Illumination in every sense of the word

I’ve always loved this image.

The Earth at Night

From the comments below the picture:

The image is a panoramic view of the world from the new space station….It is a night photo with the lights clearly indicating the populated areas. You can scroll East-West and North-South.

Note that Canada’s population is almost exclusively along the U.S. border.

Moving east to Europe, there is a high population concentration along the Mediterranean Coast. It’s easy to spot London, Paris, Stockholm and Vienna.

Note the Nile River and the rest of Africa. After the Nile, the lights don’t come on again until Johannesburg. Look at the Australian Outback and the Trans-Siberian Rail Route. Moving east, the most striking observation is the difference between North and South Korea. Note the density of Japan.

As humans, we’re in danger of scrambling far past the point of comfortable living, piling ourselves higher and higher in areas of the world that aren’t designed to be habitable by our species. We build out of bounds when we’re free to do so. When we can’t build out, we build up . We push everything out of our way in a new form of Manifest Destiny, slaughtering open space and murdering the untouched nature of the great outdoors.

But when you look at a picture like this, you realize how much of our world is uninhabited. Not because we haven’t made it there yet, but because Mother Earth has devised ways of keeping us out.

I could study this map all day. It shows the difference between populated and uninhabited, industrialized and third world, crowded and spacious.It tells so much about the world – about our patterns, about our needs and about our migration routes.

All without uttering a word. All illuminated by the gentle hum of electricity.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 4th, 2008