A Picture is Worth... UNEP's Atlas of Our Changing Environment

gabon on may 10 1988
gabon on march 8 2000

Brought to you by the magic of Google Earth/Maps and the UN: the United Nations Environmental Program's (UNEP) stunning world atlas of the changing environment. The interactive atlas allows you to toggle through a dizzying array of satellite images and ground photos showing the impacts of anthropogenic activities and climate change on the global environment over the last 3 decades.

The Google Maps interface is very intuitive and lets you zero in on specific cities, countries, natural monuments and geological formations (among others). The two above pictures, for example, show how Gabon's forest cover changed from March 1988 to March 2000.

ghana after climate change

The area of forest allocated to logging activities in Gabon has surged from less than 10 percent to more than 50 percent over the last 4 decades, with most of the increase taking place over the past decade. According to UNEP's database:

"The 2000 image shows a clear cut patch in the centre of the image at a regrowth stage. This is in contrast to the 1988 image, in which only slight disturbance of the forest cover is visible (yellow arrow). The least densely populated country in Central Africa, Gabon has less pressure than many of its neighbours to convert forests to agricultural land. With good forest management practices, the immense value of Gabon’s Guineo-Congolese forest can be sustainably utilized for many generations."

Not the most uplifting set of images (by any stretch of the mind), but a valuable resource that should help people gain a better grasp of the enormous impact humanity has exerted on the planet in less than half a century.

Via ::NOTCOT: The New UNEP Atlas (blog)

Climate Change in Photos
::Photo Exhibit Shows Impact of Climate Change in Peruvian Lives
::NYC Photo Exhibit at United Nations: Climate Change, Poverty and Hope for Avoiding the Sixth Great Extinction
::A Picture is Worth... The Future of Spain Under Climate Change

Related Content on Treehugger.com