There was a bit of a press frenzy last week surrounding the idea of a global flag that could be used in instances of human exploration off our planet, where international collaboration could be celebrated and memorialized on alien worlds rather than the more old-timey nationalistic space races with various countries’ flags dotting remote landscapes across the Solar System. To this end Oskar Pernefeldt, a design student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, created a proposal for a “Flag for Planet Earth” as a senior project – a flag that could be proudly planted and worn by future astronauts as we expand our presence through space. Various news sites picked up the story, as seen in this article on Verge.com by Jacob Kastrenakes – and it spread from there as “this is the flag we’ll plant” when we land on Mars, an asteroid, the Moon (again), Europa, etc., etc.
The question is: will it really? And more importantly, would we even want it to be? I, for one, would not.
It’s a cluster of white rings on a blue field, sort of an offspring of the Olympic and United Nations flags. There are seven rings (for seven continents? Seven seas? Seven samurai? I don’t really know) and supposedly the watery blue was specifically selected to contrast well against light-colored spacecraft and spacesuits and the blackness of space.
According to Pernefeldt on his Flag of Planet Earth project site:
“Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. The blue field represents water which is essential for life – also as the oceans cover most of our planet’s surface. The flower’s outer rings form a circle which could be seen as a symbol of Earth as a planet and the blue surface could represent the universe.”
Get it? Blue water… living flower… the circle… the CIRRRRCLLLLE OF LIIIIIIIFE…..
Yeah, you get it. I get it. We all get it. It’s just…. all right.
Now I’m not hammering on the design itself. It’s clean, it’s symmetrical, it’s easy to understand (see above), it’s got meaning (ibid.), it’s fine. And kudos on putting together a solid proposal, with a website and narrated animations and an artist’s statement and all that. A very well-done project. But the idea that this may actually become the International Flag of Planet Earth is not only a bit far-fetched, but also gives me a design bellyache. It’s just so… bland.
This design is so non-specific and non-offensive that it doesn’t really say anything about who we are, and what we as a spacefaring species stand for – or at least should stand for – and while it has a scripted symbolism, it’s just not there yet.
Heck, it doesn’t even say anything about where Earth is in space.
So perhaps I don’t want to be represented by a geometric flower. Maybe that’s my problem. But as a natural-born citizen of Earth I get to have an opinion too.
And so do you. What do you think? Is Pernefeldt’s design pleasing to you? Does it inspire you to reach for the stars? Or do you think it needs some work? (Or do you hate it altogether?) Place your votes below – we can be democratic about this!
Personally I feel that a flag representing Earth throughout space should perhaps focus on our place in the Solar System… maybe something like this:
Yes, they might be a bit fussier (I like the idea of including the smaller worlds along with the Sun and big planets) but I feel they better say “Earth was here.” For me, anyway.
Again, your thoughts? Feel free to leave comments below, or even share your own idea for a flag design.
PS: Other flags of Earth have been proposed in the past as well… here’s one from the North American AstroPhysical Observatory that could well serve the need even better. (ht to NBCNews.com’s Alan Boyle)