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Light Bulb Index: NASA’s Visible Earth Project

September 23rd, 2007

New York Times’ Thomas Friedman just printed a piece titled “China in Three Colors”. Might want to add another color to the list – black. A look at NASA’s light map (below). Points:

  1. The China map may suggest the extent to which ‘geography is destiny’. Most of China lives along the coast, and for good reason.
  2. Is it a trick on the imagination, or does India appear to be better lit? A sign of their more robust middle class?
  3. Note the stark difference between North and South Korea. You can almost draw a line at the 38th parallel.
  4. How much brighter are Europe and the United States? Easy to criticize China on its pollution record; harder to do when your own country is lit up like a Christmas tree.

Three images below (2000). Images have been cropped but otherwise original. For the original NASA file, go here.

Asia Lights

European Lights

North American Lights

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