TALES OF OUR TIMES: Space Photos Sum Up Your Beliefs

By JOHN BARTLIT
New Mexico Citizens
for Clean Air & Water
 
Space Photos Sum Up Your Beliefs 
 
“A picture is worth a thousand words” tells more about human nature than you would guess. The saying is often attributed to Confucius (born 551 BC). Other sources trace its origin to ad man Fred Barnard in 1921. Check it out.   
Our nature also chooses the meanings we ascribe to today’s photographs of Earth from space. The pair of photos confirms for each of us that our world view is wiser than the views held by others.
 
Sunlit photograph of Earth taken from Apollo 17 shortly after launch Dec. 7, 1972. Courtesy photo
 
The sunlit photograph of Earth was taken from Apollo 17 shortly after launch on Dec. 7, 1972. It displays what we are given to work with: The Earth, its bright water and air hanging together in the black void. We also have the rare faculty of taking such photos.
 
NASA’s sunless montage of Earth at night shows what people create in their surroundings. Like clockwork, the globe makes its regular rounds, leaving Africa to turn up in the center of both photos.
 
The long night’s image is a grand composite of history and demography. Run your eye along the ancient coastlines, across the dark hinterlands and over the densely spangled tracts. 
Think of the ways the picture reflects populations, population subgroups and population density; then schooling; governance; commerce and industry; modernity; and dominion. The mind works to sort out causes and effects.
 
NASA’s sunless montage of Earth at night. Courtesy photo
 
Now try picturing the state of affairs yet to come. Imagine the comparable montage on this date 30 years hence, Dec. 26, 2044. When you get that right, try 2144.
Politics is the art of conjuring up the future. Candidates win elections with plausible imagery.
Venture through the world from space. Find the stories that match your politics.
Take in other stories, too – the parts that weigh against your politics.
Tis the season to rummage through old times and new prospects.

 

 
 
 
CSTsiteisloaded