Al Gore’s Dream Begets a New Blue Marble

July 21, 2015


Something climate deniers don’t want you to see, much less ponder. The earth as it is, with no borders or boundaries – so far as we know, the only home of life in the universe.
Danger: This image conjures subversive thoughts.

Smithsonian Air Space Museum blog:

As early as 1966, environmental activist Stewart Brand began a campaign for NASA to release an image of the whole Earth in space. Brand even made up buttons that asked, “Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the Whole Earth yet?” He sold them on college campuses and mailed them to prominent scientists, futurists, and legislators. Not until the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, however, did “Whole Earth” become a reality.

Stewart Brand put the photograph on the cover of his Whole Earth Catalog. This image, and the other stunning photographs of the Earth taken from space, inspired a reconsideration of our place in the universe.  It became the rallying cry of environmental activists, politicians, and scientists during the annual Earth Day celebrations. They used it as an object lesson of the Earth as a small, vulnerable, lonely, and fragile body teeming with life in a dull, black, lifeless void. While self-regulating and ancient, humanity proved a threat to this place. According to Brand and other ecologists, the Earth required human protection and the Whole Earth disk signaled its fragility.


One night in February 1998, Vice President Al Gore awoke with a start.

He had dreamed of a satellite. It would sit far out in space, beyond the reach of more conventional orbiters, so distant it could capture all of planet Earth in one camera lens. It would then beam this view—the whole planetary disk, a la The Blue Marbledown to the planet below. The video would be live streamed on the Internet.

He couldn’t shake the idea. It had as much to do with sharing that vantage point—Earth as a single planet, home to all of the life we know in the universe—as it did with the technology required to make it happen.

“We all live on the same planet,” Gore told me in an interview on Monday. “We all face the same dangers and opportunities, we share the same responsibility for charting our course into the future.”

Soon after his dream, the vice president met with the director of NASA, who said that the agency could pull it off for less than $100 million. The project went forward. It was nicknamed “Goresat.”

Then 15 years of politics happened. Funding for the project came through, and the satellite (now called Triana) was built. But Republicans were never fond of the project—having, as it did, Clintonian connotations—and the incoming Bush administration postponed the spacecraft’s launch. So it sat in a closet for seven years.

That’s when NOAA and the U.S. Air Force began to take interest in it. “Goresat” was designed to sit at the first Lagrangian point, a calm spot between the gravitational eddies of the Earth and the sun. That’s also where solar weather observatories sit—and the two agencies needed a new sun-monitoring satellite, as their old one was getting on in years. NOAA and the Air Force provided funding to retrofit, launch, and maintain the satellite, which was newly dubbed the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR.

That’s how a satellite conceived in a vice president’s 1990s dreams finally launched in February of this year. And though it’s been adjusted to principally monitor solar wind, DSCOVR still has one eye turned back to Earth. Its Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera—or, ahem, EPIC—will still capture an image of the whole planet many times a day. This camera will monitor specific wavelengths that alert scientists to the presence of certain materials like ozone, aerosols, and volcanic ash; but it will also generate a full disk photo 11 times a day.

In fact, it just did. On July 6, 2015, DSCOVR captured its first image of planet Earth—a view of North and Central America taken at solar noon. NASA and NOAA released the photo on Monday. The two agencies say they’re still working out some final kinks (the image has a bluish tint common to uncalibrated space pictures), but that, in September, pictures should start flowing 12 to 36 hours after they’re taken.

"Old" 1972 version

“Old” 1972 version

NASA Administrator and former Astronaut Charles Bolden, who recently schooled conservative lawmakers hoping to stop NASA from making inconvenient observations of planetary destruction,  had a chance to not only call attention to the new image, but underline the importance of earth observation from space platforms.


“This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “As a former astronaut who’s been privileged to view the Earth from orbit, I want everyone to be able to see and appreciate our planet as an integrated, interacting system. DSCOVR’s observations of Earth, as well as its measurements and early warnings of space weather events caused by the sun, will help every person to monitor the ever-changing Earth, and to understand how our planet fits into its neighborhood in the solar system.

The satellite was launched in February and recently reached its planned orbit at the first Lagrange point or L1, about one million miles from Earth toward the sun. It’s from that unique vantage point that the EPIC instrument is acquiring science quality images of the entire sunlit face of Earth.  Data from EPIC will be used to measure ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth. NASA will use this data for a number of Earth science applications, including dust and volcanic ash maps of the entire planet.

