Google Earth Images From The Past And Present Paint A Grim Future

Published November 11, 2014
Updated September 13, 2019

Aerial photography can make slums and ransacked rainforests seem beautiful. These images use Google Earth to capture a different picture.

Google Earth Images[/caption]

Aerial photography has the ability to turn slums, ransacked rainforests, and even pit mines into something beautiful. From a distance, all we can see are geometric patterns or deep color contrasts between land and sea, and the simplicity in these images is breathtaking. We can’t help but find them fascinating and if you spend any significant amount of time on the internet, you’ve undoubtedly fallen under their spell.

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Google Earth Images From The Past And Present Paint A Grim Future
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But that's a part of the problem: these Google Earth images oversimplify our planet. They allow us to forget what was destroyed to make space for man-made straight lines and right angles. An exhibit called "Mind the Earth" at the Danish Architecture Centre is making it harder to continue ignoring the past.

Google Earth Images Of The Aral Sea

The Aral Sea, Uzbekistan in 1999 (left) and 2013 (right).

By juxtaposing two images of the same place--one recent, one from twenty or even just ten years ago--this exhibit shows the deforestation, urban sprawl, and resource reduction we've inflicted on the earth over a series of unsustainable decades. Below are a few images from the show.

Dubai Aerial Photograph

Dubai in 2003 (left) and 2014 (right). Source: Design Boom

Amazon Rainforest In 1975 And 2008

The Amazon Rainforest in 1975 (left) and 2008 (right).

"Mind the Earth" is the brainchild of architect and urban planner Kasper Brejnholt Bak and writer Morten Søndergaard, and they hope it will make us change our habits and the current trajectory of the earth.

Intrigued by this look at Google Earth images that capture how much our planet has changed? Then check out the most astounding aerial photographs as well as All That Is Interesting's most popular images.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.