Earth Day and the Overview Effect

April 22, 2012 at 4:03 am by Frank White
Tags: Earth Day, the Overview Effect

While I enjoy Earth Day and the outpouring of love and caring for our beautiful planet, I always find myself a bit sad this day as well. You may ask why, since it is an important occasion that grew out of the golden years of space exploration back in the 1960s, a time when we went to the moon and the Overview Effect was first beginning to have an impact on our thinking and our behavior.

And that is exactly the reason I am sad. It is no accident that the first Earth Day, held in 1970, took place not long after the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and at a time when astronauts were still making trips to the lunar surface. There is no question in my mind that the pictures and videos of the Earth as seen from Earth orbit and the moon were instrumental in birthing the environmental movement. However, over the next few years, a split took place between space enthusiasts and environmentalists that persists to this day.

I will examine this split and what might be done to heal it in future blogs. For now, I will enjoy Earth Day and consider whether the Overview Effect and Earth Day's connections might be more fully acknowledged in the future.