Carl Sagan’s 1980 “Who Speaks For Earth?” Excerpt Stays Relevant In 2013



Source: Ingenious Press

“Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” was a thirteen-part television series presented by the hyper-talented Carl Sagan (Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Author, Science Communicator) which aired on PBS in 1980. The series covered a wide range of scientific subjects, including the origin of life, extraordinary space exploration accomplishments of the 1970s (such as the Mars Viking Landers), and a perspective of our place in the universe. It remains the most widely watched PBS series in the world, and most of it’s ideas, presentations, and discussions remain timeless as the decades have passed.

One of the most famous and enduring segments of the entire series was in the final episode “Who Speaks For Earth?” where Mr. Sagan presented an overview of the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The conflict, which appeared to have no ending in sight as of 1980, was presented by the soft-spoken Mr. Sagan in a beautiful and peaceful meadow with the soothing ambient sounds of birds chirping in the background. The environment acted as a symbol of the wonderful and cherished things all of humanity could lose, should the Cold War between the two superpowers suddenly turn “Hot”.

Carl’s opening statement in the excerpt was “The global balance of terror, pioneered by the United States and the Soviet Union, holds hostage all the citizens of the earth. Each side persistently probes the limits of the other’s tolerance, like; the Cuban missile crisis, the testing of anti-satellite weapons, the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars. The hostile military establishments are locked in some ghastly mutual embrace, each needs the other. But the balance of terror is a delicate balance, with very little margin for miscalculation.”

With these exact words, you can see the chilling resemblance to the current crisis involving Obama’s supposed “brief and limited” cruise missile strikes that he and his cabinet so badly want to unleash upon Syria. The Russian Federation, the primary successor state to the former Soviet Union, had made it very clear that a U.S. orchestrated attack on Syria will likely have disastrous consequences we cannot immediately foresee. One thing for sure is such rhetoric is not to be taken lightly, as the Russian Federation houses enough ballistic missiles to strike every major U.S. city and town several times over (much like the Soviet Union beforehand).

Another major problem for the United States is that a second major player has emerged in the 33 years since this excerpt, with the military and industrial capacity to give the United States a major headache. That second player is China, who is positioned to overtake the U.S. economy in just a couple of years and has been developing and implementing modern military equipment and hardware at an incredible pace. China has also made it abundantly clear that an illegal strike on Syria will not be tolerated and have profound consequences with the U.S. – China bilateral relationship, generally considered to be the world’s most important for the 21st century.

Mr. Sagan continues his speech, “How would we explain all this to a dispassionate extraterrestrial observer? What account would we give of our stewardship of the planet earth? We have heard the rationales offered by the superpowers. We know who speaks for the nations, but who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for earth?

Again we see the similarity to our current situation, as the U.S. government whips up completely fabricated and exaggerated excuses to go to war with Syria. This is despite the fact that less than 10% of the U.S. public supports military action against the country, which has never threatened or harmed the United States in any way, shape, or form. Who is speaking for us? It is clear that the government doesn’t care what the people think anymore, let alone abide by the rules and limitations of the U.S. Constitution (war can only be declared through Congress). Obama thinks he has dictatorial powers to rain destruction on wherever and whomever he want, whether it is from drone strikes or cruise missiles.

Mr. Sagan further exclaims “From an extraterrestrial perspective, our global civilization is clearly on the edge of failure in the most important task it faces; preserving the lives and well-being of its citizens, and the future habitability of the planet. But if we are willing to live with the growing likelihood of nuclear war, shouldn’t we also be willing to explore, vigorously, every possible means to prevent nuclear war? Shouldn’t we consider, in every nation, major changes in the traditional ways of doing things, a fundamental restructuring of economic, political, social and religious institutions?

Clearly the mentality of western leaders is very very sick, as the heads of the United Kingdom and France are also itching to jump on the bomb-Syria bandwagon, while the citizens of nations across the west are expressing their absolute revulsion to the thought of another aggressive war on a Middle Eastern country under false pretenses. Nobody will be a winner in an armed conflict with Syria, for the entire human race will lose. In the final words of Carl Sagan “A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism, and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet.”

The episode ends with an overview of the beginning of the universe, the evolution of life, and the accomplishments of humanity while making a plea to mankind to cherish life and continue its journey in the cosmos.

This article first appeared on Ingenious Press, an independent news blog with a pro-peace, pro-science, and pro-constitution agenda. Follow us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Video clip and quotations from “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” Episode 13 “Who Speaks for Earth”