The Blue Marble

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

In December 1972, the Apollo 17 crew took an image of Earth from 29,000 km into space. It was known as the Blue Marble image and has become one of the most recognised images of Earth.

It has been a thought provoking week on the farm. We are involved with a project run by Duchy College and Plymouth University, studying carbon levels on farms and how the carbon emissions and storage on farms impacts the planet. Our farm is part of the research looking at soil sampling, measurements of carbon storage and hopefully we can learn how we can improve our land both in terms of production, carbon storage and lessen our human impact on the planet.

I also have been watching the television series Earth from Space, where they have been using detailed satellite images to track human impact on the Earth.  This has been shockingly illustrating the negative effect we have on the wildlife and natural environment of our world. I did go to bed feeling quite disgusted to be human. However, I read a quote from Marcel Proust where he said

“The real voyage of discovery consists not so much in seeking new territory, but possibly in having new sets of eyes.”

It could be so easy to become despondent about the hopelessness of environmental challenges and feel unable to change anything, or, we can all try to make small changes that may have a bigger impact. So as a family we have discussed one or two things we can do to help. Our new challenges are to reduce our plastic use by buying block soap and shampoo from sources that don’t use palm oil and to stop using palm oil in our food that comes from unsustainable sources.

On the farm we are investigating the possibility of getting a large composter to make more organic matter from the islands waste products, therefore reducing our need to ship waste, contribute to land-fill and subsequently improve our soils and its carbon storage. Also to increase our rainfall water storage to help in the dry months and reduce the pressure on the boreholes.

Returning to the Blue Marble image, 71% of Earth’s surface is water and the ocean holds 96.5% of all of Earths water. The human body is 60% water; the brain is 73% water. Water is essential to our existence. Wallace Nichols began the Blue Marble project nearly 30 years after the Apollo 17 crew took that iconic image of Earth. This is his project;

“Get a blue marble, any size. Hold the blue marble in front of you at arm’s length, and look at it. That’s what Earth looks like from a million miles away: a small, blue, fragile, watery dot. Think of someone you’re grateful for, when was the last time you told them that you appreciate them? Take the marble with you and give it to the person you thought of. Tell them the story of what this marble represents-both our blue planet and your gratitude. It’s a reminder to us all to be grateful, for each other, and for our beautiful world.” Blue Mind.

This story and project, is a hopeful, optimistic and inspiring way of encouraging us all to do our little bit to help look after the wonderful world in which we live.

When is swim I find it similar to meditation. It is a chance to breathe and to re-set my mind and body, I come out of the water able to see problems in a clearer way. As soon as I dive down into the water my whole body is forced to think only of the breath, the movement of the swim and the water and nature around me.

Today the sea at Quay is calm and silvered, glassy green. The air has a mild, almost sultry promise of rain as the dark grey clouds gather on the western horizon, sending Bishop Rock into steely darkness. The stark white morning light reflects on the water’s surface of the Tresco channel. The sea is beautifully smooth to swim through; it silks over my body.

In the middle of the bay, I raise my head above the water line and see that it has started to rain, the glass-like balls bouncing of the grey surface, dancing and rippling, themselves like tiny marbles. All around me and within me is water, this most precious, beautiful substance. I think of that blue marble and how lucky we are to have it.

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