The Earth is growing old too!

The LANDSAT programm was created by the NASA in the middle of the 60s in the main purpose of getting a dynamic view of Earth by satellite imagery (in the public domain). Seven satellites were launched between 1972 and 1999, and an eighth satellite should be launched in 2013. Millions of images have thus been captured by these instruments, for scientific as well economic aims in order to get up to date pictures of agriculture, forestry, cartography,… all over the world, representing a unique resource for global change research.[1] These satellites have taken pictures for 41 years, with one picture every 16 days of the entire planet, and have been the privileged witnesses of a lot of changes on the surface of our good old planet.

The TIMELAPSE project, created by Google, aggregates photos taken for 30 years on various spots of the planet to present interactive and surprising maps of the transformations they show. These maps are co-published on the internet giant’s site in collaboration with the prestigious TIME magazine.[2]&[3]

Besides their beauty, these maps make us think about the human impact on Earth and our living environment, constantly accelerating. For example, we can see the Saudi desert turning green in front of our stunned eyes, or we can evaluate our powerlessness in front of the galloping deforestation in Amazonia.[2]&[4]

The Arabian desert blooms.
Source: Google.

Deforestation of the Amazon
Source: Google+

If we think about the fact that the climate change topic has met many difficulties to be taught at schools and universities (it has just been introduced into the American official courses of study while it is currently questioned to remove it from the British national school curriculum; in France, education to environment and sustainable development is taught since 2004, but it remains split between diploma and disciplines without taking into consideration any global approach),[5]&[6] these images should drive us to think urgently of the future of our planet…

Bibliography

  1. Wikipédia, Programme Landsat, http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_Landsat
  2. Garric A., Voir la Terre vieillir en 30 ans, Le Monde, 10 mai 2013, http://ecologie.blog.lemonde.fr/2013/05/10/explorez-comment-la-terre-a-evolue-ces-30-dernieres-annees/
  3. Kluger J., Time and Space, TIME, http://world.time.com/timelapse/
  4. GIF Google, https://plus.google.com/photos/+GoogleEarth/albums/5875822979804092129
  5. Garric A., Les salles de classe anglo-saxonnes, nouvelles cibles des climatosceptiques, Le Monde, 10 mai 2013, http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2013/05/10/les-salles-de-classe-anglo-saxonnes-nouvelles-cibles-des-climatosceptiques_3174945_3244.html
  6. Mougey A., En France, L’enseignement sur le climat est morcelé, Le Monde, 10 mai 2013, http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2013/05/10/en-france-l-enseignement-sur-le-climat-est-morcele_3175062_3244.html