 to 2022, companies that were the best to work for saw shares appreciate nearly 500%, compared to around 300% for the broader market. Data like this suggests investing in healthcare and keeping employees happy is smart business that pays dividends.

2. Healthcare as a Differentiator

Since 2020, labor markets have changed dramatically. As a result, employees now have more options and are much more selective about where they work. This is evident from the difference between job openings and hires which has risen to unrecognizable levels. For example, the data shows that there are nearly 12 million job openings, but only around 6-7 million hires in 2022.

Altogether, with an oversupply of jobs relative to workers, employers will have to find new ways to differentiate. One way to stand out is through healthcare and initiatives around operational health tech.

3. The Looming Mental Health Epidemic

Today some 700 million people suffer from some form of a mental health condition and COVID-19 has continued to exacerbate the problem.

Moreover, the cost of mental health for the global economy is estimated to be a whopping $6 trillion by 2030, over double compared to the $2.5 trillion figure in 2010.

Under the umbrella of services operational health tech covers, mental health will stand to benefit. Especially in the years to come as we look for new ways to combat its mounting costs.

Investing in Operational Health Tech

Bloom Health Partners is an operational health tech company looking to revolutionize workplace health by supplying employers with data to better understand their employee base and business.

One way Bloom stands out is with Bloom Shield—its flagship cloud-based big data platform for employee health data management. With Bloom Shield, new health insights become available to make better decisions. Employers can get insight into demographic data and age trends within the workplace, pre-screening detection for cancer and diabetes, and testing for management to tackle the spread of disease.

Click here to learn more about investing in operational health tech with Bloom Health Partners.

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How Environmental Markets Advance Net Zero

The global price of carbon increased 91% in 2021. Below, we show how environmental markets are supporting a greener future.

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Environmental Markets

How Environmental Markets Advance Net Zero

In 2021, roughly 20% of global carbon emissions were covered by carbon pricing mechanisms.

Meanwhile, the global price of carbon increased 91%, bolstered by government, corporate, and investor demand. This puts traditional fuel sources at a disadvantage, instead building the investment case for renewables.

This infographic from ICE, the first in a three part series on the ESG toolkit, explores how environmental markets work and their role in the fight against climate change.

What are Environmental Markets?

First, meeting a goal of net zero carbon emissions involves limiting the use of the world’s finite carbon budget to meet a 1.5°C pathway.

Achieving net zero requires us to:

  • Change how we utilize energy and transition to less carbon-intensive fuels
  • Put a value on the conservation of nature or “natural capital” and carbon sinks, which accumulate and store carbon

Environmental markets facilitate the pathway to net zero by valuing externalities, such as placing a cost on pollution and placing a price on carbon storage. This helps balance the carbon cycle to manage the carbon budget in the most cost-effective manner.

What Is the Carbon Budget?

To keep temperatures 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we have just 420 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO₂ remaining in the global carbon budget. At current rates, this remaining carbon budget is projected to be consumed by 2030 if no reductions are made.

Carbon Budget1.5°C1.7°C2.0°C
Remaining GtCO₂4207701270
Consumed GtCO₂247524752475

Each scenario based on a 50% chance of success
Source: IPCC AR6 WG; Friedlingstein et al 2021; Global Carbon Budget 2021

Across three different scenarios, the above table indicates the amount of carbon emissions humanity can emit to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

What are Negative and Positive Externalities?

Second, when companies compensate for CO₂ emissions, they can fall across two categories: negative and positive externalities.

  • Negative externalities include pollution. Carbon cap and trade programs, using carbon allowances, put a cost on pollution.
  • Positive externalities include renewables, such as wind and solar power that generate carbon-free electricity. The value of renewable energy can be expressed with a renewable energy certificate.

Natural capital is another example of a positive externality, which involves the capturing and storing of carbon. The value of this type of natural capital can be expressed using a carbon credit.

Environmental Markets and the Energy Transition

Next, environmental markets can drive the transition to cleaner energy sources by ascribing a cost to pollution and putting a premium on renewables, to change how we use energy.

As one example, in 2013 the UK government introduced the Carbon Price Support mechanism to complement the emissions cap and trade program and weaken the investment case for coal. Between 2013 and 2020, Britain’s overall CO₂ emissions fell by 31%.

Here’s how coal was phased out of the UK’s energy mix, while renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and bioenergy played a greater role.

DateCoal Gas Wind and SolarBioenergy
Q1 200031 TWh40 TWh0 TWh1 TWh
Q1 200541 TWh36 TWh1 TWh2 TWh
Q1 201031 TWh47 TWh2 TWh3 TWh
Q1 201528 TWh23 TWh13 TWh6 TWh
Q1 20203 TWh27 TWh28 TWh9 TWh

Source: Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES); BP; EMBER via Our World in Data (2021)

Today, less than 5% of the UK’s electricity is coal-generated, with remaining plants expected to be decommissioned by 2024.

How Environmental Markets are Advancing Net Zero

Finally, as governments increase their commitments to net zero, carbon prices are rising towards a level that requires industries to decarbonize and meet those goals.

In fact, between 2014 and 2021, the global price of carbon has increased over sixfold.

DateGlobal Carbon Price (Year End)Annual % Change
2021$47.7891%
2020$24.9637%
2019$18.16-7%
2018$19.56102%
2017$9.6729%
2016$7.52-24%
2015$9.887%
2014$9.2432%

As indicated by the ICECRBN Global Carbon Price (CPW Weighted)
Source: ICE (Apr 2022)

As companies begin to treat their carbon footprints as liabilities, there will be increasing demand for environmental attributes, such as carbon allowances and carbon credits.

Managing Risk and Opportunity

Quoted markets like ICE Futures Exchanges and NYSE allow stakeholders to precisely value positive and negative externalities to:

  • Manage emissions cost effectively
  • Hedge climate transition risk
  • Allocate capital to facilitate the energy transition and build carbon sinks
  • Create an asset class for Natural Capital
  • Invest in assets to meet climate obligations

Everyone is exposed to climate risk which means it needs to be measured and managed.

That’s why balancing the carbon cycle will be critical to managing the world’s carbon budget. Markets are providing greater access, liquidity and opportunity in supporting net zero ambitions.

In part two of the series sponsored by ICE, we’ll look at four motivations for using ESG data.

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