The “Overview Effect” & Transition Studies: Working for Sustainable Human Survival in a Finite Ecosystem | EV & N 394 | CCTV

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The “Overview Effect” is a phrase that was coined over fifty years ago to refer to the experience of astronauts who viewed Earth from the distance of outer space. More generally, it refers to the human capacity to stand back and view the operation of entire systems as if one were momentarily and imaginatively “outside” them.

It is characteristically human, however, to couple that sensation of momentary “outside-ness” with a profound and often life-transforming sense of connection. People who experience this sensation have often described a humbling feeling of gratitude in recognition that they — and all of us — are part of a precious, functioning and fragile system which we did not create, cannot control and must not destroy.

Yet the tragedy is that from the distance of outer space we can view the dramatic destruction of fragile ecosystems across the world at the hands of virtually all human civilizations.

One powerful response to this awareness is to re-conceive all of human effort toward envisioning and working toward creating viable transitions to a just and sustainable future on our finite planet.

This is motivated by the urgent awareness — triggered by the “overview effect” in all of us — that there is no “Planet B.” We only have one Earth. We only get one chance.

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