“Cosmos” is one of the most important and most deeply misunderstood words in our vocabulary. In common use, it designates the stars and planets beyond Earth, realms accessible only by telescopes or the most futuristic of technologies. But the complex history of this ancient word suggests that it has much more to teach us—indeed, that we need it now more than ever, for popular usage masks its long history as humanity’s oldest ecological vision of our planet.

This essay may be found on page 47 of the printed volume.

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