Starting in the 1980s, Alaska's Columbia Glacier began retreating, shrinking from 41 miles long (its originally documented length in 1794) to 36 miles long in 1995. This is what that change actually looks like from space.
The images are part of the Timelapse project from Google and TIME, what Google calls "the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public." It comes from a collection of images taken between 1984 and 2012 as part of the Landsat program, a joint satellite mission between NASA and U.S. Geological Survey that has been snapping pics of Earth's surface since the early '70s.
Google Earth sifted through more than 2 million images to find the clearest photos of every place on Earth, and created a browsable HTML5 animation for the whole world, with one image for every year since 1984.
Here's how the Amazon rainforest has changed over the last 28 years:
Over the past few decades, the largest lake in the Middle East, Iran's Lake Urmia, has been drying up:
Other images show the march of human progress: the growth of Dubai, and dots of green, irrigated land popping up in Saudi Arabia.
This is really cool. But sad, I fear that we have already caused too much destruction of our planet to fix it. And our technological advances in space travel are moving too slowly for us to be able to get off this rock. What we really need is an international coalition space program to advance our technology and public support of space travel, so that we can create an interstellar space ship to find and travel to another planet where we can thrive and NOT RUIN the planet in the process, either that or a colony ship to travel the cosmos and simply live in space whilst trying to find another place to live.
There is way too little information to draw conclusions such as relating all changes to man. In fact, I am sick and tired of it. Things change, the continents are moving... all it takes is an inch to change things, just move a chair in your room and monitor how the air flows. Volcanos are the single most polluting thing on earth, all it takes is one to outdo all the garbage man creates. Creatures have inhabited this planet for hundreds of millions of years only to die out and no blame can be put on us humans for their passing. No, face it, you are not in charge, you cannot do anything except pump money into the hands of people who want money, power, and control. So many in the ecology movement are self centered, egotistical, and will lie just to achieve what they think should be. It has happened on many levels, religion, politics, military, and the sciences since mankind learned how to control others.
The Brazilian Amazon deforestation in an area with straight lines? Straight lines are not natural amazon forest?
What sort of joke picture is this of Brazil forest;
its obviously mnd made and yes trees wee removed.
We do this all the time in the US in lumber forest.
What does Dubai Coastal Expansion
and Saudi Aarabi Irriagation have to do with global warming?
The rich built in expensive places and water in inhospitable places because they could afford it.
Tyrannosaur, we humans introduce more than 100 times more CO2 into the atmosphere than volcanoes do annually. Look into some facts. You're concerned about the ecologists lining their pockets to clean up the Earth but aren't concerned about the oil and coal companies polluting the Earth to line their pockets. Why is that? Yes, things will change, but we shouldn't be working to make it worse. We have a tenuous existence with billions of people relying on a carefully orchestrated infrastructure. If we screw that up, lots will have difficult lives. The world will remain...
the time-lapse on the withdrawal of the glacier is the more worrisome. nice if it were gradual so that the balancing act of seawater-atmosphere-land that tempers the weather would not be so drastic. but Mother Nature is hardly of the timid type..the past has shown She can be downright abrupt, vicious and catastrophic. I'd sooner begin thinking moving inland than living near the coast or start building humongous dikes..evidence of ancient coastlines from 10,000 years ago have been found now 400-500 feet under water. and i don't think it's something humans are doing right now or for the past 300 years, just part of the this plant's least-understood "geo-cycle" if there is such a thing
Interesting that they didn't include time lapse from satellite images of Hubbard glacier, also in Alaska, and about 250 miles from Columbia glacier. It's been growing rapidly over the same time period.
How about time lapse of just about any populated area in the dry southwest that shows tree cover increasing each year. Or of the clear cut logging areas in the northwest that have also increasing tree cover.
You would think from these selectively chosen images that the earth is being devastated and humans are its bane. In reality, we see that as countries graduate from pre-industrial to post-industrial development and its attendant prosperity, they clean up their air and water, plant trees and preserve ever larger areas as natural habitat and parks.
Oh, and Frosttty, Tyrannosaur is right. When Pinatubo erupted, it increased atmospheric aerosols and caused a measurable drop in global temperatures worldwide, as did Krakatoa in the 1800's--much more than human pollution did.
