Earth Day 2009

April 21, 2009 23:42 by scibuff

Today we celebrate the the Earth Day (different than the equinocal Earth Day celebrated by the UN – but hey, EVERY DAY should be an Earth Day) designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. The tradition was started by a demonstration on the environment organized by US Senator Gaylord Nelson.  Today marks the beginning of The Green Generation Campaign™ which will also be the focus of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010.

Throughout the half-century of space exploration, we have seen many breathtaking images of the cosmos, displaying not only the infinite beauty of the Universe but also reminding us of how fragile and precious life is. The Earth’s biosphere is incredibly small compared to the vast hostility of the Universe. It is the only place we know capable of supporting our way of living, yet the Universe itself could envy us our efforts to damage it beyond repair.

It is borderline naive to believe that the Universe has been created to support life (just as people once believed the Earth was in the center of everything).  Our Universe is actually an unbelievably hostile place and it doesn’t care for life at all. If it is good at anything, it masters the creation of black holes. You can read of many ways the Universe is trying to kill us (and how it will eventually succeed) in Phil Plait‘s brilliant book – Death From The Skies!

Mt. Everest and nearby Mt. Makalu stand out in this oblique photograph of the Tibetan Plateau taken from the International Space Station in 2004 - Source: NASA

Mt. Everest and nearby Mt. Makalu stand out in this oblique photograph of the Tibetan Plateau taken from the International Space Station in 2004 - Source: NASA

The famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft at a distance of about 29,000 kilometers. Source: NASA

The famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft at a distance of about 29,000 kilometers. Source: NASA

The Apollo 16 crew captured this Earthrise during the second revolution of the moon for the distance of more than 370,000 km - Source: NASA

The Apollo 16 crew captured this Earthrise during the second revolution of the moon for the distance of more than 370,000 km - Source: NASA

This picture of the Earth and Moon in a single frame was taken by the Galileo spacecraft from a distance of about 6.2 million kilometers on December 16, 1990 - Source: NASA

This picture of the Earth and Moon in a single frame was taken by the Galileo spacecraft from a distance of about 6.2 million kilometers on December 16, 1990 - Source: NASA

Earth and the moon, acquired on October 3, 2007, by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter from 142 million km away - Source: NASA

Earth and the moon, acquired on October 3, 2007, by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter from 142 million km away - Source: NASA

Composite image of Saturn and its rings made from 165 images taken by the wide-angle camera on the Cassini spacecraft over nearly three hours on September 15, 2006 from the distance of 1 billion kilometers - Source: NASA

Composite image of Saturn and its rings made from 165 images taken by the wide-angle camera on the Cassini spacecraft over nearly three hours on September 15, 2006 from the distance of 1 billion kilometers - Source: NASA

On a brighter note, I never thought I’d say that others should follow the example of Vatican. It will most likely not happen again so here I go … The roof tiles on the Paul VI auditorium are being replaced by 2,700 solar panels in a $1.5m project to make Vatican the first solar-powered “country” in the world.

St. Peter's Basilica is seen in the background of a solar panel set up on the roof of the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican.

St. Peter's Basilica is seen in the background of a solar panel set up on the roof of the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican.

Since elected to office in 2005, Benedict XVI has criticized the current energy policies of the world which, according to him, make the lives of poor people unbearable. It seems he has some sense of true altruism, I give him that.

Nevertheless, I still believe that the world would be much better off without organized religion. Practicing religion on individual basis may have positive influence on one’s life besides the physiological impacts of the placebo effect. Richard Dawkins argues that “no single thing is the root of all anything”. It might be true of organized religion. Nevertheless, religion has a great propensity to be abused by those seeking power and as a tool to justify any ideology and motives. The never ending strive of religious zealots to reach a place were we would constantly base our decisions on superstitious and dogmatic believes over rational and critical thinking, that, is, I believe, the root of all evil. Hence I will conclude this post by a new T-Shirt design for killing two birds with one stone …

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