|The "Big Blue Marble" as seen from Apollo 17.|
Forty years ago, the crew of Apollo 17 took this iconic photo of the "Big Blue Marble" floating in a sea of black.
I think it is so cool that when you look at the Earth from space, you don't see country borders on land or lines in the ocean defining where international boundaries end and national ones begin. You just see a lot of water, some land, and clouds swirling about. My thoughts are not that original, as I realized while reading about the origins of this photo on NASA's web site. Eugene Cernan, who flew on Apollo 10 and commanded Apollo 17, said,
"...You only see the boundaries of nature from there...not those that are manmade."
Having the larger view makes it possible to visualize how radioactive debris from Japan can wash up on the shores of Oregon. Or how airborne ash from a volcano in Iceland can ground planes in London. Or how air pollution in China can disrupt the weather in the United States to the point of reducing precipitation. Basically, how the earth is one finite entity, as the recently deceased Barry Commoner articulated in his Four Laws of Ecology:
Everything is connected to everything else.
Everything must go somewhere.
Nature knows best.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
It's all one thing. And it's the only one. There is only one blue dot in our entire solar system.
I love that this photo was picked up by the emerging environmental movement in the 1970s. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and this one, well, this one is where we live.
Image from NASA.