06/13/2013 01:02 EDT | Updated 06/14/2013 03:36 EDT

Overview Effect: Astronauts Looking At Earth From Space Changes Everything (VIDEO)

As the sun shutters the world, city lights crackle to life.

There's a dancing curtain of aurora borealis. And stars seemingly swarming all around.

This is Earth, as seen from hundreds of kilometres away, by a handful of its most fortunate citizens.

We should all see the world from this vantage.

It may, in fact, do us a world of good.

"When we look down on the Earth from space, we see this indescribably beautiful planet," says astronaut Ron Garan in a short documentary released at the end of last year called Overview. "It looks like a living, breathing organism. But it also at the same time looks extremely fragile."

Indeed, that staggering perspective, dubbed 'the overview effect', may be the most enduring legacy of space travel — the sense of a home that is intimately shared.

"We're all basically living in this one eco-system called Earth," Garan adds. "And everything you do on one side of the eco-system affects the other side."

That sense of interdependence drives the film's powerful environmental message — understanding borne of a stellar perspective. But it's a perspective that one doesn't need to leave the Earth to gain.

In 1968, when Apollo 8 ventured to the moon, astronauts beamed back stunning images of the Earth.

"That was the first time I had ever seen the planet hanging in space like that," says author Frank White in the film. "And it was profound."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to Ron Garan as former astronaut. He is, in fact, an active astronaut with NASA.

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