|Photo taken from Voyager 1 on |
14 February 1990.
Earth Hour aims to mobilise millions of people to make a planetary difference. The key event is a symbolic switching-off-of-the-lights for one hour every March. It may be just one hour, but the symbolic gesture has the power to motivate people beyond that one hour. It has the power to help us to see that this Earth is our Earth – our one and only planet. Here, the word “our” is meant less in the possessive form, as in “this belongs to us,” rather more in the sense that “we are associated with.”
Our Only Planet – An Overview
The Earth, that third rock from the Sun that we live on, is the only planet we have. We can’t ignore that. We have to care for the Earth and with it, ourselves.
|Taken from Japan's Kaguya|
spacecraft on 6 April, 2008
Some of the comments from these viewers allow us to glimpse what this Overview Effect may feel like:
“What beauty. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear earth.... The water looked like darkish, slightly gleaming spots.... When I watched the horizon, I saw the abrupt, contrasting transition from the earth's light-coloured surface to the absolutely black sky. I enjoyed the rich colour spectrum of the earth. It is surrounded by a light blue aureole that gradually darkens, becoming turquoise, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black.” - Yuri Gagarin (the first person to travel into space)
“Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there.” - Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut
“For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.” – Donald Williams, Space Shuttle pilot
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch." – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut
“For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light—our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance.” – Ulf Merbold, German Spacelab crew member.They all paint a very clear picture. A picture of the Earth as a whole, undivided, complete and fragile. Borders have no meaning, nationalities have no meaning, even cultures have no meaning. It is a pale blue dot, and that dot is where we live. The phrase “pale blue dot” was coined in 1990 when Voyager 1 space probe took a photograph (see photo at the top of this blogpiece) from about 6 billion kilometres away, as it was leaving the Solar System. In the photograph you can see the Earth – it appears as a tiny bluish-white dot just over half way down the brown band to the right. The photograph, the last Voyager 1 took of the Earth, was requested by the astronomer, and science fiction author, Carl Sagan. The size of the Earth in this photograph is less than one pixel and yet, as Carl Sagan wrote:
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”1That’s it. That’s where we live, work and play - together; on that pale blue, insignificant dot. That is what Earth Hour is about. It is about Our Earth.
1. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, Carl Sagan, Random House, 1994.