Needed: Google Earth with Fewer People

26May08

It would be very interesting and informative to have access to a version of Google Earth that would show what the planet would be like with fewer people. This could occur in past and/or future versions. The historical version would show how big Boston was in a certain year, for example, and where its businesses and houses were located. Of course, roads were a very different concept back then. So the future version would show what roads would likely be retained if, say, Boston in 2100 returned to its 1900 population levels.

The future version could also be tweaked to show what happens if people make a mass switch from, say, suburban living to small-town or livable city-center living. Ideally, over time, it would also be tweaked to allow for variables in e.g., water supplies and changes in modes of transportation.

Eventually, botanists might be able to contribute to the future and/or historical versions by indicating what plants would be likely to be found at a given location at a given point in the future. The number of variables would be enormous, and perhaps the project would be capped at a maximum projection date 100 years in the future.  In this sense, the project might best be conceived as a sort of visual wiki.

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