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via NASA

Setiment in Louisiana


NASA satellites continually monitor the Earth, snapping photos and sending information to researchers on the ground.

Most of the time, things seem to be more or less the same as they were the day before, but the Earth is actually constantly changing. Sometimes it changes through discrete events, like landslides and floods. Other times, long-term trends, such as climate change, slowly reshape the land in ways that are difficult to see.


By zooming way out, we can get a new perspective of the events that have changed the Earth. These 10 before-and-after photos show the disasters, trends, and changes that have affected our planet, as seen from space.

1. In May 2016, NASA's satellites picked up the devastating 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire.

Before:

2016, forest, satellite images

Satellite image from before the wildfire.

All images from NASA.

After:

wildfire, nature, global warming

Satellite image after the devastating fire.

All images from NASA.

In May 2016, a wildfire broke out near Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. It destroyed more than 2,400 homes and businesses and burned through roughly 1,500,000 acres of land before it was under control. (Some of the pictures use false-color imaging to distinguish between land types, by the way).

2. The satellites also captured how landscapes eventually recover from fires, like in Yellowstone.

Before:

Yellowstone, camping, national parks

Satellite image after fire in Yellowstone.

All images from NASA.

After:

plains, recovery, satellite images, California, state parks

Nature returns to normal with time.

All images from NASA.

In 1988, wildfires burned through over a third of Yellowstone National Park. 28 years later, images show that much of the forest and plains have returned.

3. They saw drought shrink Utah's Great Salt Lake over the last 30 years ...

Before:

Utah, salt lake, drought,

Image of the Utah’s Great Salt Lake before the drought.

All images from NASA.

After:

climate change, water supplies, Great Salt Lake

Water supplies have shrunk with a possible link to climate change.

All images from NASA.

Persistent drought has shrunk water supplies throughout much of the West. Scientists now think this may be linked to climate change.

4. And they showed the Mississippi pouring over its banks in March 2016.

Before:

Mississippi Delta, floods, displacement,

Satellite image of the Mississippi Delta and river.

All images from NASA.

After:

record-breaking rain, precipitation, river banks

Rivers overflow their banks with spring run offs.

All images from NASA.

Record-breaking rain inundated much of the Mississippi Delta in the spring of 2016, causing the mighty river to spill over its banks.

5. In West Virginia, surface mining reshaped mountaintops.

Before:

mountains, surface mining, land damage, capitalism

West Virginia before surface mining.

All images from NASA.

After:

resources, coal, West Virginia, ecology

West Virginia after surfacing mining for coal.

All images from NASA.

Mountaintop mining is often used to search for coal and can have lasting effects on the land.

6. In Washington state, the Oso mudslide changed the Earth back in 2014.

Before:

Washington state, mudslides, earth

Mudslides can create significant change to an environment.

All images from NASA.

After:

landslide, environmental catastrophe, deaths, NASA

A landslide reshapes a community and kills 43 people in Washington state.

All images from NASA.

43 people were killed in the March 2014 landslide in western Washington.

7. In Louisiana, sediment carried by water created new land.

Before:

topography, geology, geography

Water carries sediment which changes the topography.

All images from NASA.

After:

sediment, coastline, rive

Sediment can create new land.

All images from NASA.

Rivers and streams often carry sediment with them. As they slow down and reach the coast, that sediment falls out of the water. Over time, this can create new land, as you can see above.

8. The images show Hurricane Isaac touching down in Louisiana.

Before:

hurricanes, state of emergency, Hurricane Isaac

Satellite image before the hurricane.

All images from NASA.

After:

Louisiana, devastation, gulf coast, flooding

Image of the flooding of Louisiana after the hurricane.

All images from NASA.

Hurricane Isaac hit the gulf coast in August 2012. 41 people lost their lives and more than $2 billion worth of damage occurred. Above you can see the flooding that still lingered afterward.

9. And warming temperatures shrink Alaska's Columbia Glacier.

Before:

Alaska, glaciers, global warming

Alaska’s Columbia Glacier as seen from satellite.

All images from NASA.

After:

Columbia Glacier, climate crisis, climate change

Warmer global temperatures have shrunk many glaciers.

All images from NASA.

Over the last 28 years, warmer global temperatures have shrunk many glaciers, including Alaska's Columbia Glacier. From above, the shrinkage is crystal clear.

10. Meanwhile, our cities grew and expanded, like this image of San Antonio, Texas, shows.

Before:

Texas, expansion, San Antonio, population

The growing community of San Antonio, Texas.

All images from NASA.

After:

Alamo, Spurs basketball, environmental impact

The city has started to take up more space than the natural environment.

