The Weekend Wonk: Astronauts on the View from Space and Consciousness Change
February 23, 2013
“I think you start out with this idea of what it’s going to be like…and then when you do finally look at the Earth for the first time…you’re overwhelmed by how much more beautiful it really is, when you see it for real.
It’s just like its this dynamic, alive place, ..that you see glowing all the time..”
-Nicole Stott, Shuttle, ISS Astronaut
“When we look down on the Earth from space, we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet, ..it looks like a living, breathing organism..”
- Ron Garan, Suttle, ISS Astronaut
About 40 years ago I wore a button that said, “Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?” Then we finally saw the pictures. What did it do for us?
The shift that has happened in 40 years which mainly has to do with climate change. Forty years ago, I could say in the Whole Earth Catalog, “we are as gods, we might as well get good at it”. Photographs of earth from space had that god-like perspective.
What I’m saying now is we are as gods and have to get good at it. Necessity comes from climate change, potentially disastrous for civilization. The planet will be okay, life will be okay. We will lose vast quantities of species, probably lose the rain forests if the climate keeps heating up. So it’s a global issue, a global phenomenon. It doesn’t happen in just one area. The planetary perspective now is not just aesthetic. It’s not just perspective. It’s actually a world-sized problem that will take world sized solutions that involves forms of governance we don’t have yet. It involves technologies we are just glimpsing. It involves what ecologists call ecosystem engineering. Beavers do it, earthworms do it. They don’t usually do it at a planetary scale. We have to do it at a planetary scale. A lot of sentiments and aesthetics of the environmental movement stand in the way of that.
Seems like a long way to go to come around to what indigenous people have known for a very long time. But, if that’s what it takes, I’m for it. We need to get our global leaders up there as a group, and begin the discussion of what it will take to make a sustainable planet – with the luminous blue ball shining thru the cupola.