Zoom out and reflect upon Green Politics
“We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing that we discovered was the Earth.”
-Bill Anders (Apollo 8 Astronaut)
During the early years of the Space Race, pictures taken of the Earth by newly launched probes and satellites would gain immense popularity among the people. Not a single human until then had seen what their home planet actually looked like. In December of 1968, Apollo 8 became the first crewed spacecraft to orbit the Moon. Astronaut William Anders was scheduled to capture pictures of the Moon's surface. As the spacecraft emerged from the far side of the Moon, his eyes were immediately drawn to the horizon, where a striking blue Earth was rising above the dull grey surface of the Moon. The sight was quite literally out of this world! Without a second thought, he started capturing images of the rising Earth. This image is appropriately named ‘Earthrise’ and is perhaps one of the most iconic pictures taken of our planet.
From the human perspective on Earth, our planet seems enormous to us, with far-stretched lands, vast oceans, and a boundless blue sky. On the contrary, Earthrise presents a different reality. Our planet appeared to be a mediocre-sized object, suspended against a backdrop of the endless void. This perspective evoked a sense of environmental consciousness and impacted the ongoing environmental movement, adding momentum to it. Along with several other reasons, Earthrise resulted in the establishment of the first Earth Day on 22nd April 1970.
In pictures taken of the Earth since, especially the images taken by newer spacecrafts show a thin blue halo around the Earth. That is Earth’s atmosphere. This fine sheet of air mainly consists of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The precise composition of these gases enabled life to evolve on Earth and keeps it breathing and thriving. Any more oxygen would freeze the planet and more carbon dioxide would cause it to heat up.
In 1958, scientist Charles Keeling provided legitimate evidence concerning a steady yet rapid rise in carbon dioxide emissions in the earth’s atmosphere. Data is recorded to the present day and depicted in a graph known as the ‘Keeling Curve’. In order to generate energy, wood, coal, and fossil fuels are burnt, resulting in a by-product of waste gases, mainly CO2, being let out in the atmosphere. Consequently, the carbon dioxide levels increase dramatically. The runaway greenhouse effect arises when there is an excess of greenhouse gases such as CO2 in the atmosphere, trapping more energy from the sun than it can radiate back into space. This causes the surface temperature to rise and prevents water from remaining liquid.
It has been hypothesized that Venus once was a planet very much like Earth, but it followed a grim evolutionary path. Evidence suggests the runaway greenhouse effect has turned Venus into a hell-like planet with more than 95% of the atmosphere consisting of carbon dioxide. This makes it the hottest planet in the solar system with temperature going up to 470 degrees Celsius. The example of Venus gives us a vivid and alarming depiction of what the future of Earth could be like.
Human activity has been the most significant cause of amplifying the greenhouse effect on Earth. Man-made emissions have resulted in carbon dioxide levels to rise quicker than ever. Ozone depletion is yet another concerning factor that is caused by harmful industrial gases being released into the atmosphere. Rapid growth in the global economy and technological advancements have been happening at the cost of harming our ecosystem. The factual scientific data of the past and based on it, the well-calculated predictions of the future are unequivocally presented to us. Adaptiveness is the key to our survival.
Individual initiatives such as sustainable living and a zero waste lifestyle are significant steps. However, measures need to be taken by states of authority as the greatest contributing factor to accelerating the greenhouse effect are the generation of energy and large-scale industrial pollutants. Politics holds the influential and decision-making power in the affairs of the world on a wider scale.
The ideology of Green Politics aims to establish an ecosystem where mankind can live in rhythm with the environment. Knowledge of the environment, global responsibility, sustainability, and ensuring the aspect of a better future are some of the core values of ecopolitics. Hence the implementation of green ideology can facilitate in solving the larger problems that we face. No matter the difference in culture, ethnicity, or tradition, if nations across the globe adopt environmentalism as a core factor in their policymaking, the common set of ambitions that are set by each country can create a sense of connection for them on an ideological level.
Development in any form does not need to be restricted, but environmental sustainability must be taken into consideration. There are no scientific or technological hindrances to protecting the life that this world presently harbours and our future. It all depends on what we truly value and if we can summon the will to act on it. The Earth is the only home we have ever known; therefore, we must do everything in our power to preserve it.