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When I reflect on the current condition of our environment and the fragility and vulnerability of our home, of our planet, I cannot help but feel saddened by what humanity has allowed to happen during its relatively short time on the planet.

Help Will Not Come From Elsewhere to Save Us From Ourselves Source: The Daily Cosmos[/caption]

Now in my sixth decade, I reflect on my own time on this earth. During my lifetime, we have created a global environmental crisis that threatens our children’s and grandchildren’s future. I ask myself many questions. How could I have let this happen? Where was I when our world leaders – politicians, scientists, the corporate sector, the United Nations, etc. – were squandering opportunity after opportunity to make the right choices, to do the right thing?  Are we sleepwalking towards the precipice? There are no easy answers.

A New Common Purpose

We are able to solve this global climate crisis. The human spirit is resilient and innovative. But it will take a new definition of prosperity, one that does not focus entirely on perpetual economic growth. “Our pattern of thinking must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization,” says Al Gore in Earth in the Balance.

Whether we realize it or not, we are now engaged in an epic battle to right the balance of our earth, and the tide of this battle will turn only when the majority of people in the world become sufficiently aroused by a shared sense of urgent danger to join an all-out effort.

The successful resolution of the crisis we face is the moral imperative of our times. We have an ethical duty to ensure the survival of future generations. The following video shows our earth as a tiny speck in the vast cosmic dark. And yet on that speck is where humanity will either survive or perish. We will decide our own fate because “in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves” ~ Carl Sagan.

This excerpt from A Pale Blue Dot was inspired by an image taken, at Carl Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.

Published on Mar 24, 2009
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Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Look again at 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.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

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  1. I wish that more people would realise that this little dot is all we have! We have so messed up our dot, that it is in danger of not supporting us any longer… that is the tradgedy of our ignorance and the stupidity of our ego.

  2. We have messed up to be sure. I always thought that I would be able to leave this world a better place. That was always the covenant. But I fear that we have not learned a whole lot from previous civilizations which have disappeared because they abused their environment.

    We may be on the same path as Easter Island.

    Thank you for your comments.


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