Seeing The Curve Of The Earth Along Colorado’s Front Range Is An Epiphany Of Stewardship

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John Conlin Contributor
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I live along the Front Range of Colorado and I frequently hike in the foothills with my trusty dog. It is a common experience to look east onto the plains and on the horizon be able to clearly discern the curve of the earth.

For those who have never had this experience, it can be quite an epiphany. Right there before your eyes you can actually see the curve of the globe of this wonderful place we call home.

photo by John Conlin

photo by John Conlin

For those who wonder: It is about 8 inches per square mile. You can mentally extrapolate from this curve to get a feeling on how large (or small) planet Earth really is.

On one hand it seems quite large; visually extrapolating that curve shows a pretty big sphere. On the other hand, when one considers this planet and the entire Milky Way galaxy is hurtling through space at about 150 miles per second and we all live on a very thin veneer on the earth’s surface and the planet becomes quite small, quite fragile and quite special.

I also have an undergraduate degree in geology so I look at the world a little differently than most. As I look west to the foothills I think of the dinosaurs wandering about on the shore of an inland sea, when the first Rocky Mountains stood. Yes, when the first Rocky Mountains stood. What we see now are the second Rocky Mountains, the first having been eroded away long ago.

What an incredibly dynamic world we live on. Mountains rising and falling. Sea floors being born, racing across the ocean and then diving under continents — and in the process making things like the Rocky Mountains. Sea levels rising and falling; or is it the land itself rising and falling? Both actually. Entire continents racing across the globe.

And the whole place literally infected with this wonderful thing we call life. We have never found an environment which could support life that doesn’t. Rather we are constantly amazed at the vibrancy and breadth of life, like those little beasties which live in “solid” rock miles below where your feet stand right now.

And you and I, each and every one of us is directly, physically related to all this life. In fact we are related to all life that has ever lived on this planet. A mind-boggling reality.

It was only around 200,000 years ago when the ancestors of many of us first walked out of Africa. And today here we all stand, whether we want it or not stewards of the entire planet.

Pretty amazing in an observable universe with around 700,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in it, our Sun being just one. Yet as far as we know we are the only life in all of it; which would seem to make our position as stewards of the planet even more profound.

Are we up to the task? Is it even possible to know? Perhaps one of the reasons none of those other 700 sextillion stars have left us any sign of high-tech life is that it is damn tough to make it.

So for now, rather than yelling and screaming at each other regarding this or that political issue, perhaps it is better to simply pause and reflect on the astounding facts in front of us. As famous astronomer and cosmologist Carl Sagan noted, “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

Whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, we have progressed to the point where we truly are the stewards of the entire planet. Our actions are going to determine the future of this planet and all life upon it, there simply is no way around it.

This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. It is not a conservative or liberal or populist or whatever one either. Those are the basis of childish ways of thinking which must be discarded if we are to survive long term.

We need to end these immature ideological wars (as if our desires and wants actually matter) and to simply search for the truth. We do it in the hard sciences. We need to do it in all things.

Some things work better than others. The more we discover them the better off for all and our odds for collectively living another day increase. It would be an obscenity of cosmic proportions if we were to squander all that is presented before us.

This earth of ours and all life is precious beyond comprehension. Open your heart to this reality, toss aside the old ways of thinking and join hands in a collective search for the truth. Everything truly does depend on it.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change. He also holds a BS in Earth Sciences and an MBA and is the founder and president of E.I.C. Enterprises, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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John Conlin