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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005, 00:26 GMT 01:26 UK
Changing planet revealed in atlas
Satellite images reveal how the environment has changed dramatically in recent decades.

An atlas of environmental change compiled by the United Nations reveals some of the dramatic transformations that are occurring to our planet.

It compares and contrasts satellite images taken over the past few decades with contemporary ones.

These highlight in vivid detail the striking make-over wrought in some corners of the Earth by deforestation, urbanisation and climate change.

The atlas has been released to mark World Environment Day.

The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) produced One Planet Many People: Atlas of Our Changing Environment in collaboration with other agencies such as the US Geological Survey and the US space agency (Nasa).

Transformed world

Among the transformations highlighted in the atlas are the huge growth of greenhouses in southern Spain; the rapid rise of shrimp farming in Asia and Latin America; and the emergence of a giant, puppet-shaped peninsula at the mouth of the Yellow River that has built up through transportation of sediment in the waters.

I see growing population and unsustainable living to be the crux of the problem
Vaishali, USA

The effects of retreating glaciers on mountains and in polar regions, deforestation in South America and forest fires across sub-Saharan Africa are also shown in the atlas.

This year's World Environment Day, which will be hosted by San Francisco in California, US, will focus on ways to make cities more environmentally friendly and resource-efficient.

"The battle for sustainable development, for delivering a more environmentally stable, just and healthier world, is going to be largely won and lost in our cities," said Klaus Toepfer, Unep's executive director.

"Cities pull in huge amounts of resources including water, food, timber, metals and people. They export large amounts of wastes including household and industrial wastes, waste water and the gases linked with global warming.

"Thus their impacts stretch beyond their physical borders affecting countries, regions and the planet as a whole."

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. It is celebrated each year on 5 June.

See how the new atlas shows the effects of climate change

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