I was looking for some satellite images recently and I came across a site maintained by NASA called Visible Earth. It contains thousands of images taken of the earth from various satellites. There were a few images that I found particularly striking, so I thought I would share them with you. I was looking for images of deforestation because I have been reading the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond, and it deals heavily with the effects of deforestation on societies (you can read my review of the book on my personal blog, if you are interested).
One of the hard things about deforestation, and climate change in general, is that many parts of the earth have already been impacted so we don't have a good idea of what the earth looked like before human impact so we can't get a clear picture of the extent to which we have changed the environment. Satellite imagery is only helpful up to a point because we only have a few years worth of data and that can't tell us much about the past, so it is hard to predict how much our actions will affect the climate in the future, and how much needs to be done to preserve our environment. But in some cases areas of the world have been preserved because of the actions of certain governments and thus provide us with a "control group" to show us how much we have already imacted the environment.
Here is one image of northern Argentina and southern Brazil with Paraguay on the top left and Uruguay on the bottom right. [You can find higher resolution images here.]
Another view taken at a different time gives an even starker view of the extent of the deforestation. [Hi-res here]
Río Paraguay was as green as Misiones now is. That should give you an idea of the extent of deforestation that we are dealing with. So when some people get concerned about the impact that we are having on the environment, this is what they are fretting about.
Now a view from the ground. In case you were wondering, this is what Misiones looks like from the ground (ok maybe these are the more touristy parts).