Overview Effect
Academy of Urban Astronauts

Fragment Apollo 8, NASA, 1968
Fragment of Wubbo Ockels from the TV Show, Medialane & AVROTROS, 2014

Since Yuri Gagarin was the first human to orbit the Earth in 1961, about 550 astronauts have circled the planet. They all have had the opportunity to experience a vision of Earth from outer space, or what has been called the ‘Overview Effect’. This experience reportedly impacts astronauts’ behaviour and views on life, prompting a cognitive shift.

From space, the astronauts explain, national boundaries vanish and conflicts seem to dilute. Yet, to those seeing the planet from afar, the need to create a planetary society with a united will to protect this ‘pale blue dot’ becomes both obvious and imperative. All humans are astronauts on a single tiny spaceship — Earth.

Today, this solidarity between humans and the fragile biosphere they co-inhabit seems more relevant than ever. The cosmic perspective and self-transcendent experience prompted by an Overview Effect might, perhaps, set in motion a post-humanist worldview where not the human, but the living planet, takes centre stage.