Happy new revolution around the sun, dear Spaceship Earth. You wander through the cosmos at breakneck speed – at 66,000 miles per hour around your star, at 487,000 miles per hour around the Milky Way’s centre and, together with the Milky Way, at 536,000 miles per hour around the local group of galaxies. Yet, oddly enough, the living creatures you carry aboard have a mystifying impression of stillness.
This could be why the current dominant species (the self-named Homo sapiens) hold the wrong idea about your boundless sturdiness. They think you are ‘too big to fail’, while in reality you are too big, too frail. Perhaps it is because of this misconception that this year, an estimated 8 to 12 billion tons of plastic will be added to your oceans and 55 billion tons of carbon dioxide will be emitted into your delicately balanced atmosphere.
The number of humans you ferry through the universe has just crossed the 7.5 billion mark. Of course, not all of them deny the fragility of your warmer atmosphere, of your thinner glaciers and more acidic oceans. For instance, the Club of Rome just issued a much-needed ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ where the first of many recommendations reads: ‘No new investments in coal, oil and gas exploration and development after 2020.’
Yet, not enough people believe there’s a man-made emergency to be faced and as a result many doubt that oil states and multinationals will ever refrain from digging out their fossil revenues.
As you remember, gamma radiation of 500 million years ago and a meteorite of 66 million years ago already caused mass extinctions. Another one is expected by the end of the century but, for the first time since your formation 4.5 billion years ago, it will be self-inflicted. All life you carry is interconnected. From bacteria to elephants, all species depend on their habitat as well as on each other. The so-called sapiens do not grasp this reality too well. But don’t worry, whatever they do, nobody can ever halt your cosmic merry-go-round.
Happy new year, Spaceship Earth. And thank you.
This was published in the January 2019 edition of Geographical magazine
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