Astronomy has given us a soul capable of comprehending nature
Governments and parliaments must find that astronomy is one of the sciences which cost most dear: the least instrument costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, the least observatory costs millions; each eclipse carries with it supplementary appropriations. And all that for stars which are so far away, which are complete strangers to our electoral contests, and in all probability will never take any part in them. It must be that our politicians have retained a remnant of idealism, a vague instinct for what is grand; truly, I think they have been calumniated; they should be encouraged and shown that this instinct does not deceive them, that they are not dupes of that idealism.
We might indeed speak to them of navigation, of which no one can underestimate the importance, and which has need of astronomy. But this would be to take the question by its smaller side.
Astronomy is useful because it raises us above ourselves; it is useful because it is grand; that is what we should say. It shows us how small is man's body, how great his mind, since his intelligence can embrace the whole of this dazzling immensity, where his body is only an obscure point, and enjoy its silent harmony. Thus we attain the consciousness of our power, and this is some-thing which can not cost too dear, since this consciousness makes us mightier.
But what I should wish before all to show is, to what point astronomy has facilitated the work of the other sciences, more directly useful, since it has given us a soul capable of comprehending nature.
Think how diminished humanity would be if, under heavens constantly overclouded, as Jupiter's must be, it had forever remained ignorant of the stars. Do you think that in such a world we should be what we are?
Mariners had painstakingly mapped the coastlines of the continents. Geographers had translated these findings into charts and globes. Photographs of ...
It's the idea that people living close to nature tend to be noble. It's seeing all those sunsets that does it. You can't watch a sunset and then go off and set fire to your neighbor's tepee. Living close to nature is wonderful for your mental health.
But we can easily extend this hypothesis [that nature has beneficial effects on the physical, cognitive and emotional well-being of individuals] to the conservation of biodiversity. [Ecologists] refer to the extinction of the experience of nature, which they have mainly applied in urban areas. The idea is as follows: from generation to generation, young people live less and less in contact with nature (because there are fewer of them and because their lifestyles limit such contact), at the very moment they are building their identity. The part of their identity that integrates their intimate relationships with their natural environment would therefore diminish from generation to generation. Not because of a lack of education, but mainly because of a decline in opportunities and desires to experience nature without constraint, freely and in their own personal way.
The consequences of this decrease appear in adulthood: with a weaker environmental identity, they are less in demand for nature in their daily lives, they integrate it less in their actions. (...) But if we do not collectively take biodiversity into consideration in our lifestyles, then we will suffer.
An inefficient virus kills its host. A clever virus stays with it.
It was the quietness of life in a medieval English village that would most strike a visitor from today—no planes overhead, no swish or rumble from traffic. Stop reading this book a minute. Can you hear something? Some machine turning? A waterpipe running? A distant radio or a pneumatic drill digging up the road? Of all the varieties of modern pollution, noise is the most insidious.
Yet in the year 1000 the hedgerows actually had a sound. You could hear baby birds chirping in their nests, and the only mechanical noise you would hear came from the wheezing of the blacksmith’s bellows. In some villages you might have heard the bell in the church tower, or the creaking and clunking of the wooden cogs in one of the water-mills that had been constructed in the last 200 years, and if you lived near one of England’s dozen or so cathedrals, you would have heard the heavy metal cascadings of sound from the copper windpipes of one of the recently imported church organs. But that was all. As bees buzzed and wood pigeons cooed, you could listen to God’s creation and take pleasure in its subtle variety.