Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Begun in the '70s when environmental dangers were practically smacking us in the face (Ohio's Cuyahoga River catching on fire, anyone?), it is perhaps even more important today when the challenges are less apparent, and thus seemingly less urgent.
So with the invisibility of these dangers masking the importance of constant vigilance against them, I think today is an excellent opportunity for everyone to step back (even if it is for just a day) and remember exactly how important the Earth really is to us.
The Christian Science Monitor has an ode to the planet which somehow manages to be both cuddly and slightly thought-provoking. CSM editor John Yemma points out, even in this advanced age, how the Earth is vastly superior to any technology and that if it weren't for the Earth we wouldn't have the technology...
Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano which erupted last week and has disrupted international air travel all over the world to the tune of $1.7 billion, is another example of the power of Nature over man. As British television host Laurence Llewelyn Bowen points out in a Daily Telegraph article, people are so used to being in control and being able to go anywhere at the drop of a hat. The enormous cloud of ash which grounded planes and stranded people is a real reminder that we are at Nature's mercy, so we should probably be nice to her. The Boston Globe has 35 photos of the effects of Eyjafjallajokull, which are just absolutely stunning. Particularly the first one.
NASA has come up with some eye-catching images of its own thanks to the new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The spacecraft has sent back images of activity on the sun's surface and close-ups of solar flares among other things scientists have never been able to see before. Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, it began a five-year mission to examine the sun's magnetic field and the effects it has on Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate.
(Photo credit: NASA/Reuters)