Today is Earth Day

As I will never be in a position elevated enough to snap a “blue marble” photo of our gem of a planet from space, the closest I can ever get is to take images through the window of a commercial airplane cruising at an altitude that ranges between 33,000 and 42,000 feet (10.000 to 12.800 meters). Though spectacular in their own right, these only capture a small slice of the unique and breathtaking beauty of our home globe: a spheroid body made of a core of iron and nickel, a partly molten mantle of mainly silicates, and a thin crust covered by an ocean and continents on which unfold our daily lives. While we spin around ourselves, orbit around our sun, and travel through an immense and expanding universe at incomprehensible speeds.

If you can’t quite wrap your head around this picture, you are not alone. Yet whether or not we are aware of our reliance on Mother Earth, it is good to remind ourselves of how truly special a home planet we live on, how totally and thoroughly we are dependent on Her, and that we owe everything to Her.

Without gravity, water, sunlight, an atmosphere, there would be no life. Without photosynthesis, there would be no food.

Without our tilted axis and constant rotation, we would have no night and day, no seasons.

…no daily splendor of sunrise and sunset…

Sun rising in Germany

Sun setting west of the Colorado Rockies

…no lunar cycles…

Moon rising over a lakebed in NE Colorado

Full moon rising behind the forest

…neither the wintry beauty of snow, ice, or frost…

Hoar frost on a winter morning in Colorado Springs

…nor the warmth and exuberance of summer.

Black-eyed Susan against a Colorado summer sky

We could not be moved to our core by the marvel of bird migration that brings individual birds back to our garden each year to lay their eggs after a perilous journey of thousands of miles…

Hummingbird nest

…or allow us to see one of only 8,400 remaining Piping Plovers in the entire world.

Threatened Piping Plover on the shore of Nebraska’s Lake McConaughy

If you have visited my blog for a while, you might remember a post about a magnificent mural by Leo Tanguma at Denver International Airport titled “In Peace and Harmony with Nature.” It celebrates the joy and splendor of all creatures who live interconnectedly, who have the best interest and health of one another and of our world at heart.

“In Peace and Harmony with Nature” mural at Denver International Airport

This paradisiacal picture is juxtaposed to a companion mural which shows the sad reality that results when we humans forget about our interconnectedness and interdependence and put our own interests ahead of all others’, thereby endangering everybody’s very existence.

The nightmare scenario of a world out of balance

It is not enough to pay lip service to the importance of honoring earth on April 22 each year, without attempting to cure the ills that have befallen—or been inflicted upon—Her.

If you have ever taken a course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), you remember learning your ABC: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. First, you have to insure that a person’s airway is open. Second, you need to check for breathing. Third, for circulation. If any of the steps reveals a problem, you must intervene right away, before proceeding to the next. If you perform cardiac compressions, your patient might still die if you don’t also open her airway and breathe for her.

Without the health of the earth, no one is healthy. If we keep putting economic interests ahead of ecological ones, we all lose, even if we die rich.

The thoughtful, poignant words of Robin Wall Kimmerer, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, biology professor, and profoundly inspiring author suggest an alternative in her bestselling book, Braiding Sweetgrass:

As a society we stand at the brink, we know we do. Though the hole that opens at our feet, we can look down and see a glittering blue and green planet, as if from the vantage point of space, vibrating with birdsong and toads and tigers. We could close our eyes, keep breathing poison air, witness the extinction of our relatives and continue to measure our own worth by how much we take. We could cover our ears to our own knowing, back away from the edge and retreat to the gray decline.

In this time of transformation, when creation and destruction wrestle like Skywoman’s mythic grandsons, gambling with the future of the earth, what would it take for us to follow Skywoman?* To jump to the new world, to co-create it?  Do we jump because we look over our shoulders at the implacable suffering marching toward us and jump from fear and portent? Or perhaps we look down, drawn toward the glittering green, hear the birdsong, smell the Sweetgrass and yearn to be part of a different story. The story we long for, the story that we are beginning to remember, the story that remembers us.

