"The arms that you wield now are not such as your forefathers wielded; but they are infinitely more effective, and infinitely more irresistable" ~ Cymru Fydd leaflet, 1890

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Pale green, red and white dot

On the 5th of September 1977 a Titan IIIE class rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The rocket was carrying the Voyager space probe. The primary mission was for a flyby of Jupiter and Saturn in order to relay back data and photographs. After which it would continue into space, it's now over 19 trillion kilometres away.

Voyager also contained something Welsh. The Golden Record contains 116 images and natural sounds from Earth aswell as spoken greetings in 55 languages. The record is seen as a message in a bottle, cast out to sea in the hope that one day, possibly tens of thousands of years from now, an intelligent race might find the message and after they have managed to play it back they might just hear the following...

Iechyd da i chwi yn awr, ac yn oesoedd which translates as Good health to you now and forever.

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As the Voyager space probe reached the edge of our solar system and was about to cross over into interstellar space, astrophysicist and cosmologist Carl Sagan asked NASA to rotate the probe and take a photo of Earth. The picture, which Sagan entitled 'Pale Blue Dot' became the subject of his 1994 book, from which the following has since become a famous extract. Video link.

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that 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 our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

One line in particular stands out for me, I've highted it above. From 6 billion KM away the Earth is merely a dot, but for us and everyone here it's home. And for us in Wales, this tiny fraction of a dot is our home and in a perfect world we wouldn't need lines showing which part of this dot is ours and which isn't, but we have them in order that we might be able to protect ourselves from a bigger fraction of a dot.

We all know where our land border sits, but at each end of our nation that line also stretches out to sea. One side should contain Welsh assets and the other side should contain the assets of England and the Celtic nations of Man, Ireland and Cornwall.

This isn't how the United Kingdom works, everything in Wales from the rain that falls from the sky to the ground stretching from the surface to the core belongs to the British State. And so instead of using our resources and assets for the benefit of our people we have them stolen from us. As just one example, how can we entice companies to come to Wales if our resources are taken from us in order to be made available for less across the border?

Nationalism is not a dirty word, for me it's about protecting our resources and our assets so that they can be used for the benefit of our people and to provide for our children. All my children have from previous generations is a few statues to dead miners. I hope their children are more fortunate.

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