Home, sweet home!

The only one we have, Earth Day or not!

Earthrise.

It was called “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” Rightly so!

Those words were spoken by the late Galen Rowell, the famous Californian wilderness photographer, commenting about the Earthrise photograph taken from Apollo 8 on December 24th, 1968 during the first manned mission to the Moon.

No one who saw that picture of the planet we all live on could fail to be moved. Indeed, none more so than onboard NASA astronaut Frank Borman who uttered the words as the Earth rose above the horizon of the moon, “Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty.” It was fellow Apollo 8 crew-member, Bill Anders, who then took the ‘unscheduled’ photograph.

Who hasn’t gazed into a night sky and been lost in the beauty above our heads. Or felt the wind, flowing across our ancient lands, kiss our face. We stand so mite-like, so insignificant in all this immensity of creation. Our planet is ‘pretty’. Indeed, Planet Earth is good, beautiful, and so precious to life. Life that arose in just a fraction of time after our Solar System formed 3.7 billion years ago; the oldest traces of life have been found in fossils dating back 3.4 billion years. Our miracle of life.

But the one thing we cannot do is to take that miracle of life for granted. Here’s a perspective on that. Just a couple of months after that famous Earthrise photograph, in February 1969, America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded the level of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere as 324.42 parts per million (PPM).

From 43 years ago we fast forward to February of 2012. NOAA now recorded that CO2 level as 393.65 PPM, some 21% higher than the 1969 level, but even more importantly over 12% higher than the figure of 350 PPM which is regarded by climate scientists as the maximum safe level for our Planet. And the trend upwards is steepening. Not just for CO2 but also for Methane and Nitrous Oxide which have the potential to be incredibly more damaging to our beautiful planet than CO2.

Across the face of the world people are waking up to the fact that something has to be done. While some Governments and many industries are providing great leadership, the complexities of these modern institutions means that progress is slow; far too slow. People are now taking action for themselves and for their communities.

The most notable group is the worldwide Transition Movement. It started in the UK in September 2006, indeed started in the town of Totnes, Devon, just three miles from where I used to live.

Less than 6 years later across the world there are 975 initiatives!  Including nearly 500 Transition Communities in Europe and 392 in the UK.

In the USA, there are a staggering 285 initiatives with 26 in California and three here in Arizona: Tucson, Pima and and East Valley in Phoenix ‘mulling’ it over. The ideas behind the Transition concept are powerfully simple and can be easily summarised thus:

  • That it is inevitable that our lives will soon have to adapt to a dramatically lower energy consumption, especially carbon-based energy, and that it’s better to plan for it than to be taken by surprise.
  • That the over-whelming majority of communities, currently lacks resilience.
  • That we have to act now to rebuild our community resilience and prepare for life without fossil fuels.
  • That by tapping into the collective potential of the community, it is possible to develop new ways of living that are nourishing, fulfilling and ecologically sustainable.

Reduce our energy use, increase our resilience, switch away from carbon-based fuels and go back to the strength of communities.  No mystery about what to do!

We do not have another 43 years.  Indeed, some say we are very close to the tipping point of runaway climate consequences.

My message for this Earth Day and, indeed, for every day of the rest of our lives.

14 thoughts on “Home, sweet home!

  1. And my message for last, this and next year´s Earth Day is twofold.

    First, if we are going to come out well of this serious environmental challenge humanity is facing, then every human being, and perhaps some inhumane too, need to be involved in the efforts, and, secondly, it is a human right, of every human being, no matter his conditions, no matter how poor, to be involved in helping to face this challenge to humanity and to his world.

    And so nothing of that Copenhagen style other agenda intrusion-nonsense of: “we are rich, it is we who are to blame, and it is we who are to fix it, and so you poor you stay out of it”

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  2. A good moment indeed to remind everyone of this amazing photograph. As many have suggested, this Earthrise photograph – and the realisation that we are all floating through Space on our little marble – was a major reason for the rise of environmental concern amongst the general public.

    To its great shame, however, conservatism spurned the obvious synchronicity of wilderness preservation (etc); and chose instead to elope with free market economics… And they have had a very fruitful relationship, giving rise to at least 4 global financial crises so far; numerous inequitous trade agreements; and several instruments of globalised corruption… Even more unfortunately, when Communism finally fell apart, neo-Conservatives decided to pick a fight with science and history; chose the Environment as their new enemy; and denounced anyone who expressed concern for it and/or the sustainable use of resources as anti-Western, anti-progress, and/or anti-human.

    20 years later they are still doing it and, were it not for the fact that they probably know their enemy does not exist, it is a wonder we have not had any McCarthyite witch-hunts to flush out the forces of (green) darkness… So here’s to the downfall of all false gods (including Capitalism and Marxism); and the dawning of a new age of realism – wherein humanity will either accept its place in nature or be wiped out by it… I hope we all now choose wisely.

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    1. Yes, and for that to happen we must fight those who have been called the “polarization entrepreneurs”, on both sides of the political spectrum, and who have created a cartel in order to monopolize the debate, because that is what their business model requires.

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  3. Thank you for your thoughtful post and for reading and commenting on mine! I got very inspired by the Transition Town film I watched, and hope to bring it , along with great enthusiasm, back to Denmark this summer and try to get an initiative started there. The more people who say No to what your friends have written about above, and say yes! to sustainability in the world, the better chance we have of saving our beautiful, precious Earth. Cheers to that! SB

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      1. Thanks SB. One of the great and largely unanticipated benefits of ‘blogging’ when I started LfD some two and a half years ago is the way that ‘like-minded’ people are brought together. Paul

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      2. Yes, I too have been reaping the benefits of ‘meeting’ those with whom I feel I have something in common, and it is so relieving to share what one feels inside, and have it be received in such warm and heartfelt ways. from one soul traveler to another, cheers!

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  4. Worst possible case? A run-away greenhouse. It’s not just me who is saying it. NASA’s Dr. Hansen mentioned it recently. Auschwitz for everybody, even the SS. (Bad taste, remark, but not as bad taste as a run-away greenhouse.)

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    1. Patrice, I just hope you are wrong. I don’t mean intellectually as in so many ways this stupid race of man seems intent of self-destruction. I just mean that there is always hope for saving our planet because once hope has gone, then all bets are off. Travel safely, Paul

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