Every day needs to be Earth Day. 🌍🌎🌏

* In the Potawatomi creation myth, Skywoman falls or jumps from the Skyworld, and her fall is broken by animals who thereby save her and help her create our world, for the well-being of all.

59 thoughts on “Today is Earth Day

    • Nein, noch nicht. Es gibt noch zu viele Probleme mit den Autos, die Infrastruktur hier ist nicht gut genug entwickelt (wenn Du die Distanzen in den USA kennst, dann weißt Du wovon ich rede), die Elektrizität für die Batteriern muß auch irgendwo herkommen, und was mit all den Batterien passiert, weiß man auch nicht so recht.
      Wir fahren noch immer unser 19 Jahre altes Auto, mit Maximalgeschwindigkeiten zwischen 100 und 120 Km/h und unser Verbrauch ist etwa 12 Km/L. Das nächste Auto wird aber kein Benziner mehr sein.


      • hört sich interessant an…selbst hier bei uns mit viel Rotoren an der See ist es kaum anders…habe auch grad nochmal “Diesel” mit Harnstoff-Filter gekauft, weil die Ladesäulen auf dem Land überall fehlen und Lieferzeiten bei E-Cars bis 14 Monate sind. Zudem Kabelprobleme bei Wallboxen für Garagen extrem ins Geld schlagen, bis zu ca. 6000€ extra, das macht jede Kalkulation kaputt, gleichzeitig sind Kaufprämien stark reduziert worden. In unserer kleinen Siedlung von ca 50 Häusern fährt keiner mit Strom bisher – aber jeder 2. hat einen Camper… schönen Frühling!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hoffen wir, daß sich die Lage bessert und es einfacher und erschwinglicher sein wird, von Benzin- und Dieselmotoren wegzukommen, und die Probleme, die elektrische Autos mit sich bringen, umweltfreundlich(er) gelöst werden können.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great post. I too had intended to write something for Earth Day, but never got myself organised. However, I could not have improved upon what you’ve written here. I agree totally with your sentiments, and am pleased to echo in particular your final sentence: Every day needs to be Earth Day. And I really should try to track down a copy of Braiding Sweetgrass!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a gorgeous picture of the sun setting west of the Rockies in Colorado. Your photograph of the full moon over a forest gave me the impression that the moon’s lower portion had been jaggedly broken off.

    “The story that remembers us” is a clever inversion of the normal way of thinking about it.

    Your reference to the earth as a blue marble reminds me of the common misconception that not till the Renaissance did people figure out that the earth is (approximately) spherical rather than (approximately) flat. The ancient Greeks, among others, knew. As reported in Nature: “If we accept the account of Strabo that Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth as 252,000 stadia, the circumference would be 24,662 miles, and the polar diameter 7,850 miles-only 50 miles short of the true polar diameter. This is considered to be one of the first great triumphs of scientific calculation.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think this was the first (and so far only) time that I have seen and photographed such a sunset. I was driving west, and pulled over to take the photo. Luckily, I was on a country road with few cars.

      Robin Wall Kimmerer’s books contain many stories which make one stop and question the stories we have been told, and continue to tell about ourselves and our relationship to the world we live in.

      It’s remarkable that the Greeks had the scientific knowledge to calculate the circumference of the earth, and that other early societies had similarly profound insights as well. It’s for good reason that the Middle Ages were called the Dark Ages, when reality had to conform to the preconceived notions of the clergy, and everything that could not be reconciled with their narrow interpretation of the bible was simply declared sacrilegious.


