The dramatic, often damaging environmental changes sweeping planet Earth are brought into sharp focus in a new atlas launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP
The agency's "One Plant Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment" compares and contrasts satellite images of the past few decades with contemporary ones, some of which have never been seen before, according to the agency.
In addition to images of deforestation, urban sprawl and the retreat of glaciers, the agency says, there are also surprising developments that can be seen from space, such as the rapid rise of shrimp farming in Asia and Latin America, the proliferation of huge greenhouses in southern Spain and the emergence of a giant, puppet-shaped peninsula at the mouth of the Yellow River.
The atlas also highlights the explosive growth and changes around some of the major cities of the world such as Beijing, Dhaka, Delhi and Santiago. Nairobi, Kenya, has undergone dramatic growth since 1979. Its population at independence in 1963 was 350,000. Nairobi is now home to well over three million making it the largest African city between Johannesburg and Cairo.
Also covered are developed world cities including Las Vegas, the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States, and Miami. Miami's spread westwards may endanger Florida's famous everglades and their important wildlife and water supplies.