5 quotes that show why you go into space a scientist and come down an environmentalist.
"If you really love something, you don’t want to lose it."
One of my favorite quotes ever is from astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell.
It's a little rough, but it sure does make a point. He described his experience of seeing the Earth from the moon like so:
"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a b****.'”
I've always loved the image of it — some congressional blowhard stuffed into a spacesuit. I love the message, too, and it's something I think we need to hear more often.
On Dec. 5, 2015, a group of astronauts once again tried to give world leaders everywhere a new perspective.
Planetary Collective presented world leaders at COP21 with with a video. In it, 18 astronauts from around the world asked them to take action against climate change.
And, in typical astronaut fashion, they said it in ways that really just nail it.
So without further ado, here are five (more) things you realize as an astronaut.
1. Humanity's effect on the planet is undeniable.
"Less than 550 humans have orbited the Earth. Those of us lucky enough to have done so more than once have not only heard about the negative impact that the industrial age has had on our planet, we’ve seen it with our own eyes." — Michael Lopez-Alegria, Space Shuttle, Soyuz, ISS, and U.S. spacewalk record holder
2. You get an eyewitness view on the environment.
"We astronauts have been witnessing the continued shrinking of the Aral Sea; the burning rainforests along the Amazon River and in Indonesia; the polluted air over industrial zones; and the dirty water at the river deltas." — Ernst Messerschmid, Ph.D, Space Shuttle
3. You realize how blessed we are.
"Suppose I can transfer the experience which I have to you, then you would go out and see the Earth. And when you have, let’s say the spirit and the insight, and the attitude of an astronaut, you start to love the Earth. And if you really love something, you don’t want to lose it." — Wubbo Ockels, Ph.D, Space Shuttle and first Dutch citizen in space
4. We are a very small part of a very big picture.
"We are citizens of space and stewards of Earth. We need to take actions to build a global climate alliance in order to protect our environment." — Soichi Noguchi, Space Shuttle, Soyuz, and ISS
5. It's our responsibility to protect the Earth.
"I believe we must do everything we can to minimize the human contribution to climate change and make better choices so we can live in harmony with nature and with each other." — Jerry Carr, Skylab
Because that's what it's really about, at least for me. Responsibility.
We are not children. We don't cower in caves anymore. We are not afraid of the dark. We don't ignore our messes, we don't make excuses, and we certainly don't put things off, hoping someone else will come along and save us.
We are adults. We take responsibility for our actions. That's what adults do.
Sometimes it just takes a little perspective to see that.
See what the other 13 astronauts had to say below:
Ready to reach for the stars? You can help protect the Earth by signing the League of Conservation Voters' petition supporting the EPA's new Clean Power Plan.