Laying out Earth’s History on a Football Field

Posted on December 15, 2016 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Have you ever really, no I mean really grasped the history of this planet?

Honestly, I thought I had it all nailed down, 4.5 billion years since it’s beginning, 3.8 billion years since life began, 800 million years since multicellular organisms, 200,000 years since the first humans.

The problem with big numbers is that we don’t actually understand what they mean. How far back they stretch, and how much of a blip we are on the timescale of this planet.

Image: Earth's history on a football field with the Earth at one end and a t-rex at the other

Sure, I’ve heard the numbers, I even wrote an article on it (you can check it out here), but I didn’t really get what those numbers meant until I found the video from NPR’s Skunk Bear that I am sharing with you now.

This was one of those eye-opening videos that made me “wow” to out loud. So, here’s Earth’s history on a football field…

Sometimes it really is all about perspective.

Like I said up top, I had never quite understood the age of our planet, particular in comparison to our own timeline here.

To us, the history of humans on this planet seems so vast. So full of culture, life, and history. We seem like such a vital part of Earth’s story. When in fact, we are just a blip on this continuum so far.

Earth has been here for billions of years before us, and will probably be here for billions of years after we are gone. And while this may seem jarring, I think that this is an important perspective to keep. We have a responsibility to be stewards of this planet while we are here, it isn’t ours.

Perhaps we should be better guests while we are here, not just to the planet but to each other. In the grand scheme of it all, our quibbles are useless and our shared human connection is much greater. I urge you watch this video one more time. If anything, I hope it will serve as a reminder for the decades to come of our place within it all.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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