Spaceship Earth
On this spread you will see the Earth from space and compare it with a spaceship.
The Earth probably feels like a big place to you. However, seen from space, it is a small, blue planet. It is strange to think now, but the Earth had never been seen like this (A) until people went into space, just fifty years ago. “Only when I saw the Earth from space, in all its beauty and fragility, did I realise that humankind’s most urgent task is to cherish and preserve it for future generations.” Sigmund Jahn, German astronaut

The Earth orbits around the sun just like a spacecraft orbits the Earth. Some people have said that the Earth itself is like a spaceship. They call it Spaceship Earth. Resources are limited. The astronauts depend on the food and water carried on board. Waste has to be stored or recycled. Over time the stored waste mounts up.

C On a spaceship...

A The Earth from space

your worl d the Earth is 12 756 km in diameter – larg e to us, but quite sm all as planet s go.

Astronauts have to work together and avoid conflict. A spaceship is no place for a fight!

There are three astronauts on board. A higher population would put too much pressure on resources.

B Earth facts

There are almost 7 billion people on Earth. By 2050 it could be over 9 billion. 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. The atmosphere has become 0.6°C warmer in the past century. 1 in 4 people live in areas lacking water. 40 million people die of hunger each year. 50% of the Earth’s population lives in cities.

5% of the Earth is covered by rainforest. It used to be 12%. 83% of our energy comes from burning coal, oil or gas. People in the richest country are 80 times wealthier than in the poorest country. 1 094 of the Earth’s mammals are threatened with extinction.

1 Look at the Earth from space (A). Imagine you are an astronaut looking back at the Earth. How would you feel? Write down your thoughts. 2 Read the facts in B. Put them in order from the one that most worries you to the one that least worries you. 3 Think about the fact at the top of your list. Why do you find it the most worrying? 4 Compare a spaceship with the Earth. Think of at least • three similarities • three differences • Conflict 5 Look at drawing C. Think how each of the following issues is managed on a spaceship: • Population • Resources • Pollution What lessons can we learn from a spaceship about how these issues could be managed on the Earth? Write four sentences – one on each issue.

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Ideas – or analogies – like Spaceship Earth can be helpful because they make something complicated much simpler. However, we need to be careful. Sometimes the analogy breaks down. For example, spaceships come back to Earth when their mission is over. The Earth has nowhere to go!




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