23 December 2008

Did earthrise change us?

A lot of posts are commenting on the anniversary of the famous picture of Earth from space (here's one, two, and three). Many people claim this picture changed how we view the world. Admittedly, I was only 2 when this picture was taken, but I don't know if it changed things as much as we would like to think.

I think there was sense in the few years of the Apollo missions that this was just the start. But it hasn't worked out that way. True, we have a lot of fantastic robots exploring the solar system. True, India and China have started to pick up the slack left by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. But that's a far cry from what we were expecting. People were expecting us to have a permanent presence on the moon and be well on the way to a manned mission to Mars in the first decade of the 21st century.

People also talk about this picture being the start of the environmental movement. But it's been 40 years, and I only have to say "climate change" to point out that people's goodwill towards the environment hasn't exactly resulted in great outcomes.

Maybe I am just too young to fully appreciate the differences in mindset that occurred 40 years ago. Or maybe this is just my "Bah, humbug" post for the year.

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