Our Fragile Island Home – Earth Day 2013
I’ve always been a conservationist and an eco-minded person since my days in Boy Scouts. We learned that nature is should be respected and cared for and as much as possible we should live in harmony with our surroundings. However, when you’re able to see pictures of the Earth from space your whole perspective changes. I’m sure most people are familiar with the famous “Earthrise” photograph taken by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders in 1968. “Earthrise” gave a whole new perspective of our home planet and gave realization to the fact that our planet is just a fragile little island floating in an unimaginably huge universe. Imagine being in the position of Anders or any of the Apollo astronauts as they saw the Earth rise over the lunar surface and realized that everything they’ve ever experienced, everyone they’ve ever known, all their prior life was 250,000 miles away on that small blue rock.
Few people have had the privilege to see the Earth from space, whether from low orbit or during a lunar mission but we’ve been able to vicariously experience it through the photos and films they’ve brought back that have left us stunned. One such striking video was recently compiled by NASA’s MESSENGER probe as it left the Earth on its way to Mercury. The probe had a camera pointed back towards the Earth as it left it behind and the stitched together frames produced in image of stunning beauty and inspiration. As the Earth slowly fades away into the blackness of space we realize our true place in the universe. We are but minnows swimming in a vast, vast ocean.
Even with the potential of planetary travel and colonization in the distant future we must still place immeasurable value on our home planet. The Earth has been so good to us for millions of years and will continue to do such if we take proper care of it. As a whole, the human race is awakening from a slumber of environmental torment. From the mid-to-late 1800’s and the dawn of industrialism we have polluted the planet to a sickening degree. We’ve deforested much of the rain forests and polluted the water we drink and the air we breathe. For over a century we were largely oblivious to the damage we were doing to our fragile environment. But now we’re waking up to the consequences of our actions. It is not too late to reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet because she is a resilient creature. But that should not give us a license to continue to damage her and squander the beauty and riches of our island home.
Even if we travel to hundreds of planets in the future we may never find one quite like Earth (if we find any like it at all). We were placed here on Earth by divine decree and it is that same decree that should guide our actions going forward to restore and protect our pale blue dot, our fragile island home because it’s all we have.