Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose. — Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948.
The mighty genius of man has made steel and chemicals and computers and rockets and bundled these together to fire ourselves into space. The giant phalluses thunder up, unleasing gigawatts of power; shooting life into the void. Nobody has returned the same. As Dr Edgar Mitchell put it:
We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians.
No perspective could be newer then that of an earthling no longer on earth. Suddenly our planet seems small and fragile and the atmosphere a remarkably thin layer. The exceptional book Moondust documents how astronaughts return to earth forever changed.
Here are some reactions to seeing our home from space:
If somebody’d said before the flight, “Are you going to get carried away looking at the earth from the moon?” I would have say, “No, no way.” But yet when I first looked back at the earth, standing on the moon, I cried. — Alan Shepard
This planet is not terra firma. It is a delicate flower and it must be cared for. It’s lonely. It’s small. It’s isolated, and there is no resupply. And we are mistreating it. Clearly, the highest loyalty we should have is not to our own country or our own religion or our hometown or even to ourselves. It should be to, number two, the family of man, and number one, the planet at large. This is our home, and this is all we’ve got. — Scott Carpenter, Mecury 7 astronaut
For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light – our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance. – Ulf Merbold, Federal Republic of Germany
(For more on the fragility of our atmosphere check out: Climate sceptic!? You do the maths…)
Dr Ed Mitchell had an epiphany (a powerful Savikalpa samadhi experience) in his spaceship on the return trip from the moon and wrote:
On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.
My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.
Our technology has flung us into space. It is also tearing apart the living fabric of our planet. We must listen to our spacemen. It is time for us to care for our planet as if it was a living being; because that is what she is. And she has a name; Gaia.
For more on Gaia check out: Science is Great but God is Green.