Look at the Earth - it is beautiful and empowering

All the air: All the air in the atmosphere (5140 trillion tonnes) gathered into a ball at sea-level density. The sphere is 2,000 km across. Air gets thinner the further you are from the surface of the Earth. Half the air in the atmosphere lies within 5.5 km of the ground.

All the air: All the air in the atmosphere (5140 trillion tonnes) gathered into a ball at sea-level density. The sphere is 2,000 km across. Air gets thinner the further you are from the surface of the Earth. Half the air in the atmosphere lies within 5.5 km of the ground.

Looking at the Earth can be an empowering experience: it can alter our sense of relationship with it and our role in protecting it. Earth Day is a celebration of the Earth but also of historic and continuing efforts to look after it. So this is a good moment to reflect on the importance of really engaging with the Earth.

Carbon Visuals’ Creative Director produced this iconic image showing all the air as a single bubble. In fact this was one of the first of his images that colleagues at Carbon Visuals saw prior to forming the company. Looking at it, people suddenly better understand that the atmosphere is finite and precious.

The response to this image is down to each individual, but it can be quite challenging as you grapple to understand how that limitation might affect you. It can be the catalyst for a revised relationship with the Earth and its atmosphere and the actions that follow. In this way, looking at the Earth is an emotional experience which can lead to some radical changes in behaviour.

I was surprised by how this image changed my view of global warming. It was much easier to see how human activity could have an impact, which made it feel more real.

Adam Nieman Carbon Visuals

No better place to look at this emotional reaction to the planet than with those that view it first hand from space. Astronauts often have a deeply emotional reaction as they gaze at seas, landscapes whilst orbiting Earth and staring at the planet within the context of the Galaxy. According to Chris Hadfield, previous commander of the International Space Station (ISS) this is magnified when you physically step out into space.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Chris Hadfield trained as a pilot but has successfully turned his time on ISS into an international visual communications campaign on behalf of the beauty of Earth complete with video education outputs that fascinate people of all ages, helping them view the Earth and space around it in a completely different way.

What is also very interesting is Chris Hadfield’s own raised consciousness about his role in protecting the Earth - both in sharing his experience and also his attention to detail in his own care of the planet now his feet are back on the ground. He exposes a vital journey many of us go on looking at this planet at a macro level and identifying actions in the everyday that will protect the Earth.

…what I tried to do during my 21 years as an astronaut. It was to get people to actually see the world. Not just as a map with countries of different colours. Or as a little circle of us in an enormous, uncared for collection of them. It’s just a whole bunch of us. We’re all of us in this together.

Chris Hadfield in Alternative Journal

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Adam Nieman's visual, All the Air, takes us into that space. This is no loaded message, it communicates what there is, no less or more. It is then up to us to comprehend the momentousness of it - to recognise acutely our responsibility back on Earth to consider the atmosphere we share, what little there is, and our own individual roles back on Earth to protect and respect it.

You can follow the reflection and thoughts of Chris Hadfield on @Cmdr_Hadfield or read An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield, published 2013.

Quote above taken from Rockit Man: The Chris Hadfield Experience (Extended Interview), Alternative Journal, 2014