All images from NASA.

San Antonio — home of the Alamo and the Spurs basketball team — had a population of just over 1 million people in 1991. Today, it's added another 400,000 people.

The above images are only a small set of the many pictures NASA released. Globally, there were a ton of other interesting sites, like entire lakes turning red in Iran, new islands being formed by ocean volcanoes, and dams flooding rainforests in Brazil.

The world — and our country — is constantly changing, and we play a part in that.

Sometimes nature changes us, such as people having to respond to floodwaters, but we also know humans affect the Earth as well. And while it's true that the Earth has gone through natural cycles, we know it's now happening faster than ever before.

As the Earth will continue to change, it's important to remain aware of how we affect the Earth — and how the Earth affects us.


This article originally appeared on 01.23.17

Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash, @BrettKlein/Twitter

Australia's minimum wage is an example for us all.

How great is Australia? A relaxed cultural vibe that is progressive, inclusive and seems like a literal day at the beach. They even give us some of our favorite Marvel superhero film actors. Must be tough to make a buck there though, right? Actually, they've got a significant edge on us there as well. Take a look at Australian's minimum wage and how much further it goes for the average worker than for your typical hard-working American.

Australian unions are currently pushing for a 5% increase to the minimum wage to counter inflation. Australia's minimum wage is 20.33 Australian dollars per hour, which is the equivalent of $15.23 (as of the writing of this article).

Meanwhile, Americans are still sitting on the same federal minimum wage we've had since 2009—a whopping $7.25 an hour—while we are also dealing with inflation.

Minimum wage by U.S. state varies—a lot—from $7.25 to $15.90. And most states have different minimum wages for tipped jobs such as wait staff in a restaurant, on the assumption that you'll earn enough tips to make up the base wage. Though employers can choose to pay above the minimum, they aren't required to. And the minimum tipped wage in 17 states is $2.13 per hour.

Let me repeat that. In 17 states in the United States of America in 2022, the tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour.


That's bonkers. And the disparity between states is, frankly, shocking. If you live in Washington state, for example, you're guaranteed to make at least $14.49 per hour in any job, whether you get tips or not. If you live in Idaho—literally the state next door—you're guaranteed $7.25 per hour for standard labor and just $3.35 per hour for tipped employment. So the base pay for a waiter on one side of an imaginary line is four times more than on the other. So weird.

Anyway, back to Australia. They're a little worried about us, and it's not hard to see why.

from antiwork

A 16-year-old Australian on Reddit was shocked to learn that the federal minimum wage here is $7.25 per hour. "There is no way someone can live off that wage even if they're working full time." Yep, nope.

Another Aussie responded to a sign for Buc-ee's, a chain of country stores and travel centers in the southern United States, announcing wages for full-time work ranging from $15 to $17 per hour for associates to $22 to $32 per hour for department leads. To American eyes, in most states, this sign is a unicorn of awesome hourly starting wages for "unskilled" labor.

To Australian eyes, these are the lowest wages they ever see in their country.

Despite Australia having a minimum wage of AU$20.33 ($15.23), most workers actually make more than that. In addition to its minimum wage, Australia has a system under its Fair Work Act called Modern Awards, which establishes base pay and benefits for workers in a variety of industries, from fast food to health and beauty to caregiving.

One caveat: Workers under age 21 can make less than minimum wage in Australia, so teenagers may make significantly lower wages than AU$20.33 per hour (though still not as low as $7.25 per hour). However, the Modern Awards system dictates higher than minimum wage earnings for most workers—even for basic fast-food jobs—for people over 21. For example, the starting pay for a Level 1 fast-food worker over age 21 is AU$22.33 ($16.72) per hour during the week, AU$27.91 ($20.90) per hour on Saturdays and Sundays, and AU$50.24 ($37.63) per hour on holidays.

Not too shabby.

Another Australian pointed out that the amount some Americans pay for a college education is bonkers, in addition to our low minimum wage.

Australians graduate with less student loan debt than Americans, on average, and their student loan payments only start over a certain income threshold (and are linked to the amount you make).

Oh and let's not forget that Australians don't have to pay for healthcare out of their own pocket, either. And they have paid maternity leave of up to 18 weeks at the national minimum wage. And they have a minimum of four weeks of paid vacation time for all employees, on top of paid national hoildays.

But don't Australians pay a much higher tax rate than Americans for these benefits, you may ask? No, not really. According to the Tax Foundation, a single worker earning an average wage in the U.S. pays an average tax rate of 28.3% while in Australia they pay an average of 28.4%—so basically the same tax burden, at least for single people with no kids.

