Earth Day: A New Cousin & A Warning

Earth has a new cousin!

Last week’s announcement of the discovery of life on planet Kepler-186f  has scientists jumping for joy. This planet, a mere 500 light years (2.9 quadrillion miles) away is in the constellation Cygnus. It’s an exoplanet, which means its outside our solar system, is about the same size as Earth, and in the “Goldilocks zone- neither too not or too cold, convincing scientists it may support liquid water and a hard, rocky surface, two qualities needed for life.

Don’t be too quick to don your hiking shoes; there’s much work to do before we know what’s really there. Thinking that there could be an earth-twin, though has set my imagination reeling. Long the turf for science fiction writers, the idea that there’s life beyond us is incredible. I do wonder—have they made such an ecological mess of their planet as we have of ours? Has their history been plagued with wars and unrest? Their cultures divided by bigotry and distrust?

It’s Earth Day. We celebrate all the wonders of nature and use the time to examine what we’re doing to protect so many resources that are finite. We discuss global warming as we turn on our air conditioners. We debate mass transportation funding as we drive everywhere. We bemoan the costs of water or the lack of water pressure as we let the tap run and take long showers. We recycle if it’s convenient.

Renowned biodiversity scientist E. O. Wilson  proposes a radical approach. He contends it’s time to end what he calls the “Anthropocene Epoch, the age of man.” He’s not calling for human extinction; he’s warning we need to take better care of Earth now and set goals to maintain the ecosystem.

I remember celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970 on a camping trip with my family. We attended an eco-fair that showed the importance of recycling, the necessity of saving water, the need for trees. A lot has changed since then: unleaded gas, stricter regulations for industry, attention to climate change. There’s much more to do.

 

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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16 Responses to Earth Day: A New Cousin & A Warning

  1. You are so right, Lisa. What will it take for corporations to take measures to protect our environment? The dollar incentive seems to beat all others in their minds!

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  2. And hopefully the emphasis on more science education for all.

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  3. susanissima says:

    Well stated, cg. There are so many issues. Every time R and I catch a plane we feel guilty, but do nothing about it thinking that this is what we must do to stay in touch as a family or, in R’s case, work at a job that takes him all over the world. Here in the Pacific Northwest, at least along the coast, there seems to be real effort to do what we can for our planet, but at the same time the coal industry wants to get a foothold. It’s complex, but we have to stop with the baby steps, and start climbing a few mountains. And you’re right, science education is critical.

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  4. Yes, I feel that way about flying- yet it’s a necessity for all the reasons you give.

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  5. Robinann says:

    Hi there. In st. Louis airport waiting for connection. Put Death Valley on your bucket list. Date? Around Fri after work? Xx

    Sent from my iPodcket

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  6. Drjcwash says:

    Hard to believe it was 44 years ago. It was not as newsworthy then. Now, Earth Day is used to promote shoes. I like this ” Saving Green on Earth Day is Natural.” We way to still have a long to go. I cringe now when I have to copy and scan a document or if I hit print by mistake. I did that today and got 14 pages before I could stop the printer. Thanks.

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  7. Happy Earth Day Lisa! It is exciting to know we might have a cousin planet!
    Diana xo

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  8. I didn’t know the expression “Goldilocks zone.” Perfect. Let’s send her first.

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  9. Reflections says:

    Thanks for a great read!

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  10. ShimonZ says:

    500 light years is a long way to go… since light is the fastest movement known to man. 500 years ago,Columbus stumbled across the new world in a sailing ship, just to remind us of the proportions involved… And we’re just talking about a one way trip. It would probably take us a thousand years to get there, and another 1000 to get back. And if, during the last 500 years they had managed to blow themselves up by atomic bomb, or by the misuse of refrigeration technology, we might not notice it for another 200 years! I think, that with all the positive excitement about the relative similarity between our planet and this new discovery, we might do better to study our own planet more carefully… though the news is a stimulus to our imagination…

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  11. I have started to to take public transit so I don’t have to drive my car to work everyday — and in the process found how much I enjoy taking public transit! I don’t miss driving at all. IN fact, I am far more relaxed when I get home then if I were driving!

    And wow — 44 years ago seems like a long time ago — but not as long as 500 light years.

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  12. The problem is the lack of public transit in most areas out of cities, especially in the US. Much better elsewhere.

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  13. Gwen Tuinman says:

    Fascinating stuff. I think I agree with your advice. Will leave my hiking boots in mothballs a while longer:)

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  14. I really neglected Earth day this year, lost in a blurr of other things! However, I am careful daily, and think about these issues so often. A new planet is something that amazes and amuses me… so far away!

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  15. Totally beyond comprehension but fun to ponder.

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