Subversive thoughts, in his time and still today.
From Song of the Rolling Earth – Walt Whitman:

The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.
I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall
be complete,
The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who
remains jagged and broken.
I swear there is no greatness or power that does not emulate
those of the earth,
There can be no theory of any account unless it corroborate the
theory of the earth,
No politics, song, religion, behavior, or what not, is of account,
unless it compare with the amplitude of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness, vitality, impartiality, rectitude of the

21 Responses to “Al Gore’s Dream Begets a New Blue Marble”

  1. indy222 Says:

    Walt Whitman’s poem surely captures the essence of what I feel when in wild places unsullied by commerce and posturing and poltics. Reminds me of what’s best about humanity, that Walt Whitman existed and his poetry is still read and honored.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Whitman was born into the Romantic Era, which I’ve coincidentally touched upon in my own
      hobbyist writing recently. I said the following (first sentence has been chopped in half and partially pasted bellow):

      “…the Romantic Era, which was defined by a constellation of movements inside literature, music, art, natural philosophy, &c., where particular attention was placed on the depth and quickness of man’s emotion, and his interaction with, and the examination of the beauty of nature. Indeed it was a reactionary phenomenon against the consuming nature of the Industrial Revolution and its resultant rise in human population, no longer at its Medieval steady state: Appreciation of the natural world spiked in the face of this industrial monster, whose prerogative was to chew it all up and spit it out broken, and do so year by year in an exponential fashion, creating the conceivability of a future where such, decimated, would no longer exist as it did in the early 19th century. Alas, the magnitude of one’s appreciation of an object is partially a function of their contemplation of its failing longevity, be it man, flora, fauna, or otherwise….”

  2. John Says:

    Reblogged this on jpratt27.

  3. Something climate deniers — those who’d set the planet at an unchanging level arbitrarily chosen from a point around 150 or so years ago — don’t want you to see, much less ponder: a planet largely covered with the unregulatable greenhouse gas called water vapor.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Water what? What the heck is water “vapor”?!? It sounds terrifying, so no, no, no – I do NOT want to see it, let alone hear any more about it.

      And if I don’t care for it, we can be sure that actual climate scientists (people a lot more busy than myself or even Russel Crook, sorry Cook) have likely never even noticed it before. They have better things to do, like coordinate the global climate conspiracy, and cackle over the huge sums of money they are stealing from the government.

      That takes a LOT of work, you know, since it comprises virtually every single working climate scientist, every recognized bona fide scientific organization, and virtually every working PhD scientist in the world. That works out to a lot of index cards, you know! Just keeping track of all the different postage stamp rates is exhausting.

      I am glad we have intrepid truth-sayers like you, Russel Crook, to keep every one honest about such repugnant and slippery topics like water “vapor”. Thanks so much for all you do!

      • Sorry, for those of you like anonymous commenter “gingerbaker” who live in Rio Linda or Port St. Lucie, water vapor is the gas version of water, which ends up forming clouds…. as in all that streamy white stuff seen in the new photo.

        Seeing how “gingerbaker” subscribes to 911Truther-style, ChemTrail-style conspiracy theory on folks like me being paid to spread misinformation, one has to wonder if he harbors dark thoughts as to whether Peter Sinclair pays me to drop in here occasionally to punch up the comment count and send particular commenters into tirades.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Seeing how “gingerbaker” subscribes to 911Truther-style, ChemTrail-style conspiracy theory on folks like me being paid to spread misinformation,…

          So says the man who spreads disinformation and gets paid for it and this by his own admission, right here in previous posts!

          My God, man, what a slimy piece of work art thou.

          • Do inform all the readers here: name 5 examples of outright information found within my GelbspanFiles blog, and specifically point to a piece of physical evidence proving I’m paid to spread this so-called misinformation. By your definition, donations to Greeenpeace also constitute payments for work done. Did you not think that one all the way through?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Does anyone understand what Russell is talking about? He should think before he MIStypes.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          Russell, you’re worth every penny.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes Russell is worth every penny here, but not to Heartland—-if they only knew how ineffective he is—-but they are not too smart and have all that dirty fossil fuel money to burn, so I guess they don’t pay much attention to Russell’s inadequacies as a scientist and propagandist.

            GB doesn’t use strong enough language when he calls Russell ” a slimy piece of work”. I have called Russell many names in the past, so I won’t bore everyone by repeating them beyond my favorite—-A Whore for Heartland (which group whores for the Kochs and the dirty money interests). By the way, has anyone looked at Russell’s CV on desmogblog lately? A bit of an update there:


            “Russel Cook is one of several climate change skeptics cc’d on an email from S. Fred Singer in hopes of countering the documentary film “Merchants of Doubt,” which exposes the network of climate change skeptics and deniers trying to delay legislative action on climate change.

            “The October, 2014 email was leaked to journalists before the documentary was released. “Can I sue for damages?” Singer asked in the email. “Can we get an injunction against the documentary?”

