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Linda Godwin: “When you see the Earth from space – you realize that we are all in this together.”

Linda Godwin 3.jpg
Becca Newton
/
KBIA

Linda Godwin spoke with us at the CoMo 200 celebration on the 4th of July. She’s originally from Cape Girardeau and is a former astronaut and scientist for NASA who did four space flights and logged over 38 days in space during her career.

Today, she works with the Climate and Environment Commission in Columbia informing the community about climate change and spoke about her experiences and how they’ve made her passionate about protecting the planet.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Linda Godwin: So, we live on an oasis. A beautiful planet in our solar system, and part of my background is I have a PhD in physics, I worked for NASA for 30 years, and I was in the astronaut program.

One of my missions was an Earth science mission, but are all of them, you know, we circled our planet for several days, and when you see the Earth from space – you realize that we are all in this together.

You know, our atmosphere is incredibly small, and we can see that from space, when we see a sunrise or a sunset. It's vulnerable to changes that we were making to it, and what happens in one part of the world, connects to the other part.

So, we're all so connected, and we don't have another backup plan. This is the place. There's nothing else on our solar system that is anywhere like Earth and other places are way, way too far away.

So, this is what we've got, and we got so much to be pleased with on the planet that we have, but we do influence it by our lives and our actions and what we put into the air, and these are things that we can do something about, if we could get everybody behind it, you know, everybody to agree that we need to do it.

Two years ago, in June, the Mayor [Brian Treece] signed into action a plan that was quite a while in the making. We had a commission of private citizens, volunteers here that worked on this very hard.

"It's all about care – taking care of people and taking care of the environment, and we need to keep the wetlands that we have. We need to keep the prairie grass that we have. We need to keep the wildlife that we have."
Linda Godwin

Putting together a plan for Colombia over the next decade, and where we want to get to with sustainability, you know, where we care about bringing all people along. We care about equity and administering this thing.

And it's about doing what we can to reduce greenhouse gases to protect the environment, you know, that includes native plants and trees and biking more and having these trails, but it's also easy to leave parts of our community behind.

So, a big push behind this is that it includes everybody. That there's equity in it, and that we do what we can, you know, in the big picture to make things better and we have climate goals that are several decades out to be met.

You know, it's all about care – taking care of people and taking care of the environment, and we need to keep the wetlands that we have. We need to keep the prairie grass that we have. We need to keep the wildlife that we have. We need to expand sustainably. We need to look at where our energy comes from.

And taking care of people means that some people that don't have as much money out there, you know, or other resources are often the ones that don't get to take advantage of some of these things that help the climate.

So, we need to think about them too.

So, we want this to be a great state in which to live and work and play. Those are kind of the trite phrases, I guess that a lot of people use.

But I think Missouri – it's such a beautiful state, and we have so many different kinds of land here and rivers and lakes, and that's the kind of thing we need to keep and make it even better. So we can become this even better state in which to live and a better community.

Noah Zahn is a student producer for KBIA and a junior at the University of Missouri-Columbia studying journalism and music.
Becca Newton is a student reporter and producer at KBIA. They will graduate from the University of Missouri in spring 2022 with a degree in Multimedia Convergence Journalism and minors in Peace Studies and History.