Satellite Photographs Showing the Rapid Spread of Humans Across the Earth

2008 marked the first time in history that more of Earth’s population lived in cities rather than in the countryside, and by 2050 nearly 70% of the world’s population will reside in large cities. A new series of satellite photographs captured decades apart by NASA’s Landsat department and the U.S. Geological Survey offers a striking look at how human cities have spread across the face of the Earth in just a few short years. The image above shows Las Vegas in 1984 and in 2011.

Tokyo, Japan — 1989/2011

Chandler, Arizona, United States — 1985/2011

Tehran, Iran — 1985/2009

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — 2000/2010

Back in March we featured a similar time-lapse video showing Las Vegas growing through satellite imagery. You can find the rest of this photo series over on CNN.

Images from space track relentless spread of humanity [CNN]

  • Francois

    For Las Vegas, it also shows a significant decrease in water level… 

  • Benicio Murray

    From this perspective it really does make you wonder if we are purely a blight on the Earth like mould on food.

  • Mantis

    Yeah, Vegas has less than 50 years as a city that can sustain a sizable population.

  • Rewey

    Do we know if these images were taken at the same time of year? It might just be seasonal…