They say an image is worth a thousand words. But some images do more than just that. Some images can tell the tales of prosperity…while others show us the stories of poverty..
Some show us the accounts of the past…and others allow us to predict the future.
This is an image of the night lights over the detroit metropolitan in the year 2012. This area was once, one of the brightest, wealthiest, and largest cities in the united states just 50 years ago. But steadily over the past 5 decades, its economy and population has been on the decline. So when we look at the density of night lights over detroit in 2012, and compare it to 2016, you will actually see the city get dimmer. This is because over the four years where these images were taken, the population of this area declined by almost 100,000. Meaning that there are less people, and businesses using lights at night, than there were 4 years prior.
And on the opposite side of this prosperity spectrum, we have India. You see, two things tend to correlate with how bright a city is. One of which is population density, and the other is economics. As a general rule, the better a city is doing economically, the brighter the city will be. So that is why between 2012 and 2016, india saw this happen. during those 4 years, india saw the wealth of its average citizen increase by over 30%. And when you combine its modernization of its infrastructure, along with its dense population, you get a significantly brighter country. Now saying that, india is still has a lot of poverty and is a developing country. But these images show the giant leaps that have been taken within the country over the course of those 4 years.
This is the continent of africa. The average person that lives on this continent makes just over $1,500 a year…which makes it the poorest continent on the planet. But when you take into account that in 2002, the average person made only about $580/year, than you would see africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. In fact, four of the top 5 fastest growing countries in the world, are in Africa. So with such fast growth, you would expect to see the lights turn on pretty quick around africa, just like they did in india.
But that is not the case. This is what happened. Only a few cities in countries like ethiopia, are significantly brighter in 2016, than they were in 2012. And one of the reasons why this is is because Africa is notorious for having poor infrastructure. Despite having some of the fastest growing economies in the world, the continent is still largely rural, with a very slow moving movement to modernize its infrastructure.
And one of the weirdest things about africa is actually on the west coast. When you take a look at the 2012 image, and compare it to the 2016 image, you see that the west coast didnt get any brighter or darker…but it seemed to have its lights shift from one place to another. And some of the new lights are actually brighter in the sea than they are on land. So why is this? Well its actually because the two countries that do this the most are angola and nigeria, two countries that are known for one thing. Oil. Those shifting lights are actually gas flares of newly commissioned oil rigs.
If we look at europe as a whole, we can see a few key things that might help us predict the future of european nations. The first thing you may notice is that there are significantly less lights in rural areas in 2016, compared to 4 years prior. Meaning that the continent went through a large urbanization period during those 4 years, as cities like london, and amsterdam amongst others, got significantly brighter during that time.
But you might has also noticed that some countries like spain and italy as a whole actually got darker, and this is due to two reasons. One of which was that these countries actually had their populations decrease during those four years, while also having some of the most anemic economic growth in the world.
Over the last 2 decades, China has begun shifting its economy away from a manufacturing based economy, to more of a consumer based economy. And because of that, a handful of Indo-China countries such as Thailand have apparently reaped the economic rewards of being handed substantially more manufacturing business from around the world.
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