The importance of the 'pale blue dot'

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Sir David Attenborough at the launch of the next COP26 U

Boris Johnson and Sir David Attenborough at the launch of COP26 - Credit: PA

We have probably all seen the ‘pale blue dot’ image of earth viewed from space. Its awesome beauty captures the importance of COP26.

In 1994 Humanist and scientist Carl Sagan famously wrote,

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark… In all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

Being able to eye our planet from afar is an amazing and relatively recent scientific achievement.

Science also now tells us there have been several mass extinctions, not just the dinosaurs, and that due to human activity we are teetering on the brink of another.


There is a gulf between this frightening and very real prospect and the level of government investment in, say insulation and renewables. Extinction is forever.

Paul Kaufman believes respect for human rights and the rule of law is about fairness and dignity for everyone.

Paul Kaufman says leading by example is one of the best levers in tackling climate change - Credit: Archant

The stakes are too high to risk doing too little. Individual behaviour has its place, but only governments can achieve essential structural changes.

Other countries not doing enough doesn’t justify us not doing the most we can. Leading by example is one of the best levers for bringing others with us.

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We could, and our output since the first industrial revolution means we should, be doing so much more.

As Sagan concluded, the image,

“underscores our responsibility ….. to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever had.”

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