n 1966, on a rooftop overlooking San Francisco, the writer Stewart Brand felt that he could perceive the curvature of the Earth, an effect of the psychedelic substance he had consumed. He wondered why no one had photographed the Earth from space yet, and realised how much this might help people feel connected to each other and to their shared home
Like the astronauts themselves, the world was awestruck by the first images of the whole Earth from space, which are today widely credited with triggering the birth of the modern environmental movement.
As these two examples show, momentous shifts in perspective can come from fleeting moments of epiphany such as those experienced by Brand or the crew of Apollo 8.
a profound cognitive shift.
the ‘overview effect’: a breakthrough shift in perspective catalysed by the perception of the unity and interconnectedness of life on Earth, often resulting in a strong desire to protect the planet.
Psychedelics can unlock a newfound appreciation of nature, a profound sense of being part of a much larger whole and of a magnificent interconnected web of life – something that has been described again and again
Richard Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which outlawed substances such as LSD, psilocybin and DMT.
We get trapped in our heads, and disconnected from our bodies, feelings and senses. We become unable to empathise with other people and the world around us; our perspective narrows; we see fragments of the world and our place in it rather than the whole.
Enlightenment’s emphasis on rigid lines between mind and matter, or humans and nature, all the way through to contemporary trends such as consumerism, falling social capital and status anxiety.
Loneliness is spiking
the effects on health and wellbeing are disastrous, with anxiety, self-harm and suicide all at historically high levels, particularly among the young.
74 per cent of children in the UK now spend less than an hour a day playing outside, less than the UN-mandated minimum for prison inmates.
Another survey found that children in the UK are more able to identify Pokémon characters than common wildlife species.
spending time in nature and feeling connected to it is strongly correlated with wellbeing, vitality and life satisfaction.
the rise of polarisation and tribalism has led many analysts to become increasingly concerned about the breakdown of common ground and the ability of societies to feel a shared sense of identity and purpose.
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