A sense of scale

oilspillearth.jpg As with any truly massive disaster, finding the terms to describe the scale of the destruction is a feat rarely accomplished. Perhaps our inability to describe is really what qualifies an event as a catastrophe.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can now put the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in your backyard. Or, more precisely everybody’s backyard.

Paul Rademacher plotted the oil spill and with some Google Earth magic, you can plop the spill right on to your neighborhood, or, rather, your state. (You’ll need a modern browser and the Google Earth plugin to view it.)

As it stands now, the spill would extend from Duluth-Superior to Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Or on land, all the way from Faribault to Pine City.

By the way, it appears that officials estimates of the amount of oil gushing from the sea floor could be 10 times too small.

  • DNA

    A dharma friend had sent me an email on perspective

    “It’s the twentieth anniversary of the famous “pale blue dot” photo – Earth as seen from Voyager 1 while on the edge of our solar system (approximately 3,762,136,324 miles from home). A video We Are Here: The Pale Blue Dot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pfwY2TNehw with Sagan’s words are worth remembering:

    “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

    Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

    I went to Google Maps found my Minneapolis Prospect park location with the oil slick covering Twin Cities Metropolitan and surrounding area and zoomed out…the Earth reduces to about and inch and a half. See the video above (Pale Blue Dot) and get another perspective on our Earth. If we only had kept hemp legal and not slandered it calling it “marijuana/marihuana” we would not be in the economic and ecological predicament that we’re in. Carl Sagan by the way was pro-cannabis/hemp/ganja. We need perspective, thank you for your post 🙂