The main centers of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) lay like a loose pearl necklace around the coastal edges of the nation.
I’ve never been to any of the NASA sites, but I grew up watching them from a distance.
As a child of the Sixties, the moon launches that took place were an invitation to dream of the stars. They made everything – anything – seem possible. It was just a matter of extending the grasp of our human hands by a finger’s length.
With the passing of time, those dreams of exploration have expanded in unexpected ways. As it turns out, what we don’t know about space is matched in kind by what we don’t know about our home planet.
Or maybe it would be more accurate to say what we don’t know and would like to find about the cosmos runs parallel to what we have chosen not to know, and would rather not find out, about Earth.
We’ve known about human-caused climate impact for a very long time. Even the fossil-fuel industry has known about the effects of its products for longer than any care to admit.
And a rise in sea levels is one of the main effects of a rapidly warming world.
So what to think about the story that many of the most iconic NASA facilities, those stepping stones to understanding our place in the universe and in the environment, are at risk of being submerged by the rising seas of global warming?
NASA and international space agencies around the world provide an array of tools and mechanisms for examining our world as well as others – those first photos of the blue planet bobbing in deep space inspired many to try and protect what turned out to be a rather unique place to live.
Those initial images have been followed by a myriad of eyes that look at our planet in self-examination. In photos, measurements, radar, NASA and its partner agencies have been building an ever expanding archive of information, deepening our understanding of the forces at work here on the surface.
These are visions that aren’t necessarily what I would call the stuff of dreams, but they provide a portal to action in a way that perhaps moon launches didn’t for the average earthbound human.
These are images taken from the perspective of celestials, given to the earthbound. They promote an awareness of what the planet it doing, we are doing and maybe, what we can do it better.
The United States launch pads, were built near coastlines for safety reasons. But latitude plays a role – these are the southernmost regions of the country, and thus closest to the Equator, where “the greater diameter of the planet provides a slingshot effect that gives each rocket more bang for the propulsion buck.” (NYT)
What to say about some of our best technological achievements being inundated by the technologies and habits we can’t seem to quit?