We are coming to the end of Earth Week.
Theoretically, we are supposed to celebrate the planet we live on and maybe we could even try to be a little nicer to it and learn more about it. I know that is asking a lot, but let’s live in hope because despair is a real bummer and people in despair don’t get much done.
The first question I always wonder about is, why we call this planet Earth. Why not Dirt or Soil, Sea or Sky. Why not Clouds or Critters or even Life? I have nothing against the word Earth, it just seems an unusual name for a planet that has a lot more water, sky and rock.
I always wonder what an alien visitor would call our planet.
Imagine that you are an alien. You’ve won a small fortune in an intergalactic shuffle ball tournament, so you decide to buy a fancy spaceship and set off to explore your galaxy. You arrive at our solar system and there are the usual gas giants and rocky spheres, but one planet stands out, because it is blue and white.
You press a button on your magical analyzer scope, and it tells you the blue is water and the white are clouds. Clouds of water vapor in the thin atmosphere. This would be exciting stuff because you don’t encounter many planets like that. So, you zoom in for a closer look. Your scope tells you there are even some islands on the world’s ocean and that they are floating on a core of moving molten material. This means the planet will be very active geologically, with volcanoes, earthquakes and what we like to call continental drift.
The islands also have a lot of green stuff or vegetation growing on them and better yet there appears to be critters to observe. Pretty exciting stuff after all the gas giants and rocky spheres.
Now most planets probably have life on them. But that life is tiny bacteria living in hot waters deep in the planet’s crust. Not that many have life on the surface. So, this planet is quite a discovery and would deserve a better look. You take your space ship in closer and circle around the planet for a while, so your scope and instruments can come up with more data.
It would be interesting to see what an alien would make out of our planet and particularly the species Homo sapiens. Imagine the alien’s surprise when he saw the dark side of the planet and it was all lit up with electrical lights. He might conclude that we are afraid of the dark, which some humans are. Not only can’t we see very far in the dark, but the darkness scares a lot of people. The alien might even ask the question: just what is it that humans are afraid of?
Ever time I fly in a plane at night I certainly am amazed by all the lights that there are. It seems like a colossal waste of energy, but can you imagine the backlash if you started a campaign for people to turn out all the lights at night?
I am sure there are a lot of things that humans do that an alien would find rather baffling. Like why, if humans need water to drink and fish to eat, would they throw so much sewage and garbage into it? Why are so many cities dumping sewage into the waterways ever time it rains? Which they do.
Can you imagine trying to explain to an alien how the world’s various political systems work? Why taxes and economics are so complicated? Why some humans have so much, and others have so little? The alien might even ask how volcanoes, tsunamis or hurricanes happen.
Have you ever asked for directions? If you have, you will discover that some people aren’t very good at explaining things. So just imagine the confusing and conflicted tales the alien would get, if it asked a number of people these questions.
It’s Earth Week, so let’s learn as much about the planet as we can, just in case an alien comes by and starts asking questions. Seems like a plan to me. “We call it Earth because……..?”