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A project between NASA, the US Geological Survey (USGS), TIME, Google, and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University has compiled images of Earth taken from space into an interactive time-lapse experience, revealing a comprehensive picture of our changing planet between 1984 and 2012. The Timelapse story reveals the impacts on resource use, climate change, and urbanisation, and a selection of animated Timelapse images captured by Google shows the stark changes from glacier retreat, urban and coastal expansion, mining, deforestation, and water resource over-use. To see an animation of the changes in your area, visit Timelapse, click “Explore the World” in the bottom right corner of the animated story heading image, then enter your desired location and search.
The 21st century is witnessing a profound shift in global dynamics, driven by the fast-rising new powers of the developing world – China, India and Brazil. But the “Rise of the South” is a much larger phenomenon. Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and other developing countries are becoming leading actors on the world stage. The 2013 Human Development Report identifies more than 40 developing countries that have done better than expected in human development in recent decades, with their progress accelerating markedly over the past 10 years.
Australian cities and towns are constantly evolving to suit the living requirements of an ever growing population. Australia’s current population of more than 22 million in 2011 has grown significantly from approximately 15 million in 1981 with the majority of population growth occuring in Australia’s urban environment. The Geoscience Australia Australian Urban Expansion Satellite Image Gallery shows the expansion of Australia’s major towns and cities in every State and Territory since the 1980’s. Residential expansion, new infrastructure (such as freeways), and changes in environmental features including reservoirs and dams can all be seen through comparison ‘swipe’ imagery.
Asia’s cities have been the drivers of the economy and have lifted millions out of poverty. However, the environmental consequences of this rapid development are apparent, and the citizens of Asia’s urban areas are increasingly insistent that something should be done. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), of which Australia is a member, has developed its new Urban Operational Plan to support its developing member countries in more sustainable urban development. The ADB Green Cities book is intended to provide examples of how this challenge may be met.
The latest issue of Decision Point magazine features science on how we can accommodate biodiversity in and around our cities and suburbs. Articles include how we can grow Australian cities to minimize their biodiversity impacts, development in the urban fringe that takes biodiversity into account, the many ways nature benefits us, road crossings and their value for wildlife, and urban orb weaver spiders.
The draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney sets out a new plan for the city’s future over the next two decades, with Sydney expected to have around 1.3 million additional people by 2031. You can play an important role in shaping Sydney’s future by having your say on these plans by 31 May 2013.
International Mountain Day is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands.
Commissioned by the world’s most vulnerable countries, the Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition released on 26 September reveals that climate change has already held back global development, and inaction is a leading global cause of death. The report website includes an interactive map feature enabling country-to-country comparisons of vulnerability. It has been produced by DARA, an independent organisation committed to improving the quality and effectiveness of aid for vulnerable populations suffering from conflict, disasters and climate change.
Globally, urban growth will add 1.5 billion people to cities by 2030, making the difficult task of urban water provisions even more challenging. In the article Global Urban Growth and the Geography of Water Availability, Quality, and Delivery, the authors develop a conceptual framework of urban water provision as composed of three axes: water availability, water quality, and water delivery. For each axis, quantitative proxy measures are calculated for all cities with more than 50,000 residents, and then the strategies cities are using in response if they are deficient on one of the axes are briefly discussed.
The ABC’s Four Corners program Koala Crunch Time has revealed that in key parts of Australia, koalas are dying in big numbers. Development, cars, dogs, disease and climate change are making life tough for these fascinating creatures. The bigger question is, what can be done to save them?
© Bruce Boyes 2008-2013
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