Planet Earth’s “overview effect”

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

[video link]

The wonderful film “Overview” (embedded above) introduces the idea of the “overview effect,” a concept that author Frank White developed to describe the sublime experience astronauts experience when they view Earth from space:

The Overview Effect… 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, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us 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. Even more so, many of them tell us that from the Overview perspective, all of this seems imminently achievable, if only more people could have the experience!

The video gives a flavor of the kind of profound encounter they have when seeing Earth in space, which inspires tremendous feelings of care and precariousness not unlike those we feel for our children.

While watching the video I had two thoughts. First, what if everyone in the world had a five minute experience of seeing the Earth from space, and second, would that create a new religion?

I think it would.

Clearly until space travel becomes more common, few people will have the privilege of peering out a portal and seeing the thin layer of our atmosphere set against the vastness of space. But media can help take us there. And this is exactly the kind of positive impact I think media can have to raise ecological consciousness. I wish this video had been made when I was writing The Media Ecosystem, because I would have included it as an example of a kind ecomedia that raises consciousness.

Many of us may be wondering right now what kind of madness and spiritual sickness currently pervades our screens, yet we can also start to wonder how awe can also become part of our daily experience and begin to envision media that shows life as profound and unique. Such a vision should lift us past the horror that besets so many earthlings today.

A big thanks to the Planetary Collective for making this wonderfully positive video. Check out their homepage and support their work

Bonus: Also check out the soundtrack and download the files from Human Suits homepage.