The Overview Effect
When I was young, I imagined Africa as a far off land, with endless savannas and wilderness areas that rivaled outer space. I remember lying on the floor in front of the television watching Wild Kingdom, our window on the world, as we traveled vicariously with Marlin Perkins to the far reaches of the world for exciting interactions with exotic animals in their natural habitats.
A lot has changed since those childhood days of packing a lunch with a friend and telling our parents we were setting out to seek the source of the creek that ran through the property surrounding our neighborhood. This creek seemed endless to us as we walked and talked and used our imagination to pretend we were on safari looking for wildlife.
Our World is Getting Smaller
Now, I realize how small this creek is and often times, I might even drive by where we used to play not giving the water rippling over the stones a second thought. And just as I thought Africa was a mysterious land of abundant space for all animals to live and thrive, we know this is not the case. Africa’s wilderness is being squeezed as elephants, lions, rhino and wildebeest all compete with humans for habitat and resources.
Today, our world seems a lot smaller than it did when I was younger. We can visit Africa and watch wildlife right from our homes via Africam and other online sources. There are television programs on 24 hours, 7 days per week allowing us to see the day to day life of people and animals on the other side of the globe. And when you see Africa from the air, you can see the shrinking wild areas and the urban sprawl creeping out into the once wild and open spaces where earth’s animals once lived in abundance and with minimal human conflict.