January 31, 2020

What does space exploration have to do with the environment?

Elle Gilbertson, 35

Both remote and familiar I’ve always loved the moon, joining the many who look up and admire her beauty. In being drawn towards her reflected luminosity, and curiosity to reach into space, ironically, mankind rediscovered the uniqueness of planet Earth itself. When people saw the earthrise photographed in 1968 for the first time by astronauts, the image of our own tiny, vibrant and special planet floating in space captured the collective imagination, helping mobilize the environmental movement. Space exploration and its cultural cachet is a conflicted landscape, light and dark as the moon itself, full of emptiness as well as hope, fictions and facts. The research conducted by NASA confirmed the impact of humans on earth, notably the hole in the ozone layer, triggering action from the international community to regulate ozone-depleting compounds. The rockets essential for space exploration create these compounds too. Space junk floats around our atmosphere, creating a call for environmental legislation to extend upwards beyond our feet on terrafirma. May the generations going forward, use knowledge gleaned from space, knowledge of worlds that are delicately and profoundly interconnected, to prevent our home becoming a site of, in Buzz Aldrin’s words upon his moon visit, ‘magnificent desolation.’

Runic Message, 2019Ink and Gold Leaf12cm x 12cm