Impact of Deforestation, Urbanization, and Irrigation on Landscapes

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Wired Science highlighted videos that demonstrate the powerful human impact on various landscapes. Using time-lapse images compiled from the NASA Earth Observatory, the videos show “some of the most impressive conquests of man over environment.” The impact of deforestation, urbanization, and irrigation on the environment is best exemplified by the videos on the clearing of the Amazon, the development of new communities in the desert in Dubai, U.A.E, and the drying up of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. 

On the clearing of the Amazon, Wired Science writes about the damaging cycle that leads to continual deforestation: “over the past three decades, the state of Rondônia in western Brazil cleared almost 35 percent of its rainforest. According to NASA’s website, the pattern of deforestation is common in the Amazon. People build roads, then clear some of the land for small farms. After a few years, the land erodes and becomes depleted. The farmers, suffering from low crop yields, convert the land for cattle, then clear more forest for crops, and so on until large cattle holders buy the land.”

Many conservation and land-use activists and advocates are creating their own videos, and there are a number of new tools available. For instance, Google Earth Outreach is a useful tool which enables organizations and activists to construct their own maps of landscapes and track changes. In an other example, noted by Yale University’s Environment 360, Healthyplanets.org allows users to “virtually see, and sponsor, a specific piece of many of the planet’s 77,000 protected areas.”

Read the article and watch the short videos

Image: NASA Earth Observatory / Wired Science

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