“The Blue Marble” photo of
earth taken from Apollo 17 (1972)
Gull had done her post – then hey presto in the evening .. BBC2 had this programme following one 90 minute orbit of the earth – the astronauts will see 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets as they travel 220 miles above us. This film shows us a world that usually is only seen through their eyes.
Presented by Kevin Fong, a doctor who has trained with NASA for the past 15 years, with insights from British astronaut Piers Sellers (specialising in climate and environmental science), who describes what it’s like to live, work and walk in space.
Atlantis hurtles towards the International Space Station (ISS) with its next contingent of scientifically trained astronauts – the ISS members have not seen anyone else from earth for a month. Atlantis also brings replenishment food and water ...
Laser projected from the
Royal Observatory in Greenwich
marking the Prime Meridian
... micro-gravity means that fairly complex protein structures can be created more quickly, which helps with the testing of drugs and speeds up the process of research into various diseases.
Their starting point for this documentary is the same as those navigators of yore – the Greenwich Prime Meridian 0° – the Greenwich Observatory long acknowledged to hold the most accurate measurements available for the suns, stars and moon – so vital to navigators.
Rock outcrop in Iceland, a visible
surface feature of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,
the Easternmost edge of the North
American plate. It is a popular destination
for tourists in Iceland.
Fifteen minutes later the next ‘stop’ is South America and the Amazon Rainforest – 1.5 billion acres of land teeming with species of plants and animals, as well as operating as one of the lungs of the earth – absorbing the carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen: helping to keep the planet and climate in balance.
Limb view, of the Earth's atmosphere.
Colours roughly denote the layers
of the atmosphere.
(Sunset from the Space Station)
We now, through the satellites circling the earth, have the ability to see the man-made scars and record those changes ... the deforestation has slowed significantly, but still too much is being cut down – 447 acres every orbit.
Next port of call is Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela – the worst storm spot on the planet ... the satellites now track the birth of storms so warnings can be given ... there are 1,800 storms every 90 minute orbit of the space station ... this monitoring of the weather systems has saved countless lives – whereas in our living memory the storms could be devastating.
Our orbit takes us next to Texas where more land is farmed than anywhere else on earth – there are 16m cattle and the enormous herds can only be managed by helicopter ... 49,657 cattle are slaughtered for food in every 90 minutes orbit.
The Las Vegas Valley; From top left to
bottom right: Las Vegas Strip (Paradise,
Nevada and Winchester, Nevada),
Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson
... every ounce of flour, every biscuit, each slice of bacon ... and 69,437,500 litres of water is used every 90 minute orbit, which is the equivalent of 2,778 articulated water trucks – at vast expense.
Las Vegas is also the fattest place in America – two thirds of the populace is over weight .. and the population has almost doubled in the last twenty years ... this trend we’re seeing all around the world – by 2050 there will be nine billion people (now we have +/- six billion).
Our resources are going to be stretched to the limit ... producing, distributing and ensuring everyone has enough. If we’re going to address that challenge ... we need to find a balance ... to look at our personal freedoms and choices we value around our food and lifestyles, with our responsibilities to live within our environmental and evolutionary limits ...
... we simply cannot continue eating the way we eat now, as we do in the UK and the USA (let alone elsewhere) ... unhappily this change in our thinking is not apparent yet. I also thought that we should think about not condoning this type of lifestyle ... by not visiting resorts (places), where resources are used willy-nilly.
Postage stamp, New Zealand,
1933. Public health has been
promoted - and depicted -
in a wide variety of ways.
... the space station astronauts realise how precious our bodies are – they exercise for 2 hours every day to maintain optimum fitness and health – their food is surprisingly cosmopolitan ... but there are no hamburgers adding to the two million consumed across the world in just one orbit
They need to work together as a team ... or as a tiny community – they need to get along and appreciate each other’s personal differences, as well as the cultural and social aspects of other nations.
The next hop, skip and jump takes this ‘zig-zagging orbital tour’ to the Hawaii islands .. not to look at the tourist beaches thronged by the most isolated population on earth ... but for the enormous rubbish dumps floating in the Pacific Ocean.
Plastic does not break down ... everything we have created is constantly reduced into smaller and smaller pieces ... until the microscopic plastic pellets get into the food chain – where ultimately they mimic hormones.
The salps – shoals of bizarre gelatinous like creatures – live off phytoplanktons, which like to eat CO2 and could be our protection against global warming ... the carbon is locked away by the salps, and on decomposition sinks to the bottom of the sea. Whereas a tree locks up carbon for 100 – 200 years ...
Our next stop is South Korea – the technical capital of the world (in the 1960s the national wealth was on a par with Afghanistan – now it is the 13th richest country in the world); the key to this growth has been the silicon chip.
Teheranno – “Silicon Valley
However South Korea is a minnow compared to its vast neighbour – China. Fifty years ago it had a rural economy based on farming life with an average $20 wage and a life expectancy of about 40 years.
Now China leads the way as the manufacturing nation – one quarter of everything produced on earth is made in China. The wealth of the nation has increased 100 fold .... but it needs limitless energy to satisfy the world’s demands for its goods and services.
|Topography of China|
... the UK and America’s 40 year old clean air policy is plain to see from our orbiting ISS ... China understands the environmental pressures and is trying everything to find a balance.
Despite this - renewable energies (sunlight, wind, rain, tides and thermal heat) cannot supply sufficient power to keep up with demand – China have invested $48 billion in renewable energy, becoming the world’s leading investor ... but still needed to burn 600,000 tonnes of coal in the 90 minute orbit.
Cherrapunji high in the Himalayan foothills, records the most rainfall in a year (12 metres) – in fact it can rain all year round - while 81.6 trillion litres of water will fall as rain onto our planet in one ninety minute orbit ...
Aral Sea – 1999 and 2008
Over time toxic waters and plants can be renewed – as has happened at Chernobyl .. and as I previously mentioned here in my Eden Project and Iron Curtain posts.
During every orbit though 34 sq kilometres of land will become desert ... the landscape is changing in our quest for fresh water.
The last stop is Ethiopia where it is thought that 160,000 years ago the origin of modern man began to emerge ...another place of great change ... which through the dynamic landscape of faulting, earthquakes and volcanic activity a natural world was allowed to flourish into which humans first settled and began to evolve.
Anatomical comparison of the skulls
of a modern human (left) and
Homo neanderthalenss (right).
... many of which due to climate change will be drowned or will definitely be very less attractive ... one lesson we need to relearn from our ancestors – is the ability to move in order to continue to prosper.
To counter these massive changes we as humans are inflicting on this world we somehow need to adjust our community living – be more compassionate to others ... understand their needs ... we will need to adjust our lives in order to sustain an ever growing population – during our orbit 23,019 children will be born.
|Scarlet Macaw, which is indigenous|
to the American tropics
This unique journey around the weird and wonderful planet of ours that we call home – was put together by the BBC and its collaborative scientists ... and to them I give total credit ...
PS Gull says it’s too long – but bloggeress .. says it needs to be said and read – as we humans use every part of this earth ... the rest of the flora and fauna has boundaries ...
BBC2 Film and preamble ... I hope when it becomes available you’ll take some time to watch it.
Eden Project – Plants as Metal Gatherers
Iron Curtain or Rich Green Wilderness
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories