Since Yuri Gagarin was the first human to orbit the Earth in 1961, about 550 astronauts have circled the planet. They have all had the opportunity to experience what has been called the Overview Effect, or a vision of Earth from outer space. 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 world-view where not the human, but the living planet, takes centre stage.