[Science Solitaire] Because you live here!
For Earth Day, I propose that the Earth itself join social media. For starters, it should have a special account on Twitter and Facebook. "Special" because it would have no sign-ups required. I will call it Earthspeak.
You become a "follower" or a "fan" as part of the package of being an earthling. When you start school or acquire a digital identity, whichever comes first, you start getting posts and tweets from Earthspeak, whether you like it or not.
Yes, of course, there are science organizations, museums and research institutions like NASA or NOAA, or USGS that tirelessly mine what is going on in outer space, the oceans, "middle earth," forests and atmosphere, and release data to anyone who is interested. But you have to be interested to get them.
With Earthspeak, I refer to the Earth itself, armed with sophisticated communication weaponry that scientists, writers, storytellers, artists and techies in collaborative work – can design, to directly send customized Earthspeak bytes or EBies to your digital accounts.
These EBies would be multisensory – words, sounds, images, animation even paintings and sculptures! They would make you reminisce, think, smile, take action, withhold action, or even feel worried or afraid.
EBies may be about the rise and fall of ocean fever, if hurricanes are on the rise, if the Amazon is in deep trouble, what creature (who may resemble your favorite strange uncle) is on the brink of "uh-oh" (extinction). It would send these EBies in a clear and personalized way that you can each individually digest and care about, metaphors and all.
Caring for the planet
Why should you automatically be a follower even if you have not signed up for it? Because in case it has not hit you yet, while all 7 billion of us do not agree on the way we live and conduct our affairs, including which god to worship – or to worship any at all – we all can agree (and even put it to the test,) that we all live here, you and 7 billion other humans, together with at least 10 million other species of life.
There is no practical alternative permanent address yet for any of us. And also, if there is one thing that possessed endless interesting data to invade your life the way your family, friends and pseudo-friends do with their posts, it would be the planet, awash with splendor and glory as much as it is with tremendous amount of trash and problematic humans.
Let us admit it: most people don't connect with science institutions. Those who "like" science webpages are mostly nerds, those who love and support nerds or those who want to impress their friends by "liking" the work of nerds. Besides, it is highly unlikely that those institutions would "defriend" or "unlike" you unless you post something abusive.
It seems that if a personal relationship can be had with the Earth in a way that humans are now emotionally attached to their phones, homes, and various gods, then maybe we will care more about the planet.
So what could those EBies be like? For a poet, it could spell the cadence of lyrical verses accompanying a march of creatures that have just been identified or have just disappeared from the face of the earth. For the sportsman, it could be record-breaking reports on creatures who could run, fly, swoop or hunt the fastest or most successfully. For the designer, it could be spectacular and amazing images of nature even in the smallest scales seen in laboratories!
When astronauts go on their cosmic trip and from their spacecraft, look back from their side of the Earth floating out there in space without them, they are known to experience a transformation, a shift in their view of life and existence. Suddenly, life seems more fragile and the thought that if we bungle it here, we have nowhere else to go, becomes stark and urgent. This is called the “Overview effect.”
Now, look at your toes. Yes, your toes. Most likely, you are going to spend your life with your toes planted on the ground. A vast majority of us will never be astronauts. So then, should you opt out of getting stories about the planet where you – all you know and don’t know – live and have lived?
The Earth has about 5 billion more years to go and your life is barely a demi-sneeze to the planet. Now, who do you think has more stake in making the most out of its short stay here? – Rappler.com
Maria Isabel Garcia is a science writer. She has written two books, “Science Solitaire” and “Twenty One Grams of Spirit and Seven Ounces of Desire.” Her column appears every Friday and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org