The number of people who have seen Earth from space is low, but almost all of the astronauts who have done so have come away from the experience with a new perspective on the planet — regardless of race, sex, or country of origin. Once they are able to see Earth with their own eyes in its entirety, it is described as a "shock" and as "profound," implying a "new kind of self-awareness."
Seeing the fragility of the Earth, the thin layer of upper atmosphere that keeps our air in and the vastness of space out, the land without borders, has a perspective-changing impact on all of those lucky enough to see it. Called the Overview Effect, it is described as "a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment."
The Planetary Collective
is tackling the question of what the Overview Effect is and what it means for the future of humanity. The collective is: "a group of filmmakers, visual media creatives and thinkers who work with cosmologists, ecologists, and philosophers to explore some of the big questions facing our planet at this time. Embracing a multidisciplinary, multi-media approach, we bring scientists, philosophers, and researchers together with designers, coders, and creatives to bring new perspectives to audiences around the world in fresh and innovative ways."
They are working on a film about the Overview Effect, based on interviews with NASA pilots and astronauts. (See trailer above, with incredible fly-over footage of Earth.)
Richard Branson, who as head of the Virgin group is looking to take tourists to space, is a fan of the film-to-be, writing:
"Being able to give more people the opportunity to have these feelings in the future highlights further the importance of developing commercial space travel." Once people are able to become space tourists, I wonder what impact that will have on the environmental movement? Will people do more and care more when they can see the Earth as only astronauts have seen before them?