Tasmanian Times

Poetry

EarthRise

Apollo Astronaut Shares Story of NASA's Earthrise Photo NASA, 29 March 2012 https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/home/earthrise.html

Their ship was a tin in the vacuum of space
three days from Earth in an alien place
when they rounded the Moon
all craters and dust
and saw the Earth rise with amazing grace

The Earth rising in space made the news
inspiring a whole new environmental tune
by people who loved this Earth
who hated the harm
and wanted to make everything new

But the Earth is old and has laboured long
delivering children to rise from the throng
to fly from the nest into space
to discover the beauty
of the dance of stars and celestial song

But the children could not see that space
was the next step in the evolution place
they clung to the Earth real bad
failing to see the price
of the trap of the Earth as a maze

The space people could see the power
of the Sun in space like a flower
shining bright with radiance
to create any dream
imagined in the celestial bower

But the oil people all said “No!” to space
and the coal people said “No!” to space
and the gas people said “No!”
and Earth people said “No!”
only space people said “Yes!” to space

Fifty times around the Sun to know
fifty years of carbon gas to flow
and now the heat rises
we wonder how fast
fifty years of delay when we should “Go!”

The Earth rise was a sign from space for us
to rise to the challenge of evolution we must
to run with the demands of survival
to find new ways in space
and to know the celestial beauty and fun

Now the clock ticks down for us on the ground
with an eerie silence from the stars around
as if to say you waited too long
as others have waited too long
so will we make the silence of the stars abound

Or do we stand a chance of winning our survival
by lifting our game, if a bit late on arrival
by running with Nature
running to space
to win a ticket to the celestial carnival?

Kim

Peart

Monday
10
December
2018

“I don’t know who said it, maybe all of us said, ‘Oh my God. Look at that!'”Anders said. “And up came the Earth. We had had no discussion on the ground, no briefing, no instructions on what to do. I jokingly said, ‘well it’s not on the flight plan,’ and the other two guys were yelling at me to give them cameras. I had the only color camera with a long lens. So I floated a black and white over to Borman. I can’t remember what Lovell got. There were all yelling for cameras, and we started snapping away.”

“Earthrise” is the name given to a photograph of the Earth taken by Anders during lunar orbit on Dec. 24, 1968. Earthrise became one of the most famous photographs from all of the Apollo missions and one of the most reproduced space photographs of all time. It has been credited for inspiring the beginning of the environmental movement. In Life Magazine’s 100 Photographs that Changed the World edition, wilderness photographer Galen Rowell called Earthrise, “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” Another boost of fame came in 1969 when the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the Apollo 8 mission.

ASTRONAUTS:~
Col. Frank Borman, commander
Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr., command module pilot
Major William A. Anders, lunar module pilot

