ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Rosetta Stones

Rosetta Stones


Adventures in the good science of rock-breaking.
Rosetta Stones Home

Celebrating Earth on Earth Day: A Few Favorite Places

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



Interviewer: So, how powerful are you? Could you …say… destroy the Earth?

Tick: Destroy the Earth? Egad, I hope not! That’s where I keep all my stuff!

- The Tick: The Animated Series

LRO Recreates Astronaut View of 'Earthrise'. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC

I grew up as something of a desert rat. When you live in the desert, you know how important oases are.

Stand on the Moon for a moment. Just put yourself there, bathed in earthlight, and gaze at the only oasis we can reach, in all of space. This is it. This is the only place amenable to human life. It’s all we’ve got. It’s where we keep all our stuff.

I think about that, when I’m about to throw something out. I also think of the enormous resources it takes to extract the things we need, and the impact that extraction has. I’ve seen strip mines, and polluted air and water. I’ve seen acid drainage and land so covered in broken glass it glitters, and you can’t walk on it. I’ve seen things we shouldn’t do. And I’ve seen this oasis, floating in space, just a tiny world full of life in a universe that is beautiful, but offers few places of refuge for creatures like us. So I do some things to protect that oasis, like recycling electronics and old CDs and videotapes and whatever else can be remade rather than simply thrown away. Even in an area awash in water, I try to be careful of that, too, and use just as much as I need, no more. I try to be mindful of the energy I use, and the fuel I consume. These are just a few of the things I try to do, because this Earth is all we have, and I’d like us to have it for a very long time.

But I don’t want to preach today. If you’re here, you’re smart enough to know that caring for the planet is a darned good idea. I just want to show you a few of my favorite places, and some of the threats they face.

Detail of the Puget Sound Region, Washington State. NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

Seattle, WA. Downtown skyline seen across Elliott Bay from Alkai Point.

My emerald city. Its waterfront could end up drowned if sea levels rise, among other and perhaps more dire problems.

Page, Arizona. Glen Canyon Dam is visible in the lower right. Image Credit: Astronaut photograph ISS006-E-28359 was taken with an Electronic Still Camera and is provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center.

Colorado River just below Glen Canyon Dam, Page, AZ. Image Credit: My Mother.

The Colorado River provides water to a huge portion of the American Southwest and Mexico. As population booms, climate changes, and long droughts become the norm, the river may not be able to meet the demand. It’s already a shadow of its former self.

Snow on the Grand Canyon. Image Credit: NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained from the MODIS Rapid Response team.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Image Credit: Cujo359.

Grand Canyon, Arizona. It’s still feeling the impacts of past uranium mining and exploration, and we’ll be fighting that political battle to keep mining out over and over.

NASA Visible Earth image of the Pacific Northwest. Image Credit: Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC.

Carrie Glacier, Olympic Mountains, Washington State.

Mountain glaciers in the Pacific Northwest, which provide a considerable amount of summertime water for cities like Seattle, are in retreat (pdf). The warmer we make the Earth, the faster they’ll vanish.

Clownfish and Corals at the Seattle Aquarium.

Coral reefs are among the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems on the planet. Ocean acidification has already had a nasty impact on them (pdf).

Let’s not kid ourselves. Every day is Earth Day. Do something every day, from the smallest acts to the largest, to take care of this beautiful Earth, our only home.

Pacific Coast at Shore Acres, Oregon.

Keeping the air and water clean, reducing our impact on the planet’s resources and ecosystems, preserving its beauty and bounty, just makes sense. The Tick was right: it’s where we keep all our stuff.

Dana Hunter About the Author: Dana Hunter is a science blogger, SF writer, and geology addict whose home away from SciAm is En Tequila Es Verdad. Follow her on Twitter: @dhunterauthor. Follow on Twitter @dhunterauthor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Comments 2 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. Postman1 10:06 pm 04/23/2012

    Here is a news article on Earth day celebrations:
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/1579569406001/grapevine-earth-day-a-washout

    Link to this
  2. 2. DanMcShane 12:04 am 04/28/2012

    Never under estimate the influence of The Tick.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Dinosaurs

Get Total Access to our Digital Anthology

1,200 Articles

Order Now - Just $39! >

X

Email this Article

X