Two posts ago, I wrote a post on this being a great country. After thinking about it for a week or so, I've also decided that we live on a great planet. Despite all the bad things on this earth with wars, famine and disasters of all kind, we do have a pretty hospitable place to have our home. Our options are pretty much zero at this point and will be for some time.
I watched William Shatner take his trip up to space and listened to his remarks upon his return. He was truly moved by his trip to space. Some of his remarks are noted below. He was in awe but also in grief for the future of our fragile earth.
"I saw more clearly than I have, with all the studying and reading I've done, the writhing, slow death of Earth and we on it," Shatner said.
"It's a little tiny rock with an onion skin air around it. That's how fragile it all is. It's so fragile. We hang by a thread ... we're just dangling."
Shatner was experiencing the "overview effect" that a lot of astronauts experience. The experience causes a cognitive and emotional shift in a person's awareness when they see earth from space. We often hear news of global warming and the effects on the climate and the livability of this planet. I think most of us have grown used to the news and don't think a whole lot about it on a daily basis. But, it does appear that us earthlings are not taking the problem as serious as we need to. As an individual, I believe our thought is "what can one person do" and our next thought is "the government and scientist will figure out a solution". I'm not sure how this whole thing is going to turn out and, if it turns out bad, we don't have a second planet to quickly move to.
Enough about the bad news. This is a great planet to live on. We have nice breathable air, abundant water and a pretty great place to live. Our options on other planets don't look so great. Mars has an atmosphere 100 time thinner than ours and only has a trace of oxygen. Venus has a surface temperature of 900 degrees. All the other known planets have similar, unlivable atmospheres. When you look at our earth from above you see a very, very thin layer of atmosphere that allows us to live. The current thought is that space begins at about 62 miles above the earth. Think about that, 62 miles! That is an hour's drive, if you could go straight up. When I think of driving down the interstate to a town 62 miles away, it doesn't seem to far. When you factor in the portion of that 62 miles that we can actually breath air, it shrinks to about 20,000 feet above sea level. That is 3.78 miles! We could walk that distance!
So, this great planet of ours is a great place to live, but is very fragile. We can enjoy it's oceans, mountains, canyons, wildlife, and it's water and oxygen, but we must also be good stewards of this earth. Our descendants are depending on us to take care of this place so they too will have a great place to live.
This planet has a great variety of cultures, architecture, food and other great things to enjoy while we live and in retirement we should explore as much of that as possible. I have seen some wonderful things on this earth including the Rocky Mountains, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Park and many other parks. I have stood at the edge of Niagara Falls. I have seen some beautiful beaches. I have rafted down some whitewater canyons and have gazed upon the mighty Mississippi River. I've been lucky to see a very small portion of this earth and think this is the planet for me.
Science fiction shows and movies often show humans landing on other planets similar to ours. I can't imagine that will happen any time soon. I would imagine it will be many generations down the road before something like that is even possible. If you ever make it out of this world to visit one of the other planets, I'm sure you will be eager to get home to this great planet of ours!
What amazing things have you seen on this earth of ours? Was there somewhere that really took your breath away? The Grand Canyon was one spot that was mind boggling to me. I was simply amazed at the size of the canyon and the beauty of the place.