What would you do if you were president?

Over the years The Fresno Bee periodically asks elementary school children what they would do if they were president. With the inauguration of our 45th president this month, it’s an appropriate question right now. Some of the previous answers: “I would tell everyone to be nice to each other.” “I will go to other places and say, ‘Live in peace; don’t fight.’” Excellent proclamations.

Interestingly, a good number of the responses have to do with earth stewardship. “Take care of the universe.” “I would tell people to quit littering.” “Make the world better by getting along, picking up trash and not littering.” “Make the environment better for the animals,” and “I would clean up the world.”

The children didn’t write about pipelines, alternative sources of energy, oil drilling, deforestation, the Great Pacific garbage patch, coal mining, carbon footprints or other environmental concerns. I hope their education will include those issues; not just “this is bad/good for the environment,” but a full examination — the history, science, technology, and economics of, let’s say, coal mining or drilling for oil in the Arctic Sea. Before intelligent decisions can be made, one must have accurate information and the whole picture.

Our children must be educated and informed since one day they’ll be making these decisions, or voting for those who do.

You may well ask, what do littering and arctic oil drilling have in common? They are both on the continuum of earth stewardship. The results of one may have a greater impact in the long run, yet the other is one we live with day-to- day.

Actually, if we don’t care enough about the environment not to litter it with our refuse, why would we care if the earth’s finite resources are being depleted and the purity of our waters are being endangered? We need to be concerned about all of it.

For a moment, imagine yourself streaking through the infinite vastness of space - in a spaceship of course! You see endless darkness sprinkled with pinpoints of light, but then there’s this shiny orb that grabs your attention. It’s a tiny round ball of blue, green, tan and swirls of white. There are no lines or boundaries defining countries. There are massive amounts of blue, which you know to be the world’s seas and oceans, and enormous white and gray swirls of what you know to be clouds, carrying moisture up, down and around on a scale you have never known while standing on Earth.

A new perspective permeates your consciousness; you have just experienced the Overview Effect, a term coined by science writer Frank White to describe the profound psychological shift in awareness wherein you appreciate that everything on Earth is connected, interdependent and exquisitely fragile. Fewer than 600 people have had the actual experience.

So, if I were president, I would invite all the world’s leaders to join me in a spaceship, journey around our planet to experience the overview effect and to fully realize the incredible responsibility we have in keeping Earth healthy and intact. For now, it’s our only home.

The book Overview by Benjamin Grant is filled with stunning and thought-provoking images that will inspire, stimulate, and in some cases, even sadden or infuriate you.

Written by Sandee Scott and submitted by Keep Our Mountain Beautiful. Contact komb4emc@gmail.com for more information about KOMB.