From deforestation to irrigation to species loss, the expanding human population has been dramatically re-shaping the face of the Earth. The interactive maps above bring together a wealth of satellite imagery and other data sets to create an atlas of humanity’s influence on the planet. Zoom in to see regional effects, or click through some selected examples, including a gallery of international extinctions and a virtual tour of the world’s protected sites.

Urban Wind Farming

Urban wind farming is a challenge; it can often seem impossible to find a location for traditional wind turbines that doesn’t take up too much room or isn’t dangerous in an urban setting. Strawscraper solves this problem by using a hair covered shell that harvests the power of the wind without the traditional turbine.

The system utilizes Piezoelectric technology, which turns movement into electricity that can be stored for later use. The hair’s tiny movement is safe for birds and humans and isn’t noisy like traditional turbines can be. But Strawscraper isn’t all about the brains, it also has the beauty. The hair covering the building creates the illusion of movement, giving the normally static city skyline the illusion of motion.

All Trees in a Forest Ecosystem Are Interconnected

In this real-life model of forest resilience and regeneration, Professor Suzanne Simard shows that all trees in a forest ecosystem are interconnected, with the largest, oldest, "mother trees" serving as hubs. The underground exchange of nutrients increases the survival of younger trees linked into the network of old trees. Amazingly, we find that in a forest, 1+1 equals more than 2.


Friluftsliv translates directly from Norwegian as "free air life," which doesn't quite do it justice. Coined relatively recently, in 1859, it is the concept that being outside is good for human beings' mind and spirit. "It is a term in Norway that is used often to describe a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature," Anna Stoltenberg, culture coordinator for Sons of Norway, a U.S.-based Norwegian heritage group.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Innovation Inspired by Nature

Dr. Dayna Baumeister is co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8 and this my favorite Biomimicry presentation of all times. I was one of Dayna's students when I studied for the Biomimicry Specialist Certification at Biomimicry 3.8. Since then I have worked with Dayna to co-design the Biomimicry class I teach at SCAD and the Biomimicry Basics for Designers Certificate for which my students can apply once they have passed the class.


The greatest revolution of our time is in the way we see the world. The mechanistic paradigm underlying the Industrial Growth Society gives way to the realization that we belong to a living, self-organizing cosmos. General systems theory, emerging from the life sciences, brings fresh evidence to confirm ancient, indigenous teachings: the Earth is alive, mind is pervasive, all beings are our relations. This realization changes everything. It changes our perceptions of who we are and what we need, and how we can trustfully act together for a decent, noble future. — Joanna Macy on "Living Systems"