Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot

My husband’s cousin sent us this video from seventeen years ago. Its message–in under four minutes– is, if anything, more urgent than before.



  1. I don’t think anyone could possibly sum up what Carl Sagan said in this clip better that he did. I never missed an episode of “Cosmos” and, in watching it in real time, was stunned by an episode where an alien race was making a tour of our solar system and found that we had extinguished ourselves via a nuclear holocaust. Since I studied that stuff back then very intently in school and outside of school (I still do) it hit me like a brick to the head flying through my window. As bad as that thought and image was never in my wildest thoughts about that stuff did I ever imagine that we would run the risk of doing the same thing by neglecting that very thin ribbon of atmosphere and the climate that goes with it and, in doing so, run the risk of doing the same via another version of gross stupidity. Sometimes I wonder if the evolution of our species has not really run its course given the gross stupidity we see every day. We owe it to ourselves and all the other species that are just along for the ride to do far better than we seem to be able to do so far.

  2. Tom,

    Me too. In fact, after viewing human behavior, past and present, I’m giving humans a 60% chance that we will destroy ourselves, one way or another. On the other hand, if it’s nuclear holocaust, it will be like hitting the reset button for life on Earth. Once again, life will have to evolve and emerge from the sea…after the residual radiation dissipates, or half-lives are lethal anymore. I think Sagan felt the same way, but couldn’t come right out and say that humans will be the first known species to have planned and delivered its own extinction…on purpose.

    With a volatile and whimsical evil currently holding the nuclear launch codes, this could happen any day.

  3. There seems to be two opposing views of life for mankind at this time in history. One has it that evolution continues for all species including humans and for that matter the universe itself. The opposing view is that we humans are a part of a set of absolutes created and ruled over by a god who must be believed in and obeyed.
    It is science vs. religion, questions vs. answers, and fact vs. fiction. It is peace vs. war, competition vs. sharing, and acceptance vs. intolerance.

  4. I watched and fortunately it was closed captioned; the quote which stood out to me is, “…the earth is where we make our stand…”. So here we are living in the country with the cleanest air on earth according to the president; no need for EPA regulations, soon there will be no need for the EPA. My thoughts as I watch the international weather reports and deal with the inundation of rains and suddenly surging dangerously high temperatures locally, moves once again to the movie “Soylent Green” depicting the results of Global Warming. When written and filmed it was science fiction; as were “Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath The Sea” and “Around The World In 80 Days” as written by H.G. Welles. Welles science fiction is today’s reality and it’s future; we are rapidly moving closer to the reality of “Soylent Green” conditions world wide.

    If science. evolution and reality is your preference; take time to watch Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. We don’t need to look into infinity for our future; look into the destructive results of our past and current insatiable lust for meeting our selfish personal comforts and wants.

  5. Although everybody can talk about Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” nobody quite seems to grasp its meaning. At least no one seems to be able to avoid the bad outcome of ignoring history. Are we lazy, uncaring, or just plain too stupid to know better?

  6. Conservatism definitely is not synonymous with Christianity.scripture says we should be stewards of the planet. That means caretakers. Because of the lunacy involved by the religious right-wing, they would prefer to cut their nose off to spite their face just because they think it would irritate someone on the other side. I was reading an article one of my cousins, who likes Trump, forwarded to me. It basically said that volcanoes spit so much carbon dioxide and Ash in the air there is no way humans could make a difference. And, controlling emissions is just a waste of time. it’s kind of like saying the sink in your bathroom is overflowing so you might as well just go down and unplug your sump pump and plug up your bathtub and turn it on. After all, it’s flooding anyway right?

  7. The answer to your question Peggy is Yes.

    I don’t think we’ll need a nuclear war to destroy ourselves. Our delusion that we are the masters of the universe will be our downfall. If predictions are true or accurate, what happens to all the inhabitants of the coastal cities, including all of Florida when the oceans rise above their current levels. Where will they live?

    Delusion and arrogance will be our downfall.

  8. The doomsday predictions are in this morning before finishing a cup of rather good coffee. There is a more certain prediction of our doom. The calculation is complex. It takes upwards of 250 million years for our solar system to complete a single rotation around the center of our galaxy. It is our cosmic year. During rotation, Earth travels in elliptical orbit like everyone else. Cosmologists predict from their math we will enter a deadly meteor convoy again in approximately 7 million years. The last time was not a good day for dinosaurs. So if we are destined to control our own doom, we better hurry. Sugar anyone?

  9. Norris,

    No sugar for me.

    For I have known them all already, known
    them all:—
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.
    So how should I presume?

    T.S. Elliot

  10. Gosh, Norris, thanks for the astronomy lesson. I do appreciate your implications to the Chicken Little story, but the authors of that story and those who wrote the books regarding our place in our galaxy and the universe didn’t have Donald Trump and a compliant Republican party with their hands of the weapons of extinction.

    Try again.

  11. Just some notes:

    The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported. The accelerated ice melt in Greenland was caused by an usual weather pattern, where high-pressure air lingered, bringing warm air up from the south, which pushed the mercury 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal temperatures.
    Trump EPA OKs ‘Emergency’ Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 Million Acres. The purpose of sulfoxaflor is to kill insects.

    EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, “that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to spray.”

    “This is not a new problem,” said Burd. “This has been going on for six consecutive years and we have not been in the Trump administration for six consecutive years.” So, yes, Trump’s EPA did this, but “this is by no means a new problem. Our pesticide registration and approval process is fundamentally broken. EPA’s pesticide office is captured by industry and they are not doing their jobs protecting human health and the environment from these pesticides,” said Burd.

    It is tempting to say In some respects we are on the Titanic. The Captain in charge of the Titanic did not deliberately set course to hit an ice berg.

    Unfortunately, we have the “Captains” of Corporate America and their stooges in elected office and regulatory agencies, who could care less about setting a safe prudent course. Unlike the Captain of the Titanic who had no radar to warn him of the ice berg, Science is screaming about the damage we are doing to the earth. Profits over all takes precedence.

  12. Life and Death of Planet Earth a book by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee is another account of how life might end along with the earth, all the planets and the sun It will get very hot and then very cold and that will be the end. But we should not give up just yet. We must strive to keep this place as livable as possible for now and for eons of time to come. I along with some of you never missed a single segment of COSMOS

  13. We are nothing. Yet we can, potentially, understand everything. What Carl Sagan, one of our best examples we know of what we can be, pointed out is our ability to render abstractly every reality. He pointed out the reality that our home can be viewed abstractly as a pale blue dot even though to virtually all of us it is normally viewed as all that there is.

    See, it is not a pale blue dot at all. It’s a dark, foreboding empty rock with one saving grace. That grace is it’s distance from the sun which makes illuminating brilliance on a cosmic over time and space scale.

    We are in reality dark matter but we shine with energy.

    That abstraction is beyond most of us because only one of us was Carl Sagan. The process of becoming like Carl Sagan is entlightenment. We know that is our potential.

    How to shine when we are motes of dust on a dark foreboding insignificant crumb in a vast cosmos of potential? Absorb, radiate, and reflect energy from those born closer to the sun.

    We live in dark times. We no longer know what to expect from tomorrow. Of course we never did but we thought we could glimpse it.

    What separates us from the earth that knows nothing is life. Energy from elsewhere and matter from here. Life that extends our insignificant time as individuals into the potentially infinite span of the cosmos. Our individual nothingness is transcended into everythingness by what we can collectively become.

  14. Vernon Turner, I have always held out hope that those military personnel surrounding our President will give him FAKE nuclear codes. With the advent of Pompeo & Bolton, I am less confident that this could be the case.

  15. Deborah,

    Yes. I had similar hopes. I also hold out the hope that some true patriot will step up if it comes to that. I’ve been slammed on this blog for having such hope, but we are experiencing “leadership” that emulates that which triggered the “Valkyrie” effort in Germany during the Great War. Saving humanity and most of life on Earth may come down to that.

    If there actually IS a 2020 election and Trump is re-elected by the dolts who voted for him and self-absorbed fools who stayed home, every living thing will be in great peril. This is not to ignore that the current Trump administration and its disdain for the EPA, laws that protect our environment from runaway capitalism and all the rest will continue to dismantle our leadership or even our participation in these activities. They will. They will push past the tipping point where repair of our blunders, greed and plain stupidity will be irreversible.

    You can see it coming.

  16. Vernon, the danger that Trump embodies can be seen as the inevitable consequence of who we’ve become or an anomaly brought about by a freaky coincidence of complementary plots by our internal weak enemies (Republicans) and our external weak enemies (Putin).

    To me the evidence says the latter but the only thing that I need is not to be right about that but free again in 2020.

  17. But then Sagan didn’t know we would give birth to tech geniuses like Elon Musk who assure us that it’s urgent to begin our preparation for our exodus to Mars. With average temperatures of minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it may not be as balmy as a summer evening in Waikiki, but with nearly every inch covered in red dust, those who wax nostalgic over Tobacco Road will feel at home everywhere. With little gravity, we will be able to jump almost three times as high, which will make Zion Williamson green with envy. Also, being named after the Roman god of war doesn’t augur well for solving the problems that are driving us to consider departing planet Earth in the first place. And getting used to a butterscotch-colored sky may take some time.

    Perhaps, Elon, spending the billions you propose allocating to high tech to pursue peace and a clean environment for our current home might prove a wiser investment. If mankind’s only goal were survival, this hair-brained, cockamamie scheme might be worth talking about, but since people are so multi-dimensional and have so many needs beyond mere survival, it belongs on a shelf in the hall of fame of bad ideas.

  18. The Earth will go on as She has for 4+ billion years. We are most likely going to die off and those remaining here & there will evolve into new species yet to be imagined. And the dolts who think Trump is leading them to “The Rapture” instead of doom, will be terribly bewildered by it all. The rest of us will recognize the demise and hopefully will find ways to accept our fate with courage. Meanwhile, humans are suffering TODAY in detention centers where there are 900 people shoved into rooms meant for 125 & they sleep standing up. The stuff of nightmares!

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