Look out at space. “Sky at Google Earth, which made its debut in cyberspace early yesterday, turns Googlers around and aims their eyes toward the heavens, with user-friendly tools for navigating and zooming deep into the skies of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.”

And from beyond the planet look back around and watch Breathing Earth, a simulation that displays the carbon dioxide emission levels of every country on Earth as well as their birth and death rates — all in real time. Move your mouse cursor to any country to get specific details. Watch: the amazingly short time it takes the US (5.4 seconds) to generate 1000 tons of CO2 AND the alarming birth rate of places like China and India (a birth every 1.3 seconds vs Canada and Australia with a birth every 1.5 minutes.) Think forward. You’re picturing your grandchildren’s world.

I hold a slim hope that simulations like these might help us internalize the inconvenient truths: that we are a most favored planet in all the Cosmos; we are not treating it is if we cared that this Blue Planet sustain life beyond a corporate quarter, political administration or the lifetime of those living today as if there were no tomorrow. Look up, look back, look in.

action_125×1251.jpgWhich leads me back to Earth to a very small but possibly significant so-what: consider participating in Blog Action Day on October 15. I will do so. It’s reach (through bloggers and their rss readers) is already over 2.7 million as I visit the site this morning. What might come from this focused group-mind holding global issues up for all of us to see? It’s certain the problems won’t go away ignored. Let’s turn our attention together to the most urgent problems we–and our imperiled offspring–will ever face.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. It seems to me that simulations like these end up attracting viewers who already are aware of the problems being presented. The internalization has probably already occurred for them.

    I read about the GoogleSky yeterday and it took awhile to figure out I had to upgrade the program to find the new button on the toolbar. Just what I need…Something else to distract me!