The Pale Blue Dot

The Pale Blue Dot

This is the first in a series of blogs we will be reposting from Kate Tapping’s own blog, The Pale Blue Dot.

I was brought up in the relatively privileged inner eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia with the blessings of a stable family, access to a good health system and a tertiary education. As I moved into my thirties, and then into my forties, I’ve increasingly worried about the inequality between the life we’re living here and that of others in different parts of the world. I read books about dystopian futures and think to myself, in some ways these scenarios are already playing out, right now – just not right here where I sit drinking a latte in my local hipster café.

A friend introduced me to the work of Peter Singer, and his book The Most Good You Can Do gave me a direction to channel my worries in what feels like a proactive way.

My understanding is definitely a work in progress, but this is what I’m going with for the moment:  we can make the greatest positive difference in the world by taking advantage of our education and experience to make the most money we can, and by then donating as much of that money as our families can afford to the organisations who can most effectively help those in dire need. And we need to keep doing this until global equality—of health, education and living conditions—is achieved. 

In June 2017 my family committed to giving away five per cent of our monthly earnings. I then started a blog called The Pale Blue Dot, in part to chronicle our giving every month. But more than that, it was an opportunity to increase our own understanding of what we’re doing and why, and hopefully encourage others to consider effective altruism as a practice worth learning more about.

Why the ‘pale blue dot’?

The ‘pale blue dot’ is a photograph of planet Earth taken from about six billion kilometers away. In this photograph, Earth is shown as a tiny dot against the vastness of space. From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest.

“But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Carl Sagan’s words from 1994 help put our world in perspective. They make you feel so small. But also so big.

Who wouldn’t want to dedicate their efforts to making our pale blue dot a better place? 

In upcoming posts, Kate shares where her family chooses to give their monthly donations, and how those choices reflect and affect her family’s lives and perspectives. 

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About the author:

Kate Tapping

Kate Tapping is a freelance corporate communications specialist from Melbourne, Australia. Inspired by the work of Peter Singer, Kate and her family have been exploring effective altruism since June 2017. The family blog about their experience with effective altruism at The Pale Blue Dot. In September 2019 the family launched Write the World notebooks, uniquely designed A$10 notebooks, with 100% of the purchase price of each notebook donated to The Life You Can Save.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.