Climate change? Yup, there’s an app for that.
Sadly, it won’t solve the warming of the earth’s climate, or the almost-irreversible changes being wrought by greenhouse gases and acidifying oceans. But anyone with an iPad can download an application created by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that shows the jarring before-and-after on Earth’s features, landscapes and glaciers.
The iPad application, Images of Change, was released on December 3 and demonstrates through photos taken at the same time of year, though decades apart, what has occurred. It pairs a photo of the same place from early in the 20th century with a present-day view. All locations have changed dramatically, NASA pointed out in its statement, be it through disasters such as fire or tsunami, dam building or urban growth, and, of course, climate change. Drought, melting glaciers, floods—it's all there.
"Images of Change gives users an astronaut's or Earth explorer's view of the changes occurring on our planet and demonstrates the important role NASA plays in contributing to the long-term understanding of Earth," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for science in Washington, in a statement. "By utilizing ground-based and space-based observation systems, we are able to better understand how humans are contributing to a changing world."
It’s all in the name of bringing the implications of climate change home to citizens and decision-makers alike, NASA said in its statement, and to support efforts to halt the changes that could be harmful to human survival. It’s part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which he released late last year.
NASA is encouraging people to download the app and visit its Global Climate Change website for more information on global warming and its effect on Earth’s denizens, especially its Images of Change photo gallery.
Some of the telling, and sobering, photos were highlighted by the Gizmodo blog Sploid in early December in a post that noted, “Seeing the unbelievable effect of just a few decades of climate change in the following before and after photos is a sad and sobering experience."