This is a talk given on the 22nd April, 2012 by Rex A E Hunt, who is a retired Uniting Church minister, Founding director of The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, and Chair, Common Dreams Conference for Religious Progressives.
It was Christmas Eve in December 1968. Apollo 8 was orbiting the moon, the American astronauts busy photographing possible landing sites for the missions that would follow.
On the fourth orbit, Commander Frank Borman decided to roll the craft away from the moon and tilt its windows toward the horizon – he needed a navigational fix. What he got, instead, was a sudden view of the earth, rising. “Oh my God,” he said. “Here’s the earth coming up.” Crew member Bill Anders grabbed a camera and took the photograph that became the iconic image perhaps of all time” (McKibben 2010:2)
The space agency NASA gave the image the code name AS8-14-2383, but we now know it as “Earthrise”, a picture “of a blue-and-white marble floating amid the vast backdrop of space, set against the barren edge of the lifeless moon” (McKibben 2010:2). This image, along with another of Earth from space, called “Blue Marble”, and taken by crew on board Apollo 17 four years later, has appeared in TV mini-series, scientific publications and school text books, on greeting cards, a postage stamp, and advertising posters, not to mention having their own pages on Wikipedia!
As the other Apollo 8 Crew member, Jim Lovell, put it: “the earth… suddenly appeared as ‘a grand oasis’” (McKibben 2010:2).
But author and environmental activist Bill McKibben has pointed out: “…we no longer live on that planet” (McKibben 2010:2).
To read his thought-provoking talk, click here.