A memorable passage for Earth Day 2010:
Bill McKibben’s new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet makes the harsh but necessary case that we are all living on a fundamentally altered world. Early in his book, McKibben describes the “sweet spot” the Earth had always been. We were struck by this wonderful passage:
In December 1968 we got the first real view of that stable, secure place. Apollo 8 was orbiting the moon, the astronauts busy photographing possible landing zones for the missions that would follow. On the fourth orbit, Commander Frank Borman decided to roll the craft away from the moon and tilt its windows toward the horizon — he needed a navigational fix. What he got, instead, was a sudden view of the earth, rising. “Oh my God,” he said. “Here’s the earth coming up.” Crew member Bill Anders grabbed a camera and took the photograph that became the iconic image perhaps of all time. “Earthrise,” as it was eventually known, that picture of a blue-and-white marble floating amid the vast backdrop of space, set against the barren edge of the lifeless moon. Borman later said that it was “the most beautiful, heart-catching sight of my life, one that sent a torrent of nostalgia, of sheer homesickness, surging through me. It was the only thing in space that had any color to it. Everything else was simply black or white. But not the earth.” The third member of the crew, Jim Lovell, put it more simply: the earth, he said, suddenly appeared as “a grand oasis.”
How fortunate are we? And what can each one of us do to pass this world on to the next generations?
Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben, Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth by Robert Poole