Sketchplanations

Explaining one thing a week in a sketch

The overview effect - Sketchplanations

The overview effect

Astronauts returning from space have repeatedly shared experiences like this:

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.”— Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut

Or this:

“When we look down at the earth from space, we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet. It looks like a living, breathing organism. But it also, at the same time, looks extremely fragile … Anybody else who’s ever gone to space says the same thing because it really is striking and it’s really sobering to see this paper-thin layer and to realize that that little paper-thin layer is all that protects every living thing on Earth from death, basically. From the harshness of space.”— Shuttle/ISS astronaut Ron Garan

The overview effect, coined by Frank White, is kind of the mother of seeing the forest for the trees. It’s the realisation that we live on a fragile planet, we are all connected, and this is all we’ve got.

The sketch is based on the image of earth from the moon taken on the Apollo 11 mission.

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