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10 Pictures That Show How Our Planet Has Changed Over the Last 50 Years

It sounds unbelievable, but a recent survey shows that the past 50 years of science and production progress pushed the world to a new geological epoch! As a rule, we underestimate humanity’s impact on the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and wildlife. But do we notice changes in ourselves? Believe us, the last years were marked by various dramatic transformations that not only affected the planet, but humanity as well.

Bright Side offers you to look through the many positive and negative changes that have taken place on Earth and in humanity for the past 50 years.

NASA “before and after” images devoted to the planet’s surface transformations:

1. Drying lakes

Poopó is Bolivia’s second-largest lake and has always been an important fishing resource for its local people. Now Poopó has essentially dried up because of mining and agriculture. It is interesting that this is not the first time that the lake has evaporated. The last time Poopó dried up in 1994, it took several years for water to return, and even longer for ecosystems to recover.

2. Melting Glaciers

This is the popular Swiss destination Matterhorn Mountain. Take a look at the amount of snow that remained there in August 1960 (left) compared to August 2005 (right).

3. Air pollution reduction

Not all the ways we’re transforming the Earth are negative. For example, satellite data from NASA revealed a great reduction in nitrogen dioxide pollution from cars and power plants between 2005 and 2011. Since 2005, many electric utilities have shifted from coal to natural gas operations.

4. The Great Man-Made River

To expand farming in the region, North African governments developed projects such as the Great Man-Made River, the world’s largest irrigation project. These photos prove that the project has boosted agricultural growth in the region since 1983.

5. Turning deserts into farmland

These photos of the Wadi As-Sirhan basin show the dramatic transformation the desert has undergone over the past 30 years. This region has been developed into real farmland! The local government decided to tap water reserves up to a kilometer deep underground to allow farmers to grow fruits and vegetables in the desert.

Smart illustrations explaining how humans have changed over the last 50 years:

6. Technology

The past 50 years are marked with unbelievable science and innovation progress. Just think about it — not so long ago, very few of us had cell phones, people only dreamt about self-driving cars, and the internet was just a distant idea.

Now we can’t even remember the last time we didn’t use our cell phones for a day. Almost 3.5 billion people around the world are using the internet constantly.

7. Communication

There are 3.6 billion social network users around the world. Social media is one of the most influential services of the internet. On the one hand, communication is cheap and easy, and even distance doesn’t matter. On the other hand, verbal communication has decreased dramatically from just 20 years ago, when people preferred face-to-face interaction.

8. Activities

Leisure activities have changed over the last few decades too. While our parents most likely enjoyed outdoor activities, we don’t have to leave our homes at all thanks to TV, internet, and video games. It sounds depressing, but things aren’t all that bad! For example, a recent survey suggests that playing video games makes the brain regions responsible for attention and visuospatial skills more efficient.

Of course, there is still a risk of video game addiction. So we should always keep in mind that less is more!

9. Parenting

Parenting has changed a lot over the years as well. And yes, this is also largely due to advancements in technology! While outdoor activities and reading books still play a vital role in children’s development, most parents often rely on various gadgets to engage their kids. Some experts argue that children should not be exposed to screens at all since they reduce their ability to understand human emotions.

10. Social issues

New social issues arise with every new generation. The past half-century was marked by significant success in this field. People have made good progress in the realms of race, age, gender, religion and sexual orientation equality.

As we know, society is far from perfection. But not so long ago, our grandmothers and even mothers could only dream of paid employment outside the home.

Bonus: Then there are things that will never change...

What changes in Earth and humanity have you noticed? Feel free to share your views in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in March 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit NASA
Bright Side/Curiosities/10 Pictures That Show How Our Planet Has Changed Over the Last 50 Years
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