If a person poisoned my food, air, or water, they would go to jail. Why can’t we stop companies who poison the Earth’s food, air, and water?
A Picture Of Our Planet Earth from 6 Billion Kilometers Away - it’s a speck of dust
The “Pale Blue Dot” photograph was among the last images captured by NASA’s Voyager I, in 1990, at the request of Carl Sagan, before the spacecraft’s imaging system was shut down. It’s the farthest-away picture we have of our planet. Voyager I was launched in 1977 and continues on its journey towards interstellar space today (NASA says it’s getting there within the next few years). It will continue sending us information until its instruments finally run out of power in 2025-2030.
Here’s what Carl Sagan wrote about it:
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From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
—Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997 reprint, pp. xv–xvi
RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilisation (by theRSAorg)
“Is it possible to extend our empathy to the entire human race - as our extended family? To our fellow creatures - as our evolutionary family? To the entire biosphere - as our common community?”
When change depends on overcoming the influence of an entrenched power, it helps to have another powerful interest in your corner—an interest that stands to gain from reform. In the case of the tobacco industry, that turned out to be the states, which found themselves on the hook (largely because of Medicaid) for the soaring costs of smoking-related illnesses. So, under economic duress, states and territories joined to file suit against the tobacco companies to recover some of those costs, and eventually they prevailed.
The food movement will find such allies, especially now that Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has put the government on the hook for the soaring costs of treating chronic illnesses—most of which are preventable and linked to diet. No longer allowed to cherry-pick the patients they’re willing to cover, or to toss overboard people with chronic diseases, the insurance industry will soon find itself on the hook for the cost of the American diet too. It’s no accident that support for measures such as taxing soda is strongest in places like Massachusetts, where the solvency of the state and its insurance industry depends on figuring out how to reduce the rates of Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The food movement is about to gain a powerful new partner, an industry that is beginning to recognize that it, too, has a compelling interest in issues like taxing soda, school lunch reform and even the farm bill. Indeed, as soon as the healthcare industry begins to focus on the fact that the government is subsidizing precisely the sort of meal for which the industry (and the government) will have to pick up the long-term tab, eloquent advocates of food system reform will suddenly appear in the unlikeliest places—like the agriculture committees of Congress.
None of this should surprise us. For the past forty years, food reform activists like Frances Moore Lappé have been saying that the American way of growing and eating food is “unsustainable.” That objection is not rooted in mere preference or aesthetics, but rather in the inescapable realities of biology. Continuing to eat in a way that undermines health, soil, energy resources and social justice cannot be sustained without eventually leading to a breakdown. Back in the 1970s it was impossible to say exactly where that breakdown would first be felt. Would it be the environment or the healthcare system that would buckle first? Now we know. We simply can’t afford the healthcare costs incurred by the current system of cheap food—which is why, sooner or later, we will find the political will to change it.
- Michael Pollan