Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Human Space Program (Part One)

In each edition of my book,
The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, I have proposed and discussed the idea that humanity create a Human Space Program, a global commitment to exploring the universe that will constitute a "central project" for our planet and all sentient beings living on it.

Here are the essential features of the program:

The Human Space Program
Purpose: to support humanity's understanding and achievement of its purpose as an active partner in universal  evolution, creating  overview systems that increase conscious awareness  throughout  the universe.
Vision: a universal civilization, a golden age, humanity  taking its rightful place as citizens of the universe.
Long-term goals: establishing planetary, solar, and galactic civilizations as steps to a universal civilization.
Immediate objectives: creating conditions for planetary  peace  and humanity's  migration to the solar system and the stars.
Participants: all human beings and other sentient  species.
Spatial parameters: the universe.

Temporal parameters: the millennium, 2000-3000.

Originally set forth in the first edition in 1987, I also included 20 projects that could be used to jumpstart the program and move it ahead.

In future posts of this blog, I will discuss the vision and purpose of the program in more detail, and then do the same with each of the projects.

(To be continued)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The "Wecosystem" (Part I)

Recently, I have been working on a new book called The Cosma Hypothesis. It builds on The Overview Effect, which focuses primarily on our relationship with the Earth in space, and considers our relationship with the universe (Cosma).

Underlying all of this work is the effort to develop a coherent "philosophy of space exploration." At this point, the main breakthrough is to consider this new philosophy to be non-anthropocentric, i.e., aimed at understanding how humans can benefit the universe as well as how the universe can benefit us (the latter being the starting point for most justifications for space exploration and development.)

Slowly but surely, we are beginning to understand that we are part of an ecosystem, which is defined as:
    "A community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows." (Wikipedia)
    This is a fine definition and it doesn't really need to be changed, but I wonder how our thinking might expand  if we thought of ourselves as being part of a "Wecosystem." A wecosystem is really the same thing as an ecosystem, but adding the "w" to it emphasizes that human beings ("we") do not stand apart from it, but are in fact a part of it.
    In line with the Cosma Hypothesis, we should also bear in mind that, just because we leave the Earth, it does not mean that we are no longer embedded in a wecosystem. That system may now be somewhat larger and more expansive (a solar system vs. a planet), but our existence continues to be within it and everything we do resonates through it.
    (To be continued)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Closing Comments at Launch of "Academy in Space Initiative"

The following are my closing comments at the event at Framingham State University that launched the "Academy in Space Initiative:"

“We have begun a wonderful dialogue here tonight, and we don’t want it to end with this evening. As you can see, humanity is already beginning to step out onto the infinite frontier we call “space.” It is no longer the science fiction of the futurethese are today’s headlines.

“Will we do a good job of exploring this new region, or will we make the kinds of mistakes we have made in the past, as we have explored the frontiers of Earth?

“Let’s imagine that it is 1816, instead of 2016, and we are meeting to consider how we might move from the East Coast into the western part of the United States. How would we do it differently, what questions would we ask, and how would we find the answers?

“That is what the “Academy in Space Initiative” is all about. We want to launch this Initiative tonight here at Framingham State, and we want to invite educational institutions around the world to become involved.

“We plan to ask questions like, ‘Should we use nuclear power to explore the solar system?’ and ‘Who gets to settle Mars?’ and ‘How does space development affect climate change?’

"If you are interested, please contact us."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Opening Remarks at Launch of Academy in Space Initiative

The following are a portion of my opening remarks at the launch of the Academy in Space Initiative at Framingham State University on April 6, 2016:

“As you will see in the film we are about to show, the idea of the Overview Effect came to me on a cross-country flight in the late 1970s. I had the insight that seeing the Earth from orbit or the moon might fundamentally change one’s identity and worldview. So I began interviewing astronauts to see if they had indeed had such an experience. The book by the same name was published in November 1987 and is now in its third edition.

“The Overview Effect is not about me, or our panel members, or any one individualit is about all of us as human beings. The Overview Effect is a message from the universe to us about who we really are and what our future is all about.

“The first person to have this remarkable experience was Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who orbited the Earth on April 12, 1961, just about 55 years ago. He said:

The point was not the distance but the principle. (Humanity) had  overcome  the  force  of Earth’s gravity and gone out into space.*

“As Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart said of his experience:

            You’re out there on the forefront and you have to bring that back somehow. That becomes a rather special responsibility and it tells you something about your relationship with this thing we call life…And all through this I’ve used the word “you” because it’s not me, it’s you, it’s we. It’s Life that’s had that experience.

“This message was first passed to the astronauts, and then to many others, including myself, who have been working to interpret it, and now to the filmmakers at Planetary Collective, and we are now passing it to you.

            “Let me just say a few things about that message:

            “First, it is true that there are no borders or boundaries on our planet except those that we create in our minds or through human behaviors.  All the ideas and concepts that divide us when we are on the surface begin to fade from orbit and the moon. The result is a shift in worldview, and in identity.

            “Second, our planet is, in the words of former astronaut Ron Garan, a fragile oasis and we need to take care of it.  So there is a strong environmental component to the message.

            “Third, we are one species with one destiny as we move out from the Earth and begin to explore the universe. Survival of the planet and exploration of the solar system should both be seen as global concerns.

            “Finally, we need to understand that we are in space, we have always been in space, and we always will be in space, whether we leave the planet or not. In a very real sense, all of us are astronauts, members of the crew of spaceship Earth, and the time has come to realize that this is so.

“So, do you want to change the world? It begins with how you see the world. It begins with your worldview.

* Gagarin used the term "man," which I have updated here.

Friday, April 8, 2016


The Academy in Space Initiative had a great launch on April 6 at Framingham State University. About 125 faculty, students, and members of the public came together to discuss the future of humanity as we migrate out into the solar system.

We will now be deciding on next steps. In the meantime, if any readers of this blog are interested in getting involved, please contact me at

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Academy in Space Initiative (Part IV)

The Academy in Space Initiative will launch on April 6, 2016, at Framingham State University, 100 State Street, Framingham, MA 01701 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. It is free and open to the public and if you live in the area, please plan to attend. The event is titled "Beyond the Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution" and our outstanding panel will begin the discussion of key issues surrounding human migration into the solar system.