Could a Pale Blue Dot inspire a Deep Green Revolution?
One of my earliest memories is of my dad taking pictures of the black and white TV screen in the corner of our lounge on the day of the moon landing. So momentous was the occasion for him that he captured it by snapping stills of the fuzzy TV images. My fascination of space grew in the 70s with spacecraft being propelled out across the solar system to bring us images of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. So my excitement was renewed last month when Voyager 1 was deemed by NASA to have left the solar system as it cleared the very edge of gassy cloud emitted by our sun. The first time we in all our technological might have managed to get object beyond the edge of what in space terms is our back yard.
Like the best things in life, it’s not what Voyager has taught us about the Solar System that makes its so special. It is what it is has taught us about ourselves. On February 14th 1990, Voyager’s camera was turned back towards earth a now famous image of earth from the very edges of space was captured. From 4 billion miles away Earth was a tiny point of light almost invisible across the vastness of gap. The Pale Blue Dot image reminds us of how tenuously we cling to the only bit in the whole vastness of our solar system that we could actually survive. Suddenly in 1990 the reality of the fact that we have one tiny planet to live on was brought home in a very powerful. The reality that after almost 15 years of travelling Voyager then could see nothing else that would support life as we know it. The reality of the slogan “We have one world, use it wisely” had a much deeper reality.
The idea of capturing this image of Earth from so far away was suggested by Carl Sagan, perhaps best known for his 80s TV series on the Cosmos. Following the release of the image he began work on his book the Pale Blue Dot. The following video is a thought provoking analysis on the reality of our position. Sagan says “In all this vastness this is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” and continues “We need to preserve and cherish the pale the blue dot – the only world we have ever known”.
So whether we are climate believers or deniers, the reality is we have one world and with all our technological skills to date we have found no Plan B. No second world. No plentiful supply of resources to replace the dwindling store we have left. We have one world, we need to use it wisely.