"One Planet Many People” Atlas Launched - 06/06/2005
The dramatic and, in some cases, damaging environmental changes sweeping planet Earth are brought into sharp focus in a new atlas launched to mark World Environment Day (WED).
Produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), One Planet Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment compares and contrasts spectacular satellite images of the past few decades with contemporary ones, some of which have never been seen before.
The huge growth of greenhouses in southern Spain, the rapid rise of shrimp farming in Asia and Latin America and the emergence of a giant, shadow puppet-shaped peninsula at the mouth of the Yellow River are among a string of curious and surprising changes seen from space.
They sit beside the more conventional, but no less dramatic images of rain forest deforestation in Paraguay and Brazil, rapid oil and gas development in Wyoming, United States, forest fires across sub-Saharan Africa and the retreat of glaciers and ice in polar and mountain areas.
This year WED is hosted by San Francisco, California with the global theme of Green Cities—Plan for the Planet!
The atlas, produced in collaboration with organisations including the United States Geological Survey and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), highlights this theme showing the explosive growth and changes around some of the major cities of the world.
It is hoped that the atlas and its images will concentrate the minds of mayors coming to San Francisco for the week long WED celebrations.
The mayors are set to agree on a series of 'Environmental Accords' designed to promote more environmentally-friendly, resource efficient, cities.
One example of how space technology and its application has proven important is that of the Casey Trees Endowment Fund in the District of Columbia, United States. It was set up in 2001 following a generous donation by philanthropist Betty Brown Casey. Mrs Casey was moved to action after seeing satellite images, published in 1999, showing the dramatic loss of trees in the District since the 1970s.
Researchers hope that One Planet Many People Atlas of Our Changing Environment will have a similar impact on governments, private business, non governmental organizations and the private individual by highlighting how globalisation is driving local and regional change.