NASA has produced a fascinating series of maps of the world illustrating changing land-use patterns from 1700 through 1990. NASA’s main reason for creating this series of maps is to advance a hypothesis about land use and global warming, but a quick look at the maps themselves reveals another interesting observation:
Land Use – 1700
Land Use – 1900
Land Use – 1990
Among environmentalists, it is a shibboleth that preservation of existing environments and ecosystems is a priori a good thing. But on this map the parts of the world that changed the least from 1700-1990 are among the poorest regions of the world.
Just take one long look at Africa — almost no land use change in 300 years, and nothing but vast tracts of unending poverty.
Landcover Changes May Rival Greenhouse Gases As Cause Of Climate Change. NASA, October 1, 2002.
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