  3. A beautiful collection of pictures that act as a reminder of how wonderful our planet is. I think you know that I completely agree with you – every day does indeed need to be Earth Day. We all jointly bear the responsibility for looking after the ecology of our Earth and preventing the destruction of our home and everything that lives upon it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, every day should be, and in reality is, Earth Day. We are the most insignificant member of the environment in one way of looking at things and the most significant in our effect on the planet’s resources and health. The planet would do well without us but in reverse we would not do very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. While I don’t deify the earth, I certainly share the concerns you outline here. I well remember being taught as a child that we should treat our environment as well as we treat other people. Unfortunately, a serious decline in our respect for others has been accompanied by a similar lack of care for the natural world. Selfishness lies at the heart of it all; changing policies won’t be enough if hearts aren’t changed as well. How to do that’s the question, of course, but one of the values of earth day is its ability to remind people who might not otherwise think about such things that they need to pay attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. I don’t know if the decline in respect and civility is new or has always existed. I find it difficult to reconcile the good and evil individuals are capable of. When it comes to humanity as a collective, I think we have done more evil than good overall, have lived as though there is no tomorrow, and have put our own needs over other species’. And I don’t really see that changing significantly in the future. Too many influential people and organizations profit from the current system and have no interest in changing it, and they only think of the present, and not the future of the planet.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow – das sind nicht nur wunderbare Bilder – sondern Du schreibst einen Text dazu, der jedes Herz berühren muss. Wir wissen, was wir der Erde antun, der Artenvielfalt und noch viel mehr, aber wir tun zu wenig, um all das ausreichend zu schützen, um es uns zu erhalten. Weltweit wissen wir das alle. Unsere Lebensgrundlage steht auf dem Spiel – aber wir müssen alle zusammenstehen, nicht nur ein paar Länder und das ist eben nicht der Fall.
    Heute kleben die Klimakleber gerade ganz Berlin zu.
    Und dass wir hier in Deutschland nun alle Öl- und Gasheizungen ausbauen müssen, das macht vielen Menschen Angst und in China werden 200 Kohlekraftwerke neu gebaut und geplant. Das paßt alles noch nicht zusammen, Weltweit werden es täglich mehr Menschen, weniger Natur bedeutet das. Ich habe keine Idee, wie die Zukunft für unsere Enkel aussehen wird, wie viele Insekten noch wie lange überleben können, wie viele Bäume noch gefällt werden müssen, um Platz für neue Sojafelder zu schaffen. Ich meinerseits bin ratlos..
    Viele Grüße und danke für den Artikel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ich danke dir für deinen Kommentar, liebe Maren.

      Jeder, der darauf achtet, was überall schief geht, muß sich Sorgen um die Zukunft unseres Planeten machen. Manchmal beneide ich die Menschen die glauben, daß die Technik alle Probleme lösen werden, und ich hoffe, daß es noch rechtzeitig Lösungen geben wird, um den Klimawandel rückgängig zu machen und weiteres Artensterben zu verhindern. Doch es sieht auch für mich so aus, als werde zu viel geredet und zu wenig getan.

      Ich wünsche jedenfalls Euren Enkeln mitsamt allen anderen Lebewesen, daß es noch eine Zukunft mit lebenswertem Leben geben wird.

      Sei herzlich gegrüßt,

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You could not have said it better, Tanja, your post really brought tears to my eyes, because I fear it is all going to disappear, thanks to humanity´s stupidity and greed. People, not you or me, but sadly, the majority, seem beyond the capacity to limit their behaviour, and short-term profit still rules the game. I do not know if this will or can change. So many people are trying to do something, but it is such an uphill struggle. I do not know anymore if we will be able to survive as a species. For many years I was optimistic, but I have lost that optimism over the decades of watching biodiversity decline and the climate catastrophy getting worse and worse and politicians just paying lip-service to change, even rolling back previous good policies. Ah, Earth Day every day, yes, but not enough people seem to care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Karin. I completely relate to your fears and frustrations and I’m constantly fighting against a sense of hopelessness–if not despair. But it’s difficult to live without hope for a better–or any–future, and it’s better for our health and the health of the planet if we continue to take whatever little steps we can.
      So let’s honor Earth Day every day in that spirit.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “If we keep putting economic interests ahead of ecological ones, we all lose, even if we die rich.”
    -Nicely put. Thanks for sharing your careful thoughts and splendid photography.

    Liked by 1 person

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