What Humans Did to Earth, According to Never-Before-Seen Google Satellite Pics

Time on human developments as seen from space, New York on Obama's climate change strategy, Slate on the future of China's climate, CNN on reaction to Tesla's Model S car, and Media Matters on The Wall Street Journal's climate change coverage.

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Time on human developments as seen from space Jeffrey Kluger introduces a series of highly-detailed timelapse videos, pulled from rarely seen images taken by eight different satellites that got an upgrade from Google, of human endeavor — from building cities like Dubai to logging the Amazon. "With the help of massive amounts of computer muscle, they have scrubbed away cloud cover, filled in missing pixels, digitally stitched puzzle-piece pictures together, until the growing, thriving, sometimes dying planet is revealed in all its dynamic churn," he writes, adding, "These Timelapse pictures tell the pretty and not-so-pretty story of a finite planet and how its residents are treating it — razing even as we build, destroying even as we preserve. It takes a certain amount of courage to look at the videos, but once you start, it’s impossible to look away."

New York on Obama's climate change strategy Jonathan Chait responds to critics of his recent take on the Obama administration's climate change agenda. "Since Obama has this regulatory power at his disposal, the question is whether he cares enough about the issue to give it the attention and assume the potential political risk entailed in using it," he says. "My reading of Obama’s record — the green-energy subsidies in the stimulus; the broad array of emissions regulations on cars, appliances, and other things — suggests he cares about the issue a lot. ... There’s indisputably a lot of evidence, if not proof, that the administration is preparing to use the EPA to regulate power plants in a way that would meet its international climate goals."

Slate on the future of China's climate "China may one day be the world’s leader in combating climate change. In almost every way you cut it, China is already taking a much more aggressive approach toward climate change than the United States is," says Ramez Naam, who documents the ways in which China is dealing with its infamously smoggy cities, including the country's political leadership, which includes several kinds of engineers (electrical, chemical, even hydraulic): "These are men (all men, sadly) who recognize that the world is facing a significant challenge. The conversation in China is not about whether to act against climate change. Rather, it’s about how to tackle climate change, while making room for more than 1 billion Chinese men and women to continue to enjoy the fruits of rapid economic growth."

CNN on reaction to Tesla's Model S car Peter Valdes-Dapena discusses one of the most important consumer ratings a car can receive — the stamp of approval from Consumer Reports. "Consumer Reports is calling the Tesla Model S the best car it has ever tested. The Model S, an all-electric plug-in car, earned a score of 99 out of a possible 100 in the magazine's tests," he writes. But the magazine's review, like almost everything Tesla, came with caveats: "Consumer Reports isn't recommending the Model S, though. At least not yet. To be recommended, a car has to have at least average "predicted reliability," something that's based on reader surveys. Also, a car has to have good crash test scores from the government and from the privately funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Consumer Reports has not yet collected enough data to rule on the Model S's reliability."

Media Matters on The Wall Street Journal's climate change coverage Responding to a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed defending rising CO2 levels, Shauna Theel documents the paper's history of flawed climate change coverage. "The Wall Street Journal once again published an op-ed disputing climate science by authors with no peer-reviewed papers on the topic and ties to groups funded by the oil industry," she writes. "The op-ed argues that we should be 'clamoring for more' carbon dioxide because it is a 'boon to plant life,' ignoring scientific research establishing that our excessive carbon dioxide emissions are rapidly changing the climate, which will have significant negative impacts for plants and humans."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.