The Overview Effect

Photo: Johan Wirfält

Hundreds of people showed up at Kulturhuset in Stockholm on a Thursday afternoon to hear a conversation between the distinguished Carl Folke (of the Stockholm Resilience Center, the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, etc) and myself; towards the end we were also joined by music professor Anna Lindal. Our topic was the Overview Effect, the well-documented phenomenon where a – literally – new perspective gives astronauts a cognitive shift involving great clarity about the fragility of the Earth. Since we clearly cannot put everyone in space to experience this shift, we have to find other ways to give humans the Overview, and that was the topic under discussion.

The conversation was followed by a concert with the amazing Fire! Orchestra, who performed new music to video projections on the Earth from space. This was all a pretty mind-blowing experience.

We were also scheduled to converse on a live link with an astronaut at the ISS, but his day changed and it was cancelled late. Of course I was rather disappointed – but the whole session turned out to be so powerful that I think, in the end, it was no great disaster.

The event was a part of The Stockholm Act, in collaboration with the Swedish National Space Board, Rymdstyrelsen.

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