Carl Sagan

One of my favorite writers is Carl Sagan. Not just for his praise of the scientific method or his way of making complicated science seem ordinary and accessible, but for his ability to inspire with words. He was a supremely talented writer, inspiring millions to wonder at the majesty of the cosmos and our place in it. I recently had the pleasure of reading Billions and Billions for the first time, the last book he wrote before he passed away from a rare form of cancer. Here is one excerpt that especially stood out to me:

“The Earth is an anomaly. In all the Solar System, it is, so far as we know, the only inhabited planet. We humans are one amongst millions of separate species who live in a world burgeoning, overflowing with life. And yet, most species that ever were are no more. After flourishing for 180 million years, the dinosaurs were extinguished. Every last one. There are none left. No species is guaranteed its tenure on this planet. And we’ve been here for only about a million years, we, the first species that has devised means for its self-destruction. We are rare and precious because we are alive, because we can think as well as we can. We are privileged to influence and perhaps control our future. I believe we have an obligation to fight for life on Earth–not just for ourselves, but for all those, humans and others, who came before us, and to whom we are beholden, and for all those who, if we are wise enough, will come after. There is no cause more urgent, no dedication more fitting than to protect the future of our species. Nearly all our problems are made by humans and can be solved by humans. No social convention, no political system, no economic hypothesis, no religious dogma is more important.”