Thoughts on Carl Sagan’s ‘A Pale Blue Dot’

“This effort will only intensify in the years and decades to come as we go from being space-bound again to even Moon-bound and Mars-bound with our eyes set forward to being a galactic species.”

Carl Sagan’s ‘A Pale Blue Dot’ Speech

As much as we try to ignore it, pay it no thought, or just let it fade into the background of our priorities, Planet Earth is our only current and future home. When I say ‘future home’ as well, I may be met with some skepticism given the exciting recent events in putting man and woman back into space with success. This effort will only intensify in the years and decades to come as we go from being space-bound again to even Moon-bound and Mars-bound with our eyes set forward to being a galactic species.

However, while this excitement is commendable and our goals of being an interplanetary species a revolutionary event that could transform human life, I think we all need to remember that even though this effort to touch down on other planets including Mars may be a decade away, it will be quite a while still where people in large quantities can explore, live, and settle down in a planet not named Earth. You can practically guarantee that by reading this article in the year 2022 that it is very remote that we will be able to see humanity transcend Earth to live on other Earth-like planets in our lifetimes.

While I personally believe that Earth in our galaxy is not the only habitable planet, finding one that is, being able to go there, and then sustaining ourselves there will be the challenges of not years or decades but centuries forward. It is a noble pursuit and one that is likely to occur in the far future. My concern during this renewed era around space travel and interplanetary focus is that we stand to lose our only planet’s hospitable climate while we try to find others like the current one, which we are so blessed to have.

Multiple reports out there especially recently cite that we may be past the point of no return already when it comes to pulling the planet back from the depths of climate change activity already in motion. Our Planet Earth or as the great Carl Sagan would say, the ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is in danger of only having a century or less left where it is hospitable for humans to live there comfortably. Natural disasters are clearly getting worse, droughts, wildfires, flooding, torrential downpours culminating together to create something out of a Biblical prophecy on top of the fact that the Polar ice caps melting has accelerated alongside unseasonably warm temperatures in the Arctic.

While we marvel at putting impressive rockets into space that can land vertically after being thousands of miles away, our planet is going through a stage five fire alarm and basically ringing the warning signs for us to collectively do something about the current climate crisis. We do not know how fast this crisis will accelerate and how bad it will get and when it will be unsustainable for Earth to be a hospitable planet, but we can measure that in decades and not centuries. We race to get to space and to find a hospitable planet other than our neglected and vengeful home of record, but we are at a disadvantage in my view. We do not have centuries to fix our climate crisis, but mere decades or even a decade as some have argued. Our ability to find an Earth-like planet for which humanity would have to relocate in mass would not take place for centuries and not decades.  

I am not writing this article to solve the climate crisis or to illustrate what we all should do to combat it; I believe we know what to do in our lives and what we should tell those in power to implement but rather my fear is that we have lost sight of the importance of why Planet Earth is so precious and worth fighting for. There is no better illustration of the gravity of our current fight to save Earth than the humble video recorded speech of the late famous American astronomer, Carl Sagan, who summed up the sheer importance of why ‘here’ or ‘Earth’ matters so much in the grand scheme of the Cosmos. “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

The ‘A Pale Blue Dot’ speech by Mr. Sagan highlights the totality of how Earth captured the human experience from across the globe among the tens of billions of people who lived on our planet including every hunter, forager, creator, destroyer, king, peasant, mother, father, and hopeful child. Everyone who has existed has lived on Earth on a ‘mode of dust suspended on a sunbeam.’ Mr. Sagan highlights the cruelties and violence that we have committed and continue to commit against each other to control a small part of the ‘pale blue dot’ we call Earth. The delusions of grandeur, the great ego we all struggle with, and how we think of ourselves as greater than the vastness of space and the endless infinity that surrounds us outside of our banal conflicts and glories.

Carl Sagan makes the point that in 2022, “The Earth is where we make our stand.” We can visit other planets like Mars or our own Moon, but we cannot live there yet. Mr. Sagan highlights the need to preserve and cherish ‘the pale blue dot’, which is still the only home we have ever known. To be kind to one another, to treat one another with respect, and to realize that the significance of our lives and of our place in the universe is quite minimal when you consider the vast never-ending spectrum of the cosmos. The Voyager 1 took the photo of the miniscule ‘pale blue dot’, otherwise known as Earth, over thirty years ago on February 14th, 1990, which inspired Carl Sagan’s speech and then book on what it means to see Earth from space to realize how small yet precious it is to have our home in the galaxy, and that it is the only known one we have in our universe.

As much as we try to distance ourselves from the fact that we are quite small and insignificant outside of ‘pale blue dot’, we occasionally should use that photograph to remind ourselves of how significant the Earth is to humanity and how we would not be surviving as a species without it as our home since the dawn of man and woman. If we choose not to preserve and protect for future generations, it will be a sad day with ancestors henceforth will have to leave a dying Earth to hope for a ‘better’ world, which may not even exist for us. All the love, death, goals, hopes, dreams, pain, pleasure of what it means to be human has taken place on our only home of Earth. The speech was a wakeup call to people in 1990 to take our only home of Earth more seriously and it will continue to be that clarion call for 2022 and beyond as the warning signs grow louder and more ominous if actions are not taken to combat the climate crisis.

