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Why NASA's Spectacular Image of the Earth is So Disturbing

NASA's amazing high definition update of its infamous "Blue Marble" photograph of Earth is disturbing not for what can be seen, but for what cannot.
February 10, 2012, 10am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The striking photo, which is already one of the most viewed images of all time on Flickr, allows us to discern how much the planet has changed over the last forty years -- a metamorphosis which is largely attributable to climate change.

"As Jeff Masters, the web's most widely read meteorologist, explains, 'The US and Canada are virtually snow-free and cloud-free, which is extremely rare for a January day. The lack of snow in the mountains of the Western US is particularly unusual. I doubt one could find a January day this cloud-free with so little snow on the ground throughout the entire satellite record, going back to the early 1960s.' In fact, it's likely that the week that photo was taken will prove 'the driest first week in recorded US history.'"

In light of such startling visual evidence, backing up the reams of scientific evidence, Bill McKibben asks why our leaders fail to wholeheartedly acknowledge the need to address climate change. He discerns this to the the crux:

"If we spew 565 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere, we'll quite possibly go right past that reddest of red lines. But the oil companies, private and state-owned, have current reserves on the books equivalent to 2,795 gigatons-five times more than we can ever safely burn. It has to stay in the ground," and the oil companies would have to forgo $20 trillion worth of those reserves.

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Published on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 in Mother Jones
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