Wild fires in California, as seen in the exhibit "Earth From Space" from the Smithsonian exhibit.

As a newbie to Cannon Beach, and to Oregon for that matter, I have a lot to learn about the history of the area, and honestly, there is no better place for the crash course than at our Cannon Beach History Museum.

What I am excited to share with you though is about the Earth, and our exhibit ‘Earth from Space’ which is at the museum until August 28th.

For centuries man has had an obsession to see himself, and the world in which we inhabit from above or from an outside perspective. This is what led to our nation’s race to outer space and the moon, likely what caused the invention of the airplane, and even the invention of the photograph. Can you imagine a world without photographs?

All of this inventiveness has led us to where we are now, with space stations, a myriad of photographic technologies – Infrared, remote sensing, modern digital imaging, and numerous satellites circling our planet – some satellites travel all the way around our planet in less than 90 minutes – and of course  all of that technology led to the culmination of this fascinating and informative exhibit.

I must confess, I am a map freak, I love to look at maps, and so for me one of my favorite technological advances, if it can be called that, is Google Earth. I have spent countless hours ponderously searching various places of interest on my computer, so when I hired on just as ‘Earth From Space’ was being unpacked at the museum, I was definitely curious, and the exhibit has certainly been informative.

During the weeks that the Cannon Beach History Center has offered the Smithsonian exhibit, I have learned plenty about the planet we all call home.

One volunteer pointed out the deforestation comparison of the Brazilian rain forest from 1976 to 2001, the difference is amazing and horrific, and the reality brought to me by the images of the panels and the impassioned speech of our volunteer, Chuck Murdy. It really made me think about the impact of man – even more than the images of urban lands like Washington DC, Manhattan, and Hamburg, Germany.

Recently, I overheard museum employee Jan McCallister telling visitors how back in the 19th century cameras were tied to kites and homing pigeons in an effort to see the cities from above, especially after the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. This reminds me that no matter how many gadgets and technological advances we make as a civilization, there is so little we still really know about the universe, our planet and even ourselves. Most likely, we cannot even imagine what this century will bring, and how the lives of humans will change over the next 89 years, and what further alterations we will bestow upon the planet that we all call home, hopefully they will be positive ones.

By Amy Stocky

Previously published in the Cannon Beach Gazette

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