NASA’s Time Lapse Video Shows Humanity’s Impact on the Earth

This post was written by Lorraine Chow and originally appeared on EcoWatch

How much of an impact can billions and billions of people make on the environment? Well, if you watch the video below from Vox, you’ll see that in a mere 40 years, human activity can leave quite the mark.

Watch the Las Vegas area sprawl. Photo credit: Vox

These images are courtesy of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellite program that the space agency launched in 1972 with the sole intention of studying our planet’s surface and how its been changing over time. According to Vox, the satellite takes pictures of the entire surface of the planet every 18 days and orbits the Earth 14 times a day.

In the video, photos taken over the last four decades have been strung together to show humanity’s footprint on five different locations. From the shocking deforestation of Rondônia, Brazil (where the area’s global beef exports have mowed down enough trees to fill the state of West Virginia), to the rampant water use in the Aral Sea causing a loss of 60,000 fishery jobs due to rising salt levels.

You’ll also see how the the dirty energy industry has literally stripped away Wyoming’s natural resources, and how much the Larsen B Ice Shelf has collapsed due to climate change. And in the GIF above from Vox, notice how the increasing number of golf courses and artificial lakes in rapidly growing Las Vegas are an ironic harbinger of the area’s relentless drought.

It’s clear that we must all change our ways and act now before it gets any worse. Check out the haunting footage here:

Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Julia Cabrera-Woscek

WOW! This is appalling!

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper4 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

This is very sobering, not to mention scary and sad.


So sad Thanks

Rachel Nichols
Rachel Nichols4 years ago


Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.4 years ago

noted ...and thank you Ben O.

Ron C.
Ron C4 years ago

Be careful what you wish for re depopulation...Agenda 21...a UN program for sustainability through the 21st century is already here..and being implemented...and some of the ideas are outright sterilization and only persons given permission to precreate will be given an antidote to the sterilization is one idea that has been put forth by one of the authors of the Agenda....check it out.
The main problem I suppose with top down centralized planning re sustainability is that the burden will not be shared equitably. The architects, planners and implementers of the plan surely will impose very little burden upon themselves.
Ironically, the poorest countries with the highest concentrations of population are generally among the smallest users of the worlds resources...there may be a lot of human suffering, but also minimal damage to the planet in these raw population numbers may not be an issue...but rather the issue is with high consumption per capita...and it is not higher anywhere than in the United States...or more generally in the developed world.

sandra vito
Sandra Vito4 years ago


Deborah F.
Deborah F4 years ago

thanks for the video.