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'Novel tool shows how humans have changed Earth'

Novel tool shows how humans have changed Earth

Washington: Researchers have developed a new website that provides graphic evidence of how humans are rapidly changing the planet. enables users to view the entire world, or focus in on just a corner of it, to visualise the effects of air pollution, trade, deforestation, economic inequality and other powerful forces, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the US said.

"EarthTime is a means to tell stories," said Illah Nourbakhsh, a CMU professor whose lab has spent over a decade developing EarthTime's technology.

"The impact of humanity can be seen globally and in individual communities - and at every scale in between," said Nourbakhsh.

"You really can't understand climate change, migration or major social and political trends without examining their connections across time, across space and between each other. EarthTime enables you to do that," added Nourbakhsh.

Since 2015, EarthTime has been a staple at the World Economic Forum's annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland, and Dalian, China, helping businesses and policymakers to better explore and explain some of the most pressing and contentious issues of the day.

Now, the website is available to everyone, said researchers, and the goal is to empower all people to make informed decisions about the lives they live and how they impact the planet.

The platform draws on the World Economic Forum's network of experts and more than 300 free, open-source geospatial data sets, researchers said.

Sources include the World Bank, the UN Refugee Agency, NASA, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the International Renewable Energy Agency and the World Wildlife Fund, to name a few.

Visitors to the site can use its global maps and images from space to explore a wide variety of phenomena on their own and create their own stories, researchers said.

They can also take advantage of some of the site's existing stories on deforestation, glaciers, coral bleaching, renewables, city growth, urban fragility, sea level rise, fires at night, and surface water gains and losses, they said.

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