In case you weren't aware, modern coal-fueled power plants emit virtually no pollutants because they are scrubbed out before they enter the atmosphere. Their biggest emission is water vapor (steam) and CO2. Of course some people--opposing what science says--have decided CO2 is a bad thing, when in fact it's essential for plant growth. The increasing CO2 saturation of the atmosphere has been a boon to earth's flora. No one has ever demonstrated that CO2 in the minute quantities found in our atmosphere is anything but a good thing.
To answer your excellent question, Frostty, about "oil and coal companies polluting the Earth to line their pockets" and why we don't worry about it:
The oil and coal companies are providing a service that is invaluable to human progress and prosperity: energy. It's all about energy. We want it, we need it, and those dastardly oil and coal companies provide it--the cheaper the better. It's essential to have cheap energy for humans to progress beyond a merely subsistence society that carelessly pillages its natural resources to a prosperous society that protects and manages its natural resources and uses them more efficiently. You were lucky enough to be born into an already wealthy society.
In case you hadn't noticed, we use oil and coal differently in the U.S. than they do in China. In China, coal power plants are filthy, as are automobile emissions. In the U.S. they are much cleaner. The difference? Prosperity. Americans are wealthy enough to afford expensive pollution controls to minimize emissions. In China, not so much, but they'll get there. In every major U.S. city the air is cleaner than it was 40 years ago and continues to get cleaner. China? The opposite; but again, they'll get there as they become more prosperous.
Actually, Frosty is correct. All human's have a combined output of CO2 well over 100 times that of the annual output of all active volcanoes. This however only reflects CO2 output. The combined chemical total is much larger. It's all really about taking responsibility. Do humans cause all environmental disasters? No. However we are having a huge impact on the total environment of the planet. Understand that simply because oil companies are doing us a 'service' does not take away from the fact that millions of metric tons of pollutants are pumped into the atmosphere daily. Who servicing who, is merely a moot point. Also trying to say that prosperity makes everyone clean up, is just simply false. There is still smog in Los Angeles, New York, Bejing, Tokyo, Moscow, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Dubai, etc., etc. and all of these locations are perceived to be both advanced and prosperous. It would be both foolish and naive to think that we are not impacting the planet. It's a closed system, and the data feedback from the scientific community is overwhelmingly clear. Global warming is real people. Get used to it. Weather systems will continue to change dynamically, places will get hotter, colder, wetter, and drier. Records will continue to be broken. But besides all of the global warming talk, this article was showing time-lapse images of the Earth TRANSFORMING over 25 years. Images are just images. Pixels and data. That's it. It's not really something to refute. It's more like 'gee-whiz' sort of stuff. If anyone would like to argue key points about how 'they' are correct, first go cross check your information with some people with relevant PhD's and field experience, then come back and make all of the points you like. In the mean time enjoy the images.
-Tree/grass cover in dry areas in the SW US is not positive. The massive amounts of water and fertilizers used to grow grass where there ought not to be is just as destructive as removing trees where they "should" be.
-Pinatubo's effect on the climate lasted 2-3 years. Particulates have a relatively short lifespan in the atmosphere. Slow and steady release of GHGs outweighs these one off events.
- Increasing CO2 concentrations leads to plants producing less stomata in the short (geologically speaking) timescale. The net increase of growth potential is minimal.
- Yes, oil companies have done good things for human progress, but they are spending billions of years to get politicians to keep us hooked on fossil fuels rather than progressing to renewables.
- Prosperity doesn't necessarily lead to a cleaner environment. I've dealt with this opinion a lot in university, and most literature disagrees with you. It's the exact same problem as Maslow's hierarchy. Capitalism is perfectly happy privatizing the profits while socializing the costs. It takes a public knowledgeable in the impacts of these things that creates change. It's the reason why the community I worked with in El Salvador was looking to clean up their environment even though they were among the poorest people in the world.
It's nothing short of breathtaking to see our sun's activity affecting on our planet.
CD, I was pointing out that every example of time-lapse satellite imagery supports the narrative that humans are destroying the planet, while there are numerous examples of exactly the opposite.
