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  • It's Christmas Eve, 1968.

  • The Apollo 8 spacecraft has successfully completed

  • its first three orbits around the moon.

  • Launched from Cape Canaveral three days before,

  • this is the first time

  • that humans have ever traveled beyond low Earth orbit.

  • On the vessel's fourth pass,

  • the Earth slowly comes into view

  • and reveals itself above the Moon's horizon.

  • Astronaut Bill Anders frantically asks his crewmates where their camera is,

  • grabs the Hasselblad, points it towards the window,

  • presses the shutter,

  • and takes one of the most important photographs of all time:

  • "Earthrise."

  • When the crew was safely home a few days later,

  • they were asked about the mission.

  • Anders famously replied,

  • "We went to the moon,

  • but we actually discovered Earth."

  • What did he and his fellow crewmates feel

  • in this incredible moment?

  • In a study released just this past year,

  • a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania

  • examined the testimonies of hundreds of astronauts

  • who had the opportunity to view the Earth from space.

  • Their analysis uncovered three common feelings:

  • first, a greater appreciation for Earth's beauty;

  • second, an increased sense of connection to all other living beings;

  • and third, an unexpected, often overwhelming sense of emotion.

  • The researchers believe that seeing the Earth from a great distance

  • provokes someone to develop new cognitive frameworks

  • to understand what they are seeing.

  • They believe these astronauts were forever changed

  • by this new view,

  • this new perspective,

  • this new visual truth.

  • This feeling is commonly referred to as the "overview effect."

  • Only 558 people have ever been to outer space.

  • 558 people had the opportunity

  • to gaze down in awe,

  • to wonder at our planet

  • floating in an infinite sea of darkness.

  • But what if that number were bigger?

  • Three years ago, I set off on my own mission:

  • to see if I could bring this feeling of overwhelming scale and beauty

  • to many more people

  • just by using one small computer

  • in my small New York City apartment.

  • It was then, in 2013, that I launched "Daily Overview."

  • Every day, I have used satellite imagery

  • to create one expansive overhead view of our planet.

  • More than 1,000 of these images have been created thus far,

  • and more than 600,000 people

  • tune in for this daily dose of perspectives.

  • I create the imagery by curating photos from the massive archive

  • of a satellite company called Digital Globe.

  • They operate a constellation of five satellites,

  • each roughly the size of an ambulance,

  • that is constantly taking pictures of the Earth

  • as they orbit at 28,000 kilometers per hour.

  • Now, what does this mean?

  • Each of these satellites is equipped with a camera

  • that has a focal length of 16 meters,

  • so that's roughly 290 times greater

  • than a DSLR camera equipped with a standard 55 millimeter lens.

  • So if were able to attach one of their satellites

  • to the roof of this theater in Oxford,

  • we could take a picture of a football,

  • clearly, on the pitch at the stadium in Amsterdam.

  • That's 450 kilometers away.

  • That's incredibly powerful technology.

  • And I decided at the beginning of this project

  • that I would use that incredible technology

  • to focus on the places

  • where humans have impacted the planet.

  • As a species, we dig and scrape the Earth for resources,

  • we produce energy,

  • we raise animals and cultivate crops for food,

  • we build cities, we move around,

  • we create waste.

  • And in the process of doing all of these things,

  • we shape landscapes and seascapes

  • and cityscapes with increasing control and impunity.

  • So with that in mind,

  • I would like to share a few of my overviews with you now.

  • Here we see cargo ships and oil tankers

  • waiting outside the entry to the port of Singapore.

  • This facility is the second-busiest in the world by terms of total tonnage,

  • accounting for one-fifth of the world's shipping containers

  • and one half of the annual supply

  • of crude oil.

  • If you look closely at this overview, you'll see a lot of little specks.

  • Those are actually cows at a feedlot

  • in Summerfield, Texas, in the United States.

  • So once cows reach a particular weight,

  • roughly 300 kilograms,

  • they are moved here and placed on a specialized diet.

  • Over the next three to four months, the cows gain an additional 180 kilograms

  • before they are shipped off to slaughter.

  • You're also probably wondering about this glowing pool at the top there.

  • That gets its color from a unique combination of manure, chemicals

  • and a particular type of algae that grows in the stagnant water.

  • This is the Mount Whaleback iron ore mine

  • in the Pilbara region of Western Australia,

  • a beautiful yet scary scar on the face of the Earth.

  • Of the world's mined iron ore,

  • 98 percent is used to make steel

  • and is therefore a major component in the construction of buildings,

  • automobiles or appliances such as your dishwasher or refrigerator.

  • This is a solar concentrator in Seville, Spain.

  • So this facility contains 2,650 mirrors

  • which are arrayed in concentric circles around an 140-meter-tall tower

  • at its center.

  • At the top of the tower,

  • there is a capsule of molten salt

  • that gets heated by the beams of light reflected upwards

  • from the mirrors below.

  • From there, the salt circulates to a storage tank underground,

  • where it produces steam,

  • which spins turbines

  • and generates enough electricity to power 70,000 homes

  • and offsets 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

  • This overview shows deforestation in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

  • immediately adjacent to untouched tracts of rainforest.

  • Deforestation in the country has primarily been driven

  • by the expansion of mechanized agriculture

  • and cattle ranching,

  • so as the country tries to meet the demand of its growing population

  • and feed them,

  • the sacrificial destruction of its rainforest

  • has taken place to do so.

  • It is estimated that the country lost 4.5 million acres of rainforest

  • in one decade alone

  • from 2000 until 2010.

  • This is the Eixample district in Barcelona, Spain.

  • So the overview perspective can be incredibly helpful

  • to help us understand how cities function

  • and how we can devise smarter solutions for urban planning,

  • and this will become only more relevant

  • as it is expected that 4.9 billion people will live in cities around the world

  • by the year 2030.

  • This area of Barcelona is characterized by its strict grid pattern,

  • apartments with communal courtyards

  • and these octagonal intersections

  • which allow for more sunlight, better ventilation

  • and additional parking at street level.

  • And here we see that grid pattern but under much different circumstances.

  • This is the Dadaab Refugee Camp in northern Kenya,

  • the largest such facility of its kind in the world.

  • To cope with the influx of refugees who are fleeing Somalia,

  • where there is famine and conflict,

  • the UN has built this area gridded out at left

  • called the LFO extension

  • to house more and more refugees

  • who are arriving and occupying these white dots,

  • which are actually tents

  • which will slowly fill up the area over time.

  • So if you have one of these overviews,

  • you have a moment in time.

  • If we have two overviews, however,

  • we are able to tell stories about changes in time.

  • I call that feature of the project "Juxtapose,"

  • and we'll share a few examples of it with you now.

  • So the tulip fields in Netherlands bloom every year in April.

  • So we take an image captured in March a few weeks before

  • and contrast it to one taken a few weeks later.

  • We're able to watch the flowers bloom in this magnificent cascade of color.

  • It is estimated that the Dutch produce 4.3 billion tulip bulbs every year.

  • In 2015, two dams collapsed

  • at an iron ore mine in southeastern Brazil,

  • causing one of the worst environmental disasters

  • in the history of the country.

  • It is estimated that 62 million cubic meters of waste

  • were released when the dams broke,

  • destroying numerous villages in the process,

  • including Bento Rodrigues, seen here before ...