Google Earth has just launched a time-lapse feature that allows users to look at images from the last 30 years.
The images show the growth of cities, shrinkage of glaciers and thus permanent changes to our environment.
“We have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips – one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerisingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades,” Google said.
Take a look at how the technology works in the video below.
Google Earth have collected around 24 million images from as far back as 1984, from satellites owned by Nasa, the US Geological Society Survey’s Landsat project and the EU’s Copernicus project.
Weighing in at 20 petabytes – 20 million gigabytes – of storage space, the images total quadrillions of pixels. Taken together, they images all make a single video of 4.4 tetrapixels in size, taking more than two million hours of computer time.
That kind of power doesn’t come without any environmental impact, as highlighted in our story about underwater data centres. It takes a lot of energy and produces heat as a by-product that requires HVAC systems to keep their machines cool. Google say they’ve been carbon neutral since 2007 and are now “the largest annual corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world… carving a path forward to [decarbonise] our electricity supply completely and operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy”.
At least now we are able to see the huge impact we’re having on the planet which will hopefully add to the debate and stimulate real change.
Read more on the BBC website.