It's A Giant Earth After All

Human Scale & Stewardship
By David E. Rockett

Local concerns about water, soil and air quality that were once a primary focus of Environmentalism has morphed the past thirty years. Concerns about the conservation or stewardship of our rivers, lakes, forests and oceans has been pushed aside the last few decades for to the angst of a planetary concerns. Global warming is on the UN's heart and agenda – and Big brother stands ready as ever to save the planet. In one sense, it's an easy step from poisoned rivers to poisoned ocean and coastlines. Fallout knows no national boundaries. We are environmentally connected to each others' habits, and the stewardship of the earth is a natural human concern. So while dramatic dooms-days might become predictable media and governmental hype, we know it's folly to piss in our own cisterns, or poison the air and drinking water our grandchildren will inherit. We should seek to leave things in better shape than we found them, not worse. A fun exercise in scale gives us a stunning view (and pause) to the current global rage. Many if not most of us believe the earth is small and fragile. But how did we learn this? Two big reasons: 1) the speed of modern air travel makes the earth seem small; 2) electricity connects us at the speed of light with the Internet and cell phones. Finally, Disney's 'It's a Small World After All' drives all human scale (and sanity!) from our minds! We have been persuaded that the earth is small and fragile – while also believing humans big and powerful. But, are we really big, because are fast? Does speed really change the earth's size and human scale? Okay, so the earth is about 8,000 miles, or 42,240,000 feet in diameter. Now make yourself a globe 1 millionth that real size by dividing by 1 million (42,240,000/1,000,000). Now you have a globe that's 42.24 feet in diameter – about forty-two times bigger than those little pedestal globes we grew up with. Now, plant some trees, and set some gorges and mountains to scale. Dividing every thing by a million gives us some shocking realizations. For example: A 400 foot redwood tree is now .0048 inches tall – 48-1,000th of an inch. You couldn't see it without magnification. A 6-mile deep ocean gorge is 380,160 inches/1 million = .38 of one inch deep, and Mount Everest at 6-mile high it's also 38 on hundredth of an inch tall. On our new 42.24' diameter globe, we'd hardly notice the topography. The Grand Canyon at one millionth its size would be 1/6th of that 3/8 inch ocean gorge – almost invisible on our 42.24' globe. And what about people? Seven foot Shaquille O'Neil, at 1 millionths his size, is invisible on our 42.24' globe. Let's paint every human on earth bright florescent yellow, and stand all seven billion of us naked in South Florida. Every human on the planet would show up as a tiny yellow fungus. (You need less than 750 square miles to stand every person on earth in their own 3-square feet of space.) So 7 billion people can stand on less than 1/4th Hawaii's big island of 4,000 square miles. The vast balance of planet earth would remain – a humanless void. So, what does this scaled 42.24' diameter globe teach us? Well, it humbles us. Compared to human beings – it is a very large world after all. Even at 7 billion strong, we're a microscopic blip on the surface. Compared to the earth – oceans depths,

mountains, gorges and trees are hardly visible. However, though we are tiny in scale, we humans are self-aware thinkers. Our tiny little minds can unravel some of the riddles of a Creation almost too grand to fathom. As little yellow microbes, we are really fast in our tiny 747s flying all around this giant planet. We can even build tiny space craft to explore the grand vastness of space, we can write symphonies, build tiny hospitals to do laser surgery on our eyes, write poetry, build cathedrals and do calculus! And God became and tiny man like us, in His own creation! Our tiny human footprint should humble us and give us pause before imagining we cause global warming. Every mountain on earth could spewed gas at the same time, and the earth would shrug – except for us fragile little microbes. And here's our salient environmental point. While we humans are unlikely to affect the earth, the atmosphere or the weather – we can poison each other. We're tiny, fragile and local. And localism still works, because if every local community tends-their-gardens well, the earth's okay. So, small as we are, we should be about the business of guarding and beautifying the earth. Tiny little human microbes are smart enough to become zealous in the stewardship we've been given – while loving our neighbors as ourselves, and praising God for His vast Creation and Grace. []
Copywrited by David E. Rockett June 2001. All right protected. Use and quotation are granted to all so long as attribution is given. David E. Rockett, founder of The Charitable Steward, can be reach at, 318.238.1229, and resides at 206 Rochelle Avenue, Monroe, LA 71201