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The Overview Effect alters how those who leave the planet think about it when they return.


Space Tourism and the Overview Effect Will Transform the One Percent | Inverse

A writer named Frank White popularized the term in his 1987 book The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution. To make his case that a different sort of shift in consciousness was looming, White combed through the records of a few hundred astronaut debriefings and interviewed several dozen spacefarers in person. Their testimonies jolted him toward a singular conclusion: Astronauts who saw Earth from space spoke about the planet differently when they returned.

They told him that, at 250 miles up, the atmosphere is paper thin. The Earth doesn’t fill your field of vision, but you can see in astonishing detail. Below you, nature — wind, erosion, forests, mountains — displays utter disregard for borders. Devoid of political fictions, the land itself renders conflict over it ridiculous. It’s not that the world is big, it’s that, within the context of space, it’s mind-bogglingly small. And it’s the emptiness of space that makes astronauts so willing, so eager, to make minor compromises, to install solar panels, ration water, and drive electric cars. They know the alternative is vast and silent.

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