Sunday, July 31, 2005
Human Impact on US
click for larger graphic
graphic courtesy of NYT
here's an excerpt:
"PRISTINE lands, by the strictest definition, no longer exist. Atmospheric pollution has settled on every earthly surface; human-induced climate change is affecting ecosystems across the planet, scientists say.
The wolf's-eye view of American wilderness is not quite so stark, but today's untrammeled landscapes are fragmented and shrinking.
Where is the last of the truly wild? The Wildlife Conservation Society, with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University, assembled satellite and land-use data to plot the extent of the global human footprint. On its colorful maps, the zones closest to pristine pop out as patches of leafy green.
Worldwide, the society found that 17 percent of land is still virtually untouched -- mostly because it is inhospitable to humans. In areas capable of growing basic crops, and therefore most able to support people, untouched lands have diminished to just 2 percent of the total.
Alaska holds the vast majority of leastaltered lands in the United States. In the more settlement-friendly lower 48, the wildest areas have become islands ringed by interstates, farms, towns and cities, making up only 0.9 percent of land."
Where the Human Footprint Is Lightest
NYTimes, July 31, 2005
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