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Today my friend shared a fascinating post with me about a new collection of Timelapse images of Earth which have been unveiled, courtesy of NASA’s Landsat program and Time Magazine.  In particular, these images show how certain areas of the planet have changed dramatically in the past few decades.

These Timelapse images reveal how earth has changed both positively and negatively in recent years. Climate change and lack of conservation have resulted in the melting of glaciers at an alarming rate and the shrinking of rainforests such as the Amazon. Meanwhile, there has been tremendous urban growth in a myriad of places, including Las Vegas and Dubai as well as many cities in fast-developing countries of Asia and Africa.

Over thirty years, one can see a great deal of change, but thirty years is pretty small when you consider the length of human history. I would like to see timelapse images of the Fall of Rome, the spread of the Mongol Empire, or the colonization of the Americas.

Luckily, we have maps to fill in the blanks. When I was a kid, I used to flip back and forth between maps of Europe from different years, marveling at the change in borders and the ebb and flow of power. Looking at any one map in particular would show me the political situation at a given time, but it lacked a deeper meaning without seeing the trend lines before and after.

In the same way, these Timelapse images of all these years put together show us so much more than any one image in isolation. For example, we may look at the 2011 image of the first gif and think to ourselves that this is a green region without much ice and that’s the end of the story. But knowing how dramatically the glaciers have receded in recent years tells us that something is terribly wrong here. And, hopefully, it motivates us to do something about it.

More information can be found here: http://world.time.com/timelapse/

Google also put together this really incredible program which lets you view a time-lapse loop of anywhere in the world. Give it a try!: http://earthengine.google.org/timelapse

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