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          Opening Salvo

           

          *Author's Note: This was actually created on December 16, 2019, just before I went into hibernation.

          Waking up Saturday morning to eight inches of fresh powder that fell overnight, feeling the warmth of bright sun, despite light winds and 24 degrees. So, what else would I be doing on a Saturday morning . . . but hanging up the laundry on my converted dog-runner? Actually, I had two loads to do. I'd been getting ready for my long hiberhiatus. But there I was. Alone with nature . . . and the dog.  But in the still beauty of a winter day I had plenty of time to take in my surroundings and think.

          And boy, did I ever think. I thought about this magnificent planet we call home; this incredible sphere spinning on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour (imagine that, 1000 rpm, and we don’t feel a thing?) as it hurls through space, circling a distant star some 93 million miles away. Eight planets, along with the recently declassified-as-a-planet, Pluto, all circling our Sun. Our sun, a very average, unassuming star among the estimated one billion trillion stars in the Universe (that’s 1 followed by 21 zeros), is our umbilical cord. If that umbilical cord was a million miles longer or shorter—a distance so miniscule in galactic measurements, it wouldn’t even be a penny out of a trillion dollars.

          Thought of another was: our solar system sits on the very edge of our galaxy, the Milky Way, which is some 105,700 light years across. And given that light travels approximately 5,869,713,600,000 miles in one year (~5.88 trillion miles), multiply that by 105,700 and you get a better sense of just how wide our little tiny galaxy is; about 620,428,727,520,000,000 miles across (620 quadrillion miles); containing anywhere between 100-400 billion stars. Furthermore, astronomers estimate that there are at least 100 billion other galaxies in the observable universe.

          But back here at home, our  ~620 quadrillion-mile Milky Way galaxy is a mere spec, a pinhead, in the Universe; a grain of sand on a beach the size of the United States. Given all that, despite the mild-blowing size of the Universe, many decades of the most advanced scientific methods known to man have yet to prove that there is life anywhere else in the Universe.

          Given the infinitesimal odds that this relatively small planet we’re spinning like a top on, which is sitting on the outer edge of one of at least a hundred billion--and maybe as many as an estimated two trillion (2,000,000,000,000) other galaxies in the universe, would not only harbor life, but provide such incredibly breathtaking views is nothing short of amazing.  That said, I think most people would agree that life, the fact that we’re living, breathing, thinking organisms, is the most incredible, precious gift in the Universe.

          Given all that, how could we ever not stop to think about how quickly our collective action is destroying this planet that we own free and clear. And, as I will address in my next piece, why more than 1,100 of the top scientists from around the world have said that Planet Earth is facing a climate emergency. An emergency!  How much more urgent does it need to be?

          Man’s very existence past the end of this century (maybe sooner) is in question. Put another way, all the people born in 2020 may very well not see their 80th birthday because conditions on this planet are deteriorating that quickly. And we . . . especially American citizens . . . are doing almost nothing about it. 

          That said, I rest my case as to why every single solitary person who has a pulse must make dramatic changes to how they conduct their lives. In closing, stay tuned as to why this whole notion that we can colonize Mars, or some far-off distant planet, is just ridiculous.   

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