There’s a prose poem by Joe Miller which starts “If the Earth were only a few feet in diameter …” and goes on to say how much better care we would take of it because we would see it as something special, rather than take it for granted because we live here. We would appreciate that delicate balance between the water and the land, at the creatures who live here, and how we would want to protect it because there is only one Earth.
The poem came to mind because I’ve been looking at the photographs that Tim Peake, the British astronaut currently on the International Space Station, has been sending back to Earth through social media. Every day, there are pictures of a different part of our world. Sometimes it’s a country looking like a picture in an atlas, and sometimes it’s a cloud formation or the Aurora Borealis. Sometimes it’s something incredible in the sea that you would only ever see from space, and it makes me grateful that we are able to share in the views that he has. The International Space Station travels at around 17,150 mph so that’s a lot of views of the Earth!
However, down here, we can only see as far as the immediate view lets us. We can’t see past houses or trees, and sometimes we travel so fast in trains, buses and cars that we aren’t really looking around us at all. We forget that we’re living somewhere that is special and where our actions have consequences that affect us all. Some people say that climate change would have happened whether humans were here or not and it’s just how the world is, but I believe that even if that’s true, we still have a duty to behave respectfully towards the Earth whilst we’re here.
If we live on a planet where we are able to see the sun shine through the leaves, or the sea crash onto the sand, or any one of a million moments where nature is far more beautiful than anything we can create ourselves, shouldn’t we at least take a minute to acknowledge that? To breathe in the fresh air and take our rubbish home? The amount of rubbish I see when I’m walking the dog upsets me, and I quite often pick some of it up myself (especially if the dog looks like he’s going to eat it).
Perhaps it’s just as well that the views from space are of the bigger picture, of our Earth as she is supposed to look, and not of the rubbish and the pollution that we are creating ourselves. The prose poem finishes by saying that if we looked at our Earth in a different way, we would realise that our own lives could be nothing without it. It makes sense, don’t you think? No Earth, no us.
“If the Earth were only a few feet in diameter …”