Overview Effect

Several years ago I read a wonderful book called The Overview Effect. It outlines how seeing the Earth from space shifts how we perceive ourselves and our place as part of this planet and universe. The effect is strongest for the astronauts and cosmonauts who have seen it with their own eyes, and more so for those who went the furthest away from the Earth. It changed the lives of many of these individuals, and the images shifted the perception of many of us who did not go into space.

It is interesting how many parallel shifts seem to occur at about the same time in the history of humanity.

  • Seeing the Earth from space, as one seamless whole
  • Development of systems approaches to Earth physiology, including the Gaia theory
  • Development of weapons of mass destruction that can wipe out most or all human life
  • Increased awareness of the global health effects of toxins and unraveling ecosystems
  • Access to insights and tools that help us explore ourselves as a whole as individuals
  • Development of social view and tools that are more inclusive and allow for diversity

All these work in the same way. They give us an opportunity to see the Earth as a whole, all of humanity as interdependent, and ecosystems and social systems as interdependent. We are given the opportunity to shift our individual and collective awareness to become more inclusive, more transdual in certain ways. We are given the opportunity to expand our circle of concern, that which we see as “us”, to include all Earthly life.

We are given the greatest incentive to do so, our own survival.

Spiral Dynamics

The view neccesary corresponds to the sixth level in spiral dynamics. The green level, concerned with inclusiveness in every sense.

It is somewhat disconcerning that most of humanity are at level 3 and 4, some at level 5, and very few at level 6. But it is encouraging that those at level 5, who may move into level 6, and those already at level 6, are some of the more influental in the world…

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