            “InsideClimate News reports in their article “Leaked Email Reveals Who’s Who List of Climate Denialists,” how “Many of those copied on the email thread, such as Singer and communications specialist Steven Milloy, have financial ties to the tobacco, chemical, and oil and gas industries and have worked to defend them since the 1990s.” [10]

            Ron Arnold
            Timothy Ball
            Joseph “Joe” Bast
            Joe Bastardi
            Michael Bastasch
            William Briggs
            Russell Cook
            Judith Curry
            Joe D’Aleo
            James Delingpole
            David Paul Driessen
            James Enstrom
            Steve Goddard
            Pierre Gosselin
            Greenie Watch
            William Happer
            Jim Lakely
            Patrick J. Michaels
            Steven J. Milloy
            Christopher Monckton
            Marc Morano
            Joanne Nova
            Roger Pielke Sr. (Or Roger Pielke Jr. – Unclear in Email)
            Thomas P. Sheahen
            S. Fred Singer
            Wei-Hock (Willie) Soon
            Roy Spencer
            James Taylor
            Anthony Watts

            So, Russell is definitely one of the whores and Merchants of Doubt, and he has even been promoted to the “who’s who” list by Inside Climate News. Too bad he works for peanuts compared to the Singers, Soons, and Spencers. We must remember how desperate he was back in the days of living in his mother’s basement to understand how he can so debase himself.

          • Peter – yes, thanks. And one day you will thank me for my efforts.

            Say, did you other fellows spot the predictable wipeouts within this diatribe directed at me?

            Would “d.o.g.” or “gingerbacker” do any better job with a full-out ClimateCrocks blog post, or would they fall just as flat on their face as that fellow did?

          • dumboldguy Says:


            Thanks for the DOGW link. It is symptomatic of the level of your self-delusion and how much you suffer from DRSITB syndrome that you would actually say that there were any wipe-outs in this piece or that he “fell on his face”. DRSITB syndrome is Demented Rooster Strutting In The Barnyard (and “crowing about his imagined superiority” in the full iteration).

            You ask if DOG or GB do any better job on dissecting and defining you? I have already made many of the points that he made, know that what he says about you is true from my research on you, and am quite amazed at the number of new anal orifices he ripped for you—-you must look like a piece of swiss cheese.

            You are beginning to worry me, Russell. Unlike you, I have training and experience in both science and psychology, and your mental health appears to be deteriorating. You appear to be thrashing wildly as you try to hold your lies together and I am concerned that you are going to suffer a breakdown of some sort. It’s not worth it, Russell—-implement your exit plan now before the strain of earning your whore’s dollar from the fossil fuel interests destroys you!

          • @dumboldguy – One of the reasons why Dr Singer cc’d me, I know where Oreskes makes big wipeouts.

            Speaking of which, how’s that movie working out for ya?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            You don’t know s**t, Russell. You’re just spouting another lie and hoping someone will subliminally accept it. Here, I’ll help you by repeating it—“I know where Oreskes makes big wipeouts” Keep repeating the lie, you won’t convince anyone with half a brain.

            And I love your citing of an article in the Heartlander written by another Heartland stooge in which he cites you. The circular firing squad has a circular pat-each-other-on-the-back team as well? LMAO Just as your other reference is to an article in American Stinky Thinker, hardly a credible source for anything but mindless conservative horseshit. You can’t be serious with either—-they’re just from your BS clip file and you’re too lazy to come up with an original thought, right?

            The only reason Singer cc’d you is because you’re on the payroll, and he expects you to try to earn the $$$ that Heartland wastes on you. Did you reply to him? What was your advice? Didn’t see any comments from you or mention in the email string other than as an addressee.

            The MOD movie is working out fine for me, Russell—-it’s now high on my Netflix queue and should be arriving soon. I expect it to be as good as the book, and will watch it more than once. I may buy a copy and loan it out just to support the truth.

  4. […] Al Gore’s Dream Begets a New Blue Marble […]

  5. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    We went to the Moon and discovered Earth.

  6. Rob Kerr Says:

    I’m not sure I see the point, as there are a few weather satellites in place or imminently so which do the same and likely more. EUMETSAT’s MSG produces full disc scans over Europe and parts of Asia every 15 minutes, while the JMA’s newly operational Himawari 8 scans the whole earth over Asia/oz/west pacific every 10 mins and next year NOAA’s GOES-R will also scan the whole disc every 10 minutes over the Americas. The Video a few articles up, showing Tropical cyclones over the Paciific is Himawari imagery. All these satellite have at least 16 channels and are able to discern co2, dust/ash, so2, o3 as well is as clouds and SST.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The point? DSCOVR is primarily a sun observer, and I think it’s clever of NASA to add an “eye” that looks back at Earth from the perspective of 1 million miles out at L1. Didn’t add much to the cost, and can’t help but add to the info coming from satellites in low and geosynchronous orbits. IMO, we need more satellites that study the earth, not fewer.

      PS Watched a great show on the PBS NOVA program on Tuesday, 7/21. It was titled “Humanity From Space” and used much satellite imagery and CGI from satellite data to show man’s “face” on the planet. Two hours long and very informative—-touched on most of what we discuss on Crock from human population to energy use. Watch it if you can.

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