Visual Evidence Of Human Impact

Websites like Google Maps and TerraServer show the true impact of Man on the landscape. They contain satellite images with resolutions up to 0.25 meters per pixel, covering most of the U.S. and many foreign locations. The Internet makes it easy to silence skeptics of human impact who rely on vague references and impeded ground-level observations.

From the air it becomes clear that most flat, lush areas have been developed or usurped by human activities. Most remaining wilderness is limited to difficult terrain or dry, inhospitable weather zones. As you look at the photos and see unmistakable patterns it's dishonest to say there's "plenty of unspoiled land" remaining. Even if you consider what's left plentiful, it shrinks each day as the population grows. Growthist ideology ignores that shrinkage in the hunt for more places to put houses.

A huge, contiguous sweep of acreage in the central U.S. has been converted to cropland and livestock pasture (photo). Nature has been obliterated by monoculture plant growth for hundreds of miles on end. From the ground, tree windbreaks surrounding farms give a false impression of woods, making people think country living is something other than an urban support system. The main difference between farms and cities is population density.

Adirondack Park (photo) in New York shows a marked contrast to its surroundings. You can see its boundaries easily with no map reference. Human habitation has a characteristic gray/brown look that can be mistaken for soil and vegetation if details aren't resolved. As you zoom earthward from 450 miles, that grayish look changes to grid patterns, then numerous roads and structures appear. Much of the land that seems untouched has been worked over for timber (tree farms) and mineral extraction. Dirt roads outline that development. Rivers and lakes show pollution and eutrophication in their color. Oceans have also been heavily impacted but satellites don't reveal that so well.

Even in "wilderness" areas there is extensive damage to forests that you can't see from most roads due to mountains and oblique angles. Satellites make it obvious why old growth forests are vanishing. An online flyover of states like Oregon and Washington reveals thousands of clear-cut scars. Move for miles in any direction and you'll see the same chainsaw patterns. For miles around Mt. St. Helens (photo), logging, farming and urban development has altered far more acreage than the 1980 eruption; just not as suddenly.

Seeing Amazon rainforest (photo) destruction should silence any skeptics of written descriptions. With demand for wood, new pasture and croplands constantly rising, reality doesn't fit with "renewable forests" propaganda, nor does it support other tales of benign human impact. If you respect the land, spare no opportunity to visually demonstrate what's happening to it.

Wind turbines: the mean side of green

It's a crime to desecrate timeless landscapes in the name of "reducing our carbon footprint." CO2 emissions are only a subset of total human impact. True environmentalists should balk at "Star Trekking" the Earth to coddle the needs of one species. If ambitious plans aren't blocked, wind turbines could become the biggest industrial eyesore on the planet. (read more)

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