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These Remarkable Pictures From NASA Show Just How Considerably Our Planet Has Changed

Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not so good, but it’s always consistent – Our planet is in a constant state of change. Some of the changes are deliberate and offer positives, such as the Great Man-Made river in Libya. Other changes are completely out of our control, like the seemingly never-ending drought in California, and some people take it as a sign of the end of days.

For as long as NASA has been around, they’ve been documenting the changes of our planet from above. The following photos give you a glimpse of what our planet has looked like throughout various fluctuations. You can find even more photos on their website if you’re interested.

Aral Sea, Central Asia. August 2000 vs August 2014

Once upon a time, the Aral Sea was the fourth-largest saline lake on the planet. As you can see from the pictures, it’s shrinking pretty rapidly and no longer holds that title. This has happened because the rivers that used to feed into it were diverted to irrigate the desert area around the sea. Looks like it won’t be too long before this sea is dried up for good.

Carroll Glacier, Alaska. August 1906 vs September 2003

These photos were taken just under a century apart, and the result is almost more of a now you see it, now you don’t than anything else. I mean, I guess it’s still kind of there, but barely. This terrestrial glacier is still a travel destination, but who knows how long that will last – Aside from a brief surge in size in the 1980s, Carroll Glacier spent a good chunk of the 20th-century melting.

The Dasht River, Pakistan. August 1999 vs June 2011

The Dasht River used to flood any time there was a significant excess of rain. In 2006, The Mirani Dam was constructed across the river in order to harness that excess water and make better use of it. That extra water now helps irrigate nearby farmland and, in turn, is aiding in the development of the once arid region.

The Great Man-Made River, Libya. April 1987 vs April 2010

This is one of Man’s most environmentally-friendly projects. In 1983, construction on the river started as an attempt to help irrigate the surrounding land so that the government could expand farming on it. What you’re looking at is the resulting impact on the agricultural growth in the area since the project’s inception. Not bad for less than a quarter of a century!

Mabira Forest, Uganda. November 2001 vs January 2006

If you’ve ever wondered what the effects of unsustainable, illegal logging would look like, now you know. The Mabira Forest is one of the top tourist attractions in Uganda, but at the rate that it’s being destroyed (about 1.8% a year due to the demands of a growing population), it might not be for long. Since the country seems to have a lack of environmental protection laws (or, at the very least, a serious lack of enforcement if those laws do exist), it’s unlikely the forest will ever get a chance to recover.

Mar Chiquita Lake, Argentina. July 1998 vs September 2011

The Mar Chiquita lake is the largest saline lake in South America. It’s known for experiencing a 30-year expansion/retreat cycle because of changes in the amount of rainfall; what you’re looking at is obviously during the retreat. Salt-dust storms around the lake have changed the natural formation of the lake, which is near. It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like in another thirty.

Matterhorn Mountain, the Alps. August 1960 vs August 2005

As you can see, the Matterhorn Rise at Disneyland isn’t the only Matterhorn that’s changed a little since 1960. The Alps are a popular European destination spot; these photos show just how much their scenery has changed in just a few short decades due to the effects of climate change. Believe it or not, the Matterhorn actually led to a rise in mountaineering over 150 years ago. It might not be much to look at now, but it sure was something back then.

Lake Oroville, California. July 2010 vs August 2016

This picture is a startling display of just how fast the effects of drought can be seen and how devastating they can be. In just six short years, Lake Oroville in California went from a stunning display of beauty to a symbolic personification of drought.

Thankfully, the lake is almost back at 100% capacity again thanks to the recent rains. This shows us just how spectacularly the world can heal itself when given the opportunity and makes my heart smile.

Pedersen Glacier, Alaska. 1917 vs 2005 (Summertime)

These pictures were both taken during the warmest months. As you can see, it used to be a whole lot colder in Alaska, even in the summer (which is probably why a lot of people still think of it as a year-round winter wonderland). It might not look like it, but both of these photos were taken from the exact same location. This is just a tiny look at how climate change is affecting the Earth.

Powell Lake, Arizona/Utah. March 1999 vs May 2014

There once was a time that the Colorado River had a habit of flooding the region around it on a yearly basis, so a water-management system was installed to help prevent it from happening. While the intentions were good, the plan was a little flawed – As you can see, the system has resulted in a visible drop in water levels of nearby Powell Lake.

Rondonia, Brazil. June 1975 vs August 2009

This is what the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon looks like. Devastating, isn’t it? Once upon a time, this region was the happy home of nearly 51.4 million acres of wonderful, majestic, breathtaking forest. Today? It’s one of the most heavily deforested areas in the entirety of the Brazilian Amazon.

Uruguay Forests, Uruguay. March 1975 vs February 2009

On a less devastating note, not every forest on the planet has experienced the same issues as the ones mentioned above. The Uruguay forests, for example, has managed to grow at the astounding rate of about 5.57% a year. These pictures show what the lush growth in that region looks like up close.

Do you do anything to try and reduce your carbon footprint? Let us know how you try to be environmentally-friendly in the comments section below.

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Written by Shanda de Vries

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