So a new solar system Trappist-1, with potential habitable planets has been discovered.
By all accounts this is extra-ordinary stuff. The chance that human life could continue to exist on another planet far from our own, no doubt fills scientists with analytical algorithms and the average person with awe.
It’s certainly exciting thinking of the possibilities. And yet I’m not sure how I really feel about it all.
Our determined search for habitable planets, makes me we wonder if we’ve already given up on earth. As if we’ve accepted that the damage we’ve done to our planet is irreversible and its end, inevitable.
Like a spoiled child who wrecks their toy but is comforted by the thought that soon, either for a Birthday or Christmas, a shinny new one will certainly replace it.
It’s evident that as a species we have used and abused this beautiful planet of ours. Even if you’re still a skeptic on the Climate Change debate, there is no denying the impact our insatiable appetite for food, fuel,energy, living space, travel, technology, war…. has had on planet Earth.
Mining, fracking, industry, logging, mass agriculture, farming, urban sprawl, infrastructure, consumerism…the list looks bad!
Back in 1990, a wonderful photograph was taken from the Voyager 1 space probe. Carl Sagan suggested NASA engineers take a photo looking back towards earth, as the probe left our solar system, 6 billion kilometers away.
This image of a ‘Pale Blue Dot’ was presented to an audience at Cornell University in 1994 and Sagan shared his profound reflections on the deeper meaning behind the image.
“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
[…] To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
— Carl Sagan, speech at Cornell University, October 13, 1994.
While we’re busy discovering new planets and solar systems, I hope we still appreciate the beauty, wonder and sheer chance of existing on our own ‘Pale Blue Dot’ because for now, it still is, the only one we’ve got.