25 Earth Before-and-After Photos of Our Changing Environment

Posted by , Updated on January 16, 2024

Though there is a major debate as to its cause and its implications, the fact is our environment is changing. The most recognizable changes can be found in our polar ice caps, though here there is debate as well. Some reports state that ice is melting at an alarming rate while other reports claim that instead of losing ice we are actually gaining ice. Lose or gain, an environmental change is still present. Though some changes in the environment can be attributed to natural things such as climate and other natural phenomenons, others are directly and undeniably linked to human influence such as the deforestation of natural habitats and the contamination of certain bodies of water. This would probably not be a big issue if it was at a reasonable scale, but some of these environmental changes are so devastating that they affect the lives of not just humans, but animals (some of which are already endangered). With an issue so full of controversy and contention, it’s definitely a see-it-to-believe-it scenario, so today we are going to show you 25 Powerful Before-and-After Photos Of Our Changing Environment Everyone Needs To See. With a little awareness, we might just be able to do something about our impact.


In just three years between 2011 (left) and 2014 (right), Lake Oroville in Oroville, California, dwindled drastically due to exceptional draughts.

Lake OrovilleSource and image: wittyfeed.com

In 2000 (left), the Aral Sea had already shrunk to a fraction of its 1960 extent (black line). Further irrigation and dry conditions in 2014 (right) caused the sea's eastern lobe to completely dry up for the first time in 600 years.

Aral SeaSource and image: news.nationalgeographic.com

These satellite images show the shrinking Mar Chiquita in Argentina. Mar Chiquita is one of the largest natural saline lakes in the world, but it has been shrinking due to irrigation and drought.

Mar ChiquitaSource and image: www.dailymail.co.uk

Ocean acidification and temperature increases from climate change have been significantly contributing to bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. These two pictures are just 12 years apart (2002 and 2014).

Great Barrier ReefSource and image: usuncut.com

In these photos taken in 1980 (left) and 2012 (right), we clearly see how much the ice masses in the Arctic dwindled. Scientists estimate that the Arctic would have entirely ice-free summers by 2040.

Arctic glacierSource and image: wittyfeed.com

These before-and-after photographs show Petermann Glacier, a large glacier located in North-West Greenland, in July 2009 (up), before the calving event, and again in July 2011 (down).

Petermann GlacierSource and image: nsidc.org

In July 1978 (left), the Qori Kalis glacier in Peru was still advancing. But by July 2011 (right), it had retreated completely back to land.

Qori Kalis glacierSource and image: www.greenpeace.org.au

Between 1926 (up) and 2008 (down), most of the ice of the Grinnel Glacier, an iconic feature of the Glacier National Park in Montana disappeared due to climate change.

Grinnel GlacierSource and image: usuncut.com

These two pictures demonstrate the severity of the draught that hit the Folsom Lake, a reservoir in Northern California located 25 mi (40 km) of Sacramento. In the 2011 view, the lake was at 97 % of total capacity. In the 2014 shot, the lake was at just 17 % of its capacity.

Folsom LakeSource and image: nasa.gov

Draught has also been a major problem in many regions in Asia. Taken just a few years apart, these photos illustrate how devastating effect draught had on a part of India.

draught in IndiaSource and image: thetimesinplainenglish.com

Known for its extreme salinity and healing properties, the Dead Sea has been shrinking rapidly due to diversion of water from the sea´s main tributaries. On a hot dry summer day, the surface of the Dead Sea can drop as much as one inch because of evaporation.

Dead SeaSource and image: www.phys.org

Between 1941 (left) and 2004 (right), the Muir Glacier in Alaska retreated more than twelve kilometers (seven miles) and thinned by over 800 meters (2625 feet). Ocean water has filled the valley replacing the ice.

Muir GlacierSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: en.redcch.com

To reveal the shocking consequences of deforestation in Brazil, one photo is enough. The left side of the picture shows the part of the rain forest that has not been cut yet while the right side features already deforested area.

deforestationSource and image: www.wired.com

Draughts often result in ravaging wild fires. In May 2012, Whitewater Baldy, a mountain in New Mexico was severely damaged by a large wild fire. The first picture shows how vigorous and dense forests used to cover the place before the fire.

Whitewater BaldySource and image: www.wildmountainechoes.com, ecology.com

These satellite photographs show Lake Meredith, an artificial lake formed by the Sanford Dam in Texas. The 2011 (right) image shows how much water loss (due to continual droughts) has occurred since 1990 (left).

Lake MeredithSource and image: www.dailymail.co.uk

With the rising sea level, some low-lying places have already got flooded. These photos show Panama´s San Blas Archipelago in 2002 (left) and 2014 (right).

San Blas ArchipelagoSource and image: wittyfeed.com

Made up from three volcanic cones, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. These before and after images show the dramatic decline in Kilimanjaro´s icecap in just seven years (between 1993 and 2000).

KilimanjaroSource and image: ete.cet.edu

Once one of the world´s largest lakes, Lake Chad has almost vanished over the last few decades. Between 1963 and 1998, the lake shrank as much as an incredible 95%. Fortunately, the latest surveys have showed some improvements.

Lake ChadSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: enfos.com

Bahr al Milh is a salt sea in Iraq, shown here in 1995, 2003 and 2013. Water levels of this shallow lake vary with the seasons, but levels have been drastically low year-round in the past decade.

Bahr al MilhSource and image: www.fastcoexist.com

A comparison image of Bear Glacier, a large glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park, south Alaska, shows rapid shrinkage between 2002 (left) and 2007 (right).

Bear GlacierSource and image: www.businessinsider.com

Matterhorn, one of Europe's tallest peaks, located in the Alps on the border between Italy and Switzerland, is eroding as a result of melting glacier water at the summit. The shrinkage of the snow mass is also obvious in these photos taken in 1960 and 2005.

MatterhornSource and image: www.greenpeace.org.au

Whitby, northern England, was once a busy fishing town that was packed with boats, fish-sellers, and tourists. The port is now quiet, flanked by empty pots, nets, and dried-out fishing boats as climate change has pushed fish stocks northward.

WhitbySource and image: www.businessinsider.com

Myrdalsjökull, Iceland's fourth largest ice cap, is seen on the left in 1986 and on the right in 2014. The ice cap covers the Katla volcano and has been shrinking due to global warming and geothermal heat.

MyrdalsjökullSource and image: www.dailymail.co.uk

A hillside of dead pine trees killed by Mountain Pine Beetles shows the effects of warming temperatures in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. In the past, freezing temperatures reduced insect populations but now the beetles are able to survive the milder winters.

Rocky Mountain National ParkSource and image: www.businessinsider.com

Located on the Arizona-Utah border, the Lake Powell has been drying up due to prolonged drought coupled with water with-drawls.

Lake PowellSource and image: www.dailymail.co.uk