The United Nations has unveiled a new world atlas that uses satellite imagery to show the often damaging environmental changes sweeping the planet. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) produced the atlas, called “One Planet Many People,” to mark World Environment Day.
The atlas compares and contrasts satellite images of past decades with ones from the present. It finds many of the world’s precious resources have seriously deteriorated because of rapid urbanization, overfishing and the loss of forests.
UN environment expert Pascal Peduzzi warned that natural resources are being used up so rapidly that many are in danger of disappearing.
“We’ve already cut 20 per cent of the Amazon. We have also seen some lakes that just totally vanished.” Peduzzi also said 78 per cent of the oceans are overfished. He said overfishing caused the collapse of cod fishery in Canada and sardine fishery in California.
The atlas shows the effects of retreating glaciers on mountains and in polar regions. It shows the explosive construction growth around some of the world’s major cities and how this is increasing pollution and leading to global climate change.
But the atlas also reveals how environmental problems can be solved when people work together. The UN group says it shows that the ozone layer is improving as a result of the Montreal Protocol that called for the ban of ozone depleting aerosol gases.
The atlas was unveiled in San Francisco, where representatives from cities from around the globe were ending a week of meetings, held to discuss the future of the world’s environment.