It's not that Australia is perfect, of course. But when it comes to paying people reasonable wages and guaranteeing paid time off and providing healthcare to all, they're light years ahead of the U.S.

Rather than seeing it as a woe-is-us comparison, however, let's look at it as "Hey, look at what's possible!" We, too, could have wages people can actually live on and not go into bankruptcy over medical bills and ensure that everyone gets paid time off so they can actually relax a little. It doesn't have to be some distant pipe dream; it's a matter of collective and political will. If Australia can do it, there's really no good reason we can't, too.

How U.S. highways are numbered is surprisingly systematic.

A bunch of years ago, our family traveled around the United States as nomads for a year, driving thousands of miles through dozens of states. And throughout the entirety of that kind of epic road trip, I never once learned that there's a system for how our highways are numbered. It always seemed random, but it's so very not.

A viral Facebook post sharing just two basic principles of interstate highway numbering blew my mind, and also the minds of approximately 196,000 other people who shared the post in the past few days. Rich Evans included two images showing the East-West interstate highways and the North-South interstate highways with this explanation:

"I always knew there was a logic to it, but I never saw it explained so well until I stumbled upon this delightfully informative short video on how the US interstates are numbered.


Those with 2-digits traverse the entire country.

If they end in "0" they run East-West (10, 20, 30, ..)

If they end in "5" they run North-South (5, 15, 25, ..)

Those with 3-digits are bypasses and contain the last 2 digits of the interstates they bypass.

That's it! (plus exceptions 😉 ) Neat!"

It is neat, actually. But it's even a bit more complex than that, and the video link Evans shared explains it all in a clear (usually) and funny way. "The Interstate's Forgotten Code" from CGP Grey uses animation to show that the numbering system does indeed have a rhyme and reason, despite there being a few notable exceptions. (A highway system would be boring if it always followed the rules, wouldn't it?)

Enjoy learning something new if you didn't already know this:

Bill Maher described the "slow-moving coup" happening in the U.S.

We are living in weird times in far more ways than one. Not only are we coping with a global pandemic that some people still refuse to acknowledge, but we are also dealing with an ex-president who still refuses to admit that he lost the last election, whose fan base keeps spiraling deeper and deeper into kooky conspiracy theories and whose adopted party inexplicably failed to cut bait and run from Q-ville when it had the chance.

So now we're watching democracy flail and sputter because millions of Americans simply reject objective reality. It's genuinely, mind-bogglingly weird.

Such is the backdrop of Bill Maher's recent run-down of what he sees happening in the next election. Under normal circumstances, it would be far too early for such punditry from comedic political commentators, but the U.S. sailed right past normal years ago. So now, not even a year past the last election—and with no one even announcing an intention to run—we're already pondering what will happen in 2024. (Seriously, why does everything have to be so dumb?)

Maher laid out the plan that appears to be unfolding before our eyes in a segment titled "A Slow-Moving Coup," starting with the Eastman memo that basically was a blueprint for Trump overturning the results of the election he lost.



New Rule: The Slow-Moving Coup | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)www.youtube.com



"Here are the easiest three predictions in the world," said Maher. "Trump will run in 2024. He will get the Republican nomination. And whatever happens on election night, the next day he will announce that he won.

"I've been saying ever since he lost, he's like a shark that's not gone, just gone out to sea," continued Maher. "But actually, he's been quietly eating people this whole time. And by eating people, I mean he's been methodically purging the Republican Party of anyone who voted for his impeachment or doesn't agree that he's the rightful leader of the Seven Kingdoms."

Maher explained how the small number of Republicans who outwardly opposed Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election will be gone by 2024, and how state legislatures and election officials are being replaced with loyalists who will hand him the presidency whether he actually wins it or not. He predicted that Republicans would win the House in 2022.

"And yet, 2024 comes and Democrats treat it as a normal election year," he said. "They are living in a dream world where their choice of candidate matters, their policies matter, the number of votes they get matters, none of it does. I won't even predict who the Democratic nominee will be, because it doesn't matter."

Maher explained that even if the Democratic nominee wins the election, "Trump won't accept it." But this time, his conspiracy theories about election fraud "will be fully embraced by stooges he is installing right now."

The only thing that kept the U.S. from a full-blown constitutional crisis was that some Republican elected officials put their foot down and insisted on reality. What happens without people who are willing to go against pressure from their party and do the right thing?

"The ding dongs who sacked the Capitol last year? That was like when Al Qaeda tried to take down the World Trade Center the first time with a van. It was a joke. But the next time they came back with planes," Maher said.

"I hope I scared the shit out of you!" Maher said, in conclusion.

Yeah. A majority of Americans are already there, Bill.