Beating the dead horse again, Pinatubo's eruption ejected enough particulates to cool the globe for a couple years. You can see it on any graph of global temperature data. Human output, so far, hasn't had anywhere close to that effect, at least that anyone has actually identified. Cumulatively over a hundred years or so, maybe, but scientists still can't separate the human contribution to global warming from the natural signal.
You don't seem to be aware that the pollution in the cities you named--Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt, London, Paris--is LESS than it was 40 years ago, even though there are more people living there. National prosperity (not prosperity of just a few oligarchs) leads eventually to a cleaner environment; at least that's what we have observed so far.
Earth's biosphere is incredibly dynamic and complex; definitely not a closed system. It's affected by solar storms, the solar wind, solar radiation, Milankovitch cycles. You're right about the "data consensus" though. It's clear that the earth has undergone several natural cycles of warming and cooling completely unrelated to human activity. What's far from clear is whether humans are contributing significantly to climate change.
tertertert, tree cover in the entire U.S. is positive, most noticeably (from satellite) in the southwest where people plant trees where there were none before, and in the northwest where logging companies continue to replant what they harvest. Grass is a different story.
Despite years of trying to measure it, no one has yet shown conclusively that "slow and steady" release of "greenhouse gases" by humans has had a noticeable impact on the planet. You can easily see, however, the effect of Mt. Pinatubo's eruption. Theoretically it's possible that human emissions are affecting global climate, but it's extremely difficult to separate the human contribution from the natural signal. Have a look at the Mauna Loa CO2 graph and the UAH satellite global temperature graph and see if you can identify a correlation between CO2 and warming.
Perhaps you would care to share a case where national prosperity (European, American, and Japanese levels of prosperity) has not lead to a cleaner environment?
The beauty of capitalism or a free market economy is that it always tends toward more efficient use of resources; which means, by definition, a gradually lessening impact on the environment. Here in the U.S. we have numerous examples to illustrate that: more efficient use of gasoline and other fossil fuels, more efficient use of electricity, less air pollution. The same is true for Japan and every post-industrial European nation.
Not going to get mired down here in one of these arguments again, but humans have not been cleaning up the air because they're prosperous. For the US, it was due largely to the Clean Air Act. Ugh, EPA trying to kill jobs again. Beijing is an example of capitalism that goes unchecked. They're in so much of a hurry to make money that they've ignored the environmental impacts of their actions. They're finally having to face it because the air is so harmful. The Chinese are investing heavily in green energy, btw. Why is that? Are they doing it because they want to be easier on the environment, or because they know it's a better investment to energy independence for the future? Both?
Lauren, the examples showed actual direct human effects on the environment and others not so direct. What are you whining about? You could look at the Saudi Arabian irrigation gif and say, "oh, that's a positive" if you'd like or even the coastal expansion in Dubai and think the same.
So happy you mentioned the volcano eruptions and their short term affect on the climate. Climatologists weren't aware of this until you mentioned it...
Just because something is good for something at a particular level does NOT mean it's good at all levels and that it's a net positive influence. "Opposing what science says". Really? "Science says" that our increased levels of CO2 are creating global warming and climate change. THAT is what science says. Science isn't done in the editorial of a newspaper, btw, it's done in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
"...humans have not been cleaning up the air because they're prosperous. For the US, it was due largely to the Clean Air Act."
I laughed at this. How do you think we can afford the Clean Air Act?
The implication that was made was that the air was cleaned up due to prosperity, not that it was more feasible because of prosperity.
You "man didn't do this" people need to come suck on my tailpipe. Literally, come suck on it and then try to tell me how harmless man is and how the things we do don't matter. Yeah, in the grand scheme of the earth and the universe, it doesn't matter because time goes on, but in the short term of people trying to live on this planet, it sure does.
Too bad there aren't satellite images of the North American continent from 60,000 years ago. These images would show the northern half of the continent covered by an ice sheet, making it completely un-inhabitable by humans. Or we could also look at satellite images taken hundreds-of-thousands of years before that, where we would see tropical forests extending far into the northern latitudes.