Note ~   When Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders took a photo of the Earth rising above the Moon’s dusty surface, a new environmental vision erupted on Earth. That the Earthrise photo was taken in space appeared to be swiftly forgotten. The space people had a vision that would keep this Earth safe, by building solar power stations in space, beginning energy transition out of fossil fuel to the power of the Sun, harvested in space, relocating heavy industry into space, and building orbital space settlements anywhere in the Solar System. Our society would have become a much more advanced society. But, the Earth people could not see the need for space, and the fossil fuel people did not want to know about space. So we stayed on Earth, burning fossil fuel like there was and is no tomorrow. But, there was and is a tomorrow, and now the world knows that with atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) above 350 parts per million (ppm) we will get a planet temperature rise above 1.5C. James Hansen, who first warned the people of Earth about global warming in the 1988, in an effective way (there had been warnings about CO2 since the mid 1800s), later concluded that with CO2 in the air above 350 ppm, the temperature of the Earth would go beyond 1.5C above pre-industrial levels (Storms of My Grandchildren, 2009). The people of Earth have come to accept this equation (350ppm = 1.5C), but there is one giant and monster in the room. 350 ppm CO2 was a level sailed past in the 1980s. It is now bizarre to look back and see that the space people could have had solar power stations in space up and running in the 1980s. CO2 in the air is now going beyond 400 ppm, and rising at 2 ppm per annum. This is a huge tonnage of CO2. If 350 ppm CO2 in the air will raise the Earth’s temperature by 1.5C (now going beyond 1C), how much will 400 ppm, or 410 ppm, or 450 ppm, or 500 ppm increase the Earth’s temperature? It is not known how high the CO2 level will rise, but it is known that once CO2 is in the air, it can stay there for a century or more. As the Earth gets hotter, other greenhouse gases are being released, including methane, which is a far more powerful greenhouse gas. Methane is now being released from fast melting Arctic permafrost, and there are humongous volumes of methane hydrates (a form of ice high in methane that can burn as it melts) on the ocean floor. Much of the heat generated by CO2 in the air so far, as been sucked into the oceans, and the oceans are getting hotter, at depth. Should hotter ocean water reach the methane hydrates, will methane be released from these beds? This release of methane into the air is feared. Further CO2 will also be released with fires predicted to get fiercer as the world warms, and such fires have been seen in California and Queensland, even burning into the rainforest, which are supposed to be fire resistant. A couple of years ago 700 kilometres of mangroves died a couple of years ago across northern Australia due to heat. The Great Barrier Reef has had two major bleaching events in the past couple of years, with a third predicted in coming months, due to ocean heat waves. Conditions are now seen to be too similar to the first great extinction event on Earth 252 million years ago, called the Great Dying, when most of life on Earth perished, with hot dead oceans releasing toxic hydrogen sulphide gas, killing more life on land and damaging the ozone layer, which then allowed higher levels of solar and cosmic radiation to the ground, killing more life on Earth. Part of our strife now, is that CO2 is rising faster than happened in the past, which destabilises the Earth system. When James Lovelock examined the carbon problem, he concluded that the Earth could make a sudden shift to a permanently hotter state, one that would be hostile to humankind (The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, 2009). Since working on ways to detect life on Mars with the 1970s Viking mission, Lovelock had been aware that the Sun was getting hotter, slowly but surely. The Sun is now 35% hotter than at its birth 4.5 billion years ago, and has so much fuel in reserve, it will burn fiercely over the next 5 billion years, until expanding to the orbit of the Earth as a red giant star (this is basic astronomy for a star like our Sun). The Earth system has been able to keep the planet’s temperature relatively even, in part by sequestering carbon into the Earth. With the carbon level on Earth now destabilised, and pressure being applied to the Earth system by rising heat due to rising levels of CO2 in the air, the balance could quickly shift to a hotter world, as warned of by Lovelock. When environmental scientist Guy McPherson considered the carbon problem, he concluded that there can be a sudden rise in heat within this decade, resulting in an extinction level event, and the high probability of no humans left on this hotter planet. A second warning from the stars predates the Earthrise photo. Cosmologists concluded that there are so many stars in our Milky Way galaxy, that as many as 30,000 alien civilisations could have found their way to the Solar System by now. But, we look out and see no sign or hear any sound of intelligent life among the stars. Many theories have been proposed to explain this eerie silence. When David Wallace-Wells was interviewing climate scientists for his long 2017 article, An Uninhabitable Earth, he found them speculating about the Great Filter theory, which suggests that an event in the progress of a planet civilization brings about their extinction before they can gain the liberty of the stars. Once a sustainable presence in space is secured, and with direct access to the power of their star, any planet civilization would then be able to spread out across the galaxy, and on to other galaxies. The only event that could end all planet civilizations at the same stage in their progress, could be the burning of too much fossil fuel for too long, leading to a rapid rise in heat, just as we are now warned is about to happen on Earth. If a Great Filter event were going to happen on Earth, this would need to be in our very near future, as we are now close to gaining a survival presence beyond Earth. As the upper safe level of CO2 in the air was left behind in the 1980s, there is enough CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the air and rising, to send temperatures skyrocketing. We can hope that doesn’t happen, and wait to see what does happen, or we can invest in cosmic survival insurance. If we apply the precautionary principle and make a dash for space, this action can include: building solar power stations in space and beaming the energy to Earth to extract excess carbon from the air; with industry in space, construct an adjustable sunshade above the Earth, to help cool the planet as excess CO2 is being extracted from the air; relocate heavy industry into space; begin constructing orbital space settlements to further improve our survival options; and use the power of the Sun to deal with all problems on Earth, such as building robots in space factories that can be sent to Earth to clean plastic trash from the oceans. If wondering about the cost of space: in basic terms, once there is a sustainable industrial presence beyond Earth, there will be no further cost to Earth, and were will be in position to expand among the stars, spreading the life of Earth among the galaxies, just as life has filled the Earth. We need to mobilise within the year with a ten-year plan to secure our survival in space. This planet is steadily becoming a death trap. Once secure in space, we can begin work on winning back a safe Earth. We can also look toward transforming Venus into a second Earth, which would be far better than allowing the Earth to become a second Venus, with a heat that makes the rocks glow and can melt lead. With the power of the Sun, anything is possible. If we wait on Earth, we may not have to wait too long to see what happens. The heat is rising, and may simply leap beyond our ability to cope, or survive. We can add to the silence of the stars, or we can celebrate life among the galaxies. What will we do?

We can but look back now and imagine what would have happened, if the Earth people had awakened to the need to reach to the Sun, and run with Nature in the evolution of life among the stars. If the Earth people had joined forces with the space people in the 1970s, they could both have together said “Yes!” to space, and “”Yes!” to a safe Earth, rather than allow the fossil fuel people to lock humans down on Earth and place our survival at risk. It is late in the day, but while there is life, it is never too late. If the Earth people will now join forces with the space people, they can both reach to the Sun, and the fossil fuel people will see that they have been deadly wrong, and turn to run with life in space. All the denizens of Earth can be invited to help reach to the Sun, to save the life of Earth, and secure our survival. That we can do?

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