Beginning with the early weather satellites and NASA’s human space program, we have come to understand the Earth as a whole system, not as individual nations, geographic regions, or specific natural features. This new vantage point has helped us increase our understanding of our planet’s inherent processes, provided more detailed information, and identified human-created problems in the atmosphere, the land, and the oceans.
At times international agreements or individual governmental organizations have made the necessary adjustments to clean up or mitigate environmental issues. But there is very much more to do. There has been, for example, an increase in worldwide atmospheric temperature—which will have far-reaching effects on nature, agriculture, and habitability—and sea-level rise, which will affect cities and natural systems all over the world.
The exhibition The Earth from Space brings together well-known historic photographs of our planet as well as videos. These materials present the reality of Earth’s natural systems, show the reality of climate change, and document actions that countries have taken to make the world’s environment better. There are pickup sheets and information in this book and on websites outlining clear actions any individual can take, as part of the larger world, to make the ecology of our planet healthier for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.
At this point in history the Earth is the only known planetary body in the solar system that has life. With the work of numerous scientists, this exhibition explores myriad aspects of our planet and how we are changing the Earth, so we can make intelligent decisions to secure the future for ourselves and numerous other species.
This exhibition id dedicated to Dr. Randii R. Wessen, as well as to all the scientists who devote their lives to understanding the Earth and to identifying the impact of human activity on the planet.
Image: Namib Desert
Credit: European Space Agency
Of the 30 largest groundwater aquifers on our great planet Earth, we have found that about half of them are in some state of unsustainable decline. Probably, in 50 or so years, we are going to start seeing a critical exhaustion of these precious water resources.JT ReagerResearch Scientist, Surface Hydrology Group, Earth Sciences Section, NASA, JPL, Caltech
The oceans provide the fuel for tropical cyclones, and as oceans warm we may see more of them. It’s also possible that their intensity will increase, and that storms may linger over some regions for a longer period of time.Derek PosseltAtmospheric Physics and Weather Group, Earth Sciences Section, NASA, JPL, Caltech
Even if we stop putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today, the planet would continue to warm, and sea level would continue to rise. It could rise a foot or two by the end of this century, or even 10 feet by the end of the century, which would be devastating.Josh WillisOceanographer, NASA, JPL, Caltech
Q&A with Derek Posselt, Atmospheric Physics and Weather Group, Earth Sciences Section, NASA, JPL, Caltech
Q&A with Josh Willis, Oceanographer, NASA, JPL, Caltech
Q&A with JT Reager, Research Scientist, Surface Hydrology Group, Earth Sciences Section, NASA, JPL, Caltech
The exhibition and book The Earth from Space would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of a number of individuals and institutions. Fulcrum Arts gave permission for the exhibition to be included in its Emerge program, making all donations to the exhibition tax-deductible. Fulcrum Arts’ executive and artistic director, Robert Crouch, provided excellent advice and assistance. Dr. Randii R. Wessen has been the science adviser for the exhibition and has provided knowledgeable assistance throughout, including on the selection of photographs and captions. Dr. Derek Posselt, Dr. JT Reager, and Dr. Josh Willis very generously gave of their time to do telephone interviews and then carefully reviewed the edited transcripts. I am very grateful to editor Karen Jacobson and graphic designer Sabina Aran-Dinsmoor for their excellent work on the catalogue, and to Peter Shamray of Navigator Cross-media for the high quality of the printing.
This exhibition had its premiere in Pasadena thanks in large part to the enthusiasm, support, and counsel of Stephen Nowlin, director of the Williamson Gallery at ArtCenter College of Design, and his colleague Julie Joyce, senior curator, exhibitions. I am also grateful to the ArtCenter design staff, who successfully placed the exhibition on the Williamson Gallery website. The exhibition was made possible by the generous support of Jim Crawford, Bradley Friedland, the Bill Hannon Foundation, Karen Hillenburg, Wendy Munger and Leonard Gumport, Jeff and Joan Palmer, and many other individuals; a grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance; and through the generosity of the Williamson Gallery Patrons.