Living on the Real World…with the emphasis on “on”

Today Andy Revkin’s blog offers a fascinating and beautiful five-minute video of the Earth’s surface, taken from the vantage point of the International Space Station. Andy provides more background.  Astronauts have seen this up close and personal. As for the rest of us? Please make the time to have a look.

The video is breathtaking – remarkable in a number of respects. Any one of us could rhapsodize about it at length…and we probably should all take a few minutes and do just that…try to put into words the impression that time-lapse video means to us.

One point strikes me…the full range of phenomena we see there, from the city lights to the thunderstorm lightning to the aurora, many tens of kilometers up, are all essentially occurring in the very narrowest film at the Earth’s surface and above. That’s why, ever since the very earliest posts, we’ve stressed the following reality:

Our destiny, and that of the merest surface skin of the planet, are intertwined. We’re unable to probe/mine too deeply, and we’re not leaving this orb in large numbers any time soon. We’re earthlings, till death do us part.

The planet itself is robust. No worries there. And from the context of deep space? We’re just Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot, posing no harm. But Earth is thin-skinned.  The resources there are finite. And seven billion of us, just lolling about, not harboring any malicious intent, can still kick up quite a lot of dust on that surface. We don’t want to spoil our own nest.

That’s why living on the real world poses such a challenge, and merits our fullest attention.

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