Thursday, July 06, 2006

On the Good Earth

I don't even remember what made me think of this photo the other night. I was probably thinking about the things that are going on in places like Iraq, Gaza and Darfur. I wanted to take another look at it and think about how connected we all are. This classic photograph was taken in Decmeber,1968 by astronauts on Apollo 8. They were the first humans to leave Earth orbit and this photo is among the first color images of the Earth taken from deep space.

For many, this picture has come to symbolize how tiny and fragile our home planet really is. The atmosphere that sustains us is only a thin halo around the blue marble. This photo was taken before things like "acid rain," "hole in the ozone," and "global warming" were everyday concerns.

Then, today, I was working up on a roof under a beautiful blue sky and listening to "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook on NPR (see link in sidebar), and they were doing a piece on China's exploding love affair the automobile. In 1998 there were eleven miles of expressway in China. Today, there are 23,000 miles of expressway and in the next few decades they will have more miles of highway than we have in the U.S. The number of cars in China has tripled in the past five years.

When I hear stories like that and read about the billions of people in places like China and India - in books like The World is Flat by Tom Friedman - who are all thirsting for a first-world lifestyle that includes houses, appliances and automobiles, I know that energy prices never go down again and that our air and water will never be cleaner again. We in the U.S. are in no position to lecture about pollution and energy waste because we do way more than our fair share, but I hope we can help others learn from our mistakes and lead the world in the development of technologies that allow cleaner and more efficient use of our resources.

That photo has been titled "Earthrise." It is my hope that history will recognize the moment it was taken as a pivotal point in human existence; as the moment when people first realized just how small our world is and how much we are all in this together. While I love a sunrise of bright yellow, red and orange, I hope that earthrise will always be blue.


At 8:29 AM, Blogger GreenmanTim said...

Amen, brother. Getting back some perspective with the astronaut's view is a good start.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger robin andrea said...

Just two days ago, I told Roger that I thought it would be great to do a post with all the photos that had had an impact on our lives. We started to name those photos, and this was one that we both thought of right away. It definitely brought into clear focus exactly where we are, swirling in space on a small, but very beautiful planet. I'm so glad you posted it, for the very reason we would have. Thank you.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Sharon said...

Lovely picture, and a great commentary on where we are heading... Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all get together on saving the planet...

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Lilly said...

Thanks for sharing that photo of our beautiful home. Where would we live without it?


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