While the movement to preserve Planet Earth has been around since at least the 1960s with the growth of environmentalism, Sagan’s ‘pale blue dot’ speech has inspired and continues to inspire those of us who realize how grave of an existential threat climate change is to humanity and how vital it is to protect this only home of ours. Sagan would not argue with those people who are trying to get us into space currently and to the parts unknown of our galaxy, but he would also remind us not to neglect our only home, not to abandon it to certain devastation, nor destruction, and to fight to keep it as a hospitable home for future generations. “Every human, who has ever lived, has lived on Earth,” he makes clear in the ‘pale blue dot’ speech and if the Earth is thriving, humanity will also have the chance to thrive too.

Walks In The Park

IMG_0382
“When seeking solitude, there is no better place than nature.”

With the constant temptations of technology, the Internet, endless entertainment options, and other distractions, it is all too easy nowadays to get caught up in work, school, and other commitments without ever taking time for yourself. It’s been scientifically and medically proven that your body and your mind need some time away from your daily stressors. It doesn’t have to be a long amount of time for solitude away from your home, or your workplace but just enough minutes or hours where you can re-charge your energy and re-capture your focus. When it comes to seeking out solitude and alone time, our options these days are becoming increasingly limited.

Some people choose yoga classes while other folks enjoy long workouts at the gym. While these activities in particular are healthy and enjoyable, they do not provide true solitude and quietness. Meditation can clear your head and allow you to control your thoughts better but it is not an active form of peace and serenity. For myself, to enjoy solitude, quiet, and a place to think; nothing truly beats a simple walk in the park for an hour or two. Clearly, I am not the first person to advocate for the joys and benefits of being in nature.

Henry David Thoreau, considered to be “the father of nature writing”, wrote many books including the famous novel, Walden, a reflection on the simplicities of living among nature in his cabin near Walden Pond in rural Massachusetts. In addition, his friend and fellow writer Ralph Waldo Emerson helped found the Transcendentalist movement partly due to the independence and intellectual stimulation, which he received from his retreats into the world of nature.

Whether you’re walking, jogging, running, or hiking in the park, it is going to be highly beneficial to you and your state of mind. It’s okay if you do it with a friend or a family member but it’s even better to do it by yourself. Taking a walk in the park or in the local nature preserve will allow you to clarify your thoughts, experience some solitude, and enjoy the world around you.

When you heed my advice from this blog post and decide to go for a walk in the park, remember to take the following steps before you go through with this idea:

  • Leave the iPhone, iPad, Laptop, MP3 player, and any other modern technological device at home. I know it can be really tempting to check your Twitter account or listen to the new Action Bronson album, but when you’re taking a walk through the park, this course of action is highly inadvisable. You’re there to observe nature, to listen to the birds’ chirping, to hear the bees buzzing, and to see the flowers begin to bloom in the springtime sunshine. If you wanted to be with your technological gadgets, the park is not the place to do that.
  • In the park or place of nature you go to, remember to find a part of the park that doesn’t have many or any people around. I write this piece of advice not to encourage you to be anti-social but to embrace a little bit of solitude in your life. A walk in the park will help you to focus your thoughts and clarify what you’re going through in your life. It’s refreshing and natural for people to be truly alone from time to time. This doesn’t mean you’re lonely and need someone to hang out with but that you’re using this walk or run in the park to concentrate and focus on the simple act of being in nature. Our distant ancestors did fine for themselves when they were on their own to hunt for animals or to gather food for their tribe. I think that you can survive on your own for an hour or two without needing any assistance or companionship.
  • When you’re on your walk or run in the park, it is important to go off the beaten path. There are set pathways and trails that you can follow in nature but it’s very enjoyable to go outside of your comfort zone instead by trying out new paths or walkaways that you have yet to discover. If there are certain areas of the park or preserve that you haven’t been to yet, go there! If there’s a massive hill or body of water in your path, don’t be afraid to hike over it or swim through it. The best adventures that a person can have are by taking the road not yet discovered or taken and that is true for other facets of life. Try to see and be in the new areas of the park that you haven’t been to yet. I promise that you won’t regret it later. You will be glad that you expanded your perception that you have of the natural park or preserve that you’re walking or running through.
  • Last but not least, please remember to take it all in. Spend some time just to admire the beauty of the sights that lie before you. If its’ a towering waterfall, a captivating sunset, or a stunning hillside view, remember to stop and just be present in the moment. It will be so quiet that you can hear the beating of your own heart and the sound of your own breath. You’re apart of nature just as nature is apart of you. As much as we try to avoid nature and natural living today, it’s still apart of whom we are as human beings. Nothing will change that and its’ apart of our nature since the early days of the hunter-gatherers. You only have one life to live and the more time you spend in natural settings, the better off you’ll be.

In conclusion, instead of that Sunday afternoon you spend at the bar watching your favorite sports team or at home catching up on the latest Netflix series, why not go to your local park instead? Do some walking or some jogging and eventually rest your legs to sit down at the nearest park bench. Take in the sights, sounds, and even the smells to remind yourself that there is more to life than just work or school. You’re apart of this world and the world is apart of you.

%d bloggers like this: