So I am a day late for Earth Day. Earth Day 2010 was the 40th anniversary of the day that is meant to inspire people to respect the environment and atmosphere for at least a day. After all, these two things allow us to thrive on the surface and have pointed us to where we are today via evolution.
The modern environment movement began in 1968 with the first manned mission to orbit the moon turned its camera toward Earth and took a very famous photograph called "Earthrise".
For my money, this picture not only remains my favorite picture, it also evokes specific emotion every time I see it. On the day the picture was taken, people were going about their business on Earth, milling around at work, home, and running errands getting ready for Christmas (the picture was taken on December 24). Weather systems were racing around the atmosphere, ships were steaming through vast open oceans, and political strife remained high much as it does today. Yet all of that, every single person on the planet, every manufactured item, every droplet of rain or water vapor molecule is represented in Earthrise by just a few pixels. To me, that is stunning.
So, I wanted to pay a bit of homage to the beauty that sustains us. The environment could very well have been something that simply gave, and continues to give, us life. It could have chosen to be dull, with the boring purposes of providing oxygen to our lungs, growing nutrients for our health, and giving us permission to wander the surface. Instead, Earth is beautiful. Would we really have missed a rainbow had the atmosphere been incapable of producing one? Should a tulip never existed, would we have noticed? If waterfalls never formed, would we have found a different thing to stare at in wonder? Truly, these are all gifts we have all taken for granted and to bring your attention back to the beauty that once was, and still is. While I find cliches a bit annoying, sometimes it is best to look at the atmosphere through a child's eyes. A child will look at a halo around the sun and wonder why. A child will stare at the ripples on a pond and wonder why they are there. To adults, we know sky is blue. To a child, why is the sky blue?
So I leave you with only a small collection of my favorite atmospheric and environmental characters. Please, add to them.
ice halo in Grand Island, NE (richy5
Clear December weather reveals a Buddhist shrine on the trail to Mt. Everest.
Sunrise in the Sand dunes of Western Nebraska (HamWX
Sunrise taken in the Sandhill region of Western Nebraska in the fall of 2009.
Half dome taken from Glacier point
North Road of Tree Nursery - Indian Head, Saskatchewan
Mammatus Clouds over Temple Texas
A night of severe storms rolled through St. Joe Michigan last night.