When you're a poet, it's great to get commissioned to write a piece on an issue that's important to you. I've wanted to write a poem on climate change for a while, because it's such an immediate universal issue. When Al Gore's Climate Reality Project approached me, all the world fell into place as I did research on 'Earthrise', our planet's most famous photo. In this poem, I hope that, like the photo, we can look back on ourselves and our planet and be inspired to protect it, and in so doing, protect ourselves
On Christmas Eve, 1964, astronaut Bill Anders
Snapped a photo of the earth
As Apollo 8 orbited the moon.
Those three guys
To see from their eyes
Our planet looked like an earthrise
A blue orb hovering over the moon’s gray horizon,
with deep oceans and silver skies.
It was our world’s first glance at itself
Our first chance to see a shared reality,
A declared stance and a commonality;
A glimpse into our planet’s mirror,
And as threats drew nearer,
Our own urgency became clearer,
As we realize that we hold nothing dearer
than this floating body we all call home.
That we’re caught in the throes
Of climactic changes some say
Will just go away,
While some simply pray
To survive another day;
For it is the obscure, the oppressed, the poor,
Who when the disaster
Is declared done,
Still suffer more than anyone.
Climate change is the single greatest challenge of our time,
Of this, you’re certainly aware.
It’s saddening, but I cannot spare you
From knowing an inconvenient fact, because
It’s getting the facts straight that gets us to act and not to wait.
So I tell you this not to scare you,
But to prepare you, to dare you
To dream a different reality,
Where despite disparities
We all care to protect this world,
This riddled blue marble, this little true marvel
To muster the verve and the nerve
To see how we can serve
Our planet. You don’t need to be a politician
To make it your mission to conserve, to protect,
To preserve that one and only home
That is ours,
To use your unique power
To give next generations the planet they deserve.
We are demonstrating, creating, advocating
We heed this inconvenient truth, because we need to be anything but lenient
With the future of our youth.
And while this is a training,
in sustaining the future of our planet,
There is no rehearsal. The time is
Because the reversal of harm,
And protection of a future so universal
Should be anything but controversial.
So, earth, pale blue dot
We will fail you not.
Just as we chose to go to the moon
We know it’s never too soon
To choose hope.
We choose to do more than cope
With climate change
We choose to end it—
We refuse to lose.
Together we do this and more
Not because it’s very easy or nice
But because it is necessary,
Because with every dawn we carry
the weight of the fate of this celestial body orbiting a star.
And as heavy as that weight sounded, it doesn’t hold us down,
But it keeps us grounded, steady, ready,
Because an environmental movement of this size
Is simply another form of an earthrise.
To see it, close your eyes.
Visualize that all of us leaders in this room
and outside of these walls or in the halls, all
of us changemakers are in a spacecraft,
Floating like a silver raft
in space, and we see the face of our planet anew.
We relish the view;
We witness its round green and brilliant blue,
Which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly:
What can we do?
Open your eyes.
Know that the future of
this wise planet
Lies right in sight:
Right in all of us. Trust
this earth uprising.
All of us bring light to exciting solutions never tried before
For it is our hope that implores us, at our uncompromising core,
To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for.
About the Artist
In 2017, Amanda Gorman made history by being named the first National Youth Poet Laureate. Her poetry has won her invitations to the Obama White House and commissions to perform for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and more. She has spoken across the country, from the Library of Congress to the U.N. Social Good Summit to TED-Ed. Currently a junior at Harvard, she writes for the New York Times in The Edit newsletter. A native Angeleno, she's running for President in 2036.
Related City resources
Energy Efficiency and Solar Energy
Energy Efficiency: You can get a no-cost energy assessment to find ways to save energy and money and access generous incentives! The MassSave program provides easy ways for residents and businesses to save, through insulation, smart thermostats, air sealing, and advanced lighting. For apartment and condo buildings, the City of Cambridge has created the Multifamily Energy Pilot. This program makes it easy for your building to get a no-cost energy assessment and free solar assessment, and then get help from our Retrofit Advisor to find qualified vendors and to research financing options. Visit CambridgeEnergyAlliance.org to learn more.
Solar Energy: Cambridge offers residents and businesses many different ways to get clean, renewable energy. The City’s Sunny Cambridge program (SunnyCambridge.org) has lined up local solar installers in an online marketplace, helping buildings get free, competitive quotes for solar, with additional support to help compare quotes. Hundreds of Cambridge homes have participated, accessing significant, long-term savings. For condo and apartment buildings, we are ready to help through our Multifamily Solar Advisor. Renewable heating and cooling, in the form of heat pumps and solar hot water, are also a great way to access clean energy – get in touch to learn more!