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.
This amazing image might look like a computer generated graphic, but it’s actually a composite photograph by NASA showing India’s population growth over the years. The white areas show the illumination visible in the country prior to 1992, while the blue, green, and red lights indicate new lights that became visible in 1992, 1998, and 2003, respectively. The four photos were tinted and then combined into an image that reveals where new populations are appearing. NASA definitely needs to do one for every country!
Nighttime Lights Of India (via Business Insider via Photojojo)
P.S. The image is currently being circulated around the Internet as a photo that shows the Hindu celebration Diwali (AKA the “festival of lights”). Unfortunately, that’s not true.