Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the earth was, my god, that little thing is so fragile out there. - Mike Collins The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space. - Aleksei Leonov In the future I would like to be more of an advocate for animal conservation. Every single part of the Earth reacts with every other part. It's one thing. Every little animal is important in that ecosystem. [Seeing the planet from above] makes you realize that, and makes you want to be a little more proactive in keeping it that way. If I could get every Earthling to do one circle of the Earth, I think things would run a little differently. - Karen Nyberg The people quoted above were not activists, nor bleeding-heart conservationists. They were astronauts. People with backgrounds in science and rigorous military training: not generally the type of people one expects to wax rhapsodic about the environment. Yet the common experiences of this exclusive group of men and women is that the Earth, our home, is fragile and beautiful. A thing worthy of our protection. It is 50 years since the first moon landing and almost 60 years since the first manned space flight. Before these landmark space ventures there were no firsthand descriptions of what the Earth looked like from the vast distance of space. The descriptions from astronauts of a fragile, blue sphere surrounded by a thin layer of atmosphere suspended in a black void were unexpected in the awe and reverence expressed. It is all too easy to take for granted the things that surround us every day. Water, trees, soil, animals: the components of all the life that depends on this planet and on which, in turn, we depend for our own lives. We consume the resources available to us and discard that which we can't use as though there is an infinite capacity for the Earth to provide both utility and waste disposal. Such thoughtlessness is easy when we only see what's right in front of us. Seeing the Earth from space changed those astronauts; opened their eyes to the 'big picture' that the rest of us miss in our day-to-day lives. Every action, every decision we make, impacts the whole in some way. We need perspective to see this and to start acting for the whole, rather than just ourselves.