“Earth Orbit” is a suitably generic term to create a context to talk about – anything on Earth! It also communicates the sense of perspective, the Big Picture. We’ve had too many unintended side effects from various environmental interventions, from DDT killing songbirds, to deep-well irrigation depleting groundwater and salinizing farmland. On a weekly basis, I read of another environmental “oops” – where a benign act yielded troubling environmental consequences.
We must think in terms of the larger system, the ecology, where human actions take place. In environmental terms, we live in watersheds; urban sprawl wipes out animal habitats; every mile traveled using an internal combustion engine adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Every action has consequences.
I am deeply concerned about our planet. Although not given to apocalyptic musings, I believe that the environment is in a crisis. The human population of Earth has quadrupled in the last 100 years – from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 6.5 billion today.
And we possess the power to have greater environmental impact than ever before. Human actions have polluted the air we breathe and the water we drink. Crucial resources such as drinking water and food are in critically short supply in much of the world. Human actions are altering the climate, making the Earth warmer, melting the ice caps, raising sea levels. Thousands of species are extinct, or nearly so. Many populations of fish are severely depleted and, unless prompt action is taken, will disappear from the ocean.
The list of dangers and crises goes on and on – so much so that it is hard not to be despairing. Yet millions of Earth’s citizens are at this very moment mobilized and working to understand and to change the situation. It’s a worldwide movement that crosses political, religious, ethnic and regional boundaries. We are all in this together.
Earth Orbit hopes to call attention to both the crisis and the opportunity inherent in our current world situation.
And we celebrate the wondrous beauty of this Earth, where life has taken hold – and flourishes. Perhaps this is the antidote to the discouragement that is near at hand: go Outside. Take a walk. Feel the weather, listen to the birds that sing and migrate despite the many barriers placed in the way of their exuberant lives.
Nature has much to teach us, if we will listen.