Chris Hadfield’s new book is full of almost 200 never-before-seen photos of the Earth, all taken during a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
It’s the follow-up to his bestselling memoir An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.
Hadfield joined The Early Edition’s Rick Cluff to talk about his book and describe the meaning these photographs have for him.
Why this book?
I wanted [the book to be] as if I was with one other person. We’re going to go around the world once, it takes 92 minutes, and I want to show you what the world looks like. This is our planet—let’s look at it together in its infinite variety.
You can tell that it was a fairly emotional experience for you, because it’s not just your photographs, you’ve written some of your thoughts and personal feelings in here.
When I go to an art gallery after about 20 beautiful paintings; I’m numb. I didn’t want this book to be like that.
And in those galleries, I look at a picture and then I always walk over and read every single thing that’s written about that picture because I want to know why, and what’s in it, and what the artist was thinking and what was going through their mind.
I really felt the same way about this book. I wanted it to be as if the two of us were floating weightless in the copula and I was pointing to something with you. I wanted it to feel that way, because to me, that’s what really matters.
In the book's introduction you write a reminder to people to 'make the most of our moment on this beautiful, strange, durable, yet fragile planet'.
How do we 'make the most of our moment' on this planet?
It depends how you measure 'our moment'. The world has been here 4.5-billion years and of course there are immense natural processes that always happen and we’re learning more about those as time goes on.
But at the same time, the earth has never supported so much of one species…seven billion of us all.
That’s a big inhaling, exhaling, excreting, food-consuming group, and every time we flush the toilet or drive in our car or heat our house or turn the lights on and off we have an impact.
The world constantly changes but what we’ve really threatened is our own health as a species. We need other energy sources, we need to be more responsible, we need to get out of the growth phase into the sustainability phase of things.
Now that you’re back on earth wrestling with gravity, how do you look at your plan now?
A great sense of optimism. If you and I went a hundred times around the world together, you’d come back with sort of a sense of peaceful optimism within you about the planet.
It is immense and patient, and imperturbable and lovely and constantly refreshing itself with each change of the season. It’s very peace-giving to see the world that way.
I’ve been around it 2,600 times…but it’s also kind of weird because now everywhere I go on earth I know what’s around the next corner.
It’s the strangest sort of déjà vu, but it’s delightful. The whole planet feels like home. It’s lovely.
Since your return you’ve written not one but now two books, so what’s next?
There’s a kids book in [the] works, the first book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is being made into a TV show on ABC, and lots of chances to meet and lecture around the country.
I’m really delighting in the places I’ve been allowed to go so far and now being back and having a chance to see how it all fits together.