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?
But we no longer live on that planet. In the four decades since, that earth has changed in profound ways, ways that have already taken us out of the sweet spot whee humans so long thrived. We're every day less the oasis and more the desert. The world hasn't ended, but the world as we know it has--even if we don't quite know it yet. We imagine we still live back on that old planet, that the disturbances we see around us are the old random and freakish kind. But they're not. It's a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name; Eaarth.
--eaarth by Bill McKibben
With extreme weather fueling wildfires in Colorado and record rainfall in Florida, the Obama administration has moved closer to approving construction of the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline. We’re joined by environmentalist, educator and author Bill McKibben, founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org. "Today is one of those days when you understand what the early parts of the global warming era are going to look like," McKibben says. "For the first time in history, we managed to get the fourth tropical storm of the year before July. ... These are the most destructive fires in Colorado history, and they come after the warmest weather ever recorded there. ... This is what it looks like as the planet begins — and I underline 'begins' — to warm. Nothing that happened [at the United Nations Rio+20 summit] will even begin to slow down that trajectory."