The Gleaner

Communities can create change for the environment

The Pale Blue Dot is a now-famous photograph of Earth taken by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft at six billion kilometres from the sun in 1990. The late astronomer Carl Sagan pointed to the “dot,” which looks like a pinpoint in dark and empty outer space, saying, “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

On April 25, astronaut Chris Hadfield reflected on the CBC program The Current about that photograph taken by Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977 and has continued to transmit new information ever since. He spoke of the pale blue dot giving a perspective that everybody needs, suggesting we should “think about the rarity, the almost unfathomably beautiful nature of this little home where we live.” He went on to say that humans are the most intelligent life that we have any record of existing, and we also need to think about the level of responsibility that comes with this to the only home that we know.

In the Valley, we were lucky to have been able to witness another reminder of how our Earth is a small part of a vast solar system on April 8 during the total solar eclipse. Many people suggested that the experience reminded them of how small we are truly are. During those brief three minutes of darkness, we saw our Earth both in a new way, and in a way we will most likely never see again. This perspective of wonder, awe, and connection also helped feed a narrative of urgency that carried through to this year’s edition of Earth Day on April 22.

We are facing many environmental challenges. For most of us, the idea of tackling greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, pollution, environmental degradation, or species decline falls far beyond our reach. But we have local issues, and Earth Day across the Valley served as a wonderful reminder that many of us are already doing something to help. The Earth Day Forum organized by the Table de Concertation en Environnement du Haut-Saint-Laurent was an uplifting and informative event.

Numerous articles in this edition also reflect work being done by the agricultural community in terms of on farm practices as well as agricultural plastics recycling, partnerships to reduce food waste, municipal compost initiatives, and bylaws, as well as several local-scale community-based environmental initiatives. All these projects, programs, and ideas demonstrate that we are a community capable of taking action and creating change for the better in this small valley on the blue dot we call home.
Sarah Rennie

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