jenmdixon Posted June 4, 2005 Share Posted June 4, 2005 edited to add link to article - sorry http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/06/04/un.atlas.reut/index.html ---------------- Atlas reveals global devastation LONDON, England (Reuters) -- The devastating impact of mankind on the planet is dramatically illustrated in pictures published on Saturday showing explosive urban sprawl, major deforestation and the sucking dry of inland seas over less than three decades. Mexico City mushrooms from a modest urban center in 1973 to a massive blot on the landscape in 2000, while Beijing shows a similar surge between 1978 and 2000 in satellite pictures published by the United Nations in a new environmental atlas. Delhi sprawls explosively between 1977 and 1999, while from 1973 to 2000 the tiny desert town of Las Vegas turns into a monster conurbation of one million people -- placing massive strain on scarce water supplies. "If there is one message from this atlas it is that we are all part of this. We can all make a difference," U.N. expert Kaveh Zahedi told reporters at the launch of the "One Planet Many People" atlas on the eve of World Environment Day. Page after page of the 300-page book illustrate in before-and-after pictures from space the disfigurement of the face of the planet wrought by human activities. U.N. Environment Program chief Klaus Toepfer has chosen efforts to make cities greener as this year's theme for World Environment Day on Sunday on the basis that the world is becoming increasingly urbanized. "Cities pull in huge amounts of resources including water, food, timber, metals and people. They export large amounts of wastes including household and industrial wastes, wastewater and the gases linked with global warming," he said in a statement. "Thus their impacts stretch beyond their physical borders affecting countries, regions and the planet as a whole. "So the battle for sustainable development, for delivering a more environmentally stable, just and healthier world, is going to be largely won and lost in our cities," Toepfer added. The destruction of swathes of mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca off Honduras to make way for extensive shrimp farms shows up clearly in the pictures. The atlas makes the point that not only has it left the estuary bereft of the natural coastal defense provided by the mangroves, but the shrimp themselves have been linked to pollution and widespread damage to the area's ecosystem. And images of the wholesale destruction of vital rainforest around Iguazu Falls -- one of South America's most spectacular waterfalls -- on the borders between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay evoke comparisons with a bulldozer on a rampage. "These illustrate some of the changes we have made to our environment," Zahedi said. "This is a visual tool to capture people's imaginations showing what is really happening." "It serves as an early warning," he added. -------------------------------------------------- A new atlas of Earth seen from space, released by the United Nations Environment Program on Saturday, shows the devastating impact of urbanization on the planet. It pairs satellite images taken more than 20 years ago with up-to-date images of the same regions In these two photos, from the One Planet Many People Atlas, the dark mass showing the populated area of Las Vegas, Nevada, 27 years ago, left, is dramatically bigger in the recent image, right. Both images represent the southern coast of Spain, showing undeveloped land in an image taken from space in 1974, left, and the same area covered by greenhouses that provide food for European markets today. Scores of water plants and 118 dams were also built. The first satellite image, left, taken in 1973, shows the large green patch of Igauzu National Park in Argentina, bottom right, and large forested areas. The second image of Igauzu National Park, from 2003, shows the same patch of Paranaense rain forest, bottom right, but depicts how previously wooded areas have been engulfed by urbanization. The first photo, left, taken in 1979, shows the Yellow River in China as a blue ribbon bisecting the image as it flows from the top left corner into the Yellow Sea. The second picture, right, taken 21 years later, shows in vivid swirling green the buildup of silt along the river and its delta -- adding several hundred miles of new land to China's coast. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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