Earthrise photo

Last week I shared a TED Countdown talk where Pope Francis spoke of our moral imperative to act on climate change. Also reciting her poem, Earthrise, at TED Countdown, was poet Amanda Gorman. (You may recall that Amanda recited her poem, The Hill We Climb, at Joe Biden’s inauguration.)

These two TED talks, one by a 22-year old Catholic poet from Los Angeles; the other from the 84-year old leader of the Roman Catholic church from Buenos Aires, are bookends to TED Countdown and to the multi-generational effort to save the planet.

Watch Amanda Gorman recite Earthrise

Amanda’s poem begins with:

On Christmas Eve, 1968, astronaut Bill Anders 
Snapped a photo of the earth
As Apollo 8 orbited the moon.
Those three guys 
Were surprised
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. 

Like Pope Francis, Gorman tells us that this is the responsibility of each of us to preserve the planet for future generations:

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 like Pope Francis, who tells us “begin our journey today — not tomorrow — today“, Gorman also emphasizes the urgency:

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. 

She concludes with hope, visualizing a future where we all come together:

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. 

Read the full text of Earthrise. Watch Amanda’s inauguration recital. And consider watching all of the TED Countdown talks at

Finally, I would like to invite you to an online meetup that I am leading where we will be discussing Amanda Gorman’s Earthrise and several other TED Countdown talks on Sunday, Jan 31 at 3pm. RSVP at 

Working together, we can help take care of our common home. 

Paul Litwin

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