Exclusive timelapse: See climate change, deforestation and urban sprawl unfold as Earth evolves over 30 years.
This is one of the most influential projects and articles I have seen in my time on the internet. TIME uses satellite images gathered by the USGS and compiled by Google to tell the story of where are society has been moving in the past 30 years and there are a lot of lessons to take from these images.
I once heard a description of life as “The Innate Desire for Every Living Thing to Perfect Itself.” That will be the jumping off point for the lessons that I think need to be drawn from this project.
In the years of development since the earliest humans, we have take part in the desire of perfecting ourselves through our development. We have expanded our habitat to almost every corner of this planet and have found ways to use the rest of creation in building beautiful, yet devastatingly far reaching societies. Our reach for perfection has been exactly that… a reach. We have pushed outward in search of our perfection instead of identifying and perfecting the flaws within. The timelapse videos show a society perpetually reaching outward to create new branches of society to redeem to misgivings of the past ones. Cities begin to fall into poverty as those with money build nicer, communities on the urban edges and energy companies use unspoiled land outside of our own society as a sacrifice to fund these new endeavors. There is, however, a law of conservation of mass that is working against us in this fashion. New mass cannot be created, nor old mass destroyed. We cannot push outward indefinitely, and the land we are disrupting and poisoning now will be the only frontier left for the pioneers of the future to settle. For this reason, the biggest challenge of our race will be to redefine the concepts of perfection and of more.
The want of more and of perfection have, as I stated earlier, driven us to the far reaches of our own society and into the heart of the previously unspoilt areas of creation outside of our society. We have left millions of miles of dilapidated infrastructure and poisoned land in our pursuit of the next, perfect exhibition of our own creation. By redefining more, from a greater volume to a greater use, we can begin to realize perfection from the scars of our past mistakes. By looking back into the heart of where we originally went wrong and fixing our mistakes from the inside out, we can reverse the trends shown in the timelapse which have been to expand outward with new development leaving the un-perfect trials and errors of yesterday rotting in plain sight. We can use our existing infrastructure to increase the quality of living for all of those left behind in the booming urban areas of yesterday. We can cut energy waste by perfecting that existing infrastructure and power this new wave of rebuilding and cut our reliance on destruction for creation. We can turn our story from one of giving up on flawed development, to one of perfecting all aspects of our own societies before poisoning and killing the beautiful world that exists outside of ourselves.
Let us create a legacy for our race that does not show a series of abandoned attempts at perfection, but a few realizations of it. Even if we don’t ever reach it, we can at least be proud of everything that we have reached instead of just the outer most fringes of what we have achieved.
Langley town is my kinda town.
Today has been another reminder that although we have increble power to bring pain and suffering into the world, we also have the power and the responsibility to bring good into the world. I was reminded by a friend last week that in our lives we have to constantly choose between doing good and doing nothing. Feel the pain of today’s events, but never miss an opportunity to bring good into the world. The fate of the our society rests on people choosing to do good and asking themselves constantly if what they are about to do will affect the world for the better.
I am going to spend the rest of my life believing that all of the misguided souls in the world will come around and that by choosing to make every one of our actions bring positive consequences into the world we can get this ship sailing in the right direction. I would rather see myself proven wrong about that for my entire life than to miss a single opportunity to make it become a reality.
There is nothing to gain from believing that there is no hope for us. Please, in the wake of everything that has happened recently, don’t give up.
So I realize it has been a long while since I have updated this here blog about my goings on out in the territory west of the Louisiana Purchase.
Life is doing pretty good here on Whidbey Island, still making coffee and training kids job skills and all that. Lately, though, I have got the wheels turning on an environmental-type club to get high school and middle school age kids on the island involved in making a difference in their community. I’m hoping that (instead of the typical doom-and-gloom environmental hubbub) this will be an empowering thing for kids to show them that they can really make a difference on a local level. Maybe getting out and doing some hiking will be good too!
Also, I have been doing much exploring and finding the most beautiful places here on Whidbey! There is a local forest (Saratoga Woods Preserve) that i can ride my bike to in about 15 minutes where I have been doing much running and exploring as of late. It is one of the most beautiful and alive places I have ever been, brimming with moss, lichens, and dense conifers that make you feel like you are being cradled by life itself. I’m looking foreword to getting to know the land there even better in the coming months. There are also some really great old growth forests at South Whidbey State Park that Sam and I went to explore last weekend.
This is a immense 500+ year old cedar tree (being gazed upon by a beautiful 22 year old Samantha) at South Whidbey State Park. The trails around the “Ancient Cedar” have tons of these giant old growth cedars. Its an incredible, humbling, and empowering thing to stand at the feet of a tree that could fit 7 of you in its trunk. It reminded me how amazing life really is, not just human life, but life that we deem as simple or less evolved than us. I feel really lucky to be part of the same system of life as such a magnificent being as these trees.
Oh, and I got to play with an octopus and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.
I think that’s it for now.
This is one of those rants, but I thought this one was really indicative of my mood thus far in my time here on Whidbey.
“I have been thinking more and more that stuff really is the biggest problem in our society. It is crowding peoples minds, souls, spirits, houses, the planet, the universe and forever on. There isn’t any room in our souls for art, music, good food and community anymore! Maybe living on an island is showing me how limited our space really is. I don’t understand how anyone can derive happiness from having shit they don’t need, yet spend their money on shitty food and ignore all the great art and explorations of the world. Geez”
Sometimes I take pictures, these are some of them from the last few months.
Been awhile since I updated this blog, so here’s a big one!
“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
I was recently reminded of this quote, a favorite of mine that had fallen from my immediate memory, and began making connections between the quote and my service with Americorps. What we emphasize in our lives shapes every aspect of our reality; maybe not by changing the physical environment we live within, but by adjusting our perception of it. I have not done a lot of youth-based work in my life, I have done some, but not a lot. The quote I began with though is a perfect description of not only my approach, but of my motivation.
The volunteers at the South Whidbey Commons are there for more than just learning to make espresso, more than just keeping busy after school, and more than just gaining work experience; the volunteers are gaining life experience (and I can’t think of a better place to gain it).
The South Whidbey Commons, and the folks who spend their time there, are teaching the volunteers to shape their realities and to make a difference in the world by emphasizing the good things in life.
The commons emphasizes community: The people coming to get coffee and hang out represent the full spectrum of what Whidbey has to offer. Retired folks, wealthy folks, those of us living paycheck to paycheck, children, adults, teens, heterosexuals, homosexuals, republicans, democrats, artists, ect. all come together here to talk about anything and everything.
The Commons emphasizes the common good: Behind the commons is a vending machine provided by a group called Whidbey Island Nourishes (WIN). WIN is funded primarily through private donations and maintains a free vending machine at the Commons for those in need, as well as providing meals at the local schools for students that would be without meals otherwise. Although the Commons and WIN are not the same organization, the Commons emphasizes the same ideal of coming together to create a place where everyone thrives (instead of just a lucky few).
The volunteers at the commons are coming to be a part of this community, and to learn how to make a difference in the world by emphasizing the things in life that help us “live now as we think human beings should live.” This is what makes my job rewarding.
Also, the espresso is great.