The Moon’s Influence on Earth Day

Avatar Michelle Estevez | April 15, 2019

This year marks the 49th anniversary of Earth Day. It’s origins link to Gaylord Nelson, a leading figure who catalyzed the importance of protecting the environment, raising awareness, and fighting against resource exploitation. On April 22, 2019, people will gather to clean litter, educate others, and take steps to incorporate sustainability practices. However, it is important to remember why this day came to be in the first place. The moon’s influence on Earth Day reminds us of our potential and the fact that there is truly no place like home.

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

—Neil Armstrong

The Apollo 11 mission pinned an extraordinary era that would follow man’s first step on the moon in 1969. Up until then, our planetary perspective was limited to the gravitational forces around us. We can only see so much on a ground level. While shorelines captivate and mountain tops exhilarate, there is something to be said about seeing Earth from a new place—the outside looking in.

This is an astronomical example as to how perspective functions, both on the individual and collective level. I’ll speak for myself here. Some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past could have definitely been avoided. However, the lesson will keep showing up until I truly learn the message. It’ll knock on my door or barge right in depending on the circumstance and it’s during these times where the opportunity to grow presents itself. We have a long way to go to protect the natural resources that have been exploited, but with these opportunities come hope.

The Blue Marble Captured by Apollo 17 Spacecraft, 1972

The moon is Earth’s biggest reflection. Shining a glowing perspective each and every night, we are always guided by the light.

I think about the times I’ll go to a loved one for advice. There is only so much I see from my own position and perspective. It’s only when I hear from an outsider, an objective voice, where things begin to look different. An honest and opposing viewpoint can come from yourself, someone else, or a mix of both.

The same shorelines and mountain tops we stand on emanate primal wisdom beyond our view. It took leaving a microscopic position to truly see another layer of our home. Stepping on the moon provided an expansive vision to take in the same shorelines and mountaintops from an honest and objective space—the same way a friend would lovingly share advice. However loving and gentle a suggestion might be, reality can hit us as cold as a stone. This gentle reality check played a huge role in how we would respond to preserving our natural world.

The years immediately following Apollo 11 marked the flux of humanity’s relationship with mother nature:

  • EPA founded December 2, 1970 proposed by Richard Nixon
  • Clean Water Act amended in 1972
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration founded October 3, 1970

“I left Earth three times and found no other place to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth.”

—Wally Schirra, Apollo 7 Commander

It is no coincidence Earth Day carved its own layer of significance in 1970—just a few months after man’s first step on the moon. Lunar voyages and explorations changed the way we’d forever view the planet.

“We learned a lot about the moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth.”

—Jim Lovel, Apollo 8 Command Module Pilot & Apollo 13 Commander

I caught up on some reading for the book club at work and it always amazes me how spot on signs are when you listen. The passage below was my reminder. Perhaps it might serve as a message for you in its own way.

“This higher-level perspective allows them to see themselves and others objectively as a machine… Once you understand how to build and run your machine, your next objective is to improve it.”—Ray Dalio, Principles

As I unlearn old habits, I remember my truth. As I step away from the microscopic view of my goals, I see the macroscopic purpose unfold. What does it mean to come back down to Earth if you can’t see where you stand from the clouds—the higher perspective? What position would we be in if we hadn’t made the trip to the moon? Perhaps our relationship with the planet might have taken a different route.

Taking the leap to visit the moon gave us that shift in perspective to unlearn and remember. How can you travel to the moon to view your personal home from an objective perspective? There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on a sustainability level. It starts with each of us and the work we are willing to put into ourselves to challenge the comfort we find in using resources that do more harm than good.

As a collective, we awoke to a reality that resulted from a lack of understanding. Gaylord Nelson was a game changer in bringing environmental issues to the forefront of our nation’s political agenda. By the year 2000, approximately 5000 environmental groups reached millions of people in over 150 countries. To this day we continue working together and organize movement through activism. This month is dedicated to celebrating, protecting, and remembering why Earth Day came to be in the first place.

The moon travels the sky in phases, pulling the tides while nourishing the harvest, and we can learn a lot through this rhythm and movement. The moon’s influence on Earth Day reflects a source of light that sheds insight as to how to better ourselves, the environment, and continue the evolution of life.


Written by Michelle Estevez