I like to think that we live on The Ark. You know, THE Ark. Noah and Genesis and The Flood and all that. Remember? God was pissed and told Noah to build a fuckin’ boat. “Drown with the rest of these assholes on this shithole planet, Noah, or build The Ark.” Well, Noah built The Ark. Probably a good move. You don’t want God pissed at you. And all the animals two-by-two and some wives (Noah had sons) and yadda-yadda-yadda and bullet dodged.
Now there are seven or so billion of us on this ball of rock hurtling through space. The Earth is The Ark. Outside of The Ark in Noah’s time all about was water and there was death by drowning or there was staying on The Ark. Outside of The Earth in our time all about is the vacuum of space and there is death by asphyxiation or there is staying on The Earth. So, in effect, we are on an ark. Thus, The View from The Ark. And we’ve got the all-the-animals thing covered, because, well, all the animals are already here. Except the ones we made go extinct. And plants. And insects. And microbes. And fungi. I like fungi. Noah didn’t make allowances for fungi. That means no mushrooms and no yeast. What kind of life is that?
Anyway, here we are on The Ark. God is probably pissed, like before, but no one knows for sure. Either way, this is it. Noah, ultimately, got to disembark. We don’t get to disembark. We are on The Ark for the duration. If you don’t like The Ark, how about The Cruise Ship? Or The Luxury Liner? Or The Jumbo Jet? They all work. In the 70s “Spaceship Earth” was the metaphor du jour, and I use that a fair bit, being a 70s kid. But I wanted to update Spaceship Earth and I did so by going back in time to the Ancient Hebrews and their Mesopotamian brethren. The Flood story is in a lot of places, especially in what we now call The Middle East, and I’ve no doubt there were plenty of historical floods behind the myths. The Chinese don’t mention a deluge, nor do the Egyptians, which means these floods were local, not global, but I imagine they were catastrophic nonetheless. Most folks lived in littoral zones as these were the most fertile, obviously they would also be the most prone to flooding.
But I don’t really give a shit about the historicity of The Flood. I like the big boat. There’s some nutty folks in Kentucky who have a replica built to Biblical specs that you can visit. Hey, “whatever floats yer boat,” right? I’ll bet there were plenty of guys who built boats and put their livestock on them (and wives too, women were mostly livestock back in those days) and floated to safety when a flood came. Enterprising suckers, I’ll bet. The genetic stock of today’s entrepreneurs, the ancestors of the Uber-ians and Lyft-opians. But the big boat that saved mankind and all the critters? That’s some serious lack of genetic diversity!
No, that Noah stuff is strictly for true believers. The rest of us can just enjoy the tale and think about that big goddamn boat. Spaceship Earth, you know, is a pretty damn big boat. 8,000 miles in diameter. 25,000 miles in circumference. 200 million square miles in surface area. Now I’m going to switch to metric because the numbers are cooler: a volume of ONE TRILLION cubic kilometers. And a mass of 6 x 10^24 kilograms which we can of course render as SIX HELLAGRAMS! (Thanks, Austin.)
It’s a big boat. And we’ve got first class, business, coach, and steerage. And worse than steerage, but I don’t know what to call that. We’ve all got a view though, which is nice. So I’m going to spend more time on My View from The Ark. If you have not noticed the waxing crescent moon the last few nights you’ve missed out. It’s been quite beautiful. And Jupiter is up and easy to see, along with some constellations like Gemini and Leo. While we are all stuck on this goddamn boat we might as well enjoy the view, right?
I suppose I am one of those Apollo kids that saw the moon flights and were forever brainwashed by those “blue marble” images that flooded the public consciousness in the 1970s. This image in particular. The vast, harsh emptiness of space containing one tiny planet with a life-sustaining veneer of air that all the humans we know about have to share.
Yeah, I figure we’ll eventually get some folks to Mars or wherever, but it’s going to be a loooooong while before any such place is inhabitable. Right now we’ve got a habitable place, The Ark. So, watch were you take a dump, OK? That might just be where I’m planning to sit and check out the view!
p.s. Check out BLUE MARBLE NEXT GENERATION.