Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Overview Effect

Astronauts who have seen the Earth from space have often described the ‘overview effect’ as an experience that has transformed their perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it, and enabled them to perceive it as our shared home, without boundaries between nations or species.

OVERVIEW is a short film that will explore this perspective through interviews with astronauts who have experienced the overview effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for humanity as a whole, and especially its relevance to how we meet the tremendous challenges facing our planet at this time.

Astronauts are one of those people I truly envy. It seems to me that you have to be a genius and perfectly fit physically to be one, but more importantly, to be up there and see our dearly beloved planet in its entirety. I sometimes watch ISS earth observatory videos and I can only imagine how humbling and mesmerizing it  can be while in the Cupola for hours. It's one of my dream romantic date destinations. Here's what I know though, I don't have to fly to outer space to experience this thing they called the "overview effect".

The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface. It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, the astronauts tell us,[5] national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

I don't know exactly when it started for me, this environmental concern. It certainly took me long to act. But when I look at pictures of the earth, the Earthrise, the Blue Marble, I'm just in pure awe. It's like a parent looking at a newborn child, there's love and feeling of oneness, understanding its vulnerability   and a rush of overwhelming desire to protect it. I see nothing but beauty even though in reality, there are more chaos than what we see and hear in the news everyday. As what Bette Midler had sung, "from a distance, there is harmony... from a distance you look like my friend, even though we are at war". I wonder, how did the people feel when they first saw the pictures of our home planet?