Visualizing the Anthropocene

In the last post, I mentioned a few examples of human influence on earth that have prompted many to now speak of the Anthropocene Epoch, the age of human transformation of the planet. But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words (or more. Since then, I’ve run across several things that help us to visualize the extent of our impact upon the earth, both for good and ill.

I found the first video at Resilience Science and it shows the earth from outer space. It is time lapsed images of the earth taken “by the crew of the the International Space Station” over the period of the last couple months. It shows natural auroras as well as humanly lit lights across the planet.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

The second video is, a “Cartography of the Anthropocene.” I ran across this website on the UK’s Wired website. In addition to providing a handy primer that describes the Anthropcene, it seeks to map the human impact upon the earth since 1800. It does so by mapping out cities, paved and unpaved roads, railways, power lines, pipelines, cable Internet, airlines, shipping lanes across the earth. The visuals and maps are striking. You can see the earth as it was and then roll your mouse over the earth to see all of these systems. In addition to revealing our impact, they also highlight our interconnectedness across the globe. The following is the video. But be sure to check out the interactive maps on the website.

The images are beautiful and amazing. The video concludes with the words on screen: “Planet Earth is Our Place, Our Home; It is Our Past, Present, and Future. Let’s Act Accordingly.” As that sentence suggests, these images provide us with a fresh way of seeing our relation to creation and thus poses the question of how shall we then live within it? But what we need to note here, is that at the heart of such issues are profound theological questions. What is the character of creation? What does it mean to be a human creature? What is our place and role within creation? What is our goal/purpose in life as creatures. These are matters of world views, of values, and of ethics.

3 Responses to “Visualizing the Anthropocene”

  1. Concordia Theology » Visualizing the Anthropocene Says:

    Visit Concordia Theology » Visualizing the Anthropocene

    […] Read this article: Together with All Creatures blog: Visualizing the Anthropocene […]

  2. Clare Baril Says:

    Visit Clare Baril

    It’s an amazing evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the earth’s ecosystems.

  3. Brooke Campbell Says:

    Visit Brooke Campbell

    It’s amazing to think that there are over 7 billion people. Globaïa did a good job on the second video with their visual representation of habitation.

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