9 years ago

“we’re all astronauts on a spaceship called planet Earth, let’s treat her right.”

Honored with the officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau and Merit Cross 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany, Wubbo Johannes Ockels was a Dutch physicist and an astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA). In the ESA released photo above, you can see Ockels and Franco, who were two of the first group of ESA astronauts to use the Spacelab-D1 in 1985 and making him the first Dutch citizen in space. Franco Malerba flew as the first Italian citizen in space in 1992 on the Space Shuttle mission STS-46. Ockels scientific career was a part-time professor of Aerospace Engineering (in particular, Aerospace for Sustainable Engineering and Technology) at Delft University of Technology. Ockels was responsible for the development of a Superbus, the “Laddermill” Airborne Wind Energy, and the Nuon Solar Team (World Solar Challenge 4x winner). Ockels was a member of the American Physical Society, European Physical Society and for four years from 1999 to 2003 ESA’s head of Office for Educational Projects Outreach Activities. Ockels considered himself to be an astronaut of spaceship earth, stimulating and promoting sustainability and the use of renewable energy. Ockels’ daughter Gean wrote his biography, “Seven Lives of Wubbo Ockels” – Bol.com, in 2010. “It’s partly biographical and recounts the five times I very narrowly escaped death,” Ockels described. “Starting with a life-threatening tropical illness (1982), a collision with an Airbus at Lille airport (1989), a cardiac arrest in 2005 and finally a kidney tumour (2008). I’m in my sixth life, so only one left to go.” Have a look at Wubbo Ockel’s 2009 TEDxAmsterdam talk “On time and gravity – TEDAnd open letter here – Happy Energy. The movement for a sustainable Earth and Us; Humanity. An extraordinary career, a visionary man. Unfortunately Ockels had an agressieve form of kidney cancer, and died from complications of it on May 18th, 2014. 

  • Fortunately his final speech/words, a day before he died, where recorded by the Dutch television presenter Ivo Niehe in his late-night talk show ‘AVRO/TROS TV Show.’ This was shown on Dutch television on Sunday December 7th, 2014 (NPOIplayer). You can watch Ockels impressive final speech here in English – YOUTUBE – Final Speech of Dutch physicist Prof. dr. Wubbo Ockels. His speech is uplifting at times and inspirational but Ockels reminds us in an emotional way to help save the earth from its current sickness.
  • “We. We, people. Coming from the same molecules out of one bloody strong star which bursted out. We, who have developed over billions of years: life. Life is made by us. We, humanity are so strong that we can save the earth. But we also can destroy it. Even a small thing, does something. ” — Wubbo Ockels

Ockels speech reminded me of what author Frank White in 1987 described as the overview effect. The Overview Effect is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. And even gives you a powerful Savikalpa samadhi experience. Two years ago an organisation by the name of ‘planetary collective’ (PLANETARY) released an fascinating, visually stunning 19min. short film (VIMEO HD) (7.1M Plays) with rare seen before additional footage from NASA / ESA archives documenting the Overview Effect of Apollo 14 and ISS astronauts.


Ockels speech also reminded me of what American economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin’s had to say to us: “We are asleep. All across the world. This is the defining moment for humanity.” Also watch Rifkin’s Power to the people ‘3rd Industrial Revolution’ – Tegenlicht Talk (- WATCH) 


The Zero Marginal Cost Society – “what makes the great infrastructure revolutions transformational is the convergence of new communications media with new energy regimes.”Jeremy Rifkin.


The Empathic Civilisation – “We know if a spider goes up someone’s arm and I’m observing it going up your arm I’m going to get a creepy feeling. We take this for granted but we’re actually soft wired to actually experience another’s plight as if we’re experiencing it ourself” Jeremy Rifkin. 


“Ocean acidification is probably the most important issue on the planet today.” Rob Stewart. 

The impact on coral reefs, needed by species for spawning, homes for their offspring and feeding, could create a mass extinction. Actually most of the previous mass extinct events of which there were five, can be directly attributable to ocean acidification events – The History of the Universe in 10 Minutes. We truly need to reduce our carbon footprint as of today and pressure our government to create strict emissions laws Dutch government taken to court on climate change BBC News-Apr 14, 2015


“A truly slowly enacted catastrophe” – the most urgent issue of the present day is truly Slash and burn farming – 1 billion tons of carbon go up in the air annually, and more then 300 million people are involved in slash and burn farming around the world. Slash and burn farming  generates more carbon annually than all air travel put together. It sits at the crossroads of two of the greatest threats to global stability: 

  1. accelerating climate change
  2. diminishing food security. 

The 2011 Documentary, Up In Smoke follows British scientist Mike Hands (Ingafoundation) , who has laboured for 25 years to find a solution to replacing slash & burn agriculture in equatorial rain forests. And Mr. Hands found it.


“Are we destroying the essential to create the superfluous?” – Of Forests and Men. 


Burning Fossil Fuels Is the ‘Dumbest Experiment in History, By Far’ Elon Musk.  

– StarTalk Radio – The Future of Humanity with Elon Musk – Listen

  • According the Royal Dutch Shell energy scenarios (to 2050), we have two possible ways forward: ‘Scramble’ and ‘Blueprints’. Neither is ideal, though some outcomes will clearly be better than others. While technology will provide some answers, political and social choices will be critical. More energy, less carbon dioxide. It’s humanity’s biggest challenge today. What are the hard truths? What are the right choices? When do we need to make them? What happens if we don’t?” 
  1. Up to 2015
  2. Find out more about the Shell Energy Scenarios.
  • “Is there really no Tomorrow”? There’s No Tomorrow is a half-hour animated documentary about resource depletion, energy and the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet.


A young woman said to me in the 1970s, “We need to feminize this planet.” I thought it strange then, but now I realize there’s power in love—real power in real love… Oliver Stone. 

And according to American film director Oliver Stone and receiver of the Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster, we’re also dealing with the collapse (national debt ceiling – 18.3 trillion dollars) (Director Alexander Oey’s 2011 – ‘Off The Grid) of yet another empire, the United States of America. “And the Chinese (Al Jazeera – special rising – China Rising) must shun the American and British example, and the U.S. must reverse course, Stone describes. Have a look at this indeed beautiful, soliloquy ending of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States (a marvel of historical illiteracy) series, pondering America’s militarisation since WWII.


Susan Savage-Rumbaugh: The gentle genius of bonobos – along with the common chimpanzee, the bonobo is the closest extant relative to humans. Most studies indicate that females have a higher social status in bonobo society which creates and egalitarian and empathic society. Frans de Waal studies primate social behavior — how they fight and reconcile, share and cooperate – TED. 


  • Seven Top Futurists Make Some Pretty Surprising Predictions About What The Next Decade Will Bring


  • “It’s no wonder that we’re pessimistic, it’s no wonder that people think that the world is getting worse…but perhaps, that’s not the case.” – Peter Diamandis 


The Future is Ours folks…. – VIMEO 

“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

— JFK’s commencement speech at American University, June 10, 1963.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

– Robert F. Kennedy University of Cape Town, South Africa N.U.S.A.S. "Day of Affirmation” Speech June 6th, 1966. 


Bart Hendrikx. 

Photo credit: ESA; Photo: Wubbo and Franco press conference – Id 311314 – ESA/Cluster; Image: ESA/NASA – SOHO/LASCO.