Climate change’s effect on the planet, from 1984 to now—make sure to zoom in to see the incredible details
Google has released a timelapse map (above) of the effects of climate change. Not only can you see the global effect, but you can zoom in anywhere, including your home town, and watch the effect industrialized mankind is having on the surrounding environment.
Yesterday I posted a similar time-lapse image of worldwide protest, and wondered out loud how that data would look when placed next to similar data of climate change. Lo and behold, less than 24 hours later and the question is answered!
The images are worth comparing. World heats up, resources dwindle, people go crazy and get violent… there couldn’t be a connection, could there?
You can only imagine being a government official watching this data and projecting into the future—and turning around and wiretapping everybody and passing laws allowing concentration camps. Last June, the Guardian‘s Nafeez Ahmed reported that the reason the Pentagon is approving such draconian measures is because they’re expecting mass unrest to increase, directly as a result of climate change. He dug into the many official briefs linking climate change and civil unrest, and the resultant Pentagon strategic policies, here. It’s an important, current-moment-explaining article that got very little traction. Check out Ahmed’s article, and then check out the time lapse visualization of global protest—and I think you’ll understand exactly where we are.
Today, we’re making it possible for you to go back in time and get a stunning historical perspective on the changes to the Earth’s surface over time. Working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and TIME, we’re releasing more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from space, compiled for the first time into an interactive time-lapse experience. We believe this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public.
Built from millions of satellite images and trillions of pixels, you can explore this global, zoomable time-lapse map as part of TIME’s new Timelapse project. View stunning phenomena such as the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon and urban growth in Las Vegas from 1984 to 2012:
The images were collected as part of an ongoing joint mission between the USGS and NASA called Landsat. Their satellites have been observing earth from space since the 1970s—with all of the images sent back to Earth and archived on USGS tape drives that look something like this example (courtesy of the USGS).
We started working with the USGS in 2009 to make this historic archive of earth imagery available online. Using Google Earth Engine technology, we sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data—to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. We then compiled these into enormous planetary images, 1.78 terapixels each, one for each year.
As the final step, we worked with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, recipients of a Google Focused Research Award, to convert these annual Earth images into a seamless, browsable HTML5 animation