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A good picture saves a thousand acres…?

We’ve all heard the the old cliché about a good picture….but how constructive are images as an environmental force?

Perhaps more than we may think. Right now, a multitude of satellites are circling over us, and over unspoilt terrain and vast mineral extraction sites. Lenses, lasers and radars are being used to sense through the electromagnetic spectrum, including in visible, ultraviolet and infra-red domains. Data are being processed by supercomputers to infer vegetation, carbon stored, its fluxes, photosynthesis, water and weather. New satellite technology is creating a step change in the ability of scientists and policy makers to understand impacts and changing trends.

Of course, images are not limited to the large scale. Internet-linked cameras and phones are being used increasingly to tag environmental ‘indicators’, from whale sharks to trees. This is opening up a new arena of citizen science, and allowing people to participate in conservation programmes, develop baselines for agriculture and ‘ground truth’ forest reserve maps.

With data streamed increasingly to the internet, these macro and micro technology revolutions are helping ensure we have an immediate and more complete picture of hidden corners and facets of the planet’s environment. Consequently, less destruction can remain hidden.

At a personal level, images can elicit an emotional response and support campaigns…”aaahh, that’s beautiful” [it must be saved]…."that’s terrible” [how could we allow it to happen, must do something about it].

Here are a few interesting websites which have caught our eye recently:


The Atkins Ciwem environmental photographer of the year
Interactive storytelling
Urban sensing visualisations
Global Forest cover and history
Photo ID for whale sharks
The Sputnik app, showing your nearest satellites


Posted by: Charlie


United Kingdom